Author Archives: Steve Newbauer

ATOMIC ZOMBIE D.I.Y. PLANS

Atomic Zombie … tis rather a strange name, but it is a well known name for do it yourself folks. For $16.95 you can buy a set of plans to build a tadpole trike. They have a few different designs to choose from including a tandem model. You can check their complete website out HERE .

 

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VELOKS MK3 E-TRIKE

500 miles (800 KM) per charge … that is the claim of this product of Denmark. It’s a fully suspended  e-trike with *fat tires for $6013 US (€5,340). HERE is their website.  And HERE is their FAQ webpage.

*They call these fat tires, but they are only 2 inch wide tires … not hardly “fat”.

I would think it would be likely and tempting to take this trike off road, but that battery looks mighty vulnerable and it certainly is not a bash plate.

The battery provides power for motor, lights, mobile, and automatic gear shift system. The battery box is removable, shock and water-resistant.

Assisted range up to 500 miles (800 km). Designed for 37 mph (60 km/h), restricted to 15.5 mph (25 km/h).

It has a TIG welded 4130 Chrome Moly steel frame.

Design principles:

• Comfortable ride position
• Full suspension
• Drive anywhere
• Handle high load
• Long distance e-assist
• Resilient drive systems
• Waterproof electronics / electrics
• Adjustable e-assist configuration
• Fast charging
• Many gearing options
• Power and speed when needed
• Elegant design

Weight: 90.4 pounds (41 kg)
Max. load: 441 pounds (200 kg) (rider and/or luggage)
Seat height: 8.25 inches (21 cm)
Seat angle: 35 – 50 degrees
Max tire width: 2” (5 cm)
Suspension travel:  5.5 inches (14 cm) front, 5 inches (13 cm) rear
Track width: 30.70 inches (78 cm)
Wheel base: 43.3 inches (110 cm)
Width: 33.46 inches (85 cm)
Length:  74.8 – 82.68 inches (190 – 210 cm)
Turning circle: 13 feet (4 m)
Rider height: 59.05 – 82.68 inches (150 – 210 cm)

Gear chain: Shimano
Front Rims: Rigida Andra 40, 20″
Rear Rim: Rigida Andra 40, 26″
Spokes: 2,34 mm stainless
Front hubs: Novatec 36 spokes, 20mm axle
Rear hub: Shimano 36 spokes, quick release
Cassette: SRAM NX 11-42
Crankset: SR Suntour 44, 170 mm
Bottom Bracket: Torque Sensing BB
Rear derailleur: SRAM NX 11 speed
Gear shifter: SRAM NX twist shifter
Pedals: Shimano SPD + Normal
Brakes: Tektro Hydralic Disc brakes (160mm)
Right Brake levers: Front brakes, parking brake
Left Brake levers: e-brake (if ebrake option selected)
Rear shock: DNM Air spring 165 mm
Front shocks: DNM Steel spring 190 mm
Rear fender: SKS – Black
Motor cog: Disc mounted – 21 teeth
Battery: 60V, 1.5 kWh – 5.0 kWh
Motor: BLDC, 250w – 3000w
Controller: Sinusoidal Field oriented control
Computer: Cycle Analyst

Mounting the battery down low under the seat certainly helps to lower the center of gravity and greatly improve the trike’s handling making it more stable. I just think it ought to have a bash plate to protect it from damage. It looks like a fun trike, but I am sure I would be working at doing something about being limited to 15.5 mph. That is ridiculous. When people ride bicycles 25 mph and faster it makes no sense to limit an e-bike/trike to such a low speed. I tell ya … idiots are in charge!

