Category Archives: How To
I am quite sure that there are many readers of this blog who don’t know that there are easy ways to find what you may be looking for or how to go about it. So I thought I would write this posting to explain it.
SEARCH FOR IT … I have tried to lay out this blog making it “user-friendly”. I purposely placed a Search Box at the very top of the right hand column and selected one with a Go button to use in case the reader doesn’t know to use the Enter Key to proceed with the search. So whatever the reader is searching for is quite easy to accomplish. Just type in whatever it is and push Go. If something exists it will show up in the search results. There may be more than one posting about it and, if so, they will all be listed. Please note that any misspelling of the words typed in will result in zero (nothing) in the search results.
SEARCH BY CATEGORY … Just a short ways further down in the right side column below the Recent Posts is “CATEGORIES”. There are many to choose from and using these is an easy way to find all sorts of postings on things the reader is interested in.
There is also a third way … searching by tags, but I don’t have a clue how to do so. Anyway, these two methods can be quite valuable. Give it a try. And, of course, …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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
The two front brakes on a tadpole trike are such an important component. We need them to slow us down at times and to completely stop us. That is a given. But did you know that you can help steer your trike with them? I do it all the time. It is very helpful for those who like to ride a little faster than others. Entering a curve going faster than is recommended the use of one brake applied properly can make a big difference in how the trike handles the curve. Those who are really skilled at riding fast thru a turn may use a combination of leaning their upper body into the turn as well as braking on the inside wheel of the turn. Using a brake to help the trike turn thru a corner is something one must be careful of as if it is not done correctly it could have bad results. So my suggestion is to learn how to do it slowly … at slower speeds … discovering how it works and becoming skilled at it. Then one can start speeding up a little at a time until they reach their personal potential or the physical limitations … whichever comes first. Be aware that applying the brake too hard in a turn is dangerous and can result in a crash. Like ol’ Dirty Harry said … a man’s gotta know his limits … and the physical limits of the trike. Anyway, by slowing the inside wheel down in a turn the trike will want to turn thru it easier. Too much brake application is not good so as I said practice is needed. I would suggest practicing and honing your initial skills in an empty parking lot where you have plently of room. Then you can move onto streets, roads and trails. Just don’t “hotdog” around others. Be a good ambassador out there when you are around others. In doing so we can all …
ENJOY THE RIDE!
Sooner or later if we ride any kind of a cycle with pneumatic tires we are likely to get a flat tire. Many of us have been fixing flats since childhood so we can handle flats when they happen. However, some riders have never done so and don’t know how and are intimidated by such a challenge. In today’s world there is help as close as our computers/smartphones/tablets. There are quite a lot of tutorials available in the way of videos where things are not only explained, but they are shown making it even easier to understand. Here is one such video which is pretty comprehensive:
And here is another:
One cardinal rule is never use a sharp object such as a screwdriver as a tire lever. This young person in THIS VIDEO uses two of them.
If you find you have a damaged tire that you are concerned about continuing on riding on there may be hope for it. HERE is an article I wrote on dealing with such tires.
HERE is an article I wrote on rear wheel removal and reinstallation.
Here is another video on changing a tube:
One tip I would share here which makes a whole lot of sense, but is seldom mentioned in instructional videos is to use the punctured inner tube to discover the location in the tire where the puncture occured. Simply carefully remove the inner tube from the tire paying careful attention to its exact positioning in the tire so that you can later place it upon the outside of the tire the same as it came out. Pump the punctured inner tube back up with air to discover the location of the leak. Once you know where the leak in the tube is at you can determine where to look in the tire for the cause of the leak. The cause may or may not be there, but if it is still there it is most important to remove it before installing the new inner tube. Otherwise it will just cause the new inner tube to fail also. Be very careful running your fingers around inside of the tire attempting to locate the cause of the flat as you could get cut or otherwise injured.
When I watch most instructional videos I usually find at least one thing they cover which I take issue with and don’t agree on. That’s okay, I guess. They can do whatever they want and I will do the task the way I want. That is just the way things are in this ol’ world we live in. I guess the most important thing is that we “git ‘er dun” so that we can …
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Here is a man who came up with a simple means of transporting two trikes using his SUV. One is inside and the other is outside. With his rig no lifting of the trikes is involved.
