Category Archives: components
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.
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.
I 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 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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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’
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.
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.
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 …
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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.
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
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
brake cable routing
shifter cable routing
setting toe on front wheels of a trike
Facing the bottom bracket edges
Discussion of After market items and FAQs:
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 …
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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.
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.
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.
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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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 Drive is not new. Several motorcycles have used belt drives for many years now.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.”
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.
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.
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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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.
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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