HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT?

HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT? <You can laugh now.> Believe it or not, I have been asked that questions 2 or 3 times over the years. At first I thought the person asking it was joking with me, but I soon learned that they were serious. I mean, just how do you answer a question like that? So now I sometimes joke with others saying that the hardest thing about riding a tadpole trike is learning how to balance it. And, yes, I sometimes get some looks from people as they think I am being serious. I guess some folks just don’t recognize humor when they hear it.

One thing for sure, tadpole trikes attract attention as they still are not all that commonplace. When people see them they look with great interest. Sometimes they stop and look the trike(s) over. If the “pilot” is around they often will start a conversation asking questions about the trike(s). Even if no questions are asked we often see a thumbs up or hear comments like “I really like your ‘bike’ ” … or … “that’s really neat!” … or … “I want one!”

Probably the most common question I hear asked is “how do you steer it?”  Probably the second most common question I hear asked is “is that thing comfortable?”.  I have to admit I would put that question in the same category as “how do you balance that?” Probably the third most common question I hear asked is “how much does it cost?” followed by “where can you buy one?” And when I say followed by I don’t mean they ask that question following the question about cost. I mean it as the 4th most common question asked. A much more rare question asked is “are you handicapped”? Apparently some people think one would have to handicapped to ride such a machine.

Q&A

Yes, questions … we get questions. They go with the territory I reckon. That is, having a tadpole trike means people will ask such questions so we need to avail ourselves to answer them as ambassadors for these wonderful machines. I try to take all the time I can to answer all their questions. Let’s just hope that tadpole trikes won’t become common place. I think I would prefer to answer all the questions than deal with lots of tadpole trikes clogging up the trails and streets. 🙂  As expensive as these trikes are it is a pretty safe bet that most folks aren’t going to rush out and buy one.

ENJOY THE RIDE

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

REPAIR WELDING OF A CRACKED ALUMINUM FRAME

fellow tadpole rider I know stopped by my house recently. (His stop had nothing to do with this subject.) While he was here he told me that the frame of his ActionBent trike was broken at the crucifix. He mentioned getting it welded. Being a professional weldor (now retired) I told him that the aluminum frame is heat treated and that complicates things as far as welding it. I cautioned him about not just taking it anywhere to get it welded … that he needs to find someone who is not only very knowledgeable but capable of doing the job right. I want to state upfront that although I am a very good weldor and was highly certified, I make no profession of being very knowledgeable and capable of doing the repair weld on his trike. First of all, I no longer have the welding equipment needed and most certainly I don’t have the means of heat treating the aluminum (nor the knowledge of how to do it). I have welded a lot of aluminum in my life and was certified in aluminum welding, but this is a specialty. I am not familiar with it. And I would think that it is  probably not easy to find someone around who is knowledgeable, qualified and equipped unless one is in the right place such as a large city. I doubt if such a welding business exists around my area. I would rather imagine that going this route is not something usually done. I would think that purchasing a replacement frame is the more common way to go. Of course, some manufacturers offer free replacement under warranty. In the case of ActionBent they are defunct … totally out of business … gone … history. His other option is, of course, buying another trike … which he mentioned. It might be the more practical solution to his dilemma. I know that this problem is not uncommon so I thought I would post this article about it. It also happens with chrome-moly steel frames and mild steel frames although they are much simpler to make welding repairs on. I would highly recommend adding gussets to strengthen the joint where the crack occurred. The manufacturers should have done this to begin with. As a professional weldor and fabricator I would have if I were designing and building a trike.

Here is a picture of a cracked frame right at the edge of the weld on the crucifix:

cracked sun trike frame

It is not something you want to see on your trike. This particular trike is made of chrome-moly steel.

Repair Welding of Heat Treated Aluminum

Some trikes are made from 6061 T-6 aluminum, but the better ones are made from 7005 aircraft grade aluminum. All Catrike frames are made from 7005 aircraft aluminum alloy. All this adds complexity into the picture … knowing what you are dealing with and what needs to be done.

more on welding heat treated aluminum

When my 2009 Catrike Trail frame developed a hairline crack at the edge of the weld on the underside of the crucifix I was concerned as I know it could get worse and in time fail. If they would have put a gusset on the back side of the crucifix like they did on the front side I don’t think this would have ever happened.

cracked frame (weld) 001

So I contacted Catrike knowing that they offered a lifetime warranty on the frame. They readily replaced the frame although certainly not without cost to me much to my disappointment. The “space frame” that I had was no longer made so they sent their new frame. I much prefer what I originally had and wished they would have just taken my frame back and repaired it or replaced it with another one like it, but they don’t offer either so I was stuck with having to deal with the new frame. Although I appreciate Catrike standing behind their product and replacing the frame for me I was not (and am not) pleased with the outcome of not being able to get the same frame I had. Everyday I ride it I wish I had the old space age frame instead of this new design. I just don’t think much of the new design. The space age frame was far superior. Sometimes I regret having the frame replaced under warranty. It is possible that the hair line crack in the weld would have held up fine and given many more years of service. I will never know the answer to that matter. At the very least I could have delayed getting the replacement and kept riding my trike as is hoping for the best. At least up until the time it would fail I would have a superior frame.