The product links mentioned in the video are listed below for your convenience.
Steve Greene recently posted an article on his Trike Asylum blog about tire sealants where various brands were tested and compared. I have never been a fan of Slime and the article isn’t very flattering for Slime as it states and shows exactly what I have observed and experienced with it. In short, it is very messy and only works on very small punctures. As you can see the top performers are: Orange Seal, Stan’s NoTubes and Schwalbe’s Doc Blue product (which is made by Stan’s). Interestingly the Schwalbe product scored better than Stan’s NoTubes. None of the sealants could stop a leak of the largest size hole in the test. The Orange Seal did the best however and might have allowed the tire to be pumped up as necessary to make it home. If someone insists on running tires that easily get flats a sealant may be practical to use. As for me I think I will stick with Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires as they have never failed me. I have never had an externally caused flat tire nor a glass cut in the tread … and I used to get both all the time when I ran other tires.
Since Orange Seal scored the highest I offer this video demonstrating how well it works.
I reckon it comes down to personal preferences and the environment one rides in. I know I much prefer to ride my trike than work on it … especially alongside the road or trail. Yep, I like to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
ENJOY THE RIDE!
This is a subject like many others where you can find varying opinions and instructions on how to go about setting up and adjusting mechanical disc brakes. I only have and use Avid BB7 brakes. I started off with Avid BB5 brakes which I would not wish on my worst enemy as the saying goes. They are junk in my opinion. They required almost constant daily adjustment which got old quick. The BB7 is a far superior brake and well worth the additional expense over the BB5 brakes. The main difference between the two besides the brake pads is that the BB5 brake only has one adjustment knob for the brake pad … that is, only one side can be adjusted. The other side is stationary. The BB7 has adjustment knobs on both sides making it much easier to get proper adjustment initially. And once adjusted the BB7 seems to remain in proper adjustment for quite some time. If you have the BB5 brakes you are on your own as I won’t waste my time trying to instruct how to adjust them as they aren’t worth the time and effort involved. My advice is to upgrade to the BB7s. Anyway, I am not going to link to the instructions of others here, but rather I am simply going to share how I go about setting up and adjusting the brakes.
To start out it is important that the rotors run true. If they are bent or damaged they need to be repaired or replaced. There is a special tool to use to straighten a bent rotor, but if one lacks this tool an adjustable wrench can be used if the bend is only near the outer part of the disc. If it is further inward toward the center of the disc an adjustable wrench won’t do. I have a Park Tool straightener, but there are other brands available.
If the rotor is straight and true you can move onto the setup of the brake. Basically by setup I mean positioning the brake caliper and brake pads properly on the rotor. Again, not everybody goes about this the same way, but I am only sharing how I do it and it has worked great for me. Ideally it would be best to do all this with the rider of the trike seated on the trike so that the effect of the rider’s weight is taken into consideration as I am sure things would change a little just like the toe in measurement sometimes changes when the rider is seated on the trike. This is especially true if the rider is heavy. I have never done that myself as it would be difficult if one is by themself to sit in the seat and perform this procedure.
It is most important that the caliper be positioned correctly so that the rotor is centered and parallel to the brake pads. Otherwise it is likely that the brake will rub and make noise, especially when cornering. Also the brakes won’t work as well as they could and the brake pads will wear uneven.
The mounting bolts have special washers which are dished and cupped so that they fit together and “adjust” to the positioning of the caliper over the rotor.
The procedure I use to align the caliper and brake pads on the rotor is simply to leave the mounting bolts loose so that the caliper can move freely.
I then sort of wiggle the caliper around while I turn the brake pad adjustments (red plastic knobs) in so that they tighten against the rotor and center the caliper over the rotor. I initially wiggle the caliper around a bit just to ensure it is freely moving while the brake pads are being adjusted in. Turning these adjustment knobs can tighten the brake pads sufficiently to hold against the rotor aligning it properly. I then carefully tighten the mounting bolts being careful not to move the caliper in the process. An alternative way of doing this is to tighten the brake pad adjustment knobs only partially so that squeezing the brake lever will tighten the brake pads on down against the rotor. Holding the brake lever on (or using some means of holding it on) I then tighten the mounting bolts carefully. Now with the caliper and brake pads aligned the brake pads can be adjusted properly.
