This home built electric reverse trike (electrike?) showed up for sale and at first I passed it right by, but then I stopped, thought about it for a bit and took another look. As I kept going over the photos, I was more and more impressed by how well it was done while at the same time it isn’t overly complex. Then the wheels started turning in my mind.
Being a three wheeler, it’s classified as a motorcycle so it’s a lot easier to get registered and because it’s a three wheeler, there’s more room to carry batteries. A relatively simple tube frame is covered by fiberglass and ABS plastic panels, which means the body doesn’t have any difficult sheet metal or composites to form. The front suspension is from a Mazda Miata and the rear subframe and driveline is from a Honda Shadow, so it’s registered as a custom Honda Shadow although many other motorcycles could be used for the donor driveline.
Keep looking and you see the simplicity of it. Compared to an ICE powered trike, you have far fewer moving parts, an advantage all electrics have, and the complete build looks more and more like a project a less experienced builder could attempt with greater chances of success. Without all of the gas and oil and hydraulic fluids plus the associated plumbing the project is cleaner in the garage and from concept to completion you’re possibly looking at a lot less time than with a conventional build. You will still, however, need to do some welding.
According to the seller of this trike, it has a range of about 50 miles, nothing to write home about, but perfectly fine for a little short range runabout, and he charges it on 110 volts at home overnight. He says it gets up to highway speeds, but of course, your range will decrease a lot faster if you do that for very long. Range could probably be improved with different batteries, but that would be something not too difficult to modify after the fact. You pop open the panels, swap batteries, maybe make some other changes to the controller or motor and you’re off. This trike was completed in 2013 so the technology probably could be updated and improved if someone was starting fresh on another one today.
The point here is that these “electrikes” could be a great way for a novice builder to get started with something that takes him or her out onto the road, putting a substantial and usable project into their portfolio of completed builds. It increases their knowledge of electric vehicles and all of the associated technology, it builds their skills used in the process itself, preparing them for a bigger project later plus they gain a lot of confidence from carrying it through from start to finish. It’s something they can show to all of their friends and the inevitable crowd that will gather when they park it and feel the pride in being able to say, “I built that.” What’s not to like?
Whether you’re a fan of electric vehicles or not, you have to admit there’s a lot of potential here. Not so big it’s too intimidating to start, not so small and easy that anyone could do it, it really is a right sized project. Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it? I like it.
The electric reverse trike shown above is for sale on eBay.
UPDATE: I added this photo for those who think home built reverse trikes have to be simple or boring. Here’s a 3 wheeler designed for a combination of diesel and electric which is capable of running on either alone. It’s the XR3 hybrid designed by Robert Q. Riley and I think it looks really sweet. Now there’s a garage project that would be worth building.