Requesting Tadpole Trike Front Hub Motor Advice

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TrikeBirder   100 µW

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Requesting Tadpole Trike Front Hub Motor Advice

Post by TrikeBirder » Dec 15 2018 5:59pm

I have a BBSHD equipped TerraTrike Rover tandem with a 52v 13.6ah shark-pack battery.

Now I wish to add an electric assist motor to our other trikes. I am very interested in adding a front hub motor to my wife's TerraTrike Traveler equipped with a 24" rear wheel with a NuVinci N380 hub. And I would like to add one to my Catrike 559 equipped with a Rohloff hub and Schlumpf High Speed Drive. Since I don't want to lose the advantages both of these hubs provide, I think my best (only?) option is to add a front hub motor if I want to add electric assist.

After reading Steve Newbauer's article in Tadpole Rider concerning his front hub motors, I am hopeful a similar setup to his Golden Motor might be feasible for our Traveler and 559.

I do have some specific questions for the Endless Sphere community-

1) Is this doable/feasible and a good (only?) option?
2) Are there other reasonable options that would allow me to keep these hubs and my Schlumpf HSD?
3) Do you have any advice for me with regards to my build desires/needs?
4) Where is the best place and way to purchase a Golden Motor (I live in Michigan and make lots of visits to Canada)?
5) Have any of you experienced any undesirable issues with a single front hub motor installed on a recumbent trike?
6) I am thinking it would be best to use 52v 13.6ah batteries since they would all be interchangeable. Is this wise?

Thanks in advance to any and all replies.

Mike Boyce (aka TrikeBirder)
Current Trikes:
2011 Catrike Villager (daughter's)
2014 TerraTrike Rover i8 tandem w/e-assist (BBSHD)
2015 TerraTrike Traveler (wife's)
2016 Catrike 559 w/Schlumpf/Rohloff

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amberwolf   100 GW

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Re: Requesting Tadpole Trike Front Hub Motor Advice

Post by amberwolf » Dec 15 2018 11:12pm

TrikeBirder wrote:
Dec 15 2018 5:59pm

Now I wish to add an electric assist motor to our other trikes. I am very interested in adding a front hub motor to my wife's TerraTrike Traveler equipped with a 24" rear wheel with a NuVinci N380 hub. And I would like to add one to my Catrike 559 equipped with a Rohloff hub and Schlumpf High Speed Drive. Since I don't want to lose the advantages both of these hubs provide, I think my best (only?) option is to add a front hub motor if I want to add electric assist.
If they are tadpoles, you can add motors to both front wheels using the Grin All-Axle hubmotor with adapter parts from Grin Tech. At least one tadpole here on ES has been done that way.

If they are delta, then a single front hubmotor is easy, and could be just about anything that fits in the fork, and meets your power and speed requirements in the wheelsize used in your fork. (different motors have different windings available, which result in different wheel speeds in different wheel sizes at different battery voltages). Almost any hubmotor can be built into almost any wheel.


1) Is this doable/feasible and a good (only?) option?
Depends on the specifics of your trikes, and your needs (speed, power, etc).
2) Are there other reasonable options that would allow me to keep these hubs and my Schlumpf HSD?
Depending on the trike design, you can add a motor along the chainline from the cranks to the IGH input, like Rassy did on one of his trikes using a simple hubmotor-without-a-wheel, running the chain *under* the freewheel, so it only drives the chain when it's on, and the chain doesn't backdrive the motor if you're just pedalling. A freewheeling crank (which may not be possible on the Schlumpf; I don't know) keeps the pedals from turning with the chain when motor powered and not pedalling.

Alternately, the chainline can be split before the motor, using a jackshaft/etc, and a freewheel placed on the jackshaft so that the motor never drives the front chain, only the rear one.

