Monthly Archives: February 2017

RACING ON ICE


Technically (officially) it is still winter even though much of the United States has been having Spring like weather. So … because it is still winter according to the calendar I bring you “Ice Bike Races” … even though the video is 10 years old.

And as an added bonus here is another video … one which I think you will find somewhat hilarious as one after the other would be rescuer falls thru the ice.

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FATCAT … SOUNDS GOOD TO ME


fat-cat

That’s a FAT CAT (& I know one when I see one)

(The question is “is it real or photoshopped?”

The head doesn’t look right … too small)

But hey, I am not here to talk about kitty cats. While out riding my tadpole trike recently I got to thinking about the fact that Catrike seems always to be slow to bring out models that other manufacturers have offered for years. One thing I can say is that when Catrike finally does offer such models they seem always to be superior to those offered by their competitors. Call me biased if you want, but I think this is a true statement. As I was riding along thinking about some of the models Catrike has come out with … their most recent being the Dumont … a full suspension model … it came to me that fat tire tadpole trikes have become quite popular and Catrike has not yet come out with a FATCAT model. There … I named it for them. There is only one problem. Utah Trikes already offers their quad and trike fat tire models they sell which they have named FAT CAT 4 and FAT CAT 3, respectively.

ut-fat-cat-4

They use a Catrike Villager model as the base for these 3 and 4 wheel models. They offer gobs of options some of which can get very expensive, but hey, the end product is sure nice.

ut-fat-cat-3

So anyway, Catrike may not be able to use that name. If not, it is too bad, as I think it would have made a great name for a fat tadpole trike model which they would produce (and I assume they will eventually come out with). All I can say is HERE KITTY KITTY! Bring it on Catrike. I sure hope you can name it “FATCAT“. I like that name.

LOW & SLOW


Low & Slow … no, I am not talking about whiskey or any other alcoholic drinks nor am I am talking about Bar-B-Que (there is a restaurant where I live called Low & Slow.) Nope, I am talking about tadpole trikes … they are low & slow. At least this is true for many of us who ride tadpole trikes. That’s okay on both accounts in my book. The good thing about a tadpole trike is not that they have to go slow, but that they can go slow. And being low has its advantages.

Riding a tadpole trike is somewhat like riding a go-cart although a go-cart most definitely handles even better. And there is certainly nothing slow about most go-carts. Some really fly. I remember as a teenager riding a motorcycle. I was always impressed at how fast many motorcycles could accelerate compared to most cars. A friend of mine had a younger brother who had a go-cart. In talking it was decided that we would have a race. I assumed I could out accelerate him, but when we took off he shot out ahead of me like I was sitting still. I was quite impressed as well as embarrassed. Now that has absolutely nothing to do with what I set out to talk about here. It is just a story that came to mind I thought I would share.

Seriously, many have compared riding a tadpole trike to riding a go-cart or driving a sports car. I agree to an extent, but in all honesty both will readily out handle a tadpole trike. However, tadpole trikes are a blast to ride. I used to ride a recumbent bike. I could go faster on it than I can on my tadpole trike, but I found the trike so much more fun to ride as well as more comfortable. So I found myself riding the trike and the bike just sat around. I finally sold the bike and don’t miss it at all. The truth is my wife has a bike identical to the one I had and I can ride it anytime I want. I don’t ride it though as I have my tadpole trike to ride. I may take her bike out sometime later this year just so I can go a bit faster. 🙂 I am sure I won’t make a habit of it though. 😉

abby-riding-my-catrike-2-cropped

My grandniece sitting on my trike … about 9 inches off the pavement

As to the matter of being low tadpole trikes all started out being made to sit pretty low. However, in more recent years some models have been appearing with some pretty high seats which, of course, means that they are not so low. That is not for me. As long as I can get in and out of a lower seat that will be what I prefer to ride. I have tried riding a trike with a very high seat and didn’t care for it at all. The handling and feel of it suffers greatly. No, I want the seat down as low as it can go and still have sufficient ground clearance so the frame clears stuff under it. Sitting just 9 inches off of the ground is my cup of tea.

orange-catrike-700

As to the speed, that is one of those things which varies by the individual rider. Like anything else the “motor” determines what the capability is. Definitely downhill on a tadpole trike is a thrill and they can blast past 2 wheeled bicycles of all sorts. Some trikes are faster than others. That is they are designed to be faster. Again, it is all dependent upon the “motor”. I am sure there are those who can ride a Catrike Villager faster than some could ride a Catrike 700 (using Catrike as an example).

