Blog Archives

SO YOU WANT TO BUILD YOUR OWN TRIKE, HUH?


 There is lots of information about building a tadpole trike available online besides what I have written myself. I am not really adding anything new here. Rather I am simply posting this one article with links to all that I have written about the subject before making it a bit easier to find it.

Here is one of them: https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/gotta-do-your-homework/
Here is another one: https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/tadpole-trike-construction-the-science-of-tadpole-trike-steering/
Here another one: https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/home-built-recumbent-trike-detailed-plans-and-construction-steps/
And here are a bunch more postings on my blog about custom built trikes: https://tadpolerider2.wordpress.com/category/homemade-tadpole-trikes/

FORT WAYNE TADPOLE RIDERS FACEBOOK GROUP


I started a new Facebook Group today which I named Fort Wayne Tadpole Riders. I did so in an attempt to get as many of the tadpole trike riders here in my area to join and hopefully meetup together for the purpose of riding together. I am seeing more and more tadpole trikes out on our local trail system and most of them seem to be riding alone. I am providing a link to this group as there are a few who read this that are from the Fort Wayne area. I do ask that if you are not from the Fort Wayne area please don’t ask to join this group. Thank you.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/309433669527003/

IF YOU’VE GOT ‘EM, USE ‘EM (GEARS THAT IS)


I have never been a smoker but certainly I have been forced against my will to be around a lot of smoking. When I was going thru boot camp (recruit training) in the Navy I remember the company commander saying the words “If you’ve got em, smoke em”. This was how a smoking break was announced. Obviously, if someone lacks something they can’t very well use them.

Some folks buy trikes which lack sufficient gearing for hill climbing. What can I say? But for those who purchased trikes with low gearing available what I am talking about here applies … if you have low enough gearing, use it. I am amazed at the number I riders I come across that don’t use their gears much at all. Hey, that is what they are there for. Some are quite intimidated by them. They don’t understand them and don’t know how to shift them. I am amazed by that as it is so simple. And it is also so practical, sensible and very much needed.

We can encounter some horrendous hills and having and using “granny gear” is a must if we are going to climb them. I have written quite a bit about this before: HERE, HEREHERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE, With all that already written I won’t go on here much more. I just want to emphasize that we need to use the gears and not be afraid of them. If you have a derailleur system the main thing to remember is don’t try to shift when stopped or while pushing hard on the pedals. Shifting, especially downshifting, must be done ahead of time before one gets themselves into trouble not being in the right gear. One can do serious and expensive damage to the rear derailleur when attempting to shift if under heavy load or while stopped. You can literally turn it into the shape of a pretzel leaving you stranded and having to buy a new derailleur.

So I say again … if you’ve got ’em, use ’em. It will make your ride much more enjoyable and help you to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

 

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’

 

TERRACYCLE – EXQUISITE RECUMBENT PARTS & ACCESSORIES


TerraCycle, not to be confused with TerraTrike,  is a gold mine for recumbent folks. They have much to offer and if you have never heard of them you really need to get acquainted. Here are their own words:

“TerraCycle has a simple mission: to make parts for recumbent cycles that considerably improve the riding experience. Every day, the TerraCycle Team shows up and uses their hands, hearts and minds to create those parts. We know we’re doing well when Tom Caldwell writes us and says: “Great work, great product, great company—I love doing business with professionals!” When a customer comes back to the shop just to see what new add-ons we’ve created for our accessory mounts, when a team of college kids asks for our idlers on their human powered vehicle, or when a couple comes by to show off the new ways they’ve figured out to use their cockpit mounts, then we know we’re doing it right.

With our website, we hope to create a library of information on recumbent cycling and the technologies that empower those who ride. Over the years, we’ve demonstrated our dedication to making the perfect part, which requires knowing just about all there is to know about recumbent cycling. If you haven’t had the chance to try us out, we recommend it. Otherwise, let this site be a place for you to come to learn about that wheeled craft you’ve been riding around. Who knows, you might realize you need something after all.”