Anyway, if you are having or do have this problem of a cracked weld or tubing on your trike keep in mind what you are up against here. If the job is not done right you will probably end up in deep doo doo. Having sudden failure in a weld or frame could be very dangerous. It could happen if the job isn’t done right.

Be safe out there!

THANKS

Just a quick note here …

just arrived back home from a trike ride trying to get a ride in before rain starts. I succeeded. Upon arriving home I checked my email and found one from Steve Greene’s TrikeAsylum blog. The email message was about my starting up my TadpoleRider blog again. I always appreciate Steve’s free plugs (Thanks Steve) as they do help. I not only want to go on public record thanking Steve but I want to thank all those who visit my blog and follow it. I truly do appreciate you. And I hope I can earn your loyalty and be of help to you in the articles I post. It is a lot of work to blog, especially if one is writing often and trying to come up with material to write about. Steve Greene has been writing his TA blog long enough now and has developed a large following which has resulted in getting quite a bit of help from readers sending him things to write about. I don’t have that going for me at this time. Anyway, regardless where the material comes from Steve does a fine job on his TA blog. As he stated, I have followed it for several years as I am sure many of you have as well. He is a very gifted writer and I always enjoy reading his articles. I don’t expect to ever be the writer he is but I do hope I can do well enough for this blog to continue to grow. It was just taking off pretty good when I pulled the plug on it a few months ago. I sure wish I would not have deleted what I had already worked so hard to create but I can’t change that. All I can ask is that you the reader bear with me thru this as I strive to reestablish this TadpoleRider blog. It will take time. Again my heart felt thanks to all of you. STEVE

OFF ROAD HANDCYCLE TRIKE

For those who have lost the use of their legs and/or feet there is an alternative. I am talking about hand cranking for propulsion. There are just a few manufacturers producing hand crank trikes. Here is one designed for off road riding.

Explorer 2

From their website …

The Explorer II Off-Road Handcycle is a unique handcycle designed to tackle extreme off-road conditions and provide unparalleled opportunities to get up close and personal with places that until now have been inaccessible. Places like mountains, trails and the beach are no longer out of bounds, the Explorer Off-Road Handcycle will take you there and to the top. This unique off-road handcycle has already taken many users to the highest peaks of Europe, including the Alps and the Tatra mountains. The Explorer also took part in a successful climbing expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest peak of Africa. The Explorer ll is the most advanced off-road handcycle of it’s kind with features such as full independent suspension, hydraulic disc brakes all round, Schlumph Mountain Drive and a choice of drivetrain ranging from 16-22 gears. One of the great features of the Explorer is the chest steering used to keep the bike in a straight line or negotiating turns when pedaling. The handlebars are there for flying downhill.

This YouTube video is accompanied by the following description:

The Explorer II off-road handcycle , is a hand powered trike for people with disabilities, however it can bring a lot of fun also for able bodied. We created this handcycle so that break the boundary of mountain biking and allow the disabled persons to reach what until now was impossible. Now we at SPORT-ON believe that we have succeeded!

Several other YouTube videos of this trike

YouTube videos of  off road hand crank trikes

HERE is a link to their website.

OUT OF SHAPE

For many of us who live where we have winter to deal with we either can’t or don’t get out to get exercise. I am talking specifically about riding a tadpole trike,

Steve on new trike at Foster Park

but it is also true of nearly any type of exercise one can name other than winter sports such as ice skating, snow skiing, etc. As a result we get “out of shape”( or out of physical conditioning) … to varying degrees depending upon what we do or don’t do in the way of other forms of exercise. As for me personally I have bad knee joints due to osteoarthritis and I can’t walk much. I used to walk a lot before this happened and wish I still could could as I know it is great exercise and I have always enjoyed walking. Anyway, with this past winter being one of the worst on record the only exercise I got was inside the house other than lots of snow removal outside. When the weather conditions finally improved enough I could get outside to ride my tadpole trike I quickly learned that I was extremely out of shape … far more so than any previous year. I mentioned it to my two friends I ride with. One of them spends 6 months out of the year in southern Florida. When I emailed him and told him about being out of shape he replied back “round is a shape”. He is going to get a knuckle rub on the old noggin’ when he returns up here to the north. 🙂 

