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Index to Catrike Maintenance Posts

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

Troubleshooting section:

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
chain routing
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:

Jerry’s flags
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

Catrike Headset Adjustment, Replacing Bearings

I found that I needed to replace my factory bearings at 5 years of all weather commuting on my Catrike speed.  I opted for a set of 4 cartridge bearings, rather than using the teflon bushings for the upper bearings. A great place to get these is Utah Trikes, who know exactly the size that is needed for Catrike bearings.  The teflon bushings were made available to eliminate shimmy problems that certain models of Catrikes were having at certain speeds.  I just never had the shimmy problem, so decided to keep the ball bearing type cartridge bearings.  These are available from Utah Trikes for $10 each, for a total of $40.


To replace the headset bearings, you loosen and remove the top cap bolt and top cap, and loosen the handlebar clamp. When that is removed the steerer tube (the tube inside the head tube) can drop out of the head tube, so keep a grip on it to guide it out.  Remove the top bearing, then remove the steerer tube from the head tube. You don’t have to disconnect the tie rod in order to remove the steerer tube from the head tube.  When the steerer tube is free of the head tube, remove and replace the bottom bearings.  Put the steerer tube back in the head tube, and replace the top bearing.  Put the bearings in oriented the same way as they were when you removed them.

To cinch the bearings together on the steerer tube, put the handlebar on the top of the steerer tube, but don’t tighten the bolts.  Put the top cap and top cap bolt on the steerer tube, and begin tightening.  The top bolt engages a star nut inside the steerer tube to tighten up the assembly.  At first there will be a lot of play in the steering tube in the head tube, but as the top cap nut is tightened, there will be less and less play.  The top cap bolt will be “tight” when there is no “tick of play” and the bearings still allow the steerer tube to turn freely.  When that point is reached, tighten the handlebar bolts.  Its really the handlebar bolts that hold the steerer tube in place at the proper tightness.  Check to be sure there is no “tick of play” in the bearings.  If any play develops in the steerer tube, loosen the handlebar bolts, tighten the top cap bolt, and then tighten the handlebar bolts.

Once the handlebar is secured, you can remove the top cap bolt if need be to install or remove the front fenders on a Catrike.


The Backstory on Holey Spokes

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.

