Monthly Archives: December 2015

MAINTAINING PROPER AIR PRESSURE IN TIRES


flat tire

It is not only not good to fool mother nature, but it is not good to ride on a tire with low air pressure or worse yet … completely flat. Tires are designed to be pumped up somewhere within a range from a minimum to a maximum pressure. Going under or over is a no no. Various undesirable things can happen with either extreme.

sidewall tire pressure

The pressure range should be displayed on the sidewall of every tire and the pressure of the tire should be checked periodically as air does leak out … yep, literally right thru the rubber of the inner tubes. Some inner tubes seem to leak thru more than others. And the higher the pressure in an inner tube the more likely it is to leak down and require more re-airing (pumping it back up).

bicycle tire & air pressure gauge

One never knows when a tire will go flat so it is a very good idea to carry all that is needed to make the repair. Whether you patch inner tubes or replace them like I do you should carry some sort of an air pump and tire tools.

pumping up bike tire 3

tire lever tools

Properly equipped we can deal with most of that which comes our way. Most tires have relatively soft and pliable sidewalls so when air pressure gets low it can become quite noticeable and difficult to ride since the tire will squat right down. I use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires as do many of you. With these tires the sidewalls are not nearly as soft and pliable so when the air pressure goes down low it is not nearly as easy to tell as the tires don’t squat nearly as much. I have had extremely low pressure and couldn’t tell it by looking at the tire. Upon squeezing it and comparing it to the tire on the other side I could tell it was low on air. When I went to re-air it I was quite surprised to find out just how low on pressure it was … way down to about 15 pounds. So be aware that if you are using these tires  you can’t necessarily go by looks only.

Riding on a tire that is low on air pressure can damage the tire, the inner tube, or even the rim … making for far more expensive, difficult and time consuming to repair the damage.

Of course, low air pressure equates to high rolling resistance. And again, the tire makes the difference as to how noticeable this is. A tire with soft pliable sidewalls will let you know in no uncertain terms that it needs air. The Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire, on the other hand, will barely be noticeable when the pressure goes down low in it. That is another plus for the Plus as far as I am concerned. I love these tires and can’t say enough good about them. I would never use anything else as I am completely sold on them. I can’t think of one negative thing to say about them. They are just the best. Oh, I suppose one could complain about the fact that they are somewhat more difficult to install and uninstall on a rim, but even that isn’t much of anything once you learn how to properly go about it. Besides, once installed you usually don’t have to mess with it until it is time to replace it from wearing out. And with the extreme high mileage they provide (3 to 4 times what I got out of any other tire) it is not very often you have to mess with them.

Lastly just a quick word about air pressure in general. Some people like to only inflate a tire to minimum pressure so that they get a “softer”ride. You do get a softer ride, but in doing so you also get more rolling resistance and therefore will go slower and require more effort and energy out of you. In addition you won’t get as much mileage (wear) out of the tire as you would if you inflate it to the maximum range. Of course, hitting bad bumps with a tire that is pumped up to the maximum pressure is undesirable as it can result in damage occurring to the tire and/orrim and/or spokes. The bottom line is try not to hit harsh bumps. Of course, running a tire at a lower pressure can also result in damage to things … particularly the rim should the tire collapse enough to where the rim actually bangs into the hard surface.

cracked bicycle rim spoke holes

bent rim 2

I have seen people riding bikes who purposely bang into curbs quite hard giving no thought nor concern as to what they are doing to their wheels. It is bad enough when the rims are steel, but when they are aluminum or carbon fiber that is definitely something to be avoided if at all possible. They both damage easier than steel and both are more less considered throw away items vs. capable of being repaired. Even steel in a bicycle rim is not something I would recommend attempting to repair.