Here is a video about centering hydraulic disc brakes which is pretty much the same process as mechanical disc brakes with the exception of having to push the pistons back out..
When adjusting the brake pads I simply back them off just enough initially so that they don’t rub when the wheel is spun. I then pull the brake lever to see how it feels. If it is too tight I loosen one of both of the brake pads a bit more. I also look down at the brake pads to see what the gap is looking like as I want to be sure both pads are evenly spaced out from the rotor. One should try to keep the gap between the brake pad and rotor the same on both sides so that when the brake is applied both brake pads make contact at the same time and not be forcing the rotor over to one side. It should remain straight and not flex (be forced) sideways.
Keep in mind that when cornering hard there is some flex in the wheel and often times some rubbing will occur between the brake pads and the rotor. If this is bothersome the brake pads can be further adjusted out if needed.
Keep in mind that if a wheel is removed or realigned (adjusting the spokes) or a rotor is removed and then reinstalled or a new rotor is installed the caliper and brake pads may need to be realigned. That is what happened to my trike recently. I adjusted the spokes realigning the wheels which resulted in the need to reposition the caliper and brake pads. Once I did that my brakes worked much better. Obviously having properly working brakes is most important. They will help us …
ENJOY THE RIDE!
HERE is a link to all of Park Tool’s videos.
There is lots of information about building a tadpole trike available online besides what I have written myself. I am not really adding anything new here. Rather I am simply posting this one article with links to all that I have written about the subject before making it a bit easier to find it.
Here is one of them: https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/gotta-do-your-homework/
Here is another one: https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/tadpole-trike-construction-the-science-of-tadpole-trike-steering/
Here another one: https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/home-built-recumbent-trike-detailed-plans-and-construction-steps/
And here are a bunch more postings on my blog about custom built trikes: https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/category/homemade-tadpole-trikes/
It can happen all too easily and quickly … slam, bam … and I ain’t talking about heading off for the moon. I am talking about damage occurring to our wheels by hitting a bad bump or hole. It happened to me this Spring riding along on city/county streets and roads. Pot holes are everywhere and hard to avoid, especially when riding a trike with three wheels all tracking their own separate path. With traffic alongside and sometimes parked cars on the other one doesn’t have the luxury of steering out and over to the side to avoid hitting such bad pavement. I have two front wheels with pronounced flat spots on them. What’s a guy to do? New wheels are not cheap and it is something that can happen more than once. To continually replace damaged wheels would be a rich man’s game. There is hope as long as the damage isn’t too severe.
Like so many things we can do an online search for help and information. First if we have the money we can have a LBS (Local Bike Shop) make the repair for us if they offer that servoce. There are special tools to use to make such repairs. I try to do as much of my own repair and maintenance work on my trike as I can. I rarely need to take my trike to a shop as I can do most everything myself.
How do you fix a flat spot on a wheel you ask? It is not as difficult as one might think. Probably the most helpful information I have come across is the website of the late Sheldon Brown. He is well known and respected as a gold mine of information about bicycle repair and maintenance. HERE is his article on this subject. Most of the way down the page you will find his instruction on how to remove flat spots on wheels.
The tools needed are simple enough … a spoke wrench, a strong fence post (or something such), and some sort of a strong strap. After removing the flat spot as much as you can the wheel will need to be trued. HERE is Sheldon’t article on truing wheels.
There are other ways to go about this. Another of them is to simply stand on the flat spot and physically pull the rim back out removing the flat spot. One needs to be careful however as other damage can happen to the wheel. Above a person is using a hydraulic bottle jack to push the flat spot out. Notice he has in place a block of wood on the base of the jack and a curved piece of metal on the top … both to help prevent damage to the wheel components.
Here is a helpful video covering this subject and more …
Like many subjects there are a “blue million” videos available about wheel truing.
Here are some articles I have written:
Of course, the best advise is to try to avoid riding places where this damage can occur. It is no fun riding on rims with flat spots and it is no fun trying to fix them either. But hey, like something else we all know about … IT happens! And when it does we have to deal with it if we want to ENJOY THE RIDE and …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
For those who have quick release wheel axles there is a matter which should be taken into consideration if you never have before. When tightened down the lever should not be pointed forward as many people often do. When they are pointed forward they can easily and readily do catch sticks, weeds, etc. A lot of people just tighten them up in whatever position that they happen to be in. I have seen the result of having these levers positioned facing forward. They are very good at snagging twigs, etc. as we ride along. So I highly suggest positioning them to face backwards if possible or “tucked away” somehow to avoid this problem. Here is one pointing up which is okay.
