Category Archives: tips
I 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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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’
It seems that the further along we go in time the more we have to be concerned about getting “ripped off” is all too commonplace and those who are out to do such things unto us are becoming more and more inventive and sophisticated. We really have to be on guard to prevent becoming a victim.
I have had personal experience with this matter … not once, but several times. No, I have never been a victim of these unscrupulous people, but many have attempted to deceive me and add me to their list of victims. Thus far I have been onto them and thus have avoided becoming victimized. As I said, they are getting trickier and treacherous. I have been trying to sell my wife’s recumbent bicycle and about three times so far I have had attempts made to get me to “sell” the bike to such people. I have also experienced this when I was selling my own 2 wheel recumbent bike and my homemade tadpole trike.
I am sure some of you are already aware of what I am talking about and knowledgeable of the ways these SCAMMERS operate. For those who don’t know about this it is very important that you learn about it. By the way, this isn’t just applicable to selling tadpole trikes. The item being sold can be any number of different things.
Here is how these SCAMMERS operate and what to look out for:
They make initial contact with you responding to an ad you have placed to sell your trike. They appear to be a legitimate interested party. They ask you if the trike is still available for sale and probably what your “bottom dollar” is you will take for it. You could tell them a price higher than they could go buy it for new and it wouldn’t matter to them. They offer to buy it at the price you are asking. Even if you tell them that you won’t release the trike to them until any check involved clears all banks involved they continue on communicating further with you disregarding what you said. They say that they will send you a “cashier’s check” and go onto to tell you that they will have a company truck in your area at a near future date which will stop by at the address you provide them to pick up the trike. You have their cashier’s check and they have your trike. What could possibly go wrong, right?
A cashier’s check is safe and there is no concern with them. That is only true when it is a genuine cashier’s check issued by a legitimate bank. There in lies the problem. Their check is phony. It looks good and might very well even fool your bank, but as it is processed you will discover that you are without your trike and have no money. To make matters worse, the latest ingredient I know of these SCAMMERS use adds “insult to injury”. They tell you that their check will be for a greater amount than the price of the trike. They are paying you more as you will need to pay the truck driver whatever the charge is for transporting the trike. So now you are not only out the value of the trike, but you just paid someone out of your own pocket to haul it away.
HEY, be careful out there. It is a treacherous world we live in. In the midst of it all, try to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
The gearing we have on our trikes is a most signifcant thing. Some trikes only have one gear, some have 3, 5, 8, 12, 14, 21, 24, 27, 30, 81, 90 or some other number which is obtained by means of a multiple speed internal hub in addition to the derailleur system. Of course, for a trike with only one gear there is not much involved in figuring out the “gear inches”. What are gear inches, you ask? Actually it is not all that simple to answer definitively. There are variables which complicate things. One such variable which seldom is discussed or taken into consideration is the length of the crankarms. Usually it is just the various sprocket sizes (number of teeth) and drive tire diameter and circumference measurements that are used in the calculation. According to Wikipedia the definition of gear inches is: “the diameter in inches of the drive wheel of a penny-farthing bicycle with equivalent gearing.”
The lower the low number is the lower the gearing is which means one can more easily climb hills. The higher the high number is the higher the gearing which means a faster top speed is obtainable. So the ideal gear inches would be very low to very high. On a derailleur system the rear derailleur is only capable of handling so much of a range. I have an article on this subject HERE. The only way I know of to get around this limiting factor is by employing internal hubs in addition to the derailleur/multiple sprocket system. The internal hubs can be in the rear wheel hub or in the crankset or both. One can greatly increase the gear inch range by using these internal hubs. You can lower the low number and raise the high number. Here are examples of internal drives:
3 speed Sturmey Archer rear hub 2 speed Patterson Drive in crankset
For those who want to figure it all out for themselves here are some formulas to use:
Gear-Inches = Chain Ring Teeth X Tire Diameter Divided by Rear Cassette Sprocket Teeth
Distance traveled per Crank Revolution = Chain Ring Teeth X Tire Circumference Divided by Rear Cassette Sprocket Teeth
And lastly … MPH at 60 RPM = 0.0568182 X Distance per Crank Revolution
I 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.
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.
I am sure many of us have been asked that question by others. I sometimes reply “with the handlebars” and usually show them where the handlebars are at since they don’t seem to be able to figure it out for themselves. That is the short and simple answer to the question, but wait … there is more to it that that. I mean … SELF STEER, WE STEER, PEDAL STEER, BRAKE STEER, BODY STEER — THEY ALL STEER. Did you follow all of that? I am sure some of you did, but for the rest I will explain further. Let’s look at them one at a time.
