My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

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reikiman
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My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

I found this motorcycle on eBay last August (cost = $900 :jawdrop: ). A guy in Napa had built it but for some reason (I neglected to ask) he wanted to sell the thing. He'd been careful to try and make it street legal so it could easily be registered.

The motorcycle is a 1980's era Suzuki. The rear end is from a golf cart. He said he found one with the beefiest motor you could get, for a golf cart. It's a 48 volt and he most strongly recommended not running it at any higher of a voltage. The controller is a very large Curtis. The battery pack is 80 amp-hour.

I've been rather busy and haven't had the time to get it to the DMV, hence it isn't registered yet. I've been redoing some of the wiring. But I really just want to take it to the DMV and see if they'll register it. The only real question I have is that there is no parking brake so perhaps the DMV will reject it.

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Gman
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My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

reikiman
:) :) :)
That is a nice looking 3 wheeler.
It's all electric?
Speed?
Weight?
Distance?
You've talked about it before, but this is the first time I've seen any pictures, very nice.

Peace Out,
Gman

Please stop by the V Refuge for the latest news about the V is for Voltage Recovery effort and status.
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Peace Out, <img src="http://tinyurl.com/ysafbn">
Gman

reikiman
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These are the first pictures I've published

I don't really know about speed or range. Since it's not registered I've not taken it on the road except for short try-it-out jaunts around the block.

It is all electric - though, if it turns out I need some range boost I'll think about carrying a generator.

Weight .. er... not liftable by a long margin ;) ;) ;) ..

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
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portablestew
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I'm pretty sure motorcycles

I'm pretty sure motorcycles aren't required to have parking brakes, but then again I've never seen a 3-wheeler in person. I wonder why someone would sell something so awesome for so cheap? I bet he made a better vehicle and/or the wife got tired of looking at it.

reikiman
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Well...

...and/or the wife got tired of looking at it.

He did say something about the wife insisting he decrease the number of projects he was working on.... ;)

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Electrified Electra To

MarxNutz
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

Wow! I love that HD Servi-Car look! :jawdrop: I'd like to see the details of how the m/c frame is attached to the rest of the framework. That makes my upcoming project turn more towards the concept of a three-wheeler, as I can see the benefit of battery storage area and a larger powerplant. I'd skip the automotive rims and tires if I could get away with it, to save on weight. And the front of the m/c frame just begs for either additional battery banks or maybe even a portable generator for emergency recharging! I must say though your vehicle definitely has a 'coolness' factor!

"If we didn't use real frog, it wouldn't be crunchy now, would it?"

reikiman
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

The current status is ...

I finally got over to the DMV to start the registration process. That was a bit over a week ago. The next step is to take it to the CHP for their inspection. And then I guess back to the DMV to finalize it assuming the CHP likes the design.

Mebbe I'll get some pictures of the attachment to the frame, but in the meantime here's a few words.

The axle/drivetrain has the motor mounted directly to a gearbox that drives the axle. No transmission.

The box on the rear is welded to some framing that is part of the axle. The front bottom member of the box is welded to the bottom of the swingarm. However the swingarm does not have a shock absorber, instead there is in its place a metal bar. The upper mount for what would have been the shock absorber is the top corner of a triangle that has a hefty frame member that goes to the frame near where the swingarm mounts. The swingarm is the third arm of this triangle. The swingarm should be staying rigid with this arrangement.

That's the whole of the attachment between the rear end and the motorcycle front end. It seems pretty simple, and should be easy to replicate.

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Electrified Electra To

Sturdly
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

Marx is right about those tires. I took the big meats off of my Servicar and replaced them with 5.00 x 16 stockers and the increase in acceleration was noticeable. The flywheel effect of getting those big heavy tires spinning eats mucho power. Some Beetle 5.60 x 15 sized ones would really lighten things up in that regard.

As for a parking brake my Servi has a saw tooth arrangement on the foot brake that latches over one of the support rods after the pedal is depressed. I've also seen the front hand brake version that has a pawl on it latching it in the engaged position or a homemade job with a pin through two drilled holes one in the handle and one in the mounting bracket. Holes aligned when the hand brake is depressed.

