Search Results for hill climbing

HILL CLIMBING … NOT THE WAY I REMEMBER IT


Back in my teenage years and into my 20s and 30s I used to love hill climbing. However, it was a bit different back then. Here is a picture of me engaged in some hill climbing.

Steve riding wheelie up a hill

Obviously it is not a good quality photo. Yes, hill climbing then was a lot of fun.  This particular hill was long enough and had the right incline to it that I could “wheelie” my way up it. Serious hills however are not conquered by riding a wheelie. In fact, the least amount of front end up into the air is desirable.

I tackled some pretty steep hills including some that looked like they would be impossible to climb at the very top … to get over the top where the edge protruded forward like I have drawn here with the blue arrow pointing to what I am talking about:

hill climb drawing

It could be done and I and a couple of my friends used to do it all the time. We had to do it just right however or the consequences would have been disastrous.

motorcyle hill climb competition

I never got involved in competition. I only did this for fun and recreation. I loved motorcycling … both on and off road. In competition there are two goals. The first goal is to make it all the way to the top and over the crest of the hill. May competitors fail to accomplish this. The second goal is to make it up the hill faster than anyone else. I used to love watching hill climbing competition as I did other motorcycle competition … racing, trials, etc. Yes, hill climbing on a motorcycle was a lot of fun.

Now I am much older and my motorcycling days are over. Oh, I would still enjoy some of it if I were to do it, but it is not worth the risk of injury. Things change a lot as we age. I am nearly 69 now and I definitely am not in the physical condition I was in 40 years ago when I used to do this kind of stuff. I continued to ride motorcycles on roads over the years, but I made the decision a few years ago to sell my motorcycle and just stick with my human powered machines. I found that I was riding them and ignoring my motorcycle. I was surprised by this as I assumed I would continue to ride a motorcycle for a very long time … right up until I felt I needed to quit for personal safety reasons. I have no regrets making the decision to stop altogether. I truly enjoy pedaling along on my tadpole trike. That brings me to the point of this posting … hill climbing on a tadpole trike. Now I am not talking about off road riding, but rather strictly riding on paved surfaces whether they be trails, streets, roads, or sidewalks.

The difference between my motorcycle hill climbing days and now is that the motorcycle hill climbing was lots of fun. I sure can’t say that about climbing hills on my trike. Nope, not at all. It is just something that comes with it and has to be done. I find no enjoyment in it. But there are some differences which I want to point out. Climbing a hill on a motorcycle (off road) involves a certain amount of speed. You usually can’t go very slow and have much hope of making it ‘up and over’. Both balance and traction would be one’s undoing if the speed was too slow. On a tadpole trike on pavement climbing a hill is usually pretty slow going, but the good news is that balance doesn’t enter the picture. One can go as slow as they care to as long as they can turn the crank pedaling along. I have climbed many hills at 2 mph or even a touch less at times. And if I want to or need to I can even stop to rest or pick up a piece of trash or a tree branch laying on the trail and then resume my climbing.

Of course, this would not be possible without the use of “granny gear”. Ah yes, good ol’ granny gear! What a difference gearing can make. For those who don’t know what granny gear is it is simply the lowest gear one has on multiple gear trike. On a typical derailleur system it is when the chain is on the smallest sprocket in the front and the largest sprocket in the back. In the picture of the bicycle below you can see this gear combination.

granny gear on bicycle

It doesn’t take long to get into serious trouble trying to climb a hill if the rider fails to shift into a low enough gear. Then there are trikes that don’t have low enough gearing available and so the rider on such a trike either really struggles or doesn’t even attempt to climb hills they know they can’t make it up. What can I say except “Sorry about your luck”.

No, I can’t say as though I am enjoying climbing hills nowadays, but I am enjoying the fact that I can and am. And I am relatively sure that in doing so it helps me to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

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IT’S JUST A HILL … GET OVER IT


steep hill 2

saw those words printed on shirts you can buy and thought they were pretty “catchy”. I think most riders would agree that it is a lot more fun and enjoyable going down a hill than it is climbing it. Many have reported reaching some pretty fast speeds on their descent. I am talking 40 to 50 plus mph. Velomobile riders have reported reaching speeds in excess of 70 mph. Going down the longest steepest hill I know of around here where I live the highest speed I have ever obtained is only about 28 mph. Here below is a picture of the hill I speak of. Looking at the hill one would think that it would yield higher speeds than that. I have only ridden my trike on it once as it is a distance away and not someplace I normally ride.

Tonkel Rd. hill 2

It is said and is quite true that we must climb the hill enduring the challenge and difficulty in order to enjoy the fun and thrill of going down it. Climbing a steep hill only using our human power can indeed be challenging. And certainly our ability to do so depends upon our physical condition and the gearing we have available. Low gearing is a must for hill climbing.

This is a 3 speed internal hub with  a 10 cog rear cassette … totaling 90 speeds. I would love to have something like this on my trike.

3-speed-hub-with-cassettes

I would settle for 81 speeds. The option to shift the internal hub instantly changing the available gear down lower would be a ‘godsend’ as they say.

My tadpole trike came with 27 ‘speeds’ (3 chainrings in the front and 9 cogs in the rear cassette). The newer ones are 30 speeds as they have a rear cassette of 10 cogs. They come with a 34 tooth cog as the largest diameter sprocket on the rear cassette. My trike originally had a 32 tooth sprocket as the largest cog on the rear cassette. I later changed it to 34 tooth which definitely helped a little bit with hill climbing. Still I could really use a smaller chain ring on the front. The hills I normally climb here where I live are not anything like the one in the picture above. I would definitely need lowing gearing to tackle something like that. Either that or I would have to make numerous stops to rest. That is one thing good about riding a tadpole trike. Stopping to rest doesn’t involve having to “dismount” and then struggle to get started again like a bicyclist does. And we don’t have to concern ourselves with balancing while going slow. We can climb a hill just as slow as we can manage the pedaling involved … perhaps at 1.5 mph … maybe even slower for some of us. Try that on a bicycle.

50 tooth cog on rear cassette

In the picture above you are looking at a 50 tooth cog . I have seen 42 and 44 tooth sprockets for the rear cassette and just now I found this 50 tooth. Given enough traction and strength in the trike build I would think that a person could just about “pull stumps” out of the ground with that low gearing. 🙂 Of course, one must keep in mind that when talking about a derailleur system the rear derailleur can only handle so much gear range. Going with such a large sprocket on the rear means that the largest front chain ring would have to be smaller in order for the rear derailleur to handle things. (I have an article on rear derailleur capacity.) So what you would gain in low gearing you would lose in high gearing (fastest speed obtainable). If we live/ride somewhere that has lots of hills to climb and yet we also like to go as fast as we possibly can we have a bit of a problem. Solutions are available, but they are not cheap. There are two and three speed internal hubs for the crankset as well as various internal hubs for the rear wheel. Some fabulous gearing combinations can be had for a price … more than what some trikes cost.

Many of us have one or more hills to contend with … GET OVER ‘EM! … and                                                   KEEP ON TRIKIN’

IF YOU’VE GOT ‘EM, USE ‘EM (GEARS THAT IS)


I have never been a smoker but certainly I have been forced against my will to be around a lot of smoking. When I was going thru boot camp (recruit training) in the Navy I remember the company commander saying the words “If you’ve got em, smoke em”. This was how a smoking break was announced. Obviously, if someone lacks something they can’t very well use them.

Some folks buy trikes which lack sufficient gearing for hill climbing. What can I say? But for those who purchased trikes with low gearing available what I am talking about here applies … if you have low enough gearing, use it. I am amazed at the number I riders I come across that don’t use their gears much at all. Hey, that is what they are there for. Some are quite intimidated by them. They don’t understand them and don’t know how to shift them. I am amazed by that as it is so simple. And it is also so practical, sensible and very much needed.

We can encounter some horrendous hills and having and using “granny gear” is a must if we are going to climb them. I have written quite a bit about this before: HERE, HEREHERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE, With all that already written I won’t go on here much more. I just want to emphasize that we need to use the gears and not be afraid of them. If you have a derailleur system the main thing to remember is don’t try to shift when stopped or while pushing hard on the pedals. Shifting, especially downshifting, must be done ahead of time before one gets themselves into trouble not being in the right gear. One can do serious and expensive damage to the rear derailleur when attempting to shift if under heavy load or while stopped. You can literally turn it into the shape of a pretzel leaving you stranded and having to buy a new derailleur.

So I say again … if you’ve got ’em, use ’em. It will make your ride much more enjoyable and help you 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. 😉

********************

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.

DOES THIS TRIKE MAKE ME LOOK FAT?


fat-man

laughing-fat-buddha

We often hear/read that line about one thing or another making us look fat. Frequently it is meant to be funny. But, hey, being fat isn’t funny … nor is it fun. Those of us who are fat, especially obese, are our own worst enemy. I ought to know. I have been fat most of my adult life. I come from a family that are mostly overweight. This was mostly on my mom’s side of the family. I was always normal weight as a child. I weighed 140 pounds when I graduated from high school. I started gaining weight when I reached about 22 years of age. This was while I was in the Navy. It has been a battle ever sense … one which I have not done very well in winning. I have lost all my excess weight about 3 times, but always gained it right back and usually more. On one of my weight loss attempts I got down to 135 pounds. Here is a picture of me in the Navy before I started gaining weight. I think I was about 20 years old here. As you can see I was still normal weight. I didn’t usually wear coveralls, but I was on this occasion as I was about to work on a nasty job which could easily ruin my work uniform.

coveralls-1-sharpened

Although I am talking mainly about myself in this posting I want to address the subject of being overweight and exercise. I don’t think it is any secret that here in the United States we have a serious issue with obesity. Just looking at people in most any direction or place we see it. (It is pretty hard not to see it.) And the tadpole triking scene is no exception. In fact, it seems that the majority of tadpole riders have an issue with their weight. We turn to our trikes as a form of exercise in hope that we will lose weight. Some do, but many don’t. I am among those who haven’t done very well losing weight no matter how much riding I do (and I have done a lot). I have talked to others who have told me the same thing. I am sure most of us have heard the saying … Calories In, Calories Out. The bottom line here is simply that exercise alone is not enough. It is far more about what we eat and how much we eat. It takes a whole lot of riding to burn off the calories of unhealthy meals, snacks, soda pop, milkshakes, candy bars, etc. And most of us who are overweight do not eat healthy foods like we should.

burger-fries-shake-2

candy-bars  chocolate-cake-with-vanilla-ice-cream

I love cheeseburgers, french fries, chocolate milk shakes, candy (especially chocolate), ice cream, cakes and pies … you know … all the foods that taste so good but aren’t good for us. A few years ago I tried to go the vegetarian route. At first it was okay and I definitely lost weight eating nothing but vegetables, fruits and nuts (the foods God told us that He gave us to eat). However, it didn’t take long before I grew very tired and dissatisfied and longed for meats and other unhealthy foods again … foods that I have eaten all my life. So I went back to my old lifestyle and gained the weight right back. I had lost about 50 pounds eating “bible foods” and I felt great. The original foods God provided for man were grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. “They constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect, that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet.”  (see Original Bible Diet)

Recently I lost 30 pounds after the knee joint replacement surgeries. I was encouraged and thinking I would be able to continue losing weight. However, it didn’t take long before I gained back 20 of those 30 pounds rather quickly. Recently I have lost 4 pounds, but it is a battle ground and I am not doing well at it. As much as I would like to, I can’t blame my trike. It is not what makes me look fat. When I point a finger at it I have 3 fingers pointing back at myself. Nope, it definitely is not my trike that makes me look fat. It is easy to try to put the blame somewhere … anywhere … rather than simply admit we like food and don’t discipline ourselves as we need to. I stand guilty. How about you? Yeah, I know. Now I am medlin’. Sorry!

steve-climbing-hill-2

As much as I love riding my trike I know I greatly limit myself being overweight. Hill climbing is where it is most obvious. Pedaling a lot of weight up a hill is slow going and makes it extra difficult. When I am riding with friends they don’t slow down nearly as much as I do. Yep, all that extra weight makes a huge difference. I often wonder how I would do if I weighed 140 pounds again. I would like to think I could out perform my friends I ride with. (And I am pretty sure I could.)

So what’s the problem you ask? Well, I lack the motivation and self discipline needed. I confess it. Shame on me. I have nobody or nothing to blame but myself. I certainly can’t blame my trike. It has done an amazing job hauling my fat carcass around all of these years. I have to sort of feel sorry for it because of all I put it thru. I just recently discovered that I have two more broken spokes on my left front wheel. I have had a lot of broken spokes and have come to the conclusion that most of this is probably the result of the load the wheels carry. Hard cornering with a fat tub aboard tends to break spokes.

Nope, my trike doesn’t make me look fat. I make me look fat. I acknowledge it. I am guilty. I really need to eat a salad for lunch and probably supper too. (And without any dressing on it!) ( … but a cheeseburger sounds so much better.)

eating-cheeseburger

Some riders have  FAT trikes while some trikes have FAT riders. Hmmm, another fact of life. Well, fat, normal or thin … do your best to …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

and don’t believe the saying “Thin may be in, but fat is where it’s at”

It’s a lie!

UNDERSTANDING GEAR RATIOS


All those round things with teeth around the outside are commonly known as “sprockets”. (Yes, I know for those who insist on being technical … they are cassettes/cogs on the back and chainrings on the front.) These sprockets are several different diameters and this is for a reason. All those different diameters provide a different gear ratio when the chain goes from one to the other. When the chain is on the smallest sprocket in the front and the largest sprocket on the back it is the lowest gear ratio. And when the chain is on the largest sprocket in the front and the smallest sprocket in the back it is the highest gear ratio. Knowing these gear ratios, lowest to highest, helps us to determine the performance capability as well as the hill climbing ability and effort needed. As to the fastest speed we can ride we can only pedal so fast. Once we reach the maximum rpm we are capable of pedaling we reach the maximum speed we can go. The only way we can go any faster is to have a higher gear ratio. And even then we reach the point of “practicalness” as sooner or later we find too much resistance in our pedaling.

There are other contributing and limiting factors involved in determining the gear ratios such as wheel size and tire choices, but I am not addressing any of that here.

HERE is a well written article on the subject of understanding gear ratios.

large sprocket on tadpole trike

As you can see in the picture above an oversize sprocket has been installed on this tadpole trike. It looks mighty impressive, but the truth is probably not many of us could pedal it to its potential top speed as we just don’t have what it takes. Most of our trikes come equipped from the manufacturer with a 52 tooth sprocket as the largest. The picture above is real, but the one below is fake … a little photo editing fun I had sometime back.

130 tooth chainring on Catrike 700

Mind you there are bikes and trikes with oversize sprockets which have been ridden to accomplish setting new land speed records for human powered vehicles. Usually they have some sort of streamlined bodies on them so they can cut thru the air and not deal with the resistance you and I do with our plain ol’ trikes. Here is a picture of one such vehicle which broke the world record. I haven’t kept up with who currently holds the distinction so this may not be the current record holder.

world record holder

It takes more than gearing to accomplish such a feat. One must be a very top athlete to reach these speeds with just human power. But you can bet there is not 52 tooth sprocket installed here.

