Best Electric Conversion Kit for Recumbent Trike or Bike

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Recumbent trikes are becoming increasingly popular, and I can see why. Up until recently, I had never ridden a recumbent, but the first time I had a go on one I was totally hooked!

Due to the extra weight and design, Recumbent trikes (and bikes) are an excellent choice for electric conversion. If you have been thinking about adding E-assist to your recumbent, the great news is most regular conversion kits will fit. In this article I will be reviewing the best electric conversion kits that are suitable for recumbent trikes and bikes.

Ice trike adventure recumbent with shimano di2 alfine 11 and tsdz2 electric conversion kit

So what are the best electric conversion kits for recumbent trikes and bikes?

All of the kits listed in this article have been successfully installed, by myself on a variety of different recumbent trikes and bikes. Although these kits are generally reliable, some will require ongoing maintenance. I have been as honest as possible in my appraisal of each kit. If you have any questions regarding compatibility, please leave a comment below and I will respond within 24 hrs.

Do I need a recumbent specific electric conversion kit?

The simple answer to this question is no. There are some brand-specific kits available like the Terra Trike Bosch boost kit which comes pre-installed in a new boom, but these can be very expensive when compared  to the other options listed in this article.  You will need to take several things into consideration beforehand. If you are fitting a crank motor you will need to check bottom bracket compatibility (see below). If you are fitting a hub motor, you will need to make sure you get the right sized wheel – If you have an internally geared hub fitted (like a Rohloff) a rear hub motor would not be an option.

How much power?

This depends on your own physical ability. If you have a health issue that prevents you from prolonged periods of exertion, or you are recovering from an injury, then it is likely you would need the electric motor to give you a lot of assistance, and maybe even have a throttle fitted to either get you rolling or enable you to have a break from pedalling once in a while.

nazca fuego recumbent bike fitted with a bafang 250w electric hub motor conversion kit

I don’t believe in motors that produce so much power that the need for pedalling becomes redundant as that will cancel out the health benefits of pedalling. But having a motor that complements and enhances your physical abilities enabling you to cycle further for longer and tackle more challenging terrain is a great idea. I know of many fit riders who choose e-assist, not because they’re lazy, but because it enhances the whole recumbent riding experience.

What about Electric bike laws?

The power output you choose will also be important regarding the law in your country. The UK, Europe and Australia for example have a universal 250w power limit and 25 km/h pedal assist limit. In the US, federal law is 750w and 20mph and in Canada it is 500w and 20mph.

All the recumbent’s I have converted so far have been 250w, and I find that provides more than enough assist (and I live in an incredibly hilly area). But my experiences are subjective – I ride between 70-100 miles a week on a road bike, so I am fairly fit.  If you are getting back into cycling using a recumbent after a long illness or injury then 250w may not be enough power. This is why I  believe the law in the UK and Europe needs a serious overhaul.

You cannot exclude people from a potentially life enhancing experience like riding a recumbent or bicycle by limiting the amount of assist they can have. I think a more rational approach would be a 750w  upper limit with a 20mph maximum speed just like in the US.  Most competent road cyclists can comfortably maintain 20-25mph on the flat and hit speeds of over 50mph on long descents!

Is my Recumbent suitable for E-assist conversion?

If you are thinking about adding a crank motor to your recumbent, one of the most important things to consider is your bottom bracket shell. Most recumbent’s I have converted have a standard threaded bottom bracket shell , which is usually 68mm wide with an internal diameter of approximately 33.5mm. This would accommodate a regular square-tapered sealed cartridge bottom bracket or a Shimano Hollowtech II or SRAM GPX BB with external cup bearings.

standard square tapered cartridge bottom bracket on a recumbent trike

An FSA BB30 pressfit bottom bracket on the other hand has an internal diameter of 42mm, so you would need to purchase a BB30 to BSA adaptor shim.

Another important consideration is where to mount the battery pack. Some people prefer to mount the battery on a rear rack, but this can limit space for bags, panniers etc.  One excellent solution is made by Terracycle and is a recumbent-specific battery mounting plate.

terra cycle battery mounting plate for recumbent trike or bike

The two most popular and well-know crank motors – the Bafang BBS and Tongsheng TSDZ2 will fit into a standard bottom bracket shell without any hassles.

tongsheng tsdz2 installed on Ice trike recumbent

Another thing to consider is gearing. The Tongsheng and Bafang utilise a single front chainring . If you have a triple or double crankset up front you will be going from 27-speed down to 9-speed, although with electric assist this becomes much less of a problem.

