Monthly Archives: May 2017

SHEDDING SOME LIGHT ON HEADLIGHTS


After about 8 years or more of dependable service my 1 watt Planet Bike headlight has started shutting off all by itself. So I am now looking for a replacement.

I came across this webpage which is somewhat unique. I shows many different headlights as they shine forward on the road at nighttime. It has a split screen where you can compare one light with another. You can adjust the split screen however you want it.

HERE is another website where you can compare the lighting from various headlights at nighttime.

HERE is another side by side comparison.

HERE is an explanation of LED lighting with helpful information.

HERE is an article on lumens and brightness.

As you can see, not all lights are equal. In the image above are two lights both rated at 300 lumens. Obviously the one on the left is much much brighter than the one on the right. I also selected some other 300 lumen lights to compare and the result was identical to what you see in this picture. Good optics make all the difference in lights.

In the image below are beamshots of a 350, 700 and 1000 lumen headlights. As you can see the 350 holds its own pretty good against these much more powerful lights. Again, good optics make all the difference in lights.

I bought the 350 lumen headlight shown in the image above. It is a Light & Motion Urban 350 which sells for about $50. I like it fine for nighttime riding … which I seldom do … but I am very disappointed in its pulse mode for daytime riding … which is what I almost always do. As far as I am concerned its pulse mode is nearly worthless in the daytime. There is no comparison between it and my Planet Bike headlight. So I more less wasted $50 on a light I really have little need or use of. I looked at some others which were about twice the price and their pulse mode was very attention getting. I don’t understand why this light I bought fails so miserably in this one area. It’s pulse mode would be fine at nighttime, but in the daytime … like I said … it is about worthless.

Here is a video of my Planet Bike headlight flashing inside my home.

Fortunately my Planet Bike headlight is working again so I am continuing to use it for daytime riding. It turned out that the problem of it shutting off by itself was simply a matter of the battery contacts needing to be cleaned. Its flashing mode is very attention getting. BTW, Planet Bike lights have very good optics.

Here is a still shot of my current headlights at nighttime. I have changed the mounting positions since this picture was taken.

One thing I have noticed about many of the new headlights being sold now is that they have rubber straps to mount them instead of much more solid and secure clamps. I hate these rubber straps as they are a cheap way of making what are otherwise good lights. The rubber straps won’t tighten up and hold the light in position and they make it extremely simple, fast and easy to steal the light. I am constantly having to reach down and reposition my two new headlights as they just keep moving out of position as I ride along. I would never buy another headlight that uses a rubber strap to mount it. They are a joke … only I am not laughing.

Well, I hope this article has helped to shed some light on the subject of headlights. Be safe out there and …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

 

 

 

 

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HEADKAYSE ONE – REINEVENTS HELMETS


Headkayse One is a game changer for cycling safety because of Enkayse.

Conventional helmets are made from polystyrene. In a large impact polystyrene deforms to provide what’s known as “sacrificial protection”. This is why you have to be careful not to drop your polystyrene helmet in everyday use, and it’s why manufacturers recommend that you replace your helmet after a knock.

Headkayse … pronounced “head case” … hmmm, interesting … is indeed unique. It is scary to think that a brand new conventional helmet can be so easily damaged and rendered considerably less effective in protecting our noggins. It is not only scary, but downright sad and maddening. Who wants to keep buying new helmets quite frequently for fear that our current helmet might not be up to the task of protecting us (even though it might be nearly new itself)?

Enkayse is designed to work differently. It manages the energy of impacts, so it can retain its integrity after more than one impact, large or small. It flexes to the shape of your head for better comfort and security.

Because Enkayse dissipates energy rather than deforming on impact, it also cushions small bumps. Polystyrene can’t do this, since forces which are too weak to deform it are transmitted through. Enkayse provides comfort in protecting from small bumps. This may also have long-term benefits as researchers believe the cumulative effect of small knocks contributes to brain disease over time. Because Enkayse shrugs off little bumps, it means that Headkayse One is durable against the knocks and scrapes that come with everyday use. You can be sure that Headkayse One will stand up to the daily grind. You can view the entire article about this new material HERE.

This is an interesting video (below) demonstrating how conventional helmets are effected by bumps and impacts.

Their website reports that they are 167 % funded in their startup campaign. These helmets don’t come cheap, however, they should greatly outlast a conventional bike helmet which helps offset the price involved.

