Category Archives: components

CHAIN TUBES … WHO NEEDS THEM?


chain-tubes

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

dual-idler-pulleys

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

chain-tube-on-folded-trike

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

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

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

chain-tubes-2

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

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

KEEP ON TRIKIN’ & ENJOY THE RIDE!

BOOM CHAIN TENSIONERS (CRANK ARM SHORTENERS UPDATE)


Note: I started out writing this article about an update on the subject of crank arms shorteners, but it more less evolved into another topic so I changed the title accordingly.

It has warmed up a bit recently and all the snow has melted. Between that and rain we have had recently the rivers have risen and flooded over their banks so that some parts of our local bike trails are flooded over and closed. Boo Hoo!! Never the less I have been able to ride my tadpole trike which I thoroughly enjoyed despite the nasty wind chill factor. In order to ride my trike I removed the crank arm shorteners I had installed on my wife’s recumbent bike I am using for rehab and exercise here at home. I installed the crank arm shorteners on my trike. (I was even able to move the pedals one hole further out so that means my new knee joints are improving.) What a difference! I really like them (Yes, both the crank arm shorteners and my new knee joints.) 🙂

crank-arm-shortener-on-my-tadpole-trike-3

However, there is one thing that I noticed using them on my trike that I didn’t notice on the bike. With the crank arm shorteners installed on my trike I need to readjust my boom … lengthen it … as I am not getting the leg extension I need with the pedals relocated. I have not done that yet, but I should. It probably will require adding some more chain. That is the main reason I haven’t tried moving the boom out yet. It is winter out there folks and I am not too crazy about working out in the cold to accomplish this task.

A rear derailleur is supposed to be able to handle about 2 inches of extra chain length as far as movement of the boom.  That equates to approximately one inch of boom adjustment. However that figure is based on the boom position at the shortest length the rear derailleur handles to the position of the boom at the longest length it can handle. If the boom is already positioned out quite a ways within that range than most of that 2 inches is already used up. If this is the case then additional chain would need to be added.

One nice option is to employ a Universal Boom Adjust Chain Tensioner designed for the boom of a tadpole trike.

crank-arm-shortener-on-tadpole-trike

They are not cheap ($155), but they do make it easy to move the boom in and out and automatically maintain the proper chain tension. They are especially nice to accommodate various riders of differing sizes. The chain can be made up long enough to move the boom out for a tall rider and when the boom is shortened for a shorter rider the chain tensioner automatically takes care of the extra chain the rear derailleur would not be able to handle. Obviously there is a lot of extra chain and hardware involved and it might appear a bit unsightly to many (myself included), but they do work. You definitely would not want to run it into a curb or such as it would likely be damaged. TerraCycle (not to be confused with TerraTrike) manufactures these for several different brands of trikes. They can be purchased from some trike dealers and trike manufacturers as well. Catrike sells it for $150, but it is $145 at most of the other sources I have seen including directly from TerraCycle. The Chain Gobbler fits Greenspeed trikes and sells for $149.

Here is a Utah Trikes video on the subject of these chain tensioners …

So this is a very handy and practical option available. Most definitely if you have various size riders riding the same trike this is the way to go. Adding and removing lengths of chain even if you use links which are supposedly quick and easy to remove is a real pain compared to this slick setup. So if you have $150 or so burning a hole in your pocket here is a place to unload that cash and make your life easier. It is always nicer to ride then to “wrench”. And it will even help you and others to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

YAHOO! THE CRANKARM SHORTENERS WORK GREAT


crankarm-shortener

Yes, I am talking about the crankarm shorteners again. They arrived in the mail today and I installed them on my wife’s recumbent bike I have set up on my indoor trainer out on the enclosed patio. I tried them out and WOW … what a difference! I really like them. I can position my feet normally on the pedals and pedal quite comfortably. My new freshly installed man made knee joints  are loving them. There is only one problem. It is just too darn cold out there even inside the enclosed patio. At least I didn’t have that nasty wind to contend with. And this is jut the start of winter. C’mon April! I chose to install them on my wife’s bike instead of my trike … for now that is … as I don’t intend to try riding my trike outdoors in this miserable weather. Anyway, I just wanted to post a quick note about the crankarm shorteners. They really work great and I highly recommend them. BTW, wouldn’t you just know it? The very same place I bought my crankarm shorteners from is now selling them for over $7 less than I paid for them. The price I paid was the lowest I could find at the time. Oh well, it is truly the story of my life. 🙂

HERE is an article I wrote previously about crankarm length.