BTW- awhile back I noticed that I had significant damage to my right front rim. The aluminum broke out around one of my spokes. It was right next to the valve stem hole.

hole in rim around spoke

Ideally it should have been replaced, but I didn’t have the money to spare so I opted to repair the rim myself. Although I am a highly experienced weldor I chose to use the Marine grade  J.B. Weld epoxy to make the repair. In doing so I eliminated that spoke as I wanted to regain maximum strength in that area of the rim. My repair has been holding up great. I even have a 2nd spoke which is broken on that wheel and I have not replaced it yet … too lazy I reckon … I just haven’t felt like messing with it. It is located only about 4 spokes away from the place I repaired and is on the same side as the one I repaired. I have been riding my trike with this wheel like this for several thousand miles now and it is holding up well. I had people tell me that I should not attempt this repair as it was too risky and needed to be replaced. I am glad I didn’t listen to them. I have worked at repairing metal most of my life and I felt confident that I could successfully repair it. The most difficult part in making the repair was truing the wheel back up since the missing spokes tend to allow it to pull over to the other side. I got it running pretty true though and as I said it is holding up just fine. Even in hard fast cornering I have not had any problems. In the picture below the epoxy repaired area is shown by yellow arrow and the missing spoke by a red arrow. Pardon all the mud on the rim as I know it is a distraction from trying to see clearly. My trike is almost always nasty looking from riding on our local trails along the rivers as they have mud from river silt on them frequently. When it isn’t wet mud it is dry powder that gets all over everything. By telling you this about the rim repair and the broken/missing spokes I am not recommending riding around with broken spokes or repairing a rim like I did. I normally replace my broken spokes fairly quickly. I just haven’t done so this time around and it has been interesting to see how the trike is doing riding it like this. So far it has not been a problem. I would have much preferred to replace the rim, but just can’t afford to spend the money to do so at this time.

repaired wheel 2 reduced with arrows

Here is a closeup of the repaired area …

repaired hole in my rim

Well, that’s my story and I am sticking with it. Keeping our tires properly inflated and everything else properly maintained will help us to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

WHO SAYS “RECUMBENTS CAN’T CLIMB”?


trike vs. bike climbing hill

We hear it all the time … “Recumbents Can’t Climb!”. I challenge that statement. If we are talking about climbing hills which are not very challenging than certainly a DF bike can climb up the hills faster. Most of the modern day DF road bikes are extremely light weight so they are extremely easy to pedal. They should be faster. And besides the weight difference they have much larger wheels/tires which means they have less rolling resistance. And only having two wheels instead of three also means less rolling resistance. I mean … they have everything going for them on hills that are not too challenging.

Of course, most of us know who wins going down them. It’s bye bye roadie.

trike climbing hill behind 2 DF bikes cropped

When it comes to more challenging hills and two wheels whether a standard DF bike or recumbent neither can compete with a tadpole trike. They will have to resort to dismounting and walking their bikes up (unless they are unusually gifted in their sense of balance at very low speed) while those of us on tadpole trikes who have proper gearing and are in good enough physical shape can prod along up the hills at a snail’s pace if need be. We can even stop and rest in comfort if needed and start back up again without having to put our feet down or get off.

trike climbing hill cropped

Yep, as long as we don’t lose traction with the rear drive wheel we can ride right up steep hills so slow one would have to “set stakes to see if we are moving”. You just can’t do that on a diamond frame or recumbent bike. But you gotta have the gearing to do it. On the newer 10 speed rear cassettes (30 speed trikes vs. the older 27 speed) they usually come with 34 tooth cogs. My 27 speed came with 32 tooth, but I changed it to 34. I am so glad I did. Truthfully I would like to have even lower gearing available for hill climbing.

trike climbing hill 2

A factor I have not yet touched on is leg muscle power and the difference between a DF bike and a true recumbent bike or trike. With a DF bike the rider can stand up using their body weight to help push down on the pedals. That is something that a recumbent rider can’t do. But wait … there is something a DF bike rider can’t do that a true recumbent rider can. We can take advantage of our strongest muscles … our legs. A diamond frame bike rider does not have the ability to use their leg muscles to the extent that we can. That’s because they don’t have anything behind them to use to push against. We have our seat backs and so we can use our leg muscles to push against the seat back and put far more force on the pedals. If a DF bike rider tries this all that will happen is they will raise their bodies up into the air off of the seat.

