Monthly Archives: May 2014

FOLDING ALUMINUM RAMPS


The last two days I have been busy working on fabricating a set of folding aluminum ramps for my friend to use to get his tadpole trike in and out of the back of his pickup truck. He only has a six foot bed so the ramps had to fold in order to store them inside.

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aluminum folding ramps

They are 8 foot long with a 21 inch long section of 1/4 x 4 inch flat bar which lays on the tailgate.

aluminum folding ramps folded 3

 

aluminum folding ramps partially unfolded

There are hinges in the middle connecting the 4 foot sections of C channel and at the top connecting the C channel to the 1/4 inch by 4 inch flat bar. The flat bar extends back off the tailgate about 2.75 inches and is bent down about 15 degrees or so to match the angle of the ramps as they come up to the tailgate. Currently there are no angle aluminum pieces in place at the end of the 1/4 x 4 inch flat bar, but I think it is going to need this added to help keep the ramps from moving. On my truck they stayed in place well as is, but on my friend’s truck they don’t. I originally had in mind placing  aluminum angle pieces on the end of the flat bar and even drilled and tapped holes for them already.

aluminum folding ramps 2

These pictures show the ramps set up on my truck and not on my friend’s. I ran my trike up and down them to test the ramps out. The ramps work fine and will be a big help to him as his HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs 26 electric trike is quite heavy to lift. There is a 1/4 diameter round rod with the ends bent 90 degrees which goes thru holes drilled into the 1/4 x 2 inch flat bar pieces on the bottom end of the ramps. The rod spaces the ramps apart and maintains the spacing. It is also almost pavement level so it can be easily stepped over as the trike is rolled up and down the ramps. The C channel is quite thin so it is very lightweight to handle. I personally would have selected thicker stronger material to use but these were given to him free so they are what were used. If I were making ramps for myself I think I would make them shorter than these although there is some merit to longer ramps as they provide lesser incline to deal with. There are pros and cons to both. Longer ramps means more flexing … especially when thin wall material is used.

Where the two 4 foot sections of C channel are hinged together there is a 12 inch long piece of the 1/4 x 4 flat bar used to strengthen the joint in the flimsy thin wall C channel. It is bolted down on just one side to the C channel and simply lays down in the other C channel section when unfolded.

aluminum folding ramps middle hinge

Here my friend is trying out the ramps for the first time.

aluminum folding ramps with trike

Here is a short video showing the ramps I made being used.

I would estimate a total of about $100 for materials and hardware is involved in making your own. It could even be less depending upon the design and hardware used. I drilled and tapped holes in the 1/4 thick flat bar for the hinges.  Both pan head and flat head (countersunk) head screws were used as well as some 1/4 x 20 nuts where no 1/4 inch plate was used.

These ramps could be made in one day if you have everything needed and the knowledge and skill level to accomplish the task. Our local Metals Supermarket will do all the cutting free if the material is purchased from them. I have a horizontal cutting band saw so I cut it myself. I have found that most places don’t do a very accurate job of cutting metal to the specified length and this bothers me. When I cut metal I try to get it cut within 1/64 of an inch. Sometimes 1/8, 3/16 or even 1/4 inch more or less doesn’t matter in the scheme of things but sometimes it can really cause problems. I am a perfectionist in my work and strive for accuracy. I am retired from a lifetime of welding and fabricating so I rarely do much of this sort of thing anymore. Well, that is enough tooting of my horn. I just want you to be aware that if you have the metal cut someplace it may not be cut accurately.

So, if you have a need of a ramp loading system it can be done. Here is proof.

Of course, you can buy ramps. Depending upon what you get it will be a lot more expensive … about $400 – $500 for one popular manufactured ramp system. I just found another source for under $200 … 5 Star Manufacturing Telescoping Aluminum Ramps  They look like they would work pretty good. And I just found some others as cheap as $101.75. Walmart sells a set for $140.

telescoping aluminum ramps

I think this is a 7 foot set which would be perfect for most applications. The only thing is I don’t know about how well they would stay in place without doing something to help keep them in place. They telescope in to about 4 foot in length so they would fit readily in most any type of vehicle.

7 foot aluminum telescoping ramps $150

With ramps to help us load and unload our trikes it will help us to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

AZUB TRICON FOLDING TRIKE FOLDING BY ITSELF


don’t know how they did this but the video is pretty neat … a video of an AZUB TRICON FOLDING TRIKE FOLDING BY ITSELF.

TADPOLE TRIKES FOR KIDS


Tadpole trikes are fun no matter what age we are. I am sure many would agree that they bring out the kid in us. But what about if we are a kid? I mean a tadpole trike that is made to accommodate an adult won’t work for a small child. They will only adjust down so small and so a small child just won’t fit a trike designed for an adult. Another factor to consider is that children grow. What fits them today may not fit them next year. Not many of us want to buy something which costs a lot of money if it won’t be of any use a year later. And most certainly tadpole trikes are not known to be inexpensive to purchase. I would guess that there is not a big demand for tadpole trikes for kids because of these reasons. That being said, there is one manufacturer I know of producing a tadpole trike designed for children. I am talking about KMX. They make the KMX K3 which sells for about $500. Even so that is still a lot of money to spend so one needs to ponder over the matter. Of course, having younger children who can grow into it when the kid it was purchased for grows out of it would help.

KMX K-3

http://www.kmxus.com/k3.html

http://www.utahtrikes.com/PROD-11617623.html

(currently on sale at Utah Trikes for $449)

http://www.angletechcycles.com/dnu/trikes/

For older kids (and small adults) KMX offers the KOMPACT R model for about $900. (currently on sale for $799 at Utah Trikes)

KMX KOMPACT

Catrike used to make the DASH model for kids but they discontinued it. Perhaps a used one could be found if one wants to go this route. The DASH model is just like Catrike’s other models except it is scaled down for children.

catrike dash trike

And then there is the matter of children who for one reason or another can not safely ride a bicycle.  A tadpole trike is an option they might be able to handle ok. And for sure, every child deserves a childhood!