So if you are a helmet wearer you might consider looking into a “head case” for your noggin. They say they think they will be in production soon (mid 2017). You can pre-order HERE and it should be cheaper than when they start selling them online.  They show about $112 plus shipping charges if pre-ordered.

They will be available in 8 different colors. One size fits all. Be safe out there and …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

 

 

 

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eGO – AN INTERESTING CONCEPT IN TRIKES


eGo … not to be confused with EGO which is an ultralight trike aircraft … nor is it the electric scooter of the same name … nor is it the velocar of the same name. I sure think they should have and would have picked a different name so that people don’t have to deal with all this confusion.

It is powered by electric motor hub only. There is no chain or sprockets. However there is a crankset and it is used to pedal to charge the battery. They used an existing TW-Bents tadpole trike to create their electric trike. The frames looks the same for both the Trident and Artifice models TW-Bents offers.

HERE is an article on this trike.  HERE is another article.

There is very little information available I can find about it. The one article says that they hope and plan on building more prototypes and work to promote the trike.

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT


They got the title right …

I came across this video and immediately had to agree with the title … Blinded By The Light. There is definitely a whole bunch of lights there. I assume they own a battery manufacturing company. That top light must be to warn low flying aircraft. 🙂 If I were a car or truck driver coming up behind this I wouldn’t know what to do … probably need to find another route. 🙂 I believe in good lighting, but this is definitely an overkill to the point I would think it would upset others who have to deal with it. I don’t know what their purpose is in having all these lights, but hopefully they don’t ride this around other people at night with these lights turned on .

I won’t even use my bright flashing taillight at nighttime around other people as it would be blinding and offensive to those behind me. Defensive is the goal … not offensive. This next video is of my trike after dark where there is total darkness and no one else around. I have 4 taillights flashing, but one of them is so much brighter than the other three. The other three are plenty bright to be seen quite well at night. The extremely bright one is just too much. As bright as the other 3 taillights are this super bright one prevents the other three from being seen. It is great in the day time, but at night time I would never use it around other people. I would use 2 or 3 of the others and probably only have one taillight flashing and the other(s) turned on steady (no blinking).

Our headlights can also be “too much” Here is my trike with  maximum lumens in use. I would not think of riding around like this in the daytime much less at night. I would only use it when by myself and in need of good lighting to see where I am going (at night time, of course.) Too bright of a headlight can quite literally blind those in front of you so that they can’t see some of what is in front of them. This could easily result in an accident and even someone’s death.

And that is only 350 lumen. There are people out there with several thousand lumen lighting. Let’s all be safe but respectful of others. We all want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

PROS & CONS OF ELECTRIC MOTOR PEDAL ASSIST


Those who have been following my writings from the git go  probably know that I got my start in this writing articles about tadpole trikes on Steve Greene’s Trike Asylum blog. One of my earliest articles (To Motorize Or Not To Motorize, That Is The Question which was posted on April 5, 2013) was on the subject of motorizing a tadpole trike and I made it pretty clear that I was against it. I made an exception for those who truly needed it Never the less I ruffled some feathers and caught some flak for writing the article. I have to admit that when I wrote it I didn’t know much about the subject of motorizing a trike. I don’t recall whether or not I was even aware of “pedal assist”. Anyway, since that time I have gotten myself a bit more educated about pedal assist. I also finally reached the point I felt I would benefit from having electric motor pedal assist. I have had one on my trike now for awhile so I have experience with using it and feel I am qualified to write about it. I am loving it. Anyway, I am reposting the early article I wrote so you can read it here in this posting. You will find it at the bottom of this article I am now writing. As you read thru it you should be able to pick up that I was thinking that this subject matter is about propulsion by a motor and not pedal assist.

Recently a fellow triker brought up the matter of a tadpole trike being a Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) … that is to say, they are suppose to be. Hey, that is exactly the position I used to hold so I know where he is coming from. We are all familiar with the terms “Pros & Cons” … stating those things in support or favor of and those things which are not if support or favor of. After having a motorized pedal assist trike and riding it quite a lot already I though it would be good to try to write an unbiased opinion and report on the pros and cons of having a pedal assist motor enhancement. Of course, now I speak only of “PEDAL ASSIST”. I like the description … “it’s like having a built in tail wind”. I am still against a motor propelling a trike where the rider is not required to pedal.

