Many know of the late Sheldon Brown. He was an avid cyclist who was also a very knowledgeable and highly respected mechanic. BTW, he was also a tadpole trike rider. Here is a picture of him seated on his Greenspeed trike.
His web site continues on today years past his departure from us. One of the web pages is titled “Tricycles … not only for kids”. You can check it out by clicking HERE.
I purposely titled this “what I THINK I know about battery charging” for good reason. I only know what I have read and experienced thus far. I am certainly no expert and I readily admit that at times I have found what I have read a bit confusing and perhaps even contradictory. I have had 4 batteries thus far … all lithium ion and all 48 volts. What has been different about them is their capacity or power rating. I started out with a 6.6 aH Bionx battery that fit in a rear rack. I found that it was way too small. I ran out of battery power long before I was done riding each day. I used to carry the charger with me to recharge the battery while I was out riding … taking valuable time stopped to do this. Below is a picture of my trike stopped in a city park recharging the Bionx battery.
Bionx was good enough to allow me to return the battery to the dealer and get their largest battery … which is only 11.6aH … still not very powerful. I had problems with my Bionx system so I ended up returning everything for a refund as they either couldn’t or wouldn’t fix the issue I was experiencing. Next I got a 20aH battery which also mounted in a rear rack. Later I bought a second one and have one available as an extra battery if I need it or want to have it along with me although I usually only have one along with me.
In charging these batteries they each take a certain length of time based on two factors: 1) How far down in their charge level they are and 2) the charger being used to recharge them. BTW, a lithium ion battery should never be used beyond 80 % of its capacity. 20 % charge should remain in the battery. Naturally the larger the battery rating the longer it takes to recharge it unless one uses a more powerful charger. Lithium Ion batteries are best charged slowly. In fact, fast charging can harm them and reduce their life span. My 20aH batteries came with a 2 amp charger. That is a pretty small charger as far as chargers go. Yet there is a reason why the company selling them supplies this size charger. In short, it is to get maximum life out of the battery. There are lithium ion batteries out there that recharge in only 1 hour. That is because they are being charged fast. At 2 amps my 20aH batteries take about 10 hours to recharge (20 divided by 2 equals 10).
I recently bought a 5 amp charger after reading about this subject. 5 amps is as large as I dare go for fear of damaging the batteries. Even at 5 amps I am a bit concerned. I started using it and immediately was alarmed at the result as I thought I had already damaged the battery. I noticed that it did not charge up quite as much as it always had when using the 2 amp charger. I also noticed that as I started riding using it it seemed to run down quicker than it always had before. I decided to use the 2 amp charger again and much to my relief everything returned to normal … I had a fuller charge and once more was able to get the same distance out of the battery charge as I was getting before. WHEW! My battery is okay … at least as far as I can tell. After using the 2 amp charger again for about 3 days I went back to the 5 amp charger.
It usually takes about 5 hours to recharge the battery using the 5 amp charger. Doing the same math … 20 divided by 5 … one would think that it would take 4 hours. Again, I am no expert on this but I think the math comes out differently because in the recharging process the circuitry has built into it a slow down toward the final part of the process. Lithium ion batteries are a bit complicated and the charging process is also complicated. It is all very high tech and the circuitry has safeguards built into it. The same is true of the motor controller. Without this damage can and would occur. And fire is also a great concern. It is important that we always use proper equipment made for our e-system. BTW, even though I am back using the 5 amp charger I do not know at this time if I am shortening the life of my battery. I know I would be best off using the 2 amp charger most all of the time and only use the 5 amp charger if I am in a hurry.
E-assist has become extremely popular and with more and more trike riders getting it we need to know about our batteries and charging them. We need to be safe. We certainly don’t want to prematurely age our battery’s life nor have our earthly possessions going up in flame. We all want to …
I have had several different headlights and taillights over the years. I have liked all of them except one. I have always had what I considered bright and effective lights as far as “being seen” … which, of course, is what it is all about. This year I have had a new friend who bought a tadpole trike and we ride together sometimes. I could not help but notice his lights as they are quite bright … brighter than mine and I always thought my headlight was pretty bright and attention getting on flash mode. When I asked him about them he told me how cheap they are. I have been using lights which take AAA batteries. They are excellent lights and I am continuing to use them as back up. These lights my friend have are USB rechargeable. The light I had which I didn’t like was USB rechargeable and the battery didn’t last nearly long enough for my daily rides so I stopped using it. It was super bright for riding at night but it had a pulse mode instead of a flash mode. The pulse mode was about worthless. I ended up throwing the light away recently as it stopped working … would no longer turn on at all. It was the most expensive headlight I have ever bought so I was not a happy camper nor was I impressed with its failure which happened all too soon. Anyway that is past history now. I bought two sets of these lights like my friend has. They are amazingly cheap … only $12.99 for the set on Amazon. They have a one year warranty which the company is quick to honor.
As you can see the taillight is rather small but don’t let that fool you. That thing is very bright. The headlight is 300 lumen which is not an extremely powerful light for night riding but in my opinion one doesn’t need anything more than this in the daytime. It has excellent lens optics so it is super bright. I have found that the lens optics in lights make all the difference. One can have more light from 300 lumens with high quality lens optics than another light with 1000 lumens has with poor quality lens optics. I wish I could demonstrate this light set to you as I am sure you would agree and be very impressed.
It is said to last about 7.5 hours on flash mode and that is what I have been experiencing. Amazon shows 12 plus hours but the manufacturer’s website has 7.5 hours. The taillights are suppose to last about 5 hours on flash mode which is what I have been experiencing. My friend says that his last about 7 hours but I am skeptical of that.