Here is a list of their offerings:

“Accessory Mounting
Assist Arms
Battery Mounts
Cargo Monster Load Carrier
Chain in Bulk
Easy Reacher Underseat Racks
FastBack Hydration & Packs
Fenders
Gift Certificates
Handlebars, Stems & Steering
Idlers & Chain Management
Purple Sky Flags
SeatSide Mount System
Stainless Bolt Kits
TailSoks
Tires & Tubes
Velogenesis Seat Clamps
Windwrap Fairings
Xtras, Blems & Discounts”

They also have a FAQ page which you may find very helpful. Here is a sampling:

“FAQ Directory
Here at TerraCycle, we strive to be the world leader in recumbent cycling knowledge. Below are some topics that have caused more head scratching than brand new helmets, and our best attempts to alleviate the discomfort!

Bearings
Cargo Monster
Handlebar Fitting
Idlers
Diagnosing Drivetrain Noises
Steering Systems
Tire Sizing
Underseat Racks
Windwrap Fairings”

They even speak (or at least write) Latin. You’ll have to look thru their website to know what I am referring to here as I am not going to tell you.

TerraCycle also has some videos available on YouTube.

Please note that there is another company called TerraCycle which deals with recycling waste so don’t get confused with them. Because of the shared name our TerraCycle has to use a different name in their website …” t-cycle”.

For those who have followed my personal triking life you know that I recently had my trike motorized with a pedal assist setup. A TerraCycle mini-cockpit T bar was used to mount the display console on. Here is a picture of it. It is the bar furthest forward with the   green area and the white 0 (zero) displayed on the screen of the dispaly console. The TerraCycle part is only the section shown where their company icon is seen. It is where the display console is mounted. The bottom part is made by a different company (it is the Catrike mirror and accessory mount). The two parts look like they are made as one unit.

Well, that’s all I have to say about that.  I have ordered a couple of items from them in years past and they always provided excellent and quick service. Their parts seem to be very well made … top quality. With their help we can …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

CHINESE KNOCKOFFS


chinese-catrike-knockoff
Would you buy a brand new “Catrike”
like this for about half price?
China has long been known for blatantly illegally copying products of others and selling them … often on the black market … at least many years ago. But today they are so bold as to even display a picture of the real McCoy with manufacturer’s name clearly displayed on it. Those who don’t know any better might be deceived and go ahead purchasing the item thinking they are getting a really great deal. Of course, what they get is altogether different. It may look somewhat the same externally, but the components used are el cheapo. And I am pretty sure that even externally there would be some obvious differences in the trike you would receive. Here is an example of what I am talking about. I think this is a picture of an older model (2012 or earlier) Catrike Trail trike. It is the non-folding “space frame” design (my favorite). As you can see it has the Catrike name shown clearly on it. I think sells for about $1200, but I am not sure of that as they don’t show the prices on their website. I have emailed them to ask what the price is, but they haven’t answered back. Anyway, that is less than half price of what Catrike sells their trike for today. I would think that the Chinese businesses involved in this illegal knockoff production would at least take a couple of minutes with a photo editing program and remove the manufacturer’s name from the picture they use. Better yet, why not just use a picture of the trike they are building and selling? Here is the Chinese website (one of them) where this is found:
http://www.made-in-china.com/…/hot-chi…/Recumbent_Trike.html
And here is the specific trike’s webpage:
http://www.made-in-china.com/…/China-New-Design-Hot-Sale-Re…
I know Catrike is aware of this, if for no other reason than the fact that I emailed them about it several years ago when I first discovered it.
ice-fat-trike
Does this not look like an ICE FULLFAT trike? It is another Chinese knockoff they are selling. No doubt it would probably look a lot like the ICE FULLFAT trike. Again, they don’t show any prices so I have no idea what they are charging for it. I am sure it is quite cheap especially when compared to the cost of a real ICE FULLFAT trike (about $5000 for the base model).
Chinese FAT tire trike 2
I wrote an article about another Chinese FAT trike. It is shown in the picture above. As far as I know it is not a knockoff though. It is a “mini-fat” … that is it has 20 inch FAT tires all the way around instead of 26 inch. It certainly is cheap … $1,460.93 total which includes shipping ($950 for trike & $510.93 for shipping).
Alibaba is another well known Chinese website selling lots of different Chinese made products. They show the prices and as far as I know are legitimate … they just sell cheaply made trikes like the FAT trike I wrote about and linked to above. I have not seen any advertised that I identified as a knockoff.
The prices are definitely cheap, but the shipping costs are pretty high so the total cost isn’t as attractive as it starts out.
So … back to my original question … would you buy one of these Chinese knockoffs to save money? I don’t think I could do it. I could probably buy one of the other Chinese trikes though. It is just the knockoffs that I don’t think I could deal with. Well, I don’t have any money to buy any of them anyway so I won’t concern myself with it. I am happy I was able to get the real McCoy and it continues to serve me well year after year. I do really miss my 2009 space frame though. I always …
ENJOY THE RIDE!

