KICKING THE TIRES (buying a used trike)
Posted by Steve Newbauer
I am sure many of us who are old enough remember when it was somewhat common when looking at a used car to kick the tires. You can read about it HERE. I am not writing about buying a used car but rather a used trike. And kicking the tires certainly is not part of the process. I use the term only to imply that there are certain things one should look at and look for to ensure the trike is a good and safe purchase worthy of your money.
Some things are obvious while others are not. Many people may not even think to check out things which are quite important. Depending upon the age of the trike and the use it has had there are some tings one would and should expect to find. The condition of the tires is one such thing. Tires can be replaced easily enough, but if the tires are worn out the price of the trike should reflect that as the new owner will have to invest money for tires. The same is true of several other things and that is why it is important to take a close look. If a used trike needs a lot of maintenance and parts the asking price should reflect this and allow for it. So here is a list of some of the things to look for/at:
TIRES – Speaking of tires in addition to observing how much tread is left on them one should check for cuts, bulges, and the condition of the rubber as far as weather checking/dry rotting.
WHEELS – The wheels should be in good condition running true as they are spun around. The spokes should be fairly snug and evenly adjusted. They should all the there (none missing) without any sign of bends in them. Look for damage to the rims such as flat spots where the wheel was ran into curbs, etc. and was damaged as a result.
BRAKES – Most trikes have disc brakes. Check to be sure they work properly and are adjusted so that they grip well and don’t allow the trike to roll when applied. Look down into the caliper to see how much wear is on the brake pads. If they are badly worn then this will be more expense the new owner will incur. You can figure about $40 for replacing them on both wheels. The brake caliper is rather expensive if it has to be replaced. The Avid BB7 caliper can be found online from about $60 to over $100 each.
CHAIN – A trike requires about 11 feet +/- of chain. That is about 2.5 to 3 times as much as a bicycle. The chain wears out so one should check for wear. The chain should be checked on how it “fits” on the sprockets. It should be tight and not wallow around or able to be lifted up off of the sprockets much when pulling on the chain away from the sprocket. The chain should be clean and lubricated … not dry and rusty. All the links should be free (move without binding) as the chain revolves around the sprockets. If the chain shows neglect and has these problems then I would say that the current owner has not taken care of the trike and it might be best to look for another one. Of course, depending upon what else is going on the trike might still be ok and worthwhile just so long as the price is right.
SPROCKETS – The sprockets should be in good condition without noticeable wear. If they are worn replacing them along with the chain will be costly, especially if you have to pay labor in addition to parts for a mechanic to do it.
CABLES – The cables should all look good and work well. Braking and shifting should be smooth and move readily and freely. There should not be any freezing or sluggishness. There should not be any sign of fraying going on. Of course, a part of this is the SHIFTERS.
FENDERS – If the trike has fenders they should be in good shape and solidly mounted. If not, replacing fenders can be expensive, especially if you buy those provided by the manufacturer of the trike.
BOOM – Sometimes the boom is shortened to accommodate shorter riders. If it has been shortened and you are a tall person this is something to be aware of as a shortened boom may no longer be long enough to extend out properly to accommodate you. If this is the case a new boom will be required.
HEADSETS – The headsets can be out of adjustment or parts worn and in need of replacement. Again, this can be a bit expensive, especially if it is necessary to pay labor charges for a mechanic to do it.
STEERING LINKAGE – The steering linkage should be in good shape with no sign of wear and looseness. The toe in should be checked, especially if you buy the trike. Improper toe in settings will effect handling and tire wear.
AXLES – The axles should be in good shape without wear and sloppiness.
FRAME – The frame just may be the most important part of the trike and it is very important to check it over thoroughly including the bottom side. Look for any signs of cracks or broken welds. Sometimes the broken welds can be difficult to spot if they are in their early stage. You have to know what you are looking for to spot problems. Here is a picture of a broken weld in it’s early stage.
Most used trikes being sold are in pretty good shape and have many more miles of service left to offer a new owner. I would just caution everyone by reminding them of the saying … “buyer beware”. We must look out for our own interests. If a used trike needs money invested in it for these things I write of then the seller should be reasonable and adjust the price accordingly. If they are not willing to do this then I would not deal with them. As they say, there are other fish in the sea.. Whatever you buy here is hoping that you can …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
About Steve NewbauerI have a few current blogs (tadpolerider1, navysight, and truthtoponder) so I am keeping busy. I hope you the reader will find these blogs interesting and enjoy your time here. Feel free to email me at stevenewbauer at outlook.com
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