Category Archives: safety

RECUMBENT TRIKE DOG ATTACK


am sure many of us have had to deal with loose dogs which come at us. Some are friendly while others are vicious acting. We never know what may result. For certain it is scary and unnerving. Nobody wants to get attacked by a dog and bit. I have experienced it and had to make a trip to the emergency room as I could look right down inside of my arm as a result of a bad dog bite. And the owner wasn’t even willing to pay for my medical bills. Here is a video by Ed Miller, a well known tadpole trike pilot. He is also known for his trike canopies .

Loose dogs are extremely dangerous. I have had a few incidents where they ran right in front of me and put me down when I was on bicycles and motorcycles. One of my friends had a loose dog run right in front of his bicycle and he suffered for months recuperating from his injuries. And most dog owners who allow their dogs to run loose have very bad attitudes and basically tell the victim “F____ you!” if you dare say anything to them.

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JSRL DESIGN VS TERRATRIKE’S NEW HEEL SLINGS


Anyone who has followed my writings over the years knows that I personally use and have recommended JSRL Design Heel Slings. I have always liked them and still do, however, there is a new product out which I recently bought and must say I much prefer over the JSRL product. The keyword here is “NEW” as Terratrike had an older product which isn’t nearly as good as their new one. At the time of my writing this I have not been able to fnd the new one online and it appears as though TerraTrike’s website isn’t showing either one of them right now as the page won’t open for the old one and the new one is not yet shown. The new one is considerably more expensive ($55 vs. $40), but it is worth it as it works great. So if you are n the market for these be careful you don’t buy the earlier version as you would probably be very disappointed. We are talking all new and improved here in their latest version.

The big difference between these two products (JSRL vs TerraTrike) is the JSRL heel slings use a steel cable which works, but it sags down making it harder to use. The TT product has a steel flat bar bent like a U with Velcro straps attached which adjust for shoe size. It fits snugly and doesn’t sag so it is easier to get in and out of. I only installed them today and rode about 20 miles with them trying to stay dry as I dealt with Tropical Storm Irma’s rain. I fell in love with these TT heel slings right away. There is a world of difference between the two.

I found myself bending the flat bar almost immediately as it was bent in too far for my liking. It worked as is, but I like it better now that I bent it a little bit. That is one good thing about these heel slings … they can be tweaked to fit the individual’s shoe and riding position on the pedal by bending the flat bar. I am not saying that this is something TT intended the purchaser to do, but it certainly doesn’t do any harm as long as one doesn’t bend the metal back and forth to where the metal becomes fatigued and could weaken and even break off.

I may look into trimming off some of the excess Velcro strap as I am not too wild about it sticking way out beyond what is needed to do the job.

I have written various articles in the past about heel slings, foot retention, pedals and leg suck:

https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/heel-slings-get-my-vote/

https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/heel-slings-vs-spd-shoes-pedals/

https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/pedals-pedals-read-all-about-it/

https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/leg-suck-its-not-a-pretty-sight/

Here is a picture of TT earlier version just so you know what it looks like and can avoid buying it thinking you are getting the most recent one I am recommending here. As you can see there is quite a difference. The first version was rather flimsy, not nearly as practical and was harder to use.

Regardless of what means you choose it is a very good idea to do something to prevent leg suck. It is not something you want to experience. Be safe out there and …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

BICYCLE AIR PUMPS & TIRE PRESSURE


Most recumbent tires are high pressure tires … up around 100 psi. If you don’t have an air compressor at home or in your motor vehicle I strongly recommend purchasing a floor type bicycle air pump … one designed to pump high pressure … preferably 140 or 160 psi. That way when you pump up a 100 psi tire you aren’t maxxing out the pump to accomplish it … or maxxing yourself out using it. 🙂

In fact, I suggest getting one of these pumps even if you do have an air compressor available to use as they are quite handy and practical.

Most good quality pumps nowadays have a built in guage making it very handy. I suggest checking the accuracy of the guage initially and from time to time to be sure you are getting the right pressure in the tires.

Here are a couple of examples of pumps available.

Blackburn air tower 3 bike floor pump

Park Tools PFP-4 Professional Mechanic Floor Pump

They can be purchased at your local bike shop. I want to emphasize that it is best to buy a good quality pump and not settle for some inferior pump at a lower cost. I don’t think you would regret paying more for a quality pump. I would also suggest that you talk to a local bike shop mechanic to get their recommedation as to what pump to buy. You could also research them online to get customer feedback.

I am not making any recommendations as to what pump to buy. I am only showing these two as examples of what is available. There are lots of different ones out there. The first pump I have pictured above is a Blackburn Air Tower 3 Bike Floor Pump rated at 160 psi. To the best of my knowledge it is a good quality pump.

The second pump I have pictured above is a ParkTool brand which normally they make pretty good quality stuff. However, the customer reviews of this pump are not all that impressive. That is surprising.

Most pumps nowadays have a dual head on them so that either Presta or Schrader valves are accommodated.

The pump I have is a Pedros Domestique air pump. It is a good pump, but I know that there are better ones available.

In case you didn’t know it an innertube loses air on a continual basis so it is necessary to inflate them from time to time. That’s right … air leaks right thru the rubber so they are constantly losing pressure. The higher the pressure the more they leak down. It is important to keep your tires inflated to the correct pressure. You will get better wear, mileage, handling, and performance out of your tires as well as make it easier to pedal along since low air pressure equates to more rolling resistance.

It is also important that you never over inflate your tires beyond what they are designed for. Doing so can result in destroying the tire and causing a major tire failure which could be disaterous at worst and leave you stranded at best.

