Building a Pedicab / Family 'car'

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May 7, 2021
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Hi All!

So, I'm looking to possibly build some kind of pedicab-like vehicle for transporting my wife and daughter about. Found this site and forum, and there are some fantastic projects on here, and looks like lots of great knowledge. So let me lay out some of the details and constraints of my plan, and if anyone knows of anything similar or any ideas, let me know.

Background:
My wife, 10 y/o daughter, myself and the dog are (hopefully) relocating from the UK to Barbados for a year. They offer a 'remote worker' visa that allows someone to live there a for a year, provided they work remotely. I currently work from the UK for a company in San Francisco, so Barbados is slightly closer in timezone... and, hey, the weather is better!

Some points to consider:
  • Barbados is an island only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide. But it seems cycling doesn't seem to be very common there. I'm not yet sure why. I think possibly a combination of lots of potholes in the road, narrow roads with busses on and the temperature.
  • My daughter will be at a school possibly 10 miles away from where we will be living, and so I will be doing about 40 miles a day to/from school. I really, really, really would love to be able to do this without buying/renting a car for the year. Cars are very expensive there, as is fuel. And I'd prefer to get a bit fitter and enjoy the weather.
  • Shipping anything to Barbados is expensive. I did consider buying a fully made Pedicab direct from China and shipping it there, but shipping would be about $10K, plus duties, taxes, handling costs on top.
  • I would mainly be riding/driving the bike, but occasionally my wife. My wife is disabled due to a knee that keeps dislocating. So she does not have a driving license so can't drive a car, but could cycle a trike / quadracycle of some kind so long as there was plenty of electrical assistance.
  • I am reasonably handy, I've converted a van to a campervan before, can handle DC electrics, general mechanics and fabrication. Although not done any welding since school 25 years ago... but should be able to pick it up again.
  • I will start this with no tools or workshop. I'm likely to have a garage to build it in, and hoping to buy a small MIG welder, hacksaw, drill, angle grinder etc. But all tools will likely be double the cost of what they would be at home.
  • I generally cycle around and commute to and from work at the moment on an electric bike, about 3 miles each way. I used to tow my daughter to school when she was little in a trailer and then on a tagalong bike.
So, some options I've considered:

1) Buy a pedicab and ship it there. Very very expensive to do. Something like this was what I'd had in mind:


or this:


2) Buy an adult trike here in the UK and bring it over with us. Virgin Atlantic will allow us to check in a bike with our luggage on the flight. I think something like this could work, and the rear axle could be unbolted and turned 90 degrees to pack flat.


This, with a Swytch bike kit would be idea if it was just my wife on it. But maybe could be a suitable base to build something on?

3) Build completely from scratch based on one of the plans on here, maybe the sociable tandem as a chassis?

Let me know if anyone has any thoughts, or know of any similar projects.

Thanks!
-Matt
 
Joined
Sep 16, 2018
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That secon one with an other seat so you sit better.
The roof just flat and also above you, just like a golf cart. You can ad solar panels on top to extend your range and charge your battery.
A good strong e-assist.
A simple seat for 2 behind the front seat and behind that, something to put some small stuf in, like school bag of something.

As the roads are bad, than I would go for front and rear suspension and 26 inch in the back and 20 in the front with bigger tires on them.
Batteries under the rear seat. Rear wheel drive.
You can also make it into a quad, but making front suspension is on a single front wheel very easy.

I looked ad a video of someone that made his own car to rids people around. It was very simple. A flat bottom from steel with a simple seat in the front and a simple seat behind it and a flat roof. Electric motor in it and the batteries under the seat. The roof was on straight bars coming from the bottom plate in the front and from the top of the seats.
Simple but it worked.
 
Joined
May 7, 2021
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Emiel,
Thanks for your thoughts. Suspension is s good idea... something I'd not really considered. I guess if I keep it a trike with a front single wheel then can try and get a front fork with suspension. I wonder if that would be sufficient, without rear suspension. I was also wondering about going for fatter tires. I'm not sure if I'll be going offroad with this, but it is an island of beaches, and so maybe going for 26x4" fat tires could be an option? Might also smooth out the potholes a bit.

Solar panels would be good as well, but I'm not sure how available they would be on the island, or how expensive. I've fitted some really nice semi-flexible panels on the top of my van here in the UK and they are great for keeping the leisure battery topped up. Maybe I'll build it without them to begin with but leave it as a potential future option. I won't need much range in general and will be able to charge up at home in the garage. But I do like the idea of having it be self-sufficient and charging from solar.

