No, I am not talking about how business is going for Catrike even though it has really taken off and qualifies as a “boom”. Rather, I am talking about the boom of the tadpole trike … that part that sticks out in front and where the crankset and pedals are found. Here is a picture of my boom.

my Catrike boom 2

I am talking about booms here because they are a very important part of a tadpole trike. With the crankset and pedals being a part of the boom one of the inherent problems with tadpole trikes in their design and build is what is called “pedal steer”. Some trikes are worse than others and the amount of pedal steer can be considerable. Pedal steer occurs when (and because of) the boom flexing … actually bending side to side when the pedals are pushed on. This in turn results in the trike “turning” from one side to the other as it is being pedaled along. A well engineered and made trike has very little pedal steer. Some trikes have quite a lot of it. And the further out a boom is extended the worse the problem becomes. Along with the problem of pedal steer when the boom flexes there is also a loss of pedaling efficiency. Catrike has a patented design which greatly strengthens the boom and eliminates most pedal steer and helps with this loss of efficiency. The boom has an internal reinforcement to make the boom more rigid so it can’t flex like it would if it were just a hollow tube as other trike manufacturers’ booms are. Also Catrike booms have a groove in the top which does not allow the boom to rotate out of proper position … something very common with most tadpole trike booms. This groove has a matching “key”  or “pin” which fits down into it to keep in from turning (rotating). I have seen some booms on other brands of trikes which were considerably rotated out of position.

Catrike's patented boom

Here is a look at the patented internal reinforcement and the patented groove …

Catrike boom construction lines added

Those three internal “webs” you see run the full length of the booms. In this image I have added the silver colored lines to show this since it is too dark inside to see it otherwise. I applaud this ingenuity. [ICE (‘Inspired Cycle Engineering) eat your heart out! Your booms and frame members rotate all over the place … although I will give them credit for doing a pretty good job in the matter of pedal steer.]

Here is a closeup image of the groove and key. It is hard to find an image of it which shows it clearly. I worked on this one trying to improve it so you could see it better …

Catrike boom groove and pin 3 cropped


Here is what Utah Trikes wrote about the Catrike booms:

“The engineering of the Catrike is probably most evident in the boom now found on all models. I think it is safe to say that the Catrike boom design and implementation is second to none in the trike industry. Because the seat is part of the frame all adjustments for rider leg length are made by adjusting the boom. The advantage to this is that there is no cross bar to get in the way for shorter legs, but it also means that the boom can get pretty long when fully extended. A long piece of tubing can flex which robs pedaling power. Big Cat engineering came up with a novel approach to eliminate boom flex, and it’s all hidden inside the boom. To keep the boom strong while maintaining a low weight, Catrike creates their boom with a custom extruded tubing with an inner webbing whose cross section resembles the Mercedes logo. This inner bracing eliminates any flexing in the vertical plane (minimizing power losses), while also having a dramatic effect on removing pedal steer effect.

The Catrike boom is extremely easy to adjust and yet always stays in alignment. Most other trikes that have adjustable booms need to have two bolts to secure the boom position so that it will not rotate as the trike is being pedaled. The Catrike boom is indexed with a groove along the top which align with their proprietary boom clamp system. Because the boom cannot rotate quick release clamps with less pressure can be used to hold the boom in place without worrying the boom will twist. This makes adjusting the boom length on the fly very easy.
To finish the boom off, Catrike has taken the extra step of including an integrated accessory mount on the front derailleur post an all models excluding the Villager. Amazingly simple, but in the end will save you $20-40 when you decide to mount a computer or headlight to the front of your trike. Speaking of mounts, every Cat also comes with a computer sensor mount on the left wheel. It makes installing a wired, or wireless computer very easy.

Instruction to Set the boom length from Catrike owner’s manual:
Sit on the trike, wearing shoes like those you’ll have on when riding, and adjust the boom length. This is done by loosening the boom release enough to allow the boom to move, then putting your instep on one pedal and extending your leg fully (the boom will rotate…just move it back to vertical with your hand). You should be able to lock your knee, but not have to lock your knee. You can fine tune the position later. Re-tighten the boom release (or pinch bolts) enough to keep the boom from slipping.”


Trike manufacturers need to do all they can to eliminate such things as pedal steer and brake steer. I am glad to see Catrike taking this seriously. It helps riders to …


FREE GIFT awaits you!


This video will show you how to remove and reinstall the cassette on the rear wheel. This may be necessary or helpful if you need to replace spokes on your rear wheel, change your gearing, replace worn gears or clean your gears.

As you can see special tools are required. They are not all the same so be sure you get what your rear cassette requires to fit what you have and do the job.

cassette tools  cassette tool 2

cassette tools - using


very high BB 2

Wow! That boom looks like it is really up there. I am sure however the position of the camera adds to the effect. Never the less, it is still a high boom. And the angle of the boom is quite severe so the height increases drastically as the boom is extended. But the boom height is only part of the deal. The other part is the seat height. Comparing the seat height with the boom height is more critical than just looking at the boom height alone. Most tadpole trikes typically have about a 14 to 16 inch boom height. Of course, the angle of the boom as it extends out greatly effects the actual height. A boom with little angle to it won’t change the height much as the boom is extended out. However, a boom that has a pretty steep angle will  greatly add height to the boom as it is extended out. I know I have repeated myself a bit here. I have often wondered why some trikes are made with such severe boom angles since this extreme height gain is the result. I would think that would be very undesirable.

Does all of this matter? Well, that depends. It depends upon the rider. Some people have no problem with the boom height way up above the seat height while others have a big problem with it.

When talking about the height of the pedals, boom, crankset, etc. the term “bottom bracket” (BB) is used.  By definition: “The bottom bracket is the part of the bike that connects the crankset to the bicycle frame and allows the crankset (made up of pedals, crank arms and chain rings) to rotate freely.” Of course, that definition is for a bicycle. However it is basically the same for recumbents … just in a different position.

