SPD SHOE CLEAT POSITION

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:
Email: wbarrere@gmail.com
Tel: 786-307-5986
He has a Facebook group page entitled RECUMBENT ONE.

Having the SPD cleats properly adjusted will help us to …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

FREE GIFT awaits you!

SHORT CRANKSETS/CRANKARMS

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!

powercranks2

For details on the Lasco cranks:  http://www.utahtrikes.com/PROD-498.html
For details on the Sugino cranks: http://www.utahtrikes.com/PROD-11618178.html

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.

crank-shorteners

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.

crankarm-length-calculator

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 …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

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.

crankarm-shortener

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT AWAITS YOU!

You are invited to come join the Tadpole Rider Facebook Group. Please note that in order to join you must first answer the two membership vetting questions and agree to comply with the group rules.

HELMETS … IS THERE REALLY A DIFFERENCE?

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.

bell_citi_helmets_whitelimegreen

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 Helmet.org: 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 …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

**********

I decided to add on the following to this article. It comes from the helmet.org 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!

Standards

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!”

FREE GIFT awaits you!

DID YOU EVER WANT TO GLOW IN THE DARK?

glow in the dark

 Have you ever wanted to glow in the dark without exposing yourself to high doses of radiation? Well, now you can, but only temporarily. Volvo, the Swedish car manufacturer, has teamed up with UK design company Grey London and startup Albedo100 to create a unique reflective spray paint designed to save cyclists’ lives. They have created a light-reflective spray designed to enhance the visibility of cyclists on city streets after dark. LifePaint is a washable material that can be applied to all manner of things — from helmets and clothes, to dog leads or backpacks — and lasts for around a week after being applied.

LifePaint by Volvo

Although the paint is invisible to the naked eye, and won’t damage or discolor fabrics, it dramatically glows in the glare of headlights, illuminating cyclists riding at night. Technically it is not paint; it’s a washable material that lasts about 10 days after application. It’s also completely invisible until it’s hit by the glare of a car’s headlights — then it glows. The spray isn’t available everywhere yet. Right now, it’s available in six cycling shops in Kent and London, and if it does well, Volvo may move the product internationally. Hey, if you wanted some of this product you should have been in London recently. Volvo gave away 2000 cans of it … thru local bike shops in the city.

As you can readily see in the image below this paint really does make a significant difference. The bicycle and rider that doesn’t have this paint applied is barely noticeable in comparison.

glow in the dark bikes

I remember watching a movie where someone sprayed a liquid mist onto themselves and others and it made them invisible. I could see where that could be very handy if such a product really existed. But, alas, it doesn’t. But, hey, this product does exist and when applied it makes a person visible along with just about anything else it would be sprayed on. So we can go from “Can you hear me now?” to “Can you see me now?”

BTW, I just discovered that there are at least a couple of similar products already available here in the U.S. and no doubt they are a whole lot less money. Also they are more of a regular and permanent paint. Being a regular paint means that they can’t be used on just anything, but spraying a bike/trike frame or wheels shouldn’t be any problem.

               Krylon glowz spray paint           reflective spray paint Rust-Oleum

Riding in the daytime or at night amid cars, trucks, buses, etc. can indeed be hazardous to your health. Anything which can help us be seen is a good thing and will help us to continue to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Safety while riding is and always should be a major concern. Bright flashing headlites and taillights are quite important as are highly visible safety flags. They help us to be seen. But what about being heard when that is needed? Horns and bells to the rescue. When it comes to horns is just being loud all that is needed? My response to that is most definitely no. I have a loud horn, but all too often it is like no one hears it. I get no reaction out of them. They just seem to ignore it. That’s not good. I have asked people … “Didn’t you hear my horn?” Their response was “Yes, but we didn’t know what it was so we didn’t pay any attention to it”. That is disappointing and a concern as my life as well as the welfare of others may depend upon it.

I personally have a MegaHorn which is supposedly 105 decibels. Like I said, I am not impressed with it for the reason I stated above. (I stopped using it and removed it.)

mega horn

Did you ever notice that most people seem to hear and react to car horns? (Click HERE if you want to listen to different car horns.) Actually a typical car horn is not all that loud decibel-wise. They are usually anywhere between 90 to 110 decibels. There are bicycle horns around that are rated at 130 to 140 decibels which I will cover further on in this article. Does the idea of having a loud horn that sounds like a car horn appeal to you? It does me.

There is a new product which fills the bill. This rascal isn’t cheap to buy ($95), but it is loud and it does sound like a car horn. Interestingly the name of this horn is “LOUD BICYCLE HORN“.

Product Specs:

Water resistant, you can use it in rain and snow
Loudness and pitch: just like a typical car horn
Honk duration: up to 30 seconds straight, but please be respectful
Batteries: Mini USB rechargeable, lithium batteries that will last 1-2 months on a charge
Dimensions: 6×4.5×4 inches at its widest extent
Weight: 1.5 lb

Here is what the manufacturer says about their product:

“We want biking on roads to be safer. Cycling on roads can be frightening and dangerous. This horn prevents accidents by alerting motorists with a familiar sound, and gives more people the confidence to travel by bike. Why does it work? Drivers react to car horns before they even look. A driver that gets beeped at while backing out of a driveway, or entering traffic will immediately brake. These kinds of reflexive reactions are perfect to keep cyclists safe. Some motorists don’t realize that their driving habits can be dangerous for cyclists. Drivers will learn to be more aware of cyclists after a Loud Bicycle horn is honked at them.”

$95 seems like an outrageous price, but then I have to ask myself … which is better and more sensible … to buy a loud horn for $25 to $40 that people ignore or spend $95 for a horn that people react to?

loud bicycle horn in box

I am not sure what one would be up against mounting it on a trike as it is designed to mount on bicycles. I assume something satisfactory could be figured out though. I definitely think that of all the bicycle horns out there this one would get the best results.