Lastly here are some videos of young children riding a tadpole trike:

and here is a kid in Malaysia riding a tadpole trike:

by sliding way forward in the seat and putting a pillow behind this child is able to ride an adult size tadpole trike:

and finally …

not quite ready yet but definitely showing an interest:

FRONT WHEEL DRIVE TADPOLE TRIKES by DAVID BRUCE


dbtrikesheader

There is a man in Florida who makes front wheel drive tadpole trikes. His name is David Bruce. I am sure some of you have heard of him and his trikes. A few of you probably even know him. Back when I previously had my Tadpole Rider blog I had planned on featuring his trikes in a posting. I had emailed him to ask his permission and received it. However, I discontinued the blog awhile back and the article never materialized. So now that I have restarted Tadpole Rider I am doing the article. David has long been an avid cyclist and raced road bikes in years past. You can read his story on his website which I link to further below.

Like most any product one can name there has been “evolution” (improvement in design, appearance and quality of workmanship) in the design and building from when he first began. The trikes are looking better and better to where now they look great … like what comes out of the best of factory production.  The machining and welding are superb. See for yourself …

db first trike

david bruce front wheel drive trike 4

david bruce front wheel drive trike 3

david bruce front wheel drive trike

He not only designed and built his front wheel drive trike but he rides them. And not only does he ride them but he enters some contests with them.

Here is a walk around video showing various aspects of the build:

Here David is riding his trike on the West Orange Trail in Florida:

He has several YouTube videos available including various ones showing the building of the trike. Click HERE to see the listing.

Visit his WEBSITE.

david bruce front wheel drive trike 2

david bruce front wheel drive trike 5

Thanks David for working to create a unique product and availing it to fellow trikers.

I hope you have as much success as you can handle.  🙂

IN SOLEMN REMEMBRANCE


memorial day

AND THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO SERVED OR ARE CURRENTLY SERVING IN OUR NATION’S MILITARY

THINGS I’VE LEARNED


have been riding tadpole trikes now for nearly 7 years and have ridden over 26,000 miles. During that time there are some things I have learned which I want to share here as it might be helpful to others.

1)  Ride smart … don’t leave home empty handed. Carry important things along such as tools, inner tubes, a minimum of a 6 to 8 inch section of chain (to use for making a roadside repair to your chain should something happen to it … hey, it can happen!), master links, air pump, first aid kit, wet wipes, and whatever else you might personally find handy and practical. I carry maps, mosquito repellent, sun block screen, plastic cable ties, electrical tape, a few feet of solid wire, plastic shopping bags, a shop towel, and more.

2)  Keep your tires properly inflated. It is best to run them up to their maximum pressure rating as you will get the best wear out of the tires and the least amount of rolling resistance.

3) Use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires as it will mean no flats and much longer wear than any other tire. It still handles great and rolls well. By far the best price I have found on purchasing Schwalbe tires is directly from Germany where they are manufactured. HERE is a link to the website. That link is for those from the United States. To order from another country just change the information for country, money, etc. There is a shipping charge of $27.20 (currently) to the United States. Other countries can be looked up. Because of this shipping charge by far the best deal is to buy 3 tires at the same time which is the maximum number which can be ordered at one time for that shipping charge amount. The current price per tire is shown at $29.37 (they have gone up quite a bit since the last time I ordered). Three tires at $29.37 is $88.11.  With the shipping charges figured in it is $115.31.  $115.31 divided by 3 is $38.44 each. Try finding this tire elsewhere and compare prices. At the moment I can find this tire at a pretty good price ($41.62 including shipping) here in the U.S. In the past this has not been the case. So I guess one just needs to check it all out to see what is available as the situation changes. The tire lists for about $54.

4)  When crossing speedbumps and gently sloping curbs I have found that if it is safe to do so approaching at a minimal acute angle works best as it almost entirely eliminates the “bump” encountered. You might have to make sharp turns on both ends to accomplish this but it is worth it.

speedbump

5)  When dealing with small holes, bumps, debris, etc. in your immediate path and there is no time or safe way to steer completely over around it you can usually avoid it if you ride along and aim to have your pedal go right directly over it. Unless it is too wide you should be able to avoid it with all three wheels by doing this.

6)  When riding with others be careful not to cut another rider off when going around a corner or sharp turn. And watch out for others doing this. Try to give sufficient warning to others behind you if you intend to slow down or stop. Colliding together could spell real trouble. Not only can the trikes get damaged but personal injury could result. It is unwise to “hot dog” around others or to do anything messing with their trikes while riding or even sitting still together in a group. Remember the golden rule … do unto others as you would want others to do unto you … or another way of stating it is don’t do anything to someone else (including to their trike) that you wouldn’t want them doing to you or your trike.

7)  Take plenty of water with you and drink it (stay hydrated). Most of us don’t drink nearly as much water as we should. We should drink half of our body weight in ounces each day. In other words, if you weigh 150 pounds you should drink 75 ounces of water daily. Water is by far the most healthy drink there is. We should avoid most every other type of liquid drink as none are good for us and some are very bad for us (especially anything with sugar in it). If we do drink anything other than water it does not count against the quantity of water we are supposed to drink.

8)  Take rest breaks as needed … especially on hot days.

9)  Wearing a bicycle helmet and using some means of keeping your feet on the pedals so they can’t fall off and onto the ground and get swept back and ran over is a good idea. I personally do neither and have never had any problems with my feet hitting the ground. I understand the danger however so I would never advise against doing these things.

10)  Always ride with good safety flags and flashing (in the daytime) headlight(s) and taillight(s) so that other see you. Read my article about safety flags HERE. For the money, I don’t think you can beat the Planet Bike lights …minimum of 1 watt Blaze Headlight and  1/2 watt SuperFlash Tail Light. They not only work great but have excellent battery life compared to most other manufacturers’ lights. There are other lights available which may be a little brighter but their cost is a whole lot more and their battery life is a whole lot less.

Planet Bike headlight and taillight

11)  It is advisable to ride with at least one other person for safety reasons.