I once put about 10 psi more in a knobby tire I used for winter riding. About 10 miles from home I noticed something which wasn’t right in the ride … a pronounced thump of sorts. I stopped and got off to look. My rear tire was literally coming apart … separating from too much pressure in it. Fortunately I was only about a half of a mile or so from a local bike shop so I made it over there and got a new tire. The tire that had just gone bad would have lasted me for several years more if I had not over inflated it.

Yes, proper tire inflation is quite important … especially if we all want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

DOGS ARE PEOPLE TOO


Yeppur, dogs are people too. At least some of them think so and some of us do too. That’s okay. For sure they are part of the family.

Some of us even look like dogs. Did I really say that? I better restate that … sometimes we have dogs that resemble us. Take a look – – –

(In all fairness as far as I know neither of these national leaders own these dogs they are pictured with. Somebody just made up the images in jest. It is probably true of the images below as well.)

And some not quite as well known …

My point is … let’s see … I knew I had a point when I started this. Oh yeah, we are attached to these critters so it is only natural we want to take them along with us when we go out riding our trikes. Now some people pamper their pets to the extreme and only haul their furry friends in a trailer or basket. That is okay for some of the time, but hey … they need exercise too. So there are options available. Some dogs do better than others when it comes to catching on to what they need to do to walk and run alongside of us or perhaps up in front or even behind us. They learn quickly what is expected of them and what they need to do (or not do) to be safe. Other dogs need help and help is available in the way of devices to attach to our trikes which they in turn are attached to. Using these devices they walk and run safely alongside of us out of harms way. Well, they are unless we run them into something. With extra width these devices add to our trikes we need to be careful we don’t do just that. Some dogs even need a special shield alongside of the rear wheel to keep them from getting into it and getting hurt. Anyway, here are a few of the options available:

http://www.dogpoweredscooter.com/

In my opinion and experience it is best to have a means of both hauling your dog as well as walking and running him … at least if you are riding far enough with him where he needs a break from walking and running. If the dog is small enough he can be hauled in a basket aboard the trike, but a larger dog definitely requires a trailer to accommodate him.

Some people just prefer a trailer anyway regardless of the size of the dog. And, of course, some people have more than one dog so a trailer is pretty much a must to take the dogs along safely and comfortably.

And then there are the MUSHERS … dogs who love to pull

Some dogs are pullers, some dogs need to be pulled and some dogs are pretty much neutral … they just walk or run alongside without pulling or being pulled. It is important to “know your dog” and ensure he is getting his exercise without overdoing it. He may need to ride for awhile and then go at it again. Some dogs may only be good for a mile or so at a time while others can walk and run several miles before needing a rest.

Dogs On Trikes Facebook Group

Me with my dog. He was one great dog …

one could not ask for a better dog.

Some dogs are better trained and behaved than others. Some dogs seem to be more easily trained than others. Consequently some dogs do fine without being fastened into a basket or trailer while others definitely need to be “contained”/”restrained”. Keep in mind that in case of a tip over a dog being hauled in a basket is probably more likely to be injured than a dog which is somewhat free to move about some as he can jump out and avoid being injured … or least being less injured than if he would have been restrained in the basket. Unfortunately there are dogs which will jump out if they are not fastened in and that could be very bad especially if you are moving along when they jump. My wife and I had a dog once that jumped out of the window while we were driving down a highway. The only thing that saved him from serious injury is he had his leash fastened and my wife was able to pull him back thru the window before anything happened.

Keep in mind also that carrying a dog in a basket up high off of the ground raises the trike’s center of gravity considerably making it all the easier to tip over.

I have noticed that most dogs enjoy the view as well as the wind in their face. They often tend to move about just to see what there is to see. This can sometimes be a bit challenging for the trike rider as the movement of the dog can effect the handling of the trike.

Please don’t allow your dog to run loose on his own. It is irresponsible. It is dangerous for your dog and for others. Many “accidents” have happened as a result of dogs running loose. It is bad enough when a dog gets injured in these accidents, but it is far worse for innocent people getting injured as a result of the dog owners negligence. I have known friends who have been seriously injured when a loose dog went right in front of them. Sometimes dogs chase after other cyclists which can be very intimidating. And it is against the law to allow a dog to run loose!

And if you are taking your dog along with you please be a responsible and law abiding owner.

Unless you have a special dog who cleans up after himself, be sure you do it. It is the right thing to do.

It is absolutely disgusting to deal with this scenario … dogs owners who do this deserve to have their faces shoved down into this pile of shit.

Yeppur, dogs are people too as far as enjoying tadpole trikes. With our help and with our responsible behavior we can all …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

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.

ARE YOU BLIND?


I am not blind, but I have been experiencing various vision problems over the last several years. I have glaucoma. My mom had glaucoma as did her mom. My grandmother went blind the last few years of her life and my mom nearly did. I am “legally blind” in my left eye. My eye doctor has been trying to save my eyesight I have left. Blindness is not something any sane person would choose and yet many of us who ride tadpole trikes do choose it. We don’t have eyes in the back of our heads and we can only see so far off to the sides. We are not owls with the ability to turn our heads clear around backwards. In short, we need mirrors to see behind us. That is reality and no sane person would argue it. Certainly our laws require left and right outside rear view mirrors as well as an inside rear view mirror. As far as I am concerned they ought to be a legal requirement on all forms of cycles and misc. vehicles.