Speaking of the Catrike 700, it as well as the ICE VTX and CarbonTrike models all have a 25 degree seat angle. One’s buttocks are the same height, but the torso and head is positioned lower so in that sense the rider is lower. Of course, not every cares to lean back that far and, indeed, not everybody can handle it physically.

The one thing I really love about riding a tadpole trike is having the ability to go really slow … even stopping on an incline and starting back climbing it again when you are ready to do so. And there is no concern about balancing, falling over or having to put your feet down. You sure can’t do that on a bicycle.

Sitting just inches off of the ground one doesn’t have very far to fall should something go afoul. And being down low makes it appear as though you are going faster than you actually are. That adds to the fun of riding a tadpole trike.

A tadpole trike is capable of carrying heavy loads and being pedaled at slow speeds … and in comfort. Try that on a bicycle.

Yep, low and slow … it’s okay by me. I plan on …

KEEPIN’ ON TRIKIN’

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SPEED TRIKE


came across a blog about the design and construction of electric powered tadpole trikes. It is named tadpoletrikeman. The owner of the blog has built a homemade electric assist powered tadpole trike he calls Speed Trike. Here is a photo of it.

speed-trike-1

Although he made the frame he has used a TerraTrike seat and front wheels on it so if you don’t look carefully one may think at first glance it is a TerraTrike.

speed-trike-12

At this point in time he only has this one trike featured. Hopefully other material will be offered on the blog in the future.

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As you can see in these pictures he has done a very nice job building the trike. It looks great.

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speed-trike-10

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As you can see he used a bolt for the front axles. That is the same thing I did when I built my tadpole trike.  It is quite common and works quite well. Just be sure it is strong enough (hardened grade 5 or 8 and 5/8 inch diameter if my memory serves me right).

speed-trike-11

Underseat indirect steering was employed.

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speed-trike-9

The rear view mirror is mounted on the steering head.

I encourage you to check out this blog.  And by all means …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

STEERING IN A SKID


grew up learning how to steer in a skid/slide … first on a bicycle, then a motorcycle and finally a car. As a kid my dad taught me how to steer a car in a skid. When I say taught I mean he showed me how to do it. At 16 years old I can remember driving my parents’ car down the city street purposely placing the car into a skid sideways between parked cars along the sides of the street and controlling the skid as I drove past them.

car-slides-off-road-in-curve-reduced

A few years later while in the navy I drove a ’63 Corvette on a particular curvy road south of San Diego, CA where there was a sheer drop off along the edge and very rough cliff like terrain below and nothing along the sides of the road to keep a vehicle from going off over the edge. I would put the Corvette into a controlled skid in the curves as I sped around them. Yes, it was foolish and dangerous as it could have very easily and quickly resulted like what is pictured above. I wouldn’t not do any of this today, but as a teenager and into my early 20s I thought nothing of it. I am saying all of this to say that learning how to control a skid or slide can save your butt should you find yourself in such a predicament.

steering-in-slide

I find in riding a tadpole trike on a slippery surface such as snow or ice the trike can all by itself sometimes seem to go into a sideways slide. Without taking proper needed action when this happens it could result in an unwanted unexpected disaster. For me it just comes natural to turn the handlebars and steer out of the skid. It is “second nature” as they say. I find it fun and challenging. Many times I have purposely put my trike into slides just to steer out of them.

steering-in-slide

As illustrated in the drawing above when the rear wheel of a trike slides sideways you should steer in the same direction you are sliding to control the skid. As the trike straightens back out you should turn the front wheels back straight. Learning how far to turn the front wheels and for how long is crucial to successfully controlling a skid. You can also over compensate and make matters worse. If you fail to straighten the wheels back around at the right time you can cause the vehicle to skid the opposite direction. It is best to practice all of this in an empty parking lot where there is plenty of room to slide around without concern of hitting anything.

This video shows the rider steering in a skid. Notice at the very end when he tips over it is the result of the trike going from the slippery surface onto dry pavement and the tire “caught” suddenly and caused the trike to tip over.

The best advice I could give anyone to learn how to steer out of a skid is as I stated previously … to practice in an empty parking lot where you have plenty of room around you. Of course, I am talking about riding on a slippery surface such as snow or ice. I would also caution you not to try this if the slippery surface is not continuous. What I mean by that is that the snow or ice needs to cover the entirety of the area where you are riding. You don’t want to be sliding sideways and then suddenly hit dry pavement (like the rider in the video above) as that could be very dangerous resulting in a bad sudden tip over … a violent one where you could easily get injured. Even if you don’t normally ride in such conditions it would be good to learn this skill so you know what to do if it ever happens to you when you do ride. You could find yourself riding on a surface where there is loose dirt or gravel or a wet spot suddenly come up where the rear wheel starts to slide sideways. Again, I caution you about the rear wheel sliding sideways and then suddenly hitting dry pavement as the trike is likely to tip over suddenly. I can’t over emphasize this.