Some of us need help with gear ratios as what we currently have isn’t “getting it”. It can get a bit on the expensive side when one starts changing all the sprockets to accomplish such a change in gear ratios. Obviously the best time to do it is when the original sprockets are wore out and in need of changing. And we can only accomplish that by …

KEEPING ON TRIKIN’

11 SPEED CASSETTES … WE’VE COME A LONG WAY


single speed bike vs 11 speed cassette 2

      from single speed to 11 speed external rear hubs … we’ve come a long way

When I was growing up most of my bicycles were single speed as that was most common in those days. In my teen years I finally got a Schwinn 3 speed Sturmey Archer internal hub which I bought with my own money. I remember going to the Gambles Hardware Store where the local Schwinn dealer was located at that time and ordering my bike. It was white in color with chrome fenders and I thought it was so beautiful. This is the only picture I have of it and as you can see it is a poor quality picture. I have had some nice bicycles thru the years starting as a child, but I don’t have any pictures of any of them other than this one.

my Schwinn 3 speed racer

Anyway, don’t quote me on any of this as I haven’t researched the development of power trains of bicycles. I am going strickly from what I remember as I grew up. I first saw the 3 speed internal hubs and then the derailleur system made its appearance. I think the first one was 5 speed and thru the years we have seen that numbers increase dramatically in both external and internal hubs. Rohloff makes a 14 speed internal hub. Just a few short years ago 10 speed cassettes became the industry standard and now it is 11 speeds. For those who don’t understand what I am talking about I will explain. The word “speeds” refers to the number of cogs (sprockets) on the cassette. The cassette is the name of the group of cogs on the rear wheel. Here is a picture of an eleven speed cassette.

11 speed cassette

As is often the case there have been conversations, controversy and concerns about going to yet one more sprocket back there. Some say that it will result in wearing out faster as everything is thinner and therefore weaker. I would have to admit that such an argument makes sense. But is it reality? I guess only time will provide the answer to that. Meanwhile there are those who are taking a look at it and reporting what they have experienced thus far. HERE is an article on the subject.

I am not aware of any trike manufacturers offering 11 speed cassettes on their trikes yet. My 2009 Catrike Trail came with 9 speed cassette. Later Catrike came out with 10 speed cassettes on their trikes.

It is my understanding that in order to go to an 11 speed cassette a new wheel is required as those used for 10 speed cassettes won’t work. Mind you I don’t know much at all about any of this. I am just going by what I have read about it … and that is very limited.

Yes, I know I have not mentioned the modern day internal hubs which are available options … and I am not going to … not here, not now anyway. I have written other articles about gearing and sprockets. There are still other articles you can discover by simply searching for words like: internal hubs, gearing, sprockets, derailleurs, cassettes, chains, etc. Just type the word into the search box and click on GO.

For sure it is nice to have multiple gears to choose from. They are especially appreciated come hill climbing time. I miss my Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub and would like very much to have one in my Catrike Trail’s drive train. 81 speeds would be great … especially when I need to downshift and can’t with my derailleur system … cause I am already stopped or nearly stopped and didn’t get downshifted as I should have. Being able to downshift while sitting still would be great. Of course, SRAM also makes one I would gladly settle for one of those in place of the Sturmey Archer.

3-speed-hub-with-cassettes

SRAM 3 speed internal hub with cassette

I don’t know if one of these internal hubs is available along with an 11 speed cassette, but if is that would be 93 gears. I could handle that. It would help me to be able 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?

SUNSEEKER ECO TAD SX TADPOLE TRIKE


SUNSEEKER ECO TAD SX TADPOLE TRIKE 2

The SunSeeker Eco Tad SX Recumbent Trike is featured in this video below from Utah Trikes. The Sun Bicycle manufacturer changed the name of their recumbent division to SunSeeker back in September 2014 so if you are not aware of it it is still the same company as the more known Sun bicycles and trikes. There are riders looking for lower cost trikes and trikes that sit higher (18 inches) and are highly adjustable. This trike qualifies in each of these criteria. At a starting price of $899 it is the lowest cost trike available.

As I stated this trike lists for $899 as the starting price. That includes a SunRace 7-speed derailleur and 11-32 cassette in the rear and a 38 tooth chainring.  It comes with 170 mm cranks. That makes for a range of gear inches of about 22 to 65. And that means that hill climbing would take a lot of effort and high speed via pedaling would not be obtainable. Again, this trike is not designed for nor intended for high speed anyway.

It has a fully adjustable, mesh-back saddle with a padded bottom. The handlebars adjust both horizontally and vertically. Locking brake levers come standard on it as does two water bottle holders which mount on the handlebars where they are quite convenient. There are also two extra water bottle mounts on the seat back. Ordering this trike from Utah Trikes one can readily get it highly customized (for additional cost).

Standard tires are Kenda Kwest 20″ x 1.5 “. The rims are single wall so they won’t be as strong as the more common double wall rims found on most trikes.  But then this trike is not built for speed and handling so hopefully this would not be an issue. Because the frame is a straight line design there is no need for idlers in the chain management.

The Eco Tad comes in three stock color options: Red, Blue, and Navy Blue. Utah Trikes charge $49 to paint it metallic blue or $199 to paint the trike whatever other color the customer selects from the nearly 3 dozen colors they offer. They also have one special black paint job they offer for $299. Utah Trikes charges $250 shipping charge for trikes ordered from them.

I will insert here that if a person starts adding on a lot of extra options, especially some of the more expensive ones such as improvement in the gearing the initial low cost of the trike escalates quickly. It makes no sense to end up paying a lot of money to equip such a trike when it is an “entry level trike”. You certainly could never begin to recoup such additional expense output if you wanted to sell it later on. The buyer would be better off buying a better trike to begin with.

HERE is Utah Trike’s article on this trike.

Detailed Specifications —

Frame Material: Hi Tensile Lightweight Steel
Trike Weight: 46 lbs
Total Weight Capacity: 300 lbs (Rider) + 75 lbs (Cargo)
Wheelbase: 37-1/2in (95cm)
Wheel Track: 31in (79cm)
Total Length: 70-1/2in – 78-3/4in (179-199cm)
Total Width: 31in (78.7cm)
Total Assembled Height: 34in (86cm)
Ground Clearance: 8.5in (22cm)
Bottom Bracket Height: 13.5in (34cm)
Steering Type: Direct Steer with 2-way adjustable handlebars
Steering Pivot Type: Cartridge Bearings
Ackerman Steering: Yes
Turning Circle: 70in (1.8m)
Seat Height: 17-18in (43-46cm)
Seat Width: 16.5in (42cm)
Seat Angle: 45-90 degrees
Country of Origin: Taiwan

The SunSeeker webpage for this trike doesn’t show much information so I am also linking to Utah Trikes webpage for it as it has far more.

I will throw this out for what it is worth … if I were in the market for an entry level trike I would go with this one over the TerraTrike Rover. I just think it is a better design and a little better quality that the Rover. The Rover is quite popular, but as a highly experienced weldor and metal fabricator when I look at a Rover I am not impressed as far as the design and materials used. It just looks chintzy to me.

To the best of my knowledge this trike is the lowest priced trike available at this time. Keep in mind that this is not a speed trike, but is strictly for leisurely riding. It might be just the ticket for those working with a tight budget and don’t need or want a sportier, more efficient,  better handling trike. Yes, this just might enable them to join others and …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

 

SOMETIMES A GUY JUST HAS TO HAVE FUN


Most of us are familiar with riding the rails … rail trail, that is … abandoned railroad tracks which have been converted over into trails. Well, the writing is on the wall and it was just a matter of time before someone was foolish enough to attempt riding the wall. I have never made up a bucket list, but occasionally I get some wild idea I want to try. I mean in the past …

I have ridden on the moon

Steve on moon with lunar rover tire tracks

I made an exhilarating jump

trike-jumping-2 reduced

I once rode along a narrow ledge of a mountain where one slip would mean certain death, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the photo to prove it.

I rode thru a huge pileup of leaves on the trail

riding thru deep pile of leaves

I have been chased by a bear

motivation for pedaling 2

On one occasion I let the cat out of the bag

cat 559 out of the bag

cat's out of the bag

I created the first headless tadpole trike rider (better hope you don’t see him out there)

unnerving

I provided proof setting peoples’ minds at ease that this bicyclist was okay after his little mishap

down under 2

I put a drag chute on a tadpole trike to help slow it down

drag chute on trike

I made a way to get up to those high bottom brackets on some trikes

high bb

But I needed to accomplish more and got to thinking about what else I could do. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks … I will ‘ride the wall’. So I dood it! Here is proof.

riding the wall reduced

Riding on the Great Wall of China

me riding on Via Dolorosa

Riding on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.

snow thrower Steve's Catrike

blowing snow

V-plow on my Catrike

plowin’ snow

I assume most of you know that I am just kidding around with all of these and am simply having fun with some photo editing. I will no doubt never get to do any of these things and some of them I would not attempt as I would like to think that my parents didn’t raise a fool.

All that being said, there are some who have ridden a bicycle on the Great Wall of China. Here is proof …

Of course, as you can see there is a lot of hill climbing involved as well as steps to contend with. And some of it doesn’t look like it would accommodate a tadpole trike. Then there is the matter of timing and the particular location as it looks like it could get mighty crowded out there.

great wall a bit crowded

I would call this a “ribbon of humanity” … as far as the eye can see.

I rather doubt if a tadpole trike has ever been ridden on this infamous wall. I rather doubt if one ever will be ridden there, but hey, I suppose anything is possible. I have already got as close to it as I ever will. At least I have proof that I have … “been there, done that”. 🙂

Lastly, but most significant of all my rides was when I rode along the very same route Jesus Christ walked carrying the cruel wooden cross He later died on to purchase the salvation for you and I by shedding His innocent blood that we might be forgiven if we only repent and turn to Him seeking His forgiveness and then live our lives in obedience to Him putting Him first in all things at all times.

 

Regardless where we find ourselves hopefully we can all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

48V 750W 8fun Bafang Mid Drive Motor Electric Bike Conversion Kit


Bafang electric motor installed on ICE trike

Are you mechanically inclined? If so, here is a DIY (do it yourself) project to motorize your tadpole trike. If you have money to burn you could hire a bicycle shop/independent mechanic to install this for you. This is a 750 watt brushless electric motor. That is the maximum size allowed by law for bicycles in the United States. Like so many electric motors designed for bicycles it doesn’t come with a battery so the battery must be purchased separately. Batteries are not cheap. One can expect to shell out about $1500 total for this kit with a battery. This is both a pedal assist and motor only rig so it pretty much fits the bill. Probably the one main “con” is the fact that it doesn’t sense shifting gears meaning that it will maintain power resulting in mashing gears. That is not a good thing. Of course, one can get around this by simply  turning the power way down/off while shifting.

Bafang electric motor kit

Bafang electric motor kit 2

Bafang electric motor kit 3

In this next video a KMX trike is shown. I want to include the video description here as it contains some information about this rig. Note the top speed claimed in this vs. the speed obtained on a bicycle equipped with this which was shown in an earlier video. Notice I said “obtained” as there was no mention of top speed. If I remember correctly the fastest I saw on the display was 22 mph.

“48V 750W BBS02 MAX Speed 32 MPH. 1. LCD Panel with FULL features: Speed, distance, 9 levels PAS, FULLY programmable without any patch cables, All done on screen. Motor with built Controller. Full set of new Bottom bracket mounting parts for bikes with 68mm BB Plus Chain ring (will work with 73 mm BB with longer hardware and spacers). Full instructions for installation and LCD set up and programming instruction book. Full set of quick release Wire harness with E-brake levers, throttle, PAS wires, etc. 6. Awesome acceleration, Hill climbing, Top speed of approx. 32 MPH. In the USA is classified as a fully legal 750 Watt Nominal motor by regulations. Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico shipping fee is $100.00.”

Bafang electric motor inside

Here is a video showing and explaining how to install this on a DF bicycle. It would be quite similar installing it on a tadpole trike.

Bafang electric motor 8fun bbs02- display panel

Click HERE for YouTube video search results of the electric motor kit.

Bafang electric motor installed on KMX trike 2

 

Electric Bike Review

Amazon sells the kit with a battery for less than $1200 including shipping.

Ebay sells the kits. They also offer one that comes with a battery. I just discovered something while looking at these on Ebay. You have to be careful as there is tricky selling going on. I saw one of these shown as only costing $70. I thought “WOW!” … and wondered how that could possibly be. Then I scrolled down further and discovered that the seller is charging $410 shipping … bringing the total up to what most of the others are selling for.

Alibaba also sells the kits and is probably the lowest priced. They also sell other wattage models. And they too sell the kit with a battery.

From Alibaba website:

Motor

1) Has small current, high efficiency and long riding distance;

2) Light, energy-saving and protective for the battery;

3) Free of maintenance and has a long service life;

4) Produces small noise and is of soft start-up;

5) Has great output power, quick starting and powerful climbing capacity;

6) Gears are made of high strength and abrasion resistant high temperature nylon

7) Reasonably structured and durable in use.
Battery

For the 48v 750w motor, we recommend:

48v11.6ah (samsungcell 18650 2900mah,13s4p) dolphin battery

Bafang electric motor installed on KMX trike

Notice that on the KMX trike the motor is up on top of the boom and behind the crankset while on the ICE trike shown further above the motor is out in front of the crankset and boom. With this unit the front derailleur is not used. The front derailleur mounting tube on the ICE prevents the motor from being placed like it is on the KMX.  One could remove the tubing and position the motor on top of the boom, but if you ever wanted to go back to using a front derailleur a new boom would be required.

SEAT VS. PEDAL HEIGHT


very high BB 2

Wow! That boom looks like it is really up there. I am sure however the position of the camera adds to the effect. Never the less, it is still a high boom. And the angle of the boom is quite severe so the height increases drastically as the boom is extended. But the boom height is only part of the deal. The other part is the seat height. Comparing the seat height with the boom height is more critical than just looking at the boom height alone. Most tadpole trikes typically have about a 14 to 16 inch boom height. Of course, the angle of the boom as it extends out greatly effects the actual height. A boom with little angle to it won’t change the height much as the boom is extended out. However, a boom that has a pretty steep angle will  greatly add height to the boom as it is extended out. I know I have repeated myself a bit here. I have often wondered why some trikes are made with such severe boom angles since this extreme height gain is the result. I would think that would be very undesirable.

Does all of this matter? Well, that depends. It depends upon the rider. Some people have no problem with the boom height way up above the seat height while others have a big problem with it.

When talking about the height of the pedals, boom, crankset, etc. the term “bottom bracket” (BB) is used.  By definition: “The bottom bracket is the part of the bike that connects the crankset to the bicycle frame and allows the crankset (made up of pedals, crank arms and chain rings) to rotate freely.” Of course, that definition is for a bicycle. However it is basically the same for recumbents … just in a different position.

In the image below I have placed a white with blue dot in the center of the bottom bracket and attempted to illustrate the BB measurement from the ground up to the center of the bottom bracket. The red arrow shows the BB measurement. The green arrow shows the seat height measurement. The purple line shows the difference between those two.

 seat height vs. boom height

As you can see in the picture below I have drawn red lines which show the seat height vs. BB height. The light blue line shows the angle of the boom. The Performer trike on the left side has a steep boom angle and the pedals are quite a ways up above the “common” seat height. The TerraTrike Rover trike on the right side has a fairly level boom with a very high seat so the pedals are down low below the seat. That is quite unusual for a recumbent tadpole trike.

seat height vs boom height comparison

It is an individual choice as well as possible need to choose the setup on the right. I am not sure what that need involves. I am thinking it is more psychological than anything. I could be wrong though. As for me, I would choose the one on the left. I say that because I don’t have the “need” of the other arrangement. And the arrangement on the right means that  performance, handling, comfort and some aspects of safety suffer … things that a tadpole trike are known for. I would not want to give those up if I didn’t have to. The bottom line here is that some folks just prefer one over the other.

