Category Archives: maintenance/repair



Toe in is as pictured above in this drawing of a car. Toe in is when the front wheels point inward at the front. Toe out is when the wheels point outward at the front. Just like cars, trucks, buses, etc. must have the proper toe in setting our tadpole trikes need this as well. Determining the toe in is simply a matter of measuring the distance in width between the front of the wheels and the back of the wheels. The measurement in the front should be less than the measurement in the rear in order for there to be toe in. The amount of toe in is quite critical as it will determine how the trike handles and how safe it is to ride as well as how much effort is needed to propel it forward. Lastly it determines tire wear and economy.


I said revisited because I have written about this very important subject before. The very first time I wrote about it I entitled the article “What’s Up With Your Toe?”. Unfortunately it no longer exists in the archives. HERE is another of my articles on toe in. I myself am all to guilty of not following the advice I give out on checking the toe in periodically to ensure that it hasn’t changed. I admit that I rarely check mine. Shame on me! It really doesn’t take all that long, especially if you use what I recommend to check it which is a telescoping antenna.


Using one of these I have found to be far handier, easier and more practical than a tape measure or the cumbersome tool Catrike sells.


Don’t get me wrong. Their tool works. It is just that it is so large in comparison to the telescoping antenna that it is harder to use in my opinion. It is also quite expensive while the telescoping antenna costs a fraction. You could probably buy one at a thrift store selling donated items. An old radio/cassette player/recorder usually has such an antenna on it. I already had a couple of the antennas sitting around I had taken off of radios I discarded. Anyway, because the antenna is so small in diameter it is much easier to get it in places to take the measurements.

And the measurements … well, it is critical. Ideally a zero degree measurement is best so long as the trike handles okay at that setting. Otherwise you can have up to 1/16 inch of toe in and no more. You should never have toe out. One thing to remember is when the rider sits down on the trike the measurement is likely to change. And the heavier the rider is the more likely the measurement is to change to a greater amount. So it is best to have someone sitting in the seat of the trike who weighs the same as the person who normally rides it and set the toe in adjustment with them seated. If that is not possible then you should recheck the toe in measurement again after you are seated. That can, of course, be difficult. I know when I sit on my trike my toe in measurement changes by about 1/16 of an inch so when I set the toe in I set it at 1/16″ knowing that it will change to zero when I am seated on it.

Having and maintaining the proper toe in setting will ensure that your trike will handle properly and safely as well as give you maximum wear out of your tires. The farther off the toe in setting is the more all will suffer. When I first bought my Catrike Trail trike the dealer who set it up had the toe in setting 1 inch off … yes, you read that right … one inch off. The brand new set of Schwalbe Marathon Racer tires that came on it were worn out (the blue liner was showing thru) in only 30 miles of riding as there was so much tire scrubbing going on with the toe in off that much.

This toe in setting can change by itself. Don’t ask me how as it seems to be a mystery. Obviously the “jam nuts” can come loose so it occurs, but I have seen the toe in change when the jam nuts remained tight. It is a good idea to check the jam nuts periodically to ensure that they have remained tight. And, as I stated previously it is a good idea to occasionally recheck the toe in measurement to ensure it hasn’t changed. I really need to follow my own advice. 🙂

Keeping the toe in setting set properly will help us to …



If you have never experienced a bicycle wheel being out of true you are most fortunate. Actually it is fairly common for wheels to get out of true. Here is a video showing a brand new wheel which is badly out of true.

I will state upfront if you are not mechanically inclined and savvy don’t attempt to true a wheel yourself as you can make it much worse than it already is. That being said it really is not complicated if you understand the basics involved. A wheel can run out of true in roundness and/or in side to side movement. Although ideally it is best to use a truing stand and remove a wheel from a bike/trike and remove the tire and inner tube so that all you have is the wheel itself the procedure can be done with everything intact on the bike/trike.

This video below does a pretty good job explaining and illustrating it.

I don’t own a truing stand although I have always thought it would be nice to have one. I have made temporary ones in times past which worked sufficiently. However, I almost always true wheels on the bike/trike. One can either find something on the bike/trike to use to “gauge” the trueness or make something to use to gauge the trueness. I oftentimes have simply used my finger or thumb alongside the rim. One must be careful not to overtighten spokes attempting to pull the rim over to one side as you might end up pulling it out of round. If the rim needs to move very far one should always be sure to loosen the spokes on the opposite side and not just tighten the spokes pulling the rim over. That will help eliminate pulling the rim out of round.

In order to tighten (or loosen) a spoke you will need a spoke wrench. There are lots of different types. Most are just one size, but some have multiple sizes in one wrench. Unless you work on wheels that have different size spokes I would suggest using a spoke wrench which is just one size. Be sure to get the size that fits your spokes. I use one like this and really like it.


As I said, there are lots of different types. Here are just a few of the ones available:


As to truing stands one can buy one for less than $50


Or pay more than $500 for one:


Or anywhere in between. You can even get very precision using dial indicators:


Some folks seem to get quite confused with the direction threaded parts need to turn to tighten or loosen. Spokes are always standard … righty tighty and lefty loosey. You just have to remember which way to view the spoke and spoke nut (called nipples). That is not difficult. The nipple simply screws down onto the spoke so you view it accordingly. To tighten the nipple it turns clockwise down onto the spoke. To loosen it turns counterclockwise. Although it is certainly nice to have a wheel turn perfectly true most of us don’t really need such precision.

