Category Archives: rider comfort
Recently I had a Bionx hub motor conversion kit installed on my Catrike Trail. In doing so I had to give up my super comfortable head rest which I made. I have neck issues so I need to use a neck/head rest when I ride. The reason I could not continue using my head rest is because it was in the way of plugging the cable into the front of the battery. So I purchased an ICE neck rest which mounts out of the way. Now ICE boasts that their newly designed neck rest is the most comfortable neck rest on the market. As far as I am concerned it is just like all the rest of the factory manufactured neck rests I have tried … very lacking and not very comfortable. So I went to work to redesign it. What I came up with was far more comfortable than theirs yet it still looked pretty like it did originally. Still it was not to my satisfaction nor my needs. So I went to work to totally remake it. It didn’t take me more than 20 minutes and now I have a very comfortable head rest again. It is not quite as comfortable as what I had previously but only because it is a bit smaller in size. And the good news is I didn’t do anything to change what ICE made. In 5 minutes I could put the neckrest back to the way it came from ICE (not that I would want to). I just don’t understand why the trike industry doesn’t offer comfortable neck rests. It is not that hard to make one that is comfortable. Like I said it took me about 20 minutes. I replaced ICE’s strap with elastic and put a piece of foam sandwiched in between it. Then I put a large piece of foam on the front side of the elastic. The large piece of foam has the front side of it cut concave to sort of cradle the head and neck. Here is what I came up with. I just used the cover off of my old head rest even though it is too big.
For those who are interested here are some pictures showing the construction of my new head rest. (I am calling it a head rest rather than a neck rest because I have raised it up higher to where the back of my head rests on it. It is far more comfortable now against my head than it was against my neck.)
In the next picture I have duct tape temporarily holding the foam in place while the Gorilla Glue sets up. The foam is glued to the elastic.
In the next picture which is a top view looking down you can see the concave curvature I cut into the foam to cradle my head and make the head rest more comfortable to use.
And here is what the original ICE neck rest looks like. I really don’t like the metal rods on the sides as they are located right where the head makes contact with them. And that is not very comfortable as I quickly found out when I tried riding using it. It is really dumb … more of their infamous “inspired cycle engineering”.
Now with this new head rest I should be able to ride in comfort meaning I can …
ENJOY THE RIDE!
Cadence … when talking about bicycling is by definition: “the pedaling rate … the number of revolutions of the crank per minute.” I suspect that there will be those who don’t agree with what I will be saying here. That’s ok. To each his own as they say.
Typically most people pedal somewhere between 60 and 80 rpm. Does cadence matter? I say yes, it matters a lot. Ideally one should pedal as fast as they are comfortable with and can maintain without over stressing themselves. That being said I would add that it also is not good to pedal too fast even if you are capable of it. One needs to strive for a reasonable cadence. 60 to 80 rpm is ideal in my opinion. It is not good to pedal slowly while pushing hard on the pedals. It is far healthier to spin faster not exerting a lot of pressure on the pedals even if you are a brute capable of such. It is not only hard on your body, but it is hard on some of the components of your trike. In fact, you can quite literally do serious damage to your trike by pushing too hard on the pedals. We need to strive for a sensible compromise between how fast we pedal and how hard we push on the pedals. Most of our trikes come with quite a selection of gears. As one changes gears they should select the gear ratio which will keep them pedaling at the same cadence continually. Pedaling at a higher cadence provides more of a cardiovascular workout. Pedaling at a slow cadence pushing hard on the pedals can damage your knees.
I personally usually pedal at a cadence of about 60 rpm. I have found just recently that I can reach 120 rpm … something which I didn’t think I could do at my age. This was while using short crankarms. I am sure I could not do it with long crankarms like my trike came with. I would do good to pedal it at 100 rpm.
This cadence thing all gets into the matter of how your trike is setup. The length of the crankarms play a major role in what you are capable of when it comes to how fast you can pedal. Shorter people need shorter crankarms for optimal performance and doing right for one’s self. Too long of crankarms will prevent or at least hinder one’s ability to pedal at a proper cadence. Typically most bicycles and tadpole trikes come with fairly long crankarms. They are fine for taller people, but for those who are on the short side or have knee joint issues shorter crankarms are needed.