round is a shape

All kidding aside, being out of shape is not a laughing matter. I am 67 years old and I am finding that the older I get the harder it is to try to lose weight and get in shape. About the first 2/3 of this past winter I did pretty good as far as maintaining my weight. I usually gain about 15 to 20 pounds over the winter. This winter I started off doing great and experienced very little weight gain. However, by the last 1/3 “all bets were off” as I started gaining back weight and ended up about where I usually am each winter. The only difference is I fell way behind in my physical conditioning since I was not able to get out and ride thru the winter. Yesterday was my longest ride thus far this Spring … about 30 miles. The thing I am most concerned about is I have noticed over the last 2 or 3 years that I am not nearly as motivated as I used to be. Just a few years ago it was not uncommon for me to ride 40 or more miles per day. Just two years ago I managed to ride the most miles of anyone in Fort Wayne signed up for the National Bicycle Challenge.

https://nationalbikechallenge.org/

I entered this national bike challenge but for me it turned into a competition trying to outdo those who were leading. I managed to do so but it became challenging indeed and no longer fun. So I don’t do it anymore even though there are some who want me to. I am just not interested as I know it would turn into another competition thing and I don’t care to do that. In order to take and keep the lead I was riding a lot of 65 to 85 miles days. That was just too much. Now I rarely ride a 40 mile day and most days are 25-35 miles when I am in as good of shape I obtain thru the riding season (Spring, Summer & Fall).  I have found that for me I need to do what I can to keep myself as motivated as possible. Part of that is keeping my riding fun. When it becomes work and drudgery then I lose motivation. A few years ago riding 40 plus miles a day was fun. Now it usually isn’t so I don’t do it anymore. What can I say?

Update: Since I wrote this I have added e-motor assist to my trike and it has turned things around for me. Now I once again enjoy riding and am getting more exercise than I got before when I didn’t have it. And I am often riding 40 plus … even 50 plus miles a day.

FREE GIFT awaits you!

TADPOLE TRIKE CONSTRUCTION – THE SCIENCE OF TADPOLE TRIKE STEERING

For those who want to build a tadpole trike it is imperative that they understand the science of the steering and ensure that they “get it right”. The “center point steering”, camber and caster settings, “Ackerman steering principle” and “toe in setting” all must be correct. Otherwise there will be “trouble in River City” and it could even lead to serious endangerment for the rider. At the very least handling will be greatly effected and tire wear will be a serious problem. When I first bought my Catrike Trail the dealer had the toe in off considerably and my brand new front tires wore out in only 30 miles of riding.

HERE is a webpage with a good explanation of toe in, toe out, camber and caster … what each is and what each does.

In the first video below this man says toe in should be 1/8 inch. That is too much for most trikes. 1/16 inch is preferable and is what is recommended by most trike manufacturers. Actually zero toe in maybe the ticket for some trikes including mine as with my weight on it I end up with about 1/16 inch toe in. There in lies another matter … it is best to set the toe in with the rider seated. This usually means a second person is needed as the mechanic to do the adjusting. It is not imperative that it is done this way, but it does work best. The more the rider weighs the more the toe in will change as the rider is seated on the trike. The closer you can get to zero toe in the better as long as the handling is ok. Never have toe out however as the handling will greatly suffer as a result.

Here are a couple of videos illustrating and explaining about these things.

As to actually measuring and setting the complex angles involved when I built my tadpole trike I simply used one of these (angle finder) …

ANGLE FINDER

As long as you use it properly and read it accurately it works fine for getting things right. My homemade trike rode and handled superbly so I must have got all the steering geometry correct.

The newer higher tech digital readout types would probably be better to use though …

digital angle meter

digital angle meter 2

FREE GIFT awaits you!

HOME BUILT RECUMBENT TRIKE, DETAILED PLANS AND CONSTRUCTION STEPS

came across this video and thought it might be of interest to others. As a retired weldor/fabricator who has made my own tadpole trike it interests me. Here is a picture of the trike I made. (A friend was riding it when I took this picture so to protect his identity I have hidden his face.)

no face on my homemade tadpole trike

HOME BUILT RECUMBENT TRIKE, DETAILED PLANS AND CONSTRUCTION STEPS

HERE is a website about construction of a tadpole trike. It has several links to other resources.

HERE is a website about construction of an electric motor powered pedal assist tadpole trike. (lots of good information here about trike construction)

HERE is a video about how to make the direct steering handlebars.

And HERE is a listing of all the videos available by the man from the video above.

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

CATRIKES IN FLORIDA

ride a Catrike Trail recumbent tadpole trike and take a considerable interest in tadpole trikes. Here is a picture of me sitting on my trike …

new trike 1st pics 004

I just stumbled across a YouTube video which I thought I would share here. It is of a few Catrike riders out for a ride down in Florida. Tadpole trikes are a lot of fun to ride and extremely comfortable. Since they sit so low to the ground they handle great. Some compare riding one to driving a go cart or sports car. I would not go so far as to say that, but they do handle great. Catrike tadpole trikes are manufactured in Orlando, Florida.