I just mentioned “comfort” in the above paragraph. I want to touch on this. Before I started riding tadpole trikes I rode recumbent bicycles. I had two recumbent bicycles and both of them had the bottom bracket down low. For awhile I had both my bike and my trike. When I would go from riding my trike to riding my bike I noticed that the bike was not nearly as comfortable to ride as the trike is. (I also noticed that it wasn’t nearly as much fun to ride as my trike is.) It was a no-brainer … the trike wins! And so because my bike just sat around I eventually came to the decision that I might as well sell it. I dood it and don’t miss it at all. So for me the bottom bracket position made a big difference in comfort. The higher position of my trike got my vote.

There is one trike model that I want to point out. It is the well known Catrike 700. The pedals on it are considerably higher in comparison to the seat height than other Catrike models as well as other manufacturer models. The seat height is 8.5 inches and the BB is 17.5 inches. That is 9 inches higher. Compare that with the Catrike Expedition which has a 10 inch seat height and a 16.5 inch BB height. That is a 6.5 inch difference between the seat and the BB. So there is 2.5 inches of difference between the two models. That may not sound like all that much, but you just might be quite surprised at the difference it can make.

catrike 700 2

Just for comparison, two similar trikes, the CarbonTrike Race tadpole trike has a BB of 15.7 inches and a seat height of 7.9 inches. That is 7.8 inches difference. The ICE VTX has a boom height of 15.9 inches when fully extended and a seat height of 6.5 inches. So that is a range of 5.19 to 9.09 inches of difference.

catrike_700 seat to boom height

One thing to keep in mind for those who do a lot of hill climbing … when the trike is actually climbing a hill the BB will become even higher in relation to the seat height. That can be a problem for some people.

I will only mention here that this matter of seat vs. BB height also significantly effects the power and efficiency of pedaling. You won’t see recumbent bikes and trikes which are known to be fast with one’s legs down low. They are always up fairly high.

recumbent racing bike   recumbent bikes racing  extremely laid back 2 wheel recumbent

As stated, some people have physical issues and can’t handle the “normal” recumbent seat height and angle and the relationship with the height of the pedals. So keep this in mind and try to check into it. You sure don’t want to buy the wrong trike and discover you have a problem with this. And it is not just a matter of age. We are all different. I reckon it is a good thing that we have quite a variety of choices among trikes and their build design and features. Whatever you choose to ride here is hoping that you can …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

TADPOLE TRIKE MAKES RECORD JUMP


I am currently 68 years old. I grew up with a keen interest in bicycles, motorcycles and cars. I rode my bicycles and motorcycles a lot and had a blast doing so. I used to do a lot of off road motorcycle riding and really enjoyed it. I was pretty good at it. Although I mostly rode my motorcycles on trails I did some hill climbing, playing around on a couple of race tracks and did some jumping (although I was no Evel Knievel).  I also went to hill climbs and a lot of different kinds of motorcycle races. I saw some of the best competitors around in my day. They were very good. However, as time went along I started seeing things done on motorcycles and bicycles that were unheard of in “my day”. I am talking about jumping thru the air amazingly high and doing various tricks while flying thru the air before landing.

       motorcycle stump jumping 2  motorcycle stunt jumping 4

I am sure most of us have seen what I am talking about. Definitely the fact that the motorcycles have greatly improved suspension help enable riders to do these fantastic jumps. I figured it was just a matter of time before I would start seeing some of these same crazy wild things being done on a tadpole trike. I was right. It has started. Check out this guy …

trike-jumping-2 reduced

Some would say that he has more guts than brains. I tend to agree with that. That’s not even a suspended trike. A lot could go wrong and likely would. The result could be disastrous … even fatal. When I see individuals do things that are so very dangerous I can’t help but wonder why they would do it. To my way of thinking it is not “normal”. Flying thru the air with the greatest of ease may be okay for circus performers using safety nets, but this is altogether different. There is no safety net here and that ground below is unforgiving. I don’t think I would even care to watch stuff like this as I am not into witnessing such things when they go wrong. And things do go wrong …

motorcycle stunt jumping 3

BTW, in case you hadn’t already figured it out … this image of the trike jumping isn’t real … I created it.

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April Fools !!!

Hey, I didn’t want to break the tradition. 🙂   Well, did I fool ya? Please feel free to comment.

My suggestion is not to try doing any dangerous “trike tricks”. That way you stand a much better chance to continue to …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

For those who don’t know what April Fools Day is you can read about it here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Fools%27_Day

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/aprilfools1.html

In short is is an old custom here in the Untied States (as well as Canada, Europe, Brasil, and Australia) where we play tricks and hoaxes on each other on the first day of April.

LOVE YA’ GRANNY!


am sure many of us can say that we love our granny. Of course, I am referring to “granny gear”, not our grandmother(s) … not that we shouldn’t love our grandmother(s). Most of us probably lost our grandmothers in death long ago and many of us no doubt have lost our parents. Hey, we’re getting old! Anyway, back to ol’ granny (gear). I don’t know what I would do without her. I am pretty sure I just couldn’t make it thru life … at least not up some of the hills.

For those who don’t know what granny gear is it is the lowest gear combination … in other words when the chain is on the smallest sprocket in the front and the largest sprocket in the back.

granny gear

granny gear

When I first bought my trike it came with a 11-32 tooth rear cassette. When I replaced it I went with 11-34 and am so glad I did. Now most of the trikes I read about come with 11-34. Of course, I am talking about trikes that have an external rear derailleur and a sufficient number of gears. Most nowadays are 30 speed. I know there are trikes out there with much fewer gears … typically 8. I don’t think there is anyway I could climb the hills with that gear range. Some of them are quite challenging with my 27 speed and 34 tooth rear cog.

One thing I have never done, but thought about, is to change the small front sprocket to a smaller diameter so that I would have better hill climbing ability. If ever it wears enough to justify changing it I will probably go with a smaller one.

Another option for those with money to burn is to invest in a two speed crankset such as a Schlumpf Mountain Drive.

Schlumpf Mountain Drive

Yet another option is to employ a 3 speed internal hub on the rear wheel in addition to the derailleur system and multiple sprockets. With this setup you can shift the 3 speed internal hub while sitting still and thus change gears … something which could be very handy when you find you didn’t downshift into a lower gear but should have. That is always bad news especially when already dealing with an incline. Of course, any of these options cost money so not everybody could/would/will beat a path to a bike shop to “git-ur-dun”. It is a nice setup if you can do it.

3 speed hub with cassettes

Just think … with a 3 speed internal hub and 30 speed external that’s a total of 90 speeds. And with a two speed crank gearbox it would be 180 speeds. To be quite honest I don’t know if a 7 speed rear internal hub is available with the cassette or not. Of course, there is even a 14 speed internal hub. I doubt if these are available with the cassette but wow … what if they are … 210 speeds … 420 speeds … 840 speeds. Of course, there would be a whole lot of duplication among the gear combinations.

Well, those are some options to improve on ol’ granny. I have to settle for what I have and do my best to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN


back in the saddle again

Those who are old enough will probably remember the singing cowboy, Gene Autry, singing a song he made famous. It was his theme song. It came to mind as after not being able to ride my tadpole trike for nearly 3 weeks I took my first ride yesterday afternoon and my second ride today. It sure is good to be back riding after so much time sitting around the house not allowed to do much of anything while recovering from glaucoma surgery on my eye. I rode about 21.5 miles today … not bad for a hot summer day and some hill climbing involved.

One thing I have noticed as has a friend of mine who rides a tadpole trike … we can interrupt our riding for weeks and get right back on our trikes and ride like we never had stopped riding. We could not make that claim when we both rode bicycles. I am curious to know if anyone else agrees with this. Feel free to comment.

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FROM ORIGINAL TADPOLERIDER


was just looking thru some old email and discovered several emails of my past articles I posted on my original TADPOLERIDER BLOG.I have copied and pasted them on this page further below. Of course, they included images and videos embedded in them which are missing. Obviously with these missing it takes a lot away from the article. Never the less the text is there and of some value. I may in time try to redo all of this if I have the time and inclination. Obviously it would be very labor intensive to accomplish and I am not even sure if I could find all of these images and videos again.

*******************************************************************************************************************

BICYCLE AIR PUMPS & TIRE PRESSURE
by tadpolerider
Most recumbent tires are high pressure tires … up around 100 psi. If you don’t have an air compressor at home or in your motor vehicle I strongly recommend purchasing a floor type bicycle air pump … one designed to pump high pressure … preferably 140 or 160 psi. That way when you pump up a 100 psi tire you aren’t maxxing out the pump to accomplish it … or maxxing yourself out using it. 🙂

In fact, I suggest getting one of these pumps even if you do have an air compressor available to use as they are quite handy and practical.

Most good quality pumps nowadays have a built in guage making it very handy. I suggest checking the accuracy of the guage initially and from time to time to be sure you are getting the right pressure in the tires.

Here are a couple of examples of pumps available.

blackburn air tower 3 bike floor pump Park Tools PFP-4 Professional Mechanic Floor Pump

They can be purchased at your local bike shop. I want to emphasize that it is best to buy a good quality pump and not settle for some inferior pump at a lower cost. I don’t think you would regret paying more for a quality pump. I would also suggest that you talk to a local bike shop mechanic to get their recommedation as to what pump to buy. You could also research them online to get customer feedback.

I am not making any recommendations as to what pump to buy. I am only showing these two as examples of what is available. There are lots of different ones out there. The first pump I have pictured above is a Blackburn Air Tower 3 Bike Floor Pump rated at 160 psi. To the best of my knowledge it is a good quality pump.

The second pump I have pictured above is a ParkTool brand which normally they make pretty good quality stuff. However, the customer reviews of this pump are not all that impressive. That is surprising.

Most pumps nowadays have a dual head on them so that either Presta or Schrader valves are accommodated.

In case you didn’t know it an innertube loses air on a continual basis so it is necessary to inflate them from time to time. That’s right … air leaks right thru the rubber so they are constantly losing pressure. It is important to keep your tires inflated to the correct pressure. You will get better wear and milage out of your tires as well as make it easier to pedal along since low air pressure equates to more rolling resistance.

It is also important that you never over inflate your tires beyond what they are designed for. Doing so can result in destroying the tire and causing a major tire failure which could be disaterous at worst and leave you stranded at best.

I once put about 10 psi more in a knobby tire I used for winter riding. About 10 miles from home I noticed something which wasn’t right in the ride … a pronounced thump of sorts. I stopped and got off to look. My rear tire was literally coming apart … separating from too much pressure in it. Fortunately I was only about a half of a mile or so from a local bike shop so I made it over there and got a new tire. The tire that had just gone bad would have lasted me for several years more if I had not over inflated it.

Yes, proper tire inflation is quite important … especially if we all want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
______________________

BETTER WATCH OUT …
by tadpolerider
Better watch out, better not cry, better not pout, I’m tellin’ you why … And it ain’t got nottin’ to do with some jolly fat man. No, I am talking about something which has become a major concern … PEOPLE RUNNING RED LIGHTS!

schoolbus Redlight

On my way home from church today (June 30) I was sitting at a traffic light waiting for it to change to green so I could proceed. The light changed to green for my direction and it was clearly red the other direction when 4 more vehicles ran thru the red light. I see it every single day and the problem just keeps getting worse and worse. Whether we are walking, riding or driving it is very dangerous to just take off when the light changes to green as there are all too many of these red light runners who could very easily ruin our day if not end our lives. 3000 plus pounds of steel, plastic, etc. hurts when struck by it travelling at a pretty good clip. Some people object to the cameras taking pictures of motorists running red lights, but I am all for it. I think they ought to be at every intersection as this running red lights needs to come to a screeching halt.

no-red-light-running

These people are very dangerous! They are going to kill somebody. They should not be allowed to drive. They are as bad as someone on drugs or drunk. There is no excuse for this. This isn’t just my opinion … it is a fact! So when you are out there … BETTER WATCH OUT or you’ll be crying … or your loved ones will if you don’t survive or are crippled up for life by these careless irresponsible people . I am sure we all want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?
by tadpolerider
Now I ask ya … Do you hear what I hear?

do you hear

Sounds like a loaded question to me! And no, I am not talking about the popular Christmas song. As I ride along I hear all sorts of things. Some things are good … such as birds singing. Some things are not so good … such as mosquitoes buzzing (when I stop or slow down too much). Some things are pleasant while other things are rather unpleasant. Some things are welcome while other things are unwelcome. I mean things like … snap, crackle and pop usually are in the latter category as well as click, click, click … tick, tick … and squeal, squeal. Noises being emitted from our trikes can be and should be a concern. Right now I have a noise coming from my trike which is annoying and embarrassing. I have had a difficult time finding the cause. I was thinking it was coming from the rear cassette, but now have ruled that out. My cassette (rear sprockets) wobbles a little bit as after over 20,000 miles I have something worn inside the hub allowing this. As I pedal I hear this noise on every power stroke of the crank revolving as I push on the pedals. Just today I decided to look into the idler pulley as being suspect. I thought of it before, but more less ruled it out. A friend had another idler pulley among his “collection of parts” so I got it from him and installed it in place of my idler. That was it. Now it is as quiet as a proverbial church mouse. And yes, I am doing something about the wobble of the cassette. I have a new rear wheel ordered and am waiting on its arrival. I am not writing this to tell you about my personal problems, but rather I am using this to illustrate that we need to be listening for the various sounds out there as we pedal our way along. And we need to learn what sounds are normal and ok so that when we do hear something that isn’t we can alert to it. I suppose one could employ something like this little device to drown out such sounds, but I would not advise it.

turbospoke

Yes, some sounds are good sounds while others are not. Some need our attention. If ignored long enough we may find ourselves walking instead of pedaling along. There is nothing wrong with walking, but when we have our trikes along it presents a problem. And we all should do our best to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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BYE BYE … SEE YA ON THE NEXT HILL
by tadpolerider
Most of us have heard it said that white men can’t jump. And many of us have heard that recumbents can’t climb hills. I am not here to argue either point. I find it somewhat amusing though that between roadies and recumbents it is always a game of leapfrog. Going downhill recumbents excel and fly past the roadies leaving them far behind, but when a hill comes up it is the other way around and I do mean quickly. The roadies catch back up and fly by the recumbents. So we play “Out of my way, varmint” with each other. Here is a video showing exactly what I mean. (The sound track is quite noisy.)

 

One of the two guys I usually ride with rides a diamond frame road bike … lightweight and fast. It weighs so little that hill climbing should be a breeze. Going downhill the two of us on tadpole trikes coast and just keep accellerating away from him while he is pedaling hard and can’t keep up.