Best Electric conversion kits for recumbent trikes and bikes

My top 3 favourite kits for recumbent’s are ones that I have personal experience installing. None of these kits are perfect and it is worth remembering that compromises may need to be made, but generally speaking all the kits below have so far served my customers well.That is not to say issues will not occur in future, because unfortunately any mass-produced electrical item will have chinks in its armour!

1. Tongsheng TSDZ2 torque-sensing motor kit

The TSDZ2 has now been around for a good few years, and has (thankfully) been improved over the years. Early models proved troublesome, but thankfully the problems are not as frequent as before.

Watch my video below for a brief overview of the installation process and a nice ride through the Cornish countryside!

The Tongsheng is a great little motor as it uses a torque sensor (along with cadence and speed sensing) to provide electric assist. This provides the rider with very intuitive assistance. Pedal lightly without applying much force and the motor will not give much in the way of assistance, apply more force to the pedals and the motor will give you assistance proportionate to the force you apply. This makes you feel like you have suddenly inherited Chris Froome’s legs!

The transition is very smooth and this is one of the reasons the Tongsheng is a favourite amongst recumbent riders.

Tongsheng TDZ2 250w - 350w - 500w - 7502 36v 48v 52v

This motor is available in 36v 250w / 350w and 500w variants and also 48 v 350w / 500w and 750w versions – there is also a 52v 750w version available.

Why do I think the TSDZ2 is especially suited to recumbent’s?

For starters it is a very small, discreet motor and it isn’t particularly heavy, weighing in at around 3.6kg. There is a threaded hole on the motor, which is important as when you install it you will need to be able to stop the motor from pivoting in the bottom bracket shell. A 38mm stainless steel P-clip is sufficient to secure the motor to the boom of your trike along with a short M8 bolt. This applies to Ice Trikes, as I know other brands will probably have a different diameter on the boom.

close up of torque collar to secure tongsheng tsdz2 to the boom of a recumbent trike

It is incredibly efficient – I managed to squeeze a 120 mile range out of a 36v 13ah battery using mainly ‘ECO’ pedal assist mode. Although this kind of mileage wouldn’t be typical as it would really depend on various different factors.

This motor produces a lot of torque, making short work of hills. But you will need to be mindful of being in the right gear for steep climbs, just as you would on any bike. Climb a steep hill in too higher gear, and you run the risk of placing too much load on the motor and risk damage.

One more important thing to remember when using the Tongsheng,  is before you switch the motor on, make sure you keep you feet off the pedals. Starting the system with your feet resting on the pedals will have a negative effect on the torque sensor calibration. If you do this by accident, just stop riding, turn the motor off, wait for a few seconds and turn the motor on again (making sure you feet are not resting on the pedals).

Reliability Issues

So far I have been lucky with the Tongsheng motor and haven’t had any issues reported to date. Having spent hours trawling Endless-Sphere.com it is obvious that there are several weak points with this motor.

  • The blue nylon primary gear can fail prematurely – a brass version of this gear is available as a replacement.
  • Sprag clutch or one-way bearing can fail – replacements are easy to obtain.
  • Torque sensor – surging or erratic pedal assist can signal problems with the torque sensing system.
  • Faulty display units – seems more of an issue with the VLCD5 display.

Another thing to consider when fitting this motor is the exaggerated q-factor. Particularly the drive side crank arm is about 20mm more offset than the non-drive side. This can be mitigated by fitting either standard Bafang crank arms, that can be purchased in 152mm, 170mm and 175mm lengths or Shimano Steps FC-E8000 crank  arms.

One more thing is to remember to purchase a Tongsheng speed sensor extension cable (110mm) as the standard cable will not reach the speed sensor mounted on the rear chainstay.


The Tongsheng TSDZ2 is a cost effective way to add e-assist to your recumbent, but installation should be carried out by someone who is confident in doing the job correctly. There is also the potential long-term reliability issues that need to be considered. You really need to be a ‘hands-on’ kind of person to fit one of these kits and deal with any potential issues that may arise in future.