PODRIDE VELOCAR


Another new velocar is attempting to be birthed into the market place. It’s a cute little thing called a Podride. HERE is their website. Both a 3 wheel version and a 4 wheel version are planned. It will be available with or without electric pedal assist.

They have a StartUp Campaign and a YouTube Channel.

Their website states that they hope to have their product available in Canada and the United States by late 2017 … first in a non-motorized quad and soon to follow a motorized trike.

2 wheel drive above, single wheel drive below

CALL OF THE WILD or SILENCE CAN BE DEAFENING


A couple of years ago I managed to get the wax in my ears pushed back inside to where it was “impacted”. I suddenly transformed myself into the world of silence. I can remember driving myself to the doctor’s office to have them clear my ears of this wax impacting. It was really eerie driving along not being able to hear. Fortunately they got me fixed up and I could hear again. I can’t say that I enjoyed being deaf, but it was an interesting experience to go thru.

Now I said all that to lead up to my topic of this posting. Basically I am talking about all the different sounds we hear as we ride our trikes along … whether it be around many others and lots of sources of noise or by ourselves with very limited sound sources. Most definitely my favorite riding is away from the maddening crowd and all the noise associated with and generated by it. I enjoy hearing birds singing, squirrels chattering away,  frogs croaking, animals rustling the leaves and brush, and even the faint sounds coming from my trike as I pedal along.

Yes, I can truthfully say I enjoy hearing all those sounds. And then back to civilization I hear sirens, horns, car alarms, trains, traffic (trucks, buses, motorcycles, cars, etc.), outdoor speakers at businesses, loud so called music coming from motor vehicles and the list goes on. All of it is noise and not pleasing sounds. Yep, there is a world of difference between noise and sound. One is usually rather unpleasant and objectionable while the other is welcome and soothing.

This subject matter is one reason I like trails that take me away from the noise. I definitely don’t care for trails that run right along a busy roadway where all that horrible noise is present to contend with. I feel sorry for those who only have those sorts of trails where they live and ride. Of course, it is even worse for those who only have bike lanes on busy roads. And then there are those who don’t even have bike lanes … just busy roads to ride on.

Yep, I like the call of the wild as the silence I find out there can be deafening. 😉

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

If you enjoy seeing and listening to birds HERE is a pretty good video to watch.

FAQ – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


faq-2

We see the abbreviation “FAQ” frequently and I am sure most of us know it stands for frequently asked questions. Many websites and printed material have a FAQ area where people can go to try to find answers to frequently asked questions. Q&A is also commonly used. I have thought about going to the effort of trying to make a FAQ page for this blog, but I have never felt ambitious enough to tackle it. So what is a guy to do? Well, we can always let George do it, right? In all seriousness TerraTrike has a FAQ page on their website which covers a lot of different topics. HERE is a link to it. Maybe they can answer your question. I am just not into to it at this time. Woe is me! I guess I need to be thankful for what others have contributed and made available. Of course, some of their answers are TerraTrike trike specific so they won’t be of any help if you have another brand. Even some of the questions which may sound “generic” on the surface they are responding to in regards to their own trikes … so their answers may not be as applicable if you have a different brand of trike.

Here are the questions they have listed:

faq

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.

WHEN IS .75 NOT THE SAME AS 3/4?


If we were talking simple mathematics the answer to that would be simple enough. The fraction and the decimal are always the same. But in the world of bicycle tires it is an altogether different ballgame. The answer is no, it is not the same. I know … it sounds crazy and as far as I am concerned it is crazy. It is one very confusing messed up system which has been developed. When I was a kid it wasn’t this way. It was all pretty much straight forward and simple … easy to understand. I have written about this subject before. Click HERE to read about it.

