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HELP i want to build a cheap fuel efficient car/trike

 
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i have been seeing these electric cars very small but thay will not go very far. i have been looking at trikes also thay are ok but you cant drive them year round. so what i was thinking was to build a inclosed trike with the goal of it getting 60-75 mpg and just like a car go 400 miles on one tank of gas and reach at least 75mph i will be doing this out of scrap moter cycle and other parts i can scavenge i was thinking for the front end a 4 wheeler fram and the body im not sure yet was thinking about cutting down a vw bug i think that might be to heavey tho any help or suggestions would be great because im limted on funds but want a green car/trike
 
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I have thought about the same thing. Basically a tadpole (two front, one rear wheel) recumbent motorcycle.

First gotcha is to figure out what you need to license it--what does it take to license a home built motorcycle in your state?

Body needs to be DIY--aluminum, coroplast, stretched fabric. One of the old airplane techniques. Good references are on Craig Vetter's website.

Weight and frontal area are your biggest enemies; keep those down and you are good to go.
 
gardener
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Popular Mechanics had a DIY project called the tri-magnum. That might be woth a search.
 
marty reed
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thanks for the help im thinking because the moter cycle has a licence plate that i will just use it im not sure if that is the proper way of doing it but thats what im thinking right now
 
marty reed
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thanks for the links thay where both very helpful
 
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Location: Southern Oregon
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I too have been very into these "reverse trikes" some call them, as most people think of a VW powered motorcycle front ended trike when you use the term "trike". They sound like a perfect commuter vehicle. The power and efficiency of a motorcycle, with the roll resistant safety of a stable platform. On top of that, they qualify is a motorcycle, so you don't actually need a seat belt or windshield wipers, which are required on all street legal autos such as a VW powered buggy.

I'm pretty sure you cannot use an ATV front end, as those are not DOT approved. If you don't have the fabrication skills to make a light weight front end, you can search junk yards or ads for any number of small cars with suitable front ends, ideally a porsche 914, but a VW works too for starters. (kharman ghia, bug). The bug's suspension is some what rudimentary and not the ideal geometry, but it will totally suffice for getting you a cheap 3 wheeled platform to work with.

tri magnum was a popular kit back in the day. There are several companies who have tried to market this concept, only one has been largely successful and that's the T-REX. It was in i believe Total Recall, and possibly some other movies. There is a good Yahoo Group called Homebuilt Cars that has a lot of discussion about these. Heres a good photo from there.
 
              
Posts: 238
Location: swampland virginia
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there maybe different requirements for an experimental vehicle you build yourself. you might check into that part of it.

check out the site http://ecomodder.com
ecomodder showed a 200+MPG motorcycle mod.


there's also the supposed fuel increasing mods like HHO, GEET, magnetics, fuel additives, tesla inventions....
 
marty reed
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well i need to find a light weight sheathing material what would you recommend aluminum, fiber glass, clevlar, plastic, pexie glass i need to find the weights of all these materials to make a good decision we plan to make a aluminum fram does any one now where i could find the material to do this aluminum is not cheap i might be going to the scrap yard to see what i can find and was thinking about casting the fram i think i can get a bunch of aluminum heads and blocks well ill have to do more research on that one


Peter thanks for the picture it looks like thay built that fram and body out of 1inch square tube this somthing very close to what i want to build but i have to make sure it is street legal so i gess im going to have and find all the regulation hopefully the department of motor vehicles will help me
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Best sheathing depends on what you are comfortable working with. Coro-plast is a common one liked on ecomodder--it is the corregated plastic political signs used to be made of. Great for flat panels and simple curves. Fiberglass is much easier to make compound curves like you would have on the front end. You probably will end up using at least two methods.

FWIW, good grade steel tubing is WAY easier to DIY a frame.

Also look at the locost--the cheap Lotus kit car. They have good ideas for front suspension and frame building.

The ATV front end being non-DOT can be an issue, depending on where you are. But hand-built booger-welded suspension is OK, go figure...

 
marty reed
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Dr temp thanks for the link i have been doing alot of research on these small feul efficient car/trike but i might have set my goal of 60-75 mpg a little low we are planing on shooting 100 mpg and be happy if we can get midde 80s with a top speed of 100 right now im trying to track down all the regulations i have to have to it street legel i got the affidavit of assembly and ownership and i gess that helps but still need to track down the reglations to make it legel the tage place said i need to contact the tax commission so right now im getting the run around maybe later today ill get some real information thanks for all the help
 
marty reed
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well i gess im going to have to get ahold of dot it is a little harder to get the information im looking for than i thought it might be but i gess if it was easy every one would be doing it im calling it a day and going to get back at it in the morning
 
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I saw a two seater version of the pic above going down the road a few weeks ago. It was very cool looking and it appeared to handle really well. It definitely looked like a commercial build... Maybe a Can-Am or something.

