Sooner or later a tadpole trike needs maintenance performed on it. Having a work stand can be quite handy and practical. The only drawback is lifting the trike up and down in and out of the work stand.
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Just like our cars and trucks are lifted up on a hoist so the mechanic can work on the vehicle a trike work stand makes the job much easier. There are only a very few manufactured work stands available to purchase and they can be costly. Many choose to make their own. Some make them out of metal while others use wood. One of the most popular means is PVC pipe and fittings. I have made two such work stands myself. One I made for my Catrike Trail trike and the other I made for a friend’s ICE trike. Of course, unlike the car hoist a trike work stand is usually not adjustable in height. Depending upon the individual person who will be working on the trike using the work stand the height of the work stand may want to be made different from one person to the other. As I already stated, lifting a trike up and down in and out of a work stand can be quite challenging so keep in mind that the higher the work stand is the more of a struggle it will be to accomplish the lifting.
Some use a regular bicycle work stand, but I think this is very impractical. First of all, you would no doubt have to have the help of another person to do so as it would be most difficult for one person to lift up the trike and get it positioned and then secured into the clamp. These bicycle work stands are designed for bicycles … not for tadpole trikes.
When fabricating a workstand keep in mind that you may not always have the same trike. If you make the work stand to “fit” a particular trike you may not be able to use it on a different trike should you replace the trike you made it for. You have the option of making the work stand adjustable. It will cost you more money and more work involved, but you would probably not have to ever make another one which can’t be said if you don’t make it adjustable.
To my way of thinking a work stand which adjusts vertically (independently front and back) in addition to length, width and angle of holders is the best design as it will accommodate any trike. Again, I personally think the wisest design is for the rear holding bracket to be on the main frame tube away from the chain run. As you can see in the image below this workstand has the rear holding brackets on the outer pieces of frame … right where the chain is. I think they built this thing backwards. Either that or they have the trike sitting on it backwards. 🙂
I just mentioned the matter of keeping the work stand frame away from the chain run. Another thing to keep in mind when making your own work stand is to make sure no part of the stand’s framework interferes with other parts of the trike … things like turning the front wheels both directions (including the steering parts … tie rods, handlebars, etc.) And yet another consideration is keeping the work stand frame far enough away from any area where you have to get your hands and arms in to perform work. Having the front support far apart on the crucifix will help with stability but it will also greatly reduce the area available for you to do the work on the trike.
A simple basic PVC work stand like the one pictured above can be made for approximately $25 to $35 for the materials involved. Notice the red lines I have added about half way up the vertical legs of the stand. I will refer to this further below in this article.
In making a trike work stand a practical option is to make the base so that is comes apart … a lower section to add on to the upper section to increase the overall height. The upper section can be used by itself and in doing so the trike can be much lower to the ground. The red lines I added in the image of the PVC stand is for the purpose of illustrating where to cut the legs and add couplers to connect the legs together and take them apart so that the upper section can be used by itself. If a large enough “table” is available the work stand could be sat on the table to obtain additional height such as pictured below although this work stand has no additional base to add to it. If you have the setup and space available in your work area this might be a practical approach as this work stand could be used on the floor as well.
Here is a work stand made of PVC which as you can see is quite low … just lifts the trike up enough to work on it.
Some work stands we see have the legs come straight down vertically while others come out on an angle making for a wider base.
A wider base provides more stability but those legs sticking out beyond the trike also can be troublesome getting in the way while trying to work on the trike. Also they greatly complicate the two section concept I mentioned above making it pretty much impossible to do. The strongest base is one with vertical legs although it won’t be quite as stable. Never the less, stability should not be an issue as long as the base isn’t too small in size.
To help protect the trike’s frame it is a good idea to place some sort of soft non- abrasive material on the contact points of the work stand.
I mentioned using individual lifting devices which only lift the trike up enough to work on it. This image shows some made of wood. However, they are considerably taller than what I am talking about. Of course, the height is optional … whatever one is comfortable with and fits the bill for them.
To be most honest I seldom use my work stand anymore as I don’t like the lifting and hassle involved. The older I get the less I like using it. 🙂 Instead, I use another work stand I made which is small and much lower to the ground and therefore much easier and practical to use. I can lift just one end up at a time if needed or both ends (which is rare). Sitting on the mechanic’s stool I can easily roll myself around the trike to work on it.use a similar stand for the front of my trike. It lifts the wheels up about 6 inches off of the floor making it ideal to work on while seated on the stool. This small work stand was quick and easy to make out of some scrap wood I had laying around.
For lifting the back of the trike an indoor trainer can be used although it can get in the way of some work one might want to perform so I don’t think this is very practical.
Another option is to simply use a rope, bungee cord, strap, etc. to suspend the back end of a trike up in the air to work on it. I usually use a couple of bungee cords to accomplish this. It is fast and easy with minimal effort involved lifting the trike. And using this method there is nothing in the way down around the trike frame where you will be working. The only downside to this is that the trike easily moves about since it is being suspended with rubber cords which stretch. Of course, you have to have some place up above the trike to fasten the other end of the bungee cord to. I use my garage door opener to hook a third bungee cord to the opener making a place to hook the other two to. The two bungee cords are hooked to the rear luggage rack.
Speaking of getting in the way … I want to be sure to mention that one needs to be careful when building a work stand not to have any of the framework positioned where it interferes with the chain run including where the chain moves to when shifted between the various sprockets. There is one factory manufactured work stand I have seen pictures of which did this. I don’t know what they were thinking of but it obviously would be a big problem if you are trying to work on the shifting.
Another work stand which some might find useful are the small portable type. As you can see in the picture below it lifts the trike up quite sufficiently so that work can be accomplished. They can also be used alongside the road/trail when something goes wrong and requires maintenance work.
This one above a fellow triker, Gary Bunting, designed and built. It will pivot to accommodate alignment where it is placed and is quite portable as it comes apart in sections to fit in panniers or whatever else one chooses to haul it in. It also has an extension which can be added for additional height.
Here is a video on one of the manufactured work stands which can be purchased:
original model is $169 plus shipping
Their premium model which is fully adjustable is currently $449 plus shipping.
Another excellent work stand comes from Sportscrafters and also sells for $449.
As you can see it adjusts all directions horizontally to fit the trike as well as vertically to adjust the work height. It also has built in tie downs so the trike can’t fall off.
And it folds up for storage …
Additional articles and resources:
Utah Trikes article
Trike Asylum article on Gary Bunting’s portable work stand
Trike Asylum article on aluminum work stand
stand for Catrike Villager
Here are some work stands for specific trikes, namely the Catrike 700:
straight legs above and slanted legs below
same as above showing dimensions
Lastly, since a PVC work stand is relatively lightweight one can fairly easily hang it up on a garage wall out of the way. Obviously they are rather large so they take up a lot of space sitting down on the floor. Mine just hangs on the wall anymore as I don’t use it and probably won’t anymore.
Most of these work stands made of PVC use 1.5 inch diameter piping and fittings. The fittings vary according to the design needs: 90 and 45 degree elbows, Tees, 4 ways, 3 way corner, etc. Here are some examples:
The fittings which cradle the frame have to be cut and shaped to fit the frame. I personally would smooth out the cutout and round off the corners some so that they were’t sharp edges.
And here is another website which has an article on trike workstands:
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