In the image below I have placed a white with blue dot in the center of the bottom bracket and attempted to illustrate the BB measurement from the ground up to the center of the bottom bracket. The red arrow shows the BB measurement. The green arrow shows the seat height measurement. The purple line shows the difference between those two.

 seat height vs. boom height

As you can see in the picture below I have drawn red lines which show the seat height vs. BB height. The light blue line shows the angle of the boom. The Performer trike on the left side has a steep boom angle and the pedals are quite a ways up above the “common” seat height. The TerraTrike Rover trike on the right side has a fairly level boom with a very high seat so the pedals are down low below the seat. That is quite unusual for a recumbent tadpole trike.

seat height vs boom height comparison

It is an individual choice as well as possible need to choose the setup on the right. I am not sure what that need involves. I am thinking it is more psychological than anything. I could be wrong though. As for me, I would choose the one on the left. I say that because I don’t have the “need” of the other arrangement. And the arrangement on the right means that  performance, handling, comfort and some aspects of safety suffer … things that a tadpole trike are known for. I would not want to give those up if I didn’t have to. The bottom line here is that some folks just prefer one over the other.

I just mentioned “comfort” in the above paragraph. I want to touch on this. Before I started riding tadpole trikes I rode recumbent bicycles. I had two recumbent bicycles and both of them had the bottom bracket down low. For awhile I had both my bike and my trike. When I would go from riding my trike to riding my bike I noticed that the bike was not nearly as comfortable to ride as the trike is. (I also noticed that it wasn’t nearly as much fun to ride as my trike is.) It was a no-brainer … the trike wins! And so because my bike just sat around I eventually came to the decision that I might as well sell it. I dood it and don’t miss it at all. So for me the bottom bracket position made a big difference in comfort. The higher position of my trike got my vote.

There is one trike model that I want to point out. It is the well known Catrike 700. The pedals on it are considerably higher in comparison to the seat height than other Catrike models as well as other manufacturer models. The seat height is 8.5 inches and the BB is 17.5 inches. That is 9 inches higher. Compare that with the Catrike Expedition which has a 10 inch seat height and a 16.5 inch BB height. That is a 6.5 inch difference between the seat and the BB. So there is 2.5 inches of difference between the two models. That may not sound like all that much, but you just might be quite surprised at the difference it can make.

catrike 700 2

Just for comparison, two similar trikes, the CarbonTrike Race tadpole trike has a BB of 15.7 inches and a seat height of 7.9 inches. That is 7.8 inches difference. The ICE VTX has a boom height of 15.9 inches when fully extended and a seat height of 6.5 inches. So that is a range of 5.19 to 9.09 inches of difference.

catrike_700 seat to boom height

One thing to keep in mind for those who do a lot of hill climbing … when the trike is actually climbing a hill the BB will become even higher in relation to the seat height. That can be a problem for some people.

I will only mention here that this matter of seat vs. BB height also significantly effects the power and efficiency of pedaling. You won’t see recumbent bikes and trikes which are known to be fast with one’s legs down low. They are always up fairly high.

recumbent racing bike   recumbent bikes racing  extremely laid back 2 wheel recumbent

As stated, some people have physical issues and can’t handle the “normal” recumbent seat height and angle and the relationship with the height of the pedals. So keep this in mind and try to check into it. You sure don’t want to buy the wrong trike and discover you have a problem with this. And it is not just a matter of age. We are all different. I reckon it is a good thing that we have quite a variety of choices among trikes and their build design and features. Whatever you choose to ride here is hoping that you can …


FREE GIFT awaits you!


Hartlander fat recumbent trike

Fat trikes rule! … off the road anyway. I had planned on creating another article about fat trikes, but upon looking at what Steve Greene has put together and provided on his Trike Asylum blog I figured ‘why bother?’ He has done such an excellent job and thorough presentation that I will just link to it instead. So check out his great article on FAT TRIKES. You might even want to participate in the poll he has there … as to which Fat Trike you would want.

Hartlander fat recumbent trike folded


Shimano developed the SPD clipless system. In fact, SPD stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamic. Other companies have since come out with compatible products.

SPD shoes and pedals

Using clipless pedals is a good idea when riding a tadpole trike if for no other reason than to prevent injury from “leg suck“. For those who don’t know about leg suck it is the term used to describe what can happen when your foot slips off of the pedal and onto the ground below. Upon making contact with the ground below as you are travelling along you can literally run over yourself with the crucifix of the trike. That can not only be very painful, but it can cause serious injury. It is not something you want to experience. I saw it happen to a friend as I was riding with him at the time.  I was slightly behind him and on his right side so I saw it quite well. It was not a pretty sight to see happen. He was fortunate that he didn’t get hurt any more than he did.  He was quite sore for a few days as he was recovering from it. And it definitely got his attention and now he won’t ride without the SPD shoes.

leg suck illustration

Pardon my stick man drawing. I couldn’t get anybody to volunteer to illustrate this so I had to draw this. I can’t say as I blame them. I could not begin to draw how horrific this is and what the contortion of the foot and leg is actually like during this. I am sure it isn’t nearly as effective as a picture of someone really experiencing it.

Much has already been written about the use of SPD shoes and pedals. I have past articles on this blog about them. The most recent one is HERE. What I want to get into here is how to properly set up the cleat position on the shoes and adjust the pedals for the cleats. Again, there is already much available online about this so I am not going to try to duplicate it here. Instead I will simply provide links to articles and embed videos about the subject. What I do want to emphasize here is that the cleats need to positioned so that your feet are in their “natural position”. We are all different. What is the correct position for you probably wouldn’t be right for someone else and visa versa. These articles and videos do a good job of explaining it all. To start things off HERE is an excellent article.

Shimano spd cleats

The cleats can be moved about forward to backward, side to side and rotated slightly in either direction.

shoe cleat placement with arrows

As can be seen in the picture below there are two sets of holes to choose from … one set is behind the other set.

SPD cleat on shoe

SPD cleat hardware

Shimano SPD cleat nut plate

SPD cleat positioning

NOTE: If you deal with “hot spots” or other foot pain from riding your trike and you use SPD shoes with the cleats position at the ball of your foot you may benefit from using shoes with the cleat positioned in the arch of your foot. This something that is usually either a do it yourself project or there is a fellow triker who offers this service. Here is his contact information:

William (Bill) Barrere:
Tel: 786-307-5986
He has a Facebook group page entitled RECUMBENT ONE.

