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Questions About Recumbent Trike Electric Motors

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Questions About Recumbent Trike Electric Motors

Old 02-23-22, 10:36 AM
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newbert
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Questions About Recumbent Trike Electric Motors

I am in the market for my first recumbent trike. One of the features I want it to have is an electric motor. (We have lots of hills around here and I'm not getting any younger....)


My initial research shows me that there are a lot of types (power-assist or throttle?; rear-hub, front-hub, or mid-drive?, etc.) and brands (Bosch, Bafang. and others) My only brief trike experience was on a Catrike Villager (non-powered) so I need some help. I also have some experience riding a powered-with-throttle Rad two-wheeler a few years ago.


What should I be looking for in an electric motor for a recumbent trike? And what should I avoid? I like the idea of a throttle, since I feel that it can get you out of trouble quicker than simply power-assist, but maybe there are drawbacks to it that I haven't noticed I also have no idea of the advantages/disadvantages between rear/front/mid drives. I also have no knowledge of which manufacturers to look for and which to avoid. Is there one (or two) with better reliability and warranty?


I'm not interested in being a speed demon. I'm just looking for maximum reliability in getting me up some of the hills around here. So, can anyone help me out?


Thanks!

Bert
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Old 02-23-22, 11:11 AM
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bosch is going to give you the best feel and give you the best battery and longest range for that battery. bosch is also the leader in reliability and serviceability from shops.
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Old 02-23-22, 12:19 PM
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Moe Zhoost
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I have an ICE Sprint that will probably be converted to non-leg power in the near future. I plan to use a Tong Sheng TSDZ2 kit. It's a mid-drive motor, which on a trike means that it's up front at the crank. I installed one on my wife's bike a few years ago and am very impressed with it's function. The crank incorporates a torque sensor for assist unlike some that only sense pedal motion. You can add a throttle but the assist is pretty rapid so you may not use it much. Eco-Cycles in Nashville is a great company to deal with for the TSDZ2 as well as other manufacturers.
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Old 02-23-22, 11:15 PM
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I am spending some time in Tucson this winter, riding The Loop (130ish miles of bike path heaven). Ajo Bikes is a specialty recumbent shop in town. I've been riding with the Facebook Tucson Recumbent Cyclists. Virtually all trike riders in the club and on the path are e assist. It appears everyone here uses the Bafang. One of Ajo's mechanics rides with the club. He said that most people don't opt for the torque sensor as it adds an extra $100. to the cost, but the ride is more natural feeling with the sensor.
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Old 02-24-22, 09:43 AM
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I recently made the switch to recumbent with e-assist. My new ride is the ICE Sprint X Tour with the Shimano Steps 8000 mid-drive (mounted up front on the crank). It's a 250 Watt motor. The control has 3 levels of power: Eco, Trail and Boost. I use the Eco mode most of the time. The sensors add more power in proportion to how hard I am pedaling, so I'm getting back into riding condition as I pedal. This system allows me to turn the power off completely and still pedal, or choose the power level appropriate for the amount of work I want to exert. I still use all ten gears on the cassette, and the front crank on the motor is a 1x 44T, I believe. It's a very intelligent system. I don't need a throttle. If I need a temporary boost in speed to get out of someone's way, I hit a button for more power and keep pedaling.

If you want a motor that will do all the work for you, you need a different type, but I don't think you can pedal those home if your battery dies.

Last edited by DeadGrandpa; 02-24-22 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 02-25-22, 01:38 AM
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With a tadpole trike the only options are the so called mid-drive (on DF's) that hang from the crank or a rear hub motor. My TSDZ2 weighs over 10lbs. It's on a cargo bike. It seems like a lot of weight to put on the front of a tadpole. Maybe the battery can be rear mounted to counter it. Torque sensing cranks can be found and will allow a rear hub motor to provide PAS (pedelec) which eliminates the need for a throttle and provides for proportional assist. The Shimano Steps and Bosch systems are lighter than Bafang or TongShen mid-drives but cannot be retrofitted to existing trikes, they require special mounts that can only work as part of a factory designed system.
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Old 02-25-22, 07:15 PM
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Thanks for all the info, everyone.

I have my eye on a new Catrike Villager. The electric motor options offered by the nearest dealer are the Bosch and a motor from ebikekit.com. The Bosch has a much longer warranty, higher price (by almost $1000), but no throttle. It also sacrifices about 20 gears (or so I've been told). OTOH, Bosch is a well known brand with a known track record. Given the choice between these two, which would you choose?

Does anyone have any experience with ebikekit.com? Also, does the Bosch use a torque sensor or does it use a cadence sensor?

Thanks!
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Old 02-25-22, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by newbert View Post
Thanks for all the info, everyone.

I have my eye on a new Catrike Villager. The electric motor options offered by the nearest dealer are the Bosch and a motor from ebikekit.com. The Bosch has a much longer warranty, higher price (by almost $1000), but no throttle. It also sacrifices about 20 gears (or so I've been told). OTOH, Bosch is a well known brand with a known track record. Given the choice between these two, which would you choose?

Does anyone have any experience with ebikekit.com? Also, does the Bosch use a torque sensor or does it use a cadence sensor?