I have written previous articles about crankarm shorteners. I recently started using them and really like them. I wish I would have got them many years ago. Actually I wish manufacturers would simply install crank arms which either adjust or have multiple tapped holes in them so the buyer can position the pedals wherever they need them.
Some people are not capable of pedaling at a higher cadence. If that is true of you then all I know to say is do the best you are able to do. Most of us, however, are capable of pedaling at what is considered a proper cadence (60-80 rpm) and we should strive to do so as we will benefit from it. Learning to use the gears our trikes have so we maintain a constant cadence is essential.
Our trikes need to be set up properly with the boom adjusted to the correct length. Our leg extension needs to be about 85 % and our feet should be placed on the pedals so that the balls of the feet are making contact. We should not be using our toes or instep on the pedals.
Some computers have cadence sensing built into them. They require a pickup magnet and sending unit quite similar to that which is used for the speed. It, of course, is mounted on the crankset in order to measure the cadence. I have never had one myself. I have a pretty good idea of how fast or slow I am pedaling without having one. Cadence counters are good though. Since I have never had one I have simply used my watch and counted my rpms various times over the years. I have gotten to know my cadence thusly.
I personally believe that one can ride longer spinning at 50 or 60 rpm than they can at a higher cadence. And I think our bodies will thank us if we keep our cadence down to 60 or 70 rpm. When we spin faster we start using considerable more oxygen which is not good for our muscles over an extended ride. Muscle fatigue can occur if we spin too fast for an extended time. Blood flow increases with higher rpm so pedaling at 60 – 80 rpm is better than 30- 40 rpm as some people do.
Well, that is my take on this subject and you can take it or leave it. Spinning vs. mashing is healthier for us and for our trikes. Use those gears and maintain a proper cadence. It will help you to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Yes, I am talking about the crankarm shorteners again. They arrived in the mail today and I installed them on my wife’s recumbent bike I have set up on my indoor trainer out on the enclosed patio. I tried them out and WOW … what a difference! I really like them. I can position my feet normally on the pedals and pedal quite comfortably. My new freshly installed man made knee joints are loving them. There is only one problem. It is just too darn cold out there even inside the enclosed patio. At least I didn’t have that nasty wind to contend with. And this is jut the start of winter. C’mon April! I chose to install them on my wife’s bike instead of my trike … for now that is … as I don’t intend to try riding my trike outdoors in this miserable weather. Anyway, I just wanted to post a quick note about the crankarm shorteners. They really work great and I highly recommend them. BTW, wouldn’t you just know it? The very same place I bought my crankarm shorteners from is now selling them for over $7 less than I paid for them. The price I paid was the lowest I could find at the time. Oh well, it is truly the story of my life. 🙂
HERE is an article I wrote previously about crankarm length.
Here is a video which explains the need and benefit of shorter crankarms.
Sunshine on my shoulders, in my face, on top of my head, on my arms, legs … all over me. That’s okay when it is 30 degrees F., but when it is hot and humid it makes it mighty uncomfortable out there riding as well as dangerous and even deadly. Consequently I can’t go along with the song lyrics of it making me happy.
So I ask ya … which trail would you prefer to be riding on?
There certainly is a world of difference. That shade feels soooooooo good! Actually these pictures are of the same trail (Maumee Pathway near Fort Wayne, Indiana). Fortunately it is mostly shaded. And it is my favorite local trail to ride, especially during the summer months when it is hot. I mostly ride on it just so I can be in the shade and take advantage of the cooler temperatures found there. I would guess that about 6.5 miles of the 8 miles or so I usually ride back and forth on is well shaded and another 1/2 of a mile is somewhat shaded. And depending upon what time of the day one is riding out there some of the remaining trail is shaded for awhile.
Now I ask ya, doesn’t that look inviting?