I just started riding a motorcycle again... And man... I can't even put into words how much I have missed riding over the years. Keep us posted!

 
marty reed
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trying to find the right information is pertty hard with all of these lazy govment employes im still beating the bushes trying to see if any thing will fall out i gess the next step is to go their in person and see if i can get the help i need
 
marty reed
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i did find a really cool link http://mysite.verizon.net/vze6omtd/jorysquibb/index.html tho this built his car out of a scooter it get 100mpg but is not for high way use here is a picture
micro-car.jpg
[Thumbnail for micro-car.jpg]
micro car
 
Posts: 484
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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Have been considering something like this for a while. Thinking of combining the back of this trike http://www.fastfwd.nl/index.php?id=36 with the front wheel drive of this bike
http://www.instructables.com/id/Chucks-No-Weld-Recumbent-Bike/

Then power the rear wheels with 2 of these http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbycity/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=5139&Product_Name=HXT_80-100-A_180Kv_Brushless_Outrunner_%28eq:_70-55%29 and enough batteries for a 40 km jaunt to work. Since you have pedal power you are never stranded. Add a high efficiency generator/fuel tank trailer and you even have long distance capability. Don't think those motors are enough? Check this out;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwODx028_Jw

And that is with little/no gearing and tiny tires.

Unfortunately no $ for this project yet.
 
marty reed
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thanks for the links max


what im looking for is something that i can build and drive with great mpg shooting for 100 be able to go to on the high way and do at least 75 mph. it has to be inclosed to be able to drive year round and street legal. this will cut down on anther big expense the last 2 builds before i take the big plunge and move out of the city to start anther journey
 
Max Kennedy
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If that gokart can do 90 kph then with the right gearing and the MUCH larger tires you can do 75 mph.
 
marty reed
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i think that the max speed on that one was 55mph

im thinking of a clam shell design with 1/4 by 1 inch square tube for the frame and 1/8 buy 1 inch square tube for the roll cage. im thinking that the power unit from a kawasaki ninja 250 might get me where i need to be. i plan on building the frount end or finding a doner vichical. trying to keep the weight down and need to figure out how to gear it right for high mpg at the right speed. i have been reading alot air streaming is preatty cool
 
Peter DeJay
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Location: Southern Oregon
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Air streaming sounds cool, and definitely has its function, but I would suggest forgetting about it at first. Focus on making a solid platform that is strong, light, and safe. Air streaming doesn't really factor it that much below 55mph, other then the blow on your person. It will be a while before you make it to the freeway. You'll want to do a lot of test runs to work out all the little bugs in the shifting/steering/gear ratios/cockpit layout first. Then you can start to see where solid panels should go versus clear panels. Remember that plexiglas isn't actually DOT approved, so its better to go without then have something that looks janky and dangerous. Because it is classified as a motorcycle, it doesn't even need a windshield or seatbelt, but these are things we will want.
 
marty reed
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i want mine to do 75 mph and as close to 100 mpg as i can first with a light weight fram and then later with gearing and air streaming
 
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The main problems you are going to have with trying to rig up a super efficient car is going to be longevity. If it were that easy to build something that got super good mileage, was safe, and lasted some car maker would already have cornered the market. And one did, just go buy a mid 90's VW with a 1.9TDI (diesel). I own an old one and a new one and they both get mid 40's low 50's for mileage and if you take care of them you will easily get 500k miles out of them. Plus if there is ever a fuel shortage diesel will be the last thing to run out (most people drive gassers) and diesel will be good for years (if not decades) whereas gas is pretty much useless within a year.
 
marty reed
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Jonathan Bigaouette

their are many homemade cars/scooter that have been built that do way better in mpg than any thing out their do a little research and you will see
 
marty reed
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well i have been looking to building a 3 wheel reverse trike for a wail know and i have came to the conelusion that im going to buy a already taged freeway hmv for the purpose of i dont have to worry about getting tage after the fact thay are light weight and it will give me a good starting point to what i want. these little cars get close to 80 mpg thay carry only one person. but thay use a 12,14 or 16 hp moters im thinking a moter cycle moter will do a little better in thinking and have more hp to take my freeway on the freeway lol need to do a little more research and find if thay will hold up under those speeds tho that has been a hard task to find out
 
Posts: 135
Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
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Have you made any progress on this? I have a desire to make something similar. I aiming for a 2 seater capable of 80mph/130kph. I figure I should be able to get 50mpg. I can get a 4 cylinder engine and trans from the wrecking yard for about $200. It's about the cheapest option I know of.
 