Here is a video which explains the need and benefit of shorter crankarms.

CRANKARM SHORTENERS REVISITED


crank-shorteners

For a very long time now I have wanted to try using crankarms shorteners as they are supposed to help those who have knee joint issues. And it is said that short people should use shorter crankarms. I qualify on both. At my rehab physical therapy sessions I am going thru for knee joint replacement their stationary recumbent exercise bike has the crankarms adjusted to their minimum setting and that setting works great for me. I recently ordered a set of crankarm shorteners so I can pedal normally. With my 165 mm crankarms that came on my trike I have to place the heels of my feet on the pedals in order to pedal it. I tried pedaling my wife’s recumbent bike which I have set up on an indoor trainer out on the enclosed patio at the back of the house, but I couldn’t even pedal it with my heels on the pedals. I think it has 175 mm crankarms. I just am not “there” yet in my recovery. At rehab I can pedal with my feet positioned normally on the pedals. I even cranked it up to 100 rpm cadence a couple of times. So the shorter crankarms really do make a difference. I am really looking forward to having them on my trike.

Here is a video which explains the need and benefit of shorter crankarms.

What I am not looking forward to is winter weather for the next few months. I don’t know how much I will be getting out riding thru the winter. If it gets nasty enough I will no doubt bring my trike back inside the house for the third winter in a row and set it up on the indoor trainer in the living room in front of the large screen TV which is also used as a computer monitor. With access to the internet I can find all sorts of stuff to watch on that big screen in front of me including riding on bike trails. It is almost like being there except I can’t lean in the turns. 🙂

Yep, a set of these just might be your ticket as well.

short-crankarms-2

Shortens cranks by 24, 41, 59 and 76mm. I am pretty certain that I will be using the 59 mm position (next to the shortest) as that will give me about 106 mm crankarms which is close to the setting of the crankarms on the stationary recumbent exercise bike I am pedaling at rehab. The really neat thing about using these is that if and as one improves the pedals can be moved further out. I doubt if I would ever go back all the way to 165 mm though.

HERE is an article I wrote previously about crankarm length.

HERE is the best price I have found on them. I am quite certain that they are going to help me to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

ALUMINUM BICYCLE RIMS – HOW THEY ARE MADE


Yet one more of these videos showing how bicycle components are made. This time it is aluminum wheels. Most of our trikes come with aluminum wheels so let’s take a look at how they are made.

INNER TUBES – HOW THEY ARE MADE


don’t know about others, but I find it interesting watching these videos which show how various things are made. I tried to find a video about bicycle inner tubes, but the only one I found is motorcycle inner tubes. But hey, there isn’t much difference other than size. Here is the video:

BICYCLE CHAIN – HOW IT’S MADE


Bicycle Chain Bowl

bike-chain-bowl

Chain is a key component of most bicycles and tricycles. Without it we aren’t going anywhere. Did you ever take a good close look at a bicycle chain? Most riders just take the chain for granted not paying much attention to it. There just might be more to one than you ever realized. Here is a video showing how bicycle chain is made.

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’

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’

GAADI DOUBLE ENDED INNER TUBES


GAADI DOUBLE ENDED INNER TUBE

LOOK OUT, IT’S A SNAKE! Some refer to these as Gaadi snake inner tubes. I am sure some would say … “It’s about time!” … that somebody came out with this product. It surely simplifies changing an inner tube. With this it is not necessary to remove the wheel. As long as you have access to the side of the tire you can accomplish the task with the wheel still mounted on the trike.