Removing / Replacing cartridge bearings in Rear Wheels, by Trikebldr

This how-to is aimed primarily at the Shimano-made cartridge-bearing rear hubs used in the majority of Catrikes for the last several years. Speeds, Expeditions and 700’s used the Shimano “Deore” branded hubs mostly, and those have cup/cone hubs, making their bearings easily adjustable for play or preload. Roads, Trails and Pockets used primarily the “Catrike” branded hubs that had cartridge bearings in them. There are many exceptions to which hubs were used in all of the models, but this is what will be found in the majority of cases. Other brands of cartridge-bearing hubs may be the same. 
Replacing the bearings in a rear wheel hub that uses cartridge bearings is pretty easy, but not without pitfalls. If done correctly using the right tools, it should only take about five minutes.
Almost all of Catrike’s hubs, either cup/cone or cartridge, came with rubber conical boots over the ends of the axles. These are critical on cup/cone bearings because they keep the dirt out of the bearings. However, they are not necessary on cartridge-bearing-hubs as the bearings have their own seals. For simplicity I have left the rubber covers out of any pics. I also do not run those covers on my own cartridge-bearing-hubs.
There are two problems that can complicate removal of the cartridge bearings. First, some of the 130mm wide hubs have the inner lock nut on the drive side (the side where the cassette is) recessed so far inside the freehub that you cannot get a wrench on it. The second problem is being sure to remove the washer that spaces the bearing from the axle’s shoulder on the non-drive side. I will address each one of these problems separately.
First, the picture below shows the inner lock nut so far inside the freehub that you cannot get even a thin cone wrench on it.
The above is on a 130mm wide hub. On a 135mm wide hub, the nut would not be quite so recessed.  A good, thin cone wrench can grab those flats on the 135mm hub, but on the 130mm hub, you must first back the inner lock nut off just a bit on the non-drive side (picture below), ….
…then, using a rubber or plastic-faced hammer, or a press (for ceramic bearings), drive the axle toward the drive side enough to expose the inner lock nut (picture below) so it can be loosened.
This is how to remove the drive side lock nuts first. It is recommended to use a good quality cone wrench (By Park Tools or Pedro’s, for examples) on the inner lock nuts because they are properly hardened to take the abuse of such a thin wrench being used to loosen and tighten these nuts.
Some of you may say, “Well, just remove the non-drive side nuts completely first and drive the axle out toward the drive side.”. This brings us to the second problem. There is a small washer between the non-drive side bearing and a shoulder machined on the axle. The picture below shows the whole assembly laid out as it assembles, with the non-drive side to the right in the picture.
There is no washer on the drive side. The Picture below shows this washer on the non-drive side, and the next picture below hows no washer on the drive side. This washer MUST be kept oriented exactly as it is from the factory!
Non drive side with washer
Drive side with no washer.
The two pictures below show that the washer is not symetrical. One side is convex and one side is flat. The convex side also has a small radius on it’s inner edge that matches the radius next to the shoulder on the axle (picture 10). If it gets flipped over during reassembly it will cause serious problems. Mostly, it will space the bearings farther apart, and this means the bearings’ outer race edges will no longer seat properly against the hub body’s bearing pockets. Under load, the bearings will “walk” side-to-side, slowly wearing the pockets larger until the bearings will be sloppy inside the pockets.
The next pictures show the groove for the washer, the washer assembled correctly on the axle, and a cross section of the axle and the washer, with exaggerated curvature of the washer. 
The picture above show the distance between the bearings being 3.224″, which is correct for this hub, axle, and bearing assembly.
The pictures below show the washer and axle assembled with the washer reversed, showing a distance between bearings of 3.236″. For precision bearings, this a big difference.
It should be apparent to the reader that this washer MUST be kept oriented correctly during reassembly. The problem is that if you remove the non-drive side lock nuts first and drive the axle out toward the drive side, that washer will then be floating inside the hub body and can be flipped around freely. It is important to keep the axle, washer, bearing and inner lock nut together until the axle is removed and the washer is examined for correct orientation.
Again, the reader may ask, “Why not just place it with the convex side away from the bearing all the time, then?”. Because sometimes Shimano flips these washers themselves to obtain a correct spacing between the bearings to suit the hub body they will be going into. Both the axle and the hub body have tolerances that are kept within limits during manufacture, but the axles and bodies still have to be matched somehow, and these spacers (washers) are how they make everything fit correctly. Hence, we run into another small problem. Hub bodies, axles and washers must be kept as a “set” to be sure of a correct fit for the bearings, and that washer must be installed the same every time! If the washer is replaced with one that is thinner, you could actually put so much preload on the bearing to burn it out shortly. Ceramic bearings have been crushed from too much preloading due to replacing that washer with a thinner one!
Once the non-drive side bearing, washer and lock nuts are removed from the axle, the axle can be used to drive the drive-side bearing out of it’s seating.
Once the bearings are removed, if you want you can pop the coverings, clean out the old grease, put in new grease and reinstall the old bearings. We have experience with relubing ceramic bearings in this way with no ill effects, through at least 3 relubes.  See how to do the relubing step in this article.  
On reassembly, it is easiest to start by assembling the drive side. Slide the bearing onto the axle, then put the inner lock nut on. Using both lock nuts on the non-drive side, tighten them together for use to hold the axle still while you tighten the inner lock nut on the drive side against the bearing. Then, tighten the outer lock nut against the inner lock nut. The drive side is done. Take both non-drive side lock nuts off the axle. Insert the axle from the drive side. It should now look like the picture below on the drive side, and the second picture below is how the non-drive side should look.
Drive side of hub
Non drive side of hub.
No need to drive the bearing into it’s pocket at this time. It will slowly be pressed it in as we tighten the inner lock nut on the non-drive side. Now, install the washer (picture below) the bearing (second picture below), and the inner lock nut (third picture below).
Using this lock nut, and a wrench on the outer lock nut of the drive side, tighten this inner nut (picture 18) to draw both bearings into their pockets until this nut is tight against the bearing. Now install the spacer (picture below) and outer lock nut (second picture below) and tighten everything on the non-drive side.
Be sure that the amount of axle threads showing is even from one side to the other, and that neither side extends outside of the dropouts of the trike/bike. On cartridge bearing axles, the shoulders that the bearings ride against will almost always keep this axle protrusion correct if the correct bearings, original nuts and spacers are used.