Over exposure to the heat is dangerous and deadly. So be careful while out riding when it is quite hot and humid. Be sure to stay well hydrated and avoid being out under direct sunlight anymore than necessary. We need the sun, but be respectful of it as it can do a number on you. Heat can make you feel miserable and even kill you. I am not a medically trained person, but I know that if we start to feel overly hot, flushed and weak we need to stop and find shade to get relief from the heat. We should do something to help cool down our bodies, especially our heads. Pouring water over us or soaking a cloth of some sort to use to wipe ourselves with will help. We should relax and allow ourselves to cool down and recuperate before trying to go on. If we are by ourselves it is most important that we discipline ourselves as we have no one to give us aid should we need it. If we are with others we need to watch out for one another as there may be signs we miss that someone else picks up on. Slowing up and not keeping up the pace may be such a sign as heat can zap our strength.
The older we get the more we need to be concerned about all of this. Even so a young person can be overcome by heat exposure. A 12 year old boy died from the high heat while hiking on a trail just recently out near Phoenix, Arizona.
We all want to safely …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Oh, before ending this article I want to mention the use of canopies. They do help in comfort while riding. I certainly have nothing against them and would myself like to have one on my trike. However, I can’t for a couple of different reasons I won’t go into here. What I want to point out is that they only offer immediate shade and usually only partial shade at best as they don’t shade all of the body. And the bigger factor is since it is only local shade and not constant shade over the entire area where we are riding they don’t lower the temperature. It is still hot. I really enjoy riding along a very shaded trail as it feels so much more comfortable than out under the sun. The difference is temperature can be considerable.
A scene from the 1957 movie, “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.
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 …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
I noticed that in the first video below the first part and the last part of the movie are missing.
For those who landed here looking for porn click HERE
It is that time of year when temperatures climb into the uncomfortable zone in many places in the world. Of course, some locations are miserably hot all the time. Some people handle the heat and humidity better than others. Some of us have a very difficult time with the heat and humidity and we need all the help we can get.
I imagine most of us have seen playgrounds with various sorts of water sprays, etc. for people to play in/under. Among them are what are known as “misters” as they spray a fine mist.
They are also used for watering vegetation in some places. We have this setup in a downtown city park. I remember the first time I ever rode thru the park when this watering system was turned on. It really felt good.
In my area we have one mister installed at another city park in a neighboring community at the east end of the Maumee Pathway (which is my favorite local trail). Someone donated it to the city municipality. In the picture above the mister is on, but it is very difficult to see the fine spray in this image. Here is a close up view of it where you can see the fine mist a bit better:
It really feels good to stand in the midst of the mist as it cools ‘ya down without getting soaked. Of course, the longer one stands in the mist the wetter they get. In time a person could get soaked. So when I am hot while out riding there is a mister that can help me out. If you are fortunate to have one or more available where you ride you might enjoy it too. Just try yelling out “hey mister” and see what happens. 🙂 Hey, apparently it worked for this guy …
All of these people and many thousands more have one thing in common. They are all showing the “recumbent smile” which just comes naturally when you ride a recumbent bike or trike. You can even Google “recumbent smile” and get quite a few search results. All you gotta’ do is search for images of tadpole trikes and most of those you see with people seated on them will be displaying the infamous recumbent smile. You can even search on YouTube for recumbent smile and get some results. Here is one them …
Here is a mother’s first ride on a recumbent bike:
And here is my wife’s first ride on my Catrike Trail trike:
Doesn’t she look like she is thoroughly enjoying herself?
I apologize for the poor video quality. It has been recopied a few times due to various reasons and with each copy the quality deteriorates.
Those of us who ride recumbent bikes and trikes have good reason to smile. We are super comfortable and having great fun. That is a winning combination. And more and more people are discovering this and joining in. They too are experiencing the infamous recumbent smile.
Here is a picture of a couple of friends I let ride my trikes for the first time:
As you can see they too are all smiles. They had a blast riding them.
Lastly my grand niece who recently arrived with her family from the Philippines to live here in the United States rode my Catrike Trail. You can see her joy written all over her face.