Ice Trike Adventure recumbent fitted with a tongsheng tsdz2 electric conversion kit

Most manufacturers now offer e-assist on their recumbent trikes and bikes, but these are comparatively expensive when compare with the DIY kit option. The Bosch, Yamaha and Shimano Steps units are renowned for their reliability over massive distances, but are nigh on impossible to repair should something go wrong. The TSDZ2 on the other hand can be fixed by any DIY enthusiast as the motor itself is easy enough to work on and spare parts are readily available.

The motor performance is, in my opinion on a par with the Bosch Active Plus, it produces plenty of power, especially in ‘Turbo’ mode and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Pedalling with the assist off and the extra weight and slight resistance of the motor becomes evident – not a problem on the flat, but if you run out of battery power with a long climb to tackle you could have some problems.

All in all, i’m giving this motor the thumbs up! It’s great value, it performs well and does the job. Links below on where to purchase this motor.

Buy the Tongsheng TSDZ2 36v / 48v / 52v

Tongsheng TDZ2 250w - 350w - 500w - 7502 36v 48v 52v
Buy on Aliexpress
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay

2. Bafang BBS01 / BBS02 / BBSHD

The Bafang mid-drive motor has been a market leader for over five years, and it continues to be the best selling electric bike conversion kit in its class.

The motor itself is a great little unit, and for the most part seems fairly reliable. I personally used a Bafang BBS02 powered bike for a year, covering nearly 2000 miles without any problems whatsoever.


bafang bbs02 mid drive electric bike conversion kit

The Bafang motor is currently available in many different variants: BBS01B 36v 250w / 350w BBS02B 36v 500w, BBS02B 48v 500w / 750w, BBSHD 48v 1000w.

Which model you choose depends on the amount of power you need. As I have mentioned previously, you will need to carefully consider the law in your country.

The tables below show the peak power output of all the Bafang models (with a fully charged battery).

BafangBatteryPeak Power
BBS01 250w 36v36v (42.2v x 15A)
BBS01 350w 36v36v (42.2v x 18A)759w
BafangBatteryPeak Power
BBS02 36v 500w36v (42.2v) x 25A1055w
BBS02 48v 500w48v (54.4v) x 18A
BBS02 48v 500w52v (58.8v) x 18A 1058w
BafangBatteryPeak Power
BBS02 750w48v (54.4v) x 25A
BBS02 750w52v (58.8v) x 25A 1470w
BBSHD48v (54.4v) x 30A
BBSHD52v (58.8v) x 30A1764w
The voltage figures in brackets are for a fully-charged battery. Note: As the voltage drops, so will the power.


It is worth noting that the peak power figures do not represent the nominal power output of these motors. The 250w motor for example can peak at over 600w briefly whilst under load, but the ‘keep current’ setting in the controller programming will ramp back the power once pedalling cadence increases.

In my opinion to 250w provides adequate electric assistance, but if you are after some real power the BBSHD is on another level! If you were planning an off-road adventure then the BBSHD would be more than up to the job. I have ridden many bikes powered by this motor and the amount of torque it produces never ceases to put a smile on my face.

bafang bbshd motor

The ‘HD’ stands for heavy duty and I think the point to buying a BBSHD would be in the robust design of the motor. It is very heavy at nearly 5kg, but if you just wanted a super reliable drive unit that could be ridden day in and day out without a care in the world then this is a great bit of kit. And of course, you don’t have to ride it in full power mode. You have 9 power levels to choose from and level 1 is around the 250w mark, so you can still get a workout if you so desire.

The best all-rounder for me is the BBS02B, whether in 36v 500w or 48v 750w guise. Although it doesn’t produce the raw grunt of the HD, it still produces more power than most of us will ever need and it is a bit more affordable.

Riding a Bafang powered recumbent

Unlike the Tongsheng, the Bafang motor uses a much more simple cadence-based pedal assist, which acts like an on/off switch. The way the power ramps up once pedalling begins depends on the way the motor controller is configured, the rpm of the motor will also be limited by the controller settings.

One of the great features of the Bafang is that you can alter these settings easily using a laptop and USB programming lead and free open source software  – you can actually reprogram the motor to produce a very smooth and intuitive level of pedal assist. The best beginners guide to programming the Bafang can be found on Karls Electric bike blog.

Is the Bafang mid-drive motor suitable for a recumbent?

Like the TSDZ2, the Bafang motor wasn’t designed specifically for recumbent’s, but having installed a couple on recumbent bikes myself, it seems to do the job perfectly! It is heavier than the TSDZ2 at around 4kg (4.8kg for the BBSHD) and physically slightly larger.