Having the SPD cleats properly adjusted will help us to …


FREE GIFT awaits you!


Cold Weld? What kind of nonsense is that? Most everybody knows welding produces lots of heat. Yet there really is something to those words. Actually there is more than one definition for those words, but I am only addressing one of them. As a highly certified weldor myself with over 50 years of experience I know what a cold weld is. I have seen it all too many times and it is never something I like seeing. These are results of “cold welds” **:

ICE frame weld failure

cold weld

** I want to qualify that … as I also think it is the result of insufficient welding on these areas.

Prior to the failure of these welds most people would say that they looked fine … like they were a good and proper weld. However looks can be deceiving. That is why it is important that the person performing the welding is experienced and knows what they are doing … and is paying attention to the weld they are performing. In short, a cold weld results when there is a lack of penetration and fusion into the base (or parent) metal. When welding a thin metal to a thick metal things get a bit more complicated. Again, it comes down to the knowledge, understanding and experience of the weldor. Many weldors may be able to produce a good looking weld, but that may be all that it is. The best way I could describe it is it’s like putting a band aid or piece of tape over the area being welded. On the surface it looks fine, but down underneath there is a problem. I am a “Navy weldor” and I firmly believe in using as high of a welding current as the weldor (the person doing the welding) can handle within the heat range of the welding rod and what the parent metal can handle. Of course, I am talking here of manual arc welding using welding electrodes. Our trikes are welded up using a TIG (tungsten inert gas) (otherwise known as heli-arc) welding process. Still the same principal applies. I am not going to elaborate on the matter of welding as I would imagine most readers are not much interested in getting deeper into it. I just want people to know that welds do fail when they are not properly done.

Just a personal note here … I have a lifetime of welding behind me and am most happy to say that I very rarely have had welds I have performed fail. If fact, I once was hired along with several other weldors to work on a large job putting back together a gravel separator machine which had been torch cut apart in order to transport it from one gravel pit to another many miles apart. It needed to be completed as quickly as possible. Initially I was the first and only weldor hired, but when it became apparent that it was way too big of a job for one weldor to accomplish in the time frame the gravel pit owner had in mind he called in several other weldors to work on it. The man who hired us was himself a weldor. He observed all of us and knew what and where each of us had welded on this gravel separator which vibrated violently truly testing the quality of the welds. Upon completion of the job and using the machine many of the welds started breaking. I was the only weldor he called back to repair weld on it as he witnessed that I was the only weldor whose welds had not failed. Anyway, HERE is an article on the subject of weld failure for anyone interested in reading more about it.

HERE is the BentRiderOnline message board where a discussion of the weld failure of an HP Velotechnik Scorpion frame is being discussed.

I am going to go out on a proverbial limb here and say something which some probably won’t agree with and won’t like. Some times the design of products is as much to blame as anything. In both of the pictures I have shown as examples of weld failure these areas on the trikes have extreme stress placed on them. And sometimes weld failure is going to happen as a result. That being said, if the weld was done right usually it is not the weld itself that fails. Often it is the metal right beside of the weld that fails. Or it can be a combination of both. Looking at both of these pictures I would say that neither of these trikes had a sufficient amount of welding done to begin with. If I were doing the welding on them I would have welded more on them than what was done. I say that knowing that on both of these trikes those areas will have a lot of stress placed on them and the welds need to be quite strong if they are going to hold up to what is being demanded of them.

I myself experienced weld failure on my 2009 Catrike Trail. It developed a “hair line crack” along the edge of a weld on the back underside of the crossmember. I spotted it one time when I had my trike tipped up on it’s side for some other work I was performing on it.

cracked frame (weld) 001 reduced

I personally believe that if Catrike would have used a gusset on the back side of the underside of the cruciform to strengthen the joint then this weld failure never would have happened. If anything, I believe in over building the product so as to ensure such failure is not likely to occur. As you can see in the picture above they did use a gusset on the front side of the cruciform.

Trike manufacturers warrant their trike frames for varying lengths of time. Only a small handful of companies offer a lifetime warranty on the frame. Catrike used to be among them, but now they only offer a limited time warranty. I wrote an article on frame warranties awhile back.

Weld failure is going to happen, but there are things that can be done to improve the chances of it not happening. I would highly recommend to all trike owners to periodically visually inspect the weld joints of their trikes to be sure none are in the process of failing. I caught mine before it did. There is no way to tell what would have happened if I hadn’t noticed it and just kept riding it with the hair line crack. It could have lasted for years like that, but it also could have gotten much worse and even resulted in a major failure. Such failure can definitely not only ruin our day, but likely it will ruin a whole lot of our days and prevent us from …



As the saying goes … “What will they think of next?”  … E-Pedals!

Britt Pedals E-Drive

Britt Pedals are an invention of a British man named Stephen Britt. Although not a very powerful motor nor a very long lasting battery power these are a quick and rather inexpensive means of motorizing a bicycle or in our case a tricycle. Costing about $300 it is just a matter of removing the existing pedals and installing these in their place. I don’t know much about them and apparently not much is being said as to just how they work. An engineer I am not, but it would seem to me that this is not a very efficient way to go about motorizing a bike. For sure it is truly pedal assist. There is no denying that.

They are not yet in production and available to purchase. They have come a ways though from their beginning as you can see in this picture of what they looked like in their early development.

Fast Forward electric pedal

Here is a video of Stephen Britt talking about his invention. As you can see the name was orginally Fast Forward.

Here is the company statement about the product:

“These replace your standard pedals and provide you with assistance to get you up hills, or carry heavy loads. Each pedal incorporates a motor, gearbox, Li-po batteries and a control board. As you pedal the sensors detect your effort and provide assistance. To pedal without assistance, simply flip the pedals over. They unclip and slot into a charger for charging, much like with a power tool. When fully developed they will provide a range of 10 miles and peak power of 200W. They will retail for around £200 (approximately $300).”

And there have been several articles written about these. The following are just a few of them:

Obviously they offer no protection for the concern of leg suck so using these on a tadpole trike could be risky. And I don’t see any simple solution to this concern.

