The picture shown below shows the tools I carry on my bike or trike on each and every ride. Also shown are the patches and glue I use for patching tubes, either at home or on the road.
The tools include blue Park TL-4 tire levers. These are different from other tire levers because they have a blunt tip, with a groove along the tip. The groove is to grab the wire embedded in the edges of a clincher tire. This guarantees that the tip of the lever doesn’t grab the tube and pinch it. This feature greatly reduces pinch flats. Other gear includes an Alien II multitool, by Topeak. This little tool has all kinds of Allen wrenches and open end wrenches, spoke wrenches, and also has a knife, a chain breaker, can opener, and a torx wrench which works with Avid BB7 disc brakes.
Another tool is the CO2 canisters, with a small regulator on the end of one canister. The regulator is made by Air Rush, and is a minimalist sort of air regulator. One CO2 canister fills a couple of tires, depending on how big the tires are. These are super convenient compared to a small air pump. I carry on the bike or trike a tube patch kit with a piece of sandpaper, a disposable razor (not shown), some small round patches, and a small tube of glue. The razor is to shave down the ridges in the tube if the hole to be patched is near a ridge. The tube that comes with a regular little patch kit is mostly filled with air, and has enough glue for about 2 patches, so you are out of glue before you are out of patches, and half the patches are large ones, which I never use.
What I do for patches and glue is to buy small round patches (Rema F1) in a box of 100, then I keep 3 or 4 in the kit on the bike. I also buy a 10 g tube of glue for taking on the road. That has to be 5 or 10 times as large as the small ones that come in a kit, and the two tubes are shown side-by-side in the picture. For patching tubes at home I use Rema Tip Top 2o3 Cold Vulcanizing Fluid in an 8 oz can, which has a brush in the lid. That way my travel tube of glue will last longer.
I also carry a new tube for each size tire I have. The trike has two different sizes. This setup has served me well in my daily rides.
I lucked into a fantastic bike about 6 years ago, a Fuji 1987 Design Series road bike. This was their top of the line road bike, and all components were top quality Campy parts. It fit my wife Tuckie perfectly, and was her road bike. We went on some fun short rides, and she never did longer rides or group rides on it. She didn’t ride it enough to get used to using the clip-in Speedplay pedals, and one time she didn’t get a good push off from a stop, and fell over onto the pavement. She broke her fall with her hand, and ended up with a broken bone in her wrist. This was exactly what the bike looked like, but it was not quite as pristine as this one:
The picture below shows the down tube Campy shifters. Our bike was the same color, same saddle, same components as this bike, but the paint was not as perfect as this one.
While recuperating from the broken wrist, Tuckie rode a mountain bike with flat handlebars, and got used to having all the controls on the bars. She never really got used to the down tube shifters, nor riding with hands on the brake hoods, as road bike riders of the 80s did. I talked to a friend of mine who owns a bike shop, and looked at his new road bikes with flat handlebars. They also had wide rims and heavy tires, and cost upwards of $1500. I wanted the light weight and speed of a road bike, just with flat handlebars. He said don’t try to convert the old road bike, as it would be a money pit, and would require a different axle and derailleurs, and I’d never find the right size parts to do the job. I had a love for the old bike, and I wanted to try to make it work.
So my project was to make a few changes to the Fuji, to take advantage of the light frame, and nice road wheels, and keeping the Campy brakes. The tasks were thus:
replace the drop handlebars with a flat handlebar, complete with shifters and brake levers
put on a granny gear for getting up the mile and a half long hill to our house
possibly make it indexed shifting, but I knew there was a low probability of that
I had a pair of brand new brake levers, so that was easy. I bought a pair of Suntour thumb shifters on ebay. With those components I put on the flat handlebars, and replaced the down tube shifters with shifter cable stops, as shown below.
The flat handlebars, with brake levers, new grips, and the Suntour thumb shifters, are shown below.
That was the easy part. To add a granny gear, I would need a different axle with a longer end on the drive side, and a triple crankset, with pedals. I’d also need a long reach derailleur to take up the extra chain slack when using the granny gear. The chances of getting all these components to fit correctly was pretty small, and would likely be costly but I had two secret weapons. First secret weapon: We have a bike co-op in Boise, the Boise Bicycle Project. They have a good supply of bike parts, and I found an axle with sealed bearings that fit my bottom bracket, and would likely accommodate the extra gear of the triple. We also found a long reach Suntour rear derailleur, and also a front Suntour derailleur. It was coming together, against all odds. The triple crankset we found is shown below, after I added a 40 tooth chain ring to replace the 48 it came with. Cost of parts, about $50 for the axle, triple crankset, derailleurs, platform pedals, and flat bar, $40 for the thumb shifters. Second secret weapon: expert advice and coaching by two BBP mechanics, Yon and Michael. Wow, those guys saved my butt every time I turned around!
