Bike Forums

Bike Forums (
-   Adaptive Cycling: Handcycles, Amputee Adaptation, Visual Impairment, and Other Needs (
-   -   E-Trikes for MS (

elizilla 04-29-19 09:45 AM

E-Trikes for MS
I have MS that is affecting my left side. My balance is actually pretty good but I am weak, easily fatigued, and it is hard for me to pick my feet up, especially the left. So riding a two wheeled bike is fine while moving, but getting started, stopping, and getting started again, is exhausting. So last year I got a Liberty Trike.

I liked it so much I bought a second one. My husband scoots around town with me, or other friends come over to ride them. It is surprisingly fun alone and adding a second one has been even better. We ride them around the quiet side streets of our town, or on the sidewalks in the town center, or five miles up the bicycle trail to the park. I take it into the farmer's market and even to indoor events like a motorcycle show at a convention center last winter. It fits in small spaces and through doors. Oh and it come apart into two pieces to fit in the trunk of the car.

It has a hub motor in the front wheel and a battery that is mounted under the large basket. I tested the range and easily got to 20 miles. There's a twist throttle and a little instrument panel that shows speed, odometer, battery meter etc. There's a button to select 1 through 5, this controls max speed. 1 maxes at 1.5mph, and 5 maxes at 12mph. I set it to 4 or 5 when I am on the road or the bike path, and 2 or 3 for the sidewalk. I mainly only use 1 when teaching someone new to ride it. The hand brake operates a disc brake on the front, and there's a coaster brake that applies to only the right rear wheel. Both offer good, easily modulated stopping power. It only has one speed; no gears. I like the wide seat with the backrest, the reverse, and the parking brake. I can stop to chat with neighbors, and comfortably sit on it without moving. My head is at eye level with other people, which is much better, socially, than sitting down low like you would in a wheelchair or on a mobility scooter.

I wouldn't want to take them out for bicycle touring, though. First of all they won't keep up; they are electrically limited to 12mph and frankly I would feel unsafe going any faster. With that extra wheel and the inherent tippiness of trikes on bumps, the raggedy edges of country roads could be super dangerous, especially on downhills when you could get going faster than 12mph. Also, you would not be able to eke out much more range by pedaling. The cranks are awkwardly short and with my long legs the seat won't go high enough to get a good angle on the pedals. I just pedal enough to keep from stiffening up, and to give it a boost when the front wheel loses traction.

I love my Liberty Trike a lot and highly recommend them to anyone who has good vision and is spatially aware, yet has mobility issues.

However I recently sold my sidecar motorcycle so I have some funds and garage space. So I am shopping for another trike. Stay tuned!

elizilla 04-29-19 09:47 AM

What I am looking at now, is the Pfiff Capo.

I think this could be a more road worthy machine. With the paired wheels in front it would be easier to avoid running one of them over a bump. And the 7-speed version has front suspension and a suspension seat post. The front suspension appears to have a bit of articulation to it, too, which should help reduce the trike tippiness. And the overall larger form factor means it has normal length cranks and the seat could be raised to a proper height. I'd like to fit it with a pedal assist electric system, the kind with torque sensors. Dial it up high, because I am weak, but still require light pedaling. Because that would be super good for me, and fun too!

In my searching I found a shop that sells them, which is less than an hour away. I'm hoping they have one on the floor, that I can go see. I have written to them and will see what they say.

Kent T 05-01-19 09:04 PM

I pedal with spasticity which changes rapidly, and a weak right leg with a short left leg. Cerebral Palsy along with spina bifida and mixed type with one heck of a startle reflex. And still pedal on two wheels. Picking up my feet isn't easy. If the gearing is low enough when I need low, it has toe clips, and I can easily get on and off it, I can ride it. Whether bike, trike, recumbent. MS need not hold you back or get in the way, it's how you adapt, and rise to the challenge. Stay fit the best you can. Do what you need to do. Adapt. Overcome. What matters is that you're riding. I support you, as do many here. Adaptive Athlete inside.

honcho 05-09-19 09:47 AM

Check out Hase bikes. They make several trikes with Shimano STEPS electric assist. We own a Hase Pino tandem which many folks use to accommodate different abilities. However, our Pino is not a trike. Their Lepus and Kettweisel trike models have Shimano STEPS versions.

Hase is a German company and finding a stocking dealer near you in the USA may be problematic. Their US distributor does promote Hase to the differently-abled community and can provide you with some assistance locating a dealer.

With regard to other types of trikes, I've done a little bit of business with a dealer in Greenville, Tennessee who actively works with the VA to accommodate injured veterans. You might consider just giving them a call and see if they have any recommendations.