There are other horns on the market. Some are difinitely loud. Two that are rated at 140 decibels are the AirZound and the Hornit.

AirZound

Hornit

As for the Hornit, normally I am not much of a fan of the “electronic” chirping sound, but perhaps since it is quite loud it might be okay. The AirZound is popular. The main thing I have against the AirZound is the fact that it has to be pumped up with air. And having the extra compressed air bottle to mount and run the air tube between it and the actual horn … well, neither of these appeal to me. Comparing the two of them I think I prefer the Hornit.

For what it is worth I bought an AirZound horn and installed it. I was quite unimpressed with it. Quality wise I equate it with something one would find in a box of Cracker Jack caramel corn. I removed it and threw it away … a total waste of my money.

Other bicycle horns may not be as loud, but have other features such as a strobe light along with the horn. If people were looking in your general direction having a bright strobe light that lights up when the horn is sounded would be okay, but often times they are not looking your way and that is why you are honking your horn.  If they were looking your way, hopefully they would see your flashing strobe light you have on while riding. And they might even see your safety flags. I have had people tell me that they saw my flags before they saw my flashing lights even though the lights are quite bright and really get their attention. Anyway, here is one such horn … the Orp Smart Horn:

When I compare the sounds these different horns make I think the one that sounds like a car horn is most effective. I readily admit that it is just my opinion, but I fully agree with the manufacturer that people do pay attention to a car horn and immediately react either by braking, turning, moving over or at least looking.

But if you really want to be heard …

HERE is a lesser version (cheaper too).

Of course, I have been talking here about dealing with motorists for the most part. When it comes to dealing with pedestrians I try not to use a loud horn unless I find it necessary. Instead I use a squeeze bulb horn which is plenty loud and people notice it. Actually the volume level is easily adjustable … dependent upon how hard and forcibly you squeeze the bulb. It is actually a “kiddie horn” from Walmart which cost $5. I could not be happier with it. I sawed it off to shorten it which didn’t effect the sound or volume any. I enjoy using it on the trails and such especially where children are around as they like hearing it since it is a kiddie horn. I get lots of smiles from children and their parents. (If you want to hear this horn honk click HERE. It is heard at the beginning and at the end of this video.)

my squeezbulb horn

I like bells also but I no longer use them as I always have trouble with them ringing by themselves when I hit bumps. And it doesn’t take much of a bump to ring them. Even my expensive “ding dong” bell sounds off on bumps … just money wasted.

Update: I found a small size bell which works great. It is quite loud for such a little thing and doesn’t ring when hitting bumps. And it was inexpensive … less that $10.

And for the bell lovers out there …

In parting I just want to say that even if people on foot or roller skates, etc. are not following the rules and staying over to the side it doesn’t give us the right to run them over on our cycles. We need to check our attitude. Be kind to one another out there. It truly will pay off and help us to …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

FREE GIFT awaits you!

TIRE WIPERS … A GREAT IDEA

Every once in a while I come across something where I can’t help but say to myself “why didn’t I think of that?” Such is the case with this nifty little invention … tire wipers.

tires wipers

Using this little gadget helps clean off foreign matter which if left on the tire could work it’s way into the tire and cause a flat. I wonder how it would do with mud. I have more problem with mud than anything else. Anyway, at $18 they are affordable.

HERE is an article written about them and HERE is where to buy them.

tires wipers in package

The article says that they are installed at the exit (front edge) of your fenders. I would think they would be placed on the entry (rear edge) so that work to remove foreign matter as soon as possible. Also if they work for mud I would think they would be more effective wiping the tire of mud before it gets to the fenders. I could be wrong about this as far as which is more effective. Obviously on the front edge of the fender they would be facing the opposite direction from what they would face on the rear edge.

Looking at the picture I see the clear plastic tubing and notice that the steel is in two pieces with a gap in the middle of the plastic tubing. This obviously would allow the steel scraper to be able to move like it is hinged. I don’t know if this is needed but apparently the person making this has deemed it is. I would be curious as to how a solid piece of steel would work . I would think it would work fine with the possible exception of being a bit harder on the plastic fender where the unit mounts.

I may try making my own and making them a bit different to see if I can come up with something effective for removing the mud from the tires before it gets up into the fenders, brake levers, etc. Anyway, I wanted to share this product with you the reader in case you want to give these a try. They may help you to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

ELECTRIC ASSIST MOTORIZED “VELOCARS”

TRIKE TO THE FUTURE

It must be something in the water … seems everybody and their brother is getting into making electric assist motorized “velocars” (technically they are velomobiles) built upon a tadpole trike. Here are 3 of them … the ELF, the e-Fox and the Tripod. The concept is great. The problem I have with every design I have seen thus far is the fact that they make them too difficult to get in and out of. I mean, why not just put a door in the side like a regular car or truck has? Someone who is elderly, overweight and out of shape, or has various physical problems could not possibly deal with the design of these. I don’t understand the mentality here and I certainly don’t agree with it. It is flawed from the git go. If I were going to design one of these that would be one of the top priorities … easy entry and exit. I understand that the strongest body is one piece and that a door takes away from that. However, for me it is not an option. A door is essential. The designer just simply has to work with that. Well, I spun my wheels on that one. On with these 3 designs.

****************

The ELF made by Organic Transit is probably the best known of the 3 at this point in time so I will start off with it. One might say it has an “elfin” quality (pun intended). At 160 pounds it weighs considerably less than your more common family car (if you have a family car). BTW – I have seen the weight listed as 132 and 150 also, but their website shows 160 so that is what I am going with. It has a 350 pound payload. The electric motor is 750 Watt. It has a 15 mile range on a full charge. It takes 2.5 hours to charge plugged into a 110 volt wall outlet or about 7 hours using the solar panel on a sunny day. They offer 3 models.