Just take a look at this chart below and you can readily see what I am talking about. It almost gives me a headache.

tire-size-chart-complete

Schwalbe has information on tire sizes HERE.  I like their chart as it seems easier to read than some others I have seen.  HERE is an article by the late Sheldon Brown about tire sizes. He has a section a short ways down the page he has called “Does Point Seven Five Equal Three Quarters?”.  HERE is another article on tire sizes.

Be certain what size wheels you have on your trike before buying new tires or inner tubes. Most tadpole trikes with 20 inch wheels have 406 rims, but a few may have 451 rims. The tires and inner tubes for these two sizes are not interchangeable. This is what happens when you try to install a 451 inner tube in a 406 tire:

451-inner-tube-in-406-tire

As you can see the 451 inner tube is much larger in diameter than the 406 tire. Some of the sales people in bike stores don’t know this and will hand you a 451 inner tube even if you specify you need a 406 inner tube. It has happened to me. I got clear back home before discovering the sales person selected the wrong tube. I had to return to the store to get the right one. Now I look before buying it since I learned you can’t entrust the matter to the store.

For most of us we don’t have to concern ourselves very much about all of this. It is when you go trying to make major changes in wheels and tires that you encounter the complexity and need to “get it right”. If we simply stick with buying pretty much the same tires by the size shown mounted on our rims we should be safe enough. Just remember about the 406 vs 451 matter. Try to avoid getting a headache and simply …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP?


TerraTrike offers a webpage concerning how to determine your X-seam. X-seam is a measurement similar to inseam which is used to determine how to adjust the boom properly to fit the rider of a tadpole trike. When seated properly on a tadpole trike the rider’s leg should be about 85 % fully extended when the pedal is rotated to its most forward position.

I have written about this subject previously. HERE is one of the articles.

HERE is another webpage on this offering a good illustration. And HERE is another.

I have noticed that the instructions given for this vary somewhat in the matter of how much distance the bottom of the board is out away from the wall. To my way of thinking the safest and best method would be to duplicate the seat back angle more so than a measurement off of the wall. Of course, one must be careful not to move the board while sitting down and going thru the process of obtaining the measurement.

A quick and easy way to adjust the boom to its proper position for the rider is simply to sit in the seat and place the “heel” of the foot (while wearing shoes) on the pedal in the furthest forward position. The boom can then be tightened down and when the balls of the rider’s feet are positioned on the pedals the legs should be about 85 % or so extended.

It is good to know our X-seam measurement as it can be of value for a mechanic to set up a trike for the rider without them being there to go thru this process. Having a trike set up properly helps us to …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

 

 

 

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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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eGO – AN INTERESTING CONCEPT IN TRIKES


eGo … not to be confused with EGO which is an ultralight trike aircraft … nor is it the electric scooter of the same name … nor is it the velocar of the same name. I sure think they should have and would have picked a different name so that people don’t have to deal with all this confusion.

It is powered by electric motor hub only. There is no chain or sprockets. However there is a crankset and it is used to pedal to charge the battery. They used an existing TW-Bents tadpole trike to create their electric trike. The frames looks the same for both the Trident and Artifice models TW-Bents offers.

HERE is an article on this trike.  HERE is another article.

There is very little information available I can find about it. The one article says that they hope and plan on building more prototypes and work to promote the trike.

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’

PROS & CONS OF ELECTRIC MOTOR PEDAL ASSIST


Those who have been following my writings from the git go  probably know that I got my start in this writing articles about tadpole trikes on Steve Greene’s Trike Asylum blog. One of my earliest articles (To Motorize Or Not To Motorize, That Is The Question which was posted on April 5, 2013) was on the subject of motorizing a tadpole trike and I made it pretty clear that I was against it. I made an exception for those who truly needed it Never the less I ruffled some feathers and caught some flak for writing the article. I have to admit that when I wrote it I didn’t know much about the subject of motorizing a trike. I don’t recall whether or not I was even aware of “pedal assist”. Anyway, since that time I have gotten myself a bit more educated about pedal assist. I also finally reached the point I felt I would benefit from having electric motor pedal assist. I have had one on my trike now for awhile so I have experience with using it and feel I am qualified to write about it. I am loving it. Anyway, I am reposting the early article I wrote so you can read it here in this posting. You will find it at the bottom of this article I am now writing. As you read thru it you should be able to pick up that I was thinking that this subject matter is about propulsion by a motor and not pedal assist.