I already mentioned the WE STEER and don’t think it needs any further explanation. We simply turn the handlebars and thus we steer the trike. The only thing I think I will add here is that if we hold onto the handlebars too tightly and are pedaling hard we can effect the steering thru the handlebars by simply moving them back and forth. We often won’t even realize we are doing this. Of course, direct steering vs. indirect steering will also make a difference. Usually direct steering is more sensitive to slight movement, especially at speed.
SELF STEER (self centering) – is simply the way the trike is designed. If designed and built correctly the front wheels should more less center themselves and go straight ahead on a flat smooth level surface. This is desirable.
PEDAL STEER – is when the trike tends to turn one way and then the other as we pedal along. This is the result of the boom flexing and effecting the forward line (path) of the trike as it moves along. This is something undesirable, but unfortunately it happens. Some trikes are far worse than others. That is because some trikes have a whole lot more flexing going on than others. Again, a well designed and built trike will have very little pedal steer. Pushing hard on the pedals results in a worse case of pedal steer. Shifting into a higher gear will decrease pedal steer. It is important not to grip the handlebars tightly as when pedaling we tend to input slight movement into the handlebars. Using just the fingertips can help us lesson our grip. Shorter crankarms will help reduce pedal steer. The more upright a person is sitting the more likely it is to experience pedal steer. Riding sitting as stationary in the seat as possible while pedaling and not swaying your upper body side to side in the seat will help reduce pedal steer. Just leaning to one side or the other will cause the trike to steer in the opposite direction. Again, depending upon the trike design some trikes are more sensitive to this input and will move about accordingly. So pedaling from the hips and not involving the upper body will eliminate most pedal steer. The further out the boom is extended (accommodating a tall person) the more likely it is to have an increase in pedal steer. “Mashing” (hard pushing) the pedals usually results in increasing pedal steer. It is far better to “spin” than to mash. The straighter we can push on the pedals the better. This may mean pulling our knees together inward somewhat and adjusting the position of our feet on the pedals as well. Pedal steer can be pretty much eliminated if we work on it.
Here is what Catrike says in the owners manual about some of this …
<> Riding tips: If you don’t have experience with recumbent tricycles, you may find that for the first few rides you experience noticeable pedal steer (pushing hard on the pedals makes the trike swerve) and brake steer (grabbing one brake harder than the other causes the trike to swerve). These two phenomena become much less noticeable as you gain experience. Pedal steer is minimized or eliminated by pedaling smoothly at a fairly high cadence, rather than mashing hard. Brake steer is minimized by braking smoothly and evenly…if the trike lurches under braking you’re overdoing it (it’s like driving your car…you don’t stand on the brakes every time you slow the car; rather, you learn to modulate the pressure so that the car does not lurch). The smoothest, most enjoyable ride comes when you learn not to over control the trike. The steering is very responsive, and does not require much input at all to make the trike change direction. The less you try to steer, the smoother the ride will be.
BRAKE STEER – occurs when only one brake is applied and the trike steers in the direction of the applied brake. This can be helpful when done properly by someone experienced and skillful. However, it can be quite dangerous as well, especially when it is done by someone not so experienced and skillful. It can be quite scary and lead to tragedy.
Here is what Catrike says in the owners manual about some of this …
<> Brake Steering: Our frames are designed for a diminished brake steer effect. However keep in mind that the trike is not a heavy vehicle such as a car. It does not have hydraulic, electronics or self correcting mechanisms either. It is instead, a very light recreational vehicle with a mechanical steering linkage that carries a rider sometimes over 8 times its weight. Therefore the weight & dynamics of the driver can exert total control over the capabilities of the vehicle. It does demand that the rider develops proper riding skills, such as smooth pedaling, smooth steering and smooth breaking and that it is always conscious when riding. The Catrike has front brakes only, since in a breaking situation 90% of the weight is transferred to the front of the trike. The front brakes are also independent, meaning that you can break the right wheel only, or the left wheel only. Therefore, especially in high speed or down hill situations, it is mandatory that you pull both brakes at the same time and with the same intensity. If you elect however, to brake only with one brake, this could cause the trike to steer out of your path and cause serious injury or death.
The bottom line here is we need to be careful in applying the brakes, especially at higher speeds.