There is just no denying it … there really is something to this phenomena known as recumbent smiles. So if you are holding back making the plunge into recumbents this ought to entice you further. I mean, who doesn’t want to wear a big smile as a result of having reason to? Buck and Roy were “pickin’ and grinin'” … which is fine, but nowadays we are “ridin’ and smilin'”. It helps us immensely to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A fellow tadpole trike rider shared his video on Facebook. It is of him riding his trike while it is snowing and has the song, Let It Snow, playing. It is kind of a neat video so I am sharing it here. I personally can’t go along with the theme though. I don’t like snow and having to deal with it. It is fine as long as it isn’t anywhere I have to walk, drive or ride. Unfortunately it doesn’t fall to earth like that. It is pretty to look at, but that is the only thing about it I like. And the older I get the less I like it. I mean, I don’t engage in snowball fights anymore. And another thing … my trike can’t roll thru much snow, especially wet snow so it really messes me up as far as winter riding. Brutal below normal temperatures and nasty wind chill factors don’t help any either. C’mon Spring!
Click HERE to view video of Let It Snow.
For what it is worth I think it is great that there are some trike riders who
get out there and ride during the winter. I used to, but not any more.
Yet another velocar is trying to make it to market. The man,Eliel Rojas, who came up with it refers to it as a velomobile and technically it qualifies, but I prefer to refer to it as a velocar as I think that more accurately describes it. His design is called an Ego. And I am going to resist all temptation to make comments about a person’s ego.
All images, videos and information herein credited to Ego’s inventor, Eliel Rojas.
It is an electric motor pedal assist 3 wheel trike which can be pedaled with or without using the motor or it can run solely on the 750 watt electric motor up to about 20 mph (32 kph). (This is the legal limit for a motorized bicycle in many states in order to be considered a bicycle. Faster than that requires it to be registered and licensed as a motorcycle.) It has a claimed battery range of over 30 miles (48 km).
The Ego’s canopy is hinged at the front, which is how users get in and out of the vehicle. It has large opening in the body along the sides to allow good air circulation and help reduce the effect of strong crosswinds by allowing the air to flow thru it. There are nylon curtain closures available to eliminate much of the air flow thru these openings.
Note: Since this article published I have heard from the inventor that the sides are now enclosed.
Eliel states that although the velo body sits high similar to a car (so it can be better seen than would be the case if it were much lower) the rider is seated in a “recumbent position”. (note: recumbent means reclined, laid back, prone) I don’t understand that as when I look at the picture of this vehicle the seat back is quite vertical. In fact, it looks like he is sitting in a small car rather than a recumbent trike. There is very little angle to the seat back … not unless it is adjustable and will go down much further than what is shown in the pictures. And, I would think that if the seat is reclined back the rider would not be able to see out the front very well. Perhaps this is another one of those cases where people are calling a cycle with the pedals out in front a recumbent when that is not the definition of recumbent at all. By that definition a cruiser is a recumbent.
I don’t know what size the wheels and tires are, but they look smaller than 20 inch. I could be wrong about this as they may very well be 20 inch. They just look quite small in diameter in the pictures. Maybe it is because the body is so tall.
Note: it has begun.
Here is the Kickstarter video:
Rojas tells us that the first 20 backers can get an Ego for US$ 3,750 if everything works out, while the estimated retail price will be more around $ 5,000. He further says that although that might sound like a lot, it’s actually right in line with cost of other electric-assist velomobiles.
What’s your angle?
One of these is somewhat “recumbent” while the other one is not …
not at all.
I will probably get myself in trouble over this one. We’ll see. The question popped into my head just a few moments ago … when is a recumbent not a recumbent? Now I ask ya. Hey, it is a fair question. To start with I think we need to take a look at what the word recumbent means. The most literal meaning is “lying down”. So using the definition of recumbent we don’t have any factory made recumbent cycles … not really! The most laid back seat angle on tadpole trikes I know of is 25 degrees. Most are much more upright. My own trike, for instance, is at a 45 degree angle. And several are more upright than that. Yeah, I know … I am getting too technical … nit picking. I just find it interesting and somewhat amusing that so many tadpole trikes are referred to as recumbent when the seating position is nearly upright. At the same time I reckon I would have to go along with the fact that we have a problem … I mean … what else are we going to call them … especially without making things all the more confusing?