So the bike came together nicely, and every thing actually works. We found that the thumb shifter had an indexed setting for a 6 speed cluster, and since the rear cassette was a 6 speed, and the Suntour rear derailleur was compatible with the Suntour index thumb shifter, we had 6 speed indexed shifting! Awesome, and an unexpected result. So the bike ended up looking like the picture below. I also put on platform pedals, which Tuckie wants to use. Now maybe we’ll get a gel saddle, and do on some rides when the weather gets better.
There seems to be a bewildering number of handlebar types for recumbents, especially 2 wheeled ones. Here is my attempt to define some of them:
Below: Hamster bars
Bruce: I much prefer the hamster bars. I run them on both of my bikes. They place my hands and arms in a “natural”, relaxed position. Very little movement to affect a turn. I never did understand the “tweeners” style. Limited movement, and if you have really long legs, lots of banged knees. Way too much hand travel for a given steering input, too! Not for me.
Below: Tweeners, (legs between bars) aka Superman, Open Cockpit, OC
Disadvantages: Bruce: I never did understand the “tweeners” style. Limited movement, and if you have really long legs, lots of banged knees. Way too much hand travel for a given steering input, too! Not for me.
Below: Chopper bars (ER and Rans LWB)
Below: Praying Mantis
Below: Machine Gun bars, Graeme Obree piloting
Below: Under Seat (Linear Recumbent)
Below: Drop Bars (Chopped Drop Bars)
civl3: I have drop bars on my Carbent. I used 56cm SOMA Portola bars. When I put my hands on the hoods, they are in the same position as they were with the original OC bars. That hints at how much lower the crossbar is which gives me a less obstructed view forward. I can turn tighter too because the bars don’t run into my thighs unless I’m turning really tightly. If I want a more relaxed arm position I can put my hands in the drops. The drop bars also let me use brifters (Sram Force in this case), which I prefer over bar-ends. The brifters also allow the cables to be cleanly routed along the bars. I tried a tiller set-up but all of the cables obstructed my view forward as much or more than the OC bars. I am using a flip-it style stem because I needed adjustability to find the correct position of the bars. Plus it makes it easier to get off of the bike.
Below: Varna Bars, for a fully faired super fast Varna low racer
Catrike Maintenance and Repair topics are listed below. Links are to specific posts or links to information. Submissions of posts by any Catrike rider for inclusion here are welcomed. FYI, Catrikes are recumbent tricycles, with more information available at the Catrike Performance Trikes site. Information on other trike or recumbent technical topics is welcomed.
Basic Setup and Maintenance”
Catrike Performance Trike Official 2004 Manual
Catrike Performance Trike Official 2005 Manual
Catrike Performance Trike Official 2006 Manual
Catrike Performance Trike Official 2007 Manual
Catrike Performance Trike Official 2009 Manual
Catrike Performance Trike Official 2010 Manual
removing the master link on the chain, and replacing it (page 18 of the above manual).
checklist of initial setup items
removing a front wheel
replacing front wheel bearings
replacing rear wheel bearings
adjusting rear derailer (link to Sheldon Brown’s instructions)
adjusting disk brakes (link to Park Tool page)
replacing disk brake pads (link to Park page)
Bruce’s advice on adjusting Avid BB7 brakes on Catrikes
installing front fenders
fixing a flat tire in front, rear wheels
installing teflon bushings in front headsets
Catrike headset adjustment, servicing bearings
cleaning a chain, and lubrication
rear wheel squeak: lube rubber weather seal
Bottom bracket not horizontal when trike is on flat surface: loosen boom clamp, reorients boom, or file guide tooth
after removing a front wheel, my brake pad rubs: adjust brakes, per this link:
shimmy in steering: purchase teflon bushings from catrike, install
brake cable routing
shifter cable routing
setting toe on front wheels of a trike
Facing the bottom bracket edges
Discussion of After market items and FAQs:
Locking brake levers. These are great!