The short video below shows a recent installation of a Bafang BBS01B 36v 250w on to an HP Velotechnik Grasshopper recumbent bike.

The main criteria for installation is the same as with the Tongsheng. The motor shaft will fit a standard 68mm BSA threaded bottom bracket shell. The one important consideration is to make sure that the motor is secured tightly so it does not pivot in the BB shell. The mounting plate provided by Bafang will go some way to prevent the motor from moving, but you will definitely want to have a Bafang lockring spanner in your toolkit just in case you need to tighten the motor.

As with the Tongsheng, you will need to purchase an additional speed sensor extension cable as the standard cable will not reach the motor.

To mount the display, you will need something like the Minoura accessory mount  (as used on the conversion above). Terracycle also do a mount specifically for recumbent’s.

As with any electric conversion, where you decide to mount your battery is important. You could go for a small compact bottle battery  that would fit into a bottle cage or bag or you could go for a more elegant solution like the Terracycle battery mounting kit as mentioned in the Tongsheng section.

Is the Bafang motor reliable?

Bafang have been the market leaders in DIY mid-drive ebike conversion kits since 2014, and, like Tongsheng were plagued by early reliability issues – these mainly stemmed from poor quality MOSFET’s in the motor controller.

These issues have been resolved, although as with any electric bike motor there are still long-term reliability concerns to think about. I have listed below the main problem areas I have encountered with the Bafang mid-drive:

  • Electrical problems – particularly controller failure on the BBS02 48v 750w. This is less of a problem on the BBSHD and the 36v models.
  • Not 100% waterproof, do not use a pressure washer or fully submerge – persistent riding in heavy rain, can on occasion cause problems.
  • Primary nylon  gear wearing out – this seems less of a problem than on the TSDZ2
  • Hall sensors – sometimes a bad solder, or poor connection at the controller
  • Pedal assist sensor can sometimes fail (although this seems quite rare).

It should be noted, that in my personal experience I have installed well over 100 Bafang mid-drives in the last three years, and I have had one 250w motor fail (after 14 months and 2000 miles), one controller failure on a 36v 500w, three controller failures, and one hall sensor failure on the BBSHD and eight BBS02 48v 750w controller failures. All the controller failures on the 750w version happened on bike’s with 52v batteries fitted.


Despite the above problems, I still think the Bafang is a good motor.  The BBS01B 250w will provide enough assist for most riders, and if you fancy having a bit more power on tap for those really steep climbs the BBS02 is excellent.  The BBSHD is a very strong and efficient motor, and gives you the flexibility of power ranging from 250w all the way up to a potential 1700w. I wouldn’t personally install a BBSHD on a recumbent bike for myself, as I think having all that power available would be too tempting to use and I like to get a decent workout when I go riding.

Below are links on where to buy the the Bafang BBS electric conversion kit, all of the vendors below will also supply the 36v and 48v 500w version.

Buy the Bafang BBS01B 250w

bafang bbs01b 36v 250w electric bike kit
Buy on Aliexpress
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay

Buy the Bafang BBS02 750w

bafang bbs02 mid drive electric bike conversion kit
Buy on eBay
Buy on Aliexpress
Buy on Amazon

Buy the Bafang BBSHD 1000w

bafang bbshd 48v 1000w electric bike kit
Buy on Aliexpress
Buy on Amazon
Buy on eBay

Which mid drive motor is best for a recumbent trike or bike?

This really boils down to your preferences. For me the TSDZ2 wins hands down, as it provides an enhanced riding experience and is a very neat installation.  The Tongsheng provides a very fluid and intuitive pedal assist. The Bafang is also great and you have the added benefit of being able to easily configure the controller settings to suit your needs.

A lot of very experienced recumbent riders agree with my verdict on the Tongsheng, the follow testimony is from one of my readers: Glen from Vancouver Island, Canada. Visit Glen’s website: mid-islandadventures.com  – There is a wealth of information on his site for recumbent riders.