Definitely a cool project.

portablestew
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

you might want to think about using "spare" tires ... they're small, thin, and inflate to like 50 psi, so perfect for low rolling resistance

reikiman
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

I have a more pressing problem, now, that pre-empts tire choice considerations.

Just got off the phone with CHP -- trying to set up an appointment for the CHP inspection, to register this thing. The CHP officer says (sight unseen) that it's unregistrable anyway. He thinks the typical golf cart is not DOT certified for street use, therefore this thing cannot be registered for street use. Eep!

If anybody has experience with this process give me a shout.

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Electrified Electra To

Sturdly
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

In Washington if I had a title with VIN # for the bike frame I'd just change the title and renew the tabs. No inspection required on within the state title changes. There are plenty of trike conversions running the Lehman kits and I don't think that kit is dot certified. If I got pulled over and told to get it off the street then it would be a cool golf cart to take to the links.

reikiman
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

The last time this bike had been registered was in 1986.. I suppose it'd been in the back of someone's garage until they got tired of looking at it, and sold it to the guy who turned it into the three wheeler. Anyway I asked him for some advice, and he talked about how other "homebuilders" would register a vehicle in a state that doesn't require inspection, and then reregister it in California. That sounds interesting, and maybe Washington is such a state I could do that in...? But how can I register a vehicle when I don't live in that state?

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Electrified Electra To

Sturdly
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

No it doesn't work that way here. Any vehicle brought in from out of state requires a vin verification and inspection. Had it been here all along then title transfer and re up the tabs would work.

Maybe if you get another old beater bike you could transfer title then slap the conversion on it.

MarxNutz
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

Too bad you're so far away from me... I'd consider coming to get that bike! I am not sure how my state handles such conversions, but they can't be any worse than California... Something to go study on, I suppose!

"If we didn't use real frog, it wouldn't be crunchy now, would it?"

JCinStaunton
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

maybe it can be used as a hobbyiest type of registration, like antique vehicles and such? Vin from the bike frame used and allowed limmited miles per year?

spinningmagnets
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

Don't use the phrase "golf cart". You took a motorcycle and modified it to become a three wheeler to make it "safer" and more stable. You selected parts for the conversion that were stronger than neccessary, a friend from an EV conversion company helped you. Go to different DMV offices until you find a sympathetic ear.

Look into the regs for the requirements concerning 45 MPH "non-freeway" NEV's, there may be some loopholes there. Make sure to specify that it is electric and therefore doesn't have a clutch (this is important, I don't know why). Make sure to mention that in its current configuration its more stable and easier (safer) to operate than a motorcycle (which is allowed).

Do you have a friend who is technically "handicapped"? If they tried to register it first, advocacy groups might smooth the way, then it can be sold to you, once the DMV admits its safe for street operation.

For a parking brake, you may be able to adapt an extra caliper onto the front disc. some scooter calipers are cable operated, easy to adapt an auto ratcheting parking brake handle.

IbeRKT
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

Sorry to hear about your DMV troubles. I think the problem is that you don't have the information from the original donor bike. If you had the VIN then you could insure and register the bike as a regular motorcycle (which you could do even if the donor bike was not running since it does not need a smog). After it was registered and insured then you could do the modifications and have it inspected and certified as a three wheel electric motorcycle.

You probably could still do that as a last resort. Just buy a wrecked bike cheap, insure it, register it, then weld the frame on to the rear wheel unit that you have, then have it inspected and certified as a three wheel electric motorcycle. Yes it makes more work, and more time, and more money but what else can you do?

sgmdudley
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

I have a Honda GL1500 with Trike conversion. There are only a few companies that make trike conversions that have a parking brake. Mine is not one of them but I have not had a need for it and so far the DMV doesn't seem to care. (Colorado)

Robert Dudley
E-Scoot Tech

reikiman
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

But I do have the VIN and original paperwork and bills of sale going back to original owner. The problem is that when I talked to the CHP officer I said "golf cart" and he got off on a tangent, I think. It's been almost a year and most of that time I've been working on other things, like my Lectra project, and am thinking to get back to this project. I think the other mistake I might have made is tell the DMV it had been converted to electric.