Riding over uneven surfaces can cause a trike to go into a skid/slide … especially if you are already in a turn (going around a curve).

trike-tip-over-red-arrow-2

Even riding on some surfaces like in the image above can be hazardous. This was on dirt and probably loose dirt at that. The rider knew to steer with the slide to try to control it and recover from it. Most of the time this works, but sometimes things just go wrong and the end result is not what was expected or wanted.  This person tipped over. Fortunately they were not injured. I personally think the reason they tipped over is because the rear wheel slid into a stone or something causing the slide to end and tipping the trike over suddenly. Just going over uneven ground can cause it. It doesn’t take much sometimes to cause such a scenario. It is also noted in the video that she could not maneuver as she would have liked to because of a cactus plant sticking out in her path. That in and of itself could produce the results she experienced.

Here is the video which goes with the picture above:

The rider is most fortunate that the rollover didn’t result in serious injury. She went right onto large stones.

Sliding sideways can be fun as long as you can safely control it, but it can also be extremely dangerous when things go wrong. Be careful out there. Do your best to keep it upright and …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

CHAIN TUBES … WHO NEEDS THEM?


chain-tubes

Chain tubes seem to be somewhat of a controversial issue among tadpole trikers. Some people just don’t like them and remove them. They replace them with a dual idler pulley setup. Some say that using chain tubes slows them up as the chain drags thru them and the friction involved is the culprit causing the slowup. Some just don’t like the appearance of chain tubes. They say they are unattractive. Some say that chain tubes are noisy and they object to having them because of this. I personally don’t buy into most of the objections people raise. If everything is set up correctly I think chain tubes are a great component to employ on a tadpole trike. They keep the chain cleaner while keeping the rider cleaner. They “manage” the chain keeping it from flopping around unnecessarily, keeping it from rubbing on the frame and also keep it in place, especially if the trike is folded.

dual-idler-pulleys

A few years ago I decided to try eliminating the chain tubes and using a second idler pulley. I ran my trike that way for awhile, but I didn’t care much for it and went back to the original setup. In fact, I even added an additional chain tube on the back side. I personally think the argument about slowing one up is silly just as is the argument about safety flags slowing a trike up and/or making too much noise flapping around. There are always going to be people who think like this and that is ok. They can do what they want. It does bother me however when they try to talk others out of using these things. A good safety flag may very well save your life.

chain-tube-on-folded-trike

You can see in this picture of a folded Azub trike how well the chain tubes

control the chain keeping it in place and protecting the trike frame.

In managing a chain they keep it from making contact with the trike frame and rubbing the paint off of it. They keep the chain from making contact with the rider’s leg and leaving a “tattoo” on the skin or clothing. They keep the chain in place so it doesn’t get relocated somewhere it doesn’t belong and cause other problems. This also includes the fact that it helps eliminate our having to get our hands all messed up trying to get the chain back where it belongs. Keeping a lot of the chain enclosed eliminates a lot of exposure to external elements which get the chain dirty.

chain-tubes-2

The way I look at it the trike manufacturers know what they are doing and they incorporate the use of chain tubes for very good reasons. Yes, they can be eliminated, but why would you want to? In doing so you are defeating the whole purpose of why they were installed. Not every chain tube installed from the manufacturer is set up properly. I will grant you that. I redid mine so that they sort of “float” and stay in line with where the chain moves to when shifting between the various sprockets. I even heated the chain tube and put a slight bend(curve) in it so it better lines up with the chain. I also flared the ends of the chain tubes so that the chain moves thru the chain tubes better. I don’t notice any drag or noise from the chain tubes and I definitely like my leg and clothing from not making contact with the chain thanks to the chain tubing. Lastly one thing I have observed when it comes to the use of chain tubes is that they can be too long or positioned wrong or held to solidly to where they interfere with the chain moving freely allowing proper shifting onto the sprockets … front or rear. This is all common sense stuff but, hey, it happens and needs to be corrected so that everything works right. (Right along with this I have also seen idler sprocket/pulleys positioned too close to the front derailleur and sprockets which do not allow the needed movement and alignment of the chain to shift properly onto the various sprockets. This can also be the case at the rear derailleur. This is especially true with homemade trikes or trikes where someone has replaced the original chain tubes and made them longer or placed them too far forward or back in the case where they are on the rear of the trike.)