Like everything else, there are good and bad aspects … pros and cons, if you will. It is true that I slow down considerably on hills while he moves way out ahead of me. I may be riding slow, but I am riding in comfort. I don’t have to be concerned about balancing going slow. And if I get tired I can stop on the hill and rest comfortably in my seat until I am ready to resume. I don’t have to get off and walk my bike up the hill. I just pedal along in “granny gear” and easily make my way to the summit. Like I like to say … the hardest part of riding a tadpole trike is staying awake. But going downhill is thrilling enough to keep me wide awake and it is so much fun to zoom past those roadies. Out of my way, varmint! Bless their hearts! Let’s …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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“MAN, I WISH I WAS YOU!”
by tadpolerider
man, I wish I was you

Those of us who are old enough might recognize this picture as well as remember the words spoken by the driver of the station wagon to the motorcyclist. … “MAN, I WISH I WAS YOU!” This was from the TV series “Then Came Bronson”.

 

http://www.huntermotorcycles.com.au/thencamebronson2.htm

The series only aired for one year (Sept. 1969-Sept. 1970). The listing and description of episodes can be found here:

http://www.tv.com/shows/then-came-bronson/episodes/

http://www.michaelparks4u.com/

video clips:

http://www.michaelparks4u.com/then-came-bronson-page-1.html

I watched it faithfully and always enjoyed it. I was an avid motorcyclist starting from my childhood as were all of my family so I had a keen interest in this program. Why am I talking about motorcycles here on a blog about tadpole trikes you ask? Well, I am not … not really. I am just leading into to my subject which is quite similar to this picture and those words. Rarely is there a day go by when I am out riding on my tadpole trike that at least one person and sometimes several will give me a thumbs up and/or say something about how much they like my trike and would like to have one and be out riding it like I am. I am sure most of you have experienced this same thing. I hear words like: that is really neat … that is cool, man … I love it … where do/can I get one … and on and on the comments go. I have been riding my tadpole trikes long enough and all over a wide area that I am known on sight by many folks all over. They see me and say “I just saw you way over on the other side of town a little earlier today”. They even know my dog and ask where he is at if they don’t see him with me. Being retired my riding has become my daily job I go out and do. I am not travelling all over the U.S. like Bronson did, but hey, I have drivers pull up alongside of me and moreless say those same words … “MAN, I WISH I WAS YOU!” And it’s cool, man, cool! Well, I have riding to do so I am out of here. Hope you can …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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TRIKE WORK STANDS
by tadpolerider
It’s inevitable! Sooner or later our trikes need to be worked on. Some of us do at least some of the work ourselves while others are totally dependant on the local bike mechanic to make any necessary repairs or adjustments. If you happen to be one who works on your trike it is so handy to have a work stand to place the trike on. You can buy a work stand if you are rich enough (they aren’t cheap) or you can make your own. They aren’t all that hard nor expensive to make. I have made a couple of them out of PVC pipe. Depending on what trike you have and it’s design the work stand may vary in design. Of course, the really nice work stand is one which is adjustable enough to accomodate pretty much any and all brands and models. This type of stand is more complex and expensive to build, but they are really nice. One aspect of such a stand is that you will have a stand that will work with other trikes should you ever buy one different than what you have now. Another aspect is that you could accomodate someone else’s trike to work on it for them. If I did enough of this sort of thing I would fabricate one out of metal as I am a weldor /fabricatior by profession. I have never done so though as I am getting old and am just not motivated to get into it. Again, depending on the brand, model and design of the trike building a specific stand for that trike may or may not be challenging. If the frame has angles to it where the stand needs to make contact to hold it there most definitely is a bit of a challenge without having an adjustable type stand. My Catrike Trail is such a trike. All three contact areas are on an angle. Something like a TerraTrike Rover with it’s straight flat frame would be much simpler to make a work stand for. One thing to keep in mind in the design of a work stand is that it must not be in the way of any place on the trike which you would be working on. For instance it would be best if possible to avoid dealing with the chain side of the frame. There is usually nothing on the other side so to my way of thinking it would make far more sense to come in from that side. In one of the pictures I have below they have the work stand coming in from the chain side which I think would really complicate working on the chain run. (I am talking about the picture with the red Catrike up on the stand. The work stand is holding both sides of the frame on the chainstays instead of using just one holder on the main frame just forward of where they are holding it. I am sure it is more stable doing this, but again I think the work stand would be in the way.) Another thing is the work height you need. It is nice to be able to get under the trike sufficiently to perform all the work needed to be accomplished on it. However, keep in mind that you have to lift the trike up onto the stand and get it back down again. That, in itself, can be quite challenging and frustrating, especially when one is alone and doing this by themselves. And if you are short in stature like I am it is even more challenging and frustrating. One problem I have to deal with is the chain getting caught and hung up on the trike stand. Anyway, once I get the trike up on the stand I like to sit on a roll around mechanic’s chair to work on the trike which makes it considerably easier and more comfortable. If you are the only person who will ever be using the work stand than you probably can get away with having a fixed height instead of adjustable. Depending upon what work you are going to perform on the trike you may not need to place the trike way up high. You may only need to raise the front end or back end high enough off of the floor/ground for the wheels to clear so you can turn them. I have small shorter stands made to handle both ends of the trike and I use them far more than my larger taller work stand. And they are so much easier to use. The older I get the harder it is for me to use the full size work stand anyway. A full size work stand may be able to be made in two sections so that the trike can be picked up off of the floor or a table top just a little bit using the top section or all the way up using both sections. Here are some pictures of various work stands.

adjustable aluminum stand

(really nice!)

aluminum trike rack on wheels

same thing but made of PVC pipe

pvc stand

PVC pipe work stand

(similar to what I made)

Note: Where I have drawn red lines on the vertical down tubes they can be cut and couplings placed in them so that the frame can be used at this height or much shorter.

FlyingKatzStand

square tubing with length and height adjustment

square tubing trike work stand

square tubing with length and height adjustment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

folding (hinged) wooden stand

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

PVC pipe added to existing bike work stand

work stand for tadpole trike

I think you would need about 3 people to accomplish getting this up and down from this work stand.

If I had the money and resources to do it I would love to have an overhead hoist to lift the trike up and place it on the stand and back down again.

Here are some work stands which are small and only lift a short distance off of the floor/pavement.

portable fold up you can take with you

portable trike-stand

disassembled

small portable stand

another PVC concept

small trike stand

small wooden stand for front and one for back

small wooden work stands for front and back

That about covers this topic. Maybe you have come up with some idea for a trike work stand you would like to share with others. If so please send a description and picture(s) via email so they can be added to these. stevenewbauer at yahoo dot com

With proper maintenance we can all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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ORGANIZED RALLIES, RIDES and EVENTS
by tadpolerider
One of the two guys I usually ride with is away for a week right now. Every year he goes up into Michigan to participate in the PALM ride. PALM stands for Pedal Across Lower Michigan. It is an organized ride which starts at some selected point on the west side of Michigan on or near Lake Michigan and ends at a selected point on the east side of Michigan on or near Lake Erie. It lasts all week long. The route is different every year and alternates between a northern route and a southern route. Mind you when I say northern route I am still talking about lower Michigan as the ride’s name implies. This is a family oriented ride and very well organized.

http://www.lmb.org/palm/

 

There are several other various rallies, rides and events held each year around the nation. Catrike offers an annual rally including rides and a tour of their factory in Orlando, Florida. It is held in March so it is already over with for this year.

http://catrike.yuku.com/topic/6905

 

There is another rally held in Austin, Texas each year. It is called the Heart of Texas Catrike Rally. I think this year it was held at the same time as the one in Orlando was going on.

http://www.hotrally.org/home0.aspx

 

By the way, even though these are Catrike rallies other brands of tadpole trikes, delta trikes, “Florida tricycles”, 2 wheel recumbent bikes and diamond frame bikes are welcome. There are always other pedal powered cycles in attendance from what I have seen in videos and still pictures and from what I have read about the rallies.

Hostel Shoppe is hosting its 20th Midwest Recumbent Rally this August:

http://www.hostelshoppe.com/recumbent_rally.php

 

Bent Rider OnLine has a message board concerning events readers post:

http://www.bentrideronline.com/messageboard/forumdisplay.php?f=8

Here is a website concerning meeting up with other trikers and organizing rides together. I think you have to sign up to use this website. If there are none in your area you can start one here.

http://recumbtri.meetup.com/

There may be bicycle organizations in your area already, but they usually are hard core diamond frame road riders (“roadies”) who go out pedalling around 23 +/- mph average … in short, a different breed which I think most would agree that tadpole trikes don’t fit in too well.

One thing I want to mention is that most organized events require helmets to be worn on rides (including test riding trikes).

I am sure there are numerous events I have not covered as I certainly don’t know about all that many. Hopefully those of you who have an interest in this can do some digging and find out. Usually local bike shops have information on rides and events concerning cycling. And hopefully this will be helpful or at least encouraging for all of us to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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TAIN’T LIKE IT USED TO BE
by tadpolerider
Yeppur! It just isn’t like it used to be! Of course, that is both good and bad. I am talking about the bad side of it here. One of my pet peeves is contending with so many trail users that don’t obey the rules. This includes bicyclists that don’t give warning that they are overtaking others, people who take up the whole trail instead of staying over to the right hand side, dog owners that don’t have their dogs on a short leash (or even a long leash), dog owners who allow their dogs to poop right on the trail and then walk off and leave it there, trail users who throw/leave their trash along the trail instead of properly disposing of it, and the list goes on. To the best of my recollection no one ever taught me that it is wrong to litter. I can remember as a young child carrying a pop can (or other item to be discarded) for miles (yes … miles) until I came to a trash can to properly dispose of it. No one had to teach me to look before I turned around as I knew and understood that there might be someone coming along and I could cause a collision. No one had to teach me to stay to the right. Mind you I am not saying that I had never heard it said that we should do these things. What I am saying is that it is all common sense and the right thing to do. I am sure most all of us have witnessed that we live in a “tuned out society”. People walk, run, ride, drive, etc. with ear phones in their ears. In doing so many of them don’t hear anything other than what is coming thru the ear phones. As I come up behind trail users so many of them never hear me even though I say very loudly that I am coming up behind them and passing them. Of course, oftentimes I don’t know how to pass them as they or right in the middle of the trail or wandering all over the trail like they are the only one out there. People are something else! I have a very loud horn which I only use when they don’t seem to be paying any attention. Sometimes they don’t even hear it. It is amazing! And then there are groups of walkers and runners who take up the entire width of the trail and never pay any attention to others on the trail. Sometimes they seem to be reluctant to get over so others can also use the trail.

I mentioned dog owners and leashes. The rules of the trails requre dog owners to use a short leash. Long leashes have become very popular but they have no place when out on a trail. They create a real problem for bicyclists as the dogs are often a long way away from their owners and the leash is stretched out across the trail. Many many times I have had to come to a complete stop waiting for the dog owner to get their dog untder control and the trail clear so I can proceed. Even so I would rather deal with this scenerio than with dogs and their owners who refuse to use a leash as required by law. And if you dare say something to them most of them get real nasty and huffy in a heartbeat. They obviously have an attitude problem. Most of them think it is perfectly ok to disregard the leash law and allow their Fido to have free run out on the trails. I don’t know how many times I have been attacked by loose dogs or had them run or walk right over in front of my front tire. Most of the time I have managed to get stopped but not always. I have ran over dogs, I have crashed a few times upon hitting them. A couple of years ago one of my friends had a loose dog run right in front of his bike and it caused him to crash to the ground getting seriously hurt. The dog was quite ok but he paid a very high price for this dog owner’s irrepsonsibility. The owner of the dog didn’t seem to care that she caused this. He suffered in pain greatly for several months and was not able to ride his bike anymore for a long time. These people who allow their dogs to be off of a leash don’t seem to get it … just how dangerous and irresponsible it is on their part. I am a dog owner and I take my dog out on the trails. I keep him on a very short leash on my right hand side. I don’t suppose anything is going to change. Our society is what it is. And it is all part of the signs of the times as we are the Last Generation of the End Times. Nope, it just isn’t like it used to be. And as the saying goes, we are either part of the solution or part of the problem. Let’s all be responsible citizens as we …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
by tadpolerider
Currently a friend of mine who has two tadpole trikes has one of them loaned to a mutual friend so that this person can ride it and know what it is like. I talked to this mutual friend this evening and they reported the exact thing we had expected to hear … that they have now a different perspective … they know what it is like to ride a tadpole trike. They are an avid diamond frame bike rider which, of course, means that they didn’t have a clue what it is like riding a tadpole trike until now. One thing that I heard is that they didn’t feel nearly as comfortable as far as being around motor vehicles. They said that being so low they can’t see nearly as well as they can from a regular bike. They are used to making “eye contact” with drivers, but can’t from a trike. I don’t understand that as I make eye contact all the time as long as the driver is looking. Another comment I heard was when riding between a narrow pathway with a concrete wall of a bridge on one side and a metal railing on the other side it was quite uncomfortable and unnerving for them. They said that all they could see is concrete on one side and metal railing on the other side … rushing by them. Here is a picture of the exact place they were talking about. If you click on the picture it will open up into a much larger image so you can better see what I am talking about. Use your BACK button <– to get back to this page.

west jefferson blvd. bridge over st. marys river

Again, this is something I can’t identify with. Of course, I have been riding a tadpole trike for over 5 1/2 years now and have some 22,000 miles of experience riding them. But I don’t ever remember going thru what this person described to me. I guess we are all different. Anyway, most definitely we will experience differences between riding a diamond frame bike and a tadpole trike. Yes, we sit much lower which is good as we don’t have nearly as far to fall. 🙂 Another thing that was mentioned was that it was so easy to reach down and pick up a small tree branch or such off of the surface of the trail while rdiding a tadpole trike. Most definitely I agree with that. I do it daily and a lot of it. This isn’t something that a diamond frame biker can do. I am sure that some folks just don’t care to ride anything other than a diamond frame bike and that’s that. That’s fine by me as if everyone made the move to a tadpole trike then they would no longer be unique. I don’t know about you, but I kind of like riding something which is unique. I would love to see several more tadpole trikes out there, but I do hope they don’t become all too common. Now if you really want to try riding something which is truly unique build one of these:

upsidedown trike

And if you get it mastered let me know as I would like to come see you ride it. No, second thought just video it and put it on YouTube. I guarantee you would really have a different perspective riding this.

So whether you ride right side up or upside down … do your best to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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HOMEMADE TRIKES … again
by tadpolerider
Awhile back one of my postings was on building your own tadpole trike. Here is a link to that posting:

http://tadpolerider.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/building-a-tadpole-trike/

Recently I came across a YouTube video which shows the construction of a homemade trike. Here is that video:

 

Designed and manufactured in 4 months by students of the Alexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki, Greece to participate in an Erasmus program held in Antwerp, Belgium 2013.

Tadpole trike electrically assisted by BLDC motor.

Find out more about Recumbus on our facebook group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/46928

It is a nice looking trike. It appears to be made out of mild steel square tubing and so, I rather imagine it is a bit on the heavy side. It looks like it is well built and would be quite strong. There are two things I would comment about which I think are important to take into consideration when designing and building a trike. One is to have a good chain line to eliminate as much as possible multiple idler pulleys. Ideally just one idler pulley should be the goal. When I say one I am not talking about only using one idler pulley, but rather just one location. You may need two idler pulleys but at the same location … one on the tension side of the chain (top run) and one of the slack side (bottom run).

Here are a two examples of where only one idler pulley is employed and just a plastic guide tube to control the slack run of the chain.

one idler pulley with tubing

Note: In this picture above I would put a plastic guide tube on the front side of the tension chain run so it doesn’t hit or rub on the bottom of the seat and if need be extend it far enough forward so the chain can contact the crossmember.

one idler pulley with tubing 2

Note: Using just a plastic guide tube to control the bottom slack side run works, but it will probably result in a little more chain noise as well as wearing out the plastic tubing since it has to take all the action instead of an idler pulley.