“FAUX PEDALING” – FAKING IT HERE, BOSS

Recently I have been coming across the term faux pedaling. I had never heard of it before so I had to look it up. It isn’t the easiest term to find much of anything out about. To start off the word faux is French and means “fake”. Here is the dictionary definition of faux:

made in imitation; artificial.
“a string of faux pearls”
not genuine; fake or false.
“their faux concern for the well-being of the voters didn’t fool many”

Basically from what I have been able to gather it is pedaling without any physical effort … not putting any pressure pushing on the pedals. With e-motor assist this is possible if the rider wants to do it. There are those who say it is cheating. It is true that one doesn’t build up leg muscle or burn as many calories when faux pedaling, but the good news is the rider is still getting exercise spinning the cranks around. And if they are spun fast enough the rider can get a cardio workout even if they are not building leg muscle. That being said, usually the faux pedaling is done slower than what the cycle is traveling so it is obvious that something is going on that just doesn’t look right. One thing I have often done with and without e-motor assist is to pedal backwards while going forward. I have tried pedaling forward while going backwards, but found that it just doesn’t work.

So what is my point in bringing this subject matter up? I don’t know. I may not have one other than to mention that I am sure there will be naysayers out there who want to sound off and protest against this. Keep in mind though that there are some folks who are not physically able to push hard enough on the pedals to propel the cycle. They are doing good to be able to faux pedal. At least they are out there getting some exercise and …

ENJOYING THE RIDE!

And they are only able to do so with the aid of e-motor assist. Yes, the motor is doing most of the work, but that is a whole lot better than being a total couch potato. So just maybe others need to be kind and cut them some slack. None of us know what tomorrow holds. We could be among those who find them self saying “Faking it here, boss!”

HOW TO FIND INFO ON THIS WEBSITE

I am quite sure that there are many readers of this blog who don’t know that there are easy ways to find what you may be looking for or how to go about it. So I thought I would write this posting to explain it.

SEARCH FOR IT … I have tried to lay out this blog making it “user-friendly”. I purposely placed a Search Box at the very top of the right hand column and selected one with a Go button to use in case the reader doesn’t know to use the Enter Key to proceed with the search. So whatever the reader is searching for is quite easy to accomplish. Just type in whatever it is and push Go. If something exists it will show up in the search results. There may be more than one posting about it and, if so, they will all be listed. Please note that any misspelling of the words typed in will result in zero (nothing) in the search results.

SEARCH BY CATEGORY … Just a short ways further down in the right side column below the Recent Posts is “CATEGORIES”. There are many to choose from and using these is an easy way to find all sorts of postings on things the reader is interested in.

There is also a third way … searching by tags, but I don’t have a clue how to do so. Anyway, these two methods can be quite valuable. Give it a try.   And, of course, …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

THE GREAT ALLEGHENY PASSAGE TRAIL

The Great Allegheny Passage Trail is reported to be one great ride. Many of us will never be able to take the actual ride, but we can experience it via this video.

CATRIKE SAFETY RECALL FOR AXLE SPINDLES (2013 MODELS ONLY)

Back in 2013 Catrike issued a mandatory safety recall for the trikes they produced that year which had black aluminum axle spindles. They also used silver chrome-moly steel spindles. Those were not effected. Only the black aluminum spindles are a concern. Quite some time has passed since this safety recall was issued by Catrike, but there are still some effected trikes out there which have not had the free replacement Catrike offers.

When this first happened I posted an article about it immediately and informed Steve Green, the author of Trike Asylum blog, about it so that he could also publish an article about it to inform Catrike owners. I can’t find the article I posted previously. I don’t know what happened to it. It might have been back during my first tadpole rider blog which I deleted and lost nearly everything … a dumb move on my part as about a year later I started it back up. Anyway, I am posting this safety recall now as it is important and I want to make sure Catrike owners are aware of it.

Here is Catrike’s official webpage concerning this matter:

https://www.catrike.com/safety-quality

 

If you own a 2013 Catrike and have the black aluminum axle spindles and your trike’s serial number is on this list it is most important that you get in touch with Catrike or a Catrike dealer to get this remedied. We all want to be safe and …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

HERE is an article on Trike Asylum about this recall.

TOURING WITH E-ASSIST

Sylvia Halpern with Moto-Myrtle

(A 700 watt EcoSpeed mid-drive electric motor assist tadpole trike)

Myrtle the Turtle, known far and wide among the recumbent trike world. (Myrtle is actually the name of the trike.) Sylvia Halpern is the owner’s name and she is well known among the recumbent trike world. And if you don’t yet know the name now is your opportunity to meet this world traveler. Travelling by tadpole trike many thousands of miles and sharing her adventures online we have the privilege of being/getting acquainted with Sylvia. She is on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and her own website and probably other social media I am not aware of.  Among her articles is one about touring with e-assist. It is well written and I recommend it to you. Click HERE to do so. She has titled it “Why not use electric assist?”.

