Kids Electric Trike - Page 2 of 5
Cut the stem from each of the rear forks just above the crown as shown here, being careful not to nick the top of the fork leg tubing. The cut area will be the point at which you will attach your new frame tubing, as this is the strongest area of the fork. If for some reason your forks are not exactly the same, try to cut each stem so that the distance from the axle to the cut area will match on both forks.
Since I am building this kid's trike from parts I already had around the garage, I simply placed the two rear forks on the ground and found a pair of 1 inch diameter square tubes that would create the triangular frame as shown here. I think the square tubing came from an old table I hacked up, but since the trike is only going to hold the weight of a child, you don't need to use heavy tubing. As for the size of the frame, simply have your young pilot sit on a chair, and make some basic measurements of how much room they will need in order to sit comfortably between three wheels. I went for a wheelbase about the same as the original bicycle, and a width of about the same as the wheelbase, creating an equilateral triangle footprint.
The basic triangular frame needs three tubes to hold it together, one at the rear to join the two rear forks, and two more tubes at the front to form a triangle between the fork crown area and the head tube. Shown in this photo is the tube that will join together the two rear forks, creating the frame to whatever width you like. A fishmouth cut is ground out at the ends that mate with the round fork tubing. The tube should be placed about half an inch from the end of the fork leg tube so there is room to make a weld.
With the parts sitting on a flat surface, tack weld the rear frame tube to the two rear forks as shown here so that the fork legs are at 90 degrees to the rear frame tube. Because both forks are sitting on the same flat surface, vertical wheel alignment will be almost perfect, and as long as you get both forks running parallel, horizontal wheel alignment will also be perfect. If the two rear wheels are badly out of alignment, there will be scrubbing on the road, which will decrease battery run time, so try to get the wheels running as true as possible.
Once you have completely welded the rear frame tube, join the two rear forks together so that you can continue the frame layout, adding the two front frame tubes that will form the triangle as shown here. The two front frame tubes will determine the wheelbase (length) of your trike, which should be fairly close to the original bicycle wheelbase so that your pilot can reach the handlebars comfortably. Also shown in this photo is the front head tube which should be set at 90 degrees to the frame tubing, which will result in a final angle of about 65 degrees once all three wheels are installed. The joint between the head tube and the two front frame tubes needs to be ground out (fish-mouthed) to conform to the head tube so that you can make a decent weld along the joint.
Once the head tube has been welded to the frame, insert the forks and three wheels to check your rolling frame. The head tube angle is now close to that of a standard bicycle (between 65 and 68 degrees), so your trike will handle just like a regular bicycle. Now you can finish all the frame welding to secure the main frame triangle to the head tube and rear forks.
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You can build it yourself from our easy to follow DIY plans!