In any case, yes, I could do as you say and get a different bike frame and redo the conversion. It is just a matter of welding the drive unit onto the back of a motorcycle. That's a good point I hadn't thought of, thank you for the idea!

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Electrified Electra To

spinningmagnets
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

Several years ago I bought a 1955 Ford from a man who acquired it from a lien sale as an abandoned car, but he never registered it. a few years later, he decided to sell it (to me). I took what paperwork he had to several DMV's, but to no avail.

It had not been registered in over 7 years and had "fallen off" the computer files, but they admitted that it had never been reported as stolen, and the lien paperwork appeared legitimate.

I thought about buying a registered '55 that had been wrecked, and swapping the ID's (I know, illegal), but I found this place:

CARS (Calif Auto Regis Service)
951-694-4331

27780 Front St # B3
Temecula, CA 92590

They fixed it for less than $50 through the mail. Sometimes the DMV doesn't "want" to do something thats "technically" legal, or at least NOT illegal, but these guys put the smack-down on them, and made them all cry like little girls.

jyracing
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

Nice trike! May be my next project with a 96 Magna.
Anyway, I'm in CA too. I know several ways to get a registration in CA.
Easy way... Do you have a friend or family member in law enforcement?
They can sign off on most vehicles in CA.
There are a few ways for gray market cars.
And, a few shadey ways, especially if you dont plan on ever selling it.
If all else fails, drop me a line.
JY

IbeRKT
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

But I do have the VIN and original paperwork and bills of sale going back to original owner. The problem is that when I talked to the CHP officer I said "golf cart" and he got off on a tangent, I think. It's been almost a year and most of that time I've been working on other things, like my Lectra project, and am thinking to get back to this project. I think the other mistake I might have made is tell the DMV it had been converted to electric.

In any case, yes, I could do as you say and get a different bike frame and redo the conversion. It is just a matter of welding the drive unit onto the back of a motorcycle. That's a good point I hadn't thought of, thank you for the idea!

Yeah if the donor bike was not kept up to date with the registration you may find it cheaper to start fresh with a new donor bike because of back registration fees.

Bob91403
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

Simple, get it registered as a "motorized bicycle". It doesn't have to have pedals if it's electric. As long as you put restrictions of no more than 30mph on level ground in place there is a one time fee, no insurance or registration necessary. Just don't get caught going more than 30mph on level ground and you don't have to register it as a motorcycle at all. The restriction says it has to be no more than two horsepower. But, if you use a cycle analyst to set your max output at 1497w, and no more than 30mph, you achieve the two horsepower limitation electronically. It doesn't matter what the motor is capable of. You can always change the settings later. Just don't get caught speeding. Oh, and yes, loose those stupid big ass rear wheels. Go for some regular motorcycle tires and rims. Those big wheels may look cool, but, they take a hell of a lot of energy to get them up to speed, and a lot to keep them there.

R
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

Those big wheels may look cool, but, they take a hell of a lot of energy to get them up to speed, and a lot to keep them there

I copmpeltelly agree. You know, "less is more"...
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

David
What can you tell us about trans-axle? Is it a standard Dana Is it actually from a Yamaha cart? I sold my Gold Wing to a friend out of state and he used a H-D rear end and made it into a trike and registered it in NY, So can a Suzi be converted to a trike. I mean other than mentioning that it was a golf cart or letting that part slip out. What speeds did you get it up to? What current are you pulling at 40 MPH? Sounds like you got a bargain for trike but maybe not if it just sits in your driveway?
Rusty

KB1UKU

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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

I have built several electric trikes. My latest one has a etek motor driving each rear wheel at 72 volts and 450 amp altrax controller. I runs super and pretty quick for what is is. I registered it as a moped as i have bike pedals here in Florida. If i run it hard it will get me 20 miles on 105 amp hour battery's. top speed is 60 plus and gets there quick. I run 12 inch 4 bolt trailer tires on the back.

