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Catrike Expedition + Magic Pie V5 = Fantastic commuter!

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    Catrike Expedition + Magic Pie V5 = Fantastic commuter!

    Hi all!

    Early last year, I had purchased a Catrike Expedition and... my wife and I had 2 cars at the time and zero extra space in the garage, so I had been pulling the trike into my living room (tile, of course). This obviously got old quickly with my wife... and so when we bought our new house and moved into it 9 months ago, her first request before moving was "no bikes in the living room!"

    And so, I had sold my yellow Catrike and went back to biking. But I missed it, a lot. Then, I sold my car 6 months ago and was heavily commuting by ebike (another build I had done from Lunacycle back in January of this year!), and when I hurt my back 6 weeks ago... it seemed like the right time to get a trike again, and to electrify it this time!

    So... I present... The OC: Orange Cruiser!

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    Parts list:
    1. Catrike Expedition - ~$2800 (with tax) from local recumbent bike shop --!expedition/c2465
    2. Magic Pie V5 with thumb throttle in 26" wheel from Lunacycle - $374.95
    3. 10 speed Sunrace freewheel - $89 ( (I'll come back to this later!)
    4. Rear light from Lunacycle - $15 (I plan to order one more, and a front headlight, as soon as the headlights come back in stock!)
    5. 52v Panasonic GA 17ah triangle pack (including Advanced Luna Charger) from Lunacycle - $679.95
    6. Cycle Analyst V3 from Lunacycle (with speed sensor) $149.95
    7. Arkel pannier bags for the Expedition - $134.99
    8. Two rear torque arms - $35 (From eBay, Lunacycle was out of stock :()

    Total of all items: ~$4278... along with a few other small odds and ends.

    About the trike:
    I strongly considered ordering and assembling a KMX Venom from, but when I specced it out with the same components as the Catrike Expedition, it actually cost a bit more. And, I liked that the Expedition had quick release wheels on the front (they're bolted on with the KMX), as well as a few other things (frame design on the Catrike also lended itself to the triangle-shaped pannier bags).

    The triangle frame sides on the rear of the frame jumped out at me as the PERFECT place to put a Lunacycle triangle battery... and I was right!
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    The Magic Pie V5 Hub Motor
    I strongly considered a BBSHD or Cyclone to mount up front, or possibly a mid-mount system, but I really didn't want additional weight on the front of the trike by the BB (trikes tend to get really light on the back during hard braking), and I really didn't like the idea of coupling the electric assist with the shifting. As I mentioned above, I had done a Lunacycle build on a bike earlier this year -- that was a BBS02 on a Motobecane hardtail MTB.

    That BBS02-powered eBike was a great commuter, but it wasn't awesome to always have to drop the power when accelerating and shifting gears. Plus, with a the Magic Pie V5, you can wire in a reverse switch to be able to run the motor in reverse for backing up.... not necessary or desirable on a bike, but awesome on a trike! Finally, the icing on the cake: Regenerative braking. The Expedition doesn't come with a rear brake stock (again, they transfer a lot of weight frontward), but with the rear hub motor, plus battery, the regenerative braking is AWESOME. It is all I need to get from ~28 MPH (wink) down to 5 MPH without using the front brakes at all, and gains me about ~8% more range from the power it generates. It's a little harsh and I wish it came on slightly more gradually or was progressive depending on brake pull, but you can't have everything.. yet...

    Wiring in the Cycle Analyst V3
    The CA3 is not directly compatible with the Golden Motor Magic Pie V5 ... that is, the Magic Pie doesn't have the CA3 connector on it. But, you can order the CA Shunt, which gives you the ability to wire inline with the battery before the Motor controller, and even control the throttle to the motor, all through the CA3 cable. Admittedly, I'm not quite done with this part yet, because I haven't yet wired in the throttle to the CA3. I am planning on doing this after I order a BB torque sensor, which can be coupled with the CA3 for full torque-sensing proportional pedal assist.

    However, as it is right now, just with wiring in the shunt (see below), I am able to see exactly what voltage I'm at, how much wattage I'm drawing, watts per mile, regen percentage, speed, and much more. It's a little more expensive than going with a Golden Motor-specific display, but well worth it.
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    The cables are run along the bottom of the trike:
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    I had to replace the handle grips on the catrike because the built-in shifters are at the top of the handles, with the shift cables going down inside the grips. This was a problem when I needed to swap out the right brake handle for the ebrake (which also starts regen braking) handle, and when I needed to add the throttle on the left side. For this, I just used some pretty standard bar tape and it is doing the job very nicely!