Britt Pedal installed on crankarm

With only a ten mile range it is good that the pedals can be flipped over so that the battery power can be saved for when you really need it. 200 Watts is considered to be an entry level motor (not very powerful) so I would not expect them to climb much of a hill. I could be wrong and hope that I am. Maybe these would surprise me. I have no experience with electric motors on bikes. I am only going by what I have read. But hey, if these do make it into production and they offer enough assistance they might very well be just the ticket for some to …



Horizon all electric all terrain tadpole trike 2

One mean machine as they say. “Truly one of a kind. For the Horizon we blended an all terrain, full suspension chassis with the our industry leading electric drive system – but that’s just the beginning. By making it modular, adding in a host of adaptive features, and refining the design with real-world feedback from around the globe, we’ve created a trike that offers the freedom and thrill of all terrain cycling to an unprecedented range of physical abilities / disabilities.”

The trike is made in Fletcher, NC and comes with a 2 year limited warranty. It weighs 84 pounds and up … depending upon options/configuration ordered. It has an optional roll bar to keep the rider safe in unstable riding conditions. The starting price is $9995.00 USD and can increase dramatically depending on options … as much as$8050 additional according to website. Battery size options can be quite expensive … as much as $4500 additional.

This video was made for the kickstarter campaign (which has ended quite successfully) …

Modular adaptations for varying physical abilities – Handcycle Option, Foot Rest Option, Rising Seat Option, Tri-Pin Hand Control Option
Explore your world with fully adjustable front and rear air-shock suspension
Reliable American Made Drive-Train
3 Ways to Ride: Pedal only, Electric only, Pedal-Electric together
Fast Recharging – Spend more time riding and less time waiting
Electronic Pedal Shifting – Easy to use and ultra fast gear shifting

The motor powering the Horizon is a bit different from the other Outrider recumbent trikes like the 422 Alpha. This one uses a 2,000 watt geared hub motor capable of high torque output that makes starting from rest, even on steep inclines, possible.

Front Tires: Maxxis Maxx Daddy’s (20″, 20″)

Rear Tires: Maxxis Holy Roller (26″)

Wheels (Standard): Steel J-Bend

Wheels (Optional): Aluminum straight-pull (industry 9)

Shifter: SRAM X.0 Grip Shifter

Derailleur: SRAM X.7 9 Speed

Suspension: Independent A-Arm Front, Rear Shock

Motor: American Made Brushless 93% Efficient

Max Weight: Rider plus gear = 250

Battery Chemistry: Lithium Polymer

Battery Capacity: 1-4kW

Brakes: Dual Shimano Hydraulic 180 mm Disc Brakes

Frame: Chromolly / Aluminum

Charger: 900 Watt 110V Charger (220 Available upon request)

HERE is an article on this trike.  And HERE is their kickstarter website which, as I said, is over and was quite successful. And HERE is their website. And HERE is a review of the trike.

Horizon all electric all terrain tadpole trike

Horizon all electric all terrain tadpole trike 3

Here is a look at the front suspension.

Horizon all electric all terrain tadpole trike 4

And here is the rear suspension as well as the battery box and switch.

Horizon rear suspension

Hmmm, that looks like my trike often looks as far as the mud. And I rarely ride off road.

Well, it ain’t cheap, but it sure looks like it would “get ur dun” as far as off road riding goes. Of course, the main purpose of this trike is for those who have physical handicaps. With such a rig as this they too can …



Sometimes some of us just go beyond the limits and the results can be rather bad. In this video the outcome could have been worse. It could have resulted in the rider being seriously injured. I don’t know if this was real or staged … meaning that the damage to the trike didn’t really happen … that they made it look like it got damaged. I just don’t know. It might have very well been real and the damage occurred just as you see it in the video. I assume that is the case. For sure damage could result if we exceed the limits. And it might be more than just the trike that receives the damage.

exeeding the limits

exeeding the limits 3

Have fun riding your trike, but be careful. Be very very careful!


Short cranks are popular with many recumbent trike riders because they help you spin faster and also decrease the pressure on your knees. In general, for any given rider, the shorter the cranks are, the easier it becomes to spin a rapid cadence. HERE is the late Sheldon Brown’s article on the subject.  And HERE is a short article about short cranksets and knee pain. And HERE is yet another article by Mike Burrows. And HERE is an article on how to determine (calculate) the crankarm length you need.

As far as I am concerned I think every pedal powered bike/trike should come equipped with crankarms which offer multiple positions for the pedals such as shown in the picture below. Then riders of all size can choose what is best for them. That just makes sense to me!


For details on the Lasco cranks:
For details on the Sugino cranks:

Shortening crankarms can be accomplished by replacing the crankarms or by using adapter plates with predrilled and tapped holes such as shown below. No matter which you choose none of it is inexpensive.

short crankarms

I personally really like the idea of the multiple hole add ons like I have pictured above and below. They offer all those positions. They space out the pedals a bit further widthwise. They are easy to install. And I would imagine that they are a less expensive way to go. However, from what few I have found online the cost is a whole lot more than I thought they would be … like within $25 of the cost of a new crankset. It is reported that these don’t stay tight and often times don’t fit the crankarms correctly.

Note: (1.5 years later after first writing this article) For what it is worth I now have a set of Ride2 crankarm shorteners (see further below) and have not had any problems at all with them.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: One of my crank arm shorteners fell off onto the ground as I was riding along. The 1/4 “-28 bolt that attaches it to the crank arm sheared off. In the process of trying to get the parts needed to repair is I found out that the Ride2 product I bought is for children and not for adults. There is absolutely no mention of this on many websites selling these. They make one for adults so be aware of this and don’t order the black Ride2 shorteners for adult use.


HERE is their product for adults:

short crankarms 2

As you can see it is silver color.

Here is a video which explains the need and benefit of shorter crankarms.

There are various manufacturers of these crankarm shorteners and each is different from the other.