Lastly this video although a bit lengthy brings out some good helpful information and tips:

Keeping your wheels properly aligned will help you to …



Workstands are a subject matter which has been discussed previously on this blog. One can buy them or make their own. Some of the most popular ones are made of PVC piping and fittings. Some of them are made of metal. Wood is also popular. Here is a video showing how one person made his workstand out of wood.


recently came across this video while looking for videos about tire liners as I have an article I have written on tire liners which will be published as the next article after this one. This video mentions tire liners, but it covers a whole lot of things. As for me I am going to continue using the best tire money can buy and not concern myself with flats.


worn out trike tire

What kind of mileage should we get out of our tires? What should we expect? What is typical? What factors affect the mileage we get out of our tires? When should we replace our tires? Is it safe to ride on a worn out tire? I will attempt to address these questions and more in this article.

The short definitive answer is … “IT ALL DEPENDS”. I just knew you were not going to like that answer, but in all truthfulness it is the only answer one can give. Let’s look at some of the different things that it depends upon. I won’t go into great detail here, but I do want to touch on the majority of factors that come to mind. Here are factors that can and do affect tire wear:

* the tire itself and how it is constructed and the material (rubber compound) used. In short, not all tires are created equal.

* inflation pressure (especially too high or too low. It is important to maintain proper pressure in tires. Too low of pressure is most likely to occur and does the most damage in premature wear and failure.)

* type of surface being ridden on (smooth vs. rough, sharp stones, etc.)

* weight being carried on the tires (rider’s weight as well as any kind of cargo)

* whether or not the rider is aggressive (hard fast cornering for instance)

* wheel alignment (most especially toe in)(really severe tire scrubbing can occur and destroy a tire very quickly)

* temperature (especially surface temperature where the tire is running on)

* debris ran over which damages tire (glass cuts can greatly shorten the life of a tire)

* hitting harsh bumps or holes

* running into damaging things (especially with the sidewall of the tire)

I am sure there are other factors I have not thought of. I myself have gotten as little as 200 or so miles out of a brand new tire and as much as over 14,000 miles out of a tire. Obviously only getting a couple of hundred miles out of a tire is a bummer. And just as obvious, getting over 14,000 miles out of a tire is fabulous. The 200 or so miles was the result of sidewall damage when I hit something. The tire was a Schwalbe Tryker tire which has very weak sidewalls which damage very easily. If I were to have done the very same thing with the tires I use now I don’t think they would have been phased as they are amazingly tough. Like I said, not all tires are created equal.

Trikes, unlike bikes, don’t lean when turning. (Not unless you have a lean steering trike … which few of us do.) Because of this rubber is “scrubbed off” of the tires, especially the front tires, when riding. And this can be rather significant if the rider is a “hotdogger” (aggressive rider in fast cornering). Front tires on a tadpole trike will wear out faster than the rear tire.

Other damage can happen to a tire which shortens its life. Hitting a hard bump or hole can destroy the tire and cause a bulge or deformity to occur. Depending upon how badly the tire is damaged you might be able to ride on it for awhile longer, but I would definitely suggest keeping a close eye on it. Sometimes a tire can be “booted” to extend its life some. However, it is always best to replace a tire which had such damage. BTW, if you hit a bad hole or bump you should also check the rim and spokes for any sign of damage or loosening.

Cracking in the sidewalls of tires can occur either from riding with underinflation or aging or both. Cracking can also be caused by overinflation. With Schwalbe tires cracking of the sidewalls doesn’t seem to be nearly as common as tires of yesteryear most of us grew up with. I can’t speak for other brands as I don’t use any other brands and therefore have no experience or first hand knowledge concerning them.

As to answering the questions about when a tire should be replaced and if it is safe to ride on a worn out tire to some degree I would have to respond once again by saying “it all depends”. I do not advocate riding on a worn out tire. If you use tires that don’t have a protective liner built in I definitely would advise against riding on such a tire when it is worn out and the “insides” are starting to show thru. It could even be the inner tube starting to show thru and even if it is not yet it could quickly do so if a person continues to ride on such a tire. It is very dangerous as the tire could suddenly and catastrophically fail. That could result in a very serious accident at worse. At the least it could leave you stranded unless you happen to carry a spare tire and inner tube with you. Most of us don’t carry spare tires along when we ride (although many of us do carry one around our middle of our bodies).

In the picture at the start of this article you can see a worn out tire with the blue protective liner showing thru. Some tires have green liners. Some have reddish liners. Some have no protective liners at all.

If you use tires which have protective liners built into them then you are not in nearly as much danger when the tire shows wear and the liner is showing thru. Truthfully you could probably ride quite a few more miles on such a tire and be perfectly safe. Most definitely my advice is to replace the tire as soon as possible and by all means keep your eye on it if you continue to ride on it in such a condition. I myself have ridden a couple of hundred more miles or so on a tire which has started showing the protective liner … more than once. There was no problem at all in doing so, but I don’t advise doing so. If, however, the black rubber of the outside of the tire continues to quickly disappear and more and more of the protective liner shows thru it can eventually reach the point that it would be more and more of a concern to continue riding on it. The protective liner is not intended to be what contacts the riding surface.

Tires are constructed in various layers and are integrated together giving them their strength. With high psi air pressure inside of them trying to force its way out once a tire is worn like this it could conceivably fail. So don’t take advantage of the fact that the tires are well constructed. Replace them in a timely manner when you spot this sort of wear. There isn’t much left which is holding the tire together when it gets like this. It is dangerous to continue to ride on a tire that is worn this badly like pictured below.

tire protective liner showing thru all the way around

Depending upon the tire the mileage obtainable out of it even in the best of circumstances will vary some as tires are made different from one another. Some have a soft rubber compound that just doesn’t wear as good as a tire with a harder compound. Of course, a softer compound will provide a smoother softer ride. There are trade offs in all of this. I could be wrong about this, but I think that a low pressure tire is not likely to provide as many miles as a high pressure tire all things being equal otherwise.