Depending on design of trikes and your needs (and your level of DIY ability) there may be many other options.
5) Have any of you experienced any undesirable issues with a single front hub motor installed on a recumbent trike?
If it's a tadpole, and you only power one wheel, you'll have to get used to the torque steer that occurs when using it. Unless you have a whole lot of torque available and hit full throttle suddenly without realizing what's going to happen, it's not that big a deal. My delta trike SB Cruiser has around a couple kW on each rear wheel, and I use independent control of each one. If I use only one to suddenly accelerate at full power, I can feel the torque steer but it's really easy to negate. But I can also use the torque steer to help push me around corners sharper than I could otherwise manage, without skidding, so it's also useful.

6) I am thinking it would be best to use 52v 13.6ah batteries since they would all be interchangeable. Is this wise?
Probably. If you find you need more power / range on one of them, you can just add a second identical mount and pack to it.

TrikeBirder   100 µW

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Re: Requesting Tadpole Trike Front Hub Motor Advice

Post by TrikeBirder » Dec 24 2018 12:33pm

Hey amberwolf, thanks for all your feedback. You have given me some great feedback, and I really do appreciate your well thought out response. :bigthumb: 8)
Current Trikes:
2011 Catrike Villager (daughter's)
2014 TerraTrike Rover i8 tandem w/e-assist (BBSHD)
2015 TerraTrike Traveler (wife's)
2016 Catrike 559 w/Schlumpf/Rohloff

chvidgov.bc.ca   10 kW

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Re: Requesting Tadpole Trike Front Hub Motor Advice

Post by chvidgov.bc.ca » Dec 25 2018 6:26pm

At the risk of betraying my bias on this one, based on personal experience with my recumbent trike, I am convinced you can't beat the simplicity and functionality of a simple powerful hub motor in the rear wheel. Elegance is the reason. I don't like putting power through the drive train for good reasons based the many issues of mid-drives. I wouldn't want hub motors on the front wheels. I wouldn't want an 8 lb lump of middrive motor at the end of my front boom. I wouldn't want pedelic or torque-based assistance. All I would want is a throttle for maximum intentionality of power supply in each context of the bike. I wouldn't want to steal underseat space with a mid-drive. At the back, out of the way, with lots of weight on it, a decent motor like a NineContinent direct drive or greater, a couple of nice lithium packs working in parallel. A quiet motor with no Halls - for reliability - and pedal-first, for safety. Good torque arms. Decent tires like Schalbe Marathon Tour Plus or Maxxis Hookworm. I have about 19500 miles out of my Performer/Actionbent trike like this and it has been both awesome and trouble free, pretty inexpensive to build and few issues. It just seems that location for the motor makes the most sense. Why make it more complicated than that... Class 2 throttle-based ebikes are without doubt deliver more flexible riding patterns in all contexts from the sidewalk, to riding full on in traffic in town, in my opinion. Don't forget a CycleAnalyst on the boom, and various DCDC connected gadgets, like chargers, stereos or whatever. A trike has to be fine tuned for handling, and putting motors on the front has a heck of a lot of parameters that were outside the original design of the trike, and could be troublesome at speed, like brake steer, pedal steering etc, lateral forces on the bike depending on where the weight is located at speed. You don't want unusual centres of mass on long moment arms from the centre of mass of the trike, or handling gets screwy, fast. I learned this when I temporarily had my battery on the rear rack. The handling sucked. Moving that mass under the seat made an enormous difference in feel of the trike, cornering at speed. As you can see I am super pleased with my trike, and it is a simple logical conversion not fraught with side effects, whether in terms of maintaining the drive train, or dealing with unwanted impacts on handling.

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Requesting Tadpole Trike Front Hub Motor Advice

Post by dogman dan » Jan 01 2019 7:51am

Rear hub for a tadpole trike IMO. But yes, you lose that great rear IGH. On the upside, you stop shifting at all. Or at least very close to it. I'd recommend a geared type motor, so it still coasts like normal, and weighs a few pounds less than a big dd.

Converting to a 7 speed shifter not that costly, and often done anyway on terra trike conversions, because they are not 7 rear gears when you get one without IGH.


The rear hub has some simplicity advantages over the bike you have with a crank drive, but I'm actually a bit surprised you don't want to just put the same on the other bikes.

Experience from my wife, if she don't like what you have, she might not like any motor.

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