Install electric on PFIFF Capo?

elizilla

Member
Hello,

I am a rider with disabilities and also a huge motorcycle nerd. Due to increasing disability I had to move to three wheels a few years back. And this year I had to give up motorcycles with manual transmission; I just sold my sidecar rig. Which means I have garage space and funds and a big hole in my heart. ?. Which I am filling with trikes. I looked at the Can Am Ryker today but I think I would rather go deeper in the bicycle direction.

I have this Liberty Trike which I ride around the neighborhood. It is fabulous - I have been posting about it in the brand forum. But I want to mess with stuff! Build my own thing. I have a lot of tools and while my hands are not what they were, I have the mind I always did, and friends willing to help with the two handed jobs. I want to create something a little better handling, to go faster and venture farther out. Recumbents need not apply - I am not strong enough to get up from the seat of a tadpole trike. It has to be more upright. I decided my new trike should have two front wheels, articulated with suspension, and pedal assist, not just a throttle.

So I found a trike I like. It is the Pfiff Capo. And I would like to put a Bafang BBSHD mid drive motor on it. But this trike has a weird shape to the frame near the bottom bracket. Is this going to defeat me? I have not yet bought either the trike or the motor, so I have nothing in hand to look at. It seems to me that the lump of the motor will simply end up above the down tube instead of below. But if someone with actual Bafang experience tells me I am nuts, I am prepared to listen!

Or does anyone have another suggestion?

I have been reading build stories, and looking at install videos and info on the Luna Cycles site. Super interesting! I haven’t taken apart a bottom bracket in 30 years but it doesn’t look too scary.

Thanks for any advice.
 

MarkF

Active Member
I'm sure where there is a will there is a way. Maybe a strong hub motor from luna might be a easier way.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Nice looking trike, the Capo. One immediate thought. Even if you could get a mid drive on the BB, the rear hub uses a coaster brake, which won't work as mid drives have to let the crank freewheel. One option is to change to some other IGH hub and have tabs welded for disk brake calipers.

If you got friends that weld and can make brackets, a cyclone mid drive is basically a motor on a bracket. Could one be fitted on the back half of the trike? It could go in front but then you can't split the frame.

Or you lose the coaster hub, weld on brake mounts, and go with a rear hub motor.

Looking at the amazon reviews though, owners say it tips very easily! That tells me to stay away,

How about the Sun?
 

elizilla

Member
Well, one guy says it tips easily. Trikes feel tippy in general, though - I doubt it would be much tippier than the trike I already have. I have been letting friends have a go on my Liberty, and I would say about one person in three just freaks out, can't stand it. That reviewer may be in that group. Since the Pfiff shop is local, I'm hoping I can snag a test ride before I commit, anyways, avoid buying a pig in a poke. :)

That Sun recumbent trike would definitely handle better. But it would be super hard for me to get up from, and hard to get my foot over the center bar. My legs are shaky and I would need something solid to hold onto, to haul myself up and keep me from tottering over. Also, back in the day before I was this disabled, I had a long wheelbase recumbent bicycle (the Rans V2) with a very similar configuration. I sold it because my feet bothered me, they would go all pins and needles. Looking back on it, that was one of the first symptoms I had, of the problems that plague me today. So, yes, I know the appeal of recumbents, I am highly interested in them, but I also know they are not for me.

I do have friends who weld and can make brackets. I will look at that cyclone.

Thanks!
 

elizilla

Member
The Capo has two brakes on the rear wheel. A coaster brake in that Shimano hub, and a rim brake. Probably it has two because they're both weak. And there are shoe brakes on the front wheels, which is where most of the stopping power is anyways. But wow I do like the disc brakes! I have been spoiled.

I suspect the rear dropouts would not be wide enough for a geared freewheel. Maybe swap out the Shimano hub for a freewheeling Sturmey Archer type hub? I see they have freewheeling hubs for disc brakes if I want to add that.

The Cyclone looks cool and the wiring doesn't scare me. I have a top quality crimper and I am good at that part. Also, I don't care about preserviing the ability to separate front from rear. I have the Liberty Trike for a portable ride. This new trike would be for trips that start at home. My neighborhood is full of cars with bike racks on, but me, I am already here, I don't need to haul it.

But I could also just give up on making it pedal assist and get a hub motor. This would preserve the low step over,avoid filling it up with motor, and it would look cleaner. I guess I don't have to decide now, I mean I don't even have the trike yet. There's time to keep researching.
 

elizilla

Member
I find several sites online selling machine laced alloy wheels with Sturmey Archer hubs in them, for under $150. Or spend a little more to buy a hand laced wheel with my own spec components. I know how to lace a wheel but it is a two-hand job and one I suspect would be frustrating to talk a friend through, so I think this would be one to just throw money at.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Mac or eZee gear drives would be my choice. No clear picture but it looks like a BBSHD might be a problem fit with that frame design. The In my experience supporting Cyclone they aren’t an easy build. The controller is cheap, the brackets are flimsy, but improved and it’ll massively over power the intended use.