BODY STEER – which seems to have varying effect depending upon the particular trike and how it is designed and built and perhaps setup. Body steer is simply a matter of leaning to one side or the other while seated and riding along. Leaning to the right should result in the trike steering to the left. Leaning to the left should result in the trike steering to the right. Oftentimes I would have to say it doesn’t have much effect.
(I purposely left out lean steer trikes since they are not very common.)
So when someone asks you how you steer that thing you can share with them all of this I have discussed here. Of course, they will probably be sorry they asked. 😉 It probably would be better to just tell them that you steer it with the handlebars and then you can just …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Lastly, HERE is a poem of sorts someone made up about pedal steer. I would give them credit for it if I knew who wrote it, but alas I don’t so all I can do is share the website where it is posted. It is rather lengthy, but interesting:
As the internet has flourished,
It’s the place where brains are nourished –
Questions answered, good advice, and all for free.
But at times we find confusion,
Petty spats with no conclusion;
On some issues, people simply disagree.
Pedal steer’s one red hot topic,
Where the biased and myopic
State their strong opinions – kooky to sublime.
Teams of tadpole testers wrote us,
“It’s a problem you will notice..”
Others tell us, “You’ll forget it; give it time.”
Some folks try to understand it,
And why builders haven’t banned it,
Simply making good decisions in design.
Are some tadpoles worse than others?
Men might ostracize their brothers,
Disagreeing… So what is the bottom line?
One authority is certain:
“CASTER! That’s the culprit.” (Flirtin’
With a partial loss of credibility)
Other pundits shun that war word;
Sure the rider’s too far forward,
They insist the key is fore-to-aft CG.
One guy says, “That boom’s too flexy.
Sure, light weight is super sexy;
Still a tadpole works much better if it’s stiff.
Folding frame or soft composite –
That’s the sort of stuff to cause it.
Solid alloy steel would fix that in a jif!”
Some posts tell us, “Make tracks wider.”
Others claim that all a rider
Needs to do is just relax his stonelike grip.
Scores of would-be trike designers,
Second guessers, geeks and whiners
Offer their beliefs or freely share a tip.
Though I rarely speak in bellows,
I – like all these other fellows –
Can’t (or should I say I won’t?) resist the urge
To assist in education
Of the unwashed population,
Helping logic, truth and reason to emerge.
No, you know of course I’m poking
Fun at technogeeks; I’m joking.
Still there is some truth in what I have to say.
I’ve spent years in engineering,
Analyzing, probing, peering
Into why contraptions act some quirky way.
When I started out three-wheeling,
I encountered that odd feeling
As the trike began to waggle – gee then haw.
But did I, appalled or frightened,
Shout, “This wrongness must be rightened!”
In a single word, the simple answer’s ‘NAW’.
I feel sure – at least I’m hopin’ –
That if you’ll keep your mind open,
Though you doubt at first, you’ll have a change of heart.
Gather ’round, all those who’ll listen;
I’ll share points some may be missin’,
Going back to basic biking as a start.
Hey… remember starting biking?
It was not much to your liking
When the danged thing rocked from side to side – then CRASH!
Still all cyclists gained reflexes –
Smart and dumb folks, both the sexes –
So that they weren’t dumped each day they dared to dash.
You have seen one-wheeled abortions,
Watched their riders do contortions,
Smiling, though they jerked around to stay upright.
Unicyclists, pedals pumping,
Pirouetting, even jumping,
Balance as they ride, aloft, eight feet in height.
BOTTOM LINE (IMHO time):
Folks, it’s not exactly SHOWTIME
When someone can ride a tadpole straight and true.
Even if, when you first try it,
You may think, “Bull. I don’t buy it,”
Settle down and give it one more chance (or two).
Tadpoles yaw when someone meddles,
Blithely stomping on their pedals,
But it’s not at all essential (as on bikes)
That new riders learn rare talents,
Skills or even basic balance
To prevent unplanned rollovers on their trikes.
With their stable three-point footing,
Tadpoles yaw, but they’re not putting
Even handicapped (or clumsy) folks at risk.
Riding tadpoles is so easy,
Thoughts of skill can be… well, breezy –
Or at least until one’s cornering gets brisk.
Some folks find some trikes instinctive;
Others get a strong (distinctive)
Feeling when they pedal other trikes, they swerve –
Back and forth, like some cheap floozy,
Strutting through some joint, so boozy
As she waddles by, her path’s an ess-shaped curve.
But so what? Folks, pedal steering
Isn’t something to be fearing.
In most cases the sensation’s pretty small.
Subtle shifts you make in spinning,
From the first as you’re beginning,
Well may mean that you won’t notice it at all.