ELF Bike

One thing I noticed about the ELF is that there is no floor in it. It is open to the ground. I see good and bad in this. The good is that one doesn’t have to worry about the floor being strong enough to put one’s weight on. In hot weather having air coming up thru the floor area would probably be a God-send. With no floor there is nothing to get messed up tracking all sorts of debris from one’s shoes. The bad is that one’s feet and legs could get injured if they go down and make contact with the ground while the trike is moving. Another bad aspect is that water and other “stuff” could and would come up on the rider. With no floor there is not anyway to carry stuff around that you might prefer to simply toss on the floor if there were one. In cold weather cold air would come up thru there. Hmmm, can’t seem to win for losing. No doubt being able to place one’s feet on the ground is the means of the “reverse gear” to back the velocar up.

ELF e-trike interior

ELF e-trike description

They offer a bunch of accessories. Check them out HERE. Doors (pictured below) can be added for about $200.

ELF e-trike doors

I mentioned that they offer 3 models. They are the basic model which is what I have shown in pictures thus far. The second model is a 2 seater. Actually I just discovered that they have a 3 seater as well.

ELF e-trike 2 seater

And the 3 rd model is … well, most of us wouldn’t qualify for it … it is for the police. Actually I am only kidding. I think anyone could buy this model. It has some extra features such as stronger motor and battery pack with higher speed and range on motor/battery only. It is even a traditonal police black and white vehicle … cute. Actually it is not just for police. Here is what they say … “community policing, events management, corporate and academic campus maintenance and grounds, and any situation where you need to all-day performance with heavy payload capabilities, comfort, visibility and more.” This model is heavier duty in most areas. It is also about 45 pounds or so heavier. Some of that extra weight is due to it having dual battery packs. We are talking a whopping 1000 watt electric motor and double battery pack enabling the trike to go 28 mph and 45 mile range on battery & motor only.

ELF e-trike police

HERE are the various models and features that can be ordered.

****************

Next let’s look at the e-Fox made by Nu Way 2 Commute out of North Carolina. It is built on a TerraTrike Rover.

Update Bulletin: I just read that the kickstarter fund raising for this e-trike was unsuccessful.

The Nu Wa y 2 Commute company website is no longer available.

So this project is dead in the water. Consequently I am not

going to spend much time and effort writing about it.

 e-fox

132 pounds, 36 volt 15 amp hour battery, 500 Watt hub motor, 30 miles per charge with upgrades available.

http://www.gizmag.com/e-fox-velomobile/29531/

****************

Lastly let’s look at the Tripod. It is made in Portland, Oregon by Columbia Cycle Works. The operator sits higher and more upright than most tadpole trikes. This helps not only to see better while traveling along, but it also helps others to see the operator of the vehicle and the vehicle better. It comes with a retractable battery-charging cord, lights, horn, and windshield wiper. The top part is removable. The windows open as does the sun roof. The top lifts up aided by gas filled struts so that one can get in and out of it. It has a 500 Watt hub motor which will propel the 110* (without a battery) pound vehicle up to the maximum legal speed allowed of 20 mph. Any faster than that you will probably find yourself dealing with the police. The Tripod doesn’t come with a battery so that means that the buyer has to come up with his own battery. The 110* pound weight I mentioned does not include a battery. An exterior keyed lock, locks the hatch when not in use. All 3 wheels have disc brakes. The Tripod comes in three bright colors: lime green, tangerine orange and canary yellow. The cost of a Tripod is US$7,450. Because Tripods are made to order, completion usually takes two to three weeks from the time of order. Also, because they are made to order a one-half purchase price non-refundable deposit must be received with the order. The remaining balance is due at the time of shipment. All purchases are handled by certified check or through Paypal.

tripod velomobile left side view

tripod velomobile front view

GIZMAG article

****************

Of the three of them it looks to me like the ELF would be the easiest to get in and out of although I would say even it would be a bit challenging for many folks. And the ELF is by far the cheapest base price. At least for far less money than the Tripod which doesn’t even come with a battery.  Batteries are not cheap so add that onto the price of the Tripod and you are definitely talking about some money. I really don’t understand the considerable difference in the price of these two machines. The Tripod is half again as much as the ELF, and did I mention that you still need to buy a battery?

****************

While I am at it I will mention one other brand that is out there … the HORNET. It is Canadian and is pretty much a velomobile built around a 350 Watt electric motor.  It is a little bit more than the ELF in cost, but far less than the Tripod. And it comes with a battery. There is no top for it however so the rider is exposed to the weather. This is a bare bones model. Lights and turn signals are extra cost accessories. A larger motor is also available as is a 26 inch rear wheel. Overall I am not impressed with this offering although I will say that is is one of the lowest cost velomobiles I have seen and it even comes with an electric motor. It is just not in the same category of these “velocars”.

Hornet velomobile

Gizmag article

****************

Well, that is it as far as these 3 offerings. What do you think? Are these “trikes to the future”? Hold on … next week there will probably be some other new offering. Everybody and his brother is getting into this. You knew that, right? It will be interesting to see if these trikes succeed and the companies can stay in business.

**********

FREE GIFT awaits you!

RAHT RACER – WOULD YOU BELIEVE?

RAHTMOBILE

recently discovered this human powered vehicle thru a posting on Facebook. It looks quite interesting. It is pretty hard to imagine pedaling along at 100 mph. It is not in production or available to purchase at this point in time. Right now they are involved in a Kickstarter startup program trying to raise $75,000 in hopes they can go into production and sales. RAHT is an abbreviation for “recumbent automotive human transport.” Seat belts, air bag, roll bar, GPS terrain sensing … it’s got it all. There is room enough inside to haul bunches of stuff and much more safely than trying to transport it on a bicycle.

Raht racer hybrid bike car left side

“The RAHT RACER is a power biking vehicle that uses state of the art pedal-electric hybrid technology to amplify pedal power, enabling the rider’s legs to propel the vehicle up to highway speeds, giving the rider the feeling of super strength. The result is a breathtaking new, Iron Man-like, power-sport experience. Safer than a motorcycle, or bicycle on a busy street, the Raht has an integrated roll cage, reinforced carbon fiber body and automotive safety features like headlights, tail lights, seat belts & air bag.”