Removing a Bicycle Cassette, by trikebldr

To remove a “current generation” of Shimano’s Hyperglide cassette from the freehub of a rear wheel you will need two rather specialized tools besides a 12″ adjustable wrench. First, the lock-ring that holds the cassette on the freehub has 12 internal splines, as can be seen in the first picture.

Park Tool’s #FR-1 or #FR-5G will fit this lock-ring. FR-5G has an alignment pin that makes the job of loosening the lock-ring a lot easier. Without the pin, the tool is hard to hold in place while also holding the cassette with a chain-whip. Using a quick release skewer lightly snugged up will also hold the tool in place. In the second picture you can see FR-1 on the left and FR-5G on the right. The third picture shows FR-5G in place for loosening the lock-ring.
The next tool you will need is some kind of device to hold the cassette from rotating backwards (counter-clockwise) as you loosen the lock-ring. Large ChannelLock-type pliers will not do it as they tend to bend or nick the teeth of the cogs of the cassette. An old piece of chain used with a pair of Vice-Grips will hold the cassette well enough for loosening. The best way to hold the cassette, however, is to use Park Tool’s SR-1 chain-whip, or equivalent, positioned as seen in picture four, to the left.
A 12″ adjustable wrench, a 1″ open-end or box wrench, or even a 26mm open-end or box wrench will turn the FR-5G tool to loosen the lock-ring, as seen in the fourth picture.
Holding the chain-whip, turn the adjustable wrench counter-clockwise to loosen the lock-ring. The lock-ring and the smallest cog of the cassette have serrations on their mating faces to help prevent loosening while riding, so you will hear some clicking as you loosen the ring. Once it is loose, remove the chain-whip and wrench and also the ring. It should look like picture five.
Now, simply lift the cassette off of the freehub, but be careful to hold onto the two smallest cogs of the cassette because they will not be firmly attached as the rest may be. Take special care to notice how they fit onto the cassette for replacement later. Notice how their flanges face, and how they also have a larger spline tooth and smaller groove like the rest of the cogs on the cassette. These must all line up.
Most cassettes are held together by a single screw that keeps all but the two smallest cogs together for easier handling and assembly. Some cassettes have all but those two smallest cogs rivetted to an aluminum spider, too! But, some cassettes have all of their cogs and spacers simply assembled onto the freehub’s splines one-at-a-time. Be very careful about keeping everything in order and be sure you know exactly how all of the spacers and cogs fit onto the freehub. Each spacer has two small pins that MUST fit into the correct holes of the cogs. If they don’t, they will hold two cogs just slightly too far apart and that will ruin the alignment that allows for index shifting. If you are not absolutely sure you know how all of the spacers and cogs fit together, then if they all feel loose as you try to lift the cassette off the freehub, stop and take it all to your local bike shop for servicing.
The freehub with the cassette removed should now look like picture six.
The majority of freehubs are made from hardened steel. Some road freehubs were made with aluminum spline shells to help save weight. Once the cassette is finally removed, these softer splines will usually show where the cogs have dug into the edge of the spline over time and under heavy loading. It will also make it hard to remove the cassette on these freehubs.
To replace the cassette on the freehub, just line up the large spline tooth of the cogs with the large spline groove in the hub’s shell and slide the cassette onto the hub. Be careful to get the flange of each of the last two cogs facing the wheel. Screw the lockring on and tighten it with the special tool and wrench. It doesn’t need to be “stand-on-it” tight. Park Tools lists it as needing about 260-434 in/lb. (about 21.7-36.2 ft/lb). Since the freehub’s ratchet will stop the cassette from turning clockwise as you tighten the lock-ring, you do not need the chain-whip for installation of the cassette.