Recently a fellow triker brought up the matter of a tadpole trike being a Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) … that is to say, they are suppose to be. Hey, that is exactly the position I used to hold so I know where he is coming from. We are all familiar with the terms “Pros & Cons” … stating those things in support or favor of and those things which are not if support or favor of. After having a motorized pedal assist trike and riding it quite a lot already I though it would be good to try to write an unbiased opinion and report on the pros and cons of having a pedal assist motor enhancement. Of course, now I speak only of “PEDAL ASSIST”. I like the description … “it’s like having a built in tail wind”. I am still against a motor propelling a trike where the rider is not required to pedal.

I will state the things that come to mind as pros as well as those things which come to mind as cons. I will say upfront that the list will be considerably lop sided as I have been giving thought to this matter and have to say that there is very little I can come up with to put on the cons list while there is a whole lot that comes to mind to place on the pros list. This certainly is not an exhaustive list. As I think of more I will add them to the lists.

THE PROS

1) It makes pedaling easier not requiring nearly as much pressure to be exerted on the pedals. This greatly helps in hill climbing and those with knee joint problems, pain and weakness.

2) The rider can go considerably faster even though they are exerting the same amount of pressure on the pedals and using the same amount of energy as they did previously. For instance, climbing a hill that used to slow me down to 2 to 4 mph I can now ride up at 14-16 mph if I want to.

3) If the rider tires out during a ride the motor assist helps them to get back to wherever they started from or need to get to.

4) If riding has become a chore rather than the fun it once was then pedal assist can make it fun again.

5) It enables a rider to ride at a faster pace so that being able to ride with faster riders is now possible. You still won’t be able to keep up with a lot of the roadies however as they really go. Funny thing is they are allowed on bike trails and some bike trails ban pedal assist bikes and trikes. It is not right.

6) It is a real blessing to have when you need to zip across a busy street when a break in traffic finally comes along. It can propel you across fast and out of any danger.

7) When you need to make good time to get some place faster than you normally could again the motor is such a blessing.

8) Having the ability to accelerate  quickly and go fast can be a big help in getting away from a dog or person you might be concerned about as far as your personal safety. Of course, most dogs can run faster than 20 mph.

9) Because you are still pedaling, but pedaling easier you actually get more exercise. You can pedal at a faster cadence which is a very good thing as many of pedal way too slowly anyway. And because it is easier to pedal you can ride longer.

10) Someone who has had problems with hernias and are concerned about overexerting them self and causing serious problems can greatly benefit from having pedal assist.

11) Having electric motor pedal assist does not mean that you have to use it. You can ride with it turned off just like it wasn’t there. And quite honestly most of the time I can’t tell the difference between riding my trike as it came from the factory and riding it now with the motor and battery installed but not turned on.

12) If you have long downhill grades you can set the controls to generate rather than use power and in doing this you  recharge the battery. You can also just ride along recharging the battery if you are strong enough to pedal with the resistance involved. Or if you are up to the task even on level ground you can pedal along recharging the battery if you are physically up to it. Please note that the charging rate in this mode is very little so it would take a lot of time and travel to put much of a charge back into the battery.

13) You can play with the minds of the road bike riders  by being able to ride their speed and maybe even pass them. Some of them however ride much faster than a motorized pedal assist can go (legally).

14) When riding off road the pedal assist is great to have. It makes such adventure so much easier and enjoyable and even safer as one doesn’t always have the strength to pedal in/over/thru some places.

15) It reduces the stress being placed on the drive system (pedals, crankset, chain & sprockets) as the motor is helping to turn the rear wheel.

16) If you are riding with others and you have to stop or slow down and they keep going having the pedal assist motor makes it much easier to catch back up with them.

