December 3, 2023

My good friend Lawrence Clarkberg ruined my life when he sold me my first electric bike about ten years ago. He decided to build an electric bike that would allow him and his wife, Judy, to travel across the country in comfort and style, so he built the Sun Pony. I love this build because it reminds me that anything is possible if you ignore what everyone else is doing and think outside the box. Watching this e-bike on the road brings me indescribable joy. This building reminds me of the Amish people traveling back in time from the future.The irony is a lot amish community Have been embracing e-bikes and solar panels/power stations for charging and I must admit I absolutely love it.

Three independent motor/battery systems to meet her needs

One of the main things that makes this build unique is that it features 3 different Shark Packs paired with different motors, resulting in triple redundancy. The two mid-drives are TSDZ2 systems that work well with this trike because they actually allow you to pedal backwards, which is necessary to activate the coaster brakes that come with this trike. The BBS02/BBSHD has a dual-clutch system, which means when you pedal backwards, only the pedals move, not the chain.The mid-drive battery is inserted into the solar panels in a row, each solar panel has its own Genasun 52v lithium battery MPPT charge controller From Grin (maximum charging speed is 8 amps).

Here you can see the middle drive on the left and the 2 sharks

It’s all about regeneration

Originally, the tricycle was equipped with a large drum brake on the front wheel, but Lawrence used a Grin full axis motor and a separate pod of sharks. This direct drive motor allows the trike to engage in regenerative braking to help recover energy that might otherwise be lost when going down hills. Lawrence didn’t like the coaster’s rear brakes being too weak, so he built a custom brake attachment point on the front steel fork. Additionally, the Grin all-shaft motor features a large built-in torque arm, so you don’t have to worry about all that torque coming off the front motor.

Here you can see the custom welded front disc brakes with huge rotors for better stopping power

Mid-driver paired with IGH

For hilly terrain like Ithaca, using a mid-drive is great compared to just using a hub motor. The tricycle is equipped with two Nexus 3 IGH with coaster brakes. Without the addition of an engine, this trike will have a hard time climbing any hills and is actually designed for level recreational routes. By adding 2 mid-drive motors, it can tackle almost any hill with relative ease. Top speed is usually around 20 mph, and when that speed is reached, the sense of security and well-being quickly disappears. The DD motor is generally only used on hills, with regeneration used when going downhill and extra acceleration when going uphill. The Nexus coaster brakes work when you pedal backwards, but are relatively ineffective for a bike of this size. The original tricycle was never designed to actually go down hills (or up hills), it didn’t have enough brakes and just had a sticker telling you not to use the bike on hills (true story).

Here you can see the separating axis and Nexus 3 IGH With reverse brake option

340-watt solar panels allow continuous driving day after day without stopping

If sunlight hits a panel, it will typically produce about the same amount of power it uses. When you stop the eTrike, you can pull the position-locking cotter pin and adjust the panel perpendicular to the sun to maximize charging in the mornings and evenings when you typically want to rest.

Here you can see the pins pulled out and the panels adjusted for maximum solar charging when stopped

An electric trike designed for epic off-road travel

When Lawrence built the Sun Pony, the clear goal was to travel long distances in comfort without having to worry about finding a place to charge along the way. The two-person seat is ideal for long journeys, where one person can drive and the other can read or just enjoy the surroundings. The Sun Pony’s total construction cost was about $5,000, which makes it a good investment when you consider how much gas it costs to cross the country. It seems like every time I fill up the tank it costs around $100. It makes sense to have a recreational vehicle that may be 3 times slower than driving, but will ultimately be a more enjoyable trip. Solar panels also protect passengers from the sun and help keep rain out (albeit less effectively). I love the practicality of this build and how it extends first principles thinking to maximize usability while still minimizing cost. Cargo can be packed in large plastic bins strapped to the back of the seats. Lawrence also has a large light slow vehicle triangle that helps warn vehicles to slow down and not try to drive them off the road. There are also dual headlights and dual taillights, powered by an e-bike bag with waterproof connectors for safety and reliability.

For more information about this release, you can check out Laurence’s article on the Fire Wheels Blog here. I also made a short YouTube video with Laurence that you can click on to learn more about etrike. It’s hard for me to express how enthusiastic I am about this build. While Hollywood likes to depict large, heavy-duty vehicles with inefficient off-road wheels driving around the wasteland with low gas mileage, the reality is that our post-apocalyptic wastelands will likely be filled with structures like this one that combine creativity, ingenuity Sex and insane efficiency.

Ride, ride, ride, ride and never stop because you need to recharge…

Cycle Analyst paired with Phaserunner connects to front DD motor and allows regeneration

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