LEANING IN TURNS

For those unfamiliar with tadpole trikes they are basically a pretty stable vehicle and a lot of fun to ride. They have been compared to riding a go cart or driving a sports car. As neat as they are I would not go so far as to say that they handle as good as either of these two examples. A tadpole trike can and will tip over a whole lot easier than a go cart or sports car. A go cart is quite low to the ground and has a pretty wide wheel base width so they are quite difficult to tip over. They just slide if and when traction is lost. A tadpole trike will slide a little bit if it is pushed hard enough but you can’t depend on this to happen. If an outside tire should suddenly “catch” the trike will start over. It may only go up in the air a little ways and come back down, but again I would not count on this. It could just as easily go on over. So unless you are one who has mastered balancing and riding a tadpole trike on two wheels it is not a good idea to tempt fate.

So what is a rider to do? We all want to have fun, right? Well, maybe not everybody.  I am sure there are many who simply don’t ride that fast to begin with or if they are approaching a turn faster than they are comfortable with they slow down so they can safely negotiate it on three wheels. But for those who like the thrills a tadpole trike can deliver there is a solution … Leaning in Turns. Just make certain you lean to the correct side. This may sound ridiculous but it needs to be said as there are those who have not understood this and have leaned to the opposite side. Needless to say that is flirting with disaster. A word of caution … make sure that while leaning in a sharp turn at speed you don’t find yourself dealing with things such as trees, fence posts, etc. Your face and shoulder is no match for them. We have one particular turn on our trail system I ride where I have to be sure to get my body back over in normal position on the seat just before I reach a wooden fence and the first fence post. Depending upon your speed and the severity of the turn you can …

lean just a little …

???????????????????????????????

or lean a lot …

leaning in turn reduced

… as much as is needed if some real “hot doggin’ ” is going on.

Riding fast around a turn results in lots of “tire scrub” so don’t expect to get maximum life out of your tires if you do this.

This video shows how to lean into a turn at high speed to help the trike to negotiate the turn without tipping over.

A COMFORTABLE TADPOLE TRIKE, A SHADY TRAIL TO RIDE AND ICE COLD WATER

A comfortable tadpole trike, a shady trail to ride and ice water … what more could a guy want? No, no women and no alcohol … we ain’t going there. Summer weather has arrived here in Indiana and it is hot and a bit humid. So my riding has mostly been on the Maumee Pathway which is my favorite trail to ride among those we have. It also happens to be the most shady so it really helps be more comfortable. It is only about 5.5 miles long  so we ride back and forth on it to get our daily milage in.  Lately for me that has been 20 to 30 miles depending upon how my knee joints are doing.

The Maumee Pathway runs mostly east and west along the Maumee River. Here is a map of it:

Maumee Pathway map

 

and a satellite image …

Maumee Pathway satellite image map

Ah yes, the life of Riley … kickin’ back, enjoyin’ retirement … got it made (in the shade) ! I just hope Riley doesn’t show up and ruin it all. I really can’t think of what else I could ask for … maybe this ? …

overstuffed chair trike

Yeah, I know … that’s going a little too far, huh? Well, ya’ can’t blame a guy for trying. Besides, it’s motorized so that disqualifies it. But it is a tadpole trike!

Here are a few pictures of the Maumee Pathway:

shady trail

Now I ask ya, doesn’t that look inviting … especially on a hot summer day? Actually this

picture doesn’t show all that much shade. Some places (much of it in fact) is quite shady.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Riding along thru a shaded trail like this is great indeed, but it is not without a downside. I am talking about dealing with insects … especially mosquitoes and deer flies. If you stop the mosquitoes find you quickly and are relentless. Riding along at least 6 mph or faster normally remedies the problem with these critters. Not so with deer flies as they can fly much faster. You either have to ride like the wind as they say or do what I do … keep your eyes open for them and make sure they don’t land and bite. Their bite hurts and continues to. Swelling often occurs in the bite area. They ain’t no fun at all.

New Haven Trail from N. River Rd

new haven rivergreenway trail

And here is a video I made up last year in early Spring when no leaves were yet on the trees (consequently there was very little shade).