Whether you ride with or without e-assist …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

You can get better acquainted with Sylvia via Gary Solomon’s interview with her when she was featured on the Laidback Bike Report …

ELECTRIC BIKE OUTFITTERS

Are you considering adding an electric motor onto your tadpole trike? Anyone who has looked into doing so will surely notice that there are lots of motors out there. However the vast majority are pretty much intended for conventional bicycles with 26 inch wheels. If your trike has a 20 inch rear wheel there are not nearly as many choices. With BionX out of the picture there are even fewer main players. Some that do exist are not very well known. I personally have an eZee hub motor. Most people have probably never heard of it. I have pretty much made the decision not to recommend any brand over another brand and let the trike owner research their options and choose whatever they want. Quite frankly I don’t want anyone upset with me over the choice they made.

I have written several articles in the past about e-motors and shared about my own personal experiences with hub motors on my trike.

One of the companies offering e-motors for trikes is EBO … Electric Bike Outfitters. EBO offers several different packages of hub motors as well as a mid-drive motor. Their packages are complete and ready to install. Motor, controller, display console, throttle, e-brake levers, pedal assist, and battery … it’s all there.

Their batteries are limited to 11 aH however as seems to be the case with many suppliers. 11 aH is fine if you don’t ride all that far, but just not large enough for those who ride greater distances. Nobody likes hauling around more weight than they have to so having two batteries is not something most people want to do. They are not only heavy, but they are bulky as well. And, of course, they are the costliest part of the components. Still this company is offering their wares and I simply want to make others aware of them.

Looking thru their offerings THIS ONE would be my pick as it is 750 watt. The total price was $1528 for the various selections I made. Most of their motors are 350 watt including their mid-drive. 350 watts is sufficient for most unless one does a lot of steep long hills. The 350 watt BionX hub motor I had was quite sufficient for my riding needs.

Here is the 500 watt hub motor.

Whatever you decide on may you …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

 

THE GREAT AMERICAN RAIL-TRAIL

The Great American Rail-Trail is an ongoing project as well as a great vision. From sea to shining sea … from Washington (D.C. ) to Washington  (Seattle) … better bring your pajamas as you won’t make this ride in one day. I like the idea of riding across the country on a bike trail and not having to deal with riding on dangerous roads.

Most definitely one challenge and important concern to such a trail is providing toilets all along the route. We can’t be going behind a bush or tree and definitely we all have to go sometime … in more ways than one.

HERE is an article about this trail explaining the plan and providing some information about what has been built thus far and where things stand.

Much of the trail utilizes rail trails that are already in existence and are simply being linked together rather than starting from scratch and building all new. In my State of Indiana the Cardinal Greenway is a part of it.

I hope the governing body has the good sense not to restrict e-assist cycles from using the trail. I wonder how the governing body is going to work seeing how this long trail system is utilizing existing trails which already have their own governing entity.

One thing about it … if a tadpole trike rider took off on this nearly 4000 mile long trail they certainly could …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

HOW TO TRUE A BICYCLE DISC BRAKE ROTOR

We all know  that SHIT HAPPENS. That includes disc brake rotors getting bent. If they are not bent too much they can usually be straightened and continue to be used. To do so requires the right tools and the knowledge of how to go about straightening them. Here is a tool you will need. It sells for about $18. Park Tools makes some good bicycle tools. This is a Rotor Truing Fork – DT-2C. There are a few other companies that sell their version of this tool. I personally  like Park Tool’s and recommend it.

Here is another well made tool … Foundation Brake Rotor Truing Fork Tool

Park Tools not only make good tools, but they make good instructional videos. Here is their video on how to true a bicycle disc brake rotor.

Here is another video showing a different tool being used.