It has a 20-kWh electric motor located in the rear wheel hub and a 9.2-kWh li-ion battery pack which can be charged from a standard 110 volt wall outlet when not being ridden.

This machine has HIGH SPEED PEDAL AMPLIFICATION … the system senses the pedal torque of the rider and boosts/amplifies it. The vehicle responds with sports-car acceleration and speed. If I understand this correctly it is saying that the harder you pedal the faster you will accelerate.

“On board computer runs workout programs while driving and displays driver performance information including the power generated, range extension, calories burned, etc.”

Raht Racer exercise workout

One thing I haven’t read about is whether or not it has a heater and defogger/defroster. I don’t see any windshield wiper either.

Raht Racer front

Raht racer left side

Raht Racer high output pedal generator

Raht racer pedal area

Raht Racer specs

It has a range of about 50 miles if used on throttle only mode (no pedaling to charge battery pack). Even that is impressive compared to most electric motorized trikes.

“Raht racer is versatile – You never have to pedal if you don’t want to. Throttle can be used instead of pedaling.” They say that “Full-out, throttle mode will take the vehicle to a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h).”  WOW as in WOW!!!  Well, moving right along (and that surely is) …

They have a Facebook page.  On their FB page they call it “RAHT Mobile”. 🙂 Do you suppose we might spot Eric VonZipper sitting inside one of these? After all he he the leader of the Rats, ya know.

Here is the GIZMAG ariticle on the Raht Racer.

And HERE is another article found online.

It has been said that life on planet earth has become a “rat race” for many of it’s inhabitants. Perhaps sitting inside one of these RAHT Racers pedaling away would help cope with life as we know it. Hey, if you are going to be caught up in a rat race you might as well be in a raht mobile.

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

GOTTA DO YOUR HOMEWORK

homework

have entitled this “Gotta Do Your Homework”. Many of us didn’t like doing homework when we were in school. We might have even cheated in various ways to get out of it. Sometimes we might even have gotten away with it. But I am here to tell you that when it comes to building a tadpole trike you intend to ride (or provide for someone else to ride) human life is at stake. In short, you had better know what you are doing and do it right. Probably the most important aspect of this the steering geometry. It is complex and has to be correct. If not the trike won’t ride and handle correctly or be safe to ride. It is a most serious matter.

I have written a few articles on this blog in the past about the construction of homemade tadpole trikes and listed various resources there in those articles. I thought I would revisit the subject now and attempt to put all the stuff together here so it would make it easier for anyone looking for help in this.

DECISIONS, DECISIONS … WHICH TRIKE TO BUY

Another nasty winter day is here and so I am working on this blog trying to come up with something to post on it. I came across this video. I had watched it before quite some time ago and life went on. I didn’t realize that one of the people featured in it is someone I have come to know about since then. Upon revisiting the video I made the discovery. So without further ado here is Matt Galat checking out trikes at a dealership.

Of course, the trike he has now (the one he was riding when the wreck happened … when he got hit by a truck over in China) is none of these trikes mentioned in the video. That trike was an HP Velotecknik fx26 Scorpion.

TIRE CHOICES

personally have long been a fan of Schwalbe tires. Among the offerings of Schwalbe are several different tires to choose from. My first exposure to Schwalbe tires was when I bought my Catrike Trail. When I had my first flat tire I discovered something about Schwalbe tires that I had never experienced before with any other tire. It was extremely easy to install and uninstall on the rim. This really impressed me as over the years I have had numerous tires which were much more difficult to install and uninstall. I have never known of a tire that was so easy to work with. (See my update below.)

My Catrike Trail came with Schwalbe Marathon Racers installed. When it was time to get new tires I decided to try one of Schwalbe’s other offerings as I didn’t care all that much for the Marathon Racers. Since then I have used Marathons, Kojaks, and Trykers.

Speaking of Kojak tires … have you seen this picture? Pretty incredible, huh? Of course, it is fake. The riders  are supporting themselves with their legs holding themselves and the bikes up in the position you see. Kojaks do have excellent traction but no tire could do what is shown here.

I had intended to try Big Apples, but when I tried the Marathon Plus I fell in love with them and have not used anything else since. (See update below)

I must insert here that as I stated above all of the other Schwalbe tires were easy to get on and off of the rims … in fact, they practically fall on and off. 🙂  The Marathon Plus tires are another matter. As much as I love them they are far more challenging to install and uninstall. Even so, once you learn how to do it it becomes much easier. I also discovered that not all rims are created equal. I received a rim from Golden Motors with a hub motor laced in it. It was extremely difficult to mount a Marathon Plus tire on it. I had to use tire tools to get it on … something I never do on the rims Catrike uses.

I had started out to write this article about Schwalbe Big Apple tires, but as I researched tires I came across other brands out there to choose from. I want to state upfront that I have absolutely no personal experience with any other tires on my Catrike tadpole trike than those I listed above. Since this is true I cannot personally comment on any other tires. I will, however, report what I have read about them. I did have my homemade tadpole trike on which I installed Kenda Kwest 100 psi tires. They were ok, but not near the tire the Schwalbes are. They just aren’t in the same league.

For one reason or another some trike owners are wanting to go with “fat tires” on their trikes. Now when I say fat tires I am not talking about the new extremely wide tires like this:

fat tire trike

Those are definitely fat, but I am here to say that they are an entirely different animal. No, what I am talking about is a little more tame than these. I mentioned the Schwalbe Big Apple tires so I will start off with those. They are truly reminiscent of the “balloon tires” from yesteryear which were around when I grew up. Of course, they are still available today and we see them on bicycles.

big apple tire

The Big Apple is 2.35 inches in width. It is also available in 2.0 inch width. My trike came with 1.5 inch width tires. My Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires I use now are 1.75 inches wide. So you can see the 2.35 is quite a jump. Other than frame width on the rear the only limiting factor for wide tires I can think of is the use of fenders. On my trike the use of the 1.75 width tire required slight modification to my fender brackets. I bent them out for additional clearance. I don’t think I could install Big Apple tires on my trike without doing something additional to my fenders. The Big Apple is a 70 psi maximum tire. A common term found online when looking up the Big Apple tire is “built in suspension”.