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    So... the difficulties

    First, the freewheel
    As I mentioned above, I have to come back to the 10 speed freewheel. First of all, the trike had a 3x10 setup. I really didn't want to replace the rear derailleur, and chain (which is really 3 chains hooked together, because it's so long on a trike), and Lunacycle only had 7, 8, and 9 speed freewheels to ship along with the Magic Pie V5. So, I found the 10 speed freewheel on Amazon and ordered it.... and when it arrived, I promptly put it on the wheel and... it wouldn't spin backward! I had put on the washer... but it was binding against it. In fact, the washer was a little bit too large and was binding against the inside of the freewheel where it was supposed to spin freely! This was a MAJOR problem and meant I couldn't finish the installation that day... or the next.

    I ended up taking the washer and carefully ground down the outside of it with a belt sander and a pair of vice grips to get it small enough to fit inside the edge of the freewheel (which was inset) from the back... and finally, I had a fully freewheeling 10 speed gear set on the back!

    But wait... there's more! I also had to carefully re-adjust the limits on the rear derailleur to skip the lowest gear (due to different spacing, and then re-adjust the cable to properly deal with the shifter positions. So I only have access to gears 1-9.... not 10. But it's still more than enough to spin 35+ mph downhill with a good high cadence.

    That freewheel was by far the biggest difficulty I had with this build, but it wasn't the only one.

    Second, the rear axle needs to stay in the dropouts...!!!!
    The way forces are exerted on trikes during cornering is different than bikes -- on a bike, where it leans in the turns, there is no side to side rocking force... but trikes do not lean in turns. Which is awesome. But, there is a LOT of lateral force, especially on the rear wheel especially at higher speeds.

    Initially, I had both of the rear torque arms on the outside of the frame, with the large axle bolts (which have some serious teeth to bite into the frame, to prevent backing out and the axle rocking) outside them. But with the lateral forces during turns, the axle wanted to pull downward on the outside while turning. It didn't fully come out, but it was dangerous and the moment I realized it was happening, I immediately moved the left side torque arm inside the frame side of the dropout, so that the outside left bolt would bite down directly on the frame, and used blue Loctite on the big bolts (along with the torque arm bolts) and tightened everything down HARD. And I've had zero issues since!
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    Final thoughts

    This trike easily cruises at 30-32mph, and is lovely to ride. The cruise control (red button on the right side under the CA3) functions exactly like you'd want -- it adds extra power going up hills to maintain speed, and backs down on the power (and even regenerates!) going downhill. I always pedal constantly while riding, and with the CC on, and it's neat to see the CA3 showing reduced watts being pulled to stay at the same speed because of the added human power. I can't wait to get the torque sensor in the BB and get full proportional pedal assist!

    I took it on a 67 mile ride this last Saturday morning -- 22 miles up to my friend's house, then pulled out the battery to let it charge while we rode another 18 miles (without battery -- there's a bit of drag you can feel but it's not bad at all), then 27 miles back home (took a detour just because it was beautiful!). A week before that, I went for a ~20 mile ride at 22mph average speed, and used ~25% of the battery. The hub motor setup + the 17ah battery are very efficient, and I'm sure I could pull 50+ miles out of this battery alone. And if I needed to, I could put in another triangle battery (for the other pannier bag!), wire it up in parallel with the first one, and double my range.

    Future plans
    As mentioned, torque sensing bottom bracket
    Clear front fairing
    More lighting (As soon as Lunacycle gets their front lights back in stock!)
    Perhaps another triangle battery for the other side?! Normally I carry my charger in the left side.
    Perhaps an orange water bottle :)

    A few more pictures
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    I forgot to mention the front fenders in my price list... they were $125. And with all the fenders, they do a GREAT job of keeping water off me (and the side mirrors) from puddles. That said, I rode through a SOLID downpour two days ago and the trike came through it totally fine, not a single problem. Water stayed out of the bags, off the battery, and the CA3 was also just fine. Ride on, everyone!


      Sooo... I've come to the conclusion that a big heavy hub motor in the rear on a trike is not a great idea. Due to the side forces during turning, it exerts a LOT of pressure on the dropouts and this aluminum frame with the two torque arms I have is just not strong enough to deal with the extra weight from the motor. I'm planning on switching to a mid mount motor setup, PROBABLY a Mini Cyclone mounted on the front boom... will provide pictures when I build it. Eric Luna, are there any build videos or reviews of the Mini Cyclone package yet? How does the noise level compare to the regular 3000 watt Cyclone? I'm assuming it has a decent amount of noise, with the size that it is...