And here is yet another video …

If you choose to accept this assignment I assure you that it is not mission impossible. Just be careful and follow the instructions. You can do it! And then you can …

  KEEP ON TRIKIN’ & ENJOY THE RIDE

 

BIONX MOTORS, BATTERIES & PARTS STILL AVAILABLE

BionX motors, batteries and parts are still available. This company bought out the remaining stock from BionX and is selling it online. Currently batteries are only being shipped to Canada and the United States. Everything else they will ship worldwide … https://www.bx-legacy.com/

Quadcycle from 1987 Named “Carmichael”

Reaching back a ways here is a custom built pedal powered side by side quadcycle featured on a local TV station.

Unfortunately the video quality is not very good, but you can get the general idea of what this man made so many years ago. I have no idea if it was the first side by side quad ever made.

Here is the video description:

From the VHS video library of Steven K. Roberts comes this local news report of a mid 80s built side by side quadcycle. According to the piece this was designed and build by Norm Ogle with help from Peter Johnson.

If I were a younger man and not having the physical issues I have now in my elderly years I would be fabricating various tadpole trikes and quads. I made one tadpole trike back in 2007 and I was already challenged somewhat with vision problems then.

Lastly, my thanks to Gary Solomon of Laidback Bike Report for giving his permission to share this video from his YouTube channel.

REVERSE TRIKES

No, a reverse trike is not a trike that goes in reverse backing up. Actually before the name tadpole trike came along the term reverse trike was used to describe what we now know as a tadpole trike. Some people refer to a tadpole trike as a recumbent trike and indeed a tadpole trike is a recumbent trike. However, a recumbent trike can also be a Delta trike so one needs to distinguish just what they are talking about. Very few people know the term reverse trike as it just isn’t used to describe human powered tadpole trikes. If you look up reverse trike you will most likely find references to motorcycles rather than human powered cycles as the term is used more in the motorcycle community to describe a motorcycle with two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back. It is interesting how things change thru the years. When I first started hearing about tadpole trikes they were sometimes referred to as reverse trikes.

I always thought that calling a tadpole trike by that name was interesting. To me the resemblence is very vague, but obviously the name caught on. And obviously the fact that a tadpole has a wider front end than it has a backend is why this name was thought up.

I made up this image years ago. I know that the color of the tadpole I am sitting on is not the usual color of a tadpole, but my Catrike Trail is green and most of the background is green so if I would have made the tadpole green it would have been much more difficult to see.

Still it seems funny to go around saying that we ride a tadpole trike. I guess no matter which we called it … tadpole or reverse trike … we would end up having to explain what we are talking about. I have no answer to it.

I reckon that is why I have a picture of my trike as “wallpaper” on my smartphone … so I can just show a picture of my trike making it easier for others to know and understand what I am talking about when I say that I ride a tadpole trike. (A picture is worth a thousand words.) Anyway, if you see me going in reverse just maybe I will be trying to explain to someone what I am riding. 

ENJOY THE RIDE!

 

HOMEMADE TRIKE AND QUAD FROM THE LAND “DOWN UNDER”

received an email from Hector Alberto who is from Australia and is a reader of this blog. He sent links to some YouTube videos of the tadpole trike and quad he has built. I am sharing them here for the world to see.

trike & quad ride on trails:

e-assist quad:

quad ride to park:

I wrote back to Hector asking him if he would send some pictures and share anything about his homemade trike and quad he cared to. Here is his reply:

The trike frame Is made of aluminium and lots of bolts.

For the steering system I’ve used the cheap 17mm ATV stub axle found on eBay and its respective end rod bolts (I was trying to understand how steering works in real).

I want to mention that with those pieces it was easy to make adjustments about angles related with the Ackerman law.

I used 20” BMX front plastic wheels. The original axle and bearings have been replaced by high rpm bearings to fit on the ATV stub axle.

The handlebars were attached using a 90 degree metal bracket between the stub axle and the handlebars. In general the trike use to work fine, but eventually the brake system mounted on the aluminium frame just fell apart.

Front sprocket 42t, freewheel 3 speeds

This picture shows the quad frame standing up when I was painting it.