Another offering I know of is the Maxxis Hookworm tire. It is reported to be pretty tough tire. It is also a very heavy tire. Most of what I have read about this tire is good, however one thing several people mentioned is that the rolling resistance and ride comfort is far better with the Schwalbe Big Apple tires. That stands to reason about the ride comfort since these Maxxis Hookworm tires are so tough and firm.

Maxxis Hookworm

The Maxxis Hookworm is a high pressure tire capable of holding 100 psi. It is a 1.95 width.

There are other tires also in the “normal” width range like what came on my trike. One of them is the Greenspeed Scorcher. This tire is 1.5 inches in width.

  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It comes in 3 choices: standard, HD which stands for heavy duty and has a motorcycle tire casing, and TR (thorn resistant) which has a Kevlar belt.  They are all also high pressure tires … 100 psi maximum. Greenspeed says that these tires are lightweight and designed for good rolling resistance. They have built in wear indicators. These tires seem to have mixed reviews. I just read one that these tires do not hold up well at all and the users went back to Schwalbe tires. HERE is the review I read. And here is the particular part I am referring to:

My wife and her parents are on tour right now, and so far my in-laws have had 4 Scorchers disintegrate in the first 200 miles of riding, some of the tires with less than 50 miles on them. Not a good record. They had to have a batch of Schwalbe Marathons Fed-Ex’d to them so they could continue.”

To be fair it might be a quality control issue as even Schwalbe has had some issues with certain tires. Some users had problems/failures/disappointments and others did not.

Primo makes the Comet tire with Kevlar. It is 1.5 inch width and has a maximum pressure of 100 psi.

Primo Comet tire

Just a note here about Kevlar belt protection … Here is a picture showing a typical Kevlar belt in a tire and the same tire without the belt:

Kevlar belt comparison

As you can see the Kevlar belt is quite thin. Now compare this protection with what is found in the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire:

Marathon Plus cutaway

Quite a difference for sure! The fact that they rarely have a flat and they still ride and handle great is sufficient in itself to sell me on them, but they also wear great … I have been getting 2.5 to 3 times as many miles out of them as I did any other tires I have used. HERE is an article I wrote on the Marathon Plus tires. They not only offer excellent flat protection with this thicker belt but the rubber is a different compound than their other tires. It is just plain tougher. I used to get a lot of cuts in all the other Schwalbe tires I used. These Marathon Plus tires rarely get any cuts and they just hold up so much better. In over 13,000 miles of riding on Marathon Plus tires I have had one flat which was just recently and it was a matter of failure of the inner tube and no fault of the tire.

Now if you still aren’t sold on the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires HERE is Hostel Shoppe’s webpage listing the tires they carry for the 20 inch 406 rims. As you can see there are quite a few to select from. Yes, there are other tires available which will fit the 20 inch 406 rims of recumbents, however, some of them I would not recommend as they just are not the same quality as these premium tires I have covered here. They won’t ride or handle as good nor wear as good. Some are much lower pressure tires so they won’t be able to provide the speed some riders want and it takes more physical effort to pedal the trike along due to the higher rolling resistance of a lower pressure tire. Some tires are quite cheap in comparison to these premium tires. Just remember … “you usually get what you pay for” … and as Benjamin Franklin said “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. Going with a good quality tire on your trike will help you …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

UPDATE 9/13/19

I now have over 80,000 miles on my trike. The vast majority of those miles have been ridden on Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. I tried the 1.35 ” width but didn’t care for them … if for no other reason than the fact that I didn’t get near the wear out of them as I do the 1.75 ” width. I have been getting about 13,000 miles out of the 1.75 ” width tires. That is 3 to 4 times as much mileage as I got out of any other tire I have tried. Oh by the way, I never tried Big Apple tires, but I did try Big Ben tires. I liked them but they are not as flat resistant as the Marathon Plus and they did not get wear so I switched back to Marathon Plus. I don’t like having flats. I much prefer to be riding my trike and not dealing with a flat tire while out riding. I had a couple of flats with the Big Ben tires. That is a whole lot less than I used to have before I switched to Marathon Plus but even one flat is more than I care to deal with when it isn’t necessary. I have never had an externally caused flat with Marathon Plus tires. I have had a few internally caused flats over the years where the inner tube failed. I have learned to use an ample amount of talcum powder (baby powder) coating the inside of the tire and the outside of the inner tube during the process of installing a tire on a rim. That has almost completely eliminated internal flats so now I can just simply …

ENJOY THE RIDE AND KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

HOW A BICYCLE HELMET IS MADE

am almost 68 years old as I compose this article. I started riding bicycles when I was about 5 or 6 years old. To the best of my knowledge bicycle helmets didn’t exist anytime during my childhood including my teen years. At least I never heard of them. The year 1970 seems to appear when trying to do a quick research concerning bicycle helmets. I was 23 years old then. Anyway, like most people my age, I didn’t wear a helmet while bicycling as they just weren’t around then. Over the last many years I believe strongly in wearing them on a bicycle and I do if and when I ride a bike (which is rare nowadays). I stumbled upon this YouTube video about how these helmets are made and found it interesting. So I thought I would share it here.

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

TIRE OVER-INFLATION

tire sidewall separation

It’s not a pretty sight, is it? I know. I had it happen to a winter knobby tire a couple of years ago. I knowingly over-inflated it by about 10 psi and while out riding the tire opened up a whole lot … the cords quite literally separated. I wish I would have taken a picture of the tire as it would have made a very good illustration as to why you should not over-inflate a tire. I have not been able to find any pictures online that look anything at all like the tire that I had which failed.

