Solar-Powered WIKE Bike Trailer Project

Hey everyone; very belated happy new year. One person who recently visited my YouTube channel asked for a specific wiring diagram on my solar paneled bicycle trailer. So here goes.

The kit was purchased from a Canadian company called WIKE. They are online and sell quality bicycle trailer kits. WIKE sells the main fiber glass fastener unit and stainless steel nuts and bolts. The purchaser supplies his/her own wood or aluminum tubing to build the main frame, and any additional fasteners they may need for the project. I purchased the “high-walled” kit.

WIKE bicycle trailer kit
WIKE high-walled trailer kit: finished project.

Above is the finished kit. It was big fun to build and is a breeze to tow. Here’s a link to the video where the build was explained.

On rough gravel it is a bit noisy, but quiets down on smooth pavement. Most of noise are the wheel axles rattling inside the mounting hardware. The black panel is the controller. The switch below the controller turns the inverter on or off. Two reflectors are peel-and-stick. The tail light is battery powered. Below is a diagram of how it is all wired up.

Solar panel wiring diagram

Forgive my drawing. I know I use to draw better than this. The components are not physically positioned in this exact representation and are not to scale. However, the wiring is correct. Small arrows indicate current flow.

Components are linked together via the electrical distribution block (C). The batteries are wired in parallel (negative to negative/positive to positive.) One battery’s negative pole goes to the negative input side of the block; the positive pole of the other battery goes to the positive input side of the block. This gives me one battery of 12 volts and 16 amp hours. If you use more than one battery (i.e. three) make sure the positive pole from the battery on the end of the bank and the negative pole of the battery on the other end of the bank are connected to the controller. DO NOT connect only one battery’s poles into the electrical network, even though they are all connected in parallel. You must spread the load evenly across all batteries used.

The batteries are connected to the “input” side of the block (right side in the drawing). Two rows on the positive end and two rows on the negative end are wired together. From here the distribution block is connected directly to the controller panel (C). This is the only aspect of this setup I don’t like. The battery bank (D) is connected to the panel (C) 24/7, supplying power to the panels in order to display battery voltage, amp hours, current charging amperage, i.e. This will eventually drain the battery bank. In order to counter act this, I place the trailer in bright sunlight as often as possible. Otherwise, I disconnect the battery bank from the controller via an Anderson plug. I did have a switch installed here but decided it was not needed. (Thinking about re-installing this switch.)

From the other two live ports available on the “outgoing” side of the distribution block (C) wires go to a switch (E), then to the inverter (F). The inverter has two plugs for 120 volts output as well as USB outputs.

In conclusion, I don’t think this is the most efficient way to store/move electrical power. It might be better, for instance to simply buy another bicycle battery and connect it directly to the solar panel via the controller. However, now we are talking about another $650+ and 8 lbs. of weight. However, the system works exactly as expected. During testing I have run an electric drill on this system as well as charge my bicycle battery, using its charger plugged into the inverter. When the battery bank’s charged state drops too low, the inverter sounds an alarm and shuts the charging process down.

After using the trailer for a while I think I will eventually purchase a larger solar panel (60 watts) and add one more battery to the bank.

Anyway, thanks for visiting. Leave comments, suggestions, or advice. Take care. God bless you and yours.

UPDATE (May 4, 2021)

Since posting this story I have gone back to a two-switch system on the trailer. One switch turns the inverter on and off; the other disconnects the batteries from the solar panel controller. When in long-term storage the batteries will not be subject to constant discharge when connected. I have also re-wired an electrical outlet back into the circuit for access to 120 volts from outside of the trailer.

However, after adding the outlet and the second switch, testing indicated that the inverter is only putting out 85 to 90 volts AC. I am trying figure out why that is; all of the wiring seems correct. Maybe there are too many connections and splices. Frustrated right now, but I’ll see if I can get it to work.

Update (May 12, 2021)

Okay; I have converted the trailer back to its original, non-powered state.

After removing the rear panel I examined all of the wiring and connections and found a loose connection at one of the switches. This is why I was getting no output from the inverter.

After tightening the screw, I reconnected everything and ran a test. I was able to run a corded electric drill from the sockets wired to the inverter.

Evidently the screw had vibrated loose during road tests. This is going to be a problem over time. Connections are going to need a bolt and nut, used with Lock-Tite to keep the connections tight. Also the battery connections are not ideal as they are held together with friction.

While the system is disassembled I think I will upgrade some components. One reader suggested I should go to a larger solar panel, maybe 60 watts. Will do! I will also add another battery to the bank and perhaps switch to connection which use a bolt and nut. After I have tested the new system I will reinstall everything back onto the trailer for testing. I’ll keep you posted.

WIKE Trailer Kit

Here is the final solution for a trailer for my recumbent bike packing adventures which will take place this spring and summer. The kit is well designed and sturdy and affords all necessary hardware to complete the trailer one desires. Additional wood, aluminum, and some screws are provided by the purchaser.

This trailer will be used to carry my “power box” which will help sustain my electrical needs on the trip. Enjoy.

Bafang BBS02 Install – Chapter 2

Hello friends. Here is chapter two of the process used to install my e-assist motor kit onto my AZUB TRIcon. I made a few errors, but was able to correct them and get things straightened up.

In the meantime, I am starting to put together my equipment list and working on solar panel powered battery charging system. I will detail that process also when I feel I’ve got it done correctly.

Bafang BBS02 Install onto TRIcon

Back in 2016 or there about, I endeavored to take a long distance biking/camping tour on my AZUB TRIcon recumbent tricycle. The starting point was near Bastendorff, Oregon and its ending point was planned for Southern California. Two hundred eighty-five miles was as far as I was able to go. Due to illness, I had to bail out. Every since the try I have been itching to try it again. This coming summer I am going for it.

One of the memorable moments of that trip was when Steve Green (my riding buddy) and I had to climb a 6 mile long, uphill mountain road with a average grade of 4 to 6 percent. Plodding along at 2.3 mph with 60+ pounds of camping equipment was arduous to say the list. I still plainly remember a column of large black ants, scurrying along, roadside, making only slightly less better time than I was making. Actually, if scale and size were taken into account they were making way better time than I was. Aside from the fact we actually made it too the top, the best part of the experience was of flying down the mountain at 40+ miles per hour.

Here is a bit of video that I shot of Steve and I on that trip. It was hard, but fun. It’s been in my blood ever since to give it another shot.

Below is a picture Steven zooming by at about 45 mph at the bottom of the mountain. There’s always a down once you’ve finishd going up.

Steve Green flying downhill!

If you want to see an entire 25 minute film of the adventure go to Steve’s web site. Use this link.

Anyway, after ascending that mountain it was decided, “If I ever do this again, a motor will be used.” Call it cheating; I don’t care! Actually, I’ve been doing some research and it turns out that e-assist or electric touring is becoming quite common. Thus, I have decided to install a Bafang BBS02 750W Mid-Drive kit to my TRIcon. At 70 years old, I’ll need the help. Below is a picture of the kit.

So far the installation has been very straight forward. I’m glad I did it myself, because I saved about $800 labor charges at the local bike shop. Winter is approaching now, but as next summer rolls around I’ll be planning and exercising and getting ready to hit the road again.

To help whet your appetite take a look at this YouTube video, Chapter 1 of a three-part series of the installation. I’ll post the next chapter soon, followed by the final chapter featuring the test ride with the new motor installed. Should be fun. Come back soon.