And here is a picture of using two idler pulleys at just one location:

Chain Line on ActionBent

I personally think this is superior to using only a plastic guide tube on the bottom slack side run.

The other suggestion is to try to keep the idler pulley(s) tucked up high enough that you won’t have it/them striking on anything below if you go over something sticking up. Riding down over a curb, bollard pipe ring or tree stump with an idler pulley sticking down too far can be bad news.

By the way, common sense dictates that cables also be kept tucked up high enough so they don’t snag on anything. I have seen several trikes with cables hanging way down low just waiting to snag on something. They can usually be tied up using a plastic cable tie. Just be cafeful that you don’t tie them up too tight as it could interfere with the way the cable functions.

There is not much you can do about a rear derailleur sticking down way low so you just have to watch out for hazards to it.

Indeed if one has the skill, knowledge, money and resources a great trike can be produced. Building your own trike may provide you with a great trike, but one thing which you will have as a result is very little value to it if and when you go to sell it. It is kind of sad as oftentimes something which is custom made is better quality than something factory made.

A friend built a full suspension trike of chrome moly steel. It had drum brakes and a beautiful powder coated paint job. This picture doesn’t do it justice.

left side view

Later on he tried to sell it and after some time attempting to do so he found that he couldn’t get much at all out of it so he ended up just parting it out which resulted in a little bit more money. I had the same experience when I tried to sell mine. It took a long time and when I finally did sell it I couldn’t get more than about half of what I paid for the materials involved to make it.

When I built my trike I had little money or resources so I used cannibalized parts off of diamond frame bikes (known as donor bikes). It was not the finished product I would have liked to have produced, but it was quite functional. I used caliper brakes which didn’t work very well compared to disk or drum brakes, but again, it was all I could afford.

Of course, most of us buy our trikes from a manufacturer. Whether you make your trike or buy it from a manufacturer hopefully it will serve you well and you will be able to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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OBSTRUCTIONS WE MUST DEAL WITH
by tadpolerider
Obstructions in the pathways just seem to be a necessary evil when it comes to cycling. Here is the United States all I have ever had to deal with thus far are fairly easy to negotiate. We mostly have “bollards” and some staggered gates or half gates … just enough to keep out a larger vehicle. Some of the bollards are spaced fairly far apart, but some are much closer together. They can be challenging so paying close attention to them is of the upmost importance.

bollards on bike trail

Try very hard not to hit any of these as they don’t budge. To be direct, they aren’t at all user friendly. People have hit them and lived to tell about it, but it really isn’t worth the risk. They are controversial indeed. Just ask Ian Redmond …

http://arbroath.blogspot.com/2010/12/camouflaged-bollards-caused-cyclist-to.html

Ian Redmond bollard crash victim

There are several stories about injuries sustained from running into these bollards.

bollard wreck re-enactment

By the way, they also have some which are removable or are hinged and fold down so maintenance vehicles can get past them. These are even more dangerous as they can really get you since they may not be as obvious.

bollard laid down

removable bollard

We have some like this around here. I think they are very hazardous. I have seen bicyclists run over the pipe ring sticking up above ground when the pipe bollard is removed.

I have taken white spray paint and marked the surface of the trail like this to make these types of hazards more noticible:

removable bollard painted

It definitely helps immensely.

So again I caution you concerning bollards. They can mess up your day!

Tadpole trike rider Nigel Pond hales from England. In one of his YouTube videos I saw for the first time what is known as “kissing gates”. I had never seen or heard of them before. We may have them here in the U.S. but not around where I live. Anyway, they are a real pain in the butt to deal with. Here is a video I made up of excerpts of his video showing what they go thru to ride where these gates are at:

 

There are also a couple of other “obstructions” shown which cyclists must deal with. The very last one shown makes me think that the place of business is trying to discourage business from cyclists coming off of the trail.

Here is another type of obstruction (staggarded fixed railings) we find on trails:

fixed meta railings 2

And here is another one of Nigel’s videos showing him dealing with yet a different obstruction:

 

(Note: I removed the original sound tracks from

Nigel’s videos and replaced them with music)

Like I said, these obstructions are a necessary evil although I question some of them as they appear to be more than would be needed to accomplish the task. Certainly we don’t want cars and motorized 4 wheelers getting onto the trails. Be careful out there and in doing so you can …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

P.S. – Here is a handy tip which if you haven’t ever noticed or given thought to it may come in very handy. When you find yourself riding along and about to ride over something of concern on the surface of the ground and there is no time to steer way over to avoid it as long as it isn’t too wide just steer so that you are directly over it with one of your pedals and all three wheels should miss it. As long as it isn’t too high to where your frame or something else protruding down low strikes it you should be in good shape.
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MEETING UP WITH OTHER TRIKERS
by tadpolerider
Riding a tadpole trike is a whole lot of fun and, of course, great exercise. For me personally I really enjoy it when I can ride with other tadpole trikes. Normally I only have one other tadpole trike rider that I ride with as we just can’t seem to get any others interested in getting together to ride. It is always a bit exciting to meet up with others on tadpole trikes. Most definitely more and more cyclists are buying them. I read about it and I am seeing it. The problem is after seeing them initially I seldom see them out there actually riding them. It is my understanding that this is not an unusual problem as others report the same thing … even in a big metropolitan area. I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe there isn’t one. As I am riding along and I see another tadpole rider I have never met I try to stop hoping they will do the same so that we can meet each other. I reckon I need to be thankful for the one tadpole rider I have I ride with most days. We also have a mutual friend who rides with us on a diamond frame road bike. We keep hoping he will get a tadpole trike, but so far no luck.

Anyway, I will ride by myself and often do … especially thru cooler weather when my friends won’t go out. But most definitely it is more fun to ride together with others.

When riding together … close together … we need to exercise extreme caution and be extra careful so that we don’t cause a wreck among ourselves. I think one of the biggest concerns is “paying attention” and being ready to do whatever is needed to avoid accidents. We need to watch out for each other in various ways. Whenever I ride with others if I see a car, truck, bus, motorcycle, bicyclist, pedestrian (walking, running, skating, etc.) I shout out to tell my friends in case they haven’t spotted them. We use simple common terms such as “car left”, “walker up” or “bike back”. I am a firm believer in obeying the rules of the trails and giving others on the trails the required notification that I am coming up behind them and will be passing them. Sadly there are all too many cyclists on the trails who fail to do this and give other trail users a bad image of cyclists. It is a matter of common decency, common courtesy, and common sense. Some folks lack in all of these. By the way, this should not just be something done riding on trails, but rather it should be done anywhere that we are riding and dealing with others. If you are not already doing this, I plead with you to start doing so.

Yes, meeting up with other cyclists, especially tadpole trike riders is something I get excited about and welcome. But there is one trike rider I don’t want to meet up with …

grim readper triker

So I suggest to all of us that we do all we can to avoid seeing this guy out there. In doing so we can all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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LEARNING TO RIDE A TADPOLE TRIKE
by tadpolerider
Steve on new trike at Foster Park

So easy it is like falling off of a bicycle. Well, maybe that is a bad metaphor to use here. Earlier today I stumbled across another website with an article about learning to ride a recumbent trike.

http://www.easystreetrecumbents.com/articles/2010/03/learning-to-ride-a-recumbent-tricycle/

It is pretty well written and funny. I think you will enjoy it. I won’t bother repeating what was covered in this article.

One thing that was not mentioned (which I will) is concerning the matter of doing the “stoppie” which was described and illustrated. If your trike tilts far enough forward you can literally dig your front sprocket down into the surface of the ground you are riding on. In doing so it is possible to damage it.

Another thing which is not mentioned is the fact that for anyone new at riding a recumbent bike or trike they will find that different muscles are used in the legs and belly than those used riding a conventional diamond frame bike. It may take a week or two for these muscles to get used to this new riding position and meanwhile the rider may experience a little soreness.

For anyone who does not know/understand the physics involved or has not found out for themselves it is most dangerous to lean over toward the outside of a curve when cornering at too high of a speed. It most always results in a wreck. Always lean to the inside of the curve. In doing so watch out for anything along the side your face might smack into. To simplify matters when cornering at a rate of speed too fast to negotiate the curve safely by sitting upright (normal seated position) … when turning left lean to the left and when turning right lean to the right. It is not rocket science, but hey, there are people who do just the opposite. Hopefully they all live to tell about it. Tadpole trikes are a blast to ride, but in riding one we need to be careful we don’t “blast off”.

I would definitely advice anyone new at riding a tadpole trike to go easy and don’t try anything on it which could prove disasterous until you are well familiar with riding it and what both it and you are capable of. Both tadpole trikes and their riders share something in common. Both have their limitations.

For sure we all want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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HELP!!!!!
by tadpolerider
If you are fortunate enough to have bicycle trails near you that you can ride on I hope you appreciate it and realize that it takes a lot of money and effort to build and maintain them. Money is always in the forefront and even moreso in recent years with the bad economy being forced upon us by our national governmental leaders and international bankers. Without money available the building of new trails and upkeep of current existing trails is hurting.

new haven rivergreenway trail

A key part of the upkeep is accomplished thru volunteers. Most trail systems have some sort of organized volunteers to serve in various capacities. Here in Fort Wayne, Indiana where I live we have the “Greenway Ranger” program as well as the adopt a section of thr trail program. I am one of about 90 greenway rangers. On our trail system each of us is responsible for a half mile section of the trail. A few have one mile sections. Our job is to help the management of the trails by informing them of anything that needs attention. We pick up litter keeping the trails in good shape. Broken glass is one of the biggest problems out there on the trails. We live in a day and age where there are people who seem to get their kicks out of breaking glass on the trails, streets and sidewalks where they know bicyclists ride over it. I clean up most of it myself which I come across, but occasionally I call it in instead. We help other trails users providing them with helpful information about the trails and provide assistance if they are experiencing mechanical problems and need help. Some of us pick up tree branches off of the trails and even trim various types of vegetation growing along the trails. There are a few of us who ride the entire trail system and cover much of it on a daily basis. We help with the entirety of the trails not just our assigned section which is a very big help to the management folks. I was already doing most of this before I officially joined the volunteer program. I am sure most people who use the trails don’t have a clue what all goes on to keep the trails in condition to use. I am telling you this because there is a great need for volunteers and it is something many more need to get involved in. In doing so you help make it possible for everyone to use the trails. You many not get a lot of expression of gratitude from others as like I said, I don’t think most trail users have a clue what all is involved to keep the trails open and in good condition for their use. I got a chuckle out of a bicyclist passing by on the trail earlier today when myself and my two friends I ride with stopped to trim back some bushes which were growing out over the trail. When he saw us there he apparently thought something was wrong and asked this as he rode by. I thought it was pretty obvious what we were doing, but that is exactly what I am talking about … others not having a clue. I bet if you were to listen carefully you would hear your local trail system hollering out … “HELP!!!! I need help!” Please consider volunteering. With enough of us doing our part we can all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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BEING HELD CAPTIVE
by tadpolerider
You might be asking yourself … “now what in the world is this guy talking about?” Well, I will tell ya. (I don’t want you to be in suspense.) Recently I watched a YouTube video and in doing so it provided this subject matter for today’s posting. Here is the video posted by Nigel Pond in England (his wife had an accident running off of the side of the road while clipped into the pedals on her two wheel diamond frame bike)(I am glad she didn’t get hurt):

 

(Nigel- ya gotta get her on a tadpole trike and away from that diamond frame:)

Yes, I am talking about shoes which clip into pedals.

clip in shoes comparison

Some people love them and won’t ride without them. Others like myself have mixed opinions concerning them. As for me when we are talking about riding on just two wheels there is no way I would ever use them. I think one is just asking for this very thing to happen. It is dangerous! Let common sense prevail!

I know there are those who want to use the clips to enable them to pull the pedal back as they push on the pedal on the other side thus increasing their efficiency, power and speed. I won’t get into this here as I just don’t ‘get into it’ myself.

When it comes to using clip in shoes with a trike it obviously is safer that it is with only two wheels. And another factor of concern while riding a trike is the matter of one’s foot coming off the pedal onto the ground and having the foot and leg end up under the trike where serious injury could result. I am always aware of this while riding. In nearly 22,000 miles of riding my trikes I have never had this happen, but I know it could. I have tried the clip in shoes on my trike. I think there are pros and cons using them on a trike. My biggest concern is not being able to release my shoes (feet) if something goes terribly wrong such as tipping over or upside down. Even worse yet is being involved in an accident where serious injury occurs and having the shoes clipped into the pedals. It would be unlikely that the rider would be able to get the shoes released which would add greatly to the situation at hand. And unless a passerby/first responder knows and understands clip in shoes they would not know how to release them. Releasing them while seriously injured would quite possibly add further pain and suffering (maybe even further injury) to the rider. If you have never experienced tipping over on your trike then you probably can’t identify with the concerns I speak of here.

By the way, unless things have changed since I bought my clip in shoes they are quite expensive and are only made in fairly narrow (regular) widths for that price. If you have a wide foot (I do) they are astronomically expensive to the point that I can’t afford them.

There are other options …

strap pedal

homemade foot straps 004

There are straps such as these homemade ones or they can also be purchased. Personally I would choose this concept over clip in shoes. This does the job sufficiently as far as keeping your feet from slipping off the pedal and going down onto the ground. And it does so without the element of one’s feet being trapped held captive and not being able to get free. I don’t know about you, but this just makes a whole lot more sense to me.

Here are a couple which can be purchased:

hakenpedal_zub

pino_hakenpedale_zub

Here are some other ones:

heel holder

lowboot

Rifton-featureshooknloop-pedal straps

My concern here is not being able to release the straps should something bad happen. And these would be harder to fasten one’s feet in that the shoes that clip into pedals.

And there is always the old toe clip type I used as a kid:

toe_clip_on_pedal

and a newer type …

pedal straps

They would help, but obviously they would not be as safe as the one which holds the heel of the shoe.

As with so many things it is a personal choice. We all should do as we feel we should. Just be aware that things could go terribly wrong with either choice. I think the bottom line is to ride defensively and always exercise caution. “Hot dogging” can be fun, but it can also be very dangerous and not worth the risk.

In closing, I have had a couple of people say that I am very opinionated. All I can say to that is yes, I am … and so is everybody else. We just have varying opinions. And some folks don’t like hearing the opinions of others … especially if they don’t happen to line up with their own opinion.

So whether you choose to use some sort of device to help keep your feet on the pedals or you ride without any … here is hoping we can all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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NOW YOU STAY!!!
by tadpolerider
There is a joke about a woman who drives her car into the parking lot at a shopping center to do a bit of shopping. A man nearby sees her exit her vehicle and then turn toward the car pointing her finger saying “Now you stay!” Thinking she is talking to her car he says to her … “Lady, why don’t you just put it in ‘park’?” What he couldn’t see from his vantage point is the small dog seated inside the car which the lady was talking to.

Now that has absolutely nothing to do with tadpole trikes, but I thought it was appropriate to lead into what I want to discuss here … some means of getting our trikes to ‘stay’ when we dismount and leave them unattended. If you have an ICE trike the manufacturer took care of the matter for you by providing a parking brake. (At least all of them I have seen have them.) The rest of us … not so good. We have to come up with some means of keeping our trikes where we leave them. Catrike provides a velcro strap which I used for quite some time. They work good, but are a pain in the neck to use in my opinion.

parking brake velcro strap

I have also used a heavy duty rubber band of sorts to wrap around the twist grip and hook both ends around the brake lever. This worked pretty good, but again it was a bit of a pain to use.