 I am sure that just how much concern there should be and resulting damage that could happen is dependent upon the brand of tire. What I am saying is that there is a difference in the quality of tires in their construction. The tire I over-inflated and suffered extreme damage was an off brand Chinese made tire. The regular tires I run, Schwalbe Marathon Plus, I am pretty sure I could over-inflate by more than 10 psi and nothing would happen to them. They are very well made and could take it I think.

Speaking of Schwalbe tires HERE is their webpage about tire wear and premature failure.

tire overinflation damage 2

Anyway, it makes no sense to pay out good money for tires and then destroy them by not following the manufacturer’s instructions on tire inflation. The tire I destroyed was still like new as far as tread wear. I learned my lesson. I don’t care to lose any other tires before their time. Even if you don’t experience the tire self destructing, over-inflating a tire makes it more prone to being damaged by running over objects such as stones, holes in the pavement … most anything which produces sudden shock to the tire. Over-inflation will also likely effect tire wear. Usually the wear will be uneven.

Inflating a bicycle tire with a hand pump the air goes in slowly. Inflating it with an air compressor is another story. Since a bicycle tire is a relatively small area it will pump up fast with an air compressor and can easily be over-inflated quickly if attention is not paid during the process.  Over-inflating a tire can also result in the tire coming off of the rim. It may not happen immediately but rather it is most likely to happen while you are out riding. This, of course, means that you will have a pretty serious mechanical breakdown that you may not be able to handle unless you are mechanically inclined, knowledgeable and equipped to deal with it.

Over-inflating a tire will result in a harsher ride … something most of us would prefer to avoid. Some people run their tires low on pressure so that they will have a softer ride. Under-inflation is not good for a tire either. Tires should be inflated somewhere within the range shown on the sidewall of the tire. Over-inflation will decrease rolling resistance while under-inflation will result in higher rolling resistance. Even inflating the tire anywhere within the proper range will have this same result. A tire which has a range of 70 to 100 psi will have less rolling resistance at 100 and more rolling resistance at 70. Under-inflation can also result in more flat tires and damage to the wheel. Over-inflation can also lead to wheel damage. Both over-inflation and under-inflation can adversely effect handling.

You might be tempted to over-inflate your tires to decrease rolling resistance. I was. I paid a price for it. I advise you not to do it. It could result in more damage than simply replacing a tire prematurely. I think we all want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

BTW … UNDER INFLATION can also damage a tire and cause premature failure and need of replacement. Here is a picture of a tire with fatigue cracks from under inflation. Such cracks weaken the sidewall and allow the internal pressure from the inner tube to “work” on it until they open up further and totally fail. You might hear an explosion when that happens.

fatigue cracks from under inflation

FREE GIFT awaits you!

WHAT IS YOUR ANGLE?

ANGLE FINDER

Sure you’ve got an angle! I won’t go so far as to say all God’s children have an angle, but if you ride a tadpole trike I am most certain of it. Tadpole trikes are not called recumbent for nothing, ya know. The word recumbent means “laid back” or “reclined”. That is part of what makes a tadpole trike so comfortable. I like to kid about it saying that “the hardest part about riding a tadpole trike is trying to stay awake”.

So again I ask you … what is your angle? By now everyone should have figured out that I am talking about the seat back angle … how far you are reclined. The seat back angle on tadpole trikes vary considerably. Some are quite upright while others are very reclined. And there are those who prefer one over the other or somewhere in between. Sitting very upright is a matter of better visibility and comfort for some. Being very reclined is a matter of being more streamlined so one can go faster as well as being more comfortable as well. That may sound rather strange to say that both claim more comfort. I won’t get into the middle of that discussion as it probably wouldn’t be wise to do so. I will just assert the well known saying … “differnet strokes for different folks”.

Anyway my understanding is that the range of inclination for tadpole trikes goes from about 75 degrees to about 25 degrees. That is quite a difference … 50 degrees difference  to be exact. Most trikes are somewhere in between those numbers. Mine, for instance, is 45 degrees. I like my seat angle, but I wish I could recline on back another 10 degrees. I have no desire to be up any more than I am now however. There may come a time when I will want to sit more upright, but for now I enjoy being relined. But at my age I am concerned about falling asleep if I get too comfortable.  🙂

After all I do want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE?

If you happen to live in a place where you have winter to contend with I want to propose a question to you. Where do you draw the line? I am talking about “what is the lowest temperature you will venture out in?” In the image of the thermometer below I have drawn some lines to illustrate my point. The names I just made up other than my own. And where my name appears is pretty much where I draw the line for myself … about 10 degrees F. is about as cold of weather I will consider going out in. And who knows, that line might change as time passes. I am sure it won’t go any lower but there is a good chance it will go higher.

thermometer

For sure we are all different and we can’t all tolerate the cold the same. We can bundle up only so much and still be able to function. Some of us have more trouble than others keeping our extremities warm. I am talking about our hands, ears and our feet mostly. For some of us bundling up means covering nearly every square inch of our bodies including our faces. It has to be mighty cold for me to do that. I would be miserably hot if I covered my face. I have had to remove such covering many times after donning it as I got too warm with it on.

pace p3 plus face mask

Like I said, we are all different. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. We each have to make the determination as to where we draw the line. We should all do our best we can to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

Hmmm, now that I am thinking about it I am tempted to redraw my line (and it won’t be lower). I can tell I am getting older.

THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU

Yes, if you aren’t careful this could happen to you. They say a picture (in this case a series of them) is worth a thousand words. So I will show the pictures and save myself a whole lot of typing …

ooops ... wipe out on trike 1

ooops ... wipe out on trike 2

ooops ... wipe out on trike 3

ooops ... wipe out on trike 5

ooops ... wipe out on trike 6

ooops ... wipe out on trike 7

ooops ... wipe out on trike 8

Ouch! If nothing else happened here there is definitely a bad case of road rash. You can tell by the expression on his face that something is hurting. All I can say is … “been there, done that … and not anxious to repeat it”. Preventing this from happening is a matter of either leaning in sufficiently or slowing down sufficiently or perhaps both. You can see in the first picture that the rider is leaning in, yet this wipeout still happened. I am not sure what happened. I don’t know if leaning in more would have prevented it or not. This can happen so very fast and there is nothing much one can do to prevent it once it starts. Sometimes all it takes is for a tire to go into something (such as a dip, depression or ripple in the pavement … or something sticking up above the pavement) as it is moving laterally and the tire will sort of grab and the trike can readily flip over. It could be a wet slick spot on the pavement that allows the tire to slide and then grab as it hits dry non slick pavement. On a bicycle this is extremely dangerous as the bike can be violently thrown down to the pavement when the tire suddenly grabs.

Keep in mind also that the higher off of the ground you sit the higher the center of gravity is. And this equates to the easier it is for the trike to tip over. Also if you have a trike which allows the seat to be adjusted to various locations including the seat back angle these adjustments change the handling characteristics.  Seats that can be adjusted forward and backwards are the most concern in this regard.

Tadpole trikes have their limits and so do we. Soooooo …. be careful out there! I am fairly sure that we all want to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

DOES RIDING A TADPOLE TRIKE MEAN YOU ARE HANDICAPPED?

am sure I am not alone. More than once I have had people say or do something which clearly indicated they thought I have some sort of a physical handicap because I am riding on my tadpole trike. Most certainly there are people with varying physical problems that ride both tadpole trikes and delta trikes. These trikes are great for enabling such folks the ability to ride when they probably would not be able to otherwise on traditional bicycles or perhaps even tricycles. Just a few weeks ago I had a couple of road construction workers come running over to my aid when they thought I was in trouble. They thought I was handicapped and couldn’t get myself going. Even after I told them I was not and that I was okay they still seemed to continue to think that I needed help and acted as if they hadn’t even heard me. I have had people ask me if I was injured while serving in the military.  I have had to explain to them that the trike is simply a human powered vehicle like a bicycle.

People sometimes tend to think improperly about things they are not familiar with and don’t understand anything about. I guess I can understand that even though when this happens it is almost laughable at times.

As I mentioned recumbent trikes can be adapted for use by those who are handicapped so this is a good thing. I have come across stroke victims who do great on a tadpole or delta trike. Sometimes a tandem trike is needed as the handicapped person is not able to handle riding a trike on their own. The physical problem may be something as basic as balance. They can no longer ride a bicycle but they do fine on a trike.

Whether the trike pilot is handicapped or not may we all …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A MAGNET FOR WOOD

To the best of my knowledge and understanding there is not and cannot be such a thing as a magnet which attracts wood. However, a tadpole trike seems to do a pretty good job of attracting wood (tree branches/twigs), weeds, etc. I am continually amazed at the number of times I see it happen. A trike with a 20 inch rear wheel seems to be worse than a trike with a 26 inch or a 700 wheel. That’s because they being smaller in diameter allow the rear derailleur to be down nearer to the ground making it even more susceptible to this.

We need to be careful while riding so that we do what we can to prevent damage from occurring to our trikes. A tree branch can readily go into our spokes or into our rear derailleur or both. If this happens it is all to easy for damage to occur.

I had it happen to me several years ago. A tree limb I failed to see (because I was concentrating on vehicular traffic in a street I was trying to cross) came flying up from my left front tire and went right into my rear wheel destroying a few spokes and going on into my rear derailleur. The result was instant hard braking (my rear tire slid to a stop) and the rear derailleur looked like a pretzel. It went right over into the spokes of the rear wheel. The tree branch was about 5/8 to 3/4 inch in diameter and about 30 inches long. Fortunately I was able to straighten my bent up derailleur sufficiently by hand (brute strength) to get it to work enough to ride on and eventually get back home. Upon arriving home I attempted to make a more permanent repair by taking the derailleur off and apart. I got it fairly straight but just couldn’t get it to shift quite right. It turned out that my derailleur hanger got bent some also. I took it off and attempted to salvage it. It looked pretty good when I got done with it, but it apparently wasn’t. I just couldn’t get the shifting to work as good as before. I had to order a new derailleur hanger from Catrike. I ordered a spare while I was at it. Upon replacing the derailleur hanger, the rear derailleur and a few spokes playing “pick up sticks” cost me about $90 (and that was doing it all myself). It would have been far more expensive if I had to hire it done. Although the picture below is of a diamond frame bicycle it shows a rear derailleur bent over into the spokes.

derailleur into spokes

So what I am trying to say here is try to avoid running over such things. Riding alongside of another trike or bike can result in this happening as they can readily flip such an object your way. While I am discussing this an even greater concern is having a foreign object flipped up and into your eye or teeth. That could be a whole lot worse scenario than having parts on your trike damaged. I make a habit of tossing any and all such threats off of the surface of the trail while I ride along. Then I don’t have to concern myself with it and I have done a service for my fellow trail users. Only problem is my fingers are considerably shorter than they used to be. 🙂

If you are riding along and suddenly feel resistance while you are trying to pedal you should stop pedaling immediately and come to a stop as quickly as you safely can. Then dismount and look your trike over as it is quite possible you have picked up something in the chain/derailleur or wheel. If you continue to pedal or go further forward more damage will occur.

If at all possible it is much better to leave this matter of picking up sticks to ol’ Fido …

puppy with stick

He gets “mucho” enjoyment out of it while you won’t.