I will state the things that come to mind as pros as well as those things which come to mind as cons. I will say upfront that the list will be considerably lop sided as I have been giving thought to this matter and have to say that there is very little I can come up with to put on the cons list while there is a whole lot that comes to mind to place on the pros list. This certainly is not an exhaustive list. As I think of more I will add them to the lists.

THE PROS

1) It makes pedaling easier not requiring nearly as much pressure to be exerted on the pedals. This greatly helps in hill climbing and those with knee joint problems, pain and weakness.

2) The rider can go considerably faster even though they are exerting the same amount of pressure on the pedals and using the same amount of energy as they did previously. For instance, climbing a hill that used to slow me down to 2 to 4 mph I can now ride up at 14-16 mph if I want to.

3) If the rider tires out during a ride the motor assist helps them to get back to wherever they started from or need to get to.

4) If riding has become a chore rather than the fun it once was then pedal assist can make it fun again.

5) It enables a rider to ride at a faster pace so that being able to ride with faster riders is now possible. You still won’t be able to keep up with a lot of the roadies however as they really go. Funny thing is they are allowed on bike trails and some bike trails ban pedal assist bikes and trikes. It is not right.

6) It is a real blessing to have when you need to zip across a busy street when a break in traffic finally comes along. It can propel you across fast and out of any danger.

7) When you need to make good time to get some place faster than you normally could again the motor is such a blessing.

8) Having the ability to accelerate  quickly and go fast can be a big help in getting away from a dog or person you might be concerned about as far as your personal safety. Of course, most dogs can run faster than 20 mph.

9) Because you are still pedaling, but pedaling easier you actually get more exercise. You can pedal at a faster cadence which is a very good thing as many of pedal way too slowly anyway. And because it is easier to pedal you can ride longer.

10) Someone who has had problems with hernias and are concerned about overexerting them self and causing serious problems can greatly benefit from having pedal assist.

11) Having electric motor pedal assist does not mean that you have to use it. You can ride with it turned off just like it wasn’t there. And quite honestly most of the time I can’t tell the difference between riding my trike as it came from the factory and riding it now with the motor and battery installed but not turned on.

12) If you have long downhill grades you can set the controls to generate rather than use power and in doing this you  recharge the battery. You can also just ride along recharging the battery if you are strong enough to pedal with the resistance involved. Or if you are up to the task even on level ground you can pedal along recharging the battery if you are physically up to it. Please note that the charging rate in this mode is very little so it would take a lot of time and travel to put much of a charge back into the battery.

13) You can play with the minds of the road bike riders  by being able to ride their speed and maybe even pass them. Some of them however ride much faster than a motorized pedal assist can go (legally).

14) When riding off road the pedal assist is great to have. It makes such adventure so much easier and enjoyable and even safer as one doesn’t always have the strength to pedal in/over/thru some places.

15) It reduces the stress being placed on the drive system (pedals, crankset, chain & sprockets) as the motor is helping to turn the rear wheel.

16) If you are riding with others and you have to stop or slow down and they keep going having the pedal assist motor makes it much easier to catch back up with them.

17) It is great when riding into a headwind. Other than feeling the wind you can truly say “what wind?”.

THE CONS

1) The motor and battery add weight to the trike. It has added over 20 pounds to my trike and all on the back. That being said, much to my surprise and delight the only time I can tell there is additional weight is when I lift it. When I ride I can’t tell it at all.

2) Being able to go faster is fun, but it also adds a measure of danger and concern that didn’t exist riding slower. You may tend to go into curves faster than you should. If you are not used to handling a trike at higher speeds you could crash.

3) It is expensive to add a motor to a trike and the battery only lasts so long before it needs to be replaced at considerable cost. My conversion kit costs about $2500 and the replacement battery costs about $900 to $1000. There is always the chance that the manufacturer will either go out of business or simply not offer a replacement battery later on if they opt to make some changes in their product offerings.

4) Some trails don’t allow the use of any motors on  them. I personally don’t think that this should apply to pedal assist systems and I would hope that trails which say no to them will reconsider and change their position on this.

5) Motorizing a tadpole trike adds to the value making it more of a target for a thief.

6) Motorizing a trike makes it so much fun to ride that your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend will want to ride it and cut you out of the picture. 😉

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TO MOTORIZE OR NOT TO MOTORIZE, THAT IS THE QUESTION

I am getting into something here which I will state upfront I am very opinionated about. I”M ‘AGIN’ IT! To my way of thinking motorizing any type of human powered vehicle is defeating the whole concept of the thing … exercise. I mean, come on … if you want a motorized open air vehicle buy a motorcycle for crying out loud. I rode them for over 50 years of my life until I finally decided I would give it up for strictly pedaling around. I was also riding a bicycle all those years so I still got some exercise … just not nearly as much as I do now.