You mentioned looking at the Pfiff trike. Pfiff makes versions with the Bosch electric motor. I would highly encourage you to look for a trike with factory integration of the electric assist system. It won't be cheap, but a trike with Shimano STEPS or Bosch integration will have much better support than some of the less expensive Chinese hub motors. We own a ebike with a motor from the bankrupt and out of business Bionx. The Bionx motor works for now but parts and replacement battery packs will be a problem.

elizilla 05-09-19 03:48 PM

Thanks Honcho.

I know of the Hase Pino, it has fascinated me for years. But I only know it from pictures online, I have never seen one in real life. I have talked about taking time off work to just drive to a store that stocks them, someday, to see it. So, yeah, Hase Pino, sounds great, but it's not a trike. I'll keep drooling over that bookmark now and then.

In my searching I never saw a factory approved electric kit for the Pfiff. I did find out the seven speed version with suspension is called the Pfiff Primo. And on Tuesday I ordered one, a Pfiff Primo. I have already paid for it, it should arrive next week. When it gets here I will ride it around the parking lot by my house, under my own power, and see how it goes. Then back into the garage to take measurements and make plans.

Kent T 05-09-19 09:09 PM

elizilla, let us know how you like it, and some useful commentary. What you like and dislike. Where it can be improved. Keep us posted. Best wishes in the meantime, may nice scenery be seen, wind in your face, and may some fun and grins be had. Welcome to Bike Forums. Glad to see you here.

elizilla 05-18-19 08:39 PM

I picked up the Pfiff trike today. It is not yet an e-bike, I am still planning out the details. But now that the bike is here I can make better plans, because I have something to look at and measure.

I rode it around close to home, with only pedal power, today. I did OK on the flat, but there's a little uphill slope to get back to my garage and I could not get up it. My right leg was able to push the pedal enough, but the left is stupid. Getting across the top of the pedal stroke on the left, I could not maintain enough momentum, and when the pedal ground to a halt the bike started rolling backwards and I had to brake. And then I could not get going again because I was stranded at the weakest point of the pedal stroke. If it were a freewheel hub I could have spun the pedal backwards to a spot with more mechanical advantage, but it's a coaster brake so that could not be done. Ultimately I had to get off and push it. I made it to the garage but I was done in. Still, on the flat parts I felt quite good about it. I think this is going to be OK. Toe clips will help, and I need to get rid of that darned coaster brake. Freewheel!

I worked my arms and shoulders pretty hard trying to fight that left pedal over the top dead center, and the grips were at a very uncomfortable angle for that. So I adjusted the handlebars to suit me a little better, and I put the seat up another half inch. Rest overnight and I will have another short spin tomorrow, see if I do better with these ergonomic changes.

I really like the low step through. It was easy to mount/dismount!

The shop is recommending a TDCM hub motor with a five speed internally geared Sturmey Archer hub, or the other option would be to use a more generic rear wheel hub motor, and add a freewheel and rear derailleur. I need to find out if that TDCM is a coaster brake hub or a freewheeling one. I have always had an appreciation for internal geared hubs, they're super neat, but I have never owned a bike that had one. The freewheel and derailleur are familiar and comfortable so I may just go with what I know.

Another thing I need to change, is that this bike has a generator headlight/taillight. I realized after I got back to the garage, that thing was rubbing the tire, so that was also giving resistance today. I can't afford the extra resistance, I don't have leg power to spare for it, and I am unlikely to ride at night anyway. Also even when I was strong, I thought those generators were stupid. They were never bright enough for the speed I was riding, and when the bike stopped they were completely dark, which is lousy for being seen. Modern LEDs would mean the generator headlamp is brighter when moving, but when stopped it will still be useless. It is a nice tidy setup, the wires are very neatly installed; I'm impressed! But I still plan to remove it. I'll avoid cutting the wires, try to remove it carefully enough for someone else to use it, and I will pass it on.

I need to figure out how best to carry my cane.

elizilla 05-19-19 02:30 PM

It's pouring rain today so I won't go out on the new trike. I am willing to ride in rain but there's no sense getting it all grungy when I am just going to be wrenching on it shortly.