At its worst, it’s one reminder
Trikes – compared to bikes – are kinder.
Hey, at least you won’t keep falling while you learn
How to make those small corrections
That will counter odd deflections
As your pedals, cranks and wheels begin to turn.
Pedal steering is SUBJECTIVE.
Any rational detective
Should catch on and tell the victim he’s to blame…
Well, at least in part, I’m thinking,
Though I’m grinning now and winking,
And although of course all tadpoles aren’t the same.
I believe most tadpole riders,
Once they’ve stroked their three-wheeled gliders
Long enough and far enough to earn their stripes,
Learn the simple compensations
For whatever deviations
Pedal steering makes in tadpoles of all types.
Tadpoles don’t demand much training.
Just go riding; stop complaining.
Very soon you’ll note your style has reached its peak.
Is it automatic? Brainless?
If it’s mental, folks, it’s painless
To develop what’s required for good technique.
So… I’ve stated MY opinion,
Which some TROLL (and faithful minion)
Will insist and swear is wrong as wrong can be.
Hey, if TROLLS begin agreeing,
I’ll be very swiftly fleeing
To another point of view… Is that just me?
If 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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 …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
I wasn’t going to include this last video, but decided to go ahead placing it here:
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 …
Do you use a bicycle computer? If so, is it accurate (or akwert as one of my teachers used to pronounce the word)? Getting a computer set accurately can be a bit challenging unless you know what you are doing. Some people settle for their computers to be inaccurate often times not realizing how far off they are and how many extra miles they are showing than they really rode or miles they are failing to show that were ridden.
There are different ways to go about setting a bike computer so it will be accurate. I will confess that I personally have only used one of them. I am happy to report that my computer is about as close as is humanly possible in getting it set accurately.
So let’s get into this. Each bicycle computer should come with instructions which have a ‘chart’ showing the numbers used for various wheel sizes. That often will only get you in the ball park however, and “fine tuning” is required from there. Our local trail system has accurate mile markers (actually every 1/4 of a mile) so I use those to set my bike computer. The tires used will effect things as well. A lower profile (outside diameter) tire will be different than a higher profile tire. Tire inflation will also make a difference so it is best to have the tires inflated to whatever pressure you normally use when making any computer setting adjustment. Even rider weight effects the setting. Depending upon how far off the current setting is the amount of change in the number setting may only be “1” or if it is off quite a bit it may be considerably more. If your mileage shown is under you need to increase the number used in the setting. If your mileage shown is over you need to decrease the number used in the setting.
It is best to check your accuracy over a longer distance … like 5 miles rather than only 1 mile. And once you find that magical number write it down for safe keeping. And if you switch to other tires and the number is different write that tire and number down. It sure makes it a lot easier when you switch between tires.
Here are some instructions on how to set your computer using the measured mile method:
1.0 (the measured mile)
Cyclometer Reading x Old Setting = New Setting
For example: If you set your 26×2.1 wheel size to: 2091 and rode the measured mile and came up short, maybe your computer read .95 miles, then you’d do:
1.0 (the measured mile)
0.95 (what your computer read) x 2091 (old setting) = 2201 (new setting)
If you computer read too long, maybe 1.05, you’d still do the same formula and your setting would be:
1.0 (the measured mile)
1.05 (what your computer read) x 2091 (old setting) = 1991 (new setting)
To help you out, enter your numbers here:
Your Initial Wheel Size Setting:
Actual Distance Ridden:
Reading on Bike Computer:
Okay, change your bike computer setting to this:
HERE is a very handy calculator to determine the number you need to enter if you have the computer reading for a measured mile. The calculator is located at the very bottom of this webpage.
As I stated early on there are various methods of determining the number needed to set up a bike computer wheel size so it records accurately.
HERE is Sheldon Brown’s charts on this subject of computer setting for wheel size. And here is a video showing how this is done.
And HERE is another online chart.
HERE is an online calculator for determining the wheel size setting.
Here is a video showing how to use a tape measure to determine the outside circumference of a bike tire and use that number to set the computer wheel size. This is sometimes referred to as the Roll Out method.
Lastly HERE is the Google search results for this subject. There is lots of helpful information online about this.
And hopefully the following will make things very easy, quick and handy for those of you who use any of these 20 inch tires. These are the magical numbers I have recorded for myself when I have ran various Schwalbe tires.