GAADI DOUBLE ENDED INNER TUBE box

They aren’t cheap … $15.75 plus shipping on Amazon (free shipping if your order is a minimum of $49). Also they are only available for larger diameter wheels (26/1.5-2, 26/2=2.25, 29 x 1.75-2.1, 700/28-35, and 700/37-42) … at least at this point in time. Perhaps they will eventually be available in other sizes. These double ended tubes would sure be nice to have available in 20 inch for those of us who currently have to remove the front wheels.

They are available in both Presta and Schrader valve types.

Here is a video showing how to install this inner tube. You can clearly and readily see how practical this is compared to a conventional inner tube.

HERE is an article about them. Some tadpole trikes are easy enough to change the inner tubes on the front wheels without removing them as they have nothing in the way. Just tip the trike over on its side and have at it. However, some trikes have things such as fender braces in the way preventing this. Even so, the picture below shows the tube be inserted on a wheel that has fender braces. So maybe it would be possible to accomplish.

Gaadi two ended inner tube being installed

I think you can see that this could revolutionize fixing a flat … especially alongside the road/trail or if you have a trike that is very difficult and involved to remove the rear wheel. It most definitely will help us to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

By the way, a temporary emergency fix for a flat tire is to take the conventional inner tube out and cut it in two where it is leaking. Then tie a knot in both ends so it can be re-inflated. Try not to shorten the tube any more than necessary as it won’t be long enough to go all the way around inside the tire and this would be problematic. Of course, this emergency repair is only if you have no other means of making the repair.

INVERTING TWIST GRIP SHIFTERS AND BRAKE LEVERS ON HANDLEBARS


twist grip shifter vertical reducedor twist grip shifter vertically inverted reduced

Some of us use twist grip shifters and some of us who use them complain about difficulty twisting them using the little finger and palm of our hands. Certainly on a diamond frame upright bicycle (which is what they were designed for) they are installed so that our thumb and opposing finger are positioned on the twist shifters making them much easier to twist. Trike manufacturers who installed these on their trikes have inverted them so that they are facing down instead of up. I have often wondered why they did this. Surely they know it is not how they were designed to be used and inverting like they did creates problems twisting them. But, hey, there is nothing that says we have to have them that way. We are free to invert them. The same is true of the brake levers if we want them inverted. It is likely that we will need longer cables if we invert these.

Some homemade trikes have the twist shifters and brake levers inverted. When I made my first trike I positioned my twist shifters and brake levers inverted from the “industry norm”. Here is a picture of it during construction.

inverted twist shifter and brake lever

I have to admit that I liked it this way and I have been seriously considering changing my setup around on my Catrike Trail trike.

brake cable noodles

An available option is the use of “brake cable noodles” to help make the sharp bends without binding or damage to cables trying to curve them more sharply than one might normally have them. Although they are made for brake cables I have read that they can be used on shifter cables as well. Although the image below is not of an inverted shifter it still serves to illustrate the use of a noodle on the brake lever. Notice how tight and neat the curve is keeping the cable from being stuck out into outer space so to speak.

using brake lever noodle on trike handlebar 3

BTW, the brake lever does not need to be inverted unless one desires to have it inverted. It will function fine the other way around when the twist shifter is inverted. Indeed, if your handlebars are positioned fairly close to the wheels/tires you may not want your brake levers inverted from the industry norm.

