I came across a video where all the different models of Catrike tadpole trikes are shown and described. I was impressed with it so I thought I would share it here. Please be aware that since this video was produced Catrike has come out with two more models, the 550 and the Dumont.
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A fellow tadpole rider I know stopped by my house recently. (His stop had nothing to do with this subject.) While he was here he told me that the frame of his ActionBent trike was broken at the crucifix. He mentioned getting it welded. Being a professional weldor (now retired) I told him that the aluminum frame is heat treated and that complicates things as far as welding it. I cautioned him about not just taking it anywhere to get it welded … that he needs to find someone who is not only very knowledgeable but capable of doing the job right. I want to state upfront that although I am a very good weldor and was highly certified, I make no profession of being very knowledgeable and capable of doing the repair weld on his trike. First of all, I no longer have the welding equipment needed and most certainly I don’t have the means of heat treating the aluminum (nor the knowledge of how to do it). I have welded a lot of aluminum in my life and was certified in aluminum welding, but this is a specialty. I am not familiar with it. And I would think that it is probably not easy to find someone around who is knowledgeable, qualified and equipped unless one is in the right place such as a large city. I doubt if such a welding business exists around my area. I would rather imagine that going this route is not something usually done. I would think that purchasing a replacement frame is the more common way to go. Of course, some manufacturers offer free replacement under warranty. In the case of ActionBent they are defunct … totally out of business … gone … history. His other option is, of course, buying another trike … which he mentioned. It might be the more practical solution to his dilemma. I know that this problem is not uncommon so I thought I would post this article about it. It also happens with chrome-moly steel frames and mild steel frames although they are much simpler to make welding repairs on. I would highly recommend adding gussets to strengthen the joint where the crack occurred. The manufacturers should have done this to begin with. As a professional weldor and fabricator I would have if I were designing and building a trike.
Here is a picture of a cracked frame right at the edge of the weld on the crucifix:
It is not something you want to see on your trike. This particular trike is made of chrome-moly steel.
Some trikes are made from 6061 T-6 aluminum, but the better ones are made from 7005 aircraft grade aluminum. All Catrike frames are made from 7005 aircraft aluminum alloy. All this adds complexity into the picture … knowing what you are dealing with and what needs to be done.
When my 2009 Catrike Trail frame developed a hairline crack at the edge of the weld on the underside of the crucifix I was concerned as I know it could get worse and in time fail. If they would have put a gusset on the back side of the crucifix like they did on the front side I don’t think this would have ever happened.
So I contacted Catrike knowing that they offered a lifetime warranty on the frame. They readily replaced the frame although certainly not without cost to me much to my disappointment. The “space frame” that I had was no longer made so they sent their new frame. I much prefer what I originally had and wished they would have just taken my frame back and repaired it or replaced it with another one like it, but they don’t offer either so I was stuck with having to deal with the new frame. Although I appreciate Catrike standing behind their product and replacing the frame for me I was not (and am not) pleased with the outcome of not being able to get the same frame I had. Everyday I ride it I wish I had the old space age frame instead of this new design. I just don’t think much of the new design. The space age frame was far superior. Sometimes I regret having the frame replaced under warranty. It is possible that the hair line crack in the weld would have held up fine and given many more years of service. I will never know the answer to that matter. At the very least I could have delayed getting the replacement and kept riding my trike as is hoping for the best. At least up until the time it would fail I would have a superior frame.
Anyway, if you are having or do have this problem of a cracked weld or tubing on your trike keep in mind what you are up against here. If the job is not done right you will probably end up in deep doo doo. Having sudden failure in a weld or frame could be very dangerous. It could happen if the job isn’t done right.
Be safe out there!
For those who want to build a tadpole trike it is imperative that they understand the science of the steering and ensure that they “get it right”. The “center point steering”, camber and caster settings, “Ackerman steering principle” and “toe in setting” all must be correct. Otherwise there will be “trouble in River City” and it could even lead to serious endangerment for the rider. At the very least handling will be greatly effected and tire wear will be a serious problem. When I first bought my Catrike Trail the dealer had the toe in off considerably and my brand new front tires wore out in only 30 miles of riding.
HERE is a webpage with a good explanation of toe in, toe out, camber and caster … what each is and what each does.
In the first video below this man says toe in should be 1/8 inch. That is too much for most trikes. 1/16 inch is preferable and is what is recommended by most trike manufacturers. Actually zero toe in maybe the ticket for some trikes including mine as with my weight on it I end up with about 1/16 inch toe in. There in lies another matter … it is best to set the toe in with the rider seated. This usually means a second person is needed as the mechanic to do the adjusting. It is not imperative that it is done this way, but it does work best. The more the rider weighs the more the toe in will change as the rider is seated on the trike. The closer you can get to zero toe in the better as long as the handling is ok. Never have toe out however as the handling will greatly suffer as a result.