For those that are interested I have just taken off my Bafang 36 volt/350 watt Mid Drive from my HP Gekko & replaced it with the TSDZ2 36 volt unit. I have had this TSDZ2 unit sitting in my shop for several months as it had been returned to me in need of a repair. Since I had some free time on my hands I decided to open up the Tongsheng to see if I could figure out what was wrong. Since I had previously serviced this unit with new grease, new Brass primary Gear, I suspected I had missed something or there was something faulty in the unit. It turns out a loose screw at one of the phase wire terminals had come loose & had been sparking inside the motor cover. Some emery cloth for cleaning up the Brass Terminals, a new screw, some Blue Loctite and a little JB Weld & that motor seems to be running well now,

As I had spent some time with the Bafang on my Gekko,  I should be able to make a direct comparison between the two comparably powered motors. Same Trike, same riding conditions, same battery & weight & the same rider.

So here goes – Since my trike is equipped with an Alfine 11 speed out back my ride results may differ slightly to those with a cassette & derailleur.

The first big difference is in the smoothness of the power delivery. The TSDZ2 feels more like stepping on a Gas Pedal where as the Bafang unit feels more like turning on a light switch. The Power is either ON or OFF.

Both units seem acceptably quiet in use & being on a Trike Boom right out in front of you may be something to consider. This being a TSDZ2 with the Brass Gear upgrade as well which some owners have reported as being noisy. I didn’t find it so but I do have a tendency to either grease or oil anything that moves to be on the safe side. Coming from a Chinese factory I would recommend everyone to take off your covers before you have installed your motor kit of any brand & give it a going over. 12 hour shifts 7 days a week can mean some units just don’t get the final love & care they should.

One of my gripes with the Bafang is the time delay from when you stop pedalling & the motor finally stops applying power. In practice this may only be 5 secs but when you stop pedalling to shift gears on an Internal Gear Hub it can feel like 10 secs between shifts. During that time you get the motor trying to bypass the braking or clutch on the IGH resulting in some added noise. With the TSDZ2 unit the Power stops as soon as you stop pedalling. This can of course be eliminated with the use of gearshift sensors on the Bafang but NOT having to add even more cables or possible problem connections to the TSDZ2 is just another bonus.

Both units come with an LCD Control that seems pretty similar in function & information displayed. The Bafang unit seemed to be a nicer quality than the T unit but the T unit was more adjustable having a nice tilt feature should you be getting glare or the sun reflecting in your eyes. Another plus for the T unit is it’s light weight & compact size weighing about 2 lbs less than the Bafang. It also installs without doing any damage to the Bottom Bracket Shell which does result in indentations from the locking ring with the Bafang.

So which is the better unit? For me it would still be a Geared Hub Motor as my first choice since the Power is more direct to the road & not losing efficiency through your chain, back gears & then finally to the road. If I had to choose between the Bafang & The TSDZ2 it would be the TSDZ2 with 500 watts.

Screenshot of Mid-Island Adventures – click on the photo to be taken to the website.

Electric rear hub motor conversion for recumbent trikes or bike.

A geared hub motor is one of the easiest ways to add electric assist to your recumbent. Not only are these motors very reliable, but there is no increase in pedalling resistance with the assist switched off (unlike the TSDZ2 and Bafang BBS).

Hub motors are also generally cheaper than mid-drives, plus you don’t need to loose your front crankset. Below is a video of an Ice Trike fitted with e-assist using a Bafang 36v 250w rear hub motor conversion kit.

Will a rear hub motor fit my recumbent?

This really depends on a number of factors. If you have an internally geared rear hub like a Shimano Alfine or Rohloff then then the answer would be no, unless you were willing to revert back to derailleur gears.

The other thing to consider is the size of your rear wheel and the width of your dropouts.  Most hub motor kits are available in 20″ / 26″ / 28″ wheel sizes, but are nearly always made to fit the standard bicycle dropout width of 135mm. A slight variation on this should not pose too much of a problem, but if your rear dropout is substantially narrower, you would need to think about a crank motor. If you do not know the width of your rear dropout, remove your rear wheel and take the measurement using a tape measure of vernier caliper.

bafang 250w front rear hub motor electric bike kit

Pedal sensor compatibility can be an issue. Most of these kits come as standard for fitting on the right hand side of a square tapered sealed cartridge bottom bracket. If you have a Hollowtech II, SRAM GPX or BB30 Pressfit bottom bracket you will need to order a compatible pedal sensor.

It is also likely that you may need to extend the cable going from the pedal sensor on the crank to the controller box / bag.