Yep, I just might invert  my twist grip shifters. How about you? They are easier to use that way. I don’t know about you, but I am very much in favor of ‘easier’, especially as I age and get a bit weaker. 🙂 I am all for most anything which will help me …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

CATRIKE MAINTENANCE & REPAIR TIPS


While looking up something else I came across a webpage which I thought I would share here. It is entitled “Index to Catrike Maintenance Posts” and has numerous links to articles about various subjects concerning performing maintenance and repair on Catrikes. Here are the various topics listed:

Basic Setup and Maintenance

Catrike Performance Trike Official 2004 Manual

Catrike Performance Trike Official 2005 Manual

Catrike Performance Trike Official 2006 Manual

Catrike Performance Trike Official 2007 Manual

Catrike Performance Trike Official 2009 Manual
Catrike Performance Trike Official 2010 Manual

removing the master link on the chain, and replacing it (page 18 of the above manual).
checklist of initial setup items
removing a front wheel
replacing front wheel bearings
replacing rear wheel bearings
adjusting rear derailer (link to Sheldon Brown’s instructions)
adjusting disk brakes (link to Park Tool page)
replacing disk brake pads (link to Park page)
Bruce’s advice on adjusting Avid BB7 brakes on Catrikes
installing front fenders
fixing a flat tire in front, rear wheels
installing teflon bushings in front headsets

Catrike headset adjustment, servicing bearings

cleaning a chain, and lubrication

Troubleshooting section:

rear wheel squeak: lube rubber weather seal
Bottom bracket not horizontal when trike is on flat surface: loosen boom clamp, reorients boom, or file guide tooth
after removing a front wheel, my brake pad rubs: adjust brakes, per this link:
shimmy in steering: purchase teflon bushings from catrike, install
chain routing
brake cable routing
shifter cable routing
setting toe on front wheels of a trike

Upgrades:

Facing the bottom bracket edges

Discussion of After market items and FAQs:

Jerry’s flags
Locking brake levers. These are great!
What is Schlump and other drives?
what would Schlump or Roloff give me over the stock gearing?
Terracyle idlers discussion
Super bright (240 lumens) flashlight for use as headlight, tail light
what size bearings does my (year) (model) Catrike use in the front, rear wheel?where does one get replacement steel or ceramic bearings (link, or part number)
ceramic bearing installations in front hubs
options for mounting both a light and a speedometer
list of all tools needed
chain guards, bash guards: Purely Custom, with Catrike Logo available, and many colors, Trice (Utah Trikes) Chain Guard Ring
– Cables: how to order replacements, how to cut to length, how to install end pieces on housing and cable, what tools are needed
– Chains: how to order (how many chains needed/length), brand, types
– Articles on component upgrades (brakes, shifters, derailleurs, etc)
– Common accessories: what has worked well (lights, racks, bags, pedals, mirrors, etc)

– Arizona Whip lighted flagpole

– Tactical Flashlights for lighting system

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

As you can see there is quite a lot there. So check it out. You just might find something useful in performing maintenance and repair on your Catrike. And if you have some other brand of tadpole trike you still might find something helpful and equally applicable for the trike you have. With proper maintenance and repairs we can …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

CATRIKE REAR WHEEL EXTENSION KIT


Utah Trikes Catrike Extension Kit 2

Utah Trikes has announced that they are now offering a rear wheel extension kit for all Catrike models.

Utah Trikes Catrike Extension Kit 3

Here is what they say:

“All of our SolidWorks training has paid off and we have created a very nice extension kit that will allow you to put a 26 inch or 700c wheel on your 20-inch Cat. Catrike owners have been asking for these from us for a couple of years and we have finally finished the prototypes. The results are fantastic.

So, what am I talking about? Well, let’s suppose that you bought a Catrike Road a few years ago and then the Expedition came out. Well, you really like the Expedition with its longer wheelbase and larger rear tire, but you have a lot invested in your trike. Up until now your only choice has been to sell the road (or give it to your significant other) and then buy an Expedition for yourself. While there is nothing wrong with that (after all, we are more than happy to sell you an Expedition) it may not be in your budget.

Our kit includes the machined extensions and bolts. We are working out the exact parts for each kit, as some will require additional chain routing modifications. Our extension kit is setup with the OEM mounting for a Rohloff hub and we’ll have many other wheel choices.