Susan in Chuck's mirror what's behind no mirror

See what you are missing without a mirror? There is another trike following behind, but without a mirror you wouldn’t know that. Of course, these pictures don’t really illustrate what I am talking about as far as a blind spot. Many tadpole trike riders choose to only use one mirror. I don’t understand it. We are greatly limited in our sight and it is very unsafe for ourselves as well as others. I am sure most all of us have heard of “blind spots”. They are real and they are very dangerous. A blind spot is the area that doesn’t show up in the one mirror some riders have. Obviously that area is closer up to us than what is shown in these pictures.

Here are the blind spots using 2 mirrors. The grey areas are the bling spots. The white areas are where we can see using the mirror(s) as well as with our eyes looking ahead of us. (Ignore the small grey area in front of the rider. I didn’t bother to remove it when I did the photo editing.)

And here are the blind spots areas with only 1 mirror. As you can observe there is a tremendous difference.

Yes, when we choose to only have one mirror we are choosing to be blind on the side we have no mirror. We don’t do it when we operate our cars, trucks, etc. so why would anyone choose to only use one mirror?

I ride with other tadpole trike riders and they only have one mirror. I have to be very careful around them as they don’t see me if I am on the side where they have no mirror … not unless I am quite a distance back behind them. Just recently one of my friends turned sharply to the right and forced me to brake hard to avoid a collision. He had no idea I was there as he is blind on that side and to make matters worse he usually doesn’t turn his head and try to look.  And this situation happens everyday several times a day. I always see them, but they don’t see me. I have talked to them about this, but they stubbornly refuse to install a second mirror. They choose to ride blindly and be a hazard … an accident waiting to happen.

Matt's trike with two mirrors

Matt Galat (JaYoe) … well known for his world travel adventure and videos …

is wise enough to use two mirrors.

When I built my first trike I put two mirrors on it. I have always had two mirrors on my trikes. I can’t imagine not having a mirror on both sides. I don’t choose to be blind … not when it comes to my eyesight nor when riding my trike. What about you? Are you blind? It is a very dangerous thing to ride around blind on one side. It is a very foolish thing as well. And it is a very unnecessary thing as they sell mirrors every day. We need to be safe ourselves and do our part to ensure others are safe from us. In short, we need to be responsible. That means having two mirrors is a must. We all want to …

ENJOY THE RIDE

FLINTSTONE BRAKES & YOU


Hanna-Barbera produced the popular Flintstone cartoon tv series where Fred was known to use his feet as the brakes for his prehistoric car.

We laugh at that and perhaps we have even done it ourselves at times in the past on some types of vehicles. We might have even gotten away with it, but I caution you not to attempt it on a tadpole trike as you may very well regret it. The results could get quite ugly, most serious and painful. LEG SUCK is not something anyone would want to  have happen to them. Leg suck is where the rider of a tadpole trike literally runs over their leg as the leg folds back under the crossmember (cruciform) of the trike frame. I saw it happen once to a friend of mine. It was hard to watch. He was fortunate. He only experienced considerable pain which took several days to get over … nothing got broken. I have myself had this happen a couple of times and experienced the pain of it. Fortunately my pain and suffering was over much quicker. The bottom line is … it is not worth it … keep your feet on the pedals. Certainly it is best to use some sort of means to keep your feet on the pedals so they can’t fall off and come down onto the ground. Tadpole trikes are a lot of fun to ride, but we need always to use common sense and good judgement. Be safe, 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’

 

FUN & THRILLING, BUT FOOLISH AND DANGEROUS


 

Here are some fun and thrilling rides, but certainly foolish and dangerous … not to mention harmful and damaging to the trikes. There is a lot I could say about all of this … tempting fate, endangering life and limb and treating brand new expensive trikes like this … but I will refrain and let you think whatever you want about the matter.

SHEDDING SOME LIGHT ON HEADLIGHTS


After about 8 years or more of dependable service my 1 watt Planet Bike headlight has started shutting off all by itself. So I am now looking for a replacement.

I came across this webpage which is somewhat unique. I shows many different headlights as they shine forward on the road at nighttime. It has a split screen where you can compare one light with another. You can adjust the split screen however you want it.

HERE is another website where you can compare the lighting from various headlights at nighttime.

HERE is another side by side comparison.

HERE is an explanation of LED lighting with helpful information.

HERE is an article on lumens and brightness.

As you can see, not all lights are equal. In the image above are two lights both rated at 300 lumens. Obviously the one on the left is much much brighter than the one on the right. I also selected some other 300 lumen lights to compare and the result was identical to what you see in this picture. Good optics make all the difference in lights.

In the image below are beamshots of a 350, 700 and 1000 lumen headlights. As you can see the 350 holds its own pretty good against these much more powerful lights. Again, good optics make all the difference in lights.

I bought the 350 lumen headlight shown in the image above. It is a Light & Motion Urban 350 which sells for about $50. I like it fine for nighttime riding … which I seldom do … but I am very disappointed in its pulse mode for daytime riding … which is what I almost always do. As far as I am concerned its pulse mode is nearly worthless in the daytime. There is no comparison between it and my Planet Bike headlight. So I more less wasted $50 on a light I really have little need or use of. I looked at some others which were about twice the price and their pulse mode was very attention getting. I don’t understand why this light I bought fails so miserably in this one area. It’s pulse mode would be fine at nighttime, but in the daytime … like I said … it is about worthless.

Here is a video of my Planet Bike headlight flashing inside my home.

Fortunately my Planet Bike headlight is working again so I am continuing to use it for daytime riding. It turned out that the problem of it shutting off by itself was simply a matter of the battery contacts needing to be cleaned. Its flashing mode is very attention getting. BTW, Planet Bike lights have very good optics.

