Monthly Archives: January 2015
I have entitled this “Gotta Do Your Homework”. Many of us didn’t like doing homework when we were in school. We might have even cheated in various ways to get out of it. Sometimes we might even have gotten away with it. But I am here to tell you that when it comes to building a tadpole trike you intend to ride (or provide for someone else to ride) human life is at stake. In short, you had better know what you are doing and do it right. Probably the most important aspect of this the steering geometry. It is complex and has to be correct. If not the trike won’t ride and handle correctly or be safe to ride. It is a most serious matter.
I have written a few articles on this blog in the past about the construction of homemade tadpole trikes and listed various resources there in those articles. I thought I would revisit the subject now and attempt to put all the stuff together here so it would make it easier for anyone looking for help in this.
Here is one I found helpful back when I was researching how to build a tadpole trike: http://www.hellbentcycles.com/trike_projects/Recumbent%20Trike%20Design%20Primer.pdf
And here is another …
Here is another one I used: http://www.ihpva.org/Projects/PracticalInnovations/index.html
Recumbent Resources blog: https://texasrecumbents.wordpress.com/recumbent-plans/
Lastly, here is the search results page for my blog on all articles related to homemade: trikes: https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/category/homemade-tadpole-trikes/
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
Riding the rail … a “rails to trails” trail, that is. These tadpole trike riders are on the Nickel Plate Trail in north central Indiana. The name comes from the former railroad track bed the trail was built on. It was the Nickel Plate Railroad. I have ridden on ihis trail once myself although this particular part these guys are riding didn’t exist at that time. Apparently they started their ride together at the Victory Bike Shop in Kokomo, Indiana. Where these guys are riding is about 75 miles from where I live. I don’t know if these guys are a part of the group of tadpole riders who have an organized group in the nearby area, but I would not be surprised if they are. I know I would be if I lived closer. (That is, if they would have me). From what I have read they usually ride together on Thursdays and ride all day long up until evening. They often ride about 100 miles. At least that is what I read. That is a lot of riding. I am envious. Other than my one friend there are no other tadpole trike riders in our area that seem to show much interest in getting together for a group ride. Watching this video I would say that it looks like these guys are enjoying themselves. I would like to be with them. How about you? Some people are loners by choice while others are because they have no choice. I am hoping things change around here where I live and other tadpole riders start riding together.
If anyone is interested in checking out the Nickel Plate Trail HERE is a link to their website. And HERE is the TrailLink website page on this trail. HERE is the IndianaTrails webpage. HERE is their Facebook page.
Lastly, HERE is an article about the trail.
Victory Bike Shop in Kokomo, Indiana produced the following video showing a mechanic installing a Schlumpf High Speed Drive in a Catrike Road tadpole trike. He sure makes it look easy.
Yep, that’s a hole in one alright. I have “been there” before. A few years ago one of my fairly new Schwalbe Tryker tires I was trying out got damaged when the sidewall ran into something and my tire was pretty much ruined. Later at home I placed a “boot” inside of it and got some additional miles out of it. I don’t recommend this, but I did it as I was rather disturbed over the fact that I had so few miles on the tire when it happened. For what it is worth I am not impressed with the Tryker tires because of this issue of the delicate sidewalls. Many others have said the same thing.
Anyway, what I want to talk about here is one of those “what ifs” … namely what if you are out riding and a tire gets damaged like this … what do you do? Most of us don’t carry around spare tires … well maybe lots of us do, but I am talking about tires for our trikes not extra weight around our waist. 🙂 If the inner tube is bulging out thru the sidewall or road surface of one of our tires we have a concern, a problem. It is not a good idea to try to ride on a tire like that. It most likely will result in further damage and failure. We will find ourselves broke down alongside the road or trail. So what do we do? Our Uncle Sam can come to our rescue. Just pull out a $100 bill or if you don’t have a $100 bill you can use five $20 bills. I am only kidding. Take out a $1 bill and depending upon the size of the damaged area of the tire you may be able to fold the $1 bill before placing it as a boot on the inside of the tire over the damaged area. You don’t want the boot to be too small or else it could be forced thru the hole rather than keep the inner tube where it belongs. Our dollar bills aren’t worth the paper they are printed on anyway so it is not a big thing to use one for this purpose.