Our Catrike Wheel Extension Page shows our last prototype. We are going into production within the next two weeks. The final version will appear a little different in that it has disc brake dropouts and is black anodized with lazer engraving. We are trying to estimate how many to make on our initial run, so please let me know if you are interested. We should have pricing for the different kits up by next week.
In recent Journal correspondence with Catrike, Paulo Camasmie, commenting on third party modifications, said, “We always see, with good eyes, add ons and accessories that are made by third parties and we encourage that. People like options and we think it is cool that people and suppliers will spend time developing add-ons for our products. That shows the thorough passion behind our products.”

Utah Trikes Catrike Extension Kit 5

I could not agree more. Everything I have seen Utah Trikes offer from their own resources is always excellent quality. They have offered an extension kit for Catrike models for some time, but when Catrike changed the frame in 2013 the extension they were making and selling would not work on the new frame. So until now owners of the newer frame did not have this option.

Utah Trikes Catrike Extension Kit 4

Here are links to the two different products.

pre-2013 models    post-2013 models

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 …

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TRIKE TECH – A RECUMBENT TRIKE INFORMATION WEBSITE


I recently became aware of a new website I thought I would share here. It is called TrikeTech.com and it is packed full of useful information including adding electric power assist to a trike.

Here is what the author of the website says about the website:

“While its true that the internet offers just about every piece of knowledge, the trouble is finding it.

That’s why we created Triketech. Triketech is resource providing technical information about Recumbent Trikes that reaches out to all levels of technical understanding. Whether you’re new or a veteran to riding Recumbent Trikes we hope you’ll find this site helpful.”

At the time of the writing of this article I noticed that the creator of this website does not yet have everything fully functional. None of the links in the left hand column work. I assume in time he will have this remedied. It appears to be a “work in progress” so bear with him.

Referring to itself as Recumbent Trike Information it covers both tadpole and delta trikes.

So if you are finding that you have a few weeks of your time available by all means check it out. I don’t think you will be disappointed. There is a lot there. BTW- I am only kidding about the few weeks of your time, but you could probably spend that much time there if you wanted to. Like I said, there is a lot there. And it is there for one reason … to help us all to …

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BELT DRIVEN … DITCH THE CHAIN


Belt Drive is not new. Several motorcycles have used belt drives for many years now.

Belt-drive_internal-geared_multi-speed_rear_hub

Trek Bicycle has tinkered around with belt drive for their bicycles. I love belt drive on motorcycles and ponder over whether it would be as good on bicycles.  In Trek’s own words … “a movement to bury the finger-pinching, pants-munching, rust-prone sprocket and chain, and usher in a new era of belt-driven bikes.” The only thing about it I can see that comes into play is multiple speeds. An internal gear rear hub would be needed as derailleur systems would not be possible with belt drive. At least I don’t see how it could be done. Along with an internal gear rear hub I think one would also need 2 or 3 speed internal hub built into the crankset. Of course, these items add considerable expense to the cycle. Still as times goes along the savings one would experience in chain and sprocket replacement would offset the initial expense. Hmmm, I wonder why we don’t see belt drive tadpole trikes?

On motorcycles the drive belts seem to be quite strong and hold up very well. They are made pretty tough … heavy duty … as they have to be to handle the high horsepower involved and the performance the motorcycles are capable of. Obviously a bicycle application does not involve any of this and so the belts are made much lighter duty. Never the less they are still pretty strong and under normal circumstances should hold up quite well. One of them I read about claimed it would last as long as 4 chains. This one pictured below is reported to have gotten cut while off road riding. The damage led to its total failure.

broken drive belt

Of course, with a tadpole trike the drive belt would either have to be extremely long (not practical) or use at least two drive belts and some sort of a jack shaft in between.

drive belt tension adjustment

I read that the belt tension is critical and that weather (temperature and possibly humidity) can cause problems with tension. Perhaps the cycle frame is changing with temperature changes and not the drive belt, but still the end result is the same. Anyway, the person reports that in the winter time the drive belt seems to lengthen slightly and thus require minor re-tensioning. Then when warmer weather returns the drive belt seems to shorten slightly so that the belt needs readjustment again.