12)  Don’t skimp on buying a trike just to save money. Get the best quality trike you can afford. You won’t regret it. You might regret buying a lower priced lower quality trike however. The saying holds true … you usually get what you pay for. I personally recommend Catrike over any other brand out there.  They make a top quality trike and stand behind their product.  Also figure on a minimum of $150 for accessories as they are important. I am talking about lights, safety flags, horn or bell, cargo hauling items (rear rack, panniers and/or rear rack trunk bag), a cable lock device to lock up your trike when parking it to shop, eat, etc. If you don’t already have bicycle tools these will be an additional investment. Again, buy quality tools … not inexpensive ones which will probably quickly fail you upon use.

13)  Check the toe in … it could be off or change after initial setting. Toe in is critical to proper handling and tire wear.

14)  Check for chain stretch and replace the chain if it stretches more than a 1/16th of an inch between links. Sprockets should also be checked for wear and if need be changed. Usually sprockets should last thru two chains but a badly worn chain will quickly wear out brand new sprockets and badly worn sprockets will quickly wear out a brand new chain. A tadpole trike uses about 2.5 to 3 bicycle chains to reach the length of the chain run around the front and rear sprockets.

15)  Keep the chain and sprockets sufficiently oiled to prevent excessive premature wear.

16)  Be a good ambassador (representative) for cyclists as a whole and tadpole trikes specifically. Obey the law and trail rules. You might even consider volunteering on a local trail maintenance organization.

17) When going over a bumpy surface you can’t avoid and you have no suspension on your trike you can eliminate much of the jarring by simply lifting your body up off of the seat. To do this use your shoulders on the top of the seat back and your feet on the pedals to lift your body. In the drawing below the black line represents the seat. The red line represents the rider’s body. The blue line represents the pedals. The green line (arrow) shows the gap between the seat and the body when the body is raised up in the air off of the seat.

road shock

I may add more onto this list if anything more comes to mind.

OUTRIDER 422 ALPHA ELECTRIC TRIKE REVIEW


Outrider 422 Alpha Electric Trike Review. Electric Bike Review has an article about this motorized tadpole trike which you can read HERE. HP Velotechnik is not the only game in town when it comes to factory motorized tadpole trikes. This one is built on a KMX Venom frame and can go considerably faster than HP’s … like 40 mph. It has three modes to choose from which I will show below in the specifications. It is heavy at about 100 pounds.  It is very stable due to the fact that the battery and motor are positioned low and near the center.

As you can see in the images below it is a serious looking machine. That bottom bracket height is something else. If you don’t know what the term bottom bracket means I am talking about the end of the boom … the height of the pedals and crankset. It is really high up in the air off of the ground.

Outrider 422 Alpha Electric Trike right side Outrider 422 Alpha Electric Trike left side view

MANUFACTURER’S WEBSITE

Top Speed: 40 mph
Range: 165 Miles / 111 Miles (with / without pedaling @ 20 mph)
Power: Three selectable modes: Assist (750 Watts), Economy (2100 Watts), Power (4200 Watts)

costs only 25 cents per 100 miles

Price: $11,995.00

Included Features
Crankset: Schlumpf High-Speed Drive 40T
Wheels: Industry 9 Premium Trike Wheels (Aluminum Straight-Pull Spoke)
Front Light: Cycle Lumenator (1000 Lumen LED)
Rear Light Arizona Whip (6 ft. Flashing LED Flagpole 2-Sided, Red/Yellow)
Rear Rack: Axiom Journey Heavy Duty
Pannier Bags: Axiom Randonnee Aero 40 (Waterproof)

Features
Full 2-Year Limited Warranty
Free 6-Month Full Tuneup (we’ll reimburse your local recumbent shop if you’re not local)
Illustrated Owner’s Manual
American-made Motor and Drive System
Hand-built in the USA
Maintenence-Free Premium Brushless Motor

Technical Specifications

Max speed
40 mph

Power
Three selectable settings: Low (750 Watts), Medium (2100 Watts), High (4200 Watts)

Charging time
2 hours to 90% Charge
2 hours and 45 minutes to 100% Charge
Charges on a standard 110V outlet

Motor
3-Phase Brushless DC
Maintenance-Free
Twin Ceramic Ball Bearings
93% Efficient
Freewheeling for full-speed, drag-free coasting
American-Made

Battery
2.1kWh (2131 watt-hours)
Voltage: 44.4 Volts Nominal
Chemistry: Lithium Polymer
Rated Life: 1000 cycles

Weatherproofing
Fully-sealed for all-weather riding conditions

Componentry
Rear Shifter: SRAM X.0 Gripshift
Rear Derailleur: SRAM X.7
Rear Cassette: SRAM PG-950, 9 Speed
Brakes: 180mm Avid BB7 Mechanical Discs

Visibility
Front Light: Cycle Lumenator (1000 Lumen LED)
Rear Light: Arizona Whip (6 Foot, 2-Sided, LED Flagpole, Red/Yellow)
Dual Mirrors
Diamond Cross-Hatch Reflective Tape

Computer functions
Battery Voltage
Instantaneous Speed
Instantaneous Motor Power
Amp-Hours Consumed
Miles Traveled
Watt-hours Consumed
Efficiency in Watt-hours per Mile
Average Speed
Maximum Speed
Trip Time
Lifetime Battery Cycles
Lifetime Energy Consumed
Lifetime Miles Traveled

Dimensions
Length: 73-78″ (depending on boom’s position)
-with boom removed: 61″
-with rear wheel and boom removed: 52″
Width: 32.5″
-with front wheels removed: 26.25″
Height: 26″
-with wheels removed and handlebars folded: 20″
Time to remove wheels and fold handlebars: 10 Minutes

Weight
99 lbs (44.9 kg)
Max suggested rider weight: 250 lbs

They also have trikes which are ADAPTIVE FOR DISABILITIES.       Here is a video where they explain some about this.

Speaking of speed (I wasn’t but I will) …

WOW, I AM IMPRESSED!!!