Schwalbe tire wear

Schwalbe Tire Co. has a webpage with information of tire wear. In general Schwalbe states that their non Marathon tires should get 1242 to 3106 miles (2000 to 5000 km) while their Marathon family tires should get 3728 to 7456 (6000 to 12000 km). They state that the Marathon Plus tire should get “much more” than 6213 miles (10000 km).

The lowest I have ever got with Marathon Plus tires is around 7500 miles and as I have already been saying the best is 14,144 miles. That was on the rear. On the front the best I have got is 12,278 miles. I think I would have to attribute the phenomenal mileage to the fact that I have slowed up considerably the last 2 or 3 years due to my knee joints getting worse. In slowing up I am not experiencing as much tire scrubbing in hard fast cornering.

I have written several other articles about tires previously. Click HERE to read them.

I want to insert here that the prices for tires seem to be constantly changing. It pays to research and check prices as you can save a bundle of money. I always buy from the same source as I have never found any other source which offers anywhere near as good of prices.  I recently bought 4 new Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires from my German source and paid only $29.45 each which included the shipping charge. I think that is the best price I have bought them for yet. Of course, I buy 3 or 4 at a time in order for the price to be that good as I am paying the same shipping charge whether I buy one tire or 4 tires. So the more I can buy without going over the weight limit the lower the per tire cost is. (They list for about $53 each without shipping.) Again, I only use the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires so I have never ordered any other tires for this German source. I can’t say anything about what else they sell and how much they cost. I have always received excellent service from this German company. They usually have the order here in the U.S. within 2 to 3 days. Once it arrives here it is another story as it can get held up in customs and then once released the US Post office takes over the remainder of the delivery. That is far longer than it took the German company to get the shipment to the U.S. (They use DHL to get it here to the U.S.)

When one stops to think about it tires have come a long ways from those many of us grew up with. They are better engineered and made nowadays. Going from 2000 miles of maximum mileage to over 14,000 is quite a testimony. All those miles and flat free riding … can’t beat that. Thanks Schwalbe for manufacturing the very best tire money can buy and helping me to …



WD-40 not recommended

Selecting a chain lubricant is not as bad as selecting a over the counter pain reliever or cold/cough medication, but there sure are a whole lot more choices out there than there used to be which greatly complicates things. I am not here to recommend one over the other as I certainly am no expert on the subject. If you are looking for recommendations you might try checking out reports such as this one.

There are products classified as wet lubes, dry lubes, wax lubes, ceramic lubes, Teflon lubes and probably others I know not of. I purposely selected WD-40 for the picture above just to see if I could get a response out of anyone. WD-40 is a great product, but it certainly is not recommended for chain lubrication (nor is 3 in 1 oil pictured among the lubes in another picture further below). That being said I want to make sure I communicate that I am talking about the original WD-40 product most of us are familiar with. In recent years the makers of WD-40 have come out with a whole line of products made specifically for bicycles.

wd40 bike products

I myself have been using one of their chain lubes and I really like it. They offer both a wet and a dry product. The two most common chain lubricants are the dry type and the wet type. Depending upon what kind of riding we do (where we ride) one might be preferable over the other. HERE is a short article on this subject. If we ride in rain, mud, and/or snow we should use a wet lube. Switching from wet to dry (or dry to wet) lubes is permissible, but the chain should be thoroughly cleaned first.

We do need to be careful what we use as we can gum up the drive train if we use the wrong thing. Of course, a part of all of this is also very much tied into keeping the chain clean as well as properly lubricated. I have written about chain cleaning previously.

variety of lubes

Wet lubes pick up dirt and grit from the road and other surfaces we ride on so the chain will be messier if they are used. Dry lubes can wash off in a heavy rain. They are a little more difficult and time consuming to apply and have to cure up after application before the cycle can be ridden. It is recommended waiting 3 to 4 hours before riding. Properly applied and by wiping the chain down periodically dry lube will last a long time providing you stay away from rain or mud. Teflon and wax lubes also need to harden before they are ready to work in lubricating the chain.

Most of us probably use too much of the lube products when we apply them. I am sure I do. I am bad at not following the directions. I put a lot on and don’t wipe any off. I just take off riding with the chain loaded up with the lubricant. I usually use a wet type lubricant which means the chain can be messy. Any excess oil doesn’t seem to last long however so it is not a problem as far as I am concerned. I usually apply the lubricant while I am out riding as that is when it usually comes to mind in my case. Another thing about the WD-40 wet chain lube I use is that it smells good. After using it I can smell it for awhile as I ride. Of course, if one happens to be riding past a hog farm it really doesn’t make that much difference. 🙂

Don’t be like the owner of this bike and neglect cleaning and lubrication of the drive train.

nasty bike chain

Keep your chain properly maintained and it will help you …



A scene from the 1957 movie, “The Incredible Shrinking Man”

the incredible shrinking man

During a recent doctor appointment I was asked by the nurse what my height is. My answer was “Well, I used to be 5’6″, but the last time I was checked I was down to about 5’4 3/4″ I think.”. She told me to step up to the place where they measure patients and low and behold she told me I now measured 5’4″. In all fairness, I don’t think she measured me carefully and accurately. I just measured myself and I got 5’4 1/2″. I noticed a few weeks ago that I seemed to have too much leg extension while pedaling even though the boom had been adjusted correctly and was fine for a long time. Today I shortened the boom just a bit. I seem to be the victim of a cruel hoax … another ‘incredible shrinking man’, if you will. I sure don’t seem to be having any problem in my vertical measurement lessening, but the horizontal measurement is another story. At the rate I am going it won’t be long before my horizontal measurement is more than my vertical measurement.