Here are a couple of videos illustrating and explaining about these things.
As to actually measuring and setting the complex angles involved when I built my tadpole trike I simply used one of these (angle finder) …
As long as you use it properly and read it accurately it works fine for getting things right. My homemade trike rode and handled superbly so I must have got all the steering geometry correct.
The newer higher tech digital readout types would probably be better to use though …
I came across this video and thought it might be of interest to others. As a retired weldor/fabricator who has made my own tadpole trike it interests me. Here is a picture of the trike I made. (A friend was riding it when I took this picture so to protect his identity I have hidden his face.)
HOME BUILT RECUMBENT TRIKE, DETAILED PLANS AND CONSTRUCTION STEPS
HERE is a website about construction of a tadpole trike. It has several links to other resources.
HERE is a website about construction of an electric motor powered pedal assist tadpole trike. (lots of good information here about trike construction)
HERE is a video about how to make the direct steering handlebars.
And HERE is a listing of all the videos available by the man from the video above.
I ride a Catrike Trail recumbent tadpole trike and take a considerable interest in tadpole trikes. Here is a picture of me sitting on my trike …
I just stumbled across a YouTube video which I thought I would share here. It is of a few Catrike riders out for a ride down in Florida. Tadpole trikes are a lot of fun to ride and extremely comfortable. Since they sit so low to the ground they handle great. Some compare riding one to driving a go cart or sports car. I would not go so far as to say that, but they do handle great. Catrike tadpole trikes are manufactured in Orlando, Florida.
Every year Catrike sponsors a rally for Catrike owners. I would love to go and participate in it. It is open to everyone regardless of what brand of trike or even bicycle they ride. Here are some videos of the 2014 rally. They show many trikes up close as they are gathering to go for a group ride on one of the local trails near Orlando. They also show the many trikes and bikes riding on the trail.
And here is another video of the 2014 rally. This one is considerably longer but well made and interesting …
In addition to the organized and unorganized rides there is also a factory tour available. Being a retired weldor/fabricator taking such a tour would greatly interest me. I built my own recumbent bicycle and tadpole trike before buying factory made ones. Here are pictures of both:
I never got the bike painted as I ended up cutting it up to use some of the parts to make the tadpole trike.
There is also an annual Catrike rally held in Austin, Texas . And there are a few other rallies held in various locations for other brands or for all brands. One is held in Oregon which is for “recumbents” … both bikes and trikes.
Tadpole trikes are also known as reverse trikes since there are two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back. This makes for a more stable design. Although they are becoming more and more popular and sales are up considerably they are still not all that common in many places so when people see them they often don’t know what they are seeing and show an interest in them. Certainly many people comment about how neat they are and that they really like them. Lots of questions are asked about them as people know and understand very little about them. A few of the most asked questions are:
“How do you steer it?”
“Is that comfortable to ride?”
“How fast will it go?”
“Does it have a motor?”
“How much do they cost?”
and the one that I am always amazed when I am asked …
“How do you balance it?” … Yes, I have been asked that a couple of times.
I highly recommend Catrike as I think they are one of the best made and designed tadpole trikes available and they are the only** brand name trike totally made in the U.S. Most come from China/Taiwan. Some come from England, Germany, and a couple of other European countries and from Australia.
Anyone interested in checking out these Catrikes further can view their website … http://www.catrike.com/
** There are a small number of trike manufacturers who also make their trikes here in the U.S., but their sales are quite low so I am not counting them as part of the factory produced trikes. TerraTrike manufactures one of their models here in the U.S. but most of their models come from Taiwan.
Some of you probably know that I used to have a blog called Tadpole Rider. I wrote it for 9 months and put a lot of work into creating it. I made the decision a few months ago to not only discontinue it but to totally delete it. Later I had second thoughts about deleting it but it was too late. So now here I am starting all over. One of my other blogs, Steves Mixed Bag, has articles on it about tadpole trikes as it was my intention from the start to include such articles. But then I decided that I should have a separate stand alone blog for tadpole trikes and so Tadpole Rider was reborn. I did not release that title when I deleted the first blog so “Tadpole Rider” (tadpolerider.wordpress.com) is not available. That’s why you see tadpolerider2. It is the best I could do.
I might mention that my friend and fellow tadpole blog writer, Steve Greene of TrikeAsylum, also suggested to me that I create a separate blog just for tadpole trikes rather than use my one blog for everything.
It is going to take time to get this going. I may attempt to reproduce some of the pages I had previously such as the listing of tadpole trikes by price range as I thought that was a practical and handy resource to make available.
I personally ride a Catrike Trail tadpole trike.