(Keep in mind that this is a modified version)

I must admit I am not understanding how they are going 65 mph when they show 40 mph as the top speed. Even at 40 mph I would probably just wrap it around a tree or telephone pole anyway. I reckon I will just stick with good ol’ pedal power and simply dream about stuff like this. How ’bout you? 85+ mph on a tadpole trike? Unbelievable! (It would probably give me heart failure!) Yeah, most definitely I am better off travelling only 8.5 mph. 🙂

HPVelotechnik Scorpion fs 26 S-Pedelec e-trike


Lately I have found myself being challenged by one of the two guys I usually ride with. He just recently purchased an HPVelotechnik Scorpion fs 26 S-Pedelec e-trike. So trying to keep up with him is not possible as there is no way to compete against an electric motor assist. He is out there ZOOMING RIGHT ALONG! The other day while out riding on a local trail a “roadie” came whizzing by doing about 20 mph passing him like he was in sitting still. He let him get quite a way ahead and then decided to give chase. It took awhile but he caught up with him. His trike is capable of doing about 28 mph with the electric motor assist. When he came up behind the roadie he said to him “I thought you roadies were supposed to be fast?” And then he went zipping around him and went way on up uphead of him. The roadie didn’t know what to think. Of course, the roadie didn’t know that the trike was motorized as unlike most electric motorized trikes it is very quiet even at speed. And my friend didn’t tell him any different. 🙂 He just let him think that a tadpole trike passed him up going considerably faster than he was riding. It was kind of funny.

This trike is mighty quiet but it certainly is not cheap. I mean we are talking $7500 to over $8500 (insane cost) depending upon what you select in the way of the battery option. It has a dual battery setup  available which doubles the speed and range the trike is capable of. The motor draws its power from a 36 Volt Li-Mn rechargeable battery with a 530 Watt Hour capacity. The recuperation function involving the motor working as a generator when braking extends the range through energy recovery. It takes 4 hours to charge the motor from a plug socket. The trike comes with a start assist function as standard, which propels the vehicle to a speed of up to about 3.75 mph at the push of a button. I am told that you can set the controls on a negative number (-1 to -3) and as you pedal it will charge the battery. I am also told that when doing this it is difficult pedaling and will wear you out if you try this for very long. On -1 pedaling is slightly more difficult and at this setting the battery is being charged the least. On -2 it is a little harder yet pedaling and the battery charging is increased. On -3 it becomes far more difficult and tiring to pedal while the battery gets maximum charging.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

HPVelotechnik Scorpion FX26 e-trike 2

aluminum folding ramps with trike

As you can see the trike folds which is a good thing because it is quite large and won’t fit as easily inside some vehicles to haul it. In order to fold it it is necessary to remove the seat which is a bummer. Reattaching the seat is a bit challenging in my opinion. I have watched my friend do this and as far as I am concerned it is a real pain in the butt to do. I really like the trike designs which fold with the seat left in place. Evolve and Catrike offer this as does the Gekko model offered by HP Velotechnik. Also when the trike is folded and unfolded it seems to have a tendency to get caught/hung up on the handlebars. The mirror is in the way and has to be moved every time the trike is folded. I am not impressed with some aspects of the design engineering I see in this trike. The trike comes with a guard over the largest front sprocket (chain ring). On my friend’s trike this won’t stay tight and is constantly rotating around either falling down or backward right into the front derailleur. I think HP needs to redesign this mounting of this guard (perhaps copy the mounting method ICE uses on theirs).

The trike is full suspension … probably about as good as a trike suspension system comes as it works quite well.  It comes with a brake/tail light combination, headlight, front LED running light and an integrated computer. I need to qualify that about the lights. My friend’s trike came with these lights. I do not know for a fact that these lights come stock or are an option. The wiring going back to the taillight has plug in connectors which seem to come apart easily and can be difficult to connect back together.  On my friend’s trike we moved this wiring slightly upward following along the rear rack and secured it in place using plastic cable ties. Since then it hasn’t given any more trouble coming apart at the connectors.

The trike has hydraulic disc brakes on all three wheels.  The front brakes operate off of the left brake lever and the rear brake operates off of the right brake lever. It also has indirect steering but, unlike most trikes with indirect steering, it turns amazingly sharp. It is a very long wheelbase so this adds to the amazement. It has a choice of seats … mesh or hard shell molded. It is 27 speeds which surprises me since nearly all of the industry has gone to 30 speeds. Weighing in at 72 pounds it isn’t something you would want to pedal around much without the motorized assistance. It is also a bit much to manually lift in and out of vehicle you haul it in, especially if you are doing it alone.

Additional technical data:
Seat height BodyLink seat 29 cm (11.42 inches)
Seat height ErgoMesh seat 32 cm (12.6  inches)
Seat angle 32–41° adjustable
Bracket height 40–45 cm (15.75 to 17.72 inches)
Track 78 cm (30.71 inches)
Width 83 cm (32.68 inches)
Frame: Aluminum 7005 T4/T6
Rider height approximately 1.62–2.00 m(5 foot 3 inches to 6 feet 6.72 inches)

One thing about this trike … it is so quiet that most people would never know it is motorized. And since it is basically pedal assist it isn’t obvious as far as watching someone ride it. For me, I think the real attraction to a trike like this is in the climbing hills department.

Regardless of what you ride …

Enjoy the Ride!

 

TO MOTORIZE OR NOT TO MOTORIZE, THAT IS THE QUESTION


They say it is wise to let a sleeping dog lay. I am about to do something I hope I don’t regret. I am going to post an article below which is one I wrote and is posted on Steve Greene’s Trike Asylum blog. When I first wrote it it stirred up a hornet’s nest so to speak. I dared to express my opinion and it got me in trouble with some folks. Anyway, Steve Greene was kind and gracious in giving me his permission to post these articles I wrote for his blog  on my blog. So here goes:

To Motorize or Not to Motorize, That is the Question
I am getting into something here which I will state upfront I am very opinionated about. I”M ‘AGIN’ IT! To my way of thinking motorizing any type of human powered vehicle is defeating the whole concept of the thing … exercise. I mean, come on … if you want a motorized open air vehicle buy a motorcycle for crying out loud. I rode them for over 50 years of my life until I finally decided I would give it up for strictly pedaling around. I was also riding a bicycle all those years so I still got some exercise … just not nearly as much as I do now.