I've seen a few videos online of people making the second style (standard bike front mated with a rickshaw-like back) in Asia, and I guess might be an easier build than having to build a complete full chassis.
 
Joined
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Yes front is easy to ad suspension. Rear I think that as you get those tires and you don't pump them up to hard, that you smooten also the ride.
Make a soft seat helps also.
Maybe some dampening under the seat.

Solar panels is a nice ad on. If possible you can always ad them as you ad a roof. The roof holds you a bit dry as it may rain and else keeps the sun of you.
 
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May 7, 2021
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I've actually just stumbled on this video which looks pretty good at a nice 'bare minimum' rickshaw-style trike

 
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That is easy to build and mod if you want.
Easy to ad front suspension. Some dameners onder the seat and nice pillows to sit on and ready to go.
 
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I think your design brief is really hampering you ?

3 adults is a big ask ? and IMHO you really need the ability for 2 to pedal if carrying 2 ?


Mochet Velocar

regards Paul
 
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Point 2 in your first post. The rear axle may not unbolt to get it flat. It's possibly welded on.

I suspect that you may get something like a rickshaw built closer to the end of your year there than the beginning. You'll need to make a lot of parts and find a lot on a small island with little cycling culture to supply those parts. Narrow roads aren't going to be an easy navigation for anything wide as you'll regularly be pulling off road for other faster vehicles. At the end of your year you won't be shipping it home due to costs so will in all likelihood have to try to sell it or abandon it.

Given you are under a 1 year constraint, have a shortage of donors, getting parts shipped will likely be expensive and take a long time plus being toolless I'd keep it as simple as possible. Not what you are wanting to hear, I'm sure, but you may best be served by shipping an ebike kit over with you and making a tandem bike or even a Goodies style 3 seater electrically assisted bike, or then adding on one of these and making it a trike. Again you could arrange for it to be shipped to get there shortly after you do. Cobbling two or three bikes together will be easy and quick and the trike conversion is a matter of bolts and new brake cabling.


Those are designed to mate up with std bike rear ends so are easy to convert to a trike.
 
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Joined
May 7, 2021
Messages
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I think your design brief is really hampering you ?

3 adults is a big ask ? and IMHO you really need the ability for 2 to pedal if carrying 2 ?
Yeah, the problem being is that my wife's knee is not going to allow her to push much. So I was going to fit a motor to it to assist.

-Matt
 
Joined
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Messages
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Given you are under a 1 year constraint, have a shortage of donors, getting parts shipped will likely be expensive and take a long time plus being toolless I'd keep it as simple as possible. Not what you are wanting to hear, I'm sure, but you may best be served by shipping an ebike kit over with you and making a tandem bike or even a Goodies style 3 seater electrically assisted bike, or then adding on one of these and making it a trike. Again you could arrange for it to be shipped to get there shortly after you do. Cobbling two or three bikes together will be easy and quick and the trike conversion is a matter of bolts and new brake cabling.
Yup, not what I want to hear ;) But I think you are right. I think fabricating something over there is really going to take too long. I'm currently investigating the costs of shipping over a complete velotaxi / pedicab. I've found a second hand one on eBay here that would work pretty well. Shipping will be expensive though.

But I am wondering, as you say, if the narrow roads and speed etc are really going be a problem. There is probably a very good reason why these type of bikes are not more common over there. I think I might be resigning myself to just hiring a car when I'm over there. I really don't want to, but I think if I'm not careful this entire exercise is going to end up taking over the time I've got there to actually relax and enjoy things!

That said, I did just come across this, which looks like a very easy build. And could be adapted to be a wider front platform and build up a double seat on it.


-Matt
 
Joined
May 7, 2021
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Ha! I grew up on SE Asia and so this was a common sight to see. We did think about it... but I think I'd rather take my chances with pedals than a scooter.

I've actually now just had a quote back for shipping a Pedicab from UK to Barbados of £780 which is far less than I was expecting... so I am considering that option again. But I think still best option will be to take a step-through bike, with an added rear hub motor conversion, checked in on the flight with us, and then when there buy a welder, angle grinder, etc and chop it in half and build something similar to the ice-cream bike above but with a double seat instead. So to end up with a DIY version of this:

 
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