Toe in is as pictured above in this drawing of a car. Toe in is when the front wheels point inward at the front. Toe out is when the wheels point outward at the front. Just like cars, trucks, buses, etc. must have the proper toe in setting our tadpole trikes need this as well. Determining the toe in is simply a matter of measuring the distance in width between the front of the wheels and the back of the wheels. The measurement in the front should be less than the measurement in the rear in order for there to be toe in. The amount of toe in is quite critical as it will determine how the trike handles and how safe it is to ride as well as how much effort is needed to propel it forward. Lastly it determines tire wear and economy.
I said revisited because I have written about this very important subject before. The very first time I wrote about it I entitled the article “What’s Up With Your Toe?”. Unfortunately it no longer exists in the archives. HERE is another of my articles on toe in. I myself am all to guilty of not following the advice I give out on checking the toe in periodically to ensure that it hasn’t changed. I admit that I rarely check mine. Shame on me! It really doesn’t take all that long, especially if you use what I recommend to check it which is a telescoping antenna.
Using one of these I have found to be far handier, easier and more practical than a tape measure or the cumbersome tool Catrike sells.
Don’t get me wrong. Their tool works. It is just that it is so large in comparison to the telescoping antenna that it is harder to use in my opinion. It is also quite expensive while the telescoping antenna costs a fraction. You could probably buy one at a thrift store selling donated items. An old radio/cassette player/recorder usually has such an antenna on it. I already had a couple of the antennas sitting around I had taken off of radios I discarded. Anyway, because the antenna is so small in diameter it is much easier to get it in places to take the measurements.
And the measurements … well, it is critical. Ideally a zero degree measurement is best so long as the trike handles okay at that setting. Otherwise you can have up to 1/16 inch of toe in and no more. You should never have toe out. One thing to remember is when the rider sits down on the trike the measurement is likely to change. And the heavier the rider is the more likely the measurement is to change to a greater amount. So it is best to have someone sitting in the seat of the trike who weighs the same as the person who normally rides it and set the toe in adjustment with them seated. If that is not possible then you should recheck the toe in measurement again after you are seated. That can, of course, be difficult. I know when I sit on my trike my toe in measurement changes by about 1/16 of an inch so when I set the toe in I set it at 1/16″ knowing that it will change to zero when I am seated on it.
Having and maintaining the proper toe in setting will ensure that your trike will handle properly and safely as well as give you maximum wear out of your tires. The farther off the toe in setting is the more all will suffer. When I first bought my Catrike Trail trike the dealer who set it up had the toe in setting 1 inch off … yes, you read that right … one inch off. The brand new set of Schwalbe Marathon Racer tires that came on it were worn out (the blue liner was showing thru) in only 30 miles of riding as there was so much tire scrubbing going on with the toe in off that much.
This toe in setting can change by itself. Don’t ask me how as it seems to be a mystery. Obviously the “jam nuts” can come loose so it occurs, but I have seen the toe in change when the jam nuts remained tight. It is a good idea to check the jam nuts periodically to ensure that they have remained tight. And, as I stated previously it is a good idea to occasionally recheck the toe in measurement to ensure it hasn’t changed. I really need to follow my own advice. 🙂
Keeping the toe in setting set properly will help us to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
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