I hope you have at least one place you can ride to escape the hot sun and humidity. Be sure to keep hydrated regardless of where you ride. And …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

X SEAM MEASUREMENT/ADJUSTING THE BOOM

seam … what is it? I am sure many of you know the answer to this, but for those who don’t it is according to definition:

“A person’s X-seam is a measurement related to the person’s height. It is measured from a sitting position, and is the distance from the lower back to the soles of the feet. X-seam measurements are used for sizing (recumbent) bicycles and ultralight aircraft.”  source – Wikipedia

X seam measurement

Yeah, so what? What does this have to do with tadpole trikes? Well, it is like this. I am sure we have all seen bicyclists who ride diamond frame bikes with the seats down way too low where their legs do not extend to near straight as they pedal.

bicycle seat too low

This is a major no no when cycling yet so many do it. Riding a tadpole trike is much the same as our legs should be nearly fully extended as we pedal. Knowing our X seam is the means a mechanic has in setting up our trike to “fit us”. Of course, it can also be accomplished by our simply sitting on the trike while the boom and pedals are adjusted in or out to accommodate us.

boom adjustment for x seam

You might ask … why can’t the inseam measurement be used? That’s a sensible question. It sure seams like this would work. But wait … there is a problem. We are not all the same. Our bodies differ considerably from one another. We come in all different sizes and shapes. Two people may have the same inseam measurement but their bodies are not at all the same. One my be quite thin and the other might be quite “large”. One might be much larger in the butt compared to the other. You can readily see where this inseam measurement isn’t going to tell the story … won’t work. X seam comes to the rescue. Here is a video explaining how to determine the X seam.

Having the X seam adjustment set correctly is important. Having one’s legs nearly fully extended while pedaling provides maximum efficiency in propulsion as well as maximum benefit to your body while exercising.

Here is a video produced by Utah Trikes which shows and explains about moving the boom in and out and the resulting chain length/rear derailleur effect.

I have also made the adjustment according to the instructions below and found that it worked fine and came out correctly.

With the rider properly seated on the trike seat (with his or her back and butt all the way back against the seat) place

the rider’s heels on the fully extended pedal and move the boom out until the leg is straight. Tighten the boom

in this position. Now with the ball of the foot on the fully extended pedal the leg should be nearly straight

but not quite. There should be just a very slight bend left in the knee joint which proper.

Having the X-seam set correctly will help to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

PONDEROSA HP8 URBAN RECUMBENT TADPOLE TRIKE

please note that I have edited this article to correct some things I had wrong which were pointed out by PonderosaCycles in comments they made

PoderosaCycles of Italy has launched their flagship Poderosa HP8 urban recumbent trike. It most definitely is different looking. There is no denying that. It kind of reminds me of some of the Italian shoes I have seen.

Italian shoes

Poderosa HP8 trike

I don’t know if the handlebars are adjustable or not, but in this picture it looks like the rider’s arms are stretched out full extension in order to reach and operate this trike. I would think that would be rather uncomfortable. Hopefully they do adjust as one’s arms are much more comfortable with the upper arm down at their side like is found on most tadpole trikes.

The overall width is reported to be 32.67 inches. The seat height is 18.5 inches making for good visibility but poor handling compared to a trike with a lower center of gravity. Some people prefer/need this feature as a low seat is too difficult for them to get in and out of.

The boom height is quite low in comparison to the seat height so when pedaling the legs are headed downward instead of out in front or even upward as most trikes are designed. These things might very well be attractive to some riders who for one reason or another have problems with the seat/boom position of most tadpole trikes.

Here are some of the specifications on this trike:
6.5 inches of ground clearance
24 inch wheels on the front and 28 inch wheel on the rear
frame is aircraft construction grade aluminium alloy, TIG-welded
BENGAL Mechanical Disc brakes on front and a V-brake on the rear
hardback aluminum seat
8 speed using an 8-speed Shimano Nexus rear hub.
comes with front and rear lights, mudguards
Black, White, Blue, Red, Orange
price is approximately $3047

Poderosa HP8 trike 2

Who knows? It may have people standing in line to buy it. But it sure is different! That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. 🙂

FOLDING TRIKES

folding vs. non folding

Folding trikes have been around for a number of years and most certainly there is a need for them as not everyone has a means of hauling a trike which doesn’t fold to a smaller size. I have to admit there are times I wish my trike folded as I would love to be able to haul it in our car instead of having to drive the pickup truck. As a weldor/fabricator I have my thoughts and concerns about folding trikes. Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea … the concept, but having the frame fold creates areas where there is a chance of problems developing. When it comes to trike frame design Catrike’s “space frame” most impresses me among all the trikes out there. It is all one piece making it super strong and practical. There is nothing to move allowing inefficiency, or to make noise from movement or to come loose or to wear. It is simply the best way of designing a trike frame hands down. When you start adding in anything which takes away from this problems follow. Hinged seat backs, removable seats, seats that adjust forward and backward (or any other direction), suspension, etc. all invite various problems to develop. One thing that almost always occurs is the generation of annoying embarrassing frustrating noises. And that is just on a non folding trike. Adding hinges in the frame so that it can fold can quite possibly bring on some of these things I just mentioned. That is the way I see it.