Adjustable crankarms are also available.

adjustable crankarms 1 adjustable crankarms 2

Yet another option some people go with is drilling and tapping new holes in the existing crankarms. So long as the crankarms are made in such a way that this can be done and the person doing this knows what they are doing this is by far the cheapest option. All that is involved is the labor to accomplish it. Definitely this must be done right or one would ruin an expensive set of crankarms. Ideally this should be done in a machine shop where accuracy in spacing and alignment be more ensured. Also the hole should be flat faced by milling the surface. Doing all this by hand would be more difficult to get it straight and accurate although it could be done. I have contemplated doing this to my crankarms. This should only be done on aluminum crankarms.

drilled and tapped crankarms

HERE is a website article about shortening crankarms. And HERE is another article.

crankarm shortening

 shortened crankarm

This person will professionally shorten crankarms. It is not inexpensive to have it done, but it is cheaper than buying an all new crankset. The two pictures above are examples of his workmanship.

Just a note here for those who ride tandem trikes: “Any tandem team needs to come to terms with the cadence issue. With practice and patience, most couples can work this out on a standard tandem. Some teams, particularly those who are not well-matched in leg length or pedaling style may benefit from use of different length cranks for the captain and stoker.” … from Sheldon Brown’s article.

Also from Sheldon’s article he states: “For reasons that are not completely clear, many recumbent riders benefit from shorter-than-usual cranks. Some people who have no knee problems on upright bikes find that their knees pain them when they ride a recumbent. Shorter cranks can often alleviate this, though it isn’t clear that the long cranks per se are the cause of the problem.

One theory is that the knee pain results from pushing harder, “lugging” in a too-high gear. With an upright bike, if you push very hard you are lifted up from the saddle, so you know you are doing so. With a recumbent, where you are braced against the back of the seat, it may not be so easy to judge how hard you are pedaling, so you may just over strain your knees by pushing too high a gear without realizing it.”

HERE is an article with information on what length of crankarms we should use based on our height. It only goes down to 5 foot 5 inches and up to 6 foot. HERE is another one with a chart showing inseam and corresponding crankarm length.

I used the calculator found HERE to determine the crankarm length I should use. Of course, it is only as good (accurate) as the measurements are you put into it. According to the results shown in the image below I should use about 135 mm crankarms. My trike came with 165 mm crankarms.


Note: The thing I have noticed about these various charts and calculators as they all come up with considerably different results. For myself I have found crankarm lengths ranging from 130 mm to 160 mm. That is a considerable difference and seems rather absurd to me. I guess this is why this subject matter is so controversial. Anyway, I am fully convinced that shorter people need shorter crankarms as do those who have knee joint issues.

One of the statements made on one the websites follows: “I think the main thing that this suggests is that the TA chart, which at first glance seems so radical in suggesting either very long or very short cranks, is in fact on the conservative side, and that short people especially might consider getting even shorter cranks than those recommended by the chart.” I tend to agree with this. I have found I do much better with shorter cranks than what some recommend for my inseam. I prefer the 130 mm crankarm length over the 155 mm length some show for me. I am short and have gotten shorter as I have aged. I have always had a short inseam. I have lost 1.75 inches in overall height thus far in my elderly years.

HERE are YouTube videos on the subject of short crankarms.

One thing to keep in mind, nearly everything written about this subject was written concerning bicycles and not tadpole trikes. I am no expert so I can’t say much about this. I can only speak from my own experience. As a short person who has had knee joint issues the shorter crankarms have been a God-send. My only regret is I didn’t switch to them many years earlier.

When it comes to short crankarms these are the options that I am aware of. Shorter crankarms just might be your ticket to help you …


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P.S.- (Dec. 2016 … 1.5 years later) I have purchased and am now using the Ride2 crankarm shorteners and really like them. Right now I have them mounted on my wife’s 2 wheel recumbent bike which is set up on an indoor trainer out on the enclosed patio. It is winter here where I live and too cold and too much snow to attempt riding my tadpole trike. I will install them on my trike when better weather comes along and I can go out riding it. I have also just undergone the surgical procedures for knee joint replacement on both knees so these crankarm shorteners really are helping during my rehab therapy. Right now I have the pedals in the next to the shortest holes which is about 106 mm I think. I expect to move them out further as time goes along. The various holes shorten the crankarms by 24, 41, 59 and 76 mm. So with 165 mm crankarms these adapter plates provide 141, 124, 106 and 89 mm settings. As you can see there is no 135 mm option. The closest I have is the 141 which is likely to be what I end up using in due time as I fully regain my range of motion.




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rear derailleur

A derailleur system is something to behold. No really, if you stop and think about it a derailleur system is a very interesting bit of engineering … quite ingenious! But as is the case with just about everything they have their limitations. They can only handle so much. And that is what this posting is about … just what can they handle? How is their limitation determined? Well, people far more intelligent and understanding of all of this than I am have stepped up to the plate to explain it all.

But to start this off here is a video showing a rear derailleur doing it’s thing. Since the bicycle in this video is upside down I highly suggest that you stand on your head while viewing it in order to ensure you get the right perspective. (don’t worry, it is a short video) … Don’t cheat and turn your computer screen upside down.

And if you didn’t follow the instructions to stand on your head here is one where the bike is right side up:

By definition …Total Capacity: This is reference to a rear derailleur’s full range of motion; both vertically and horizontally. The larger the capacity, the wider range of gears that derailleur can handle. Your goal is match the derailleur and its capacity to the bike. If a derailleur doesn’t have the capacity to shift over the lateral range of a cassette, or to shift into the larger cassette cogs, those cogs will be unusable.

According to United Bicycle Institute:

Determine Maximum Chainring Difference by subracting the number of teeth in the smallest chainring from the number of teeth in the largest chainring

Determine Maximum Cassette Cog Difference by subtracting the number of teeth on the smallest cassette cog from the number of teeth on the largest cassette cog

Determine Total Drivetrain Capacity by adding Maximum Chainring Difference to the Maximum Cassette Cog Difference

Record the Maximum Cassette Cog (the number of teeth on the largest Cassette Cog)

For Shimano:

SS – Short Cage Road Double – Maximum Cassette Cog is 27 and Total Capacity is 29

GS – Medium Cage MTB/Road Triple – Maximum Cassette Cog is 34(MTB)/27(Road) and Total Capacity is 33(MTB)/37(Road)

SGS – Long MTB – Maximum Cassette Cog is 34 and Total Capacity is 45


Short – Maximum Cassette Cog is 34(MTB)/28(Road) and Total Capacity is 32(MTB)/31(Road)

Medium – Maximum Cassette Cog is 34 and Total Capacity is 37

Long – Maximum Cassette Cog is 34 and Total Capacity is 45

For Campagnolo:

Short – Maximum Cassette Cog is 26 and Total Capacity is 27

Medium – Maximum Cassette Cog is 29 and Total Capacity is 36

Long – Maximum Cassette Cog is 29 and Total Capacity is 39


And a great source for all of this is Sutherland’s 7th edition

The above is found online HERE.