I decided to go with a quad in order to help my wife bring our son along with her. The Quad measurements are 185cm long X 85cm wide. Yes, it is really a compact size when one takes into consideration that there are two people travelling on it. It has a COASTER BRAKE in the left rear wheel and the right rear wheel has an electric hub motor and a 160mm disc brake system. The quad  is single speed. It has no front wheel brakes.

The trike conversion kits are so expensive in Australia, so I’ve been hunting for a used one. I got one old tricycle for Au$40.  It came with one wheel traction (left one). Once I cut off the back part of the tricycle I went to a friend who welded it as I required. It includes a bottom bracket shell (found it as well on eBay).

The quad frame is using the same steering system as the trike.

The electric hub motor wheel is a 250w 36v “front wheel” for bicycles. It is mounted in the rear right side of the quad. This configuration allows the use either of the rear wheel power drives individually. When the rear wheel with pedal power loses traction you can put extra power in the electric hub motor wheel just by using the manual throttle as needed.

The average travel speed 15-20km/hr. Max speed tested with 98kg aprox., 27km/hr. Realistically, this is not a fast machine but it works excellent for the purpose; plus, my wife and my son love it.

I hope this help others to improve their designs.

SOME LEGAL INFO ON E-BIKES

E-motor assist trikes are becoming more and more popular. I have one myself and love it. One thing I have noticed is that there seems to be a lot of confusion and differing thoughts, beliefs, uncertainties and opinions about the legal aspect of these machines. Obviously not everybody can be correct when so often these conflict. Here is help in sorting it all out. To summarize the subject matter … “it’s a mess” and that is fairly typical of most everything the government gets involved in.

HERE is a website which has information on e-bikes according to individual State laws. This applies to both pedal assist and motor assist.

HERE is another website which has information on the laws on e-bikes. I like this one as it seems a bit more “user-friendly” the way it is written.

HERE is a .pdf report on e-bike laws.

One thing I noticed is that some States require a helmet be worn when riding an e-bike. I am not a fan of the government forcing people to wear helmets. I think it should be a personal choice which the government should keep their nose out of. It is not a matter of whether or not I believe in helmets. It is solely a matter of too much government control in our lives.

Whether you ride with or without e-assist I hope you continue to …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

E-ASSIST … A LOOK AT WHAT ALL IS AVAILABLE

E-assist … becoming more and more popular is something which ideally should involve some research before making the plunge. HERE is a webpage which offers help.

It is a comparison of the different electric bike motor systems to help you determine which configuration is best for your riding needs.

In this article by Electric Bike Report.com there are the pros and cons of each system: the hub motors (front and rear), the mid drive motor, the friction drive motor, and the rocket drive! (I wonder why it is named that. Do you suppose it is super fast compared to the others? Just FYI, rocket drive has nothing to do with electric motor assist. It is as the name implies … a rocket engine mounted on a bike. I assumed that somebody has already made a rocket engine propelled recumbent trike, but when I searched online for such an animal I came up empty.)

So if you are considering motorizing your tadpole trike this may be of help to you in doing your homework. 🙂

I took the plunge about a year and a half ago and have no regrets. I really love having the e-assist even though I had some problems finding a system that worked out okay for me. I have a few different articles I wrote about all I went thru with the three different companies I have dealt with thus far. HERE is one of them. HERE is another. And HERE is another.  And anotherHERE is an article I wrote on hub motors vs mid drive motors. The hub motor I have now is serving me well and I am very pleased with it. Most definitely e-assist can help us …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

 

THE NEW CATRIKE ALUMINUM ALLOY FENDERS

I can sum this up in just a few words … “wow, what an improvement!” When I bought my Catrike Trail in 2009 I ordered the full fender set which the dealer installed “half ass”.  The fenders were the Planet Bike plastic which would break out small chuncks where the mounting braces attached.  In 2013 when Catrike replaced my frame under warranty I had to settle for the new frame as they stopped making the Trail with the “space frame” (which I loved and much prefer). Over the years I have done various upgrades with better quality components. This past summer I ordered new front fenders and fender mounts. I had seen the new aluminum alloy fenders on new Catrikes the dealers had in stock so I knew they were an improvement over the old plastic fenders like I had. Upon getting them and installing them I was quite impressed and a “happy camper”. These babies not only look a lot nicer, but they are so much stronger. Just the fender mount itself is such a great improvement. No more braces are needed on the front fenders. Now a flat tire can be fixed without having to remove the front wheels. And the fenders are rock steady … no more flopping around.