Luna used to post a disclaimer regarding support for a Cyclone. None.
 

elizilla

Member
I've been talking to Jim at Human Electric Hybrid, which is a great local e-bike shop in Ypsilanti MI. He is a Pfiff dealer and can get the trike for me. He doesn't think a mid-drive is a good idea; he thinks I should get a hub motor. I might be stubborn about it and just order the trike, ride it around my neighborhood without adding the electric, and mess with it a bit on my own. I can always go back to him and get the hub motor he recommends, if that's where I end up.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
The rear wheel might be able to be motorized with a TDCM IGH motor supplied by Grin Tech, its basically a direct drive hub motor built around a 5-speed Sturmey Archer internal gear hub.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I bought a Sturmey Archer S80 IG hub for pedaling. I've had trouble with shimano cheap line axles breaking under my adult 180 lb, or coming unscrewed and dropping the balls 4 miles from home. The S80, the shifter link started popping out of the ring at about 500 miles. Unconnected, it defaults of 8th speed which is unrideable on the level. Every 2nd block I would have to lay down on the ground to put it back in again. Curses on Sturmey Archer (Sun)
 

elizilla

Member
Well, last week I went ahead and ordered the trike. It is not here yet but I am spending a cold Sunday afternoon reading and learning whatever I can. :) I have not ordered any e-bike parts yet; I'm going to spend some time with the trike once it gets here, first.

Forgive my newby-ness but I am still trying to understand what is the deal with coaster brakes and mid-drive. Does the coaster brake cause some issue to the motor? Or does it go the other way around, the motor defeats the coaster brake? I will switch out the rear hub if the coaster brake causes an actual problem. But if the coaster brake just stops working, I don't care about that - this machine also has a rim brake on the rear wheel so the coaster brake is surplus anyways. I am mentally writing it off already.

I mean, even if I get a hub motor it would be in the rear wheel - this isn't like a bicycle where the front wheel is the easy option. I would be afraid of putting a hub motor in front. One hub motor, the best case is it would lose traction pretty easily and the worst case is the steering gets wonky. Two hub motors, well, weight and cost, plus there's no differential so that could get strange steering too. So I'm not considering front options. I'm thinking if I put a hub motor on the back I'd just get a rear that allows a freewheel and derrailleur. Jim at HEH says that the rear dropouts are wide enough for that and it is what I have more experience with anyways. Buying the one with the IGH is overkill.

So, mounting a mid drive...
I have searched a lot and the best picture I have found of how the bottom bracket is configured, is in this assembly video. Go to 2:25 and stop the movie there.


I don't think that Bafang BBSHD would work. It can't be more than 12mm from the bottom bracket and I just don't think it'll work. But the Cyclone mentioned above looks doable. In particular, this Cyclone looks like it would slot very neatly into that space. That page says it needs 60mm and in the video it looks to me like it has plenty more space than that. Plus the motor could be snugged right up against that vertical frame member, which might make the mounting more stable/rigid and it would even be somewhat protected. However the advice to not do a Cyclone as your first project is giving me pause! I'm not afraid of wiring, or of having to make some brackets of my own, but I'm keenly aware that I don't yet realize what I don't know! Especially the controller stuff.

I'm not ordering a Cyclone until the trike comes and I spend more time thinking. But that's the way I am leaning.
 
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Dewey

Well-Known Member
You have to pedal backwards to activate a coaster brake. The cranks on a Bafang mid-drive just freewheel if not being pedalled forwards so cannot provide any tension on the chain if pedaled backwards so I think it’s just a case of the coaster brake can’t activate. Mid-drive motors tend to run on a little after you stop pedalling so it’s a good idea to get motor inhibitor switches for your brake handles which would cut power as soon as you pull the lever. Good luck with your trike build, keep posting!
 
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elizilla

Member
Well I eventually ruled out the mid-drive; the frame is just too much of a problem. I also decided the coaster brake and IGH are lousy for me, so I want to swap that hub anyways. So, hub motor it is.

I decided to go with a known quantity. I ordered a trike kit from E-bikeKits, for a rear wheel hub motor with 9-speed freewheel. I have their Liberty Trike already and like it, and it seems to be the only kit out there already set up to include reverse. I have also ordered derailleur, derailleur hanger claw, shifter, and shift cable.

I pulled the battery out of the Liberty Trike and couldn't find a good way to mount it, so I didn't order one with my kit. I don't want to sit it up on the rear rack; I am hoping to get it lower and farther forward! So I am shopping for other batteries. I am thinking a Shark battery would fit nicely sitting on the floorboard, lined up against the vertical part of the downtube, and it would still leave me room to put my foot through. This would get it low and forward. Since a lot of the weight can be supported by the floorboard, do you think it is enough to strap it to the frame tube, or would I need to get rivnuts installed? There are no water bottle bosses anywhere on this trike.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
I am thinking a Shark battery would fit nicely sitting on the floorboard, lined up against the vertical part of the downtube, and it would still leave me room to put my foot through. This would get it low and forward. Since a lot of the weight can be supported by the floorboard, do you think it is enough to strap it to the frame tube, or would I need to get rivnuts installed? There are no water bottle bosses anywhere on this trike.

Yes that would work, I used hose clamps to attach a battery cradle to a downtube and rode it for a year without problems. Post a picture of your rig when you're done.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
There is a nice solution from ebikes.ca Called Bottle Bob. Pretty cool design.
 

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elizilla

Member
I like the shrinkwrap - that is clever! But the machined aluminum pieces are the real gem. I went to their site and found them, and I see I can avoid the Canada shipping time/cost; they also make them available through Amazon Prime. Nice! I put them on my wish list so I can find again to order if I decide to get the Shark pack.
 

elizilla

Member
So I got it all put together and working. The hub motor from E-Bike kits, with the 9-speed freewheel, did not fit in my frame but when I scaled back to a 7-speed freewheel it worked fine. I got a 48V Super Shark battery from EM3EV, and Grin's Bottle Bobs to mount it.

And that Amazon reviewer is right, it is tippy. But I am still very pleased with it. I am alert enough to keep all three wheels on the ground, and I am super pleased to be able to stretch my legs with the pedal assist. And it's just super nifty; I am loving messing with it.

Already looking for my next impractical ride. What do you guys think about quadracycles? :)

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