Here are some more tables for reference:

derailleur capacity tables

These tables can be found HERE. There is also lots of other great and helpful information available on this website.


Did you follow all of that? It is really rather simple. Let’s use my Catrike Trail to illustrate this. I have 30/42/52 teeth chainrings (front sprockets) and 11-34 teeth cassette cogs (rear sprockets)(11 teeth is the smallest and 34 teeth is the largest). Only the smallest and largest sprockets are involved in this so ignore all the other sprockets. Now just do the math:

front: 52 – 30 = 22

rear: 34 – 11 = 23

22 + 23 = 45

I have a SRAM long cage derailleur which has a maximum capacity of 45 so I am okay with my current gearing. However, if I wanted to make any changes in my sprockets I would probably be in trouble as I am already at the maximum capacity of my rear derailleur. Sometimes we can get away with just a little bit of variation, but we shouldn’t press our luck as we might find ourselves in trouble.

The closer you get to the maximum capacity of a rear derailleur the more the derailleur will move about forwards and backwards. When this forward and backwards movement is taking place is where the derailleur will reach it’s limits of what it can handle. A cycle with a low number will not require the derailleur to move much at all in comparison to a cycle with a high number which is up around the limit of the derailleur. A derailleur can actually move back so far that the bottom return portion of the chain will rub against the top drive portion of the chain. And if the derailleur moves forward as far as it can and the chain is too short for the run between the sprockets front to back then the chain will simply get tight and could get too tight to where damage occurs to the derailleur. That is a scenario you want to avoid for sure. On a tadpole trike where the boom is adjusted in and out to accommodate different rider’s X-seams one must remember that the rear derailleur can only handle so much change in movement of the boom and the consequent change in the chain. Shortening the boom beyond what the derailleur can handle will only result in the chain hanging down (the derailleur can’t handle it all). Lengthening the boom beyond what the derailleur can handle is where you can have serious trouble and damage occur. Always be sure you don’t go beyond what the derailleur can handle. I wrote an ARTICLE about this in the past.

HERE is an article by Sheldon Brown.

Examples of the a rear derailleur when things aren’t right …

In the picture below the derailleur has ran out of forward travel and the chain is starting to get tight. This derailleur is definitely at it’s maximum capacity and perhaps might even be beyond. (This is when the chain is on the largest sprockets front and rear.)

rear derailleur beyond capacity

In the picture below the rear derailleur has ran out of rearward travel and the chain is actually rubbing against itself. (This is when the chain is on the smallest sprockets front and rear.)

rear derailleur chain riding on itself

Neither of the situations are desirable. Now it is true that the second picture could be the result of the chain being too long and removing a link might cure it. However, it also could result in making the chain too short when going to the large sprocket to large sprocket combination. One must keep all this in mind so as not to experience damage to the rear derailleur.

HERE is ParkTool’s article on determining proper chain length.

So hopefully if you didn’t already understand this bit about the capacity of a rear derailleur this has helped you to grasp it. Having the chain, sprockets and derailleurs set up properly is very important. When everything is set up properly we should be able to …



Trident trikes have been around for a few years now. The company is based out of Lincolnton, North Carolina. The trikes themselves are made in Taiwan. The trikes are pretty well designed and have good quality components. The one thing that is particularly unique to Trident trikes is that they give you a lot for your money … as standard equipment at no extra charge. These include such things as a full fender set, a rear view mirror, a taillight, a rear rack, and a safety flag. On my Trike Prices page you will see both of these models listed with links to the website page for them. The Stowaway 1 sells for $1579 plus $125 shipping (total $1704). The Stowaway 2 sells for $1799 plus $125 shipping (total $1924). There is not much difference in the appearance between these two models since the difference in price between them is in what components they come with. The Stowaway 2 comes with “rat traps” on the pedals. I personally don’t care for them as they tend to mess up the shoes and can become uncomfortable. And I definitely would not recommend them as far as depending upon them to prevent “leg suck” and injuries resulting from such. I would recommend using either SPD pedals and shoes or “heel slings”.

Trident Stowaway 2

Here is what Trident has to say about the Stowaway models:

Introducing the Redesigned Stowaway Trikes Both offer an incredible component mix at a value price.

Both Stowaway models use our Powder Coated Aircraft Quality 4130 Cro-Moly Tig Welded Frame, as well as Avid Brakes/ Promax Levers with Parking Brake, Double Wall Alloy Rims with Kenda Kwest 100 psi Tires, and Ackerman Compensated Crossover Steering, but that is where the similarities end.

The Stowaway I is our Base Model. It uses a Microshift Front Derailleur and a Microshift Marvo LE Rear Derailleur. Shifting is done with Microshift Gripshifters. The Crankset is a Truvativ 52/42/30 Triple. The Brakes are Avid BB5 Mechanical Disc Brakes.

The Stowaway II is our High Spec Model. It uses a Microshift Front Derailleur and a Microshift Marvo XE CNC Machined Rear Derailleur. Shifting is done with Bar End Shifters. The Brakes are Avid BB7’s.The Crankset is a High End Forged Crankset with CNC Machined Rings, and an Integrated Bottom Bracket. The seat frame, handlebar and boom are Sandblasted and Anodized Aluminum Alloy. For all you Short Crank Afficianados, the Stowaway II will also be available with 160 mm Cranks for an additional $50. 152mm Crankarms are also available by request as well as “Z” steering bars for extremely short X Seams.