That being said, still the concept of a trike which folds is appealing. Until fairly recently folding trikes required that the seat be removed in order to fold it. Some even involved removing wheels. I don’t claim to be an expert on folding trikes (or even on trikes for that matter), but to the best of my knowledge and understanding there are at least 3 (well almost 3) manufacturers now offering models which fold without having to remove the seat. I am for that as it is quite practical. Again, in my opinion, having to remove seats and wheels is a real pain. The 3 trikes I speak of are: Evolve, Catrike Trail, and HP Velotechnik Gekko. Catrike announced that the Trail Folder was coming out this year, but I haven’t heard (read) anything more about it since it was first made known so I don’t know what is going on. The last thing I saw was that it is coming out sometime this Spring. Well, Spring is pretty well over and Summer is almost here (5 more days)  … and still no Trail Folder has emerged. Here are images and videos of these 3 trikes:

EVOLVE

folding Evolve trike

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folding Catrike Trail 2

Catrike has finally started selling these and they sell for $2750.

sorry, no videos of the Catrike Trail Folder available at the time of the writing of this article

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HP VELOTECHNIK GEKKO

HP Gekko Folding Tadpole

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If I were looking into a folding trike to buy I don’t think I would consider any other trike but one of these … for the reason I stated … practical simplicity. We are talking about just a few seconds time to fold and unfold these trikes vs. several minutes with those where the seat has to be removed and put back on. Just removing and reinstalling the seat would be too challenging for some riders, especially if they have physical limitations making it difficult or impossible to get down and work under the trike to reinstall the seat. Some seats are not all that easy to reinstall compared to others. For anyone who is mechanically challenged this could be a serious matter. And dealing with removal and reinstalling wheels … forget it (I say). For me personally I think I would go with Catrike as their design just looks the best to me. The Evolve has its seat “on the ground” when folded and that concerns me. Both the Gekko and the Catrike Trail Folder have small wheels on the back of the seat frame so their seats don’t sit on the ground at all. Of course, the main purpose of these wheels is to allow it to be moved about without having to lift it. I like that idea … especially as I get older.

I mentioned the seat sitting on the ground being a concern. Another concern is the seat frame. Folding and unfolding a trike frame can result in messing up the physical appearance of the frame when it gets “abrasions” from the ground. I have seen it happen very quickly on a brand new folding trike. It is a shame to see this damage occur. To my way of thinking thought needs to be given to such things when the folding trike is designed and built as this should not happen. Of course, it is up to the individual person as to what measures they take or don’t take to help protect the trike during the folding and unfolding process. My point is that some designs are more difficult to deal with and prevent this from happening.

Anyway, here are some other models which fold. This may not be a complete list of such trikes but it will give you an idea of what is available. And to the best of my knowledge every one of these require that the seat be removed in order to fold it.

AZUB T-TRIS

folding Azub tadpole trike

folding Azub-Ttris

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CHALLENGE ALIZE

folding Challenge Trike Alize

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GREENSPEED GT3

folding Greenspeed GT3

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HP VELOTECHNIK SCORPION FS

aluminum folding ramps with trike

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ICE SPRINT

folding ICE Sprint

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TW MANTIS

folding Mantis

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TERRATRIKE TRAVELER

folding TerraTrike Traveler

folding TerraTrike Traveler 2

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TRIDENT STOWAWAY

folding Trident Stowaway

folding Trident trike

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Whenever complexity enters the design and construction the result will be an increase in cost. So if we want a folding trike we will pay extra for it. Of course, hauling a trike in a car that gets 40 plus mpg vs. hauling it in a truck that gets 15 plus mpg one could recoup the difference in cost rather quickly I would think … especially at today’s gas prices. Of course, if you can ride back and forth from home rather than haul your trike you can save a whole lot of money. And just think of all the extra exercise you’ll get!

Whether you fold or don’t fold,

ENJOY THE RIDE!

2 WAY TRIKE CARRIER DESIGN

As is often the case I came across something while looking for something else. Here is a rather unique design for a trike transportation system.

It looks like it would do the job alright and have minimal effort involved other than having to lift and manhandle the trikes. The only way around that is ramps or a hoist of some sort … or maybe just get the wife to do it.  🙂   Oh, I am in trouble now!