**true = where the boom height in relation to the seat height has the legs and feet out in front and not down in front

So yes, there is some truth to recumbents can’t climb but there is the other side of the coin as well. It is all a matter of perspective. I wouldn’t trade my tadpole trike for a box car full of the best DF bikes if it were a matter of what I ride.  RECUMBENTS CAN CLIMB!

coil of rope

BTW- If you are riding with others and struggling a bit going up a hill you can always ask them to throw you a rope. The problem with that is they might not have the other end attached to their trike … instead they might just throw you the entire rope. That is the way it would work with my riding buddies. 🙂 Hey, what are friends for?

TO LISTEN OR NOT TO LISTEN (THAT IS THE QUESTION)


riding with headphones

There are many people who listen to various “piped” audible sounds as they ride their trikes. Some listen to music while others listen to talk radio. And I imagine that others listen to other stuff. Some listen thru headphones. Some use earbuds. Some have speakers mounted near their heads. Some folks have the volume turned up quite high while others keep it down pretty low. Using speakers presents a problem in that it effects others. There is nothing more annoying to have to deal with than some butthole with their car sound system turned up so loud that it drowns out my own audio system in my car (even with my windows rolled up).

earbuds

I personally have occasionally taken along an mp3 player with earbuds. I have also had a sort of boom box with external speakers. For me I have found I don’t really care much to have anything playing as I ride as I find it distracting and dangerous. And, of course, there are factors such as where we are riding and what all is going on around us that come into play. If we are pretty much by ourselves in an area where not much of anything is going on then obviously that is a lot safer environment than we would find ourselves in if we were riding in a busy congested area with others around us. Since there is currently no law against it we are on our own as to whether or not we engage in this. I won’t do it period during a time when it is not safe to do so.

I have two friends that I ride with who listen to talk radio as they ride. Much of the time they can’t hear me if I say something to them. I can’t help but wonder how it effects their ability to hear other sounds out there … sounds they need to hear to be safe as they ride.

paramedics treating downed cyclist

I won’t go on about this subject, but I do think we need to consider such things. If we just “have to” listen to such as we ride we should at least keep the volume level down so we can hear other sounds. Perhaps only using one ear for listening to such piped audible sounds would be prudent. It is my opinion, but I equate this with texting and driving … foolish, irresponsible and dangerous. We need to be safe out there and do our part to keep others safe as well.

NON-RECUMBENT RECUMBENTS


laid back vs upright position

What’s your angle?

One of these is somewhat “recumbent” while the other one is not …

not at all.

will probably get myself in trouble over this one. We’ll see. The question popped into my head just a few moments ago … when is a recumbent not a recumbent? Now I ask ya. Hey, it is a fair question. To start with I think we need to take a look at what the word recumbent means. The most literal meaning is “lying down”. So using the definition of recumbent we don’t have any factory made recumbent cycles … not really! The most laid back seat angle on tadpole trikes I know of is 25 degrees. Most are much more upright. My own trike, for instance, is at a 45 degree angle.  And several are more upright than that. Yeah, I know … I am getting too technical … nit picking. I just find it interesting and somewhat amusing that so many tadpole trikes are referred to as recumbent when the seating position is nearly upright. At the same time I reckon I would have to go along with the fact that we have a problem … I mean … what else are we going to call them … especially without making things all the more confusing?

I rode another tadpole trike recently which had the seat angle extremely upright compared to mine. I didn’t care for it at all. I definitely did not feel “recumbent”. The office chair I am sitting in now as I type this is far more ‘laid back’ than that trike seat was. It was very uncomfortable compared to my trike. The seat was quite high and the pedals were quite low. It definitely did not seem like I was seated on a recumbent trike. It was more like a “cruiser” bicycle position. I guess it comes down to “different strokes for different folks” … and in case you hadn’t noticed a cruiser is not at all recumbent. Yep, we are all individuals with different likes and dislikes. So I reckon we will continue to see tadpole trikes that are not at all recumbent. One thing about it … riding one of these “non-recumbent” recumbent trikes one does not have to be concerned about losing stuff out of pants pockets.  Another thing about riding a non-recumbent recumbent … it wouldn’t be as easy to fall asleep while riding it. 🙂 