Still can't figure out how to disengage the dynamo generator. Couldn't find printed instructions but I found and watched some youtube videos. Some show how to pop it on but none show how to pop it off. Fiddling with it I can't find a thing. It can be moved away but it springs back when I let go; I can't find any mechanism to lock it in the off position. I might skip straight to uninstalling. The wires are threaded through holes too small to unthread without cutting them, and there are no obvious places to unclip them. Between my middle aged eyeballs, my weak hands, and the angle I have to reach them from, I'm not able to really investigate the connectors too well. But fortunately the videos do show the wire hookups, they are just normal wire, the clips at the end are just holding it and snapping in place. So I guess I will just cut the wires and take it off. Once I have it on the workbench I'll be able to see it and handle it more easily, fiddle with it to my hearts content. These dynamo kits are so inexpensive, probably no one will want it anyways. No harm to take the easy route and pull out the wire snippers. :-) I wonder if I can figure out a way to recycle these lights for use with a battery? They are nice looking.

I had hoped to try a mid-drive but now I am leaning towards a hub motor with conventional freewheel and derailleur. Grin Tech has an eZee system that I could use with a range of pedal assist systems. I could start with the cadence sensor since it is inexpensive and easier to install, and update it later with a fancier torque sensing bottom bracket if I like. I have selected some Shimano Deore components to run with it. The trike has a 24" rear rim so I guess I will have to get a wheel laced locally; Grin doesn't have this size off the shelf. At least the smaller wheel size means the 32 tooth cog on the freewheel will be lower than it would be on a larger wheel, which is nice when you are weak as a kitten. :-) Next question is whether to just use the existing rim and tire with the new hub, or leave this IGH wheel assembled in case I want to convert it back in future.

elizilla 05-19-19 11:47 PM

Now I am doubting myself. Every web page I can find says the trike has a 26" rear tire. But it looks weirdly small, I do think it is 24". This is weird. I will look at it again tomorrow, pull another bicycle up next to it to compare, get out a tape measure, etc.

Generator dynamo is removed. :)

honcho 05-20-19 07:12 AM

Originally Posted by elizilla (Post 20938059)
Now I am doubting myself. Every web page I can find says the trike has a 26" rear tire. But it looks weirdly small, I do think it is 24". This is weird. I will look at it again tomorrow, pull another bicycle up next to it to compare, get out a tape measure, etc.

Generator dynamo is removed. :)

You should be able to read the numbers on the tire. 26" would be a 559-xx (where xx is the width of the tire in millimeters) I looked up the specifications for the Pfiff Capo (that is the model you purchased?) and it says the front are 20" and the rear is 26" Looking at pictures of the Capo, it appears you will be limited to a rear hub motor due to the placement of the crank bottom bracket, making fitment of an aftermarket mid drive motor challenging.

elizilla 05-20-19 07:30 AM

I tried reading it yesterday, but found the printing on the tire is unreadable without getting down on the floor, which is a no-go since I can't get up again. This trike is too awkward and heavy to put in my bicycle workstand. When it comes time to do real work on it I am going to put it on the motorcycle lift table but before it can go up there, the motorcycle that's on it must come down. Room rearrangement stuff like this is a real hurdle for me. :)

I wanted to do a mid drive for two reasons: 1. I thought it would be more interesting. 2. The trike's configuration makes a front hub impractical and it seemed a shame to lose the fancy 7-speed rear hub.

But this frame makes mid-drive TOO interesting, lol! And since I have decided the 7-speed hub is wrong for me, I have to change the hub anyways, so, hub motor it is.

elizilla 05-20-19 01:39 PM

I went out there with my stronger glasses and a flashlight. and a chair to sit on. I don't think the markings on this tire are in English, or even in our alphabet. :) But I found a marking on the rim that I could read. 559 x 19C. So I guess it *is* officially a 26 inch rim. 19, yeah, I guess it looks that narrow. The "C" is for "clincher", perhaps. I suppose the wheel looks weirdly small because I am used to seeing much larger mountain bike tires on 26" rims, and tires of this thickness on the 700c rims. Whew!

elizilla 05-20-19 04:52 PM

Now I am trying to figure out the derailleur hanger. I think I will post about that in the mechanics section, though.

elizilla 06-30-19 05:05 PM

Just checking in to say, it is on the road! I installed a 7-speed Shimano rear derailleur and shifter. Then I installed a trike kit from E-Bike-Kits. I chose this one because it has reverse, and they are a company I have already dealt with; they made my Liberty Trike. And I got a Shark battery from EM3ev. I chose this battery because the form factor seemed better for my needs and this company gets good reviews. Mixing and matching this way meant I had to do some wiring on my own, but that doesn't scare me. I have it all put together and it is running! I am still fine tuning the ergos, and tidying wires, but I have had it out around the neighborhood a couple times and it's all working.

Here's a photo.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:11 PM.

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.