For those in need of lights I recommend these. They get the job done and one certainly can’t complain about the price. For daytime riding they are superb … like I said … they are all that is needed. I don’t ride at night normally so I can’t comment about how well the headlight is for night time riding. Certainly with only 1.5 hours battery life on full steady on power mode it isn’t going to be a very long ride. Hey, at only $12.99 get at least two sets and have twice the brightness out there for night riding.
Here is what is shown on Amazon about this light set:
Micro USB rechargeable bike front light & tail light set – USB cord and a power source to recharge (computer, laptop or a cellphone Charger)
300 Lumen headlight with 3 light modes: Run time steady (1.6 hrs) – 1/2 steady (3+ hrs.)- flash (12+ hrs.). compact rear taillight with 3 modes – Run time steady (1.5 hrs.) – 1/2 steady (2+ hrs.)- flash (5+ hrs.), with side visibility
Quick release – taillights: rubber straps attach and detach from bike easily without tools. Headlights: quick release mount allows headlight to removed from mount and used as a flashlight/ safety lights or for emergencies
Durable & water resistant – solid construction and water resistant IP44 rating ensures the light will stand up to the elements
100% SATISFACTION : This product is covered by BV USA . We are so confident you will love this product that we offer 30 days money back with 1 year free replacement
Note … since I wrote this article I bought another USB rechargable headlight which was suppose to 1000 lumen and also a free taillight. The price was just slightly more than these others I wrote about above. When I received it the literature which came with it said that the light was only 450 lumen and there was no taillight shipped along with it. So now I am waiting for the seller to do whatever he is going to do. So far he hasn’t done much of anything. I ordered this new light because it has a diffuser lens which helps keep the light from shining up high and blinding people. It appears to be a well made headlight. I just hope they get this all straightened out. I am happy enough with the 450 lumen but if that is what they are sending out they need to change the ad since it clearly states 1000 lumen.
Yes, you read right. I asked “do you lube your tires & tubes?” Now I am not talking about using oil or grease. I am talking about using talcum powder (corn starch) … ie … baby powder. I don’t know about you but I hate getting flat tires. I would much rather be riding my trike than working on it. I used to get a lot of flats. I remedied that by using Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. However, that only eliminated those flats which were externally caused. I still occasionally got internally caused flats.
I don’t remember how I learned of using corn starch baby powder inside my tires and on my inner tubes but I tell ya it works … at least for me. I can’t remember the last time I had an internal flat. Well, actually I can as it was fairly recently. I learned a valuable lesson which I will write about in the next paragraph.
One thing I learned … make sure there is no moisture around inside of the tire or on the inner tube as that will cause the powder to clump together and become an abrasive which will cause an internal flat.
Yep, I always liberally apply it inside of my tires and use my fingers to spread it all over coating all of the inside. I do the same with the inner tube. It can be a bit messy but it is well worth it.
What does the baby powder do you ask? That is a fair enough question. Have you ever taken an inner tube out of a tire and had it stick to the tire requiring extra pull to get it loose? Have you seen the imprint on an inner tube from being pressed against something inside of the tire? On a trike turning a corner involves placing lateral (sideways) force on the wheels since the trike does not lean like a bicycle does. Those lateral forces work the tire on the rim … like taking your hand and pulling and pushing the tire from side to side on the rim. With that tire movement the inner tube inside is also effected. There is friction taking place and in time it can cause a hole to form in the inner tube. The baby powder helps to eliminate all of these things I have mentioned. The rubber surfaces are lubricated by the powder.
Like I said, it works for me and I highly recommend it. It will help you …
Early this morning while meeting up with some friends to ride together when I first arrived at the trailhead parking lot my one friend said to me that he saw me riding across the bridge which is about 3/8 of a mile away. He saw my florescent yellow and florescent orange safety flags. I have stressed over and over thru the years about the importance of good safety flags and bright flashing lights front and rear. We need to be seen! All too many trikers ride around with flags that just don’t do the job. Some of them are difficult to see when up close much less some distance away. I put some images together to give you an idea of how far away I was from my friend when he saw me. The first picture is of the bridge I was crossing at the time. The second picture if a satellite image of the area showing where he was (red X) and where I was (red arrow). The third picture was taken from the parking lot where he was looking to the bridge where I was.
I think that is pretty incredible for him to see me from that distance. Of course, all he saw was my flags. He could not actually see me.
I have had a few people locally make the exact same flags that I have. They have done so because they have seen for themselves how effective they are. A few years ago I was riding on a local trail which is “rural” away from the city. It follows a river so it meanders around a bit. There is lots of vegetation on both sides of the trail (trees, bushes, weeds, etc.) so most of the time one can’t see very far ahead. As I was riding along I saw something up ahead of me which caught my eye. I only saw it for a second or two. It was a very long ways ahead of me. I would guess it was about 3/4ths of a mile the first time I noticed it. I assumed it was a flashing yellow light on some sort of maintenance vehicle. I kept riding closing the distance and every once in awhile caught another glimpse of this “flash” of bright light thru very small gaps in the vegetative covering. I kept going getting closer and closer until finally I was able to see the source ahead of me. I was quite surprised and even more impressed when I discovered what I was seeing was two tadpole trikes being ridden by a man and wife couple whom I knew. They were flying flags just like mine … some of the ones who liked my flags so much that they copied them. Amazing! I saw at least one of them some 3/4 of a mile away in heavy vegetative cover.
I encourage every trike rider to take this matter seriously. Your very life may very well depend on it.
You can read more about my safety flags HERE with instructions on how to make them.
Be safe out there , KEEP ON TRIKIN’ and ENJOY THE RIDE!
A new safety product is coming out which may be of interest to some riders, especially if they ride on streets and roads. It is called The Lane Saver. It’s purpose is to help keep motor vehicle traffic a safe distance away from the cyclist.