What is Schlump and other drives?
what would Schlump or Roloff give me over the stock gearing?
Terracyle idlers discussion
Super bright (240 lumens) flashlight for use as headlight, tail light
what size bearings does my (year) (model) Catrike use in the front, rear wheel?where does one get replacement steel or ceramic bearings (link, or part number)
ceramic bearing installations in front hubs
options for mounting both a light and a speedometer
list of all tools needed
chain guards, bash guards: Purely Custom, with Catrike Logo available, and many colors, Trice (Utah Trikes) Chain Guard Ring
- Cables: how to order replacements, how to cut to length, how to install end pieces on housing and cable, what tools are needed
- Chains: how to order (how many chains needed/length), brand, types
- Articles on component upgrades (brakes, shifters, derailleurs, etc)
- Common accessories: what has worked well (lights, racks, bags, pedals, mirrors, etc)
- Arizona Whip lighted flagpole
- Tactical Flashlights for lighting system
In fall of 2008 I (Bruce, trikebldr) bought a 2003 Speed. As I hefted it up to put it in the rack on top of my car I thought I would just throw it all the way over the car, it was so light. When I got it home I weighed it at 28lbs, complete with fenders. It made me wonder how light I could make my 2007 Speed. Stock, it weighed 31lbs.
I have a friend in Los Angeles who runs the computers that control the earthquake shift equipment under a high-rise building in downtown. He asked for a lot of pics, dimensions and weights, then plugged them all into this computer to do a stress flow analysis. It gave us back hundreds of diagrams that showed where the trike’s frame, and other parts, were most and least stressed under load.
DF bikes are made from butted and double-butted tubing to reduce weight. For those not familiar with the term “butted tube”, this means that the center has thinned out walls while the ends are thicker walled. These special butted tubes can be made in approximate lengths and cut to fit precisely into a DF’s frame. All trike makers that I know of use pretty much generic, uniform-wall-thickness tubing. It’s simply a matter of economics, since trikes of various frame design require too many tube lengths to be able to provide butted tubing for all parts of the frame. The old solution to non-butted tubing was to drill across the tube in the middle areas to reduce the weight. Tubes under side loading cannot be drilled, but those in longitudinal compression and tension can be. Most DF frames are completely triangulated, meaning their tubes are all under tension or compression, but not side loaded, appreciably. Trike frames are not so lucky!
Holey Spokes was drilled in those areas shown to be over-built as far as tubing wall thickness. The main, one-piece frame was drilled exactly as the computer showed, but I took some liberties on some smaller, easily replaceable parts. In the end the only area that I would do differently would be not drilling completely through the boom’s internal “peace” webbing. A stock, undrilled boom gave me 1/16″ of twist under heavy loading measured at the top of the der post, but the drilled version now gives me 1/8″ of twist, measured the same way. By loading, I mean causing the rear wheel to spin slightly with the front brakes on. This would not be acceptable for all you pseudo-Lances out there, but for me it isn’t a noticeable loss of efficiency.
A lot of criticism has been heard about drilling the cranks. You cannot drill most cranks, but the older Truvativ Elita cranks have a dog-bone cross section to them and the main strength is along the edges. Small, 1/2″ holes can be drilled with no problems. The most stress that can be applied here is until the rear tire breaks free, and I have done that, as well a stomping on them hard.
I have about 200 hours of drilling and de-burring in the project, as well as other tweaks to make it handle quicker. The wheels were tightened up to the max recommended spoke tensions for each rim. Ceramic bearings are used everywhere except in the Frog pedals. I have one set of Stelvio Light tires that are over 11,000 miles old and are much lighter than new Stelvios. I keep these stored except for special rides. I normally run newer Stelvios. I dumped the stock seat mesh and made up a new sling from a single layer of the stuff POC sells. It’s laced inside the seat rails with some parachute cord.
The cost to build this trike (other than the stock trike) was $12.53 for the materials to make the seat, plus about $183 for the new XTR Shadow carbon-cage rear der. The der weighs just 181grams as opposed to the 495grams for the stock Deore der. I was already running Q-rings and hollow-pinned chains, so throw in a bit more money for those if you must. Ceramics for the whole trike run about $500 for everything, including BB and idler.
The base trike weighed 31lbs, 3oz when I started. Set up for final weighing, with the lighter tires, no headrest, mirrors, bottle cages, it weighs exactly 24lbs. I normally run it with newer, heavier Stelvios, one mirror, one cage and a POC headrest. Set up like that it weighs at 25lbs, 14oz.