And here is one sort of tucked in where it would be hard for a stick to get snagged by it.
This applies to both the front and back axles.
This one on a front axle is positioned ideally.
This may sound like nit picking and silly, but from personal experience it can help avoid problems as we ride along. Just be sure that in changing the position of the lever the entire axle skewer assembly is sufficiently tight. You sure don’t want a wheel falling out of it’s proper position like in this picture of a mountain biker. Actually I photo edited this as I couldn’t find a picture online to demonstrate it. Hopefully we won’t be flying thru the air like some bikes do.
Snagging sticks is not a game to be played while out riding. It is much better to just …
ENJOY THE RIDE & KEEP ON TRIKIN’
TerraCycle, not to be confused with TerraTrike, is a gold mine for recumbent folks. They have much to offer and if you have never heard of them you really need to get acquainted. Here are their own words:
“TerraCycle has a simple mission: to make parts for recumbent cycles that considerably improve the riding experience. Every day, the TerraCycle Team shows up and uses their hands, hearts and minds to create those parts. We know were doing well when Tom Caldwell writes us and says: “Great work, great product, great companyI love doing business with professionals!” When a customer comes back to the shop just to see what new add-ons we’ve created for our accessory mounts, when a team of college kids asks for our idlers on their human powered vehicle, or when a couple comes by to show off the new ways they’ve figured out to use their cockpit mounts, then we know we’re doing it right.
With our website, we hope to create a library of information on recumbent cycling and the technologies that empower those who ride. Over the years, we’ve demonstrated our dedication to making the perfect part, which requires knowing just about all there is to know about recumbent cycling. If you haven’t had the chance to try us out, we recommend it. Otherwise, let this site be a place for you to come to learn about that wheeled craft you’ve been riding around. Who knows, you might realize you need something after all.”
Here is a list of their offerings:
Cargo Monster Load Carrier
Chain in Bulk
Easy Reacher Underseat Racks
FastBack Hydration & Packs
Handlebars, Stems & Steering
Idlers & Chain Management
Purple Sky Flags
SeatSide Mount System
Stainless Bolt Kits
Tires & Tubes
Velogenesis Seat Clamps
Xtras, Blems & Discounts”
They also have a FAQ page which you may find very helpful. Here is a sampling:
Here at TerraCycle, we strive to be the world leader in recumbent cycling knowledge. Below are some topics that have caused more head scratching than brand new helmets, and our best attempts to alleviate the discomfort!
Diagnosing Drivetrain Noises
They even speak (or at least write) Latin. You’ll have to look thru their website to know what I am referring to here as I am not going to tell you.
TerraCycle also has some videos available on YouTube.
Please note that there is another company called TerraCycle which deals with recycling waste so don’t get confused with them. Because of the shared name our TerraCycle has to use a different name in their website …” t-cycle”.
For those who have followed my personal triking life you know that I recently had my trike motorized with a pedal assist setup. A TerraCycle mini-cockpit T bar was used to mount the display console on. Here is a picture of it. It is the bar furthest forward with the green area and the white 0 (zero) displayed on the screen of the dispaly console. The TerraCycle part is only the section shown where their company icon is seen. It is where the display console is mounted. The bottom part is made by a different company (it is the Catrike mirror and accessory mount). The two parts look like they are made as one unit.
Well, that’s all I have to say about that. I have ordered a couple of items from them in years past and they always provided excellent and quick service. Their parts seem to be very well made … top quality. With their help we can …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Here is a good instructional video produced by Park Tools. I will add some personal comments and suggestions further below.