I only am sharing this because this same scenario could be happening to others and they too may need to readjust their boom. In doing so remember that it may also me necessary to shorten the chain if your derailleur can’t handle the adjustment to the boom. Typically a rear derailleur can handle about two inches of “extra” chain length (which is about one inch of boom movement), but that is only when talking about from the one extreme to the other extreme … when both the chain and rear derailleur were set up correctly initially. If you are already near the one extreme when you move the boom the chain may need to be shortened. Having too much chain for the derailleur to handle will result in the derailleur not being able to move back far enough to take all the slack out of the chain and having the chain rub against itself while pedaling like in the picture below.

chain rubbing against itself

So if you find yourself experiencing what seems to be too much leg extension even though you had the correct boom setting in the past you too could be another incredible shrinking man or woman. No matter how short we get hopefully we can …


I noticed that in the first video below the first part and the last part of the movie are missing.


bicycle chain broken linkIf you ride a tadpole trike (or any other type of human powered vehicle using a chain) sooner or later you are likely to encounter at least one incident of chain failure. If you are one of the few who manage to elude such a fate then you should indeed count your blessings. For the rest of us all I have to say is … “you better be prepared!”. Having a chain failure while out riding can leave you stranded. You won’t be going anywhere without the chain functioning intact. Even if you can call for help to have someone come get you and your trike you may have to deal with getting your trike on down a trail some distance before you get somewhere that someone can get to by car or truck to meet you. If you have never had the experience of pushing or pulling your trike along let me tell you that it is not a fun task. It will wear you out. They are far more awkward and difficult to deal with than a standard diamond frame bicycle when it comes to “walking” them.

So a discussion on chain repair is in order. If you have a chain failure you should immediately stop pedaling and come to a stop as soon as possible to help prevent further damage and hopefully keep the chain from coming off. Having to restring a chain around sprockets, derailleurs and thru chain tubes is a lot of work and can be challenging, especially for someone with knowledge or experience with it. Repairing a broken chain may sound intimidating to some, especially if they have never tried it. I want to state upfront that in my opinion the very best thing anyone can do is to get an old chain to use to practice with … learning how to take it apart and put it back together using a chain tool and also using repair/connecting links. It is the old adage … practice, practice, practice … practice makes perfect. Nowadays nearly everybody uses quick links (most often referred to as “missing links”) which are easy to use and faster than conventional repair links of yesteryear like many of us grew up with. Never the less, a pin or two may have to be removed in order to prepare the chain so the missing link can be used. Be careful not to shorten the chain removing a link(s) as then the derailleur may encounter a problem and get damaged. Here is what a missing link looks like and how it is used.

missing link chain repair collage

Missing Links are made by KMC for KMC chain. If you have a different brand of chain then you should get the connecting links designed for the brand you have. SRAM makes the Power Link.

SRAM PowerLink

Another important note … be sure to buy and use only the connecting links made for your chain as far as the width. By that I mean what speed the trike’s chain is … 9, 10 or 11 speed for example. You can see in the picture of the SRAM PowerLink above it shows 9 speed on it.

As to chain tools one can buy an inexpensive one and they work sufficiently. I have had several of them. However, a few years ago I finally bought a more professional higher dollar chain tool and will readily recommend doing so as they work so much better than the common inexpensive type. My only regret is I didn’t do it 55 years or so earlier. That being said, I only keep my pro tool home in my toolbox. On my trike I still carry one of the common inexpensive type.

Here is the pro tool I bought. It is a Pedro chain tool.

Pedro's Pro Chain Tool 2.0

Here is a different brand of pro tool being used to push a pin thru a chain link.


Below is one of the common inexpensive chain tools sold in many bike stores and is the type I carry on my trike.

Topeak chain tool

I need to insert here something I just recently learned myself. It is inadvisable to reuse a chain link by pushing the pin out and then back in. It is not something which is supposed to be done. A connecting link should always be used instead. The following paragraph explains how to reuse a chain link, but since they should not be reused the pin should be pushed out sufficiently to get the needed link(s) apart so that a connecting link can be used.

Pushing the pins (some people refer to them as rivets) thru the links using a chain tool is something one needs to learn as it is all too easy to push the pin too far and completely thru the far outside plate of the chain link. Once that happens you really have problems as they are extremely difficult to get back into the hole in the side plate. This is where it pays to learn this thru lots of practice using an old chain. They do make special pins which are for the purpose of more easily getting the pin started back into the hole. As you can see in the picture below it is tapered on the one end so that it can more easily be started back into the hole. Actually the longer end of it is slightly smaller diameter so that it can be pushed thru the link side plates easily and then the chain tool is used to push it the rest of the way thru. Once it is pushed all the way into position the long part sticking out is “snapped off” as the short part is the actual pin used in the link.

shap off pin 2

Another tool I highly recommend is called a third or helping hand tool. It is used to hold the two ends of the chain together while the connecting link is placed in the chain. It makes the job so much easier. You can buy these or make them. I have a couple of them I bought as well as a couple I have made.

3rd hand chain tools

Even though the missing links are supposed to be fairly easy to get apart (once they have been put together in a chain) just using one’s hands many find them extremely difficult to get apart. I think they are very difficult to get back apart just using one’s hands so I bought a special tool for this and highly recommend this to others. It makes the job so much easier and faster. I am sure there will be some who would argue this and say that they can get the missing links back apart quickly and easily just using their hands. More power to them. I have had very little success in doing it with my hands and found it to be time consuming, hard on my hands, frustrating and aggravating. The special pliers work so easy.