Here is a still shot of my current headlights at nighttime. I have changed the mounting positions since this picture was taken.

One thing I have noticed about many of the new headlights being sold now is that they have rubber straps to mount them instead of much more solid and secure clamps. I hate these rubber straps as they are a cheap way of making what are otherwise good lights. The rubber straps won’t tighten up and hold the light in position and they make it extremely simple, fast and easy to steal the light. I am constantly having to reach down and reposition my two new headlights as they just keep moving out of position as I ride along. I would never buy another headlight that uses a rubber strap to mount it. They are a joke … only I am not laughing.

Well, I hope this article has helped to shed some light on the subject of headlights. Be safe out there and …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

 

 

 

 

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HEADKAYSE ONE – REINEVENTS HELMETS


Headkayse One is a game changer for cycling safety because of Enkayse.

Conventional helmets are made from polystyrene. In a large impact polystyrene deforms to provide what’s known as “sacrificial protection”. This is why you have to be careful not to drop your polystyrene helmet in everyday use, and it’s why manufacturers recommend that you replace your helmet after a knock.

Headkayse … pronounced “head case” … hmmm, interesting … is indeed unique. It is scary to think that a brand new conventional helmet can be so easily damaged and rendered considerably less effective in protecting our noggins. It is not only scary, but downright sad and maddening. Who wants to keep buying new helmets quite frequently for fear that our current helmet might not be up to the task of protecting us (even though it might be nearly new itself)?

Enkayse is designed to work differently. It manages the energy of impacts, so it can retain its integrity after more than one impact, large or small. It flexes to the shape of your head for better comfort and security.

Because Enkayse dissipates energy rather than deforming on impact, it also cushions small bumps. Polystyrene can’t do this, since forces which are too weak to deform it are transmitted through. Enkayse provides comfort in protecting from small bumps. This may also have long-term benefits as researchers believe the cumulative effect of small knocks contributes to brain disease over time. Because Enkayse shrugs off little bumps, it means that Headkayse One is durable against the knocks and scrapes that come with everyday use. You can be sure that Headkayse One will stand up to the daily grind. You can view the entire article about this new material HERE.

This is an interesting video (below) demonstrating how conventional helmets are effected by bumps and impacts.

Their website reports that they are 167 % funded in their startup campaign. These helmets don’t come cheap, however, they should greatly outlast a conventional bike helmet which helps offset the price involved.

So if you are a helmet wearer you might consider looking into a “head case” for your noggin. They say they think they will be in production soon (mid 2017). You can pre-order HERE and it should be cheaper than when they start selling them online.  They show about $112 plus shipping charges if pre-ordered.

They will be available in 8 different colors. One size fits all. Be safe out there and …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

 

 

 

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BLINDED BY THE LIGHT


They got the title right …

I came across this video and immediately had to agree with the title … Blinded By The Light. There is definitely a whole bunch of lights there. I assume they own a battery manufacturing company. That top light must be to warn low flying aircraft. 🙂 If I were a car or truck driver coming up behind this I wouldn’t know what to do … probably need to find another route. 🙂 I believe in good lighting, but this is definitely an overkill to the point I would think it would upset others who have to deal with it. I don’t know what their purpose is in having all these lights, but hopefully they don’t ride this around other people at night with these lights turned on .

I won’t even use my bright flashing taillight at nighttime around other people as it would be blinding and offensive to those behind me. Defensive is the goal … not offensive. This next video is of my trike after dark where there is total darkness and no one else around. I have 4 taillights flashing, but one of them is so much brighter than the other three. The other three are plenty bright to be seen quite well at night. The extremely bright one is just too much. As bright as the other 3 taillights are this super bright one prevents the other three from being seen. It is great in the day time, but at night time I would never use it around other people. I would use 2 or 3 of the others and probably only have one taillight flashing and the other(s) turned on steady (no blinking).

Our headlights can also be “too much” Here is my trike with  maximum lumens in use. I would not think of riding around like this in the daytime much less at night. I would only use it when by myself and in need of good lighting to see where I am going (at night time, of course.) Too bright of a headlight can quite literally blind those in front of you so that they can’t see some of what is in front of them. This could easily result in an accident and even someone’s death.

And that is only 350 lumen. There are people out there with several thousand lumen lighting. Let’s all be safe but respectful of others. We all want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

REAR WHEEL STEERING = HIGH SPEED INSTABILITY


Now I am not out to attack rear wheel steering per se, but I am reporting what I have read about it as well as my opinion about the design. I am in full agreement with what I have read about rear wheel steering. And what I read about it is exactly what I think it would be like. At slow speed it works okay. At super slow speed it could be a lot of fun and helpful. But I am not interested in always going slow so if there is a handling and safety problem with rear wheel steering it is not for me. This issue comes up because I just recently made the discovery that the tadpole trike maker, Sidewinder, is still in business. I thought they went out of business due to a lot of complaints and concerns about their trikes being unsafe above a certain speed due to stability issues. One thing for sure, there aren’t many Sidewinder trikes around. I have never seen one nor talked to anyone who has. It is reported that some of the most sophisticated fighter jets made can’t be flown without the aid of computerization. They will crash without it. That is about my take on rear wheel steering and riding above certain speeds. Something beyond human input and control is needed in order for it to be safe. There are lots of stuff online to be read about this subject. Here are a few of them:
http://wannee.nl/hpv/abt/e-abd.htm
http://www.bentrideronline.com/messageboard/showthread.php?t=62395
http://forum.atomiczombie.com/archive/index.php/t-7684.html
http://www.bicycleman.com/recumbents/trikes/sidewinder/sidewinder-recumbent-trikes.htm
Look at it this way … if rear wheel steering were safe and practical car, truck, bus, motorcycle, etc. manufacturers would employ it. They don’t. I rest my case. We all want to be safe and …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