The Benefits of fitting an electric hub motor to a recumbent

  • Ease of installation – you just need to swap out your rear wheel, fit the pedal sensor, battery, motor controller and display.
  • Cost – hub motor conversion kits are nearly always cheaper
  • Simplicity – If hub motors do go wrong (which is quite rare) they are easy and cheap to repair or replace.
  • If you use derailleur gears you get to keep your full range of gears – e.g triple on front 8/9 speed at the rear.

Negatives to fitting a rear hub motor

  • Rear hub motors do not produce as much torque as crank motors (40Nm vs 80Nm).
  • Repairing rear wheel punctures can be time consuming – fit Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres.
  • Not compatible with all recumbent dropouts
  • Hub motors are not as efficient as crank motors – reduced battery range.

Riding a recumbent fitted with a rear hub motor

I have installed a couple of Bafang rear hub motors on a recumbent bike and trike and I think they work great. It’s true that they don’t produce the torque you get with a crank motor, but nonetheless the assist is more than adequate in my opinion. I live at the bottom of a 0.2 miles 8-10% hill and my personal best on my road bike (unassisted) is 1 min 20 secs,  on a 250w Bafang powered Ice Trike I did the same climb in 1 min 13 secs, and that was without getting too out of breath!

Riding a bafang hub motor powered recumbent trike

Most of the rear hub motor kits available use cadence based pedal assist, much like the Bafang mid drive motor. There are hub drive systems available which use a torque sensing pedal assist to produce a smoother more efficient level of assistance much like the Tongsheng motor.

36v 350w torque sensing rear hub electric bike kit

The main issue with fitting a torque sensing hub motor kit, is you will need to remove your existing bottom bracket to replace it with the torque sensing one. You will also need to drill a hole in your bottom bracket shell to thread through the connector lead to the controller – it is very important that you fit a rubber grommet into this hole beforehand because if you don’t it is very likely you will damage the connector lead when threading through the hole. You will also need to get a compatible extension lead for the torque sensor connector as the one supplied with the kit is not long enough for a recumbent.


The  age old question of is a hub motor better than a mid-drive or visa-versa really boils down to your own expectations of what you want from electric assist. For me personally I think hub motors are great, they lack the torque and efficiency of a crank motor, but they still do the job of providing electric assist very well. The other plus point is the lack of drag at the wheel (and crank) when pedalling with the assist switched off.

bafang hub motor fitted to an ice trike recumbent

The main selling point of any hub motor would be its long-term reliability. I have installed a lot of geared hub motors over the last three years, and I haven’t had one single reported motor or controller failure. I have had some minor problems like pedal assist sensors playing up and occasional issues with the display. But apart from that, the motors themselves are excellent.

I wouldn’t hesitate taking a hub motor powered recumbent on a 1000 mile tour!

Product Links 

Rear wheel electric hub motor kits
36v 350w Rear hub motor with torque sensor - Global Shipping
24v / 36v / 48v 250w rear wheel hub motor kit - Global Shipping
36v 500w rear hub motor kit with battery - Global Shipping
36v 350w rear wheel conversion kit - Global Shipping
Amazon UK
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
Amazon France
Amazon Italia
Amazon Deutschland
Useful Links for Recumbent Trikes and Bikes
Recumbent Trikes for Sale
Massive selection of high quality electric bike batteries
Recumbent parts and accessories
Terracycle Battery mounting kit
TerraTrike 20" Evo electric hub motor kit
TerraTrike Bosch Booster Kit for Catrike


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20 thoughts on “Best Electric Conversion Kit for Recumbent Trike or Bike

  • September 2, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Tony,
    I have an ICE Q Trike with rear suspension which I am thinking about converting with the Tongsheng TSDZ2 kit.
    Firstly, It would need to be a 36V UK legal version.
    Which battery would I require to purchase please to make it compatible with this kit as the write up does not specify one, only for the Baffang?
    How reliable is the motor (have you had any reported issues), as I would have thought using nylon gearing would wear out quickly bearing in mind how much torque needs to be applied whilst riding a Trike?
    You say that a Brass variant is available, is it advisable to purchase this at the same time as the kit or are you talking about years to wear out etc?
    Is the conversion an easy task to install?
    I am ok mechanical wise so would find this not a problem providing all the right bits were first purchased.
    The Control display would be fitted to the Right hand side steering handle, are there suitable brackets available to do this?
    Lastly the battery mount. Looking at your excellent video and instructions, is this ok to be mounted on the frame under the seat before the swinging arm of the suspension?
    Do you have a list of equipment associated with the Tongsheng conversion kit. This would ensure that the correct items are purchased?
    Sorry to bombard you with the above questions, it is a big purchase that needs to be done right first time.

