Humble Worksman Etrike Conversion

Dec 18, 2015
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I'm almost embarrassed to post this here, on a forum where there's so much talent and so many incredible bikes.

But, it looks like there are a few dabblers like myself as well, who are trying to do some basic stuff.

So, here's my wife's trike, and the machine that made me become interested in trikes and electrifying them.

These photos are obviously tongue-n-cheek, as you read the captions. We posted these on FB for some friends with a similar sense of humor:

xl5.jpg
cockpit.jpg
rear end.jpg
drivetrain.jpg
swastycle.jpg
 
Dec 18, 2015
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So, this was a wreck of an old school Worksman trike I bought my wife, just to get her to try riding. It was fully functional, but rudimentary, and the prior owner spray painted the rims with the tires still on them, painting the tires as well. He had also painted the handle bars and other chrome with aluminum rattle-can.

She had not ridden a bike in nearly 60 years. She was skeptical, but she tried it and she liked it. She can't walk very far due to flat feet, so this lets her zip around our very bike-friendly neighborhood. I first added a Bionx kit off of a very used Dahon Ciao - the guy told me he rode it five miles round trip to work nearly every day for five years.

It was beat, but the Bionx kit worked great for a while, then went down hard. I replaced this with a new Ebikekits trike kit, that has a heavy duty direct drive motor with a nice display panel and reverse. This does about 15 mph forward and about 4 mph in reverse. The control panel allows you to dial-down the assist. At 5 of 5 bars, this thing will peel out and accelerate more briskly than the wife likes. She can dial it down so it accelerates more slowly even cranked to the max, and this also lowers top speed.

I found that I could ride this thing at 20 mph with the Bionx kit, but it's a little scary - particularly since it only has one front brake. You also get a little occasional tricycle wobble at that speed, which is disconcerting until you become accustomed.

I wanted this trike to be the "pilot project" that would get the wife to accept my taking on the larger project of building her something a little fancier - but she will not have it. She has bonded with this little critter like it was a puppy. She calls it her "rat bike." :)

I was gonna get her a nice, newer trike to which I could at least add a coaster brake, but no. I wanted to then at least maybe repaint the rims in a copper or brass metallic, or maybe even purple, and add some cream colored tires, but no. She won't have it. I put a nice mirror on it - she wanted the rusty one back. It's pictured here with a nice Planet Bike plastic front fender - she got her way, and now the rusty old chrome Wald fender is back on the trike, rust, aluminum paint, and all.

The bar end that holds the control panel was supposed to be temporary - just something to let me mock it up and test it. She likes that the way it is, too, so it has become permanent.

Since starting out with this trike, I've already had half a dozen Worksman 20 inch trikes, a couple of Adventurers, and now I've also got a used G3 trike with an older Ebikekits motor on it. I've swapped over to another Worksman and then back to the 3G. That kit will do 25 mph. If you want to learn about electrifying bikes, the best way to learn is to just jump in and do it. It's not that hard. You can pick up used stuff pretty cheap to tinker with, and once you get the hang of it, you can graduate to better stuff.

You just can't put it on your wife's trike. :) But, I did pick up some "take-offs" from my LBS today - some better quality caliper brakes in black anodized. She let me put those on it. I also replaced the beat up rusty basket.

If you don't let your machines sit out in the weather, I've got a good tip on eliminating rattles from these old trikes. Forget about the original mounting method for the basket. You have 2 or 4 screws kind of in the middle of the basket. Even if the basket hasn't gotten a little bent, it will rattle. Get some foam pipe insulation - the kind that come as a foam tube split down one side, what you use to eliminate condensation on your plumbing. Put that split foam tubing on the frame where the basket sits.

Strap down the basket nice and tight at the corners and middle with very heavy duty cable ties, so that it compresses the foam very tight but does not bottom out. Done right, this is absolutely rattle free and strong enough you can pick up the bike - even with motor and batteries - by the basket.

I wouldn't do this on a bike that will sit outside - of course, I would never let a bike sit outside either - but sunshine will eat up the foam padding and will make the straps brittle in short order.
 
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Jan 8, 2013
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You got to start somewhere, and it looks like you did your homework. This trike looks like it can be very useful for grocery shopping and such. The good thing about a trike is there's plenty of room for a big battery.
 
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Thanks, yeah, this was a lot of fun. I've been picking up a lot of these Worksman trikes and cleaning them up.