If you have a tire which the inner tube is forcing the cut or hole to open further than you need to use an emergency tire boot of some sort. If you have high pressure tires it would be a very good idea to reduce the pressure in the tire down to it’s minimum pressure so that there won’t be as much force from inside … trying to get outside. 🙂 You may even have to reduce the pressure even lower depending upon what things look like as you air the tire back up.
Mind you this is a temporary patch job just to hopefully get you back home, or to your vehicle, or to a bike shop where you can replace the tire.
By the way, I know that U.S. paper bills work in this application because of the way they are made. I have no idea how the paper currency of other nations are made so unless they are made quite similar to U.S. paper bills I don’t think they would do the job.
They do sell emergency tire boot patches which one could carry with them. I don’t know anything about them as I have never even seen one much less used one. ParkTool’s TB-2 emergency tire boot is probably the best known available.
But if you don’t happen to have one of these available just remember the $1000 bill (or ten $100 bills) trick. Just pull one out and … Did I really say that?
Yeah, just grab one of these out of the big roll in your pocket …
Hey, really … this use of a $1 bill could save the day and help you to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
POOCH BY YOUR SIDE
Recently on the Recumbent Trikes Group on Facebook a member of the group asked for help trying to locate a video which they said had been posted earlier in the day but later seemed to have disappeared. To make a long story short another member came up with the video for the person. I had not seen it but when I did I was impressed. So without further ado here is the video.
Now I personally believe that this is neat and innovative. The idea of having one’s dog riding right alongside of you like that is super. However, I feel I need to point out that with this added width it would greatly effect places you could ride. It would be too wide for many trails as well as too dangerous riding in other places, especially where you are dealing with motor vehicles. But I agree with the concept of having the dog alongside vs. behind.
I wish there was more detail as to how this was made. Maybe it will be forthcoming. He mentioned how it attaches, but without being able to see what he did I am nearly clueless. I would also be interested in how the wheel is attached. One thing I am wondering about is how it does at cornering, especially at a bit of speed when there is considerable lateral forces taking place. The pooch appears to be enjoying the ride. I can’t say as I blame him. Like us humans he probably wants to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Being a retired weldor/fabricator who has made one recumbent bike and one recumbent tadpole trike of my own I am always interested in the homemade (DIY) offerings. Here is a nice looking trike featured in this video.
And here is an earlier video before the trike was finished …
I came across this video and thought you might enjoy it. This Korean man is getting quite a workout with this hand crank trike. As he rides along and the small building comes into view I couldn’t help but think “that is a lot of hard work just to get to an outhouse” (outdoor toilet for those who are too young to know what an outhouse is). Then the joke came into my mind … 50 paces to the outhouse by Willy Makeit. For the benefit of anyone who doesn’t know and understand what I am talking about here … Willy Makeit translates into “will he make it” … as in will he make it in time. Anyway, I certainly commend him as that is quite an undertaking. I certainly would not want to be coming down that grade and have things get out of control.
Here is the video description:
This hand bike is 63 speeds, rear wheel drive, full suspention, all terrain tadpole trike.
Front( self steering apparatus) and rear part are possible to assemble by QR.
I found this video posted on Recumbent Trikes Group on Facebook where I watched it. I think it is such an excellent well done video which I thoroughly enjoyed watched that I felt compelled to share it here on this blog. I was surprised that a bicycle shop could not simply cut a longer spoke to the length needed and rethread it. That is a common practice here in America. I know of small bike shops that do this.
If you would like to watch other videos of Matt’s making here is a link to his YouTube videos.
Matt, I don’t know if you ever see this blog, but if you do, I just want to say thanks for sharing your adventure and I sure hope (as I know many others do as well) that you heal completely and quickly and will be able to continue your travels and we can continue to travel along with you via your great videos.