    • September 2, 2019 at 4:18 pm

      Hi Dean,

      I will send you a detailed response with all the relevant information you require via email later this evening.


  • September 5, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Hey, I’d love that info too, thinking of converting my ICE trike also! great page, and information!

    • September 6, 2019 at 7:21 am

      Thanks for your positive feedback, I’ve converted quite a few Ice Trikes. If you need any advice, let me know.


  • October 8, 2019 at 5:23 am

    I am just learning about assist and your article has been most helpful. Thank you.
    I am thinking of adding a hub assist to my 2018 dumont. I looked at your recommendations and went to amazon through a link on your page to bafang 500 w. I also noticed a couple of other brands that were considerably lower in price. Do you have any experience with any of these? Are any of them worth considering?

    I am at a loss as to what exactly I need to order to fit my bike and any additional components i might need to ensure the kit will work on my bike. Would it be much of an imposition if you could tell me what i need to order along with any additional items i might need to complete the installation.

    Kindest regards,

    • October 8, 2019 at 11:46 am

      Hi Liz,

      Most of the sub $200 kits on Amazon use direct drive hub motors, which are generally very reliable, but they are heavy and inefficient. They can also make it harder to pedal with the motor switched off.

      I think the best value rear hub motor kit available from Amazon would be the Ebikeling 26″ rear wheel 36v 500w hub motor kit. They are shipped from Illinois, so delivery would be fairly quick. I haven’t any personal experience with these motors but they have 5 star reviews from customers and the design is identical to the Bafang hub motor.

      For a battery, a decent 36v 17.5ah battery will give you a good range with a hub motor – 40-60 miles depending on how much you use the pedal assist.

      Your Trike uses an FSA MegaExo bottom bracket so you would need to purchase a separate pedal assist sensor (that fits on the crankset side). You can purchase a Terracycle battery mounting kit and a Catrike handlebar accessory mount (for the display) from Electric Spokes in New Jersey – they specialize in Catrike parts and accessories

      If you need any more advice, please let me know.


  • October 8, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Brilliant article. Thank you. My dad has an ice adventure which he rides on a regular basis. As he nears 75 he’s found he struggles to keep up with the group. After reading this I’m going to get the bafang 250 rear hub motor but I’m not sure the best place to buy it from. I’ve found it on eBay via China. Could you recommend a seller to purchase from please. In your experience will I need a pedal sensor extension. Thanks.

    • October 8, 2019 at 4:40 pm

      Hi Paddy,

      I used to get my Bafang 250w rear hub motor kits from a supplier in Germany, but they no longer sell them, so I usually buy the kits from Aliexpress. Here is the link to the supplier I use. If you purchase from eBay, YosePower ebike hub motor kits are excellent. I’ve fitted loads of their kits in the past and they are as good as the Bafang motor (and a bit cheaper).

      For the pedal sensor extension lead, you can use a generic 3-pin higo connector extension (male one side, female the other). Here is a link to them on eBay.

      If you want to go down the route of a Terracycles battery mounting kit, they are quite expensive, but will make mounting the battery a lot easier. there should be a link or two in the article. I believe you will need the 1.75″ diameter clamp version.

      If you need any more advice, please let me know.


  • October 18, 2019 at 2:21 am

    I have an ICE Adventure with a 20″ rear wheel and rear suspension. Can I use a hub motor on the rear? What about the ICE offset wheel spacing? Will the suspension be a problem?

    • October 18, 2019 at 7:12 pm

      Hi Andrew,

      I fitted a 20″ 250w rear wheel hub motor to an earlier model Ice Adventure in the past, and as far as I can remember the installation was fairly straightforward. I needed to extend the PAS sensor lead, and placed the controller in a bag behind the seat. The suspension didn’t pose any problems. I have a photo of it somewhere, if I can find it, I will email it to you.


  • December 22, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    Hi . I have a Schwinn Regular Adult Tricyle, can you advise what kind of electric motor conversion kit is suitable? Thank you for your time.

    • December 23, 2019 at 11:33 am


      Assuming your Schwinn tricycle has a 24″ front wheel, then a front wheel hub motor kit will be the easiest option. You can get a complete kit including battery off Amazon – Here is the link. If that kit is too expensive then this kit is cheaper, and you will need to purchase an additional battery – here is a link for a suitable 36v battery.