Thanks!
with a bosch you only get one chainring. but thats usually enough. we have a bosch on our tandem and we have climbed 20% grades. bosch is torque sensor cadence speed and other factors and it feels totally natural.it will give you How much range you have accurately and reliably
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Old 02-25-22, 07:29 PM
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newbert
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Originally Posted by fooferdoggie View Post
with a bosch you only get one chainring. but thats usually enough. we have a bosch on our tandem and we have climbed 20% grades. bosch is torque sensor cadence speed and other factors and it feels totally natural.it will give you How much range you have accurately and reliably
Thanks, Fooferdoggie!
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Old 02-25-22, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by newbert View Post
Thanks, Fooferdoggie!
the bad part about bosch is battery cost. but they tend to have the longest lasting batteries of any bike too.
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Old 02-26-22, 10:10 AM
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Those decisions depend on one's technical skills and budget.
Aftermarket systems are best for those with enough electrical knowledge to understand wiring diagrams and tools to install, wire, and maintain.

Otherwise an OEM offering is the best direction.

Catrike is a great trike in rigid form although they really haven't mastered suspension.

Mid Drive is the most efficient system and you'll really want one with Torque Assist. Direct Drive Hubmotors are the least efficient at speeds under about 18 MPH and have some added drag when not powered.
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Old 02-26-22, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Triketech View Post
Those decisions depend on one's technical skills and budget.
Aftermarket systems are best for those with enough electrical knowledge to understand wiring diagrams and tools to install, wire, and maintain.

Otherwise an OEM offering is the best direction.

Catrike is a great trike in rigid form although they really haven't mastered suspension.

Mid Drive is the most efficient system and you'll really want one with Torque Assist. Direct Drive Hubmotors are the least efficient at speeds under about 18 MPH and have some added drag when not powered.
Thanks for your reply. It sounds like you recommend the Bosch over ebikekit.com's offerings then? Also, since you said that Catrike "haven't mastered suspension", which manufacturer's recumbent e-trike's offerings would you recommend? (Note that I'm not being argumentative. I just want as much info/opinions for me to make an informed decision.)

Thanks!
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Old 03-02-22, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by newbert View Post
Thanks for your reply. It sounds like you recommend the Bosch over ebikekit.com's offerings then? Also, since you said that Catrike "haven't mastered suspension", which manufacturer's recumbent e-trike's offerings would you recommend? (Note that I'm not being argumentative. I just want as much info/opinions for me to make an informed decision.)

Thanks!
I haven't looked that hard, but it just seems from a peripheral awareness that when a mid-drive motor is offered in a production tadpole that the motor system offered is usually Shimano Steps. Bosch and Shimano are probably interchangeable as far as that goes, but the coin toss seems to have gone to Shimano for the recumbent market. But, I'm just saying ... suspension, factory built e-trike ... you are talking $6K to $8K new. Probably more. And I wouldn't trust something like that used. I for one would consider a rigid trike that can take plus size tires (~50mm) and a TongShen torque sensing mid-drive. I was looking just now to see what Performer was asking for a rigid trike and I see they have a suspension model: JC26X. Elsewhere I am seeing that Performer has an electric JC70 but I am not finding any details. I would not give my money to anyone else for a cheap e-trike, and I cannot justify the ask for factory e-trikes from HPV, Hase, ICE and the like. FWIW.
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Old 03-07-22, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by newbert View Post
Thanks for your reply. It sounds like you recommend the Bosch over ebikekit.com's offerings then? Also, since you said that Catrike "haven't mastered suspension", which manufacturer's recumbent e-trike's offerings would you recommend? (Note that I'm not being argumentative. I just want as much info/opinions for me to make an informed decision.)


Thanks!

HPV Scorpion FS, Azub Ti-Fly. They have excellent suspension systems and OEM Assist options.


Steintrike Wild One. Best suspension by a mile, no OEM assist option yet.


ICE, has lightweight suspension with OEM assist options.


Aftermarket systems don't come with much support, with cable lengths designed for bikes not trikes. Even the OEM systems end up with displays on bar ends rather than dead ahead on the Boom Post where they belong.

--> I make my own cables with JST connectors for signals as well as fabricating brackets etc., for mounting components. <--

When someone thinks "I would like to do that" after reading the previous sentence, they're probably a great candidate for an aftermarket system. Otherwise an OEM offering is generally a better choice.


Price is often a barrier. There are a few really nice used trikes out there as well.
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Old 03-12-22, 08:03 PM
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I thought I would not want a pedal assist and just throttle, having had an ebike with throttle I liked in 2 wheel form. However, I have found holding a throttle button. for long periods is a giant pain in the butt. If you just do really short rides or just use it on hills, a throttle is okay, but if ou want to ride any kind of distance over a couple miles, get a pedal assist. You'll thank me. later. You can also get a throttle with many systems, to give you that quick thrust in taking off or in traffic, but the pedal assist is the only way to go for longer rides. And, frankly, you will ride longer if you have pedal assist.
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Old 03-21-22, 01:42 PM
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Wife and I each have Terra Trike EVO which comes with Bosch motor. If we have to start on an incline, we put them in “turbo” mode briefly to get rolling. We love them.
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Old 03-23-22, 11:25 AM
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I put a Bfang electric motor on my tadpole trike. Yes the motor is mounted in the front BB, and the battery is mounted behind the seat. It has 9 levels of assist and a thumb throttle. I have ridden it about 60 miles so far and level 2 is enough to smooth out most hills.
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Old 03-31-22, 12:36 PM
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I put over 3000 miles on an ICE Adventure and a Catrike Trail fitted with Tongsheng TSDZ2 midrives. Only one problem: a wire chafed through the insulation and caused a short that fried something in the motor or display circuitry. I call that my fault for sloppy wiring and failure to inspect it once in awhile. Dave Hall at Eco Cycles will trace down and repair the problem when I send him the motor and wiring, meanwhile I installed a new motor, display and wiring.
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Old 03-31-22, 04:32 PM
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Even though the video is not recumbent related, but general criteria involving ebike/motor/battery choices are very useful:
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