If you can manage to avoid using your trike as a magnet for wood it will better enable you to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

BEAUTY & WONDER ALL AROUND

pufferbelly sign

This morning I went for a ride on one of our local trails I seldom ride on. It is a rails to trails trail called the Pufferbelly Trail (named after the steam locomotives which used to run on this railroad track). It is a really nice trail and rather busy (popular), but it is far away from me and short in length … only one mile is completed so far and not connected to any of the other trails at this time (other than a two mile loop around an adjacent YMCA and farm property). It is part of a rails to trails project which when completed (if it ever is) will be a very long trail … approximately 80 miles is what I understand. I don’t think they have a name for this planned trail yet. When dealing with the government there is always so much red tape and delay in trying to get anything done. Fort Wayne and Allen County’s portion will be about 13 miles long and it will be known by this name. They have “broken ground” earlier this summer on the next 1.25 mile section to the north. This trail is going to be within yards of the back side of Fort Wayne’s largest bicycle shop (Summit City Bicycle) so that will be great both for the shop and for bicyclists. Because this trail is far away from me and so short in length it is not practical for me to ride it. Like I said, hopefully someday it will be completed and will connect to other trails so that I can ride to it instead of having to drive to it and unload my trike to ride it like I do now. A 13 mile or so drive one way just to ride on one mile of trail isn’t too practical.

Pufferbelly Trail swamp 2

There is a real pretty swampy area alongside the trail. This picture doesn’t capture the beauty I saw today. It will be getting even prettier as the Autumn change of leaf colors come on. There is a park bench there to sit on and take it all in. I got to thinking about all the beauty of nature the Lord Jesus Christ has created which we can enjoy.

For those who live where there are 4 seasons there are some things unique to each season.

leaf covered boardwalk

autumn leaves

We are coming into the Autumn season and soon the leaves will be changed over to their beautiful colors.  Of course, they will be falling and hiding the surface of the trails making it interesting, challenging and a bit dangerous to ride. When the front wheel goes off the edge of the trail because you can’t see the edge it can be all of the above. If your front wheel drops off the edge of the pavement be careful as you could wreck trying to get back up onto the pavement.

tadpole trike in snow

snow covered road & trees

Following Autumn comes Winter for those who live in a northern climate. Snow is always pretty as are ice storms although I don’t wish the latter on anybody. Riding along under trees covered with ice is very dangerous as that stuff tends to come off and gravity brings it down on us. That could really mess up not only your ride but your day. Like I said, snow is pretty, but it sure isn’t any fun to try to ride thru, especially if there is any depth to it or if it is a wet heavy snow. The front wheels of a tadpole trike just don’t want to roll thru much more than 2 or 3 inches of light “dry” snow and the rear wheel loses traction pretty easily, especially if you don’t have some sort of winter tire replacing the standard tire. I personally use an aggressive knobby tire on the back during the winter. It makes a world of difference.

pink blossoms on trees

Spring flowers

 

Springtime is up next with it new green buds and grass, pink and white blossoms, and other pretty colors. And sooner or later flowers come into bloom which are always pretty.

Fort Wayne Trail summertime

Summer brings us full circle and usually comes all too quick as far as I am concerned. (I like a long Springtime and Fall but a short summer as I don’t like heat. It is even worse if there is also humidity. I couldn’t survive down in the deep South, especially Florida. It is bad enough here in northern Indiana.) Anyway, we have to deal with whatever weather we get. Summertime is usually quite green unless we go without rain for a long time and things brown and dry up. That’s not so pretty. Of course, the weeds are usually green regardless.

Four Seasons and all they bring with them their particular beauty and wonder. Man can paint some awesome scenes but only Jesus can and does create the originals. Man only duplicates as best he can in artwork. I try to ride year round so long as the weather cooperates sufficiently. I know many of you do as well. So let’s all try to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

BTW, since I first wrote this article the several more miles of the Pufferbelly Trail have been built and more are planned this year. As it is built northward our local efforts will end at the county line and then it becomes the responsibility of the next county north of us to continue it on to the next county line where the next county north will have to continue it. Right now in 2021 there are still about 4.3 miles to be built further north in the Fort Wayne area to reach to county line. There is still some more to be built southward as well to connect to what is already built further south. The trail will cross a busy highway, Indiana 930, which will be challenging. Eventually a bridge up and over the roadway is planned but that will be costly and won’t happen for awhile.

If you ever have the opportunity to ride on the Pufferbelly Trail beware that it is said that you may encounter a real true “Pufferbelly” locomotive out there … truly from the distant past.

 

Don’t worry. He’ll have trouble getting past that bollard.

OBSTACLES WE ENCOUNTER

Life is full of obstacles and while riding our trikes it is no exception. Whether it be natural such as a fallen tree, a flood, etc. or man-made such as a barricade set up, a bollard, a kissing gate (how many of you know what that is?), a detour or road/trail closed sign, or some other nifty thing placed in front of us … they all accomplish the same thing … slowing us down, making things more difficult, costing more time and effort, causing us to turn back having to give up progressing onward … at least on that particular pathway we are attempting to travel on.

fallen tree on trail

It is a lot easier for a person on foot or a bicycle to deal with this than it is for a trike rider.

flooded trail 2

Encountering flood water and attempting to ride thru it can be risky business. It just may be deeper than anticipated and you can get a sitting bath. If the water is cold and/or nasty that isn’t so good. I speak from experience.

kissing gate

This is a kissing gate … try to get thru that on a trike. Some are made so you can, but this one above isn’t one of them. The one pictured below a trike can get thru, but just barely. These certainly are not very convenient. Here is a video of a tadpole trike rider and his wife dealing with a kissing gate:

Bollards just usually slow us down, but some are spaced too close together for a trike to get thru. For sure be careful when approaching bollards. They have a nasty habit of jumping right out in front of tadpole trikes. 🙂

bollards 2

I see these signs a whole lot more than I care to … mostly due to trail flooding from the rivers they run alongside of.

trail closed sign 2

As a volunteer Greenway Ranger for our local trail system I report problems I encounter while out on the trails and many of them I take care of myself as long as I can. I cut and remove lots of fallen trees and tree branches. I like riding on the trails so I do what I can to help keep them open.

Well, all I know to say is … OBSTACLES? … YOU’LL HAVE THAT! … Let’s all try to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!