Marathon (1.5 width) 1425
Marathon Plus (1.75 width) 1561
I have ran a couple of others, but don’t have the number recorded for them. I can’t guarantee that these numbers will work for you but I think they would be close. Like I said, there are various factors which determine what number is needed for each of us … our weight, tire pressure and weight hauling/loading on the trike … may mean your number will be different from mine. It is really not Mission Impossible so hopefully you can get your computer set accurately and from then on just …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Before leaving this subject of bike computers I want to touch on the magnets that attach to the spokes. My bike computer came with the type on the left in the image below …
which works, of course, but a friend of mine was throwing out one of his as he replaces his bike computer from time to time (the more expensive ones like he buys don’t seem to last). Anyway, I took it to use in place of my magnet and have found it to be better as it doesn’t get bumper around nearly as easily and seems to be less sensitive as far as it’s position. I rarely have had any issues with it, but I did with the original one that came with my computer.
I was just remembering back as a teenager it was late at night just after midnite when I decided to accompany a friend home out in the country a few miles from town. We both were riding motorcycles. We rode to his house and I departed from him heading back home by myself. Much to my surprise I fell asleep while riding my motorcycle down the lonely highway. I awoke suddenly when my front tire went off of the edge of the pavement. Thankfully I was able to recover and from there on I managed to stay awake. I have other stories I could tell involving cars, but I will spare you. I wanted to mention this story about the motorcycle as riding off the road could have been disastrous … even fatal … far more so than with a car.
The same is true while riding our trikes. While riding along if we are not paying close enough attention we can find ourselves in trouble if a wheel goes off of the edge of the pavement … whether on a road or a trail. Sometimes we may be by an embankment or water or both at the same time. Having a wheel go off of the edge could all too easily result in disaster.
This can be the result …
It can happen so quick and take it from someone who has experienced it. I don’t know about you, but I like to have fun when riding my trike and this just ain’t no fun!
Just something as simple as the drop off along the edge of a trail or road like pictured above can be an experience. As you can see the ground slopes down off of the edge. Once a wheel drops off the edge you already have momentum going to tip you over and the sloped ground makes it even worse. By the way, I caution you if you do find yourself going off the edge it is usually best and safest to slow down if you are not already going slow before attempting to steer and climb back up over the edge of the pavement. Sometimes you just can’t get the tire to climb back up onto the pavement in which case it is probably best to get off and manually lift the trike back onto the pavement.
If you are fortunate to be riding with at least one other person it might be wise to just stop and sit still hollering for them to come to your aid. If you are on too steep of an embankment (and it doesn’t take much) you could very easily go on over if you try to get your trike moving from there or if you try to get up. Another possibility is to get help from someone passing by. It is better to be safe than sorry. Just be careful if you are along side of an embankment as that can be quite dangerous and challenging. Making much of any kind of a move things can go terribly wrong very quickly and there is usually nothing you can do to prevent going over. The old saying applies … “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
In the picture below I have drawn a red line where a trail is. It is a concrete surface with about a 4 inch or so drop off along the edge of the concrete. There is an embankment … long and high sloped down to the street. This trail is built along the top of a man made levee running alongside the river. You can see it in the picture further below.
There is pipe railing along the river side as a barrier to keep trail users from going off that side and down into the river, but nothing along the other side of the trail (no type of barrier) to prevent someone from taking a nasty tumble quite possibly (and probably) not stopping until they land out in the street. It is a very dangerous situation. I would not be surprised to hear of someone having a bad accident along there one of these days. I am surprised it hasn’t happened already. Perhaps it has and I just don’t know about it.
Anyone who knows and understands the physical science involved when a trike tire suddenly drops down it has inertia built up and the rider’s body weight suddenly shifting to one side as a result adds to the forces involved making the trike tip over quickly. Once this starts it is hard to stop it and prevent the tip over. And when there is a sloped embankment present it is pretty much impossible to keep it from happening and greatly increasing the danger.
Watch where you are riding at all times and avoid being a victim of such a fate. You will not only be able to ENJOY THE RIDE, but you will be able to … KEEP ON TRIKIN’.
H2O … water … the substance of life … we can’t live without it. And sadly most of us don’t drink nearly enough of it. It is so healthy and makes a huge difference in how our bodies work … or don’t work. There is no substitute for good ol’ water. There is no other liquid we could name that is better for us than water. And keeping sufficiently hydrated while exercising is so very important. Oftentimes there is no source of water for miles and miles as we ride our trikes so we must carry a sufficient supply along with us. Of course, there are all sorts of water bottles and bags such as CamelBack to carry water in.
