Category Archives: How To

SETUP & ADJUSTMENT OF MECHANICAL DISC BRAKES


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.

SO YOU WANT TO BUILD YOUR OWN TRIKE, HUH?


 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/

WHEEL (RIM) REPAIRS


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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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 …

http://www.vitalmtb.com/videos/features/How-To-Wheel-Truing-with-Arts-Cyclery,25038/sspomer,2

Like many subjects there are a “blue million” videos available about wheel truing.

Here are some articles I have written:

Wheel Truing

Catrike Front Wheel Bearings

Wheel Building

Rear Wheel Cartridge Bearing

Wheel Alignment & Spoke Tension/Breakage

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’

STICK CATCHING … NOT A NICE GAME TO PLAY


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 – EXQUISITE RECUMBENT PARTS & ACCESSORIES


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 we’re doing well when Tom Caldwell writes us and says: “Great work, great product, great company—I 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:

“Accessory Mounting
Assist Arms
Battery Mounts
Cargo Monster Load Carrier
Chain in Bulk
Easy Reacher Underseat Racks
FastBack Hydration & Packs
Fenders
Gift Certificates
Handlebars, Stems & Steering
Idlers & Chain Management
Purple Sky Flags
SeatSide Mount System
Stainless Bolt Kits
TailSoks
Tires & Tubes
Velogenesis Seat Clamps
Windwrap Fairings
Xtras, Blems & Discounts”

They also have a FAQ page which you may find very helpful. Here is a sampling:

“FAQ Directory
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!

Bearings
Cargo Monster
Handlebar Fitting
Idlers
Diagnosing Drivetrain Noises
Steering Systems
Tire Sizing
Underseat Racks
Windwrap Fairings”

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’

PEDAL REMOVAL & INSTALLATION


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 rgat you can’t loosen the pedals there some things you can try. My first recommendation is to try impact on rhe 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’