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
For speed demons only. This may or may not apply to you. I can’t imagine riding a human powered vehicle with such a large chainring on it. This bike pictured above is said to be capable of 100 mph. I think I would have to bow out on that. Just call me chicken, but that ain’t for me. Notice the front forks appear to be turned around backwards. I assume that has something to do with more stability and better handling at high speed.
Can you imagine having a chainring like that on an already fast trike? I am not sure about the ground clearance, but then again I guess the distance is about the same as that on a bicycle. I have not measured it, but that is my guess. Hmmm, I am just envisioning what that would look like …
What do you think? It would be intolerable trying to go up hill, but oh those downhills! One thing is for sure … it most definitely would get some attention from folks who see it. In case you are wondering I created this picture. It is not an existing trike with the large chainring. I doubt if they exist (but I may be wrong).
One thought that comes to mind … this would make getting on and off the trike a bit more challenging and perhaps dangerous. One might lose the next generation if you get my point.
Well, I don’t think I will try it even if somebody does come up with such a trike. I am ready to go, but I don’t think I would care to go out of this world by going out of control on a fast downhill. 🙂 I have in mind to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
I am sure most of us have noticed how difficult it is when it comes to shopping for over the counter medications such as cough syrup or pain killers. The selection has become so very massive and complex that it makes it difficult to make a selection. Even if you know what you want unless you are well acquainted with the layout of the products in the store where you are at you may struggle just trying to find it among all the many products on display. Well, the matter of taillights (and headlights) isn’t quite as bad, but it’s getting there. 🙂 Fortunately there are those who have researched and reported on their findings which can help. HERE is one such resource.
I personally have long used Planet Bike Super Flash taillights (and a Planet Bike headlight) as pictured above. The taillights are 1/2 watt and have excellent battery life. I use NiMH rechargeable batteries so that works out very well economically. That being said, if I were in the market for taillights (and headlights) today I would probably choose something else. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I have, but there are other offerings out there now that were not around years ago and the prices are surprisingly low … as low or even lower than what I paid originally for what I have now. And they are even brighter … a whole lot brighter. Of course, as is the case with so many things, most of them come from China and the price is quite low for those iterms. (We here in the United States have long been guilty of destroying our own nation while building up others, but that is another subject matter altogether.)
Now that is bright!
I personally think that is way too much after dark. Keep in mind that after dark when around motorists it is not proper or safe to be too lit up as you can blind people which endangers them, yourself and possibly others. So if you are buying one of these super bright lights (taillights or headlights) you should be sure you buy one which you can dim down after dark. We need to be responsible and decent out there. The brightness these lights offer is great in the daytime … the brighter the better as far as being seen. My Planet Bike taillights are plenty bright after dark. I would not want anything any brighter at night. It is only in daylight that I would choose more “attention getting power” (brightness). Yes, in the daylight we need bright FLASHING taillights so others can see us … along with really good SAFETY FLAGS.
I think most people would tell you that I don’t appear to be too bright. 🙂 How about you? You aren’t too bright are you? I hope not.
Here are two of the top rated taillights being compared in this video:
And here are some other brands:
This man mentioned something I want to reiterate on. He basically said that the lights that were not as bright might be seen by someone who is paying attention, but he wants a light that gets the attention of those who perhaps are not paying attention. Now that makes good sense and something we should ponder over.
I ran across this deal and am sharing it HERE. These are among the top rated lights available and this is a pretty good price … at least at the time I wrote this it was selling at a good price (about $77). (When I checked it on Dec. 4, 2015 the price was less than $50.)
I see cyclists all the time riding around without lights or flags. Many of them don’t even have reflectors. To my way of thinking they are “an accident waiting to happen”. They are living dangerously! And if we are on a tadpole trike we are already a quite low profile with so we need help being seen. Be safe out there! Then we stand a better chance of being able to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
I personally have long been a fan of Schwalbe tires. Among the offerings of Schwalbe are several different tires to choose from. My first exposure to Schwalbe tires was when I bought my Catrike Trail. When I had my first flat tire I discovered something about Schwalbe tires that I had never experienced before with any other tire. It was extremely easy to install and uninstall on the rim. This really impressed me as over the years I have had numerous tires which were much more difficult to install and uninstall. I have never known of a tire that was so easy to work with. (See my update below.)
