In January 2017 I set about electrifying my HPV Scorpion FS20 recumbent trike. Trikes are great fun to ride, and comfortable too. A lower profile and recumbent position mean they are more aerodynamic, but the downside is their weight. For me, it makes any climb hard going, even pretty innocuous lumps can take some effort. Of course, you can grind away in an ultra-low gear and, with three wheels to keep you upright, you can go as slow as you need to.
After looking at the options of a wheel drive or crank drive, I opted for a crank drive. Wheel drive kits tend to be cheaper than crank drives, but I find the crank drive a more elegant solution. And, If I ever wanted to sell the trike, I could remove the kit, revert the trike and fit the kit to a different bike, regardless of wheel-size. A crank drive will only have a single chainring, but my trike had that already, so it meant I could retain all 27 gears – a 3-speed rear hub gear with a 9-speed cassette fitted.
A Bafang seemed to be the obvious choice. Buying from China, where they are made, is a lot cheaper than sourcing one in the UK or Europe – there are plenty of providers on Amazon but the disadvantage is delivery times are much longer. As I was a bit sceptical about buying direct, I ordered a kit including a 15Ah battery from Woosh Bikes in the UK.
The Bafang kit is very comprehensive and easy to install, thanks to the fool-proof connectors. Instructions are not really needed, which is probably a good thing, as there weren’t any. For those that are doubtful, there are plenty of videos on Youtube about how to install a Bafang…on an upright.
First job was the remove the current bottom bracket from the trike. And there I hit the only real problem I had. Even with the right tools, I could not loosen it, so took the bike up the road to my local bike shop, where they dealt with it straight away.
On my first ride out, the motor rotated within the bb shell, even though I thought I had it tight. That pulled on the cable and pulled the main connector apart, and I lost drive. It didn’t take long to sort out.
Since putting it together I’ve ridden several hundred miles without any real issues, though the connection (my extender) to the speed sensor became erratic because it had worked loose, so I soldered the joins rather than just wrapping them… something I should have done in the first place. For the larger cable extension I used plastic-housed screw connectors and wrapped all the connections in waterproof tape.
After coming back from a long tour of France I decided it was time to put a motor on the Pino. I had mulled it over for some time and, because a new ‘e-pino’ is horrendously expensive, I decided to fit a Bafang Crank Motor.
I bought the motor and battery together, from ‘Aliexpress.com’ and ordered it from China, as it’s cheaper than using a European supplier, but delivery times are longer. If you are in a hurry for the kit, a UK or European supplier will get it to you sooner.
The Hase crank has a square taper axle – in what I call a ‘square, square’ pattern. The Bafang cranks supplied in the kit are ‘square, diamond’ pattern, so, in order to retain the Hase freewheel, you need to source a ‘square, square’ right hand crank. These are available as a Tandem Captain’s crankset from SJS Cycles. You will have to buy the crankset, as they don’t sell individual R/H cranks.
This may all look a bit complicated, but I am no mechanic or engineer, and I have fitted two of these motors now. As I said at the start, the hardest part can be removing the old BB.
Two and a half years into retirement and we are coping well. We celebrated no more work with a month of tandeming in Germany, down the Rhine, a week with the International Tandem Rally in Oberhausen an der Nahe, then cycling up to Lippstadt for an Army reunion, after which we headed back to the Rhine and followed it downstream to the Hook of Holland and the ferry.
Last year it was Sweden, but a bit too far to cycle we thought, so we drove, stopping in each place for a couple of nights so we could have a day ride before moving on. Sweden was fun with unusually warm weather – which was good – and the island of Öland perfect for riding, though the headwinds were a bit grueling at times.
In December 2018 I was fitted with a pacemaker. After a few years of bradycardia and arrhythmia the docs decided it was time. It took a while to get right, but now it’s settled and I’ve got used to it, I forget it’s there most of the time.
In spring 2019 we headed back to Germany to join Tandemtreffen (TT) for a weekend of tandeming. This was our second TT and just as much fun as the first. We hope to go again in 2020, which will be in the area near the Mosel river.
In the summer of 2019 we set off from home on the 1st July for an epic tour of France, riding to the Mediterranean and on to Toulouse before picking up a car to carry on the the International Tandem Rally at Marciac. After an enjoyable week of cycling within sight of the Pyrenees, we drove back to Caen, dropped the car off and caught an overnight ferry home.
As winter takes a firm grip and Brexit looms, I wonder what will pan out for us in the next few years.