TADPOLE TANDEM TRIKES

Some folks are interested in tandem bikes and trikes. Anybody who has looked into buying what few tadpole tandem trikes are manufactured will probably come away with a case of “price sticker shock” as they are very expensive.

The least expensive tandem tadpole trike available I know of is from Utah Trikes. They offer a tandem trike which they have created themselves by modifying an existing KMX Tornado tadpole tirke … http://www.utahtrikes.com/PROD-11617621.html  The price starts at about $4000. It features an independent pedaling system.

KMX Tornado tandem trike

Utah Trikes has a complete custom shop.

Probably the lowest cost tandem trikes factory manufactured comes from TerraTrike. They make both a tandem model (Tandem Pro) as well as a tandem kit option for their TerraTrike Rover trike … http://www.terratrike.com/tandem.php   Their tandem trike sells for about $5000 ($5400 for the independant pedaling system).

TerraTrike Tandem Pro

One website states: “You have a choice of either a standard tandem drivetrain or an Independent Pedaling System, which allows either rider to coast while the other pedals. Unless you have a special need for an IPS we typically recommend getting a standard drivetrain, as it is much more efficient. Pedaling in sync is not nearly as difficult as new tandem riders imagine, especially on a trike.”

I don’t know as I would go along with that. I think having the ability to rest while your partner pedals is quite practical so long as there isn’t cheating going on.  🙂

The TerraTrike Rover tandem kit sells for about $2100 ($2400 for the independent pedaling system).

TerraTrike Rover tandem trike

Trident sells their Chameleon for about $6000 … http://www.tridenttrikes.com/chameleon.htm  It is an interesting concept … a regular single tadpole trike which makes into a tandem trike. Of course, you would have to have a place to store the add on section when not using it.

trident chameleon tandem recumbent trike

For the insane price of about $12,000 you could purchase a Greenspeed GTT tandem tadpole trike … http://www.greenspeed.com.au/gtt.html

Greenspeed GTT tandem tadpole trike

One solution is to build your own. Atomic Zombie to the rescue … as they offer plans you can purchase to use in accomplishing this task.

Viking Recumbent Tandem Tadpole Trike 1

They feature disc brakes on the front wheels and a rear caliper brake. Of course, you could modify the build plans and have a disc brake on the rear also. Personally that would be my choice along with a separate caliper brake on the rear for a parking brake only.

From their website …

“If you have been looking for a fun and comfortable way for you and your riding partner to get out and enjoy the open road, then our DIY tandem trike plan is just what you need. Atomic Zombie plans are designed so that anyone with basic skills and tools can follow along and finish the build, keeping costs to a minimum. For only a fraction of the cost of a factory produced trike, you can build your own high quality recumbent tandem tadpole trike.”

Viking Recumbent Tandem Tadpole Trike 2

Viking Recumbent Tandem Tadpole Trike 4

Viking Recumbent Tandem Tadpole Trike 7

Viking Recumbent Tandem Tadpole Trike 9

One set of plans costs about $18. If you have the ability and means you could save yourself a ton of money making your own. Again, HERE is a link to their website with plans for a tandem tadpole trike.

Keep in mind that tandem trikes are huge so there is no practical way to haul them on/in most vehicles shy of breaking the trikes down. And that opens up a can of worms as most tandem trikes are not made to be practical in breaking them down and putting them back together. I can only say to you what I have read others saying about the matter as I don’t have any personal experience with any tandem trikes. Making a regular tadpole trike fold up for transport is challenging enough and only recently have a few manufacturers come out with designs that are relatively quick and easy to fold and unfold. I would think trying to accomplish this same feat with a tandem trike would be most difficult and impractical.

Here is a unique build … set up for three people. It is a quad (4 wheeler) however and not a trike. Notice that the middle and back seat are positioned off center outward in as are the pedals. This quad appears to be a modified KMX tadpole trike customized by Utah Trikes.

3 seat tadpole trike

3 seater tadpole quad

There is one other option in design which would most definitely make for easier communication between the two people. However, this trike design has one obvious problem and concern … overall width. This is another custom modification by Utah Trikes. They used a TerraTrike Rambler tadpole trike.

2 seater pedal electric trike

If you have the need/desire for a tandem tadpole trike these are some options.

And by all means … start young …

FREE GIFT awaits you!

WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE!