Posts: 72
Location: Central Oklahoma
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Here is a playlist called "Green - Alternative Vehicles"

some are pretty neat.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC94905347C351951

 
marty reed
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i have been looking into this alot here latly their is alot of labor in putting together a trike and even more red tape to go threw to put it on the road. i have decided to go anther rout i want to buy a car/trike that is light and nimble that will be a good for highway use also the first car i found was reasonable priced it was a hmv freeway. it had alot of what i wanted. these car where built around 1980 thay had 12 14 16hp moters on them and got around 80mpg. but, thay only went about 40mph and from the information i have gathered the owners would not want to drive them at high way speed. the idea was to buy one of these that all ready had a tag on it and dot approved to build what i wanted with a higher hp moter geared to what i want. the owners that i emailed said that it was a great around town car and got good mpg but thay would not be willing to take it on the highway if it would go that fast and most of them said it was to unstable for those speeds. i wanted a trike that would not cost me aot of money and get good mpg. but, i also want it to be safe. so the hmv freeway was out. but a good around town car.

so i have been looking into electric cars/trike thay have alot of what i want thay are built light thay are fairly inexpensive with a bad battery bank. what i have been thinking would be to get a electric car take out the battery bank (most of the weight) and put in a small moter cycle moter. the next trike im going to be looking into will be the nmg sparrow it has alot of what i want it is built to go 75mph i think it will be the best vehicle to start with but trying to find one cheap might be a task. if i can find one for around 5-6k the build will be good but thay are going for much more than that. but im trying to keep my cost down so it will pay for its self alot faster.

if one knows of a light weight vehicle i am open for any suggestions i think the sparrow weight with out the battery bank round 800lbs about the same for the hmv freeway
 
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Is this post still active, I acquired a reverse trike that I need some advice on.  Thanks
 
Robert Ray
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One of the great things is even though the post is dated your inquiry has bumped it up so new eyes can see it. What's up with your trike?
 
Chace Alberts
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It's a 66 vw front end, a 79 Honda steering set up, and an 83 Suzuki gs1100e as the powerplant.  Its driveable as is, but not very stable, due to length,weight and rear tire size. In 83 a 130 rear tire was the stock size.  It's fun to drive, but anywhere close to 50-55 mph, the rear is all over the place, not sliding around, it's just squirrelly and steering is a task lol
 
Robert Ray
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So I guess now I have questions 66 vw is a king pin set up, condition of the king pins? Then chassis geometry did the builder set up the chassis true to centerline?. That GS1100 is going to be a bullet if you can figure out the death wobble.
 
Chace Alberts
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This is it
20190323_172407.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20190323_172407.jpg]
 
Chace Alberts
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Again
20190323_190545.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20190323_190545.jpg]
 
Chace Alberts
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And another
20190323_190513.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20190323_190513.jpg]
 
Chace Alberts
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It's not the front that's an issue, it seems pretty solid, ...its the rear.  Its 5ft 3 inches between front wheels, and its body is roughly narrowed to 32 inches,to 28 inches at motor. Its 12ft 4 inches long.  I added weight to rear, above wheel...in phases, up to 135lbs...was a bit more firm at the rear on the road, but had a rolling effect over tore from weight while turning.  I removed weights. And put rear dual shocks on stiffness setting.  Its better... definitely fun. But not over 50 mph before she wants to get wavey back there
 
Robert Ray
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The reason many people go to the reverse trike is because of better steering. Even with a reverse trike if the chassis geometry isn't true or there are loose steering components it can effect overall rideability. My 2 cents worth, see what others have to add. Good luck batman looks like fun.
 
Posts: 499
Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
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For cheap efficient transportation I ride a small motorcycle.



We live 10 miles outside of town, so I use it for grocery shopping, running errands, buying materials, and for minor local service calls. It's averaging 141.1 mpg, so even with the high cost of government built into California gas, it takes me wherever I want to go for 2.8 cents per mile.



I also ride the canyons just for the fun of it. :  )
 
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there is another way, toyota carolla

you want and older model with a clutch and 5 speed transmission

every thing is done for you, and the dmv has no issues
remove the engine

you are going to repower with a 20 hp diesel and a torque converter, think jet ski or snow mobile

around town the torque converter acts as your auto matic transmission in the carollas 3rd gear, on the high way you shift to 4th and 5th gears

new fuel tank in trunk

result is about 70 mpg

this is on the net

is maybe the way to go
 
Greg Mamishian
Posts: 499
Location: Rural Unincorporated Los Angeles County Zone 10b
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paul salvaterra wrote:there is another way, toyota carolla

you want and older model with a clutch and 5 speed transmission

every thing is done for you, and the dmv has no issues
remove the engine

you are going to repower with a 20 hp diesel and a torque converter, think jet ski or snow mobile

around town the torque converter acts as your auto matic transmission in the carollas 3rd gear, on the high way you shift to 4th and 5th gears

new fuel tank in trunk

result is about 70 mpg

this is on the net

is maybe the way to go



We went in a similar direction as your idea with a Toyota Yaris.



It has no options and a 5 speed manual transmission for efficient transportation. I built the intake manifold for more low rpm torque.



It gets 38 mpg just putting around, and 44 mpg on the highway, and with selling our 18 year old car it cost us less than $15k brand new cash out the door. It'll be good for at least another 18 years of cheap transportation.
 
Posts: 49
Location: Northernmost California
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This - minus price tag! - would be my choice for 'alternative' vehicle - http://organictransit.com/

its more in line with NEV (neighborhood electric vehicle) concept but I love that its considered a 'bicycle' (no license required) and is also weather enclosed. Sorry it won't go your required 55 MPH, but it sure does go a LONG way - if one has time ;-) Plus NO fossil fuel required.
 
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