Holey Spokes drew a lot of flak on the Catrike forum as it was being built. Comments like “fold up around his ears” were found often! The drilling was not done helter-skelter like so many bikes were in the old days. It was done carefully according to indicated high and low stress areas. It’s now three and a half years old, and I ride it about 3000miles a year. I almost always pull my dog in her trailer behind it, too (another 56lbs, total!)! If Cindy is pulling the trailer, I get carried away and take a lot of curves on two wheels. After all, higher performance in handling was what it was built for. I prefer to bicycle it rather than slide through a corner.
I have weighed between 207 and 225lbs during the last 3-1/2 years, so it has endured a lot of heavy abuse from my riding style, with no failures yet. The reason is, those drilled tubes are not being BENT, but are under tension or compression. The seat side rails were not drilled specifically because they are being pulled sideways, inward from the weight of the rider in the mesh. There’s one short video in the link to my pics of this trike, showing me bicycling the trike as well as doing hard stoppies. This is pretty much normal for me while I wait for others to get ready to ride. It’s just a fun trike to play with like this!
About six others have test-ridden it and two of them have had me do this treatment to their’s. One is a 2008 Speed, and the other is a 2007 Pocket, called Piccolo Pockets. I consider the 2007 to be the very best Speed of all models, especially to do this with.
If you search the forums a bit, you will find all kinds of homemade repair or shop stands for trikes, generally made of PVC pipe. I have a better one, one which gets the trike up at a nice height for working on stuff. It is also very stable, and will hold the trike horizontal, vertical, or any angle in between. It is a Park PCS-9, and sells for about $130 at Park Tools. However, there is one critical modification that has to be made to make it strong enough to hold trikes, and that is to make a metal bushing to replace the plastic one that it comes with. The legs fold up to make it easy to store or transport.
I was lucky enough to get one by Bruce, but I don’t know if has any more for this unit. The bushing to replace looks like this:
For a lot of us, the riding season is quickly closing. Last spring I noticed how painful it was to get back on my trikes after a pretty lazy winter. Not this year!
Actually, I’ve had the set of blocks in the overall view for a couple of years, but we used them for Cindy’s trike last year. So, this time I am building another set so we can both keep our trikes set up for riding all year. I decided to take pics of the parts to make these, just in case anybody wanted to copy them. For both front wheel blocks I used a 4′ length of 2″X4″, a 4′ long piece of 3/4″ ply ripped 6″ wide, a 6″X30″ piece of 1/4″ ply and some scrap carpet. Some carpenter’s glue and 30 1-1/2″ drywall screws hold it all together very well. I also used a 13″X33″ long piece of 3/4″ ply for the roller “pad”, with more scrap carpet under it to protect our bare wood floors and to lessen the sound transfer. These front wheel blocks also give the trike lots of “anti-rocking” stability while pedaling.
Start with the “A” blocks. These are very simple 6″ long pieces of 2″X4″. You will need two for each riser, so that means four, total. After cutting them 6″ long, cut a 45 angle on one end, leaving a blunt corner as can be seen in the pic of the top (third pic).
Next, you have to measure just how high your rollers will lift your rear tire off the ground (first pic). This determines how wide you will rip the “B” block. Mine ended up being the 2-1/2″ width marked on the block in the second pic. Just rip a piece of 2″X4″ to the dimension of the height above the floor of your tire. Simple! Now, the length of this small piece of ripped 2″X4″ will be determined by what size wheels you run on your trike. Mine were sized to work with my 16″ Marathon Pluses and ended up needing to be cut 7-3/4″ long, as you can see in pic number two. 20″ wheels will need it to be cut longer. Make this block just long enough to put most of the tire’s weight on the 45 angles of the “A” blocks. This will make everything more stable when riding. You will need two of these “B” blocks to make two front wheel risers.
The two side “plates” are made from 3/4 ply. They could be made from 1/2″ ply just as well! Just use what ever you have laying around. I ripped mine to 6″ wide and this works quite well for getting enough depth for the wheel to be held solidly. This will work well with any other size wheel, too. The base is also made from this 6″ wide material. The length of these side plates and base will e determined by how long your “B” block ends up. The sides and base need to be the same length as the “B” block plus the width of the two “A” blocks. (I forget just now how wide a 2″X4″ is!) My side plates and base ended up being 14-5/8″ long, as shown in the fourth pic.