I don't know if it's just Florida, or everywhere, but I guess it could also be that some of these are older than I realize. I was talking with someone the other day and he guessed a trike was 30 years old. I said, "Heck no, I don't think so, it looks like about a 1985 model to me." Then I did the math... duh... that would make it 30 years old!

It's also harder to wheel a trike indoors for storage, so they might get left out on weather more often. Anyway, these trikes tend to get rusty chrome on the wheels, handlebars, stems and posts, etc. I rarely see one with good looking chrome. I thought at first it was just poor quality chrome.

However, I have one where I've cleaned up the wheels - they had a thorough coating of surface rust on almost the entire rim surface. I sprayed them with Crud Buster and let them sit for a while. I buffed them a bit, and then used my fingernail to scrape off the deposits left by the Crud Buster. I found that this revealed pretty good chrome under the deposits, so I switched to using a cancelled credit card to scrape at the deposits. This gets off the crud without scratching the metal so much. These wheels, that I thought were hopeless, came out pretty nice. There's some pitting in the worst areas, but overall the rims look nice. I hit them with a protective coating and they now look great back on the trike.

Funny thing on this one - you could definitely see that the 3 wheels had very different amounts of rust. The right rear was the worst, the front was next, and the left rear had hardly any rust. I could almost see that this trike was stored in a car port, with the right hand side toward the weather and the left side against the inside wall.

I've got a buddy who has been fixing up cast off bikes a long time. He's got a guy who does sandblasting, a machine shop where he gets new bearings, and so on. I'm thinking that I'll move along into more complicated fixer-uppers and maybe even do some fancier rebuilds as time allows.
 
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Dec 18, 2015
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The funny thing is, she was really hesitant about letting me get it for her. She had not ridden any kind of bike in at least 50 years. I just bought it and said I was playing around with it, why don't you try it out? First time, she wasn't sure she liked it. Couple days later, she asked me if we could go for a ride together. Now, she says something funny almost every night like, "I have a cool rat bike," or "we should take a ride tomorrow," or I hear her telling her girlfriends about it on the phone. I got her an Incredibell Big Brass bell - she had read about the nice tone these have. But, she did not like that the brass doesn't match anything on the bike. I offered to paint the rims with a brass paint, but she doesn't want to mess with the perfection of what it is now. Go figure. I don't think she'd let me put diamonds on it for her. Happy wife, happy life. Whatever she wants is cool with me. I think I just need to put chocolate in the basket for her to find.
 
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OCD

Nov 21, 2009
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That's an awesome mobility device for someone that could not cover much ground otherwise. To me it looks a lot more 'hip' than a senior's mobility scooter. There's an older gentleman in my area that rips around regularly on a similar rig. I know his family are worried about him on it as they once put it up for sale, but I guess he won out in the end as he still motors all over town. Good move getting rid if the Bionix unit in favour of something less proprietary and easier to work on. :thumbsup:
 
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Thanks - you're right about the Bionx kit. It was really nice when it worked, but it's difficult to work on. Unlike other kits, it seems that the controller is split between the battery box and the hub itself rather than having a separate controller box. Or, at least, the battery box contains the charging circuitry and the controller is inside the hub - I'm not certain of this.

I managed to open the battery box and wire up the lithium battery to an older Ebikekits controller and motor. This works like a charm. I put quick disconnects between the charging circuitry and battery, and between battery and wiring harness, so I can disconnect either part when using or charging the battery. I've been using the battery just sitting lose in the basket when I'm experimenting with another motor. I'll probably re-box this mess and mount it permanently on the next trike.

You're also right that it makes a great mobility device - however, i would not want someone who is a bit feeble or forgetful using this particular trike. It would also be a little bulky to take in the car or van, or to take into stores and indoor public spaces.

Worksman is developing or maybe even already selling a trike called Liberty Trike. It's a 16 inch wheeled trike, looks like it's based on their Port-o-trike Junior. I'm not sure how it differs from the Junior, but they're marketing it as a mobility device rather than as a recreational trike. Looks like it is significantly narrower to allow better access through doorways.

I've had and toyed with electric wheelchairs. There is a definition advantage of a trike over a wheel chair for someone who has pretty good mobility and motor control. You can go faster, on rougher terrain, and can carry more cargo. AND - it has pedals. You CAN power it yourself if you like. I think this Liberty Trike will bridge the gap nicely between bigger trikes and smaller mobility scooters. I also think there will be a good market for this, since we have such a large aging population who still wants to remain active and kinda hip.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-liberty-electric-trike#/