Magnificent Machines

Building Kermit the E-trike

Charlotte is fast becoming one of our most experienced Trike riders, and has tried a range of Trikes so far, starting with the old but faithful blue trike ‘Tess’. She had tried multiple trikes but unfortunately, they all proved to be unreliable for long arduous rides. Either the electrics could not cope with the range or weather, but also the sheer miles Charlotte covers meant often there were physical breakdowns.

It was time to build her something custom and up to the job.

The Brief, Make it sporty, hard wearing, fast and most important Green…..

We started with a well-trusted Whisper step through frame. We chose this as we knew easy access on and off would be important to Charlotte, and we had experience of the Whisper bikes in e-bike form and knew them to be both light hard wearing and the fact they used standard Mountainbike components made them easy to work with.

A whisper frame, battery and mount were ordered as they are a special fit for the frame.

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Before I ordered the final components I wanted to start by putting together some parts from the spares bin. So on go some old forks stem and bars, along with a front Motor wheel ( a Bafang BPM) oh and my own rear wheel for now just to level it up.

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This allowed me to start trying out components and get a feel for the length of stem and forks that would work best for a sat up riding position that Charlotte favors.

So on went the bottom bracket and cranks and a very Green Superstar components single speed chain ring.

 

I also wanted to switch to fixed Carbon Fiber forks to save weight  at the front as the Bafang Motor adds quiet a bit of extra weight there.

Next to arrive were the very nice green mountain bike bars grips and stem.

 

These fitted well but I wasn’t happy with the ebike display being offset. Call me a perfectionist but that needs to be central.. So time to fire up the computer and design a better mount that gets that in the middle.

 

Now that’s better.

May as well sort out a bracket to hold the Battery onto the bike, simple design needed and  that’s sorted.

 

 

Next up I wanted to fit a front mudguard, but unfortunately the very nice Carbon forks don’t have a mounting point to fit mudguards, never mind back to the computer…
It was around this time the Trike rear axle arrived. This is a major piece of metal and allows you to convert the back of a normal two wheel bike into a Trike. It contains a limited slip differential and makes it easy to mount two standard 26″ wheels.

However in order to brace it correctly and stop rotation under braking two tie rods are needed between the axle and a suitable point on the frame.

After fitting the axle I start mocking up the location of the tie-rods using some rose joints pushed into some garden canes. this helped me work out where would be best to mount them on the frame..

 

After some careful measurements I spoke to my brother Martin who has a small lathe and could turn down some stock metal and tap the ends to the right length for me. He also painted the final tie-rods a very fetching Green..

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He also chromes the ends and made me two stand off mounts to allow me to mount them of the frame brace.

 

You may notice the split brake system is also being installed. This is a Hope system that splits a single Hydraulic brake line into two using a T piece to allow both back calipers to be activated using one brake lever.

I must admit we had fun trying to bleed the brakes and in the end called on the help of the guys at Hope to put it on their bleeding rig to get every last air pocket out of the system. Thanks guys!

 

I wanted to run an e-brake on the bike so adapted the Hope levers with a magnet so I could use a magnetic switch to detect when the brake was being applied.

Also I finally received some nice schwalbe marathon plus tires so could remove those horrible grey mountain bike tires at last 🙂

Just some cabling and tiding up left and Kermit is done..

 

The last two photos show Charlotte’s old and faithful trike ‘Tess’ along side Kermit, and Charlotte first ride in Todmorden.

Hi, I am one of the trustees of Empowered people. As well as looking after this website, I am also an ebike builder, modifier, hacker, and general bike mechanic. I have been involved with the Charity since 2015 and participate in as many rides as I can with my wife Catherine on the 'Bike Train' if you look around the website you are sure to find me in the background somewhere.

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