Here is a short video which does a pretty good job showing and explaining how to use a chain tool to push the pin, take the chain apart and put it back together. It explains how to deal with a tight link which often happens when working on a link like this.

Others can do what they want, but I always carry tools, missing links and several inches of spare chain to use in case I need links to replace bad ones on a chain. More than once I have had to use all of these items to make a repair which would have left me stranded if I was not prepared. If your chain has a side plate which has got bent to the side it is highly advisable to replace that link rather than trying to straighten and salvage it. Making a proper repair initially is a whole lot better than making a repair that doesn’t last and has to be redone.

Here is another video which shows how to connect chain links together using a missing link as well as a replacement pin. It also shows how to use the special pliers to take a missing link back apart. It also shows how to route the chain thru a rear derailleur. I had a hard time understanding him (I think he was speaking English), but I could follow the video okay.

Here is one man’s temporary emergency repair …

chain link temp. emergency repair

Obviously this is quite uncommon and for a good reason … well, more than one reason applies.

One thing to watch out for if you have to feed the chain back thru around sprockets and the derailleur is that you don’t twist the chain 180 degrees and connect the two ends back together with it like that. It is fairly easy for this to happen, especially if you have chain tubes you feed the chain into. It can turn over upside down while going thru the chain tube.

Being able to deal with a broken chain will help you to …


I wasn’t going to include this last video, but decided to go ahead placing it here:


broken glass glistening in sun

Most of us have probably heard the saying “all that glitters is not gold”. Unfortunately all too often I see something glittering ahead of me in my pathway as I ride my trike along. And most of the time what I am seeing is broken glass. Yes, it seems we live in a time when there seem to be a bunch of people who get their kicks out of purposely breaking glass … often right where they know those of us on bicycles (our human powered vehicles whatever they may be) will be coming along and have to deal with it. I clean up broken glass usually a few times a week. It really gets old. Certainly it is thoroughly disgusting. And it is extremely risky and fool hardy to ride over it. Obviously, sometimes we can’t help it. We may not see it in time to be able to avoid it. There may be some reason why we can’t maneuver around it.

broken glass on pavement 2

I used to get a lot of flat tires and most of them were caused by glass shards. Also I have had tires destroyed by cuts which was really disgusting since I didn’t get the mileage they would have been capable of yielding otherwise. I am pleased to be able to report that all of this is past history for me personally. I still deal with broken glass, but I no longer deal with the concern and problems the broken glass causes. Since I started using Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires I have had no more flat tires nor have I had cuts in my tires. I always try to avoid riding over glass if it is possible, but if I do it is no big thing like it used to be.

Yes, when I see something glittering in the pathway ahead of me I am always hopeful it is gold … the real McCoy … but alas it is still just broken glass. (I would have even settled for silver.) Some times it is more like “fools gold” … as it looks like broken glass glistening, but when I take a closer look I see it is actually in the pavement and not laying on top of it. That glitter certainly catches my eye so I reckon it is good that this is a characteristic of broken glass. At least it helps us see it and hopefully avoid it. I’m sure most of us would much rather just …


than have to deal with fixing flats.

I think people like this ought to be given about 500 hours of community service. I find nothing redeeming in this video below … only total disgust …



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.

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 …


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.


came across a website where one can obtain some “parts” for some tadpole trikes. The man even has some parts for the defunct ActionBent and TWBents trikes. He has pictures of the parts on Picasa. I have not figured out any way to contact him however. I find that a bit strange. It seems to me if you are trying to advertise and sell stuff you would provide a means interested buyers can contact you. Anyway, he is located in Shoreline, Washington. Click HERE to visit his Picasa page. Among the items he has for sale are some wheels, tires and inner tubes. Here is a screenshot of just some of the items he has for sale:

trike parts for sale website screenshot

The size of the images displayed on Picasa are adjustable. These images are the smallest size just so I could fit as many of them on the screen as possible. If you place your cursor on the image on his Picasa page some of them will pop up more information including prices. If anyone figures out anyway to contact him please let me know so I can add that information here.

I can find his street address, but I won’t post it here without his knowledge and permission. If you want to know it you can look it up online HERE. I have found his Google Plus page and his YouTube page. I assume one could make contact with him by leaving a comment to him on one of his YouTube videos. I am not into social networking skills and knowledge as much as some so there may be ways of making contact with him I don’t know of. Again, I am not going to post any of this here without his knowledge and permission.


am sure most of us have heard that saying before. I am a firm believer in it along with some other well known sayings such as “Design should follow function rather than trend” … “A place for everything and everything in it’s place” … “A clean shop is an efficient shop”, and on and on the list could go. When it comes to our trikes I definitely don’t believe it is wise to mess with stuff when everything is working okay. It doesn’t take much to totally mess up some things such as derailleur adjustment. One thing for sure … if we are going to mess with something it is best that we know what we are doing. Otherwise we will likely mess it up … and probably not be able to fix it.

