Apologies for zero updates in nearly a month. Since I last posted, I have gotten the seatbacks mounted, chains routed and brakes hooked up, and I have taken the Raven for a few test rides on pavement and dirt roads.
The test rides have taught me four things.
Much of this weight and complication in the steering, chain and cable routing is due to my desire for the seats to be low to the ground. The low center of gravity does make the trike feel planted, even with a narrow-ish track (38"), but the complication it has caused is too much of a compromise for a real-world, everyday application.
So, I have redesigned the main frame. The design is much, much simpler. It uses two main tubes, a straight crossmember, simple underseat (or overseat) steering design with two tie rods instead of three, utilizes aluminum seatback support tubes, single upright seat supports and now all power is routed to the rear wheel through the mid drive, which reduces the number of chains required, eliminates the need for a special tandem shift cable and should also allow chain routing to only require one power-side idler as opposed to 4. Also, the wheelbase has been reduced by over 2 FEET (609mm), which will greatly improve the turning radius.
The compromise here is that the seats are about 6" higher off the ground than the previous design. To counteract this higher center of gravity, I will likely increase the track width by as little as 5" and possibly as much as 10", for an overall width around 48". The seats are also 10° steeper, putting them at 55° rather than 45°. This puts the occupants in a position more similar to driving than before. I am also going to have the bottom bracket a bit lower to the ground so that visibility and chain line are optimized when it comes time to build the shell.
If it's not already clear to my readers, all of these changes basically mean starting over. The seats and tie rods will be re-used, but the rest will be cut apart and the usable pieces will be saved to be used as scrap parts for the next build and future projects. This is, unfortunately, one of the realities of prototyping experimental vehicles. This is not the end, but unfortunately it is enough of a setback that the project needs to be put on hold. Partially because of financial reasons, but also because by September 1st, my Fiancé and I will have moved to Boston for her postdoc position she was offered at MIT. Should we find suitable arrangements including a garage for me to work from, this build will resume part-time with the new, simpler redesign around then. Until then, I need to begin working again, packing up my tools and parts, and preparing to move our lives a 29-hour drive away.
If you know of any bicycle shops in Cambridge looking for an experienced mechanic to wrench in and/or manage a service department, I would greatly appreciate the introduction! Until then, I will post any updates here that I think you all will find entertaining, and I'll get back to work on this project as soon as I can.
Last Thursday, I finally got the frame rolling! In the process, I tweaked my plans just a bit in order to simplify the build process and to help ensure others could follow along easily and reliably. So far, the build has gone very smoothly and I've eliminated steps I've had to do in previous builds that I found to be overcomplicated or required too much "guesstimation."
I am very happy with the outcome thus far. This week's main goal is to design and fabricate the steering system. My intention is to have a nice, intuitive lever steering system that allows the rider's arms to rest at their sides and results in a very smooth, stable steering experience. My secondary goal is to create the front and rear seats. One of the design considerations for the seats includes the ability to quickly remove them in order to access the enclosed drivetrain. I have some ideas for this and I'm excited to flesh them out!
Thanks for tuning in. Much more to come very soon!
Working from my rough draft of my plans, I've started cutting tubes and laying out the build! I have everything cut for the main frame. Next time in the shop, I'll tack up both sides of the frame, link them together and possibly start on the kingpins!
I'm very pleased to say that the plans made the build thus far a total breeze! I recorded a lot of video today as well. Some of it will be used for my YouTube channel, and some of it may go towards making more detailed videos for Patreon.
Stay tuned as I believe this will come together quickly! Would you have any interest in building a machine like this from plans? How about a single-seat version of it? Let me know in the comments!
When I first ordered parts for this build, I ordered a 1200-watt rear wheel hub motor kit for simplicity. I chose direct-drive over geared because I wanted to be able to one day add regenerative braking, as well as a reverse function.
Since I received my kit, I've been reading up on the forum Endless-Sphere. The conclusion I've come to is that my direct drive motor may get bogged down with the weight of two people plus the chassis.
Some people would get around this problem by swapping the direct drive motor out for a geared one, but that would mean sacrificing the ability to have regenerative braking and reverse function in the future, so I opted to make my 1200-watt direct-drive hub motor into a mid drive, connected to the rear wheel at a fixed gear ratio of about 0.57:1 (16t at the motor to 28t at the wheel). To achieve this I'm using cogs on both the motor and the wheel that bolt onto the disc brake mounts. This means that in the future I can still have regenerative braking, and also drive the rear wheel in reverse! On top of that, the other benefit of a direct-drive motor is superior reliability as there is only one moving part!
In future full-suspension models (eventually), this same setup will allow for superior rear suspension performance by massively reducing the amount of unsprung weight!
So, today I de-laced the hub motor and then built up the fat tire rear rim onto a standard disc brake hub. Now I can get into the meat of this project - the build of the main frame! I have some modification to do to my welding table tomorrow to allow me to clamp down anywhere on the table, but once that's done I will be getting started on all the cuts and tacking together the two main portions of the frame. I promise I will post lots of photos! Until then, enjoy this taste of the future "hub motor as mid drive" setup!
Ever since Trike Trek '11, I have been attempting to find fulfillment through my work by working in bike shops and in welding/fabrication-oriented companies. While these jobs have been fantastic for building my skillset and expanding my knowledge base, nothing excites me quite the way that hatching an idea and bringing it to life does.
Something I've learned about myself recently is that I need a creative outlet in order to feel fulfilled. I want to have a lasting impact on both the cycling community and transportation sector by introducing vehicles that inspire others and get people excited about the future. With the experience I've gained over the years, I am now in a position to get that ball rolling!
Once the build commences, I will be releasing videos to YouTube to showcase my progress. I'm also considering making more detailed and specific instructional videos that I would release to Patreon only, that would go hand-in-hand with the plans I release. The aim here would be to actually act as a mentor to any prospective builders who desire extra instruction. I personally found it invaluable to have a knowledgeable mentor when I started working at Main Street Pedicabs. He helped me improve my welding technique and showed me some tips and tricks that would have taken me years to discover on my own. I wish to provide that same kind of value to my customers and also create a community of like-minded individuals in the process so that we can all share ideas and learn from each other.
Anyways, if you have, thank you for taking the time to read my brain dump. I am SO very excited to FINALLY serve all of you who have been contacting me over the years asking for various things. I truly hope to get to all of them!
This set of plans will mark the first of many plan sets to be released. Here's my quick list of vehicles I'm interested in making after this one:
- Personal touring velomobile.
- Modified single-seat version of the Raven
- Racing velomobile (body hugging, low slung skinny tire rocket)
- Off road/cargo quad E-velomobile (pickup-truck-esque)
- Longtail cargo bike
- Cafe racer-style E-bike
- Personal delta velomobile (drift velomobile...?)
- Ultralight tube-frame chassis 2-seat electric car w/ coreflute body (one day)
On top of these plans, I'd also love to write a short paperback book on the basics of working with materials like corrugated plastic, aluminum & polycarbonate to add a fairing to almost any vehicle.
Additionally, should the interest and revenue generated from these things prove enough to sustain me, I would consider selling frame kits, fairing kits or even full vehicles.
More to come soon. Stay tuned!
Overall I'm pretty happy with the table. I'm sure I'll add some features like a power strip and some more mounts for the MIG torch, maybe another welding tank rail system and more, but for now it will allow me to make some very nice trike frames without having to sacrifice accuracy by fumbling with them on the ground like I did in my last welding space.
Anyways, if you've read this, thank you for your interest and support in my work. I'll post updates here and on facebook as they're available! As projects get rolling, I hope to post videos as well.
Stay tuned, stay healthy.