I am sure that there are some folks who are not able to pedal to get around … perhaps can’t use their arms and hands to propel a vehicle either and so they may NEED something in the way of a motorized trike. But there are a whole lot of folks out there who are perfectly capable of pedaling who really don’t NEED to go this route.

That being said, I know it has become pretty popular. The man I sold my homemade tadpole trike to told me he planned on motorizing it. There is lots of information out there on the subject. And I am sure riding a motorized tadpole trike is a lot of fun even though it could lead to an added element of danger. And there may be some folks who just need help pedaling up hills as just maybe their bodies can’t deliver what it takes.

Obviously there are two main ways to go … electric motor or gas engine. Those who oppose gas engines because they “pollute” would no doubt only consider the electric motor route. But I AM STILL AGIN IT!

Here are some pictures of various setups:

KMX trike motorized

KMX trike motorized

gas engine motorized trike

gas engine motorized trike

solar charging motorized trike

solar charging motorized trike

ecospeed motor on boom

ecospeed motor on boom 2

And I say to ya’ll …

KEEP ON PEDALIN’

(We all need the exercise!)

By the way,  one needs to be aware that there are trails where it is against the rules to ride a motorized bike or trike. Our local trails here in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area do not allow them. Only motorized wheelchairs are permitted.

 

TRAIL RIDING VS. ROAD RIDING


Below is one of the articles I wrote and is posted on Steve Greene’s Trike Asylum blog. Steve was kind and gracious in giving me his permission to post them here on my own blog. I have made some minor changes mostly in the way of updating information I wrote about. Here is the article:

Some of us have a preference one way or another. Some of us have a choice while others do not. Some have no trails available and only have roads. Personally I am not afraid to ride out on the streets, roads and along the highways, but I have friends who are and won’t do it. They won’t even ride in bike lanes. That being said, I much prefer riding on trails as I find them more interesting for the most part. And I don’t think there is any doubt that they are safer than riding on streets and roads. I only wish I was in a position where I could travel around the country and ride all the different trails that are available out there. Of course there are paved trails (asphalt or concrete) and what I consider non-paved trails (everything else). I don’t care to ride on any trail that isn’t paved … especially riding a trike. I have ridden off road with my trike, but it ain’t for me. I think off road riding on a trike is very impractical. Sorry, maybe you don’t agree and like doing it.

Here where I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana we have approximately 80 miles of paved trails at the current time. In actuality we only have about 38 miles of trails which are of practical use … of any appreciable length and connected together. Some “trails” are what I refer to as “glorified sidewalks” and not really trails at all … at least they are not my idea of what a trail is. They are simply extra wide sidewalk which run along the side of a street or road. If commuting someplace is what one is doing then I have no problem with riding on these rather than riding out in the road/street. Otherwise there just is no comparison between these “sidewalks” and a true trail. I just have a hard time with classifying them as trails. Now 80 miles of trails sounds like a lot, but I tell you that those of us who ride on them daily will all say that it gets old quick. And as I said, it is really only about 38 miles we ride on. Hopefully someday there will be more and they will connect. Right now all the newer sections which exist are scattered about and isolated from one another. What was originally built is all a linear trail following along our 3 rivers. This means that once we get to the end of the trail we have to turn around and come back. The trails do not loop around or connect to other trails … not yet anyway.

There is a tadpole trike rider up in Calgary, Canada who has several YouTube videos of his rides. They are good quality videos which I enjoy watching.

https://www.youtube.com/user/abohdan/videos?view=0

Out of curiosity I looked up bicycle trails in the Calgary area and discovered that they have approximately 375 miles of trails and 240 miles of bike lanes. That is a bunch! I am impressed!

Perhaps you have something to say concerning your preference and what you have available where you live. I am all ears. Well, actually my nose is bigger than my ears, but we won’t go there. 🙂

Keep On Trikin’

A GRUELING ADVENTURE


ROAM velomobiles

Below is one of the articles I wrote and is posted on Steve Greene’s Trike Asylum blog back when I wrote articles for it. Steve Greene was kind and gracious in giving his permission for me to post the articles here on my own blog. In doing so I have added the images.

Velomobiles have been covered on this blog before so I am not trying to go over old ground.  I am sure some Trike Asylum readers were aware that last year a whole bunch of velomobiles undertook quite an adventure peddling from the West Coast (Oregon) to Washington, D.C. in what was called ROAM.

ROAM logo

They came thru Fort Wayne, IN where I live.

ROAM Chicago to Ft. Wayne route

A local man, John Dorrill who is a friend of mine and fellow Greenway Ranger, interviewed and video taped  riders as they rolled into Johnny Appleseed Park to the campgrounds where they were camping for the night.  I was there as well.  Below is his video.  It doesn’t sell me on velomobiles but it is interesting.  When I saw these riders crawl out of their vehicles soak and wet like they had been in swimming with all their clothes on (seriously) it didn’t take long for me to think … nope, this isn’t for me!   I get hot and sweaty enough sitting out in the open air.  Anyway, I think John did a very good job shooting this video and interviewing the riders.

Here is his description which accompanies the video:

The first episode in my new series about all things related to human powered vehicles including velomobiles, bikes, trikes, peddle boat and anything that requires human propulsion. This episode is about the Roll Over America {ROAM} riders that started in Oregon and went to DC.
Special thanks to Access Fort Wayne for making this possible.

Trike Hood (or Canopies)


Ed Miller ridin'

Note: I have a more recent article on canopies which  offers more information, pictures, videos, and resources. HERE is a link to it.

My very first article I wrote and is posted on Steve Greene’s Trike Asylum blog was about trike canopies. Steve Greene was kind and gracious to me in giving his permission to post my articles I wrote on his blog on my own blog and so here is the first of 4 I am posting.

Ed Miller, an avid trike pilot from Tennessee has many fine YouTube videos available of his numerous trike adventures as he rides with his various friends.  He rides an ActionBent tadpole trike.  I love watching his videos and highly recommend them to you.  I personally think they are among the very best I have viewed to date.  There is lots of beautiful countryside and wildlife in most of his videos, especially deer.  His YouTube username is LogNotching.  HERE is a link to all of his videos.