Watch your language! Actually it would be more accurate to say watch your “terminology” but I thought the former would be more attention grabbing.  🙂

What I am getting at is the matter of speaking accurately and being understood correctly. I am all the time reading or sometimes hearing others refer to a tadpole trike as a bike (or bicycle). Obviously that is quite incorrect. A bike has two wheels. A tadpole trike has 3 wheels as does any trike/tricycle. Bi/by means two and Tri means 3. That hasn’t changed. I understand that there are times when it is probably easier to simply refer to a trike as a bike/bicycle. I am talking about when we are speaking to others “in passing” (quickly mentioning something about our mode of transportation and then departing them or at least moving on to another subject). Very few people know what a tadpole trike is if we were to tell them we rode or are riding one to get there. I agree that if they really aren’t interested and there isn’t time or reason to go into detail it is simpler to just say bike/bicycle and let it go at that.

There are other times, however, that it would be much better to not use bike/bicycle when referring to a tadpole trike. I have a simple solution I use. I have a picture of my trike set as wallpaper on my cell phone screen which I can quickly and easily show others so they know what I am talking about if I say tadpole trike. And usually I hear back from them when they look at the picture … “oh yeah, I have seen those before” and everything is cleared up quickly. This picture below is not very good quality but it is of the screen of my cell phone showing the picture I am speaking of:

cell phone wallpaper

So saying bike/bicycle instead of tadpole trike is one of those things many are all too guilty of. I am continually seeing trikes advertised for sale where the ad reads “trike bike” or “trike bicycle”. My question is … which is it? Is it a trike or is it a bike? It can’t be both. Again “bi” means two and “tri” means three. When I am talking about my truck I don’t say “car truck” or “truck car”. That’s ridiculous, yet people say trike bicycle all the time.

Another common error we make is saying “recumbent trike” and leaving it at that. The problem with this is that there are three kinds of recumbent trikes … tadpole, delta, and what I would classify as bordering between a delta trike and a “Florida trike”.  Here is a picture of one:

Sun EZ TriClassic SX

I guess one could classify it as a delta trike but it most definitely is not in the same class as the ones like I am most familiar with. For those who don’t know what a delta trike is here is a picture of one:

Hase Kettweisel delta trike

So when we are talking about a tadpole trike it would be most accurate to say “recumbent tadpole trike”. This may all seem trivial to you but I think it is important to communicate clearly so others know what we are talking about. Besides it just might impress them that we know what we are talking about. 🙂

THINGS I’VE LEARNED

have been riding tadpole trikes now for nearly 10 years and have ridden over 76,000 miles. During that time there are some things I have learned which I want to share here as it might be helpful to others.

1)  Ride smart … don’t leave home empty handed. Carry important things along such as tools, inner tubes, a minimum of a 6 to 8 inch section of chain (to use for making a roadside repair to your chain should something happen to it … hey, it can happen!), master links, air pump, first aid kit, wet wipes, and whatever else you might personally find handy and practical. I carry maps, mosquito repellent, sun block screen, plastic cable ties, electrical tape, a few feet of solid wire, plastic shopping bags, a shop towel, and more.

2)  Keep your tires properly inflated. It is best to run them up to their maximum pressure rating as you will get the best wear out of the tires and the least amount of rolling resistance.

3) Use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires as it will mean no flats and much longer wear than any other tire. It still handles great and rolls well. By far the best price I have found on purchasing Schwalbe tires is from Merlin Cycles in the United Kingdom. HERE is a link to their website. That link is for those from the United States. To order from another country just change the information for country, money, etc. There is free shipping to the United States on orders over $75. Because of this in order to qualify for the free shipping I buy 3 tires at the same time. The next best price I have found for ordering my tires is from a company in Germany. HERE is a link to their website. They charge a flat fee for shipping but by ordering 3 tires the total price is still quite low. Try finding this tire elsewhere and compare prices. At the moment I can find this tire at a pretty good price ($41.62 including shipping) here in the U.S. In the past this has not been the case. So I guess one just needs to check it all out to see what is available as the situation changes. The tire lists for about $54. I usually pay $27 or so (less than $30 apiece).

4)  When crossing speed bumps and gently sloping curbs I have found that if it is safe to do so approaching at a minimal acute angle works best as it almost entirely eliminates the “bump” encountered. You might have to make sharp turns on both ends to accomplish this but it is worth it.

speedbump

I made a video showing my trike crossing some speed bumps. I held the camera in my hand as I filmed this. You can see the difference it makes crossing on an angle vs crossing straight head on which I do for comparison a couple of times during the video.

