Monthly Archives: May 2014

TADPOLE TRIKE CONSTRUCTION – THE SCIENCE OF TADPOLE TRIKE STEERING

For those who want to build a tadpole trike it is imperative that they understand the science of the steering and ensure that they “get it right”. The “center point steering”, camber and caster settings, “Ackerman steering principle” and “toe in setting” all must be correct. Otherwise there will be “trouble in River City” and it could even lead to serious endangerment for the rider. At the very least handling will be greatly effected and tire wear will be a serious problem. When I first bought my Catrike Trail the dealer had the toe in off considerably and my brand new front tires wore out in only 30 miles of riding.

HERE is a webpage with a good explanation of toe in, toe out, camber and caster … what each is and what each does.

In the first video below this man says toe in should be 1/8 inch. That is too much for most trikes. 1/16 inch is preferable and is what is recommended by most trike manufacturers. Actually zero toe in maybe the ticket for some trikes including mine as with my weight on it I end up with about 1/16 inch toe in. There in lies another matter … it is best to set the toe in with the rider seated. This usually means a second person is needed as the mechanic to do the adjusting. It is not imperative that it is done this way, but it does work best. The more the rider weighs the more the toe in will change as the rider is seated on the trike. The closer you can get to zero toe in the better as long as the handling is ok. Never have toe out however as the handling will greatly suffer as a result.

Here are a couple of videos illustrating and explaining about these things.

As to actually measuring and setting the complex angles involved when I built my tadpole trike I simply used one of these (angle finder) …

ANGLE FINDER

As long as you use it properly and read it accurately it works fine for getting things right. My homemade trike rode and handled superbly so I must have got all the steering geometry correct.

The newer higher tech digital readout types would probably be better to use though …

digital angle meter

digital angle meter 2

FREE GIFT awaits you!

HOME BUILT RECUMBENT TRIKE, DETAILED PLANS AND CONSTRUCTION STEPS

came across this video and thought it might be of interest to others. As a retired weldor/fabricator who has made my own tadpole trike it interests me. Here is a picture of the trike I made. (A friend was riding it when I took this picture so to protect his identity I have hidden his face.)

no face on my homemade tadpole trike

HOME BUILT RECUMBENT TRIKE, DETAILED PLANS AND CONSTRUCTION STEPS

HERE is a website about construction of a tadpole trike. It has several links to other resources.

HERE is a website about construction of an electric motor powered pedal assist tadpole trike. (lots of good information here about trike construction)

HERE is a video about how to make the direct steering handlebars.

And HERE is a listing of all the videos available by the man from the video above.

CATRIKES IN FLORIDA

ride a Catrike Trail recumbent tadpole trike and take a considerable interest in tadpole trikes. Here is a picture of me sitting on my trike …

new trike 1st pics 004

I just stumbled across a YouTube video which I thought I would share here. It is of a few Catrike riders out for a ride down in Florida. Tadpole trikes are a lot of fun to ride and extremely comfortable. Since they sit so low to the ground they handle great. Some compare riding one to driving a go cart or sports car. I would not go so far as to say that, but they do handle great. Catrike tadpole trikes are manufactured in Orlando, Florida.

Every year Catrike sponsors a rally for Catrike owners. I would love to go and participate in it. It is open to everyone regardless of what brand of trike or even bicycle they ride. Here are some videos of the 2014 rally. They show many trikes  up close as they are gathering to go for a group ride on one of the local trails near Orlando. They also show the many trikes and bikes riding on the trail.

And here is another video of the 2014 rally. This one is considerably longer but well made and interesting …

In addition to the organized and unorganized rides there is also a factory tour available. Being a retired weldor/fabricator taking such a tour would greatly interest me. I built my own recumbent bicycle and tadpole trike before buying factory made ones. Here are pictures of both:

my homemade recumbent with 2 steering heads retouched

I never got the bike painted as I ended up cutting it up to use some of the parts to make the tadpole trike.

my homemade tadpole trike with Luke aboard out at Kreager Park retouched

There is also an annual Catrike rally held in Austin, Texas . And there are a few other rallies held in various locations for other brands or for all brands. One is held in Oregon which is for “recumbents” … both bikes and trikes.