He also has come up with some ‘innovations’ including what he refers to as a Trike Hood.  It is all about providing shade from the sun and offering a little bit of protection from rain as well.  I say little because he would be the first to admit that it offers “little” protection.  His design is pretty ingenious in that it is simple, basic yet relatively inexpensive and effective.  And it is lightweight which is a concern to most of us.  He can readily release the front hook which holds it down horizontally over him so that it stands upright out of the way allowing him to mount and dismount normally.  He says it doesn’t effect handling or speed noticably as he has it tweaked in which he explains in one of his videos.

trike hood

trike hood released

If you are interested in ordering one of Ed’s canopies or just want more information you can contact him via email at …

logbuilder  at  mindspring.com       Just mention ‘canopy info’.

Ed has a few videos among his 142 (and counting) YouTube postings which show and explain various aspects of the construction which should prove quite helpful for anyone considering attempting something like this.  Here are a couple of links to these videos:

Another item he has made which might be of interest to some readers is a flat platform which serves as a rack for hauling his trike behind his motor vehicle as well as a work stand to perform maintenance, cleaning, etc. and a vertical stand for storing his trike so it takes up less room.  And it is made out of plywood so it is fairly simple to make and relatively cheap in cost.  Again, he has a video showing and explaining the construction of it.

If you get a chance, perhaps on a rainy day when you can’t be out there riding (without a canopy :<), check out Ed’s videos.  I think you’ll like them.
Check out my more recent article about canopies HERE. It has more information, pictures videos and resources than this older article.

INCLINED TO RECLINE


Most people share the same testimony that the older they get they have a tendency to take a liking to a recliner chair and just being comfortable and relaxed. When it comes to bicycling most people who have made the switch to a recumbent bike or trike have the same testimony … that riding a diamond frame bike had become more and more of a challenge as their bodies were suffering with leaning over, trying to hold their head up to see … wrists, hands, arms,  shoulders, and backs hurting from the riding position … sore butt from an uncomfortable seat, etc. Then there is the very real danger of riding on two wheels and going down. The older a person gets the more conscience we seem to be about the possibility of getting seriously hurt and what that may involve. I know all this is true for me so I finally came to the point … maybe I should say “to my senses” and made the plunge into the recumbent world. I mean like, WHOA NELLIE! Stop the merry go round, I want to get off! And I did. No regrets other than I wish I had done so many many years sooner. Yep, I am INCLINED TO RECLINE! … and loving it!

Speaking of reclining … tadpole trikes vary in the angle of inclination of the seat back. Some are considerably upright while others are really laid back. The two I know of which are most laid back are the Catrike 700 and the ICE VTX. Both are 25 degrees. That is really laid back! In the image below I have marked the seat angles of my trike (45 degrees – green line) and 25 degrees (red line). That is quite a difference.

protractor angles marked

My seat back angle is adjustable but it only goes more upright. 45 degrees is as far back as it reclines. I wish it would go further back to about 30 degrees, but Catrike only made it to adjust more upright which I personally think is ridiculous and totally worthless as far as having this feature of an adjustable seat back. I have absolutely no desire to sit up straighter but I sure would love to be able to lay back further if I chose to. The word “recumbent” means LAID BACK and that is what it is all about. I would never want to go any further forward than 45 degrees. It defeats the whole purpose of having a recumbent. At least that is the way I look at it … cause I am INCLINED TO RECLINE! … and loving it!

HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT?


HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT? <You can laugh now.> Believe it or not, I have been asked that questions 2 or 3 times over the years. At first I thought the person asking it was joking with me, but I soon learned that they were serious. I mean, just how do you answer a question like that? So now I sometimes joke with others saying that the hardest thing about riding a tadpole trike is learning how to balance it. And, yes, I sometimes get some looks from people as they think I am being serious. I guess some folks just don’t recognize humor when they hear it.

One thing for sure, tadpole trikes attract attention as they still are not all that commonplace. When people see them they look with great interest. Sometimes they stop and look the trike(s) over. If the “pilot” is around they often will start a conversation asking questions about the trike(s). Even if no questions are asked we often see a thumbs up or hear comments like “I really like your ‘bike’ ” … or … “that’s really neat!” … or … “I want one!”

Probably the most common question I hear asked is “how do you steer it?”  Probably the second most common question I hear asked is “is that thing comfortable?”.  I have to admit I would put that question in the same category as “how do you balance that?” Probably the third most common question I hear asked is “how much does it cost?” followed by “where can you buy one?” And when I say followed by I don’t mean they ask that question following the question about cost. I mean it as the 4th most common question asked. A much more rare question asked is “are you handicapped”? Apparently some people think one would have to handicapped to ride such a machine.

Q&A

Yes, questions … we get questions. They go with the territory I reckon. That is, having a tadpole trike means people will ask such questions so we need to avail ourselves to answer them as ambassadors for these wonderful machines. I try to take all the time I can to answer all their questions. Let’s just hope that tadpole trikes won’t become common place. I think I would prefer to answer all the questions than deal with lots of tadpole trike clogging up the trails and streets. 🙂  As expensive as these trikes are it is a pretty safe bet that most folks aren’t going to rush out and buy one.