Whether you are really laid back, semi-bent or straight up … by all means …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

TRAVELIN’ ALONG SIDE BY SIDE


don’t know anything about how much money people might have or whether or not they are singing, but I know it is possible to travel along side by side on a tadpole trike. I have shown pictures of such trikes in the past on this blog. Recently I saw another such trike on Facebook which prompted me to write this article now. These trikes are a bit unusual as the tandem trikes are more commonly the same as tandem bikes … with one rider sitting behind the other.

I was going to post a picture of the side by side tandem here, but when I went back to Facebook looking for it it seems to have disappeared. I don’t know what is going on. Anyway, they really do exist although they are all custom built. No company known for making tadpole trikes yet offers them as far as I know. The closest thing to it is Utah Trikes. Here is one they made. It is a quadricycle however.

side by side tandem tadpole trike 2

One thing for sure … you want to make sure that whoever you are riding with is someone you really  get along good with and you better hope they bathed recently. 🙂 

side by side tandem tadpole trike 1

Another homemade side by side tandem tadpole trike …

side by side tandem tadpole trike 4

Here is one under construction found on Atomic Zombie …

AZ side by side tandem tadpole trike 1

Obviously it would be easy to make these into a quad instead of a trike … and this too has been done.

4 seat side by side quad

And here is one with 6 seats …

6 seat side by side quad

Who knows what we will see next? One thing about it … although these might seem intriguing they would be very limited in practicality as they are too wide for riding many places, particularly on bike trails. The turning radius would probably also be a determining factor as to where they could be ridden. But hey, even if you don’t have a barrel of money you can travel along singing a song side by side. Sorry I couldn’t show you the picture of the tadpole trike I spoke of. It must have been deleted as I looked long and hard for it to no avail.

CANOPY INSTALLATION


Ed Miller ridin' 3

Recently well known tadpole trike rider, Ed Miller has shared a couple of new videos showing the installation of his canopies he is known for. His workmanship always looks impressive.

I have posted articles about TRIKE CANOPIES before in which I featured Ed’s canopies among the choices. And HERE is another article I wrote on canopies.

Lastly here is another video in which you can see considerable detail of the construction of the canopies and the various options Ed has made availalble.

Interested in one of Ed’s canopies? Contact him via email: logbuilder at mindspring.com    Just mention ‘canopy info’ in subject line.

Ed Miller

Ed also has many fine VIDEOS available to watch which I highly recommend as they are always well done and interesting.

BELT DRIVEN … DITCH THE CHAIN


Belt Drive is not new. Several motorcycles have used belt drives for many years now.

Belt-drive_internal-geared_multi-speed_rear_hub

Trek Bicycle has tinkered around with belt drive for their bicycles. I love belt drive on motorcycles and ponder over whether it would be as good on bicycles.  In Trek’s own words … “a movement to bury the finger-pinching, pants-munching, rust-prone sprocket and chain, and usher in a new era of belt-driven bikes.” The only thing about it I can see that comes into play is multiple speeds. An internal gear rear hub would be needed as derailleur systems would not be possible with belt drive. At least I don’t see how it could be done. Along with an internal gear rear hub I think one would also need 2 or 3 speed internal hub built into the crankset. Of course, these items add considerable expense to the cycle. Still as times goes along the savings one would experience in chain and sprocket replacement would offset the initial expense. Hmmm, I wonder why we don’t see belt drive tadpole trikes?

