The era was the 1970s … 1975 as I understand is when the first of these were introduced here in the United States. A rather unique recumbent trike of the tadpole configuration came on the scene. Even though it originated in Japan it was the United States where they were most prevalent. They were big and heavy yet supposedly they were built for racing on oval tracks. Obviously they were not designed for touring and general riding. They were quite long compared to tadpole trikes of today. Their days were numbered and now they are more less a collectors item. Not only were they long, but they had a wide wheelbase so they are not too practical as far as fitting on trails and thru various openings. Speaking of being long … the chain on these was 13.5 feet long. That is a lot of chain in case you didn’t know it. Most modern day tadpole trikes have about 9 to about 10.5 feet depending upon how far out the boom is adjusted. Some say that these Masa trikes did not handle well and could tip over easily … that too much of the rider’s weight was on the back wheel. That being said you can also read that the trike handles well and doesn’t tip over as easily as modern day trikes. Take your pick. I give up. Well, I have already said more than I know about them. 🙂 So I won’t say anything more. I will just post a couple of videos where they are featured and talked about.
HERE are lots of pictures of two of these trikes.
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Masa Slingshot Trike, tadpole trike, tadpole trikes, tadpole tricycles, recumbent trikes, recumbent tricycles, recumbent tadpole trikes, recumbent tadpole tricycles
7 thoughts on “MASA SLINGSHOT, A BIT OF NOSTALGIA”
If you want to see one in the flesh stop in at Bicycle Man llc in Alfred Station NY. It is the oldest recumbent of ~40 in our collection. It is very wide and has a large turning radius both of which make it harder to tip.
I am looking to build as Masa Slingshot.
I am interested in purchasing plans. I am from South Africa. Can you give me some guidance as to where to start looking?
Hi Llewellyn, The Masa was sold as a fully assembled trike, not a kit, so there aren’t any plans. However, it should be simple enough to build a better machine based on pictures and dimensions.
The big issues with the original Masa are weight and the placement of the sprocket assemblies attached under the frame, severally limiting ground clearance.
The Masa is much too heavy. Building a new one out of larger diameter, thin-wall tubing or even aluminum could save weight.
The Masa also employed three different chains, connected by the two sprockets which were attached under the frame. I cut these sprockets off and used one very long chain, and a pair of TerraCycle idler assemblies to take up the slack. ( https://t-cycle.com/collections/idler-kits ) These idlers are worth their weight in gold, and I installed them on both of my Windcheetahs.
In addition, I installed a pair of Sturmy-Archer drum brakes as well as a Sturmy-Archer 3-speed rear end and 8-speed rear cassette (instead of trying to fit a front derailer.
Regarding poor handling issues, forget whatever you’ve read. I couldn’t tip the Masa over no matter how hard I tried. And because the axle is out front, “leg suck” isn’t an issue either. Even though mine was excessively heavy, it was still a fast, charming machine, though its large size made it difficult to store and transport.
Thanks for the detail that you shared with me regarding the MASA Slingshot. The part I am most happy about is the confirmation of it’s stability.
In my effort to attempt the first recreation, I have made the following assumptions: 1. 20” front wheels 2. 26” rear wheel (with a disk brake) 3. 2 metre (79”) wheel base (center to center of front to rear axle)
The frame I intend to make from mild steel tubing, just to establish architecture/geometry that works. The rest of the mechanics I’ll model from availible pictures.
The front steering is probably the most complex (ackerman geometry to be followed) The rear I should be able to model from pictures.
Can you perhaps do me a favour and confirm the above 3 dimensions?
In return I am willing to run up Cape Town’s “Table Mountain” and plant a flag with your name on out of gratitude 😊.
I can do with any help/advice you can provide in this beginning stage.
Kind regards Llewellyn Truter
I have a Masa Slingshot which I’ve modernized with Sturmey Archer drum brakes, a continuous chain and TerraCycle idlers replacing the original sprockets.
Just yesterday I rode the Masa 30 plus miles and have ridden high-speed tight circles with no sense of tipping.
In fact the Masa seems even more stable then my beloved Windcheetah which will get up onto two wheels if I take a corner too fast. I can’t imagine getting the Masa up on two wheels.
Furthermore, with the addition of the new idlers the Masa–while being much heavier then the Windcheetah–is very nearly as fast on level surfaces. Hills are a bit more of a struggle, but I’m planning on adding a Sram 3-speed rear hub in addition to the 7-speed cassette. That should really help on steeper hills.
This is only the second time I have ever seen one of these, and the last photos where not that great, and I don’t know to much about them.. But I’ll say this, it’s not a far stretch from our modern trikes of today…!