        Did you use thin steel washers in the inside of your dropouts? Are the small axle shoulders digging into the frame? If so, washers may solve it.
        Alan B


          Originally posted by Alan B View Post
          Did you use thin steel washers in the inside of your dropouts? Are the small axle shoulders digging into the frame? If so, washers may solve it.
          Hey there Alan, yes, I did have washers inside the dropouts, and the axle shoulders dug into them, in addition to the large bolt on the outside of the dropouts digging heavily into (and "warping" the aluminum too from all the lateral force during cornering. I'll have to take a picture and post it at some point... it's a bummer, but the frame isn't ruined, thankfully. Just isn't going to be taking another hub motor, I'll tell you that!


            Sorry, it had been awhile since I looked at your good photos, you showed the washers well. I wonder what the real problem is here. Lots of folks successfully use rear hubmotors, some much larger/heavier than the pie. Did the nuts stay tight? Was the damage caused by over-torquing? The side forces should be fairly similar with or without hubmotor (it is limited by what the rubber traction can handle), so perhaps the fit isn't good enough? I would use torque arms both sides, and NordLock washers between the arms and the nuts to keep things snug without excess torque. With good steel inside washers the axle shoulders would not be able to dig into them, and they would spread the forces on the dropouts.
            Alan B


              Originally posted by Trikehard View Post

              Hey there Alan, yes, I did have washers inside the dropouts, and the axle shoulders dug into them, in addition to the large bolt on the outside of the dropouts digging heavily into (and "warping" the aluminum too from all the lateral force during cornering. I'll have to take a picture and post it at some point... it's a bummer, but the frame isn't ruined, thankfully. Just isn't going to be taking another hub motor, I'll tell you that!
              I have been considering the Magic Pie 5 for a second trike conversion I'll be working on. I'm wondering if Alan's suggestions would have corrected your issues.


                I believe your report of damage. The question is what is the root cause?

                I'm wondering how a steel axle can dig into a steel washer. Perhaps the washers were not steel? Good washers will spread the forces, the aluminum can't take the localized force, but it must, by definition, be able to withstand the forces on a larger scale, or it would fail even without a motor.

                I don't, offhand, see how the hubmotor changes the cornering forces much. Basically you can develop a set of forces on the axle/dropout when cornering up to the point the rubber loses traction. Having or not having a hubmotor in the wheel doesn't change that limit, the tires just slip when the force is at maximum either way. I could be wrong but I suspect that the hardware used has concentrated the forces and caused the damage, and that better axle hardware would solve it. Have you seen the videos of trikes with Cromotors? That hubmotor is about double the weight of a Pie, so if the motor was the problem they'd have a lot more trouble.
                Alan B


                  I think the added weight of the hub motor and the larger wheel (26") combine to really accentuate the lateral loading issues. You asked about washers -- on the left side, I wasn't able to put a washer inside the dropout because I could only put the torque arm there. Width is about 137mm between the dropouts and it was already a bit of a pain to get them down onto the wheel. I thought the torque arm was steel, but it may have been aluminum? At any rate, that metal "mashed" against the steel axle and deformed, and with the side lateral forces I ended up "mashing" some of the aluminum in the left dropout and it would have continued to get worse had I ridden more. I'm not talking about cornering at 30+mph either, and not super tight turns... ANY turn I was taking with the hub motor in there has a VASTLY different feel in weight compared to the stock wheel (with no hub motor).

                  A hub motor would likely be fine lower to the ground in a smaller wheel (24" or even 20" would probably be best) but I don't particularly like trikes with small wheels, and you really lose the ability to pedal at the top speed of the trike/bike when you have smaller wheels unless you have DRAMATICALLY larger chain wheels up front to deal with the smaller 20" wheels.


                    ?Still feeling the same way about the Expeditiona nd the magic Pie v5? I was wanting to build one, but now I'm concerned. Any resolution since? Would a better wheel and spokes help?
                    Have you built your middrive Cyclone version


                      Good question. I swapped out the Magic Pie for a front mounted Mini Cyclone, and overall, I like it more (Much faster, lighter), but I miss the regen braking and complete silence of the MagPie. However, you *WILL* need custom steel brackets to strengthen the dropouts to run a hub motor on any of the Catrikes... the dropouts are aluminum and they are not going to hold up to the side-to-side abuse you'll get from a heavy hub motor+wheel combination.