Author Archives: Steve Newbauer
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 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’
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 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/
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.
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!
I 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:
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.
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 … 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 another. HERE 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’
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!
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’
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’
This is a reposting of an article from my original tadpole rider blog which was closed by me some time ago.
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.
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 riding 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 not 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 … except make it a tadpole trike and not a bike:
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’
This is a reposting of an article from my original tadpole rider blog which was closed by me some time ago.
“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”.
The series only aired for one year (Sept. 1969-Sept. 1970). The listing and description of episodes can be found here:
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’
This is a reposting of an article I wrote and posted several years ago …
Now I ask ya … Do you hear what I 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.
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’
Here is a lengthly article on the history of BionX which I found to be quite informative and an interesting read. It will interesting to see if BionX makes some sort of a comeback. I am sure lots of BionX owners would love to see that happen. Among the information found here is how to reprogram the software to allow the motor to provide more speed. That being said I think a person would have to be pretty tech savvy to understand all of this and do reprogramming. Reading thru it I found it over my head.
I just saw this posted on Facebook and am passing it on …
Important Safety Recall:
If you purchased a TerraTrike Rambler between May – August 2018, there is a Safety Recall for you to be aware of. TerraTrike is conducting this Fast Track recall with the CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to recall the Ramblers affected. No accidents or injuries have been reported; however, this recall is being conducted in order to protect consumers.
Short excerpt from the CPSC Release:
“Recalled models include: TerraTrike Rambler x16 (orange), Rambler All Terrain (green) and Rambler E.V.O. (yellow). The trikes, depending upon model, come with either three 20-inch wheels or three 24-inch wheels. The model names are located on the outrigger tubes that come out of the main tube and connect to the front wheels. The serial numbers included in this recall are listed on the firm’s website at www.terratrike.com and are located under the main tube on a barcoded sticker near the rear wheel. The serial numbers are also stamped into the head (vertical) tube of the outrigger. ” – CPSC Release
Please read the complete CPSC Release here:
Here is a portion of the recall notice linked to above …
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission – Fast Track Recall
Recall Date: SEPTEMBER 27, 2018
Recall Number: 18-236
Name of Product: Adult tricycles (trikes)
Hazard: The right hand wheel hubmount can bend or break, allowing the user to lose control of the trike, which can result in serious injury or death.
Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled trikes and return them to the place of purchase for a free repair.
Consumer Contact: TerraTrike at 800-945-9110 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.terratrike.com and click on “Important Recall” for more information.
The recalled products are TerraTrike adult, pedal powered, orange, green or yellow tricycles. They have two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back and black canvas seat. Recalled models include: TerraTrike Rambler x16 (orange), Rambler All Terrain (green) and Rambler E.V.O. (yellow). The trikes, depending upon model, come with either three 20-inch wheels or three 24-inch wheels. The model names are located on the outrigger tubes that come out of the main tube and connect to the front wheels. The serial numbers included in this recall are listed on the firm’s website at www.terratrike.com and are located under the main tube on a barcoded sticker near the rear wheel. The serial numbers are also stamped into the head (vertical) tube of the outrigger.
The firm has received seven reports of the hub mounts bending or breaking. No accidents or injuries have been reported.
Sold at: Authorized TerraTrike dealers, independent bicycle dealers and recumbent bicycle specialty stores nationwide and online at http://www.TerraTrike.com from May 2018 through August 2018 for between $2,000 and $3,500.
Importer: WizWheelz Inc., dba TerraTrike, of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Distributor: TerraTrike, of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Manufacturer: Forever Machine Industrial Co., Ltd., of Taichung, Taiwan
Manufactured in: Taiwan