Now comes the hard part. If you are running less than about a 1-3/8″ wide tire, the 2″X4″ “A” and “B” blocks alone will give you enough interior width. But, if your tires are 1-1/2″ wide or wider, you will need to make up a 1/4″ thick ply spacer to give you more clearance. Cindy’s trike runs 1-1/2″ wide Racers and her’s will not fit if they are inflated more than 40psi!!! Of course, my Stelvios fit loosely! These new blocks I am making are for her trike, so I am showing the spacers I made to make her’s wider. Just look at your tires when they are fully inflated and see if a 2″X4″ is wide enough to give sufficient clearance. If not, then you will need to make up a spacer to fit your tire. You can see my spacer, with it’s tell-tale saw kerf marks, in the fifth pic.
Once you’ve made up your “A” and “B” blocks, side plates and base, and spacer (if needed), then just glue and screw it all together, then add the carpet to the bottom of the base and go pedal! Paint them if you must, but that will delay your riding!
Even with these very stable blocks I find it helps to lock the locking brake levers, if you have them! If all of your floors are carpeted, no carpet is needed under these front wheel risers or the roller pad.
The recommended rollers are SportCrafter rollers, and at least one extra fan should be added for increased resistance.
The Puprunner Trailer for Doggies!
I have had the opportunity to test drive the Puprunner trailer, a trailer made for dogs and their owners. Full disclosure: the makers, the Carters, are clients of my patent law practice and we are getting a patent on this device. Their website is HERE.
We hooked up this trailer to my Catrike Speed, which is a recumbent trike. The hookup was very easy, and didn’t take more than a few minutes. The photo above shows the Puprunner in a configuration where my dog Ginger can trot along behind my bike. The Puprunner does this by having the floor made of two panels which hinge up and attach so the dog can be on the ground. The idea is that after a few miles the dog might be tired, but the bike rider might want to cover some more miles. When that point is reached, the floor panels of the trailer hinge down, and the tired pooch can ride. It really works, and my dog who is very sweet, but not very bright, figured it out on the first ride.
The Puprunner has a storage area in front of the dog compartment, and a sun screen that goes over the top. It is 33 inches wide, and weighs about 45 pounds. The photo above shows my dog in the riding position, which lets me speed down hills without leaving her behind. The dog is tethered by a chest harness to the frame, not by a collar. I was impressed and thought it would be perfect for a nice ride that is too far for my dog, but would allow her to get a workout.
The temperature here in Boise has been around zero degrees F for the past week, and I have been riding my Catrike Speed to work everyday. The combination of clothes I have keeps me warm all the way, and my only problem is my glasses and ski goggles fogging up sometimes. My clothes are an example of the layering system. The first layer is thick wool blend socks, polypro long underwear top and bottom, and thin polypro liner gloves, as shown below.
The next layer is an insulating layer, which is added to the base layer. This includes Keen cycling sandals, North Face cross country ski pants which are windproof, fleece gloves where are the inner part of a pair of winter mountaineering gloves (Chouinrd winter gloves), fleece neck gaitor, head covering by Pearl Azumi, and Expedition weight Patagonia Capilene pullover. I have a down coat I could wear, but at around zero degrees it is just not needed.
The outer layer is made up of Marmot uninsulated goretex wind pants which zip all the way up the leg, Sidetrak neoprene boot covers which leave the cleat on the bottom of the shoes exposed, the nylon outer gloves of the Chouinard winter gloves, an REI goretex raincoat, a cycling helmet, and a waterproof helmet cover. Not shown are my ski goggles, which I wear over my glasses unless they fog up.
I was wondering how to move my tactical flashlight so it would be in front of, under, or on top of my fairing. The light is usually mounted on the front deraileur post, but with the fairing on for the winter the light really lights up the inside of the fairing, and that blocks a lot of light from hitting the road ahead.
A helpful email from Pat Franz of Terracycle suggested the Terracycle Accessory Mount would probably do just what I wanted. The unit arrived in only about two days after the internet order! I put it on, and it does get the flashlight above the fairing nicely. I’m going to ride it a few days like that, and I think I will try it mounted lower on the fairing frame, maybe even poking through a hole in the fairing. Here is what is looks like mounted over the top of the fairing. It is a bit distracting having that in my line of sight, but I might get used to it.