Even professional mechanics sometimes mess stuff up and aren’t even aware of it. I once took my trike in to a local bike shop (LBS) to have the rear shifting cable changed. I usually do this myself, but I decided to hire it done that time as I just didn’t feel like messing with it. Upon getting my trike back from them and back home I took off for a ride on it the next morning. I rode it about an eighth of a mile and while pedaling along I noticed something which didn’t seem right. I had some noise and some resistance as I pedaled. It felt like the chain was rubbing on something. I stopped and got off to take a look to see if I could discover the problem. At first glance I did not spot the problem so I decided to take a closer look. I tipped the trike over on it’s side and it didn’t take long to see what was going on. The chain had been “broken” (taken apart) and when it was put back on the return portion of it was routed on the top side of the idler pulley instead of on the bottom side so the idler pulley wasn’t doing anything … wasn’t even being used. DUH!!! I could not believe a professional mechanic could possibly do something so dumb. The chain had been rubbing on the bottom side of my frame and cut into it a ways. I rerouted the chain placing it where it belonged so I could ride on. When I got back home later I emailed the LBS about this letting them know what they did and the damage it had done to my frame. I was not a happy camper. They denied that they even had the chain apart and messed with it, but when I pointed out that there is no way for the chain to change to that position without someone taking either the chain apart or the idler pulley assembly they said that I should bring my trike back and they would do whatever is needed to satisfy me. (They never did admit to being at fault however. They continued to deny that they had done this.) They filed/ground the frame where the chain had rubbed and cut in to smooth everything back out and repainted the area. It looked very good when I got it back. I could barely tell anything had happened. I could have pushed for a new frame and to tell you the truth, in hindsight, I wish I would have since this little incident did weaken the frame somewhat. I would have been within my rights to do so, but I was trying to work with them and let them off easy. Now, I told this story to you because it ties into what I am addressing … if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. There was no reason for them to have taken my chain apart which caused this to happen. I had my trike in there for replacing the rear shifting cable … nothing else. Yeppur, I am a firm believer in …

it it ain't broke

as that helps us to …



TrikeTight workstands

As the saying goes … “there’s a new kid on the block”. In this particular case I am referring to work stands for trikes. TrikeTight is producing these two work stands shown above. As you can see one is a full size stand and the other is a bench (table) top model. Both offer folding so they are easy to store and transport.

roll around workstand

tabletop workstand

To use their own words …

“After 20 years in the bike industry manufacturing bicycle carrying solutions, the designers of this new trike/bike stand sensed there was a need for a better work stand. In the past several years lightweight, fast, and fun 3 wheeled “trikes” have become increasingly popular. Along with that growth grew the need for a better way to service those trikes. and their trike/bike work stands was created to service the need.

TrikeTight has two stands. A table top that that can go on your work bench, tailgate, or any horizontal surface. And their full size shop grade roll around work stand with lockable wheels.

Both work stand designs accept the Traps bicycle carrier to let you also work on your two wheel bike. No need to raise your seat post, just simply take off the front wheel and mount it to the Traps carrier.

DF bike on stand

Work on your trike with the work stand wheels in the full locked or unlocked position, roll it out of the way for storage, or wheel it over to your vehicle for your next ride! Use the work stand like a “lazy Susan” to easily work on any part of your trike without having to walk around away from your tools.

tabletop workstand one button fold

Both stands also fold flat so you can hang either on your wall, lean it against a wall out of the way or easily take it with you in your vehicle.”

roll around workstand folded up hanging on wall

Various options are available:

TrikeTight options

Assembly Required …  again using their own words …

“The Trike Tight Work Stand was designed to be assembled from many discrete pieces, saving you money on shipping and us flexibility in configurations. Assembly time is normally minimal and the needed tools are included, a custom box wrench and the appropriate Allen wrench, (the box wrench also include a bottle opener). Their stands come with an assembly instruction sheet. Hopefully, you will find the pictures clear and the written instructions easy to understand . (Should take the average person less then an hour to assemble.)”

At the time I wrote this article the company was not quite ready to sell their product on their website. I didn’t find any prices so I emailed them to inquire into it. Here is their response:

“Price for the RollAround stand is initially going to be $400.   That include the pivoting/locking wheels, adjustable Plastisol dip coated cradles, All fasteners are Stainless steel,  All tubing is 6061 Aluminum Powder coated,  tubing inserts (Upper for the cradles and lower for the wheels) are CNC billet machined.    Stands will be shipped partially assembled….ie. some assembly required.   Side plates are CNC machined 6061 Aluminum on this initial run.   Future production will most likely transition to Laser cut Stainless, not for strength but for ease of production. (easier to laser cut stainless to close tolerance then aluminum). We have table top stands ready to go also…..just have not set the price yet.   Probably about $199….prospective buyers could contact me directly or send an inquiry via the website.”

It is good to have the proper tools and equipment to perform needed maintenance and repair work on our trikes. Having  a work stand can be extremely helpful and practical. It can make doing the work so much easier. For sure it can help us to …



drooping cables 3

This not only looks very untidy and unprofessional it is downright dangerous. Yet I see it all the time … brake cables, shifting cables, wires and who knows what else … hanging down almost touching the ground. I mean that is “an accident waiting to happen”. All it takes is for one or more of these to snag on something as the trike is in motion and “wow” … bad news for sure. Not only can serious damage result to the cables (wires or what have you), what they are attached to, and who knows what else, but it could cause a wreck and maybe even launch the rider forward out of the seat.

drooping cables 2

Such stuff hanging down should be dealt with. I use plastic cable ties to hold cables and wires up. Of course, sometimes the cables are just too long to begin with in which case they should be shortened. I caution you however to make sure that you don’t shorten a cable too much so that it is not long enough to facilitate turning the wheels all the way both directions. Also if the trike folds the cables must be long enough to allow that. In raising the cables and wires up and securing them using plastic cable ties (or whatever) the same concerns exist so make sure what you are doing is not going to cause problems. There should not be any problem finding a way to get these low hanging hazards eliminated. I have secured them to the frame, another cable, a seat strap, etc. I have rerouted cables and wires so that they are kept up above the frame. I have routed them inside the mesh seat pad on the bottom side of seat (sandwiched in between).  As the saying goes … “where there is a will there is a way”. Just make sure nothing binds or effects the working on the cables in any way. That is the lowdown on these lowdown hazards.