Every year Catrike sponsors a rally for Catrike owners. I would love to go and participate in it. It is open to everyone regardless of what brand of trike or even bicycle they ride. Here are some videos of the 2014 rally. They show many trikes  up close as they are gathering to go for a group ride on one of the local trails near Orlando. They also show the many trikes and bikes riding on the trail.

And here is another video of the 2014 rally. This one is considerably longer but well made and interesting …

In addition to the organized and unorganized rides there is also a factory tour available. Being a retired weldor/fabricator taking such a tour would greatly interest me. I built my own recumbent bicycle and tadpole trike before buying factory made ones. Here are pictures of both:

my homemade recumbent with 2 steering heads retouched

I never got the bike painted as I ended up cutting it up to use some of the parts to make the tadpole trike.

my homemade tadpole trike with Luke aboard out at Kreager Park retouched

There is also an annual Catrike rally held in Austin, Texas . And there are a few other rallies held in various locations for other brands or for all brands. One is held in Oregon which is for “recumbents” … both bikes and trikes.

Tadpole trikes are also known as reverse trikes since there are two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back. This makes for a more stable design. Although they are becoming more and more popular and sales are up considerably they are still not all that common in many places so when people see them they often don’t know what they are seeing and show an interest in them. Certainly many people comment about how neat they are and that they really like them. Lots of questions are asked about them as people know and understand very little about them. A few of the most asked questions are:

“How do you steer it?”

“Is that comfortable to ride?”

“How fast will it go?”

“Does it have a motor?”

“How much do they cost?”

and the one that I am always amazed when I am asked …

“How do you balance it?”    …  Yes, I have been asked that a couple of times.

I highly recommend Catrike as I think they are one of the best made and designed tadpole trikes available and they are the only** brand name trike totally made in the U.S. Most come from China/Taiwan. Some come from England, Germany, and a couple of other European countries and from Australia.

Anyone interested in checking out these Catrikes further can view their website … http://www.catrike.com/

** There are a small number of trike manufacturers who also make their trikes here in the U.S., but their sales are quite low so I am not counting them as part of the factory produced trikes. TerraTrike manufactures one of their models here in the U.S. but most of their models come from Taiwan.

THE BEST BICYCLE TIRE MONEY CAN BUY

As far as I am concerned the very best bicycle tire money can buy is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. I have been using them now for several years and since I switched to them I have never had a flat tire caused from anything external. I have had one inner tube failure caused by the a Mr. Tuffy tire liner which I have since removed as they are not needed and do cause flats internally such as I experienced. Before I use to deal with a lot of flats. I joke about these tires being nearly bullet proof and I think they come close. They are indeed quite amazing!

Schwalbe-Marathon-Plus-tire

schwalbe marathon plus 20x1-75 406 cutaway

I personally ride a Catrike Trail recumbent tadpole trike. Here is a picture of me on it.

new trike 1st pics 004

It is a blast to ride and extremely comfortable. Many compare riding a tadpole trike to driving a go cart or sports car as they handle so well. I have ridden this trike over 33,000 miles. Before I bought this trike I made one similar to it although it was made out of mild steel. My Catrike is made out of aluminum.

Over the years I have tried various other Schwalbe tires on my trikes. All of the various types of Schwalbe tires are quite good … among the very best made in the world, but the Marathon Plus out does them all … very flat resistant and long wear. I highly recommend these tires. I run the 20 X 1.75 406 size. They also come in 20 X 1.35 406 as well as larger diameter sizes for those who have a larger size rear wheel. By far the best price I have found is ordering them online from a company in the UK …   Merlin Cycles   They offer excellent service and free shipping if ordering a minimum of $75. With three or 4 tires that is easy enough to meet the requirement. I used to buy them from a company in Germany …  bike-discount.de   They are the second cheapest prices I have found. They also offer excellent service. I think a maximum of 4 tires can be ordered at one time for the flat rate shipping charge they have. Even with the shipping charge they have always been much cheaper than prices I have found elsewhere with the exception of Merlin Cycles. With this German source the best price per tire is had by ordering 4 at a time. I have found that the price per tire varies from time to time so sometimes I pay more or less than other times. Early on I paid $37 something apiece. Recently I paid $29.45 apiece. Again, the cost thru Merlin Cycles has been better.

I will readily admit that these tires are probably the most difficult tires to mount that I have ever encountered. However, there is a way which once known and followed make it much simpler. Once you learn how to do this it is fairly easy. Here is a video showing how to do it:

FREE GIFT awaits you!

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