DOES THIS GET YOUR ATTENTION?


planet-bike-1-watt-headlight  pb-blaze-1-watt-headlight-on-full-power

have used a 1 watt Planet Bike headlight for many years now. I almost always use it on flash mode as I almost always ride in the daytime and rarely at nighttime. At only 1 watt it is amazingly bright. This is due to the excellent optics employed. It is not a great light for nighttime use, but for for daytime with the flash mode it is superb. It operates on two AA batteries and they last an amazingly long time … like around 20 hours or more. I usually use rechargeable batteries in it which are super economical to use. I recently had a problem with my light as it would shut itself off almost immediately after turning it on flash mode. I just assumed it’s time had come after giving me many years of faithful service. I ordered another headlight to replace it. Meanwhile I removed this one from my trike and brought it inside the house. I started messing around with it and determined that the problem was a simple one and one I could fix. The battery contacts just needed cleaning. Now it is working great again. Here is a video of it I just took inside the house. It shows it on flash mode. Now I ask ya … would this get your attention?

It has always worked fine for me and many people have commented that they saw my headlight flashing from a long distance. It is also quite visible from the side also which is an added plus as many lights are not very visible from off to the side.

Here is my current headlight and taillight setup on flash mode. This obviously is in daylight which is mostly when I ride.

I like the idea of others seeing me while I am out there and am a firm believer of the importance of good lighting front and back as well as highly visible safety flags.

I have also experimented around with taillights and although I really liked what is shown in this next video I opted not to keep it because white light showing on the back of a vehicle is illegal.

As can be seen in the next video I now have a very bright red taillight which is so bright I would not dare use it at night time as it would be blinding to others. It is so much brighter than my other taillights that it makes them look dim when, in fact, they are also plenty bright, especially at night.

Here is my most recent taillight configuration/ Again, I would not use the 150 lumen taillight in full brightness mode at night time if I were out riding around other people. It is way too bright to use around others.

The concept of being able to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

appeals to me. How about you?

STEERING IN A SKID


grew up learning how to steer in a skid/slide … first on a bicycle, then a motorcycle and finally a car. As a kid my dad taught me how to steer a car in a skid. When I say taught I mean he showed me how to do it. At 16 years old I can remember driving my parents’ car down the city street purposely placing the car into a skid sideways between parked cars along the sides of the street and controlling the skid as I drove past them.

car-slides-off-road-in-curve-reduced

A few years later while in the navy I drove a ’63 Corvette on a particular curvy road south of San Diego, CA where there was a sheer drop off along the edge and very rough cliff like terrain below and nothing along the sides of the road to keep a vehicle from going off over the edge. I would put the Corvette into a controlled skid in the curves as I sped around them. Yes, it was foolish and dangerous as it could have very easily and quickly resulted like what is pictured above. I wouldn’t not do any of this today, but as a teenager and into my early 20s I thought nothing of it. I am saying all of this to say that learning how to control a skid or slide can save your butt should you find yourself in such a predicament.

steering-in-slide

I find in riding a tadpole trike on a slippery surface such as snow or ice the trike can all by itself sometimes seem to go into a sideways slide. Without taking proper needed action when this happens it could result in an unwanted unexpected disaster. For me it just comes natural to turn the handlebars and steer out of the skid. It is “second nature” as they say. I find it fun and challenging. Many times I have purposely put my trike into slides just to steer out of them.

steering-in-slide

As illustrated in the drawing above when the rear wheel of a trike slides sideways you should steer in the same direction you are sliding to control the skid. As the trike straightens back out you should turn the front wheels back straight. Learning how far to turn the front wheels and for how long is crucial to successfully controlling a skid. You can also over compensate and make matters worse. If you fail to straighten the wheels back around at the right time you can cause the vehicle to skid the opposite direction. It is best to practice all of this in an empty parking lot where there is plenty of room to slide around without concern of hitting anything.

This video shows the rider steering in a skid. Notice at the very end when he tips over it is the result of the trike going from the slippery surface onto dry pavement and the tire “caught” suddenly and caused the trike to tip over.

The best advice I could give anyone to learn how to steer out of a skid is as I stated previously … to practice in an empty parking lot where you have plenty of room around you. Of course, I am talking about riding on a slippery surface such as snow or ice. I would also caution you not to try this if the slippery surface is not continuous. What I mean by that is that the snow or ice needs to cover the entirety of the area where you are riding. You don’t want to be sliding sideways and then suddenly hit dry pavement (like the rider in the video above) as that could be very dangerous resulting in a bad sudden tip over … a violent one where you could easily get injured. Even if you don’t normally ride in such conditions it would be good to learn this skill so you know what to do if it ever happens to you when you do ride. You could find yourself riding on a surface where there is loose dirt or gravel or a wet spot suddenly come up where the rear wheel starts to slide sideways. Again, I caution you about the rear wheel sliding sideways and then suddenly hitting dry pavement as the trike is likely to tip over suddenly. I can’t over emphasize this.