Our customers spoke and we have listened. The new features of the 2014 Stowaway 1 & 2 include our new Aluminum Seat . Many people have asked for a seat frame with a little less lumbar curve. 3 adjustable seating heights, and 4 adjustable seating angles are standard on the new seat frame.An optional adjustable neckrest is also now available on our accessories page. An improved Idler system that is as nice as anything on the market and a nicer Mirror. Stowaway 2 also has adjustable handlebars. New for 2015-: Schwalbe Marathon Racers 20 x 1.50 or Schwalbe Trykers will be standard on Stowaway 2 Models.

As with all Trident Trikes (except Spike)- we don’t charge you for the extras!! Also included with both models are a Rear Rack, a full set of 3 Fenders, a Safety Flag, a Mirror, and a Rear Light.

Stowaway Folding Trikes are shipped to you in 1 box it is 95% Assembled- . Lastly, you always have the option of picking up a fully assembled trike in Lincolnton, NC – about 30 miles NW of Charlotte, NC. However be aware if you choose this option, I will have to charge you 6.75% NC Sales Tax

The Stowaway 2 is now available in limited quantity in the Wasabi Green color!!

The Stowaway is Available in Carolina Blue
and Wolfpack Red


As you can see the biggest difference between the 1 & 2 models is the quality of components installed on them. For no more money then is involved between the two most definitely I would advise anyone to get the Stowaway 2. Just the fact that it comes with the Avid BB7 disc brakes and Schwalbe Marathon Racer tires instead of the Avid BB5s brakes and the Kenda Quest tires that come on the Stowaway 1 would be worth the price.

Trident Stowaway folded

As you can see the trikes come with indirect steering. Some people like and prefer indirect steering over direct steering while others prefer direct steering. And as you can see in order to fold the trike it is necessary to remove the seat. They offer an optional neckrest as well.

Trident Stowaway features

Here are a couple of videos about these models:


Trident Stowaway 1 Specs


Trident Stowaway 2 Specs


If the money you have available to purchase a trike is limited the Trident Trikes certainly are an option to consider. My understanding is that the company is great to deal with and do their best to take care of the customer. The trikes can be purchased by ordering them directly from Trident, buying them directly at the Trident headquarters in North Carolina, or buying them at one of their dealers located in the U.S. or in a few other nations (Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, France, Malaysia, and Norway). BTW, if you happen to have a dealer near enough to you there could very well be an advantage of purchasing it thru them instead of ordering thru Trident. Many dealerships offer a free service on the trike after one year of ownership. Also since the dealer is involved they stand behind the product and make things easier to deal with if a problem were to develop with the trike.


Every Tuesday evening at 6 PM from April thru October here in Fort Wayne, Indiana the local trails authority conducts what they call Trek the Trails.

Trek the Trails ride meetup

Each week they have an organized ride where bicyclists can show up at a designated starting point to form up and head out riding a different section each week. By the end of the “riding season” they will have covered the whole trail system and probably repeated some of it. The rides are usually about 6 to 9 miles long. They are open to all and families are most welcome.

Depending upon the weather the turn out is usually pretty good … 60 to 100 riders. Someone always leads the rides and someone always brings up the rear making sure everybody made it ok. I have only personally ridden on a couple of them as I ride all of the trails frequently and know them all quite well. The main purpose of these rides is to introduce people to the local trails and help them to learn about them.

Trek the Trails ride

Probably at least 4 times during these rides they offer special events in addition to the ride itself. Sometimes they have a live band, food, dance, bicycle giveaway by drawing, etc. On one such ride they go to a predetermined location out away from the city lights where they have telescopes set up to check out the stars and whatever else they can see in the heavenlies.

Here is a video of one of the rides from 2012. It is on the Saint Joseph Pathway to Shoaff Park. It started out at Johnny Appleseed Park.

And HERE are other videos of these rides. And HERE are other videos of  Fort Wayne Trails.

In addition to these Tuesday evening rides they also have a Saturday morning ride once a month which is longer and geared a little more for those more serious about riding including a little faster pace and longer distance. But again, it is open to all and someone brings up the rear ensuring everyone makes it regardless of whether they keep up the pace of the leader. These rides always get spread out considerably. Even the Tuesday evening rides do, but probably not as much.

Trek the Trails ride 3

Anyway, I think it is a pretty good thing that they offer this. It is good to promote the trails and help people learn of them. In doing so it raises awareness and more and more people are taking to the trails. And after all … that is what it is all about. Just so they don’t get too crowded as we want to be able to continue to …



comparison giro air attack and bell citi 2

Most of us are quite familiar with the saying “you get what you pay for”, but is that always true? What about bicycle helmets?  What’s the difference between a $30 helmet and a $400 helmet? The ANSWER may surprise you. Oh, there may very well be some differences, but when it comes to protection offered … well, not so much. Basically I would have to say that the biggest difference is $370. So what does $370 get you? Probably the most noticeable differences come under the realm of comfort. The more expensive helmet may be lighter and be better ventilated. It may have better quality headgear and buckles. That’s about it however.

So the big question is … “Is it worth it”? I reckon we all must decide that for ourselves. As for me, no way! I am quite satisfied with my $50 helmet which I bought on sale for 30 some dollars.


It is said that when it comes to the protection a bicycle helmet provides it is more a matter of design than it is price. Some helmets offer more protection because of their physical shape. The truth of the matter is bicycle helmets offer rather limited protection when compared to some other types of safety helmets such as the helmets NASCAR drivers use. And motorcycle helmets offer far more protection as well. And I rather imagine the same is true of the helmets jet fighter pilots wear as well. Still though bicycle helmets do help …

From Helmets provide a 66 to 88% reduction in the risk of head, brain and severe brain injury for all ages of bicyclists. Helmets provide equal levels of protection for crashes involving motor vehicles (69%) and crashes from all other causes (68%). Injuries to the upper and mid facial areas are reduced 65%.

bicycle helmet testing equipment

When it comes to the testing of bicycle helmets the industry is sadly lacking in how they test as well as things they don’t test. Anyway, what standards and tests that are in place all helmets have to pass. That is why there is little difference in helmets when it comes to the protection they offer regardless of the cost of the helmet. You can find more information about helmets HERE.

Although the following video is aimed at children wearing bicycle helmets it has some good information in it.

And here is Consumer Reports video on bicycle helmets.

Awhile back I posted an article on this blog about “an invisible helmet“. Here is an interesting and informative video about bicycle safety helmets and the protection they offer (or fail to offer).