On motorcycles the drive belts seem to be quite strong and hold up very well. They are made pretty tough … heavy duty … as they have to be to handle the high horsepower involved and the performance the motorcycles are capable of. Obviously a bicycle application does not involve any of this and so the belts are made much lighter duty. Never the less they are still pretty strong and under normal circumstances should hold up quite well. One of them I read about claimed it would last as long as 4 chains. This one pictured below is reported to have gotten cut while off road riding. The damage led to its total failure.

broken drive belt

Of course, with a tadpole trike the drive belt would either have to be extremely long (not practical) or use at least two drive belts and some sort of a jack shaft in between.

drive belt tension adjustment

I read that the belt tension is critical and that weather (temperature and possibly humidity) can cause problems with tension. Perhaps the cycle frame is changing with temperature changes and not the drive belt, but still the end result is the same. Anyway, the person reports that in the winter time the drive belt seems to lengthen slightly and thus require minor re-tensioning. Then when warmer weather returns the drive belt seems to shorten slightly so that the belt needs readjustment again.

Whether or not we will ever see drive belts used on tadpole trikes is something I guess we will just have to wait and see.

 

MOBILITY ASSISTIVE DEVICE


If you are physically disabled/handicapped/limited and ride a tadpole trike you may be eligible to travel via commercial airlines with your trike at no cost for the trike. Airlines charge a very large fee for transporting trikes so this could be very helpful. Here is an article about this subject …

http://bentwanderings.blogspot.com/2015/10/mobility-assistive-devise-operative.html

And here are a couple of articles about trikes being used by those with special needs …

http://www.3x365continue.com/blog/archives/01-2015

http://www.disabled-world.com/assistivedevices/mobility/scooters/3-wheel/horizon.php

SUNRIDER VELOMOBILES


Sunrider velomobiles are a product of the Netherlands. Yes, the Dutch are known for cycling including velomobiles and, in fact, has the distinction of having a city known to be the most bicycle friendly city per capita in the entirety of the world. Groningen, Netherlands – around 50% of the population of Groningen commutes on bicycles every day.

sunrider2 velomobile 2

But I am talking about velomobiles and the Sunrider is a nifty looking machine. It is perhaps the interior of these I am most impressed with. In this video below the builder explains and displays various aspects of the design and manufacture of his product.

Specifications:
Wheels : 4
Length: 270 cm
Width: 80 cm
Height: 110 cm
Speed: 45 km/h
Electric motor: 350 Watt
Weight: ±65 kg

For more information …
http://www.aerorider.com/
http://sunrider-cycles.nl/

Here is what Sunrider says concerning their product:

“The Sunrider is a velomobile: a single seated, covered recumbent tricycle. Best it is used together with a electric pedal asist. The lightweight body provides high protection and comfort for all those wet and windy days. Because of the excellent aerodynamics of this spectacular vehicle you often ride faster than normal (race) bikes. Driving a velomobile is a unique experience, after one ride in a velomobile you won´t go back!

The design is dynamic and functional at the same time. Large space for driver and luggage, great view of the road and easy to use. The two air intakes on the side of the hood keep the Sunrider well ventilated. The large opening hood makes boarding or storing luggage easy. The Sunrider has a turning radius of 10 metres and is very manouverable in everyday traffic. It has the Rohloff 14 gears hub and a rooftop.

The Sunrider has a very nice and sleek finished interior. The adjustable bucket seat will provide sufficient support and a very pleasant and comfortable ride. The chain is almost completely embodied in the frame, so no more dirty pants! The very simple joystick operation in the Sunrider makes it a very nice and tight steering velomobile. Control elements such as gears, brakes and a parking brake, lights, horn and indicator lights are always within reach and easy to operate.

The Sunrider is a fully self-supporting frame of fiberglass reinforced polyester. This frame constitutes a large portion of the interior of the Sunrider. The balanced composite construction is virtually maintenance free and provides excellent stability for the vehicle.

Safety and comfort of the Sunrider was our main objective. The dimensions of the Sunrider were chosen to be well visible in heavy traffic, while the limited width allows it to be ridden also on the cycling lanes. The Sunrider comes standard with full suspension and two powerful 90 mm drumbrakes at the front wheels. For good visibility, the Sunrider has front and rear lights. Side mirrors give the rider  a clear view all around.”