I am sure that there are some folks who are not able to pedal to get around … perhaps can’t use their arms and hands to propel a vehicle either and so they may NEED something in the way of a motorized trike. But there are a whole lot of folks out there who are perfectly capable of pedaling who really don’t NEED to go this route.

That being said, I know it has become pretty popular. The man I sold my homemade tadpole trike to told me he planned on motorizing it. There is lots of information out there on the subject. And I am sure riding a motorized tadpole trike is a lot of fun even though it could lead to an added element of danger. And there may be some folks who just need help pedaling up hills as just maybe their bodies can’t deliver what it takes.

Obviously there are two main ways to go … electric motor or gas engine. Those who oppose gas engines because they “pollute” would no doubt only consider the electric motor route. But I AM STILL AGIN IT!

Here are some pictures of various setups:

KMX trike motorized

KMX trike motorized

gas engine motorized trike

gas engine motorized trike

solar charging motorized trike

solar charging motorized trike

ecospeed motor on boom

ecospeed motor on boom 2

And I say to ya’ll …

KEEP ON PEDALIN’

(We all need the exercise!)

By the way,  one needs to be aware that there are trails where it is against the rules to ride a motorized bike or trike. Our local trails here in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area do not allow them. Only motorized wheelchairs are permitted. When it comes to “pedal assist” it is not fair to ban them. They are as much as a human powered vehicle as the roadies out there zooming by at 25 plus mph while my top speed is only 20 mph with pedal assist. HERE is a good article on the subject.

NEW HEAD REST TO SAVE MY NECK


Recently I had a Bionx hub motor conversion kit installed on my Catrike Trail. In doing so I had to give up my super comfortable head rest which I made. I have neck issues so I need to use a neck/head rest when I ride. The reason I could not continue using my head rest is because it was in the way of plugging the cable into the front of the battery. So I purchased an ICE neck rest which mounts out of the way. Now ICE boasts that their newly designed neck rest is the most comfortable neck rest on the market. As far as I am concerned it is just like all the rest of the factory manufactured neck rests I have tried … very lacking and not very comfortable.  So I went to work to redesign it.  What I came up with was far more comfortable than theirs yet it still looked pretty like it did originally. Still it was not to my satisfaction nor my needs. So I went to work to totally remake it. It didn’t take me more than 20 minutes and now I have a very comfortable head rest again. It is not quite as comfortable as what I had previously but only because it is a bit smaller in size. And the good news is I didn’t do anything to change what ICE made. In 5 minutes I could put the neckrest back to the way it came from ICE (not that I would want to). I just don’t understand why the trike industry doesn’t offer comfortable neck rests. It is not that hard to make one that is comfortable. Like I said it took me about 20 minutes. I replaced ICE’s strap with elastic and put a piece of foam sandwiched in between it. Then I put a large piece of foam on the front side of the elastic. The large piece of foam has the front side of it cut concave to sort of cradle the head and neck. Here is what I came up with. I just used the cover off of my old head rest even though it is too big.

For  those who are interested here are some pictures showing the construction of my new head rest. (I am calling it a head rest rather than a neck rest because I have raised it up higher to where the back of my head rests on it. It is far more comfortable now against my head than it was against my neck.)

In the next picture I have duct tape temporarily holding the foam in place while the Gorilla Glue sets up. The foam is glued to the elastic.

In the next picture  which is a top view looking down you can see the concave curvature I cut into the foam to cradle my head and make the head rest more comfortable to use.

And here is what the original ICE neck rest looks like. I really don’t like the metal rods on the sides as they are located right where the head makes contact with them. And that is not very comfortable as I quickly found out when I tried riding using it. It is really dumb … more of their infamous “inspired cycle engineering”.

 

 

Now with this new head rest I should be able to ride in comfort meaning I can …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

RECUMBENT MECHANICAL TALK


Gee I love that kind of talk. 🙂 I hope you do too cause here is a whole lot of it …

 

ARE YOU DIRECT OR INDIRECT?