Riding over uneven surfaces can cause a trike to go into a skid/slide … especially if you are already in a turn (going around a curve).

trike-tip-over-red-arrow-2

Even riding on some surfaces like in the image above can be hazardous. This was on dirt and probably loose dirt at that. The rider knew to steer with the slide to try to control it and recover from it. Most of the time this works, but sometimes things just go wrong and the end result is not what was expected or wanted.  This person tipped over. Fortunately they were not injured. I personally think the reason they tipped over is because the rear wheel slid into a stone or something causing the slide to end and tipping the trike over suddenly. Just going over uneven ground can cause it. It doesn’t take much sometimes to cause such a scenario. It is also noted in the video that she could not maneuver as she would have liked to because of a cactus plant sticking out in her path. That in and of itself could produce the results she experienced.

Here is the video which goes with the picture above:

The rider is most fortunate that the rollover didn’t result in serious injury. She went right onto large stones.

Sliding sideways can be fun as long as you can safely control it, but it can also be extremely dangerous when things go wrong. Be careful out there. Do your best to keep it upright and …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?


trike-tip-over

Now I ask ‘ya … what could possibly go wrong when we are out riding? I mean we are on 3 wheels and low to the ground so we are safe, right? Whoa! Slow up there! You better think again. There are all sorts of things that can go wrong. I feel relatively safe while riding my trike, but I also know that there are elements of danger and concern. Tipping over is just one of those things. I have been fortunate in that I have never been seriously injured in any tip over I have been involved in. I know others who can’t say that. They received painful injuries which took awhile to recover from.

leaning-in-turn-reduced

Leaning into a turn can help immensely to avoid tipping over. Otherwise we need to slow down more as tadpole trikes can and do tip over. And if you ride a trike with a high seat (such as TerraTrike Rover & Rambler, ICE Adventure, Trident Spike & Titan, etc.) they can tip over more readily than trikes with lower seats. Also if you are carrying weight up high on a trike (such as on a rear rack) that raises the center of gravity and the trike can tip over easier. BTW, all TerraTrike models have high seats so none of them are as stable as trikes that have lower seats. Just looking at various makes and models of trikes I have noticed that the trend seems to be higher seats on most models nowadays. I am used to sitting 9 inches or so off of the ground. Very few models nowadays still offer that seat height. That’s all the more reason to stick with what I have as higher seats just don’t appeal to me … at least not as long as I am capable of getting in and out of a lower seat. And I figure it helps keep me young. 🙂 I like having a good handling trike. I have a friend I ride with who has a TT Rambler. He has to slow way up to corner for fear of tipping over. That’s not for me. That would take a lot of fun out of riding a tadpole trike.

drooping-cables

Drooping cables and such hanging down low under a trike can be quite hazardous resulting in messing up one’s day. They can easily catch on something and not only destroy the cable or wire (or more), but it could cause the trike to wreck.

edgewater-ave-embankment-along-trail-2

Having a wheel drop off the edge of the pavement can be very dangerous and can result in a nasty wreck. This is especially true if there is an embankment alongside the area. Riding on snow or leaves can hide the edge of the pavement and make it even more dangerous resulting in going over the edge and likely tipping over. Uneven edges of the pavement can be hazardous.

pavement-dropoff-along-edge

foot-clearance-off-of-ground

With the rider’s feet just a short distance off of the ground and out in front it is all too easy for the feet to slip off of the pedals and hit the ground resulting in leg suck … when the foot and leg get ran over by the trike and bent back under the crucifix … resulting in painful injury. That is why it is so highly recommended to employ some means of keeping your feet secured to the pedals.

pit-bull-damage

Dogs allowed to run loose and not under control can really mess up your day. This person was a victim of a dog chomping down on his leg. So much for being man’s best friend.

seen-this-post_

Various obstacles in our paths can mess up our day if we fail to see and avoid them. Whether it is a bollard, a handrail or something else running into it can be bad news.

maumee-pathway-river-bank-erosion-problem-1

And coming onto damaged pavement like pictured above could readily mess up your day. One of the great attributes of our trike riding is being able to take in the scenery better than we could when we rode bicycles. However, we still need to be careful and watch where we are going.

move-to-side-of-the-road

Some places are just more hazardous to ride than others so we need to really watch out for ourselves.

We need to expect the unexpected at all times. Accidents most often happen by accident. We should not do those things which could be used to say we gave them a lot of help. 🙂

prescription-to-ride

Lastly, failure to follow sound advice can have negative results. Be safe out there & …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

HELMETS … MY HEAD, MY CHOICE?


watermelon-smashed

This could be our head as it smashes onto the ground.

was just reading thru a posting and the comments on Facebook about helmet use while riding a recumbent trike. I have written about helmets before**(see links below) so I reckon this is a revisit of the subject. The last several years of my working career were spent employed in a local hospital where my job was being with patients who needed someone with them constantly. That included a whole lot of head injury patients. Some eventually make full recoveries, but some have some serious issues the remainder of their lives. I saw first hand what they went thru and what they put others thru (including myself). (I could tell you some stories.) It was the exposure to all of this which sold me on how important it is to wear a helmet on a bicycle or motorcycle.

hitting-head-on-pavement

So it was only over the last 13 years or so that I personally have been using a helmet. If I ride a bicycle or motorcycle of any kind I always wear a helmet. Of course, I am of the age where helmets didn’t exist when I grew up. I rode many 10s of 1000s of miles on bicycles without a helmet. I only had a few wrecks in all those miles and fortunately I never received a head injury of any kind. I personally rarely wear a helmet while riding on my tadpole trike.  I am not trying to say that it is safe not to wear a helmet while riding a tadpole trike and I certainly am not advocating it. I am well aware that things could go horribly wrong. For me it is a personal choice and I feel relatively safe not wearing one. But if I were to get back on a bicycle I definitely would have my helmet on.

i-wont-wear-a-helmet-2

There is one thing missing in this picture. The person is

not drooling. (I have seen a lot of that.)