My Catrike Trail came with Schwalbe Marathon Racers installed. When it was time to get new tires I decided to try one of Schwalbe’s other offerings as I didn’t care all that much for the Marathon Racers. Since then I have used Marathons, Kojaks, and Trykers.
Speaking of Kojak tires … have you seen this picture? Pretty incredible, huh? Of course, it is fake. The riders are supporting themselves with their legs holding themselves and the bikes up in the position you see. Kojaks do have excellent traction but no tire could do what is shown here.
I had intended to try Big Apples, but when I tried the Marathon Plus I fell in love with them and have not used anything else since. (See update below)
I must insert here that as I stated above all of the other Schwalbe tires were easy to get on and off of the rims … in fact, they practically fall on and off. 🙂 The Marathon Plus tires are another matter. As much as I love them they are far more challenging to install and uninstall. Even so, once you learn how to do it it becomes much easier. I also discovered that not all rims are created equal. I received a rim from Golden Motors with a hub motor laced in it. It was extremely difficult to mount a Marathon Plus tire on it. I had to use tire tools to get it on … something I never do on the rims Catrike uses.
I had started out to write this article about Schwalbe Big Apple tires, but as I researched tires I came across other brands out there to choose from. I want to state upfront that I have absolutely no personal experience with any other tires on my Catrike tadpole trike than those I listed above. Since this is true I cannot personally comment on any other tires. I will, however, report what I have read about them. I did have my homemade tadpole trike on which I installed Kenda Kwest 100 psi tires. They were ok, but not near the tire the Schwalbes are. They just aren’t in the same league.
For one reason or another some trike owners are wanting to go with “fat tires” on their trikes. Now when I say fat tires I am not talking about the new extremely wide tires like this:
Those are definitely fat, but I am here to say that they are an entirely different animal. No, what I am talking about is a little more tame than these. I mentioned the Schwalbe Big Apple tires so I will start off with those. They are truly reminiscent of the “balloon tires” from yesteryear which were around when I grew up. Of course, they are still available today and we see them on bicycles.
The Big Apple is 2.35 inches in width. It is also available in 2.0 inch width. My trike came with 1.5 inch width tires. My Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires I use now are 1.75 inches wide. So you can see the 2.35 is quite a jump. Other than frame width on the rear the only limiting factor for wide tires I can think of is the use of fenders. On my trike the use of the 1.75 width tire required slight modification to my fender brackets. I bent them out for additional clearance. I don’t think I could install Big Apple tires on my trike without doing something additional to my fenders. The Big Apple is a 70 psi maximum tire. A common term found online when looking up the Big Apple tire is “built in suspension”.
Another offering I know of is the Maxxis Hookworm tire. It is reported to be pretty tough tire. It is also a very heavy tire. Most of what I have read about this tire is good, however one thing several people mentioned is that the rolling resistance and ride comfort is far better with the Schwalbe Big Apple tires. That stands to reason about the ride comfort since these Maxxis Hookworm tires are so tough and firm.
The Maxxis Hookworm is a high pressure tire capable of holding 100 psi. It is a 1.95 width.
There are other tires also in the “normal” width range like what came on my trike. One of them is the Greenspeed Scorcher. This tire is 1.5 inches in width.
It comes in 3 choices: standard, HD which stands for heavy duty and has a motorcycle tire casing, and TR (thorn resistant) which has a Kevlar belt. They are all also high pressure tires … 100 psi maximum. Greenspeed says that these tires are lightweight and designed for good rolling resistance. They have built in wear indicators. These tires seem to have mixed reviews. I just read one that these tires do not hold up well at all and the users went back to Schwalbe tires. HERE is the review I read. And here is the particular part I am referring to:
“My wife and her parents are on tour right now, and so far my in-laws have had 4 Scorchers disintegrate in the first 200 miles of riding, some of the tires with less than 50 miles on them. Not a good record. They had to have a batch of Schwalbe Marathons Fed-Ex’d to them so they could continue.”