So if you just like spending money you are free to buy those expensive helmets. Just remember one thing about bicycle helmets. They are only good for one impact and should never be reused. A helmet can get damaged simply by accidentally dropping it onto a hard surface resulting in it needing to be replaced. One could buy a lot of $30 to $50 helmets for the cost of one $300 to $400 helmet.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it is highly recommended that helmets be replaced approximately every 5 years or less depending upon how they are taken care of and the actual physical condition of the foam used in them. In time the foam loses it’s effectiveness in protection.

Like I said, no bicycle helmet offers great protection regardless of price. The degree of injury sustained in accidents varies according to the individual factors involved. Never the less helmets do offer some protection and may very well help us to continue to …



I decided to add on the following to this article. It comes from the website. I highly recommend this website as it is packed full of information. Keep in mind that nearly everything written about bicycle helmets are just that … “bicycle” … meaning that not everything one reads necessarily pertains to tadpole trikes. There is a world of difference in the realm of safety and accidents between two and three wheels.

The Two Minute Summary

  • You always need a helmet wherever you ride. You can expect to crash in your next 4,500 miles of riding, or maybe much sooner than that!
  • Even a low-speed fall on a bicycle trail can scramble your brains.
  • Laws in 22 states and at least 201 localities require helmets, although few cover adults.
  • Make sure your helmet fits to get all the protection you are paying for. A good fit means level on your head, touching all around, comfortably snug but not tight. The helmet should not move more than about an inch in any direction, and must not pull off no matter how hard you try.
  • Rear stabilizers do not substitute for careful strap adjustment.
  • Pick white or a bright color for visibility.
  • Common sense tells you to avoid a helmet with snag points sticking out, a squared-off shell, inadequate vents, excessive vents, an extreme “aero” shape, dark colors, thin straps, complicated adjustments or a rigid visor that could snag or shatter in a fall.
  • Consumer Reports has some brand recommendations.

If you have six minutes, please read on!

Six Minutes More

Your brain is probably worth reading this!

Need One? Yes!!

The average careful bike rider may still crash about every 4,500 miles. Head injuries cause 75% of our nearly 700 annual bicycle deaths. Medical research shows that bike helmets reduce or prevent most of cyclists’ head injuries. And helmets may be required by law in your area.

How Does a Helmet Work?

A helmet reduces the peak energy of a sharp impact. This requires a layer of stiff foam to cushion the blow. Most bicycle helmets use crushable expanded polystyrene (EPS), the picnic cooler foam. It works well, but when crushed it does not recover. Expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam does recover, but is much less common. Collapsible plastic liner materials recently appeared and offer promise. The spongy foam pads inside a helmet are for comfort and fit, not for impact protection.

The helmet must stay on your head even when you hit more than once–usually a car first, and then the road, or perhaps several trees on a mountainside. So it needs a strong strap and buckle. The helmet should sit level on your head and cover as much as possible. Above all, with the strap fastened you should not be able to get the helmet off your head by any combination of pulling or twisting. If it comes off or slips enough to leave large areas of your head unprotected, adjust the straps again or try another helmet. Keep the strap comfortably snug when riding. The straps hold your helmet on, not the rear stabilizer.

What Type do I Need?

Most bike helmets are made of EPS foam with a thin plastic shell. The shell helps the helmet skid easily on rough pavement to avoid jerking your neck. The shell also holds the foam together after the first impact. Some excellent helmets are made by molding foam in the shell rather than adding the shell later.

Beware of gimmicks. You want a smoothly rounded outer shell, with no sharp ribs or snag points. Excessive vents mean less foam contacting your head, and that could concentrate force on one point. “Aero” helmets are not noticeably faster, and in a crash the “tail” could snag or knock the helmet aside. Skinny straps are less comfortable. Dark helmets are hard for motorists to see. Rigid visors can snag or shatter in a fall. Helmet standards do not address these problems–it’s up to you!


A sticker inside the helmet tells what standard it meets. Helmets made for the U.S. must meet the US Consumer Product Safety Commission standard, so look for a CPSC sticker. ASTM’s F1447 standard is identical. Snell’s B-95 standard is tougher but seldom used.

Fit is not certified by any standard, so test that on your own head. Visors are not tested for shattering or snagging in a fall, so you are on your own there.

Comfort Requirements

Coolness, ventilation, fit and sweat control are the most critical comfort needs. Air flow over the head determines coolness, and larger front vents provide better air flow. Most current helmets have adequate cooling for most riders. Sweat control can require a brow pad or separate sweatband. A snug fit with no pressure points ensures comfort and correct position on the head when you crash. Weight is not an issue with today’s bicycle helmets.

Special Problems

Some head shapes require more fiddling with fitting pads and straps. Extra small heads may need thick fitting pads. Extra large heads require an XXL helmet. Ponytail ports can improve fit for those with long hair. Bald riders may want to avoid helmets with big top vents to prevent funny tan lines.

How to Buy

We always recommend checking out the latest Consumer Reports article, but they can’t cover very many of the available brands and models, and their articles go out of date.

We have a review up on helmets for the current season. It has no impact ratings, but our limited testing has shown that most helmets have about the same impact protection regardless of price.

When you pick up a helmet, look first for a CPSC sticker inside and a smooth, well-rounded shell with a bright color outside. Put it on, adjust the pads and straps or the one-size-fits-all head ring, and then try hard to tear it off. Look for vents and sweat control. Helmets sell in bike shops from $30 up, or in discount stores for less. A good shop helps with fitting, and fit is important for safety. The $10 discount helmet can be equally protective if you take the time to fit it carefully, and for another $10 you get easier fitting. Helmets are cheap now, and are seldom on sale, so don’t wait for a sale price. Many of us bought our helmets after a crash. You can be smarter than that.


I don’t know whether to call this the daily chuckle or what …

shaven head helmet

Since I first wrote this article I have come across this website which rates helmets and claims that thru their testing there really is a difference in helmets as far as the protection they offer. One thing that I noticed is that it is not the cost which determines how good the helmet rating is. A $55 helmet scored far higher than many of the helmets costing hundreds of dollars. As they say … “go figure!”

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