Many of us make excuses as to why we don’t wear a helmet while riding. Some say it makes them look stupid or uncool. Some say that helmets are uncomfortable. Some say that helmets are hot.

helmet-ruins-my-hair-2

Some say (especially females) that it messes up their hair. Some would say that helmets are not needed on a trike. Some say that any combination of the above excuses apply.

injured-cyclist-down-on-pavement

What is my excuse(s) you ask? To be honest I find them uncomfortable and hot. I can’t even stand a hat on my head unless it is bitter cold outside.

white-visor-hat-3

Even a visor type hat that is totally open on the top is hot to me, but I wear one when I am riding to shade the sun from my eyes. If I remove it I immediately feel relief as far as the matter of heat. I am really miserable with a helmet on.

enlarg-recumbent-bike-rest2
neckrest-and-helmet-2

Some say that a helmet interferes with their headrest. As to the matter of a helmet interfering with a head rest, first of all they are not headrests … they are neckrests. A neckrest should be positioned low enough that a helmet is above it. Also the type of helmet one wears makes a difference. Many helmets are impractical to wear when a neckrest is involved as they protrude too far back and some even protrude down a little more than others. A helmet which doesn’t protrude back works much better.

  new-headrest-cover-reduced

I have a large size neckrest which I made (pictured above) and my helmet clears it ok. My helmet (a Bell Citi) is fairly flat where the back of the headband is so even if it rests against my super soft neckrest it doesn’t present any problem. Here are examples of helmets that work well with neckrests … a Giro Air Attack (left) and a Bell Citi (right):

comparison-giro-air-attack-and-bell-citi-2

Tadpole trikes can tip over and the rider can get injured in a tipover.

trike-tip-over

I have tipped over a few times, but never hit my head on anything. Only once did I get any injury and it was just some abrasion on my arm. For those who ride tadpole trikes which have high seats they can tip over even easier so extra caution is needed while riding on such a trike.

leaning-in-turn-reduced

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Leaning into a turn can help considerably to prevent a tip over (roll over). Of course, this only applies if you are going fast enough for this to be a concern.

Here is something I learned as a young child:

how-to-take-a-curve

 

This can be very helpful. Just be sure no one is coming from the other direction.

paramedics-treating-downed-cyclist

Paramedics treating downed cyclist.

I guess what bothers me the most about this subject is the stupid comments some people make. I am talking about comments against the use of helmets and the justification some folks make. They are simply ridiculous. I would be the first to agree that a bicycle helmet does not offer the protection that a motorcycle helmet does. Never the less, they do offer considerable protection. No one should ever try to persuade others not to wear a helmet. Yes, it is our head and our choice … unless you happen to be somewhere that has a helmet law requiring the cyclist wear helmets. If you are a rider of a tadpole trike who normally does not wear a helmet and you travel into other states and jurisdictions you might want to check whether or not helmets are legally required. Most of the time organized rides require the use of helmets by all participants.

Nope, far be it from me to try to talk anyone out of wearing a helmet. They could be key to helping us to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

** links to previous articles on helmets:

helmets

helmet laws

how bike helmets are made

 

 

NITERIDER SABER 35 BIKE TAILLIGHT vs. PLANET BIKE SUPERFLASH TAILLIGHT


niterider-saber-35-taillight

The Niterider Saber 35 taillight is among the available offerings nowadays. I can’t say much for the mounting strap they use, but the price is right … $16.99 with free shipping on EBAY. And it is BRIGHT! The 35 stands for 35 lumens. With a built in lithium battery it requires recharging using a USB cable plugged into a standard 5 volt USB outlet whether it be a computer or a power adapter (transformer).

niterider-saber-35-taillight-2

LED lights are everywhere these days and that’s good as they are a superior light, economical, bright and long lasting. That being said, not all lights are created equal when it comes to the power usage and battery life. This video tells what to expect as far as how long the battery charge lasts in each of its modes.

I have written articles about taillights before. There are lots of taillights available nowadays … far more than there were when I bought my taillights. At the time I bought one of the very best taillights available … the .5 (half) watt Planet Bike SuperFlash. I paid about $25 each for them at a local bike shop several years ago. The best price I can find on them at this time is $23.75 with free shipping at ModernBike.com. They are not as bright as this Niterrider light, but still I do highly recommend the Planet Bike SuperFlash taillights as they are sufficiently bright and very economical to operate. (I tried to find the lumen rating of the SuperFlash taillight, but didn’t have any success. If you happen to know what it is please comment and let me as well as others know.) The triple AAA batteries last a long time in them. I use rechargeable batteries in mine most of the time. Just carry extra batteries along with you and you don’t have to worry about being left in the dark. With the Niterider taillight it has a built in lithium battery which requires recharging from a 5 volt USB outlet. That is not very practical when you are out riding. And the Niterider taillight doesn’t last nearly as long per charge as the Planet Bike light. On the most economical mode it only lasts 12 hours whereas the Planet Bike lights I have last about 40 plus hours on its most economical flash mode. (BTW, the newer version of the Planet Bike SuperFlash lights supposedly last more than 100 hours on flash mode and is visible up to one mile. I have the older version.) So on flash mode the Niterider light would last long enough for one or two long daily rides, but you would have to recharge it each day or two if you used it long each day. That doesn’t appeal to me.

If you park your trike somewhere near a 120 volt electrical outlet you could use a power adapter outlet to plug a USB cable into to charge the light on the trike. Of course, the light is easy enough to remove from its mount to take to a place to charge it. Anyway, I like the brightness and the price. I just don’t like the mounting strap nor the short battery power.