In the video it was pointed out that the threads should have either an anti-seize product or grease applied. This is a very good idea as if you have ever encountered pedals that are extremely difficult to loosen and remove this the reason why as none was used when they were installed. If you find that you can’t loosen the pedals there some things you can try. My first recommendation is to try impact on the wrench. You can smack it with palm of your hand if you are tough enough to do so. You can use a soft hammer so as not to damage the wrench. You can also use a piece of wood to either place on the wrench handle to help protect it and use a regular steel hammer to smack the wood. You can use a board (such as a 2×4) as a hammer to smack the wrench handle. If you find the pedal threads don’t want to cooperate and turn to loosen you can try tightening it a bit more and then try loosening it. If you can’t budge the wrench to tighten it you can use impact. Just don’t try to turn it very far in tightening it. If you experience the threads being very tight and uncooperative as you try to unscrew it you may have to try using special penetrating oil such as WD-40. Even after trying that it may be a good idea and necessary to turn the threads both directions back and forth to carefully remove the pedal without doing damage to the threads. I would advise you to continue to use the penetrating oil frequently as you turn the threads back and forth as this will aid the penetrating oil to “penetrate” and do it’s job. There is always the possibility that a threading tap should be used to clean up the threads before a new pedal is installed in a crankarm that you had a difficult time removing the pedal. Hopefully you won’t encounter this problem, but if you do I think this advise will be helpful. Let’s all try to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Occasionally someone asks me about my homemade safety flags wanting information on how to make them. I am not a seamstress so I had a woman make them for me.
Before I get into this I want to say that there are lots of factory manufactured safety flags available to buy. I am strongly opinionated about them as some are better than others and some are not of much value as far as making a rider safer. Some are pretty much worthless. I have had several factory made flags in an attempt of making myself visible and thereby safer. I finally decided to make my own and I really like the flags I have now as I know they work great as far as being seen.
The flags themselves are about 15 inches square and the black border is a 2 inch (or more … more is better) wide black satin double sided finish ribbon trim. It is okay to make the flags larger than 15 inches, but I would not make them any smaller. They could also be rectangular rather than square although I personally prefer square. I highly recommend using this black satin finish color as trim around the outside of the flags as it really makes the flags stand out and “catches the eye”. The black trim is available at a well stocked fabric shop as is the safety yellow and safety orange (also known as florescent yellow and orange) nylon material. The black satin trim is folded over the flag material as well as folded over itself so that it is thicker and offers more strength and protection to keep the edge of the flag material and itself from fraying in the wind.
Here are some pictures I took of a brand new flag that has never been flown. (Pardon the black spray paint seen on some of the yellow background. The flag is laying on a pull out shelf of a metal desk. I had done some spray painting on it at one time and got some over-spray on the metal shelf which I never removed.)
Just a reminder — you can left click on any image in a WordPress blog and have it open up in its own window. Oftentimes it is much larger so you can see it in much greater detail. When you are finished viewing it just use your browser’s BACK button to close it and return to this page.
The top end of the flag where the pole slides in must be sewn closed, of course, so that it doesn’t allow the flag to slide on down the flag pole. It is important to have sufficient sewing so that it holds in wind and flapping around.
Here is a drawing I made to show how the black satin finish ribbon is folded over and sewn onto the flag. The orange is the flag material and the green is the thread where it is sewn.
I provided a short piece of a fiberglass flag pole (20 inches or so) to the seamstress to use to “fit” the flag to so that it is a pretty snug fit. That is important as it is hard to keep the flag on a flag pole if it fits loosely. Even with a snug fit I also use plastic cable ties on the flag to help secure it in place on the pole as otherwise they will work their way up off of the pole and if you didn’t notice it in time you could lose the flag. In addition to making the flag fit snugly on the flag pole I also use 3 small size plastic cable ties (top, middle and bottom) and cut small openings thru the flag material up near the pole so I can insert the cable ties thru the flag and around the pole … tightening the cable ties around the flag pole to keep the flag from moving up the pole. When I say “cut holes” I actually used an awl and punched small holes thru the flag material.
If you ride after dark you may want to use a reflective border on one of the flags as it will really stand out when light shines on it. I did this for awhile, but I finally went with the black border on both flags as I rarely ride after dark and the black border shows up much better in the daytime.
If the flags are constructed like this they should last quite some time. The material will fade some out in the sun as time passes so I would advise changing them periodically so that they offer maximum visibility and protection.
The height of my flag poles are 65 inches from the ground to the top of the poles. In my opinion this is an ideal height. Too low or too high greatly reduces the effectiveness as far as attracting attention to the flags.