      If you need any more advice, please let me know.


  • January 13, 2020 at 3:03 am

    Hi. Thank you for an excellent article on conversion kits for recumbents trikes! I really enjoy my HP Velotechnik Gekko 26 that I’ve had for about a year and a half, but one of my knees does not like the hills. What kit would you recommend? Since I am not a DIY-type, the reliability of the rear hub motor conversion kits appeals to me. If that is your recommendation, would you happen to know the dropout for the Gekko 26? Thank you so much for your time.

    • January 13, 2020 at 10:26 pm

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for your compliments, glad you like the article.

      I’ve had a good look over the HP Velotechnik website, and looked at the catalogue and spec sheet for the Gekko, and couldn’t find the rear dropout measurements anywhere. Most of the recumbent trikes I have converted using a hub motor have been Ice Trikes, and they all had standard 130-135mm dropouts.

      It would be worth removing the rear wheel and taking a measurement – Here is a link from Sheldon Brown on the correct way to take this measurement.

      Most of the retro-fit rear hub motor kits are for 135mm dropouts. For battery mounting kits and other accessories, it is worth checking out Electric Spokes in NJ – https://www.electricspokes.com/

      In my experience, hub motors are generally more reliable and less hassle than mid-drives like the TSDZ2 and Bafang. You will need to consider a pedal assist sensor extension lead, and also a suitable mounting bracket for the display on your handlebar.The Bafang 48v 500w rear hub motor would be best suited to your needs, but you would need to make sure you purchased one that could take an 8-speed rear cassette (as fitted to your trike) – Here is a link to a suitable conversion kit, that has the option of a 26″ rear wheel motor with gear cassette freehub.

      If you need any more advice, please let me know.

      All the best,

  • February 18, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    What rear hub kit would you reccomend for a 2012 Ice Sprint FS trike with 20″ tires?
    I want long distances and smooth assist. High speed is not a priority.
    Health reasons put me on a trike.
    Please include needed and upgrade items. Battery mount options would also be nice.
    Thank You

    • February 19, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Hi Mark,
      I will check price and availability with some of my preferred suppliers and get back to you later today with a list of links to the components you require.


  • February 18, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    I should also have stated that the trike is a 27 speed and also equipped with Sturmey Archer drum brakes.

    • February 19, 2020 at 11:48 pm

      Hi Mark,

      There is a 48v 500w Bafang rear hub motor kit available from Amazon.com, that is available in a 20″ rear wheel option. The kit comes with an optional battery pack – for maximum range I would go for the 48v 17.5ah battery. Suitability would really depend on how far you plan on travelling on a single charge. This battery pack would give you a potential assisted range of between 50-70 miles depending on the level of assist used. If you were planning on 100+ miles on one charge you would need something substantially more powerful like a 48v 30Ah battery. I have installed loads of Bafang rear hub motors on recumbent’s and other bikes without any long-term reliability issues reported.

      You will need to select the 20″ rear wheel option that takes a cassette (as opposed to a freewheel). There is also a choice of displays – if you want something fancy, the C18 is the nicest display, but for plain old functionality the black and white C965 unit is dependable. Here is a link to the listing on Amazon.com – this motor should fit your rear drop-outs, I have installed four Bafang motors on Ice Trikes and it’s usually a fairly straightforward job. You may need to extend the pedal sensor lead, as it might not reach the motor controller. The pedal sensor supplied with the kit is only suitable for use with a sealed cartridge-type bottom bracket, if your trike has a Hollowtech ll type bottom bracket. You will need to get a compatible sensor as the one supplied with the kit will not fit. Here is a link to a sensor with a compatible magnetic sensor ring.

      For the battery mounting system, I usually use the TerraCycle battery mount (based in Portland). Its quite pricey, but it makes for a very neat installation. Here is a link to their website.

      For mounting the display on the handlebar, I have used the Minoura Bike Accessory mount for recumbent’s in the past.

      I think I’ve covered everything, if you need any more help please let me know.

      All the best,

  • February 20, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    Thank you for the advice Tony.
    I am going to look at these links right away and start getting ready for warm weather.

    • February 20, 2020 at 6:22 pm

      You’re welcome. If you need any more advice, give me a shout.



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