There are locking parking brake levers which also work, but again in my opinion, are a bit of a pain to use.

locking brake lever kicked out

They require two hands to engage the lock. Even so I would probably use one of these if I could, but I have a problem which prevents me from going this route. I need brake levers with long levers and all the brake levers I see now days are too short. Because of my physical size I have to have my handlebars adjusted out as far as I can place them. In doing so the brake levers get quite close to the fenders/tires making the brake levers difficult to use if they are too short. I had to replace my brake levers that came on my Catrike with some longer lever ones I had on hand.

I finally came up with something which works great for me. It isn’t the most attractive thing, but it is highly functional and I can operate it using just one hand.

new parking brake off

above: parking brake off

below: parking brake on

new parking brake on

I simply use a plastic cable tie to hook over the end of my brake lever. I have to use additional cable ties to hold my main one in place so it is always in postition to be used to apply the brake for parking. When I pull the brake lever the cable tie moves upwards far enough to clear the brake lever and release it. It also stays up out of the way so there is no danger of it coming back down onto the lever locking the brake when not wanted. One thing I will say is that it is important to keep an eye on the condition of the plastic cable tie as you wouldn’t want it to fail while you were away from your trike. I have replaced mine a couple of times since I first started using this means. (By the way, pardon how nasty my fender, fender mount bracket and tire look in these pictures. I had been riding thru some mud and it all needed to be washed off.)

Regardless of what means you use to keep your trike from departing the scene without you aboard I hope you can always …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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SO WHO IS THE REAL BENT RIDER?
by tadpolerider
“They” call those of us who ride a recumbent bike or trike a “bent rider”. Of course, the “bent” comes from the last syllable of the word recumBENT. Never the less, just take a look at this picture and tell me who is the rider who is bent?

leaning forward

EWWWW!!! … it hurts just looking at this riding position. Now that is a real bent rider! I can remember those days and many many thousands of miles leaning forward like that. I don’t miss it at all. I call this a torture machine!

Then there are bikes which allow the rider to sit a little more upright …

Comfort Bicycles 2

They are called “comfort bicycles”. Somewhat better but certainly not my idea of comfort. I went this route modifying my handlebars so I could sit more upright. It helped but certainly wasn’t the answer. I finally moved into recumbent bikes (2 wheels) where I discovered comfort on a bike.

This is much much better …

recumbent bike rider 2

But there just isn’t any comparison to this …

Glenn Frank on his TerraTrike

Ah, yes, now this is comfort! The hardest part about riding this machine is staying awake. 🙂 And they are just so much fun to ride. There is no way I would go back to riding my 2 wheel recumbent bike. I don’t miss it at all.

By the way … This is a picture of Glenn Frank who hails from Orange County, CA. Hi Glenn! If you have never done so I invite you to check out Glenn’s great videos on his YouTube channel …

http://www.youtube.com/user/dregerclock/videos?view=0

When it comes to the matter of comfort on a scale of 1 to 10 I rate a road bike at 2 and a tadpole trike at 9. I know that there are die hard diamond frame cyclists out there who swear by their road bikes, mountain bikes, comfort bikes, etc. That’s ok. If everybody wanted to ride a tadpole trike it would get a whole lot more crowded out there. I have to admit though, I don’t think I would miss hearing all the complaining about how much their bodies hurt as a result of riding their torture machines. That is what you have when you are a real “bent rider”. As for me I plan to just …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

(in extreme comfort)
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PICK UP STICKS!!!
by tadpolerider
… FIVE, SIX, PICK UP STICKS!!!

Pick Up Sticks

Those are words to a childrens’ song. I never played the game of pick up sticks, but I have heard of it. Children have fun playing games, but for us adults it can be an altogether different experience. But I am not talking about the game of ‘pick up sticks’, but rather I am talking about picking up sticks. And the sticks I am talking about are those laying down on the ground we ride over. If you have not experienced the joy of running over a stick and having it flip up into your spokes and/or rear derailleur you just haven’t lived. About 2 or 3 years ago I had the bad fortune of running over a stick which went into my rear wheel taking out a few spokes and pretty much trashing my rear derailleur and hanger where it attaches. I normally try to watch pretty carefully the surface I am riding on, but on this occasion I was riding on a sidewalk and looking out into the street at the traffic situation as I needed to cross the street. Consequently I didn’t see the stick and upon my trike making contact with it it flipped up into my rear wheel and right over into my rear derailleur. I was not a happy camper needless to say. I managed to straighten it out well enough to shift fairly well so I could ride it home, but I could never get it tweaked in enough to shift precisely so I ended up having to buy all new parts … some $90 or so. Fortunately I am able to do my own mechanical work. Otherwise this would have resulted in a whole lot more expense. What I am trying to say it … WATCH OUT FOR THOSE STICKS!!! THEY CAN GET YA! Even if they don’t go into your wheels/derailleur they can quite literally smack you a good one or even flip up into your face. Getting hit in the eye could be disasterous. (Remember what happenedd to Steve Irwin … it was no stick that took his life, but hey, who knows what a stick could do to us?) I have been hit by sticks flipped up and it can hurt. I always pick them up and throw them off of the pavement so bicyclists (including myself) don’t have to deal with them.

broken branches on ground

Do you best to avoid them and hopefully you will be able to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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BUILDING A TADPOLE TRIKE
by tadpolerider
For those who have or are considering making their own tadpole trike I offer this posting. I speak from experience as I made my very first tadpole trike back in November of 2007. Here is a picture of it:

Luke 3 months old

A lot of research went into doing so as these critters are more complex than many probably realize. The steering geometry is critical (with various compound angles between the kingpins and axles) as is the rider’s weight distribution ratio between the front and rear axles. If you get any of this off you will have problems and they could be serious problems … resulting in a bad crash where the rider could get injured or killed. So if you are going to build a tadpole trike be sure you know what you are doing and get it right. The trike I made rode and handled flawlessly at all speeds so I did something right. That being said, if I had it to do over again I would most definitely make some changes. Oh, I wouldn’t change any of these things I am talking about as being critical. The changes I would make would be in the design of the frame. It is a minor thing but important to me. I never made any more trikes so I never got into making any changes that came to mind after making this first one. I had thought about trying to modify this frame, but decided against it and just used it as is. I rode it over 2000 miles before I bought my 2009 Catrike Trail. And, in case you are wondering, I had approximately $600 in material costs. I used various parts off of about 3 “donor bikes” otherwise I would have had more cost than this involved.

I am not here to talk about my homemade trike. Instead I just want to provide some resources to make it easier to accomplish such a project. I have found that many of the links on the webpage(s) I have saved in My Favorites no longer work so be aware of this. There are some that still do however. This seems to be all too common on the ever changing world wide web. And this was, afterall, from 2007.

“Build Your Own Recumbent Trike”

Written By Rickey M. Horwitz

http://www.ihpva.org/Projects/PracticalInnovations/index.html

———————–

http://www.ihpva.org/Projects/tstrike/building/index.htm

(mostly dead links, but some work)

———————–

Ackerman Steering

http://www.eland.org.uk/steering.html

———————–

Thorough Look at the Design of Trikes

http://www.hellbentcycles.com/trike_projects/Recumbent%20Trike%20Design%20Primer.pdf
———————-
Some Trikes Others Have Built

http://www3.sympatico.ca/bowden10/20Design%20Primer.pdf

There are plans you can buy to build from or, if you are like me, you may want to create your own from scratch. Of course, the choice of materials come into play … anything from mild steel to chrome moly to aluminum to carbon fiber. Obviously mild steel is the most common material and cheapest and easiest to work with. It is also the heaviest and that is undesirable. Even so if one goes about it carefully even mild steel can be used to create a trike that does well and doesn’t weigh all that much. 40 pounds is certainly within the scope of things if one works at it. Many factory made trikes weigh in the upper 30s and I am talking chrome moly or aluminum. One thing I would most defintely advice against is attempting to bolt or rivet the pieces together. Everything that can be should be welded. If you can’t weld then I would encourage you to hire someone who can to do it for you. Using bolts is never a good way to go as they come loose or break and therefore allow movement which is very undesirable. You might start off tight, but I assure you that any bolted/riveted joint will loosen as time goes by and you will regret going this route. So if you have a hankerin’ to build your own I encourage you to go for it. I hope this posting helps you in doing so. Whether you ride a homemade trike or a factory made one let’s all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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MOTORIZED TADPOLE TRIKES
by tadpolerider
I sort of got myself in trouble awhile back writing about this subject when I was posting on the Trike Asylum blog. I expressed my opinion and there were some folks who didn’t like it. So I won’t repeat myself here as I am not out to upset and anger people. In this posting I simply want to share what some folks are doing with their tadpole trikes in this realm of motorizing. I think we all know that electric motors can develop significant torque which means they can make a trike quite fast. Here are some examples.

Zero to 44 mph Real Quick

 

High Powered Electric Trike Attacks Twisties

 

KMX E-trike on the dyno – 88.5 mph

 

Pretty impressive, huh? I don’t know about you, but 44 mph would be plenty fast on a tadpole trike. Even that could be frightening … especially if something went wrong (and it doesn’t take much)! I am sure it is thrilling, but it most definitely adds a degree of danger to it all. It looks like it would be all too easy to wrap yourself around a telephone pole or tree, etc. I think I will stick with pedaling … thank you just the same. And then maybe I can …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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LET’S GO SHOPPING
by tadpolerider
Let’s go shopping? Yes, let’s go shopping and running errands using our tadpole trikes. I do it all the time and save on gas not driving a car or truck to where I am going. I am sure some of you do as well. Wouldn’t it be nice if more and more people would do this? We not only would save money, but in the process we would accomplish much more … get exercise, less pollution, save wear and tear on our cars/trucks, take money away from the Middle Eastern terrorists they in turn use to attack and destroy us, etc. (I just had to throw that last one in there. It is true you know!?) Here in the United States we don’t have nearly as many human powered vehicles being used for such transportation and commonplace errands. Although I have not been there I have seen pictures of places where bicycles are used in great numbers to get around. Here is a picture of one such place.

one busy bike parking lot

I count two or three at least … but not a single tadpole trike … Oh well, it’s their loss!

I use a quick detachable basket which sits atop of my rear rack to place items into.

my headrest reduced

my taillites

It has a bail type handle so that the basket can be carried into the store and used as a shopping basket to place items into. I have never removed my basket to take it into any store to use it like this, but the option is there. I also sometimes use a cargo net to help hold items in securely. With this setup I can readily remove the basket and just use my rear rack if I want to which lightens the weight of the trike obviously. However, I have found the basket so handy that I hardly ever remove it. Sometimes when I have removed it I then regretted not having it when I wanted to haul something. I also use the basket to haul my dog around in it. That was what I originally bought it for. I placed a thin piece of wood in the bottom with a piece of carpet on top of it for the dog to sit/stand on making it much more comfortable and safer for him.

little miami trail apr 9, 2011 steve & luke cropped

There are lots of differnent options available to haul stuff in/on. There are larger and deeper baskets than what I use. There are panniers and other bags of various sizes and shapes.

If you have not used your trike to go shopping I encourage you to do so if you can safely accomplish such a mission. I am sure there are those who don’t feel safe trying to ride from home to stores in your area. Whatever the case may be …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!!!
by tadpolerider
I think I will just take one at a time starting with Lights. I am a firm believer in good lights front and rear as well as highly visible safety flags which will help people see a tadpole trike. I seldom ride after dark so my concern is being seen by motorists in the daytime. Like so many other items one could mention there are lots of different lights available to purchase for both front and rear. Some aren’t worth a plug nickel while others work great. I think three things need to be considered when it comes to which light is purchased. First and most important is how bright is it? Second is does it offer a strobe/flash mode? Third is battery life (and how many batteries and what size)? I have seen lights that are bright initially, but eat up batteries and go dim long before they should. And they use twice as many batteries as the lites I use. I personally use a 1 watt Planet Bike Blaze headlite and two 1/2 watt Planet Bike SuperFlash taillites. I also have two other flashing taillites I can turn on if needed so I am really lit up with all four flashing. Normally I only have the two Planet Bike taillites in use though. Here is a picture of the back of my trike. It is sitting up in the bed of my pick up truck.

my taillites

Pardon My Dust

(it is silt from the rivers flooding over the trails I ride on)

planet bike 1 watt headlight

One Watt Blaze Headlite

 

planet bike .5 watt super flash taillight

1/2 Watt SuperFlash Taillite

 

I am not going to say that they are the best you can buy because I know they are not. However, for the money I think they are hard to beat. Planet Bike offers these same lights in double the power. Of course, they cost more. And personally in my opinion they are not all that much brighter when comparing them side by side. I use all of these on strobe/flash mode and I am always hearing people tell me they saw my lights from far away. Since the headlite is to help motorists see you I suggest when riding in the day time that you have the headlite pointed slightly upwards so the light is pointing at their eye level and not down toward the ground like you would have it at night to illuminate your path. I suggest shopping around for these lights online as I have seen quite a price variation. I have found them really cheap at times. Full price expect to pay about $50 for the headlite and $25 for the taillite. If you don’t have a headlite and taillite(s) I encourage you to invest in them. If not these from Planet Bike then buy some other brand. They could very well save your life. With their help you can …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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WHAT’S IN YOUR BAG?
by tadpolerider
As we take off on our triking adventures do we give thought to what we are taking along with us? I do, but I see others all the time that go pretty much empty handed. What if? Yes, what if they have a flat tire and are miles away from anywhere? What if they have an accident or come across someone else who has had one and need some medical attention? What if something breaks on their trike or again on someone else’s ‘ride’ that they may come across? Carrying things along like tubes, tools, plastic cable ties, bungee cords, roll of electrical tape, first aid kit, etc. can be the difference between being stranded or bleeding or just not being equipped to help someone else in dire need. I have saved the day for others a few times by having such things with me. Yes, it adds extra weight to carry around, but there is great wisdom in doing so. I carry along much more than these things. I carry a folding saw, pruning shears, chain oil, extra batteries, extra chain links, master links, umbrella, rain poncho, small hand broom and dustpan, maps, a sticky note writing pad, pen, plastic tableware, plastic shopping bags, and more. And I use it all from time to time. As a Greenway Ranger I cut tree limbs which have come down onto or sticking out over the trails. I clean up broken glass. That’s why I carry some of these extra things I listed. For anyone embarking on a long ride (a trike journey) carrying at least one extra tire along would be prudent. One of the folding tires would be better than nothing. Maybe a roll of duct tape would be a good idea as well. I was never a boy scout, but I believe in being prepared. I certainly am not suggesting that everyone take along all these items I mentioned which I have with me. However, the first group of things I mentioned (in italics) I think would be a given. Yes, there is great wisdom in doing so. And in doing so you will be able to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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Pretty Neat Stuff
by tadpolerider
We live in a day and age where we have some pretty neat stuff available to us. In God’s Word (the holy scriptures, the bible) the prophet Daniel in writing about the End Times tells us that knowledge will increase and life will be a fast and furious pace (Daniel 12:4). We certainly see it. Here is an informative video on the fulfillment of this prophecy.

