Testing the Busettii 2014 Triker: Notes

This is a continuation of the discussion started in the posts, Off-road Power Wheelchair (OPW) and OPW — Clarifications and Design Plans.

In our previous post, Track Vehicles, we mention the limited the options of manufacturers of track wheelchairs at this time.

For convenience and reduction in costs — not unlike other wheelchair manufacturers — we consider using bicycle parts when wheelchair-specific parts are of limited-availability.

In this post, we look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of the Busettii 2014 Triker.  This Triker was chosen for its advertised extended range (35 miles for average speed of 13 mph on level pavement; 17 miles for average speed of 20 mph on level pavement) and weight capacity (combined rider and cargo weight of 400 pounds).

Blue Busettii 2014 Triker with front and back baskets, 3-speeds and Lithium metal 52V 11Ah battery.

Blue Busettii 2014 Triker with front and back baskets, 3-speeds and Lithium metal 52V 11Ah battery.

First item to note is that all electric bicycles warns not to engage or start use of electric motor until *after* the bicycle has starting moving.  Moving from a stand-still is exactly where the most energy is used moving anything, be it a bicycle, wheelchair or car.  With this understanding, we tested the Busettii 2014 Triker.  That is, we are *not* using it as it was originally intended — to engage motor after rider starts pedaling — with the understanding that the range of the battery will be decreased.  Our purpose for this test is to see whether parts of this Trike is appropriate for an Off-Road Power Wheelchair which for all intents and purposes start from stand-still positions.

The second item to note is that batteries have different properties.  The battery that is used for the Bussettii 2014 Triker is a proprietary, 52-volt 11Ah, Deep cycle, Lithium tri-metal battery.  According to Busettii, 5 charge cycles are required for the cells within the battery to balance themselves for maximal use/output.  For optimal charging in this initial break-in period, we were advised to use the battery to 70% discharge before charging.  We carefully documented our charge cycles as we plan to push the limits of this Triker in our tests.

There are several differences between the 2014 Triker and earlier Busettii Triker models: elimination of cruise control, addition of front hub motor and addition of Sturmey Archer internal 3-speed gear box.  I was told that the cruise control was confusing to some users who engaged it accidentally*.  The addition of a front hub motor is to assist in hill-climbing.  The Sturmey Archer gear box uses a coaster-brake — pedaling in reverse engages the internal disk brake within the hub.

Busettii 2014 Triker parts -- partially assembled to minimize shipping costs.

Busettii 2014 Triker parts — partially assembled to minimize shipping costs.

I ordered the Busettii 2014 Triker partially assembled to minimize shipping costs.  But there are a few items to note, as I had never assembled a bicycle/tricycle nor had I assembled a partially assembled bicycle/tricycle before this test.  Some assembly advice (for novices) to note are:

– bicycle grease is not only used to help parts move against each other but is also used in helping parts stick/catch;
– do not loosen the handlebar bolt fully — there is a holding bolt inside the vertical tube that may drop into the fork; loosen just enough to remove it to be greased before reinsertion.

Note that this advice is only for unassembled, new bicycles/tricycles.  There are several parts that require grease — we used Parktool Polylube 1000 but any solid lubricant will work — on the handlebar stem, the seat post and cranks.  (THANKS to Mike @ Bike World on San Mateo, for helping us with this!)

Now that it’s assembled, I am putting together a list of places for my road tests:

– rides that require extended (distance) range: Paseo del Bosque Trail;
– rides that require high torque (power) including the portion of Tramway Road that leads to the Sandia Peak Tram (6559′ above sea level): Tramway Recreation Trail;
– commuting between home and work (~4 miles with ~200′ elevation difference).

Do you have suggestions for a road test?  Please share!


* For longer Trike-rides, like car-rides, cruise control is helpful.  Without cruise control, on longer test rides, my wrists/hands tired easily — the throttle needs to be held in position to maintain constant speed.

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