Whether or not we will ever see drive belts used on tadpole trikes is something I guess we will just have to wait and see.

 

ADAPTIVE BRAKE CONTROLS FOR DISABLED RIDERS


Push Brakes for Disabled Riders

AZUB BIKE is known for building high quality custom recumbent bikes and trikes. Among many customizations they have developed also the “push brakes” which allow disabled people to ride on bikes in case they do not have ability to operate regular brake levers.

Push Brakes for Disabled Riders 2

Azub also assemble Shimano Alfine 11 with electronic shifting for easy operation and they have a couple of other options and accessories for disabled riders as well. I went to their WEBSITE and searched for what they have to offer and came up empty handed. If it is on their website I don’t know how you locate it.

electronic shifting

SDV DRIVE WITH OVAL PEDAL MOTION … A MORE EFFICIENT DRIVE SYSTEM


unique pedal crank assembly

*as mounted on a diamond frame bike where the leg is coming down from above*

Have you ever seen anything like it? I didn’t think so. This technology is out of Japan as I understand it. It is said to be 35% more efficient than a conventional crankset and therefore able to propel a cycle faster for the same applied effort and energy expended. Since I know next to nothing about it myself and anything I could write about it would be that which I read online I will simply post a link HERE to an article about this revolutionary design where you can read about it. It is called “SDV drive with oval pedal motion”. According to their description “the SDV drive is comprised of two sprockets and a chain extended around the sprockets, thus forming an oval track of the chain. A pedal is attached to the chain directly.”

SDV drive

Borrowing from the article I linked to above this sentence somewhat sums up everything: “We think the geometry of SDV makes riders use larger muscles, giving lower cadences than we expected.” It makes sense that this system would work better than a conventional crankset. Of course, the positioning of the two sprockets would be different between a diamond frame bike/trike and a recumbent bike/trike since the legs are coming onto the pedals from different positioning … down from above on a diamond frame and forward from behind on a recumbent. In the image below I have drawn yellow lines showing the difference in the positioning of the sprockets between a DF bike and a recumbent. Both cycles are travelling in the same direction.

SDV drive on a recumbent and a DF bike comparison

I can’t find any online videos available to share here so if you want to see any you will have to download the files onto your computer like I did.  I am unable to post them here in this blog like I do other videos. HERE is a link to a webpage where you can download the videos. The webpage is all messed up and difficult to figure out what is there as there is text on top of other text. You will have to click on the British flag in order to open up the next page and then click on Movie Theater to get to the video links. You can try using this LINK  Using this link should start downloading the video unto your computer. It is a WMP (Windows Media Player) format. Personally I would not bother even looking at any of the other videos as they are either the same thing, but not as good of quality or not much to see.

unique pedal crank assembly on bike

HERE is a website page where you can read about the technical aspects of this drive. HERE is a .PDF file on this innovative design. It is quite technical so it probably isn’t of much interest to the average reader of this blog. And HERE is one of the better webpages I have found on this drive system.

It will be interesting to see what happens as time passes as to whether or not we start seeing this new technology put to common use. If I understand correctly this has been around since 2007 so it doesn’t look like it is getting rushed to market. Well, one thing for sure … with or without this innovative drive system my plan is to …

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TWIST SHIFTERS CAN BE AN OOEY GOOEY STICKY MESS


my hand with black goo

assume that others besides me have experienced the problem of the rubber on the twist shifters getting mushy, sticky and gooey. It seems like about every two years mine get that way and they are nasty to deal with. I don’t know what is going on. I ponder over whether the rubber breaks down due to skin oil or if it is caused by something else. I have tried to clean them with various products, but it only does so much and doesn’t seem to last as long as I would hope.

Note: Since first writing this article I read about using talcum powder to alleviate this problem. I tried it and it really works great. I don’t know how long it will last, but as long as it continues to take care of the problem I can always reapply it as talcum powder is cheat and a quick fix.