Avoiding such unpleasant and unwelcome surprises while riding should be a priority. Afterall, we all want to …



sealed bearingsThe wheel bearings that come on Catrikes (as well as other brands) are the “sealed” type which are suppose to be “maintenance free”. I have never opened one up to look at it. I guess I just assume and trust that the manufacturer did a proper job and the finished product is of highest quality and done right. Well, according to this new Catrike owner he says it ain’t necessarily so. He purchased a new 559 model and requested of Catrike that they ship it directly to him as he wanted to be the one to assemble it and set it up. I can’t say as I blame him as some dealers have sure messed up during the process. Anyway, one of the things he did was to carefully check everything as he unpacked the shipping box. What he found was very discouraging and troubling. Apparently Catrike is not doing a very good job when it comes to the packaging and shipping of their trikes. He found numerous problems and messed up parts from not being properly packaged. The first trike he received he sent back because of this. The second one he received was nearly as bad.

removing seal in bearing

Anyway, on with the story … he checked each and every sealed bearing by removing the seal. What he found was not good. The vast majority of the bearings had issues … no grease, very little grease and rust. This clearly indicates that there is a serious problem with quality control where the bearings are being produced.

bearing with seal removed

He has made a video about this in which he tells about what he discovered and then has detailed instructions on how to remove, inspect, clean, lubricate and reinstall the wheel bearings. He is also producing other videos as time goes along.


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


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 …



sidewall tire pressure

Another website article I came across recently is about air pressure in tires. The title of the article kind of catches your attention … “4 Ways Your Tire Pressure Is Wrong“. Those 4 ways are: 1) You don’t actually know your pressure, 2) You’re using the same pressure front and rear, 3) You’re not checking it regularly, and 4) It’s probably too high. It is an interesting read. Well, you may not be able to read ALL there is to read about tire pressure, but you can certainly read about it.

pumping up bike tire 3

There has been quite a bit of chatter recently about tire pressure and whether or not there really is anything to what we have long heard and believed … that the higher the pressure the less rolling resistance and the longer a tire will last. Now there are those saying it ain’t necessarily so … they we have been wrong about this. These folks say tests have shown this. I am among those who are not convinced. It sure seems to me that the higher the pressure the less rolling resistance and the tires will last longer. Anytime I have ridden with my tires at a considerable lower pressure (still within the range of the tire) it doesn’t roll as easily and I can’t go as fast. They say that “the proof is in the pudding” and that someone with experience is not at the mercy of someone who only has an argument to offer. It is going to take more than mere words and claims to change my mind about this. Anyway, keeping our tires properly inflated will help us to …



wheel building

This is something I have absolutely no experience with and have never really had any interest in. I am talking about lacing up a wheel from scratch. I have replaced a lot of broken spokes and aligned many wheels, but I have stayed clear of wheel building. At my age I doubt if I will ever be attempting it. There may be some of you reading this who want to give it a try. Fortunately there is gobs of helpful information available on the internet including videos. Here is one I have selected which hopefully you will find helpful.


notubes tire

Does the idea of riding your trike using any tire you want and not having to deal with flats appeal to you? I kind of thought it would. Well, there is good news. For those who are mechanically inclined enough you can go the cheap route of DIY (do it yourself). It is not hard. You can pretty much use any tire that fits your rim to convert it into tubeless and then simply use a sealant inside of the tire to seal off any punctures that take place. Here is a video showing how to do it …

This method is commonly referred to as “ghetto tubeless”.

And here is yet another way to go tubeless …

As to how well this works check out this video …

There are gobs of videos online about this subject. Those who have a hankerin’ to go tubeless have plenty of information available to help them accomplish this. If I understand correctly it is recommended that you use an inner tube smaller in diameter than what the rim calls for. This is so it is a snug fit on the rim.

There are various sealant products on the market. Probably the best known one is Slime. I personally have never been impressed with Slime and can’t recommend it. The Stan’s NoTubes Tire Sealant is probably the one most recommended.

I wonder if going tubeless would prevent air leakage like occurs using tubes. It would be nice if the tires held air pressure and would not need to be pumped up every few weeks or whatever.

I have not gotten into this, but I am guessing that depending upon the frequency of punctures and the size of those punctures sealant inside of the tire will be lost thru the punctures. In time I am pretty sure that it would be necessary to add more sealant inside the tire. An injection device is available to add more sealant thru the valve stem.

stans sealant injector for valve stem

According to what I have read Stan’s sealant lasts 3 to 6 months once inserted inside of a tire. I would think that using a sealant like this would result in the sealant setting up inside the tire to where it needs to be removed before adding more. That would be a royal pain.

I may even give this a try myself someday. However, I doubt very much if I would change to another tire as I really love these Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. The fact that they ride nice, handle good, resist damage (including cuts) and wear so incredibly long is reason enough for me to stay with them. I like having maximum value and service for my money and the Marathon Plus tires deliver.

stans tubeless olym valve stem

I would guess though that in order to use them I would have to go the route of tubeless valve stem instead of the ghetto tubeless as I don’t think there is anyway I would be able to install the Marathon Plus tire using an inner tube sticking over the rim.