To be fair it might be a quality control issue as even Schwalbe has had some issues with certain tires. Some users had problems/failures/disappointments and others did not.
Primo makes the Comet tire with Kevlar. It is 1.5 inch width and has a maximum pressure of 100 psi.
Just a note here about Kevlar belt protection … Here is a picture showing a typical Kevlar belt in a tire and the same tire without the belt:
As you can see the Kevlar belt is quite thin. Now compare this protection with what is found in the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire:
Quite a difference for sure! The fact that they rarely have a flat and they still ride and handle great is sufficient in itself to sell me on them, but they also wear great … I have been getting 2.5 to 3 times as many miles out of them as I did any other tires I have used. HERE is an article I wrote on the Marathon Plus tires. They not only offer excellent flat protection with this thicker belt but the rubber is a different compound than their other tires. It is just plain tougher. I used to get a lot of cuts in all the other Schwalbe tires I used. These Marathon Plus tires rarely get any cuts and they just hold up so much better. In over 13,000 miles of riding on Marathon Plus tires I have had one flat which was just recently and it was a matter of failure of the inner tube and no fault of the tire.
Now if you still aren’t sold on the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires HERE is Hostel Shoppe’s webpage listing the tires they carry for the 20 inch 406 rims. As you can see there are quite a few to select from. Yes, there are other tires available which will fit the 20 inch 406 rims of recumbents, however, some of them I would not recommend as they just are not the same quality as these premium tires I have covered here. They won’t ride or handle as good nor wear as good. Some are much lower pressure tires so they won’t be able to provide the speed some riders want and it takes more physical effort to pedal the trike along due to the higher rolling resistance of a lower pressure tire. Some tires are quite cheap in comparison to these premium tires. Just remember … “you usually get what you pay for” … and as Benjamin Franklin said “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. Going with a good quality tire on your trike will help you …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
I now have over 80,000 miles on my trike. The vast majority of those miles have been ridden on Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. I tried the 1.35 ” width but didn’t care for them … if for no other reason than the fact that I didn’t get near the wear out of them as I do the 1.75 ” width. I have been getting about 13,000 miles out of the 1.75 ” width tires. That is 3 to 4 times as much mileage as I got out of any other tire I have tried. Oh by the way, I never tried Big Apple tires, but I did try Big Ben tires. I liked them but they are not as flat resistant as the Marathon Plus and they did not get wear so I switched back to Marathon Plus. I don’t like having flats. I much prefer to be riding my trike and not dealing with a flat tire while out riding. I had a couple of flats with the Big Ben tires. That is a whole lot less than I used to have before I switched to Marathon Plus but even one flat is more than I care to deal with when it isn’t necessary. I have never had an externally caused flat with Marathon Plus tires. I have had a few internally caused flats over the years where the inner tube failed. I have learned to use an ample amount of talcum powder (baby powder) coating the inside of the tire and the outside of the inner tube during the process of installing a tire on a rim. That has almost completely eliminated internal flats so now I can just simply …
ENJOY THE RIDE AND KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
Riding a bicycle or tricycle is a way of life in Denmark and a few other countries. According to this first video below only 40 % of the people of the city of Copenhagen, Denmark own automobiles. The other 60 % use their bikes for not only personal transportation, but for shopping and taking their families along with them. It is a way of life for them. In order to accomplish this they have various types of “cargo bikes and trikes” they use. Here are some videos showing how they do things …
I think it is safe to say that we have a long way to go in this area of bicycling and motorists here in the United States. I am sure most of us have experienced some really bad attitudes of motorists toward cyclists. One thing I found interesting is that young children are taught cycling in school and become proficient at it. We surely need something like that here as both children and adults all too often are meandering all over the place when they ride rather than go in a straight line staying where they should and making it much safer for everybody.