So who needs chain tubes? In my opinion we all do. But, hey, you do whatever you want. Forest Gump had it right and they say you can’t fix it! Did I really say that? Shame on me! Hey, …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’ & ENJOY THE RIDE!

KIDS ENJOYING TADPOLE TRIKES


It is said that people are essentially the same the world over. And this, of course, includes children. Here are some kids enjoying riding tadpole trikes.

In Malaysia

In Romania

In the Philippines

In United States

In England

(turn the volume way down on this one)

In Croatia

In Slovakia

In ?????

MOVING RIGHT ALONG


Various things come to mind I am tempted to say here in response to these videos, but I will stifle myself and let others think what they want. I have never been a smoker, but I remember in Navy boot camp the words “smokem’ if you’ve gottem”. That seems to apply here but it has nothing to do with cigarettes.

Most definitely at 45 mph or so this rider is moving right along.

Certainly not getting any exercise …

Continuing to move right along …

Another one with money to burn …

Keep in mind that here is the United States 750 watts is the maximum power allowed on the streets by law.

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?


trike-tip-over

Now I ask ‘ya … what could possibly go wrong when we are out riding? I mean we are on 3 wheels and low to the ground so we are safe, right? Whoa! Slow up there! You better think again. There are all sorts of things that can go wrong. I feel relatively safe while riding my trike, but I also know that there are elements of danger and concern. Tipping over is just one of those things. I have been fortunate in that I have never been seriously injured in any tip over I have been involved in. I know others who can’t say that. They received painful injuries which took awhile to recover from.

leaning-in-turn-reduced

Leaning into a turn can help immensely to avoid tipping over. Otherwise we need to slow down more as tadpole trikes can and do tip over. And if you ride a trike with a high seat (such as TerraTrike Rover & Rambler, ICE Adventure, Trident Spike & Titan, etc.) they can tip over more readily than trikes with lower seats. Also if you are carrying weight up high on a trike (such as on a rear rack) that raises the center of gravity and the trike can tip over easier. BTW, all TerraTrike models have high seats so none of them are as stable as trikes that have lower seats. Just looking at various makes and models of trikes I have noticed that the trend seems to be higher seats on most models nowadays. I am used to sitting 9 inches or so off of the ground. Very few models nowadays still offer that seat height. That’s all the more reason to stick with what I have as higher seats just don’t appeal to me … at least not as long as I am capable of getting in and out of a lower seat. And I figure it helps keep me young. 🙂 I like having a good handling trike. I have a friend I ride with who has a TT Rambler. He has to slow way up to corner for fear of tipping over. That’s not for me. That would take a lot of fun out of riding a tadpole trike.

drooping-cables

Drooping cables and such hanging down low under a trike can be quite hazardous resulting in messing up one’s day. They can easily catch on something and not only destroy the cable or wire (or more), but it could cause the trike to wreck.

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Having a wheel drop off the edge of the pavement can be very dangerous and can result in a nasty wreck. This is especially true if there is an embankment alongside the area. Riding on snow or leaves can hide the edge of the pavement and make it even more dangerous resulting in going over the edge and likely tipping over. Uneven edges of the pavement can be hazardous.

pavement-dropoff-along-edge

foot-clearance-off-of-ground

With the rider’s feet just a short distance off of the ground and out in front it is all too easy for the feet to slip off of the pedals and hit the ground resulting in leg suck … when the foot and leg get ran over by the trike and bent back under the crucifix … resulting in painful injury. That is why it is so highly recommended to employ some means of keeping your feet secured to the pedals.

pit-bull-damage

Dogs allowed to run loose and not under control can really mess up your day. This person was a victim of a dog chomping down on his leg. So much for being man’s best friend.

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Various obstacles in our paths can mess up our day if we fail to see and avoid them. Whether it is a bollard, a handrail or something else running into it can be bad news.

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And coming onto damaged pavement like pictured above could readily mess up your day. One of the great attributes of our trike riding is being able to take in the scenery better than we could when we rode bicycles. However, we still need to be careful and watch where we are going.

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Some places are just more hazardous to ride than others so we need to really watch out for ourselves.

We need to expect the unexpected at all times. Accidents most often happen by accident. We should not do those things which could be used to say we gave them a lot of help. 🙂

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Lastly, failure to follow sound advice can have negative results. Be safe out there & …

ENJOY THE RIDE!