I came across this from Schwalbe which needs to be shared here …

Schwalbe Disclaimer sealant use

Yep, the concept of riding without concern of getting flats is very appealing. With no flats we can …



flat tire

It is not only not good to fool mother nature, but it is not good to ride on a tire with low air pressure or worse yet … completely flat. Tires are designed to be pumped up somewhere within a range from a minimum to a maximum pressure. Going under or over is a no no. Various undesirable things can happen with either extreme.

sidewall tire pressure

The pressure range should be displayed on the sidewall of every tire and the pressure of the tire should be checked periodically as air does leak out … yep, literally right thru the rubber of the inner tubes. Some inner tubes seem to leak thru more than others. And the higher the pressure in an inner tube the more likely it is to leak down and require more re-airing (pumping it back up).

bicycle tire & air pressure gauge

One never knows when a tire will go flat so it is a very good idea to carry all that is needed to make the repair. Whether you patch inner tubes or replace them like I do you should carry some sort of an air pump and tire tools.

pumping up bike tire 3

tire lever tools

Properly equipped we can deal with most of that which comes our way. Most tires have relatively soft and pliable sidewalls so when air pressure gets low it can become quite noticeable and difficult to ride since the tire will squat right down. I use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires as do many of you. With these tires the sidewalls are not nearly as soft and pliable so when the air pressure goes down low it is not nearly as easy to tell as the tires don’t squat nearly as much. I have had extremely low pressure and couldn’t tell it by looking at the tire. Upon squeezing it and comparing it to the tire on the other side I could tell it was low on air. When I went to re-air it I was quite surprised to find out just how low on pressure it was … way down to about 15 pounds. So be aware that if you are using these tires  you can’t necessarily go by looks only.

Riding on a tire that is low on air pressure can damage the tire, the inner tube, or even the rim … making for far more expensive, difficult and time consuming to repair the damage.

Of course, low air pressure equates to high rolling resistance. And again, the tire makes the difference as to how noticeable this is. A tire with soft pliable sidewalls will let you know in no uncertain terms that it needs air. The Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire, on the other hand, will barely be noticeable when the pressure goes down low in it. That is another plus for the Plus as far as I am concerned. I love these tires and can’t say enough good about them. I would never use anything else as I am completely sold on them. I can’t think of one negative thing to say about them. They are just the best. Oh, I suppose one could complain about the fact that they are somewhat more difficult to install and uninstall on a rim, but even that isn’t much of anything once you learn how to properly go about it. Besides, once installed you usually don’t have to mess with it until it is time to replace it from wearing out. And with the extreme high mileage they provide (3 to 4 times what I got out of any other tire) it is not very often you have to mess with them.

Lastly just a quick word about air pressure in general. Some people like to only inflate a tire to minimum pressure so that they get a “softer”ride. You do get a softer ride, but in doing so you also get more rolling resistance and therefore will go slower and require more effort and energy out of you. In addition you won’t get as much mileage (wear) out of the tire as you would if you inflate it to the maximum range. Of course, hitting bad bumps with a tire that is pumped up to the maximum pressure is undesirable as it can result in damage occurring to the tire and/orrim and/or spokes. The bottom line is try not to hit harsh bumps. Of course, running a tire at a lower pressure can also result in damage to things … particularly the rim should the tire collapse enough to where the rim actually bangs into the hard surface.

cracked bicycle rim spoke holes

bent rim 2

I have seen people riding bikes who purposely bang into curbs quite hard giving no thought nor concern as to what they are doing to their wheels. It is bad enough when the rims are steel, but when they are aluminum or carbon fiber that is definitely something to be avoided if at all possible. They both damage easier than steel and both are more less considered throw away items vs. capable of being repaired. Even steel in a bicycle rim is not something I would recommend attempting to repair.

BTW- awhile back I noticed that I had significant damage to my right front rim. The aluminum broke out around one of my spokes. It was right next to the valve stem hole.

hole in rim around spoke

Ideally it should have been replaced, but I didn’t have the money to spare so I opted to repair the rim myself. Although I am a highly experienced weldor I chose to use the Marine grade  J.B. Weld epoxy to make the repair. In doing so I eliminated that spoke as I wanted to regain maximum strength in that area of the rim. My repair has been holding up great. I even have a 2nd spoke which is broken on that wheel and I have not replaced it yet … too lazy I reckon … I just haven’t felt like messing with it. It is located only about 4 spokes away from the place I repaired and is on the same side as the one I repaired. I have been riding my trike with this wheel like this for several thousand miles now and it is holding up well. I had people tell me that I should not attempt this repair as it was too risky and needed to be replaced. I am glad I didn’t listen to them. I have worked at repairing metal most of my life and I felt confident that I could successfully repair it. The most difficult part in making the repair was truing the wheel back up since the missing spokes tend to allow it to pull over to the other side. I got it running pretty true though and as I said it is holding up just fine. Even in hard fast cornering I have not had any problems. In the picture below the epoxy repaired area is shown by yellow arrow and the missing spoke by a red arrow. Pardon all the mud on the rim as I know it is a distraction from trying to see clearly. My trike is almost always nasty looking from riding on our local trails along the rivers as they have mud from river silt on them frequently. When it isn’t wet mud it is dry powder that gets all over everything. By telling you this about the rim repair and the broken/missing spokes I am not recommending riding around with broken spokes or repairing a rim like I did. I normally replace my broken spokes fairly quickly. I just haven’t done so this time around and it has been interesting to see how the trike is doing riding it like this. So far it has not been a problem. I would have much preferred to replace the rim, but just can’t afford to spend the money to do so at this time.

repaired wheel 2 reduced with arrows

Here is a closeup of the repaired area …

repaired hole in my rim

Well, that’s my story and I am sticking with it. Keeping our tires properly inflated and everything else properly maintained will help us to …