Just a note from me … they state 10 meters as the turning diameter as if that should be impressive. Hey, that is nearly 33 feet. I have to admit that I am very impressed, but not in the positive sense. That is a humongous turning diameter. My tadpole trike turns in about a 14 foot diameter. There is no way such a vehicle could negotiate the turns on many bike trails. We have some turns on our local trails some brands of tadpole trikes can’t negotiate.

In the Netherlands this vehicle is considered a moped and requires a moped licence or a driver’s licence to legally ride it. Here in the U.S. mopeds do not require licensing although I think they should as far too many inexperienced operators are involved in numerous wrecks resulting in serious injuries and deaths.

The Sunrider can be purchased with or without electric motor assist. Their electric motor assist is known as “Human Electric Hybrid”.

exploded view

sunrider velomobile inside body

On thing I have not figured out is “how do you back this up?” since the interior is entirely enclosed. I assume the electric motor assist offers a means of backup, but I am puzzled over the non motorized version. I tried to find the answer to this online, but had no success.

By the way, the non motorized version weighs a hefty 99+ pounds so it would be challenging pedaling it uphill. So the Sunrider velomobile is sharp looking, but very heavy. That is not surprising with all that interior body added to it. The motorized version weighs over 143 pounds. Sounds a clear cut case of “battery don’t fail me now” as pedaling that weight around would get your attention.

I stumbled across this which might be of interest to some. It is a Frequently Asked Questions about velomobiles.

http://www.go-one.us/about-velomobiles/velomobile-faqs

CATRIKE LUST


reckon there are all sorts of things a person could possibly lust over. And I reckon that many of us have our favorite brand of whatever product we might talk about. I will readily admit that of all the brands of tadpole trikes that exist I have my favorite. Here is a hint … “here kitty, kitty”. I think I can safely say that I don’t lust over it. I am very fond of it however. There are several quality trikes on the market and Catrike is among the best of them. The person who made this video apparently agrees …

RECUMBENT TV … a good idea while it lasted


Although Recumbent TV seems to be defunct nowadays it was a good concept. I for one am sorry to see them “discontinued”. They do still have some videos available to view. Here is their introductory video …

HERE are the videos they do have available on YouTube. I reckon it is all that is left of it.

_________________________

TADPOLE TRIKES … FUN AT ANY AGE


Yes, riding a tadpole trike is fun at any age and tends to bring out the “kid” in all of us. Ha ha! I came across this video and thought others might enjoy it as much as I did.

This family lives in Ukraine and the husband has built several various recumbent trikes, bikes and at least one quad. He has produced several VIDEOS of the family riding them. I highly recommend the videos.

Speaking of “fun at any age” HERE is an article about “baby boomers” and recumbent trikes. A local cycle business where this article comes from reports that recumbent sales are a major player in their business and the reason for the business boom they are experiencing.

PODRIDE


Ya gotta’ admit … it’s cute. I am talking about the Podride … a small motorized quad trying to make it to market … (and I am not talking about going to the grocery store). I hope they succeed as I find this one adorable. It is Swedish as far as where the builder is from.

podride right front view

Four-wheel (quad) HPV recumbent with cloth body suspension and auxiliary electric motor.
Height: 180cm         Width: 75cm
Height: 145cm          Seat Height: 50cm
Weight: 70kg           Wheel: 20inch tires
Wheelbase: 88 cm  Turning radius: 1.75m

Motor: 250W electric bicycle hub
Speed: 25km / h with the engine
Range: 60km with motor

Front Axle: Shared swingarm with air suspension (8cm travel), lever steering , drum brakes

Rear axle: Shared swingarm with air suspension (10cm travel), driving on both rear wheels with dual coaster

Gear System: 18 speed before electricity hub and 14 speed after

podride front view

HERE is an article about this innovative vehicle.

podride inside front half open

And HERE is their Facebook page.

podride open

podride rear axle

podride rear view open

podride rear view

Yep, I can see folks using a vehicle like this to get around in … inexpensive to operate and protected from the weather.

podride driver looking thru windshield

podride front view out windshield in rain

BTW, the estimated cost is about 3000 Euros which right now equates to $3185 US.