 

If you want to watch part 2 click on this link:

I am going somewhere with this so please bear with me. As I have stated upfront this blog is about tadpole trikes so I try to keep that in mind in my postings. Some things actually are all new and improved while others may be new but not necessarily improved. I can think of various examples of the latter. However, when it comes to tadpole trikes I would readily admit that they come under the former … all new and improved. Here is picture proof:

1st tadpole trike

old

ICE Vortex

new

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to tadpole trikes I will take the new anyday over the old … at least as far as riding goes. I suppose the old is worth more monetarily.

I was laying in bed sleeping away when I woke up and this subject matter was on my mind. I hadn’t come up with anything yet to post today and had prayed about it. What first came to mind I haven’t got to yet. I have stated before in earlier postings that I ride mostly on paved trails. Oftentimes I have taken advantage of today’s technology and checked out trails while sitting at home behind my computer. I not only look them up and read about them, but I have looked at their location on maps. Even neater than this is looking at them on satellite images. And even neater than looking at them from afar I can actually zoom in and get right down almost onto them and follow along them like I was riding on them. Using Google Earth I have ridden several trails like this ahead of time before I actually physically rode them. And there are several I have ridden like this that I have never been to and probably never will. I think that is neat. I have checked out other stuff nearby. For instance, I have looked up locations of restaurants so that when I along with a friend or two go there I know where to go to eat while we are out riding the trails.

Another example that comes to mind is tires. In the old days I found myself dealing with flats all the time. That is past history, I haven’t had to deal with flats for a year and a half now. I finally wised up and started using Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and just ride … no more flats. I don’t miss not having flats. It is just another example of all new and improved. With this technology I can …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

(and you can too)

But right now it is 4 AM and I am going back to bed!
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GET ACQUAINTED WITH YOUR DERAILLEURS
by tadpolerider
Derailleurs are a complex mystery and intimidating to many. I would like to try to change that. May I introduce you to your derailleurs (those of you who have them)? Yes, let’s demystify them and I think you will agree that they are not as intimidating as many of us think.

An incorrectly adjusted rear derailleur can cause mis-shifts, grinding gear changes, chain skips (automatic shifting), and can lead to premature wear of the your drivetrain.

(My Note: Make sure your chain is in good shape … not worn out, no bad/tight links, properly lubricated, etc. as this will cause havoc with your derailleurs and shifting. The same is true of the sprockets. The chain and sprockets all wear out and need to be replaced from time to time. Also it is always possible that the derailleurs or hanger are bent/twisted and this will likewise mess up the shifting.)

There are already many many videos and articles available on the subject of how derailleurs work and how to adjust them. Here is a link to YouTube videos about this: http://goo.gl/l1QDb

I personally take issue with all of these instructional videos as I don’t agree that these work with tadpole trikes. I am only speaking for myself mind you, but I have spent good money at bicycle shops where ‘professional mechanics’ adjusted my shifting. Never once did their work last very long … sometimes not even testing it out in their parking lot. Every single time I have had to redo it and every single time that I did redo it it worked right afterwards. (I have witnesses.) I have tried to talk to mechanics about this subject, but none of them listened to me. Afterall, they are the ‘professionals’ and I am only a ‘backyard mechanic’ who couldn’t possibly know more than they do. I don’t argue with them, but I don’t spend my money having them do this only to have to redo it myself shortly afterwards. There is a procedure to go thru which works every time for me. Following is an article I discovered a few years ago and I swear by it … it works! I have added a few of my own notes to it.

http://www.howtofixbikes.ca/2006/07/adjusting-your-derailleur.html

Adjusting Your Derailleurs

“One of the main problems that I find on every single bike that comes through my shop is that the derailleurs are out of adjustement. The derailleur is that thing in the front and back of the chain drive that “derails” the chain into it’s proper place. Now, don’t bother fidling with the thing as it is, let’s start fresh.

(My Note: AMEN TO THAT! This is where the professional mechanics blow it in my opinion and why their work never works. Maybe what they do will get them by on a mountain or road bike, but on a tadpole trike it just doesn’t. At least that has been my experience.)

FIRST: Unscrew the cables from their attachement on the derailleurs. Bring the shifters back to their dead position, that’s when there is no pull on the cable and make sure that all the cable housing adjustment screws on the shifters and/or derailleurs are screwed back in to their original position(more on that later).

(My Note: Without any cable hooked up or involved the derailleur is aligned under the smallest sprocket (front and rear). It has a spring in it which holds it in this postition. With a cable hooked up a derailleur moves the chain from the smaller sprocket onto the larger sprocket when the cable is pulled.)

SECOND: Now with everything deconnected, turn the pedals and the chain should come to rest in the last position gear on the outside of the wheel and at the first one closest to the frame on the chain ring. That’s because the system works by pulling on the devices with the cable. If you are not at the last gear on the wheel and the first one at the chain ring, you have already found a problem. You have two screws on every derailleur, one to adjust the last gear (My Note: smallest sprocket):”H” and one to adjust the first gear (My Note: largest sprocket):”L”. This is the same on every derailleur, adjust that screw by going clockwise to move the derailleur in and counterclockwise to move it out. Careful, in the rear one you could end up with the chain in between the wheel and the frame (My Note: which could result in damaging the spokes), go slowly.

THIRD: Now that your derailleurs are adjusted properly at their last position gear, reinstall the cable. Make sure there is no slack in the cable. (My Note: make sure the cables are seated into the ferrules/adjusting screws all the way. Also make sure the cable run is as straight a shot as possible onto the screw which clamps the cable in place. Don’t have the cable going down under where the cable would be on an angle.) Now turn the pedals and click in the first position for the rear derailleur, it should go into the next available gear. Not doing that? Don’t worry, remember that adjustement screw on the cable housing? Now start to unscrew it slowly while turning the pedals. This will stretch the cable a little bit at a time. Unscrew it until the chain goes into the next available gear,”click” that’s it, you’re done. Now shift until you have pulled the cable all the way to first gear. If it goes there, you’re good. If not,one of two things have happened. Booboo one is that the chain won’t go into first, simply unscrew “L” slowly until it does while keeping tension on the cable with the shifter. Booboo two, the chain is now between the gear and the spokes of the wheel. Carefully remove the chain and set it on the first gear and screw “L” to block the derailleur from going forward.”

The late Sheldon Brown wrote a lot of good articles on bike maintenance and repair. Here is one on rear derailleur adjustment:

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/derailer-adjustment.html#rear

In it he covers the Angle adjustment (“B-tension”) of the derailleur which is something most of these videos and articles fail to mention. It is important so I want to be sure to include it. Here is an excerpt from that article on this:

Angle adjustment (“B-tension”)
“Modern derailers have two spring-loaded pivots. The lower pivot, sometimes called the “a pivot” winds the cage up to take up slack as you go to smaller sprockets. The upper “b pivot” adds additional slack take-up ability by pushing the derailer’s parallelogram backwards.

The tension of the two springs needs to be balanced for best shifting.

Most derailers have an angle adjustment screw (Shimano calls it “B-tension adjustment”). This adjusts the tension of the upper (“b”) spring of the parallelogram, and thus the height of the jockey pulley. The looser this screw is, the closer the jockey pulley will be to the cluster.

The angle adjustment will need to be set according to the size of the largest rear sprocket. If you change to a cluster with a larger or smaller low-gear sprocket, you will need to re-adjust this setting. You will also need to adjust this if you change the length of your chain.

If the angle adjuster is set too loose, the jockey pulley will bump into the largest sprocket when the bicycle is in the lowest gear (large rear, small front). This is the gear you should check the adjustment in. A larger low-gear sprocket may require a different rear derailer, for enough angle adjustment to clear the sprocket. In extreme cases, such as with a Shimano 36-tooth sprocket, a longer angle-adjustment screw may be needed — some people even install the screw backwards.

Since a derailer shift is caused by forcing the chain to run at an angle, the greater the angle, the sooner it will shift. The closer the jockey pulley is to the cluster, the sharper the angle will be for a given amount of sideways motion of the derailer. Thus, the looser the angle adjuster screw is, the better the shifting will be.”

And here is Parktool’s article on it:

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/rear-derailler-adjustments-derailleur

B-Screw (Angle) Adjustment
“After setting the L-screw, check the “B-screw” for an adequate setting. The B-screw controls the derailleur body angle, hence the name, B-screw. Shift to the innermost rear cog, which is the largest cog. View the upper pulley relative to the largest cog. If the pulley is rubbing against this cog, tighten the B-screw to increase upper pivot spring tension, which pulls the pulley back and away from the cog. If there is a large gap between the upper pulley and cog, loosen the screw. To find a good setting, loosen the B-screw until the upper pulley begins to rub, then tighten the screw to get clearance.

SRAM® Derailleurs
Sram designates a 6mm space between the largest rear cog and the upper pulley. Use a 6mm hex wrench to help estimate this gap. (My Note: They are talking about setting this gap at 6mm without the chain on the idler sprocket. If the chain is already installed you will just have to estimate it.) Check for rubbing of largest sprocket and upper pulley.”

B screw adjustment rear derailleur

B screw adjustment rear derailleur 2

To those of you who do or at least try to do your own mechanical work I hope this helps. To those who depend on your local bike shop to do this for you … well, good luck:) Hey, maybe you won’t have the problems I have had (and I hope you don’t). With proper adjustment and functioning of our derailleurs we can all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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TRANSPORTING A TRIKE
by tadpolerider
Transporting your trike(s) using a car, truck, van, etc. is commonplace and most of us already have at least one solution. Personally I use a mini pickup truck which is just barely big enough to get one trike in the bed and close the tailgate and the cap’s rear window. The trike has to be diagonal (corner to opposite corner) in order to fit in the bed. A full size pickup bed will accomodate two trikes loaded straight in side by side. Added accessories such as a basket can add inches onto the dimensions of a trike and complicate the matter if space restrictions are involved. There are various options out there and I will show you some of them. There are various kinds of trike hauling racks offered. Some people just use a common bicycle rack and sit their trike up on the rear window, trunk and the bike rack. I don’t think much of this approach as it most certainly has to be hard on the car. It might be ok if it is an old junker but I would be quite concerned if it were a nice car I cared about. Another factor for consideration using this method is the height involved in lifting the trike to get it up there. Trailer hitch racks are a better way to go although certainly more costly. There are racks which hold just one trike. There are racks which hold two trikes. There are racks which hold the trike(s) horizontally and there are racks which hold the trike(s) vertically. There are folks who transport their trikes on top of their roofs. And, if you happen to have a folding trike it may fit inside your trunk of elsewhere in the vehicle. Here are some pictures of these various options.

rear windown trunkTrike Rack

horizontal hauler

tadpole-trike vertical haul hitch

roof top hauler

two trikes stacked horizontally

Two Trike vertical hauler

folding trike in trunk

And if you are creative and skilled you can make your own like Ed Miller did:

homemade horizontal rack

 

I am fortunate in that I can simply ride from home most of the time and don’t have to haul my trike to get somewhere to ride it. If you find that is not an option and don’t yet have a solution hopefully this posting will help give you an idea of the various ways one can haul a trike(s). Be safe and …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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DOGS ARE PEOPLE TOO
by tadpolerider
Yep, if you didn’t know it already I am here to tell ya that dogs are people too. At least it seems that way sometimes. They sure can be “part of the family” and our best friends. My wife and I have a Bishon Frise dog. At 7 weeks old I introduced him to tadpole trikes and he has been out riding with me numerous times. He doesn’t just ride however, as I have him out walking and running alongside of me on a leash so he gets exercise. I know other trikers take their dogs along although most of them just ride as far as I know. As tadpole riders I think one thing we all enjoy is the breeze in our faces. And most certainly dogs do too. Here are some pictures and videos of these pooches.

Luke 3 months old

This is our dog, Luke, at 3 months old sitting in a

basket on my homemade tadpole trike I used to have.

 

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Marshall sitting in basket side view

I am always amazed at this one as he reminds me of our dog Luke.

This is Marshall and he lives up in the Calgary, Canada area.

 

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Snickers in basket 3

This is Snickers and she lives in the Los Angeles area. His

owner, Glenn Frank, is well known in the triker community.

 

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Dexter in basket

This is Dexter.

 

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Noah runs alongside

This is Noah. He is not riding, but running alongside.

 

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catrike road with pooch sitting in rear basket

I don’t have any information on this one. It is a picture I

came across a few years ago and it caught my eye.

Yep, Dogs Are People Too! I don’t know which thinks this is the most true … them or us? 🙂 Here is hoping that we can all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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OFF ROAD RIDING
by tadpolerider
I am an off road rider since early childhood. Of course, I am talking about 2 wheels. I have ridden both bicycles and motorcycles and had a blast. I really loved off road riding on a motorcycle and I was pretty good at it (even if I do say so myself:) This blog is about tadpole trikes and so I am here to address riding tadpole trikes off road. It is not the same! I have tried it several times. It can be very hard going, challenging, and dangerous. Of course, it depends upon where you are riding and what all is there to contend with. I guess you could say that … YA GOTTA KNOW THE TERRITORY! Venturing into an off road area you are not familiar with can get you into a world of trouble. I have found myself in predicaments with no easy way out. Sometimes it has led to tipping over which is never desirable and if you have never had the experience let me tell you that it is something you should try to avoid if possible. Yes, you can get hurt even at a very low speed. In case you haven’t made the discovery, tadpole trikes can tip over fairly easily. They are stable up to a point but can readily flip over given the right circumstances. Here is a video demonstrating how quickly it can happen:

 

and here is another tip over of a ’email friend’ of mine in England:

 

Fortunately neither of these riders got injured in these tip overs. Both of these videos illustrate how quickly and easily a trike can tip over … and without warning. I have watched videos of people riding a tadpole trike off road. They were doing so successfully. But, again, the reason they were able to do so is because where they were riding a tadpole trike could go without any problem. I could ride where they were riding without any problem. I would like to see them try riding some of the places I have been. I think the outcome would be entirely different. Some of these places would be difficult and challenging enough on two wheels, but at least it could be ridden on two wheels. I found it impossible to navigate on a trike. Personally I don’t even like riding on a bicycle trail that isn’t paved with asphalt or concrete. Crushed stone, cinders, wood chips, packed dirt, grass, etc. are used on some trails. I don’t care to ride on them. I like good ol’ asphalt the best. One of our local trails used to be crushed gravel. I rode on it once and that was enough for me. Later they paved it with asphalt and now it is a joy to ride on. I realize I am getting into personal preferences and my opinion. And I realize I can get myself into trouble expressing myself as I am. Hopefully that won’t happen. I want to say upfront … if you want to ride your tadpole trike off road by all means go for it. Just be cautious and exercise wisdom and good judgement so you don’t get hurt and you can …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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PRECIOUS WATER
by tadpolerider
Most definitely water is so very precious. We are blessed in this nation with plentiful clean safe drinking water as well as sufficient water to use for just about anything we want to use it for. Cycling is an activity that requires the rider to stay well hydrated. I carry about 68 ounces of water with me and refill probably 20 to 44 ounces of that each day I go out riding. Although we have a lot of water available here in the U.S. that does not mean we always have a source nearby as we ride. Here on our local trail system where I ride there are certain portions of it where there is absolutely no water available for many miles. There are cyclists riding all the time that don’t have water with them. That is foolish and dangerous.