Rush hour traffic here in the United States is notoriously bad in many large cities (and small ones too). What about Copenhagen? How do you suppose traffic flows there during rush hour?
One thing that wasn’t mentioned is dealing with winter time … not only cold temperatures, but snow and ice. I wonder if they use studded tires in the winter time. I decided to check for a video of winter riding …
As you can see in the video there are not nearly as many cyclists out in that nasty cold weather but still the numbers are impressive. I go out riding in the winter when it is similar temperatures (even several degree warmer) and I rarely see another cyclists out there. We are a bunch of wimps here in America.
Snow removal is an important and appreciated matter for cyclists. Here is a video showing this. I have to admit I don’t understand why they left the snow in the middle.
I did spot some headlights, taillights and reflectors, but no safety flags. But when it was dark I didn’t see any lights turned on. Now that I really find that strange and don’t understand it. Finally I came across a video where I did see a few lights turned on, but most of the bikes riding along together with them did not have their lights turned on. I use mine all the time and most of my riding is in the daytime.
Here is an interesting video about cycling in Copenhagen …
Design is all important … giving thought to the matter and building infrastructure accordingly. I like the theme … “humans designing for humans”.
And speaking of planning and building with cyclists in mind check out what they built …
I doubt if we will ever become like these folks here in America. It is interesting though. For most of us we would be living quite dangerously if we attempted to use our bikes or trikes to do our shopping. I do use my tadpole trike to run errands of various sorts. I have not only grocery shopped, but I have gone to doctor appointments, restaurants, hardware stores, etc.
If you like these videos there are a few more of them available to view HERE.
One thing very lacking in these videos … I never spotted a single tadpole trike. Did you? I also didn’t see any velomobiles which surprised me. I did a search on YouTube for these but didn’t find anything. All I can say is … they don’t know what they are missing. Maybe a wider tadpole trike/velomobile just doesn’t fit in … literally … in all that bike traffic. But this next video may explain why …
It would be pretty impractical to get off of a tadpole trike and walk it across intersections. I really don’t understand this video however. All the other videos show cyclists riding thru intersections and there in no mention of walking a bicycle thru an intersection except in this video.
Well, I don’t live there and where I do live we have tadpole trikes for which I am quite thankful. And I plan to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Recently on Facebook a discussion came up about riding down in Florida in which I declined as I don’t care for the heat and humidity of Florida. I am far more comfortable riding in 40 degree temperatures than in 85 or more as is common down there.
I have to laugh every time I read or hear someone talk about temperatures in the upper 60s as being terribly uncomfortable for them. They are talking about the temperature falling down to that and exclaiming how cold and miserable it is. I suppose that someone from Siberia would think the same thing about my saying that -20 F. is pretty cold. I reckon it is all a matter of perspective … based on what our bodies are used to.
It is said that we humans can adjust to just about any conditions. I don’t like the cold, but I can take it better than I can too much heat. I once did a little checking online to find the “perfect weather” year around. I found it, but it is nowhere near here where I live and I doubt very much if I could afford to live there. It would probably be pretty much impossible to make a living there for someone like myself relocating there. Quite honestly I no longer remember where it was. I only remember that it was a long way from Indiana.
The United States is a fairly large land mass and therefore has quite a range of weather at any one time.
It is obvious that we are all different and what appeals to one person does not appeal to another person. What I like someone else doesn’t like and visa versa. I reckon we just have to accept that. I have to admit that I am probably more hardy than most others around here where I live. I am out riding quite comfortably dressed wearing the same clothes I wear in the summer time and I see people bundled up in 60 degree weather far more so than I bundle up in 10 degree weather. I usually wear a short sleeve shirt and a light jacket over it when it is what I consider cold. My body produces a lot of heat when I am exercising. I sweat easily. I have friends I ride with that rarely show any perspiration on their clothing while my clothing is soaking wet.
Yep, we are all different and as it is said … it makes the world go around. So whether you live in Florida and like all that heat and humidity or in Siberia … we all need to just get along accepting our differences. I promise not to laugh out loud if you tell me you think the high 60s is cold. Let’s all …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’