5)  When dealing with small holes, bumps, debris, etc. in your immediate path and there is no time or safe way to steer completely over around it you can usually avoid it if you ride along and aim to have your pedal go right directly over it. Unless it is too wide you should be able to avoid it with all three wheels by doing this.

6)  When riding with others be careful not to cut another rider off when going around a corner or sharp turn. And watch out for others doing this. Try to give sufficient warning to others behind you if you intend to slow down or stop. Colliding together could spell real trouble. Not only can the trikes get damaged but personal injury could result. It is unwise to “hot dog” around others or to do anything messing with their trikes while riding or even sitting still together in a group. Remember the golden rule … do unto others as you would want others to do unto you … or another way of stating it is don’t do anything to someone else (including to their trike) that you wouldn’t want them doing to you or your trike.

7)  Take plenty of water with you and drink it (stay hydrated). Most of us don’t drink nearly as much water as we should. We should drink half of our body weight in ounces each day. In other words, if you weigh 150 pounds you should drink 75 ounces of water daily. Water is by far the most healthy drink there is. We should avoid most every other type of liquid drink as none are good for us and some are very bad for us (especially anything with sugar in it). If we do drink anything other than water it does not count against the quantity of water we are supposed to drink.

8)  Take rest breaks as needed … especially on hot days.

9)  Wearing a bicycle helmet and using some means of keeping your feet on the pedals so they can’t fall off and onto the ground and get swept back and ran over is a good idea. I personally do neither and have never had any problems with my feet hitting the ground. I understand the danger however so I would never advise against doing these things.

10)  Always ride with good safety flags and flashing (in the daytime) headlight(s) and taillight(s) so that other see you. Read my article about safety flags HERE.

11)  It is advisable to ride with at least one other person for safety reasons.

12)  Don’t skimp on buying a trike just to save money. Get the best quality trike you can afford. You won’t regret it. You might regret buying a lower priced lower quality trike however. The saying holds true … you usually get what you pay for. I personally recommend Catrike over any other brand out there.  They make a top quality trike and stand behind their product.  Also figure on a minimum of $150 for accessories as they are important. I am talking about lights, safety flags, horn or bell, cargo hauling items (rear rack, panniers and/or rear rack trunk bag), a cable lock device to lock up your trike when parking it to shop, eat, etc. If you don’t already have bicycle tools these will be an additional investment. Again, buy quality tools … not inexpensive ones which will probably quickly fail you upon use. I personally advise against buying multi-tools where several different tools are together in one tool. They are very impractical to use and sometimes can’t be used at all as they are too big and bulky or not long enough. Instead I advise individual tools.

13)  Check the toe in … it could be off or change after initial setting. Toe in is critical to proper handling and tire wear.

14)  Check for chain stretch and replace the chain if it stretches more than a 1/16th of an inch between links. Sprockets should also be checked for wear and if need be changed. Usually sprockets should last thru two chains but a badly worn chain will quickly wear out brand new sprockets and badly worn sprockets will quickly wear out a brand new chain. A tadpole trike uses about 2.5 to 3 standard length bicycle chains to reach the length of the chain run around the front and rear sprockets.

15)  Keep the chain and sprockets sufficiently oiled to prevent excessive premature wear.

16)  Be a good ambassador (representative) for cyclists as a whole and tadpole trikes specifically. Obey the law and trail rules. You might even consider volunteering on a local trail maintenance organization.

17) When going over a bumpy surface you can’t avoid and you have no suspension on your trike you can eliminate much of the jarring by simply lifting your body up off of the seat. To do this use your shoulders on the top of the seat back and your feet on the pedals to lift your body. In the drawing below the black line represents the seat. The red line represents the rider’s body. The blue line represents the pedals. The green line (arrow) shows the gap between the seat and the body when the body is raised up in the air off of the seat.

road shock

I may add more onto this list if anything more comes to mind.

FREE GIFT awaits you!

HPVelotechnik Scorpion fs 26 S-Pedelec e-trike

Lately I have found myself being challenged by one of the two guys I usually ride with. He just recently purchased an HPVelotechnik Scorpion fs 26 S-Pedelec e-trike. So trying to keep up with him is not possible as there is no way to compete against an electric motor assist. He is out there ZOOMING RIGHT ALONG! The other day while out riding on a local trail a “roadie” came whizzing by doing about 20 mph passing him like he was in sitting still. He let him get quite a way ahead and then decided to give chase. It took awhile but he caught up with him. His trike is capable of doing about 28 mph with the electric motor assist. When he came up behind the roadie he said to him “I thought you roadies were supposed to be fast?” And then he went zipping around him and went way on up ahead of him. The roadie didn’t know what to think. Of course, the roadie didn’t know that the trike was motorized as unlike most electric motorized trikes it is very quiet even at speed. And my friend didn’t tell him any different. 🙂 He just let him think that a tadpole trike passed him up going considerably faster than he was riding. It was kind of funny.