HOMEMADE TANDEM TRIKE


recently came across a few videos of a couple in Hungary riding a homemade tandem tadpole trike around there in Hungary. I watched them as the videos were pretty well done and I found them interesting. Seeing the countryside in Hungary was neat. The first video is just over 9 minutes long and the second one is over 30 minutes long. Here are two of the videos:

REPAIR WELDING OF A CRACKED ALUMINUM FRAME


fellow tadpole rider I know stopped by my house recently. (His stop had nothing to do with this subject.) While he was here he told me that the frame of his ActionBent trike was broken at the crucifix. He mentioned getting it welded. Being a professional weldor (now retired) I told him that the aluminum frame is heat treated and that complicates things as far as welding it. I cautioned him about not just taking it anywhere to get it welded … that he needs to find someone who is not only very knowledgeable but capable of doing the job right. I want to state upfront that although I am a very good weldor and was highly certified, I make no profession of being very knowledgeable and capable of doing the repair weld on his trike. First of all, I no longer have the welding equipment needed and most certainly I don’t have the means of heat treating the aluminum (nor the knowledge of how to do it). I have welded a lot of aluminum in my life and was certified in aluminum welding, but this is a specialty. I am not familiar with it. And I would think that it is  probably not easy to find someone around who is knowledgeable, qualified and equipped unless one is in the right place such as a large city. I doubt if such a welding business exists around my area. I would rather imagine that going this route is not something usually done. I would think that purchasing a replacement frame is the more common way to go. Of course, some manufacturers offer free replacement under warranty. In the case of ActionBent they are defunct … totally out of business … gone … history. His other option is, of course, buying another trike … which he mentioned. It might be the more practical solution to his dilemma. I know that this problem is not uncommon so I thought I would post this article about it. It also happens with chrome-moly steel frames and mild steel frames although they are much simpler to make welding repairs on. I would highly recommend adding gussets to strengthen the joint where the crack occurred. The manufacturers should have done this to begin with. As a professional weldor and fabricator I would have if I were designing and building a trike.

Here is a picture of a cracked frame right at the edge of the weld on the crucifix:

cracked sun trike frame

It is not something you want to see on your trike. This particular trike is made of chrome-moly steel.

Repair Welding of Heat Treated Aluminum

Some trikes are made from 6061 T-6 aluminum, but the better ones are made from 7005 aircraft grade aluminum. All Catrike frames are made from 7005 aircraft aluminum alloy. All this adds complexity into the picture … knowing what you are dealing with and what needs to be done.

more on welding heat treated aluminum

When my 2009 Catrike Trail frame developed a hairline crack at the edge of the weld on the underside of the crucifix I was concerned as I know it could get worse and in time fail. If they would have put a gusset on the back side of the crucifix like they did on the front side I don’t think this would have ever happened.

cracked frame (weld) 001

So I contacted Catrike knowing that they offered a lifetime warranty on the frame. They readily replaced the frame although certainly not without cost to me much to my disappointment. The “space frame” that I had was no longer made so they sent their new frame. I much prefer what I originally had and wished they would have just taken my frame back and repaired it or replaced it with another one like it, but they don’t offer either so I was stuck with having to deal with the new frame. Although I appreciate Catrike standing behind their product and replacing the frame for me I was not (and am not) pleased with the outcome of not being able to get the same frame I had. Everyday I ride it I wish I had the old space age frame instead of this new design. I just don’t think much of the new design. The space age frame was far superior. Sometimes I regret having the frame replaced under warranty. It is possible that the hair line crack in the weld would have held up fine and given many more years of service. I will never know the answer to that matter. At the very least I could have delayed getting the replacement and kept riding my trike as is hoping for the best. At least up until the time it would fail I would have a superior frame.

Anyway, if you are having or do have this problem of a cracked weld or tubing on your trike keep in mind what you are up against here. If the job is not done right you will probably end up in deep doo doo. Having sudden failure in a weld or frame could be very dangerous. It could happen if the job isn’t done right.

Be safe out there!

THANKS


Just a quick note here …

just arrived back home from a trike ride trying to get a ride in before rain starts. I succeeded. Upon arriving home I checked my email and found one from Steve Greene’s TrikeAsylum blog. The email message was about my starting up my TadpoleRider blog again. I always appreciate Steve’s free plugs (Thanks Steve) as they do help. I not only want to go on public record thanking Steve but I want to thank all those who visit my blog and follow it. I truly do appreciate you. And I hope I can earn your loyalty and be of help to you in the articles I post. It is a lot of work to blog, especially if one is writing often and trying to come up with material to write about. Steve Greene has been writing his TA blog long enough now and has developed a large following which has resulted in getting quite a bit of help from readers sending him things to write about. I don’t have that going for me at this time. Anyway, regardless where the material comes from Steve does a fine job on his TA blog. As he stated, I have followed it for several years as I am sure many of you have as well. He is a very gifted writer and I always enjoy reading his articles. I don’t expect to ever be the writer he is but I do hope I can do well enough for this blog to continue to grow. It was just taking off pretty good when I pulled the plug on it a few months ago. I sure wish I would not have deleted what I had already worked so hard to create but I can’t change that. All I can ask is that you the reader bear with me thru this as I strive to reestablish this TadpoleRider blog. It will take time. Again my heart felt thanks to all of you. STEVE

OFF ROAD HANDCYCLE TRIKE


For those who have lost the use of their legs and/or feet there is an alternative. I am talking about hand cranking for propulsion. There are just a few manufacturers producing hand crank trikes. Here is one designed for off road riding.

Explorer 2

From their website …

The Explorer II Off-Road Handcycle is a unique handcycle designed to tackle extreme off-road conditions and provide unparalleled opportunities to get up close and personal with places that until now have been inaccessible. Places like mountains, trails and the beach are no longer out of bounds, the Explorer Off-Road Handcycle will take you there and to the top. This unique off-road handcycle has already taken many users to the highest peaks of Europe, including the Alps and the Tatra mountains. The Explorer also took part in a successful climbing expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest peak of Africa. The Explorer ll is the most advanced off-road handcycle of it’s kind with features such as full independent suspension, hydraulic disc brakes all round, Schlumph Mountain Drive and a choice of drivetrain ranging from 16-22 gears. One of the great features of the Explorer is the chest steering used to keep the bike in a straight line or negotiating turns when pedaling. The handlebars are there for flying downhill.

This YouTube video is accompanied by the following description:

The Explorer II off-road handcycle , is a hand powered trike for people with disabilities, however it can bring a lot of fun also for able bodied. We created this handcycle so that break the boundary of mountain biking and allow the disabled persons to reach what until now was impossible. Now we at SPORT-ON believe that we have succeeded!

Several other YouTube videos of this trike

YouTube videos of  off road hand crank trikes

HERE is a link to their website.