Tadpole trikes are also known as reverse trikes since there are two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back. This makes for a more stable design. Although they are becoming more and more popular and sales are up considerably they are still not all that common in many places so when people see them they often don’t know what they are seeing and show an interest in them. Certainly many people comment about how neat they are and that they really like them. Lots of questions are asked about them as people know and understand very little about them. A few of the most asked questions are:

“How do you steer it?”

“Is that comfortable to ride?”

“How fast will it go?”

“Does it have a motor?”

“How much do they cost?”

and the one that I am always amazed when I am asked …

“How do you balance it?”    …  Yes, I have been asked that a couple of times.

I highly recommend Catrike as I think they are one of the best made and designed tadpole trikes available and they are the only** brand name trike totally made in the U.S. Most come from China/Taiwan. Some come from England, Germany, and a couple of other European countries and from Australia.

Anyone interested in checking out these Catrikes further can view their website … http://www.catrike.com/

** There are a small number of trike manufacturers who also make their trikes here in the U.S., but their sales are quite low so I am not counting them as part of the factory produced trikes. TerraTrike manufactures one of their models here in the U.S. but most of their models come from Taiwan.

THE BEST BICYCLE TIRE MONEY CAN BUY

As far as I am concerned the very best bicycle tire money can buy is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. I have been using them now for several years and since I switched to them I have never had a flat tire caused from anything external. I have had one inner tube failure caused by the a Mr. Tuffy tire liner which I have since removed as they are not needed and do cause flats internally such as I experienced. Before I use to deal with a lot of flats. I joke about these tires being nearly bullet proof and I think they come close. They are indeed quite amazing!

Schwalbe-Marathon-Plus-tire

schwalbe marathon plus 20x1-75 406 cutaway

 

I personally ride a Catrike Trail recumbent tadpole trike. Here is a picture of me on it.

new trike 1st pics 004

It is a blast to ride and extremely comfortable. Many compare riding a tadpole trike to driving a go cart or sports car as they handle so well. I have ridden this trike over 33,000 miles. Before I bought this trike I made one similar to it although it was made out of mild steel. My Catrike is made out of aluminum.

Over the years I have tried various other Schwalbe tires on my trikes. All of the various types of Schwalbe tires are quite good … among the very best made in the world, but the Marathon Plus out does them all … flatless and long wear. I highly recommend these tires. I run the 20 X 1.75 406 size. They also come in 20 X 1.35 406 as well as larger sizes for those who have a larger size rear wheel. By far the best price I have found is ordering them online from a company in Germany.  bike-discount.de   They offer excellent service. Even with the shipping charges coming from Germany they are far cheaper than any other source I have found. I think a maximum of 4 tires can be ordered at one time for the flat rate shipping charge they have. And, of course, the best price per tire is had by ordering 4 at a time. Otherwise it probably would be as cheap or cheaper to order them elsewhere … if you can find a good price on them … something rather infrequent. I have found that the price per tire varies from time to time so sometimes I pay more or less than other times. Early on I paid $37 something apiece. Recently I paid $29.45 apiece.

I will readily admit that these tires are probably the most difficult tires to mount that I have ever encountered. However, there is a way which once known and followed make it much simpler. Once you learn how to do this it is fairly easy. Here is a video showing how to do it:

FREE GIFT awaits you!

TADPOLE RIDER IS BACK

Some of you probably know that I used to have a blog called Tadpole Rider. I wrote it for 9 months and put a lot of work into creating it. I made the decision a few months ago to not only discontinue it but to totally delete it. Later I had second thoughts about deleting it but it was too late. So now here I am starting all over. One of my other blogs, Steves Mixed Bag, has articles on it about tadpole trikes as it was my intention from the start to include such articles. But then I decided that I should have a separate stand alone blog for tadpole trikes and so Tadpole Rider was reborn. I did not release that title when I deleted the first blog so “Tadpole Rider” (tadpolerider.wordpress.com) is not available. That’s why you see tadpolerider2. It is the best I could do.

I might mention that my friend and fellow tadpole blog writer, Steve Greene of TrikeAsylum, also suggested to me that I create a separate blog just for tadpole trikes rather than use my one blog for everything.

It is going to take time to get this going. I may attempt to reproduce some of the pages I had previously such as the listing of tadpole trikes by price range as I thought that was a practical and handy resource to make available.

I personally ride a Catrike Trail tadpole trike.

tadpole rider for blog

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