This terra-trike conversion was my first custom built self-standing electric vehicle for mushing and running the dogs. I designed this as a tandem style trike, so a passenger can experience what our WooFPAK gets up to first hand, joining the dogs as they explore and get their exercise. With this two-passenger accommodation, more consideration had to be given to the bike components- especially the motor (for weight handling capabilities), and the battery system (to endeavor for better mileage). This trike was an experiment, my first collaboration with a bike manufacturer. I contacted a trike specialist, and we worked together using a customizable stock bike.
Through much work and consultation, we came up with a rear hub powered electric trike- the Low Rider. Its power is primarily derived from two lithium 48-volt batteries. The original batteries that were designed for this vehicle were a little unreliable, having all the downsides of early lithium technology. There was a battery controller built into the battery itself, which produced some erratic results such as powering on unexpectedly and prematurely cutting off from overload. Using the twin battery system, a special harness was made so that both batteries were not powering the motor simultaneously so as to avoid having too many volts running to the motor. Instead we were able to double the longevity of the battery, for twice the mileage and longer rides.
With the addition of a cycle analyst (an electric bike battery computer display) we were able to better monitor the battery condition, predict mileage, and monitor for proper functioning. We have since converted to 48-volt improved lithium batteries with an external battery controller, which provides more reliability regarding battery condition and functionality.
In addition to the electrical components, some custom fabrication has been done to accommodate the dogs and for filming and broadcasting purposes. A swivel chair modification was added to the rear seat to aid in training the dogs and filming the experience. The gearing for this bike was left to the bike manufacturer with my input. We designed it to give equal access to independent pedaling to both passengers.
The fabrication also includes the mounting components so the dogs can comfortably pull, mush or run with the vehicle while safely attached to it. The weakest link of this vehicle has been the braking system. The increased weight of two people plus the momentum from the dogs means that extra braking power is required at certain times. This becomes trying for standard bike breaks, unfortunately. We have not fully developed a better braking system as of yet. We must replace the brake pads regularly and inspect the equipment thoroughly as part of the ordinary operating procedures for the trike.