This trike is mighty quiet but it certainly is not cheap. I mean we are talking $7500 to over $8500 (insane cost) depending upon what you select in the way of the battery option. It has a dual battery setup  available which doubles the range the trike is capable of. The motor draws its power from a 36 Volt Li-Mn rechargeable battery with a 530 Watt Hour capacity. The recuperation function involving the motor working as a generator when braking extends the range through energy recovery. It takes 4 hours to charge the battery from an electrical receptical outlet. The trike comes with a start assist function as standard, which propels the vehicle to a speed of up to about 3.75 mph at the push of a button. I am told that you can set the controls on a negative number (-1 to -3) and as you pedal it will charge the battery. I am also told that when doing this it is difficult pedaling and will wear you out if you try this for very long. On -1 pedaling is slightly more difficult and at this setting the battery is being charged the least. On -2 it is a little harder yet pedaling and the battery charging is increased. On -3 it becomes far more difficult and tiring to pedal while the battery gets maximum charging.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

HPVelotechnik Scorpion FX26 e-trike 2

aluminum folding ramps with trike

As you can see the trike folds which is a good thing because it is quite large and won’t fit as easily inside some vehicles to haul it. In order to fold it it is necessary to remove the seat which is a bummer. Reattaching the seat is a bit challenging in my opinion. I have watched my friend do this and as far as I am concerned it is a real pain in the butt to do. I really like the trike designs which fold with the seat left in place. Evolve and Catrike offer this as does the Gekko model offered by HP Velotechnik. Also when the trike is folded and unfolded it seems to have a tendency to get caught/hung up on the handlebars. The mirror is in the way and has to be moved every time the trike is folded. I am not impressed with some aspects of the design engineering I see in this trike. The trike comes with a guard over the largest front sprocket (chain ring). On my friend’s trike this won’t stay tight and is constantly rotating around either falling down or backward right into the front derailleur. I think HP needs to redesign this mounting of this guard (perhaps copy the mounting method ICE uses on theirs).

The trike is full suspension … probably about as good as a trike suspension system comes as it works quite well.  It comes with a brake/tail light combination, headlight, front LED running light and an integrated computer. I need to qualify that about the lights. My friend’s trike came with these lights. I do not know for a fact that these lights come stock or are an option. The wiring going back to the taillight has plug in connectors which seem to come apart easily and can be difficult to connect back together.  On my friend’s trike we moved this wiring slightly upward following along the rear rack and secured it in place using plastic cable ties. Since then it hasn’t given any more trouble coming apart at the connectors.

The trike has hydraulic disc brakes on all three wheels.  The front brakes operate off of the left brake lever and the rear brake operates off of the right brake lever. It also has indirect steering but, unlike most trikes with indirect steering, it turns amazingly sharp. It is a very long wheelbase so this adds to the amazement. It has a choice of seats … mesh or hard shell molded. It is 27 speeds which surprises me since nearly all of the industry has gone to 30 speeds. Weighing in at 72 pounds it isn’t something you would want to pedal around much without the motorized assistance. It is also a bit much to manually lift in and out of vehicle you haul it in, especially if you are doing it alone.

Additional technical data:
Seat height BodyLink seat 29 cm (11.42 inches)
Seat height ErgoMesh seat 32 cm (12.6  inches)
Seat angle 32–41° adjustable
Bracket height 40–45 cm (15.75 to 17.72 inches)
Track 78 cm (30.71 inches)
Width 83 cm (32.68 inches)
Frame: Aluminum 7005 T4/T6
Rider height approximately 1.62–2.00 m(5 foot 3 inches to 6 feet 6.72 inches)

One thing about this trike … it is so quiet that most people would never know it is motorized. And since it is basically pedal assist it isn’t obvious as far as watching someone ride it. For me, I think the real attraction to a trike like this is in the climbing hills department.

Regardless of what you ride …

Enjoy the Ride!