17) It is great when riding into a headwind. Other than feeling the wind you can truly say “what wind?”.

THE CONS

1) The motor and battery add weight to the trike. It has added over 20 pounds to my trike and all on the back. That being said, much to my surprise and delight the only time I can tell there is additional weight is when I lift it. When I ride I can’t tell it at all.

2) Being able to go faster is fun, but it also adds a measure of danger and concern that didn’t exist riding slower. You may tend to go into curves faster than you should. If you are not used to handling a trike at higher speeds you could crash.

3) It is expensive to add a motor to a trike and the battery only lasts so long before it needs to be replaced at considerable cost. My conversion kit costs about $2500 and the replacement battery costs about $900 to $1000. There is always the chance that the manufacturer will either go out of business or simply not offer a replacement battery later on if they opt to make some changes in their product offerings.

4) Some trails don’t allow the use of any motors on  them. I personally don’t think that this should apply to pedal assist systems and I would hope that trails which say no to them will reconsider and change their position on this.

5) Motorizing a tadpole trike adds to the value making it more of a target for a thief.

6) Motorizing a trike makes it so much fun to ride that your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend will want to ride it and cut you out of the picture. 😉

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TO MOTORIZE OR NOT TO MOTORIZE, THAT IS THE QUESTION

I am getting into something here which I will state upfront I am very opinionated about. I”M ‘AGIN’ IT! To my way of thinking motorizing any type of human powered vehicle is defeating the whole concept of the thing … exercise. I mean, come on … if you want a motorized open air vehicle buy a motorcycle for crying out loud. I rode them for over 50 years of my life until I finally decided I would give it up for strictly pedaling around. I was also riding a bicycle all those years so I still got some exercise … just not nearly as much as I do now.

I am sure that there are some folks who are not able to pedal to get around … perhaps can’t use their arms and hands to propel a vehicle either and so they may NEED something in the way of a motorized trike. But there are a whole lot of folks out there who are perfectly capable of pedaling who really don’t NEED to go this route.

That being said, I know it has become pretty popular. The man I sold my homemade tadpole trike to told me he planned on motorizing it. There is lots of information out there on the subject. And I am sure riding a motorized tadpole trike is a lot of fun even though it could lead to an added element of danger. And there may be some folks who just need help pedaling up hills as just maybe their bodies can’t deliver what it takes.

Obviously there are two main ways to go … electric motor or gas engine. Those who oppose gas engines because they “pollute” would no doubt only consider the electric motor route. But I AM STILL AGIN IT!

Here are some pictures of various setups:

KMX trike motorized

KMX trike motorized

gas engine motorized trike

gas engine motorized trike

solar charging motorized trike

solar charging motorized trike

ecospeed motor on boom

ecospeed motor on boom 2

And I say to ya’ll …

KEEP ON PEDALIN’

(We all need the exercise!)

By the way,  one needs to be aware that there are trails where it is against the rules to ride a motorized bike or trike. Our local trails here in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area do not allow them. Only motorized wheelchairs are permitted. When it comes to “pedal assist” it is not fair to ban them. They are as much as a human powered vehicle as the roadies out there zooming by at 25 plus mph while my top speed is only 20 mph with pedal assist. HERE is a good article on the subject.

NEW HEAD REST TO SAVE MY NECK


Recently I had a Bionx hub motor conversion kit installed on my Catrike Trail. In doing so I had to give up my super comfortable head rest which I made. I have neck issues so I need to use a neck/head rest when I ride. The reason I could not continue using my head rest is because it was in the way of plugging the cable into the front of the battery. So I purchased an ICE neck rest which mounts out of the way. Now ICE boasts that their newly designed neck rest is the most comfortable neck rest on the market. As far as I am concerned it is just like all the rest of the factory manufactured neck rests I have tried … very lacking and not very comfortable.  So I went to work to redesign it.  What I came up with was far more comfortable than theirs yet it still looked pretty like it did originally. Still it was not to my satisfaction nor my needs. So I went to work to totally remake it. It didn’t take me more than 20 minutes and now I have a very comfortable head rest again. It is not quite as comfortable as what I had previously but only because it is a bit smaller in size. And the good news is I didn’t do anything to change what ICE made. In 5 minutes I could put the neckrest back to the way it came from ICE (not that I would want to). I just don’t understand why the trike industry doesn’t offer comfortable neck rests. It is not that hard to make one that is comfortable. Like I said it took me about 20 minutes. I replaced ICE’s strap with elastic and put a piece of foam sandwiched in between it. Then I put a large piece of foam on the front side of the elastic. The large piece of foam has the front side of it cut concave to sort of cradle the head and neck. Here is what I came up with. I just used the cover off of my old head rest even though it is too big.