The rubber actually turns to a sort of goo that sticks to my hands and blackens them. It comes off of the grips in messy bits … much like a tube of black silicone would be if it is squeezed out onto one’s hands. My rubber grips are like this now. I have not found replacement rubber pieces so I have always bought new twist shifters. That seems so wasteful and expensive when there is nothing wrong with the shifter itself. I said that I haven’t found them, but according to what I read online they are available. (The bike shop people told me they aren’t. Do you suppose they wanted to sell me new twist shifters?) Anyway, here are a couple of videos showing how to go about replacing the rubber grips. They show two different kinds of twist shifters. Unfortunately neither are Sram shifters which are the one found on most tadpole trikes equipped with twist shifters.

SRAM Rubber Grip Shift 2

Buying new replacement grips I still find a bit challenging. I see the outer rubber grips, but not the twist shifter grips. The entire twist shifter with new rubber is fairly reasonably priced, but still it is a waste to replace perfectly good shifters. So far I have only found one U.S. source for the rubber grips and their price is considerably more than a new shifter costs. As they say … “go figure”. It is all a mystery to me and I don’t understand why they are so hard to find. Has anyone had success in finding them and at a reasonable price? If so, please share with us on this blog via a comment or if you prefer send me a personal email (stevenewbauer at outlook.com).

Jan. 2016 – Here are some sources I just found for replacement grips … http://www.bikebling.com/…/sram08-xo-grip-assembly.htm
and: http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/…/rp-prod20565
and: http://www.treefortbikes.com/…/SRAM-XO-Left-Grip

I really like my trike and I plan on sticking with it for some time yet, but I don’t like being stuck to it. It is time to get something done about this gooey sticky mess. Hopefully things will work out as I want to …

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(Just so you know … the picture of the hand is not real as far as the black gooey stuff on it. I simply created the image on the computer. I was not about to get my hand looking like that just to take a picture.)

MESH SEATS AND YOU


While out riding today I decided to take a couple of minutes to tighten some of my straps on my mesh seat. In doing so I was reminded of the scenes where a guy was helping a gal cinch up a corset by placing his foot in her lower back and pulling for all he was worth. It hurts just thinking about it. This image below is not a mesh seat, but it should illustrate my point as to loose vs. tight lacing.

loose and tight laced 2

I only tightened the upper straps on the back. Anyway, in tightening the straps I noticed a considerable difference when I sat back down in the seat. And honestly, I wasn’t sure I liked the difference it made as it seemed too tight. I kept riding it and eventually I got more used to it, but it still seemed a bit too tight. What I am saying is it really did make a difference and we all have our needs and preferences as to how the seat is set up. I would not be surprised if I end up loosening the straps just a wee bit as I think it would make for a more comfortable ride.

Pulling the straps tight can be challenging and difficult. Our bodies are all different and what feels good and is right for one person may not be  the same for another person … and visa versa. Even mixing up which straps are tightened and which aren’t can be therapeutic. Some people may prefer/need all the straps as tight as they can’t get them while others may prefer/need all of them loose. And some may prefer/need the bottom loose and the back tight or visa versa. Or some other combination may be in order. It is all a matter of personal choice and only we can determine what works for us and what doesn’t.  It may take some experimentation … trial and error to get our seats dialed in to the best comfort for us.

Although the straps on our mesh seats are pretty strong I would caution you that if you are pretty strong it is possible to break them by pulling too hard. I would also caution you that it is possible to have the straps too loose to the extent that they rub something such as the idler pulley for the chain. This is not only inefficient, but in time it can wear the strap in two. Depending upon what type of idler pulley you have it could even stop it from revolving and thereby allowing the chain to wear out the idler pulley. Keep in mind that the heavier the rider is the more chance there is of the seat strap(s) making contact with the chain/idler pulley(s), especially if the seat straps are loose.

Lastly, be aware that the seat straps can and do loosen up. The mesh seat material and straps themselves can and do stretch. This means that it may be necessary to tighten the straps from time to time to maintain the adjustment we want/need. Riding in comfort is the goal and this adjustment is part of it. It will help us to …

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