I am not here to discuss that other than to say I have tried various water bottles and concluded that they all get low marks from me included the insulated ones. They are a joke as far as keeping water cool. It is said that drinking room temperature water is best for us, but I am one of those who likes it just as cold as I can get it. So personally I use Thermos brand stainless steel water bottles as they do a far superior job keeping the water cold. The plastic insulated water bottles do good to keep ice 2 to 3 hours while these Thermos brand water bottles keep ice for 2 to 3 days. That is all I am saying on this subject.
Drinking water from any type of water bottle results in introducing bacteria into the vessel. Therefore it is important to clean the bottles frequently. And if you don’t stick to pure unadulterated water and place something else in them the bacteria situation can be even worse. I ran across a webpage about this so I am sharing it here. It is called “7 Tips For Cleaning Your Cycling Water Bottles“.
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.
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 …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
The 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.
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.
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
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
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:
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 …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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.
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 …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
I have written about Trike Tip Over before. It can happen easier than you might think and very quickly so that all too often there is nothing a rider can do to prevent it once it starts. One of the things that can occur in everyday riding is going down over a curb at an intersection. I am talking about riding on the sidewalk or a trail where it crosses a street or road where there is a curb to deal with. It is getting more and more common to have ADA compliant sidewalks which, of course, are a very big help to anyone transitioning using a wheeled vehicle. Going over curbs with a tadpole trike is not a good thing to do. First of all it is dangerous. Secondly it can damage the trike.
Whether you are dealing with a standard curb, rounded curb (by rounded I mean a curb that curves around a corner like in the picture above) or an ADA Compliant Curb Ramp (like in the picture below) there are concerns. I think I have been the victim of a tip over 3 times when going over curbs in the past. One time it spilled me right out in front of motor vehicular traffic. Fortunately the driver of the car was paying attention and stopped rather than run over me. Well, actually the traffic light had just changed and he hadn’t really taken off much yet. He was the lead vehicle so he had a “front row seat”. I was quite embarrassed by the incident. I got up and out of the street as quickly as I could. It happened because where I was attempting to ride was uneven. By that I mean that I was not over where I should have been … where the ADA Compliant ramp was at. Instead I was part way in the ramp and part way where there was still a curb. There was someone over there where I needed to be so I was simply going to take off and pass them as I crossed the street. Looking at the picture of this location the curb is not very high. So you can see that it doesn’t take much of an uneven surface to cause major problems. Obviously the ADA Compliant ramp they have here isn’t very practical in its design. It is what I would call “minimal effort”. Anyway, in the picture below I have drawn lines showing where a person was standing blocking off the ramp. I have also drawn lines to show where my wheels were at as I attempted to ride around the person. One wheel was on the ramp on level ground and the other wheel went down over the curb area.
There is something I am leaving out in my story which greatly effected the outcome of this. I had my dog with and he was riding in the basket. That was 25 extra pounds of weight located up high making the trike tip over all the easier.
If you find yourself riding down over a curb (which I advice against) be sure to tackle it on a 90 degree perpendicular angle so that both front wheels go down over it at the same time. If you don’t you are asking for problems … a tip over. In the picture below I have drawn two sets of lines … one set is blue and the other set is red. The blue represents going off of the curb with the front wheels going over at different times. The red represents going off of the curb with the front wheels going over at the same time at a 90 degree angle to the curb.
I suppose one could get involved in some controversy here as to the matter of how fast or how slow one should go over a curb if they choose to do so. I will say this … one should either go over a curb extremely slow and carefully to avoid damage or go flying off of it so fast that there is not any opportunity for things to go wrong. 🙂 But even going over slowly is no guarantee that the trike won’t receive damage. Most trikes are built low to the ground with very little ground clearance so things can scrape, get struck, etc. when going over a curb. The paint can get all messed up and the idler pulley(s) underneath can get messed up also. One common thing that happens on my Catrike Trail if I go over a curb is the metal piece which goes down and under the idler pulley to keep the chain from coming out of the pulley can be pivoted backwards and up into the chain so that the chain rubs on it making noise and destroying the metal piece.
Definitely it is much easier and safer to deal with curbs on a bicycle than it is a trike. With a bike you can hop curbs easily without concern of damage to the bike (if you know how and do it right) as the tires just barely touch … actually they don’t touch the curb itself. It is possible that the rear wheel might, but ever so lightly that it is no concern. You just can’t do that on a trike. You can’t do wheelies on a trike either. That’s ok. They are still a lot of fun to ride. Just try to avoid tipping over. It is not fun.