For what it is worth I have tried various water bottles including those they call “insulated”. Those insulated water bottles are a joke! They won’t last more than an hour or 1.5 hours on a hot day. A few years ago I discovered stainless steel Thermos brand bottles which I now use exclusively and swear by. They work great! They will hold ice for many many hours … even days if it isn’t too hot. They are tough as they are just stainless steel (no glass inside). They consist of inner and outer walls of stainless steel with air in between. They will dent if dropped but won’t break like the glass lined thermos did when I was much younger. Here is a picture of what I am talking about:

thermos ss water bottle

There are other brands available and even Thermos has other models, but this is the only one I would recommend to others as I have found it to be far superior. You can expect to pay about $25 for one … well worth the money when compared to what else is out there. These hold 24 ounces. I like cold water and I don’t like drinking out of plastic … especially when it is out in the sun like is the case when it is on a bike/trike.

So, take advantage of the wonderful gift of water God has blessed us with … the healthiest drink there is. Drink plenty of it. Your body will thank you in so many many ways. Take a good supply along with you when you ride and …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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WIND NOISE REDUCTION FILTER
by tadpolerider
Those who video tape their rides and use video cameras with internal microphones have no doubt dealt with the problem of wind noise. It can be so bad that it is impossible to use the sound track of the video. If the video camera has provision for an external microphone that is the better way to go. Wind noise reduction filters are available for external microphones. However, many video cameras lack this and so the internal microphone is all that is available. I know of two companies offering a stick on filter for cameras with an internal microphone. I don’t know anything about the filters as far as whether or not they work very well. I know they are a one time stick on … if you remove it it won’t restick again. All of the cameras I have seen with an internal microphone have a small hole in the camera casing where the sound enters. I looked at this stick on filter but decided not to buy one. Instead I started experimenting making my own. I tried several different things and finally came up with something which seems to work pretty well. Here is what I did. First of all, I researched it some. I discovered that the most successful wind noise filters use the same principle as the hair in a cat’s ear. In fact, this type of filter is known as a dead cat.

cat’s ear hairs

Here are some examples of these filters:

camera with external microphone dead cat

external microphone

cameras with internal microphones stickon dead cat

internal filters (stick on)

http://micover.com/products/

http://thewindcutter.com/shop/index.php?route=product/category&path=159

Here is a picture of my camera model with a yellow arrow pointing to the hole where the sound enters.

samsung bl103 digital camera arrow to microphone

The very first thing I tried worked great. The only problem was it was way too vulnerable to damage. I just had a piece of cotton taped over the hole in the front of my camera. This was just to try something to see how it did. Obviously it was not intended to be my solution. From there I tried siliconing a small ring around the hole and stuffing it with cotton. I will spare you the details of all the various things and materials I tried and just get to what I ended up with. Some things I tried worked better than others

my wind noise filter 001

I took a small plastic eye drop bottle and cut it as shown in this picture below.

ocupress bottle marked

I siliconed this section to the front of my camera with the small end down over the hole.

Here is another filtering material I tried. This picture shows the inverted bottle siliconed onto the front of the camera casing.

camera homemade wind filter top view

I put the white colored stuffing out of a small stuffed animal (a sample is shown in front of the camera in the picture above with the white tassel) and then I put of the material from the seat belt comforter (the material which wraps around an automotive seat belt where the seat belt is in contact with the upper shoulder area)(the black material in this picture above). Next I siliconed the tassel of the hat from the same stuffed animal (a Santa Claus). This setup not only does a pretty good job filtering out wind noise, but it helps amplify the sound coming into the camera. I guess this is because of the the funnel effect of the inverted plastic bottle section. This probably doesn’t look as professional as some of the products you can purchase, but I don’t have much money invested in it.

On my camera the location of the hole is at a rather bad place as far as putting any kind of a filter on it. It is very close to the raised area and the radius up to it. Also the lens telescopes in and out so there must be room available not to interfere with this.

Anyway, my homemade wind noise reduction filter works pretty good. Now if I can just learn how to make good videos. Meanwhile I am going to keep on trying and if you have or do come up with something that works good for you please share it with others (including me). And may we all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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HONESTLY NOW
by tadpolerider
Now I ask ya … Is your bike dealer/mechanic honest? Those of you who have been following this blog know that I just got a more less new trike … as a result of a cracked weld on the frame of my 2009 Catrike Trail. Catrike under warranty replaced the frame. In the process of swapping the frames I found out that my old trike never had the correct rear derailleur on it. It was suppose to have a long cage derailleur, but it came with a medium cage even though Catrike says they have always used long cage and every trike they have ever sent out to their dealers came with a long cage. So that means that the dealer where my trike came from put a medium cage derailleur on my trike instead of the long cage Catrike sent them. And that means the dealer is a crook cheating customers. The medium cage is less expensive so they were making money in what they were doing. They kept the long cage and sold them making an extra profit in doing so. I am asking you the reader if anyone else has had this happen? The dealer I got my trike from is up in Michigan. If you got a Catrike from a dealer in Michigan (I won’t name them or their location) perhaps you should check on this. I am sure Catrike would like to know about it. They have already received quite a few complaints about this particular dealer. The medium cage derailleur worked pretty good on my old trike, but it won’t work on this new one. The bottom line here is that now I have to buy another derailleur to get my “new trike” to shift properly as the brand new medium cage I just bought and installed won’t work. I am not a happy camper. I got cheated by a dishonest bike dealer. Who would have known? They got away with it for nearly 4 years in my case and if it hadn’t been for this frame swap who knows how much longer, if ever, before this would have been discovered. Hopefully your bike dealer/mechanic is honest and is not cheating you. I am sure most are not. Most of them can be counted on to help us …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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AND AWAY WE GO! (WITH BIONX)


It took several years, but I have finally succumbed to the concept of my using electric motor pedal assist. It is a matter of aging I think and finding it a bit more challenging climbing hills. I can still climb them, but oh so slow and if I am riding with others I just watch them ride on away from me as I can’t begin to keep up. So I bit the bullet and got myself some help. Now I can shoot up those hills and don’t have any problem keeping up with my friends should I choose to ride with them.

HERE is a webpage about Bionx products. And HERE is another one.

The electronics are quite sophisticated and pretty well thought out. The reviews of Bionx are extremely favorable. Pretty much everybody say they have the best system going. The company is out of Canada.

They have 3 different size batteries. They are all 48 volts, but their power in amperage varies providing a choice of 50 miles, 65 miles or 80 miles between charges. At least that is their claim. In reality the distance is far less like maybe half. The battery pictured below which fits under their rack is the middle one. The largest battery mounts down low behind the seat alongside of the frame.

Although with this battery mounted up under their rack means the weight is carried up high effecting the trike’s center of gravity and handling it also means that the battery is positioned so that it doesn’t get nearly as messed up from water, mud and other crud being splashed up on it like would happen if it were mounted down lower alongside the frame. Also having it higher makes it much easier to get at to charge it or remove it.

Their controller (shown above) has been upgraded as have their display console.

This display unit (shown below) has replaced the larger combination display controller they had previously.

This next video features an older version of the console and controller which has been replaced with the ones shown above. I offer it here as it still is helpful in understanding some factors of the Bionx system.

The new electronics also offers a  Bluetooth connection to their free smartphone app which among other things is a tracking and reporting info of the route,  ride and even pulse of the rider. The Bluetooth module sells for $175.

They offer 250, 350 and 500 watt hub motors. I understand that Bionx limits the top speed of 20 mph for all units shipped to the United States to comply with the law.

If your trike has a 20 inch rear wheel you are limited to the 350 watt hub motor as the 500 watt is too large in diameter to be laced into a 20 inch rim. If you have a larger diameter rear wheel such as a 26 inch or 700 the larger 500 watt hub motor is available for them although the larger motor may not be needed. The bike shop dealer told me that unless one lives someplace with a lot of steep hills to climb the 350 is more than enough power to use on a trike.

Having a FAT trike with electric motor pedal assist sounds like a very helpful addition for off road riding. It might require someone skilled at wheel lacing to come up with a wheel laced to a hub motor.

It is my understanding that the batteries can be charged approximately 1000 times. Replacement batteries cost between $900 and $1000 so they ain’t cheap.

The bike shop I am involved with is a Bionx dealer. He told me about the high tech system Bionx has in place making trouble shooting and repair easy for the dealers. They simply plug the unit into a computer with Bionx software installed on it and it connects with Bionx while running diagnostics on the system. The dealer gives permission for Bionx to remotely do various things while connected to your unit over the internet and they can remedy most problems or at least know what is wrong so it can be remedied. With this system the dealers don’t have to learn and know a lot about the Bionx system yet they can take care of the customer.

Here is the Bionx installation video. It shows the older system however.

In closing I want to mention that there are more powerful hub motors made and available which can propel a trike much faster (not legally mind you) and even at 70 years old there is still a part of me that is attracted to riding along at 45 plus mph on my trike, but I am wise enough to know that when you play with fire you are likely to get burnt. I would probably wrap myself around some tree or telephone pole. Nope, I best stick with the 20 mph option. That is plenty fast enough.

With the use of electric motor pedal assist it can help us to …

ENJOY THE RIDE & kEEP ON TRIKIN’

Update (5/3/17) – I now have the Bionx hub motor system installed on my trike and I am loving it. I haven’t been able to ride it much as it has been raining for 3 days straight. I took some pictures of my trike with this unit installed. I remounted the controller from where the bike shop had located it. I like it much better now as I can see it much better and get at it much handier. I probably should paint the blue piece of steel tubing I used to place on my mirror where I mounted the controller. I need to paint it black so it is not so conspicuous. 🙂 Anyway, riding with this motor assist is amazing. For the same effort I used to exert to ride 5-7 mph I can now ride about 14-16 mph. And for the same effort it took to ride 10-12 mph I can now ride 19 mph. The battery has a built in LED taillight which is extremely bright. Above the taillight is a large red reflector. As I said, I haven’t been able to ride it much yet, but hopefully I soon will be. And it surely looks like I will most definitely …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

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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PICAR – A RECUMBENT PEDAL CAR


Picar, a recumbent pedal car

Now here is something you don’t see everyday although the people behind it no doubt would like to see this change. Right now this is in the Kickstarter program in an attempt to launch it into full production. For those who are into “classic cars” this is indeed a novelty.

I have no idea if there will be a maket for something like this. I guess only time will tell. One thing for sure, it looks too wide to be ridden on bicycle trails.

Picar dashboard 2

It is available with various options … wooden, aluminum or stainless steel dashboard, exterior paint colors , upholstery, and  electric assist motor are among the options.

Picar front view

The Picar is obviously designed to look “classic”. As you can see, it has a fake engine in the front. The starting price appears to the $4999 according to their website.

Picar shifter

At 130 pounds it is not light so it would be challenging to pedal around and uphill would be a real workout. To make matters worse it only has 3 speeds. Uhhh! This tank is strictly for flat lands. It definitely needs better gearing … say a 14 speed internal hub and at least a two speed crank such as a Patterson. Even with all that the rider would get a workout climbing a hill. 130 pounds … that’s 3 times heavier than most tadpole trikes.

Picar left front side view

Specifications

Dimensions: Length – 8.2′ wheelbase – 3.9′
Weight: 130lbs / 154lbs with electric motor.
Finish: panel – wood, veneer, edge trim – leather.
Extras: LED lights, reflectors, mp3 system with speakers, USB port to charge your phone or tablet, and a micro SD card slot.
Seat: automotive synthetic leather. Adjust the seat to from 51″ to 72″.
Load: weight up to 250lbs
Housing: Composite.
Drive chain, three-speed planetary hub Shimano Nexus; In addition, there is an electric assist option: Electric motor: 750Watt
Brakes – Disc brakes on all 3 wheels for production versions.
Battery: 7AH for electrical system. Electric motor version includes a 48v, 18AH LifePo4 battery.

Who knows. perhaps one of these days we might be seeing these listed among the “classics”.  They might even be among those we see “out there” which are trying to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

 

 

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT GEARING


Yep, it’s all about gearing … this article that is.

gearchart 27 inch

Without sufficient gearing climbing hills or going fast is challenging to impossible. I know money most certainly can be a limiting factor when someone if purchasing a tadpole trike. Some people buy a low cost trike that comes with very limited gearing only to discover they would very much like to have more gearing available. To then try to modify such a trike to give it more gearing might very well cost more than what a trike that already had such gearing would have cost. An entry level trike with such modifications is not the same as a higher cost and quality trike which came with gearing. To my way of thinking it doesn’t make any sense to invest a bunch of money into a low cost trike attempting to upgrade it. And you could never hope to sell it for any more than the original trike you bought would be worth.

By definition “gearing is the aspect of a bicycle drivetrain that determines the relation between the cadence, the rate at which the rider pedals, and the rate at which the drive wheel turns. There are at least four different methods for measuring gear ratios: gear inches, meters of development (roll-out), gain ratio, and quoting the number of teeth on the front and rear sprockets respectively. The first three methods result in each possible gear ratio being represented by a single number which allows the gearing of any bicycles to be compared; the numbers produced by different methods are not comparable, but for each method the larger the number the higher the gear. The fourth method uses two numbers and is only useful in comparing bicycles with the same drive wheel diameter.” Wikipedia

I am not going to even attempt to get into any depth here about gearing. Anyone interested in all the technical aspects of this subject can “read all about it”. Besides, I don’t know much about it myself and really don’t have much interest in learning about it. Most of us really have no need of all the technical aspects of it. We just need to know the basics. For anyone who wants to delve into this further the late well known and respected avid cyclist and knowledgeable mechanic, Sheldon Brown, (who even became a tadpole trike rider late in his life) wrote many articles about gearing.

The most common and lowest cost type of gearing is via sprockets and derailleurs. On derailleur setups gear ranges of almost 700% can be achieved. However, this may result in some rather large steps between gears or some awkward gear changes. The front crankset may have up to 4 chainrings attached to the crankset and typically the cogset attached to the rear wheel may have between 5 and 11 sprockets. I personally have never seen a crankset with 4 chainrings. A derailleur system is highly efficient … up to 99 % efficiency.

There are also internal hubs for front and rear which are really nice, but considerably more expensive. Internal hubs are available with anywhere between 2 and 14 speeds. With internal hubs one can downshift while sitting still … something which would be so very nice when you find you are in too high of a gear and pretty much sitting still unable to take off. Having an internal gear hub also means that there is no concern of damage happening from exposure to foreign objects which can all too easily happen to a rear derailleur. Also a rear derailleur is exposed to dirt, mud and grime and can really get messed up. With internal hubs the efficiency drops off and the more gears a hub has the less efficient it is. Just so you know … even though a cycle may be said to be 21, 24, 27, 30, or any other number of speeds (or gears) … it ain’t really so. That’s because in some of the various gear combinations available shifting between the sprockets some of those gear ratios are duplicated. A 27 speed, for example, may only actually have about 24 speeds in reality.

Some trikes are outfitted with both an internal rear hub and a rear derailleur which equates to having a whole lot of gears to select from. We are talking 81 or 90 speeds minimum with a 3 speed internal hub and either a 9 or 10 speed derailleur system. Again, some of those combinations are duplicated so in reality the actual number of speeds/gears is less.

The bottom line here is most folks want, need and prefer to have sufficient gearing on a tadpole trike. Keep this in mind as you contemplate what trike to buy. Even the 8 speed models are not sufficient for some riders. It is far better to buy what will work for you than to settle for something you will be disappointed with. Yep, having sufficient gearing will help you …

ENJOY THE RIDE!