Later during this past Fall I ordered the rear fender to replace my Planet Bike plastic fender. The rear fender still uses braces, but at least the fender is mounted solid. The Planet Bike rear fender moved all over the place all too easily. Thank you Catrike. You listened to customer complaints and suggestions and fixed the problem. I have to give credit to ICE and HP … they did it right to start with. The new fenders from Catrike are worth the money in my opinion. With my new fender set I am able to even moreso …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

BAR END MITTS – MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Earlier today I received a pair of bar end mitts I had ordered a couple of days ago. I installed them after getting home from my daily ride, but I wasn’t feeling like going back out to try them. However, later on I decided to try them out. It is a good day for it as it is windy today and feels pretty cold as a result. They definitely made a difference as far as greatly reducing the wind I feel on my hands. In fact, I can’t say that I felt any wind on my hands so they are doing their intended job. I only wore a pair of wool gloves inside of them hoping that the wool gloves would be sufficient to keep my hands warm. They weren’t. This disappointed me as wearing anything more will be a little problematic as there just isn’t a whole lot of room inside of the bar end mitts. Having the bar end mitts installled presents problems as the handlebars are no longer accessable like they were before. I have to use the handlebars to lift my trike up and down out of the back of my truck. And using the locking brake lever is quite difficult now with the bar end mtts installed. I don’t know how much difference there is between brands, but these I bought just don’t allow much room inside. The brake levers are right up against the front of the bar end mitts making them harder to use. Also it would be best not to have my fingers come in contact with the bar end mitts when using the brakes as in doing so coldness is transferred via conduction. I have twist shifters and with the bar end shifters they are very difficult to use to shift gears. So the verdict is out at this point in time. I just wish they was a lot more room inside of them so that these issues were non-issues. If I have to use additional gloves or mittens on my hands to keep my hands warm using the bar end mitts is going to be even more problematic. I will let you know further down the road how it all works out. Meanwhile I hope to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

I put together this video for this occasion.  It is a compilation of images of recumbent trikes out in the snow … riding in a winter wonderland. Merry  Christmas to each and everyone of you. May you truly know and embrace the reason for the season.

ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD (sometimes it’s chrome)

Recently I bought a new rear rim to replace the broken one resulting from pot holes which could not be avoided. My original rims on my Catrike are black so naturally I would prefer to stay with black. However, when I got my new hub motor it came already laced up in a complete wheel even with tire and inner tube. It was an aluminum color rim so already it did not match the black Catrike rims on the front. And then when trying to find a rim to replace the broken one it was discovered that rims which met all the criteria were not all that easy to find. The bike shop ordered a black rim in, but upon attempting to lace it up there was a problem with the heavy duty spokes not being the correct length to reach properly. Actually I am glad it worked out the way it did as I didn’t like the new rim they ordered as it just seemed way too light of duty. They already had a much heavier duty rim in stock which they showed me before ordering the black rim. They had made me a good price on it, but it was shiny chrome and that just didn’t appeal to me since I figured that it would really stand out. As it turned out I decided to go with it and just deal with having a bright shiny rim. I am pleased to say that sometimes things work out better than one expects. The chrome isn’t bothering me and I have a very strong BMX rim which should hold up much better than the rim that came on this hub motor wheel. It may not be gold, but it still glitters out if bright sunlight. And the truth is riding on our local trails which run alongside of rivers which flood over frequently my wheels and the entire trike is usually covered with mud which greatly dulls any glittering.

My rear wheel is already considerably messed up from mud as you can see in the picture. I had forewarned a couple of friends that they might need to wear sunglasses when around me, but it is not looking like that will be necessary now. I am so glad to have a new rim regardless of the color as now I can …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’