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

 

TRAIL RIDING VS. ROAD RIDING

Below is one of the articles I wrote and is posted on Steve Greene’s Trike Asylum blog. Steve was kind and gracious in giving me his permission to post them here on my own blog. I have made some minor changes mostly in the way of updating information I wrote about. Here is the article:

Some of us have a preference one way or another. Some of us have a choice while others do not. Some have no trails available and only have roads. Personally I am not afraid to ride out on the streets, roads and along the highways, but I have friends who are and won’t do it. They won’t even ride in bike lanes. That being said, I much prefer riding on trails as I find them more interesting for the most part. And I don’t think there is any doubt that they are safer than riding on streets and roads. I only wish I was in a position where I could travel around the country and ride all the different trails that are available out there. Of course there are paved trails (asphalt or concrete) and what I consider non-paved trails (everything else). I don’t care to ride on any trail that isn’t paved … especially riding a trike. I have ridden off road with my trike, but it ain’t for me. I think off road riding on a trike is very impractical. Sorry, maybe you don’t agree and like doing it.

Here where I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana we have approximately 80 miles of paved trails at the current time. In actuality we only have about 38 miles of trails which are of practical use … of any appreciable length and connected together. Some “trails” are what I refer to as “glorified sidewalks” and not really trails at all … at least they are not my idea of what a trail is. They are simply extra wide sidewalk which run along the side of a street or road. If commuting someplace is what one is doing then I have no problem with riding on these rather than riding out in the road/street. Otherwise there just is no comparison between these “sidewalks” and a true trail. I just have a hard time with classifying them as trails. Now 80 miles of trails sounds like a lot, but I tell you that those of us who ride on them daily will all say that it gets old quick. And as I said, it is really only about 38 miles we ride on. Hopefully someday there will be more and they will connect. Right now all the newer sections which exist are scattered about and isolated from one another. What was originally built is all a linear trail following along our 3 rivers. This means that once we get to the end of the trail we have to turn around and come back. The trails do not loop around or connect to other trails … not yet anyway.

There is a tadpole trike rider up in Calgary, Canada who has several YouTube videos of his rides. They are good quality videos which I enjoy watching.

https://www.youtube.com/user/abohdan/videos?view=0

Out of curiosity I looked up bicycle trails in the Calgary area and discovered that they have approximately 375 miles of trails and 240 miles of bike lanes. That is a bunch! I am impressed!

Perhaps you have something to say concerning your preference and what you have available where you live. I am all ears. Well, actually my nose is bigger than my ears, but we won’t go there. 🙂

Keep On Trikin’

INCLINED TO RECLINE

Most people share the same testimony that the older they get they have a tendency to take a liking to a recliner chair and just being comfortable and relaxed. When it comes to bicycling most people who have made the switch to a recumbent bike or trike have the same testimony … that riding a diamond frame bike had become more and more of a challenge as their bodies were suffering with leaning over, trying to hold their head up to see … wrists, hands, arms,  shoulders, and backs hurting from the riding position … sore butt from an uncomfortable seat, etc. Then there is the very real danger of riding on two wheels and going down. The older a person gets the more conscience we seem to be about the possibility of getting seriously hurt and what that may involve. I know all this is true for me so I finally came to the point … maybe I should say “to my senses” and made the plunge into the recumbent world. I mean like, WHOA NELLIE! Stop the merry go round, I want to get off! And I did. No regrets other than I wish I had done so many many years sooner. Yep, I am INCLINED TO RECLINE! … and loving it!

Speaking of reclining … tadpole trikes vary in the angle of inclination of the seat back. Some are considerably upright while others are really laid back. The ones I know of which are most laid back are the Catrike 700, the ICE VTX and the Greenspeed Aero.  All are 25 degrees. That is really laid back! In the image below I have marked the seat angles of my trike (45 degrees – green line) and 25 degrees (red line). That is quite a difference.

protractor angles marked

 

 

 

 

 

Catrike 700

ICE VTX

Greenspeed Aero

My seat back angle is adjustable but it only goes more upright. 45 degrees is as far back as it reclines. I wish it would go further back to about 30 degrees, but Catrike only made it to adjust more upright which I personally think is ridiculous and totally worthless as far as having this feature of an adjustable seat back. I have absolutely no desire to sit up straighter but I sure would love to be able to lay back further if I chose to. The word “recumbent” means LAID BACK / RECLINED and that is what it is all about. One might as well be riding a conventional “Florida trike”  if they want to sit up straight. I would never want to go any further forward than 45 degrees. It defeats the whole purpose of having a recumbent. At least that is the way I look at it … cause I am INCLINED TO RECLINE! … and loving it! I always tell people that the hardest part of riding a recumbent trike is trying to stay awake … which is not far from the truth.

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

A FREE GIFT awaits you!

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!

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