120-ac-usb-power-adapter

Here is a look at the Planet Bike SuperFlash taillight. It has a far superior mounting system than the Niterider taillight.

planet-bike-5-watt-super-flash-taillight-2

One factor with all taillights and headlights to consider is the built in lenses as they can make a big difference in how well the light performs and can be seen. The pattern of the light as far as spreading out and being visible from the side vs. straight behind. The Planet Bike taillights have superior lenses which really make the “measely” .5 watts perform as well as lights which are far more powerful. That appeals to me since the battery life is so great with these lights. Planet Bike also offers a 1 watt version of this light. They are slightly brighter, but they also require more battery power and therefore don’t last as long as the .5 watt model does. Personally I don’t think there is enough noticeable difference in brightness between the two to justify the sacrifice in battery life. Also the one watt model has a “white-clear” plastic cover instead of red which I personally don’t care for. I don’t think it is nearly as noticeable as the red plastic. Actually much to my amazement I just found the one watt model available thru Ebay for less than the .5 watt model. It is only $19.94 with free shipping.

1-watt-planet-bike-turboflash-tail-light

I just read that Planet Bike has a USB rechargeable version of the .5 watt SuperFlash taillight. It also stated the brightness of the newer USB rechargeable is not as good as the older original lights like I have. The newer light only produces 3 lumens which is extremely poor. Fortunately they do still offer the model which is powered by two AAA batteries.

Here is an interesting video showing how well the Planet Bike Superflash work even when up against a far more powerful light being used for comparison. Remember, we are only talking about .5 watts here.

Another factor is whether or not the taillight offers much side visibility. Some lights offer very little or none at all. The Planet Bike SuperFlash  is superb in side visibility. There is a video by a customer review on Amazon which demonstrates how good the side visibility is.

I will say this … if you are after high visibility in daylight there are taillights which are superior to either of these. I have written articles about taillights previously.

Of course, I also highly recommend the use of  effective highly visible safety flags in addition to the lights. I have written articles about this subject before. Many times I have had people comment to me that they saw my flags before they saw my flashing lights … from any direction. And, of course, side visibility is going to be very limited if you only have lights. Good safety flags can be seen from the sides and can make a huge difference in whether others see you or not.

Right along with safety flags of high visibility is wearing high visibility clothing.

I started out writing this article with the intent of it being just about the NiteRider Saber 35 taillight, but I ended up drifting over into writing about the Planet Bike SuperFlash taillights. I guess it is because I have been so pleased with mine. I love the long battery life which is somewhat rare with bike lights. I have seen other brands which have very poor battery life. Their brightness only lasts for a very short while in comparison.

I just found what looks to be identical to the Planet Bike SuperFlash taillight on EBAY for only $10.87. It doesn’t have Planet Bike shown on it however, so my guess is that it is an illegal copy  (knockoff) probably made in China. If that is what it is I would caution you that it may look like the real McCoy, but may be lacking in quality … especially the lenses I spoke of. If that is the case, then it would not be as bright nor as visible. Also the battery life may be lesser. Then again, it may be very good quality. I would be leery of it myself.

planet-bike-5-watt-super-flash-taillight-chinese-knockoff

Lastly here is another video of the Niterider Saber 35 taillight.

In all honesty, if I were in the market for taillights today I am pretty certain that neither of these choices would be my pick. There are just so many lights available nowadays and several are extremely bright. Riding at nighttime in darkness I would be quite content with what I have now. Riding in the daytime which is what I do I would prefer one of the brighter taillights that are available. But for now I will continue on using my Planet Bike SuperFlash taillights as they still work fine and have served me well.

LEGAL HELP, ADVICE & INFORMATION FOR CYCLISTS


came across a website recently that got my attention and thought it might be good to share it here. Accidents happen whether our fault or the fault of someone else including faulty products. BicycleLaw.com is the website of bicycle accident attorney, Bob Mionske, who was himself actively involved in cycling as a a former Olympic and professional cyclist until retirement from it in 1994. He practices law in all 50 States and has some free information, advice and articles on his website which one might find useful. Hopefully you will never need his services, but if you do his law practice that is exclusively focused on representing cyclists who have been injured by motorists, unsafe road conditions, or defective cycling products. He offers free consultation.

LED LIGHT SAFETY POLES (or whatever they are called)


safety led light poles 2

We may not have actually seen any in person, but many of us have seen them in pictures and videos online. I am talking about LED light poles or whips as I have heard them called. There is no denying that after dark these things are highly visible and can be rather beautiful as well. Some are fiber optic with the light showing thru out the pole. Some are a bit more traditional with individual lights up and down the pole. Some have blinking/flashing light in various patterns.

whip lights by Arizona

I haven’t found them to be the easiest item to locate online. All too often when searching for them for bicycles the search results show those that are for motor vehicles with 12 volt systems. I read where one person used a 9 volt battery to power his. Here is a picture of it:

arizona whip led light pole

Many people make their own buying the various components online.

As I said, I have had a difficult time finding much of anything as far as sources to buy these LED pole lights. Here are a few although the Arizona Whips are pretty much designed for 12 volt vehicle use as are many of them I found. They can be adapted to a bike/trike, but one still needs a battery (power source) sufficient to operate them. LEDs are a pretty low current draw so I don’t know how long the 9 volt battery would last. Also the Arizona Whips are not cheap … $150 according to what I read.

made in China fiber optic (would be my choice) $28.50 each with a minimum purchase of two

Arizona Whips

Australian source