your trike needs a tall tire to make up for the gearing in a cart differential to get any good speed . the electric differentials are something like 15 to 1. Now if you upgraded that motor and ran the new motor at 72 volts it should cook right along and then maybe go to a smaller tire for better low end tq. That thing will be a blast to run. I never get tired of running mine

I have a gas ezgo differential (7to1) that I'm installing now in a new trike project and using a electric motor that will spin 6000 rpm at 72 volts and I'm still going to use the 12 inch tire. the gas differentials have a reverse built in so you don't need a electric reversing switch

//img571.imageshack.us/img571/2675/bikemotors.th.jpg)

Dauntless
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

Oooh, another great long dead thread. I envy the guy who has built all those trikes. Hoping to get there.

Don't meantion details like getting parts from a golf cart to a bureaucrat. Nevermind that a golf cart doesn't have blinkers, etc., and THAT is why they can't be registered, a bureaucrat is looking for an excuse to say no. And once he/she has found an excuse acceptable to his/her own (Pea)brain, you're dead in the water.

In California, if it had a license plate and current registration, this conversion would qualify as a "Substantial Modification" and the vehicle would be junked and a new plate issued after an inspection. HOWEVER the new plate would be for a motorcycle since it's a 3 wheeler, same as the old one. If a cop stopped you, the registration would check out. This actually happened with a guy around the block from me when he wrecked the front of his bike and built a sandrail onto the front and left the plate on the back. If something happened so it was reviewed by the state at some time, I'm not sure what questions would be asked. . . .

If you buy a vehicle where the seller calls it a "Lien Sale," and it doesn't come with the paperwork to register it, your recourse is to file a complaint with the DMV and let them go after the seller for you, as a real lien sale guarantees registration, that's the whole point. This was misrepresented to you as a lien sale. OR more likely there wasn't supposed to be a problem when you went to the DMV window, you just got some lazy person that didn't want to deal with something that wasn't standard everyday procedure. If you file the complaint and it turns out it WAS a proper lien sale, you get your paperwork. And if the disfunctionary at the window still refuses, file a complaint against him/her. I complained on a different matter and heard from the DMV investigative arm as the wrapup.

$50 to those people might be great for my GPZ project bike, if I still wanted it. Mine was from a shady teacher at a motorcycle repair class where I needed a bike to work on and he was selling such right there. Of oourse I didn't expect there to be a problem when I bought it from the teacher who valued his job, which he lost because of multiple dealings just like this. But he was going to bring me the pinkslip. This being a guy whose story changed to whatever was convenient for him right that second, once the money was safe in his pocket. Short version is I learned he'd had the pinkslip when he'd sold it to several previous students (Oh, this is a GREAT story, but long) and I guess he either lost it or didn't get it back from one of them. Not sure there wasn't one or more that still believed THEY owned it and could come back and get it. And I wish one of THEM had it.

My point is that while the previous owner had apparently turned in the liability release, since the teacher had never put it in his own name the DMV wasn't interested in ANYTHING signed by him. The ongoing cycle I was put through was a long wait with the number to take the latest forms to a window and be told no, you have to do it THIS way, and go fill out new forms. At one point they said they sent me to mail an application to Sacrament to do a lien sale and that would GUARANTEE a pinkslip to a buyer, or to me if noone bought it at the lien sale, but Sacramento rejected it and sent me a letter to take a step I'd already attempted and was rejected, and even with this letter was rejected again.

So I never finished restoring the bike ($500 into it) and it's sitting in my driveway. It will soon be over 7 years out of the system. But dang, there's emotional baggage attached now. . . .

WHo dares, WINS!!!!

Nick007
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

that's a really cool 3 wheeler, i like it. Did it pass by DMV finally?

Stonetool
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Re: My three-wheeled electric motorcycle

A cute machine......... but I can see from the little marine deep cycles in it that it will have very poor range. I look forward to hearing what your actual experience with it is. Golf carts typically have 8 golf cart batteries. Golf cart batteries have more than double the capacity of your batteries. You have less than a quarter of the capacity of a typical golf cart. I strongly doubt that you will find the range satisfactory..... depending of course on your expectations.

Howard

Howard

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