I rode another tadpole trike recently which had the seat angle extremely upright compared to mine. I didn’t care for it at all. I definitely did not feel “recumbent”. The office chair I am sitting in now as I type this is far more ‘laid back’ than that trike seat was. It was very uncomfortable compared to my trike. The seat was quite high and the pedals were quite low. It definitely did not seem like I was seated on a recumbent trike. It was more like a “cruiser” bicycle position. I guess it comes down to “different strokes for different folks” … and in case you hadn’t noticed a cruiser is not at all recumbent. Yep, we are all individuals with different likes and dislikes. So I reckon we will continue to see tadpole trikes that are not at all recumbent. One thing about it … riding one of these “non-recumbent” recumbent trikes one does not have to be concerned about losing stuff out of pants pockets. Another thing about riding a non-recumbent recumbent … it wouldn’t be as easy to fall asleep while riding it. 🙂
Whether you are really laid back, semi-bent or straight up … by all means …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Recently well known tadpole trike rider, Ed Miller has shared a couple of new videos showing the installation of his canopies he is known for. His workmanship always looks impressive.
Lastly here is another video in which you can see considerable detail of the construction of the canopies and the various options Ed has made availalble.
Interested in one of Ed’s canopies? Contact him via email: logbuilder at mindspring.com Just mention ‘canopy info’ in subject line.
Ed also has many fine VIDEOS available to watch which I highly recommend as they are always well done and interesting.
I recently came across this video I am sharing here. It does an excellent job explaining why people enjoy riding a recumbent bike or trike. Here is the video description:
“Why do people ride recumbent bikes and trikes? One of the biggest reasons is the comfortable riding position of recumbents that avoids the well-known discomforts and pains of traditional diamond frame bicycles. In this video, recumbent riders explain why they made the switch to recumbents and love their new ride.
This video is part of a series of videos sponsored by both Catrike and Easy Street Recumbents of Austin, Texas. We are grateful for their support.
A few words about making these videos:
The interviews are mostly culled from several hours of interview footage collected at the 2015 Heart of Texas Recumbent Rally. The unexpected weekend Texas freeze cancelled all of the riding events this year, so we all had to make do with visiting, eating, and drinking in Austin. Everyone I talked to said they had a great time! But this also left a lot of time for interviews, so it was fortunate that Phil Allen and I had come down on Thursday with his lighting, mikes, backgrounds, and camera equipment for the interview setup. My wife, Patti, tried to come down on Friday morning and the highways from Dallas to Austin were closed!
A word or few about Phil:
Phil Allen is a professional videographer and editor, with (among other awards and accolades) a Texas Emmy under his belt for the documentary “A Fair To Remember” about the history of the Texas State Fair.
Phil did all of the “studio” interviews you see in these videos. Ironically, there are also a few outdoor interviews of his that we are using from the 2010 “Texas Catrike Rally” in Dallas, the first rally organized by Jane Knight, that preceded the Austin-based Heart of Texas Recumbent Rallies. This is ironic because I has asked him to come by and film this group at the Sonic while we were stopped for lunch, since it was near his house, and he might be able to use it as a a documentary subject. 5 years later and here it is finally getting used. Phil also provided technical and creative guidance on assembling these videos. And Phil created the 30-second commercial intro used on each video, including the narration. (I just replaced his stock video clips with riders from my video archive.)
I have been filming Catrike and HOT Recumbent Rallies since about 2010, and started editing and posting them just for fun. I have also been collecting video footage at various riding events since 2010 (sometimes riding with 2 or 3 cameras going) and that archive has come in handy for this project. After the first HOT Rally video posted, Mike Librik (Easy Street Recumbents owner) asked me to keep doing it each year. Mike kept wanting more interview footage, and I finally got him to bring in professional help from Phil in 2015. While I have spent many weekends planning out these videos and editing them together from the hours of interviews and years of riding video archive, I could not have put this together as well without Phil’s guidance and insights. Phil and I have known each other since our kids started in school together in 1999. This is the first video project we have been able to work on together and I am very happy with the results. I hope you are too.
after illness or injury
HERE are other videos posted on YouTube by Steve Erickson.