SAFETY FLAGS ARE FOR YOUR SAFETY


my custom flags

A tadpole trike is a very safe vehicle to ride … far more so than an “upwrong” (upright) bike. Motorists tend to show much more respect and courtesy to tadpole trikes than they do a regular bicycle. However, motorists must “see” them first in order for the rest to follow. Since a tadpole trike is low to the ground and relatively small motorists need help seeing the trike. It is imperative that we do what we can to help be seen.

Safety flags are essential on a tadpole trike in my opinion. And when it comes to safety flags I am fully convinced that they should be flags that do the job. Otherwise why bother?  All too many I see are next to worthless as they can’t be seen for one reason or another. Thru the years I have had several different flags on my trikes. Some were better than others but I always made sure what I was using were highly visible.  I finally ended up making my own flags (actually I had them made by a friend who sews). I really like what I have now as they are highly visible and very effective. Here is a video showing them.

As I state in the video safety flags should be about safety … our safety … and not about advertising for the trike manufacturer. I don’t know of a single safety flag provided by a trike manufacturer that is worth having. They are usually too small to be seen, not bright enough to be seen, wrong ineffective dimensions to move about attracting attention, too stiff to move about to attract attention, and so on.

Some flags I have tried were very effective as far as being seen but they didn’t hold up to daily use. There are factory made flags one can purchase which are far superior to to the flags which come with trikes from the manufacturer. I have had some of them. Again, safety flags are supposed to be about our safety so I want something that will do the job. These flags I fly are large enough to be seen, bright enough to catch one’s attention, and soft enough to flap around quite well and get noticed. Also the black border around my safety orange flag really helps it stand out and be seen. The safety yellow/green flag has a reflective border around it that shines brilliantly when light hits it.

The human eye sees the color green the best followed by yellow and then orange. Red and blue are not good colors as far as what we see. Obviously the popular fluorescent colors, otherwise known as safety green yellow and orange, show up the best. I personally like a combination of these colors as I think they show up better than just one of these colors by itself. As you can see in the image below blues and purples are bad but dark red is the worst.

colors human eyes see best

SoundWinds makes some pretty good flags. Here are some examples of some I like:

safety flag 1 sound winds air arts fan banner flag spinner flags

I like spinner flags, at least some of them anyway, but one needs to be aware that they can be problematic if you are riding with others and ride close together the person behind you will be eating it from time to time. I mean … talk about “in your face”!  🙂  Also they can catch on things as you ride along. I have had them ripped off when they caught on something. I also lost one when it got pulled out of the holder and I didn’t notice it for awhile. I back tracked to find it but someone apparently beat me to it and got a free spinner flag out of the deal. My spinner flag had streamers on it which really help it be seen. However, those streamers make it bad as far as catching on things. Here is a picture of my spinner flag. It had highly glistening foil in addition to the colored material. It spun around like crazy. The ribbons were constantly getting tangled and tied into knots as well as fraying. Fortunately they were cheap … $1 apiece at a nearby Dollar General store.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Speaking of streamers … last year a cycling friend of mine bought a very colorful streamer made of glistening foil like material. I wish I could find a photo of one like it but I have searched online and found nothing. Anyway while riding out in bright sunlight it really catches your eye. Here is a photo of similar material and form but his has multi colors in it.

foil streamers

Wearing clothing of the safety green, yellow or orange color is very helpful as well. When I see cyclists out there wearing this sort of clothing they can readily be seen way off in the distance. Those safety colors just catch the eye.

green jacket

In addition to using good safety flags I think having good flashing headlight(s) and taillight(s) are essential. I am talking about daytime riding here so please don’t write comments about using a flashing light and blinding motorists. When riding in the daytime I have my headlight pointed up slightly so that the light is aimed about eye level for motorists and pedestrians. This helps immensely in their seeing the lights.

I have frequently asked people what caught their eye first … my flags or my lights. Most say the lights, especially the flashing headlight. Of course, it depends upon whether they are ahead of me coming toward me or to my side. Obviously if they are off to my side the lights are not going to do the job. So the flags are important as they see them. Even if they are in front of me or behind me and they see the lights first they also tell me that they saw the flags right afterwards. Both are very important!

Riding tadpole trikes is a lot of fun, but be safe out there!

RIDEKICK ELECTRIC BIKE REVIEW


Lots of folks are into electric motorized tadpole trikes. One option is the Ridekick trailer pulled behind a trike. It has the battery and motor on board and can push the trike along.

ridekick on tadpole

http://electricbikereview.com/ridekick/power-trailer/

Most definitely anyone considering one of these units would do well to read the review as the list of pros and cons is interesting.

Here is a YouTube video of this product and here is the description of the video: The Ridekick is a bicycle trailer with built in motor that pushes the rider like an electric bike. It’s easy to connect and disconnect, learn more in this review and interview with the CEO of Ridekick.

The approximate price is $700. The top speed is about 19 mph motor power only. The standard lead acid battery is good for about 12 miles (45 minutes) of riding while the lithium battery is good for about 25 miles (2 hours). The lithium battery version is about $1359. The unit weighs in at about 43 pounds with lead acid battery and 38 pounds for the lithium battery version. Battery replacement is $125 for the lead acid and $795 for the lithium battery. Charge time for the batteries is 5 hours for the lead acid and 3.3 hours for the lithium. The batteries can be recharged an estimated 400 times for the lead acid or 1,500 times for the lithium before degradation.

The trailer has a cargo volume of 41.8 Liters and can haul up to 75 pounds of cargo.

ridekick carrying capacity

I am sure it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but some may like it. For sure you need to know the rules where you are riding. On our local trails here where I am at motorized vehicles are not allowed. It is lesser money than most electrice trikes. Extra batteries could be purchased and extend the time and distance the trike could be ridden. Of course, pedaling will also increase the time and distance. And pedaling is the whole purpose … exercise!

tadpole trikes … bring out the kid in ya’ 🙂

[Update] Ridekick trailers are sold out through the end of 2014. The company is refining the product and working on the next iteration. All existing warranties are being honored and the company is still in business.