Now I ask ya … are you direct or indirect? Some of you I am sure know the answer to that question while others probably do not. Those ‘others’ probably don’t have a clue what I am talking about. We’ll remedy that pronto. I am talking about the type of steering your tadpole trike has. Direct steering means the “handlebars” come directly off of the kingpins (the axles the front end has to turn to steer). Here is a picture of an ICE VTX with direct steering. I have marked the various parts (green lines are the handlebars, red lines point to the kingpins, yellow lines point to the tie rod which connects both sides together so they work together). Direct steering is called direct steering because it is direct. The handlebars connect directly to the kingpins so that they turn directly in response to the input of the handlebars.

direct-steering-ice-vtx-marked

Indirect steering is altogether different. The handlebars pivot on an axis thru the frame under or just in front of the seat. A plate of some sort (they vary) is attached to the axis so that when the handlebars are turned the plate turns with it. Attached to the plate is linkage which goes over to one or both kingpins to turn them. Here is a picture of a TerraTrike Tour with indirect steering. I have identified the various parts in it as well. Of course, the blue line is the handlebars. The green line is the axis (the pivot point) of the handlebars.  The yellow lines are the tie rod linkage connecting the  plate on the handlebar axis to the kingpin axis.

indirect-steering-terratrike-tour-marked

Both systems work, of course, but they are not the same. Direct steering is more sensitive and “direct”. Indirect steering is less sensitive and not as direct. Some people like one better than the other. I myself prefer direct steering. Often direct steering trikes turn sharper than indirect steering. Some indirect steering trikes have a much larger turning radius. Again, I personally find this unacceptable. I want my trike to turn sharply when needed. I don’t like having to stop and back up … going back and forth trying to get turned around a sharp corner. That is ridiculous in my opinion … poor design engineering.

I have ridden various trikes with both types of steering input. As to the matter of indirect steering I will say this … not all trikes are created equal. That is to say I found some quite objectionable and others quite satisfactory. Some I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy as the saying goes.

As to preference on these two types of steering, some object to the direct steering saying it is too sensitive and “twitchy” … making it dangerous at higher speeds. I am sure I speak for many when I say it is all according to what you get used to. I have never had an issue with this in all the years I have been riding tadpole trikes. And I am sure many others would say the same thing. But, hey, I don’t much care what others prefer. If you like indirect steering that’s fine with me. If you prefer direct steering you’re my kinda guy (or gal). 😉 

There is an option that can be incorporated to make direct steering less sensitive. A stabilizer bar can be used. Here is one added to a KMX trike.

Hopefully by now we can all answer the question … are we direct or indirect? Whichever you are …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

WILL THESE TIRES FIT MY RIMS?


That is a good question. I wish I had the answer. Information like that would be nice to know. I suppose I could say … “your guess is as good as mine”, but I reckon that wouldn’t be very helpful. I have tried a few different times looking up information about tires and rims and pretty much  concluded that I must be dumber than I thought as I couldn’t make much out of most of what I read. It just seems to get pretty technical and complicated. I find it quite challenging trying to make sense out of all of it. It was pretty simple when I was a kid, but thru the years man has managed to make it quite complicated. You can try your hand at it if you want. Perhaps you will have more success than I have had in the past. My best advice is to go ask someone who works with this and has some understanding of it. That being said, don’t be surprised if they don’t know of a certainty the answer to your question.

But this much I know … more and more it seems as though people are moving toward wider tires on their trikes … trying to remake their trikes into “mini-FAT trikes”. I can understand and appreciate that, but hey, a rim can only handle so much additional width without concern of safety and performance.

HERE is Schwalbe’s article on this.

You can read the late Sheldon Brown’s article HERE.

There are some formulas for calculation HERE.

HERE is another good article on tire width and rim size.

Here are some things I have learned. Some of it is just common sense and logic.
Tires are designed to have a certain shape when they are properly inflated on the rim. If the tire is too narrow traction and stability when cornering will suffer. If the tire bead is too wide where is fits down into the rim the tire will be deformed from the way it was designed and the tread will be effected. Impact absorption will suffer as will control during cornering. Sidewalls can be more easily damaged and cut. A proper fitting tire on a rim will ensure maximum performance in cornering and traction as well as provide the least rolling resistance. Tires are designed to have a certain shape when properly mounted and inflated. When we modify things we can effect our safety in the performance and handling of the tire.
A wider tire has less rolling resistance than a narrower one of the same “build” and air pressure. A wider tire will also help prevent pinch flats.

Yeah, I wish I could give you a quick and accurate response, but the truth is “your guess is as good as mine”. Well, hopefully we can all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’