For  those who are interested here are some pictures showing the construction of my new head rest. (I am calling it a head rest rather than a neck rest because I have raised it up higher to where the back of my head rests on it. It is far more comfortable now against my head than it was against my neck.)

In the next picture I have duct tape temporarily holding the foam in place while the Gorilla Glue sets up. The foam is glued to the elastic.

In the next picture  which is a top view looking down you can see the concave curvature I cut into the foam to cradle my head and make the head rest more comfortable to use.

And here is what the original ICE neck rest looks like. I really don’t like the metal rods on the sides as they are located right where the head makes contact with them. And that is not very comfortable as I quickly found out when I tried riding using it. It is really dumb … more of their infamous “inspired cycle engineering”.

 

 

Now with this new head rest I should be able to ride in comfort meaning I can …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

RECUMBENT MECHANICAL TALK


Gee I love that kind of talk. 🙂 I hope you do too cause here is a whole lot of it …

 

ARE YOU DIRECT OR INDIRECT?


Now I ask ya … are you direct or indirect? Some of you I am sure know the answer to that question while others probably do not. Those ‘others’ probably don’t have a clue what I am talking about. We’ll remedy that pronto. I am talking about the type of steering your tadpole trike has. Direct steering means the “handlebars” come directly off of the kingpins (the axles the front end has to turn to steer). Here is a picture of an ICE VTX with direct steering. I have marked the various parts (green lines are the handlebars, red lines point to the kingpins, yellow lines point to the tie rod which connects both sides together so they work together). Direct steering is called direct steering because it is direct. The handlebars connect directly to the kingpins so that they turn directly in response to the input of the handlebars.

direct-steering-ice-vtx-marked

Indirect steering is altogether different. The handlebars pivot on an axis thru the frame under or just in front of the seat. A plate of some sort (they vary) is attached to the axis so that when the handlebars are turned the plate turns with it. Attached to the plate is linkage which goes over to one or both kingpins to turn them. Here is a picture of a TerraTrike Tour with indirect steering. I have identified the various parts in it as well. Of course, the blue line is the handlebars. The green line is the axis (the pivot point) of the handlebars.  The yellow lines are the tie rod linkage connecting the  plate on the handlebar axis to the kingpin axis.

indirect-steering-terratrike-tour-marked

Both systems work, of course, but they are not the same. Direct steering is more sensitive and “direct”. Indirect steering is less sensitive and not as direct. Some people like one better than the other. I myself prefer direct steering. Often direct steering trikes turn sharper than indirect steering. Some indirect steering trikes have a much larger turning radius. Again, I personally find this unacceptable. I want my trike to turn sharply when needed. I don’t like having to stop and back up … going back and forth trying to get turned around a sharp corner. That is ridiculous in my opinion … poor design engineering.

I have ridden various trikes with both types of steering input. As to the matter of indirect steering I will say this … not all trikes are created equal. That is to say I found some quite objectionable and others quite satisfactory. Some I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy as the saying goes.

As to preference on these two types of steering, some object to the direct steering saying it is too sensitive and “twitchy” … making it dangerous at higher speeds. I am sure I speak for many when I say it is all according to what you get used to. I have never had an issue with this in all the years I have been riding tadpole trikes. And I am sure many others would say the same thing. But, hey, I don’t much care what others prefer. If you like indirect steering that’s fine with me. If you prefer direct steering you’re my kinda guy (or gal). 😉 

There is an option that can be incorporated to make direct steering less sensitive. A stabilizer bar can be used. Here is one added to a KMX trike.

Hopefully by now we can all answer the question … are we direct or indirect? Whichever you are …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’