Winter Indoor Trike Riding Setup, by Bruce Bunch

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.

Bruce’s trike carrier

Bruce has recently shared pictures of his trike carrier, which mounts in a hitch reciever, and carries two trikes.  Nice.

Below is the structure of the hitch receiver 2 trike rack.

An earlier rack held 2 trikes on a small car roof.

Another still is this 3 trike roof top carrier.


Chainlines, Idlers, and Tubes, oh my!

Chain lines on trikes seem to generate a lot of experimenting and novel approaches.  The pictures below show a bunch of different approaches to making a chainline quiet and efficient, on all Catrikes I believe.

Hopefully the creators of these setups or those who have tried similar ones will comment on the likely quietness and efficiency of each of these setups.  Send additional pics of chainlines of any type of bent, and I’ll post them.

Bruce's speed.40

Above: Bruce’s Speed. Bruce says this is the cleanest, quietest, most efficient setup he has used.   

dr duk

Above: Dr. Duk’s version of chain tubes.  Says Bruce: “…shows the easiest, and best way to give the tubes the loosest float possible, and this is a good thing.”

Flying Tiger

Above: Flying Tiger’s version

Bruce's orange speedBruce’s orange Catrike.  “This is the overly complex, and expensive, chainline that I tried on two of my Speeds.  I had four goals for it:  lift the return chain higher off the ground, push the power chain under the front axle, raise everything above the bottom of the main frame tube, and eliminate all tubes.  It did all four quite well, but at the expense of expense and more noise.  Both trikes are back to a single tube on the return chain, with just some tape on top of the axle to protect against the power chain slap. ”

Jerry McKee.50

another trike set up, by Jerry Mckee.

Bruce: “Jerry McKee’s is close, but the idlers should have been placed behind the front axle. Also, by pushing the power chain under the front axle, you alter the angle of the power chain to the der post and der. This can hurt the shifting, and at the least, it limits how small you can go on the small ring. I know this because on my Tony Trike, I couldn’t go smaller than a 30 tooth ring when I did this arrangement.”

John Rooker.50

Above: John Rooker’s Expedition.   Says John: “I have the same setup on my present Trail.  This is simple, effective, quiet and costs almost nothing once you’ve purchased the return side idler.”


Utah Trikes photo, on an Expedition.  “…just insanely wrong! All of the Expo’s cherished ground clearance is lost with that arrangement. That idler should have been placed in front of the axle, as Pat Franz has designed those clamp-ons to be placed.”



photofinish 3.80

photofinish 2


photofinish 3

Bruce’s opinion – “Photofinish’s setup is a good example of a common myth about chainlines, that running the return chain in a straight line gives less drag. Wrong! It increases the drag compared to a slightly curved tube run underneath. If you let the chain hang naturaly with no tube, it has no frictional drag, so what better way to “tube” it than to run it through a tube that follows it’s natural curve as much as possible. Ideally, if the tube’s curve matches the chain’s curve, the tube will not be supporting the chain at all, and therefore will not induce any drag. But, if you lift the chain up and run it through a straight tube above where it wants to hang naturally, the tube is then carrying all of the chain’s weight, and that creates a LOT of drag, not to mention more noise. It may look cool, but it will cost you in pedal effort and extra noise. If you look at the first pic of my Holey Spokes, the tube has been curved to match the natural droop of the return chain as close as possible. With generous flares, it is almost silent all the time.”



Bruce’s Opinion – “pretty close to stock and about the best you can get. Quiet and efficient!”

Utah trike

another one from Utah Trike

HP velocotech lg_chaintube_sideangle

Chain tube attachment by HP – Velotechnik, sold at Hostel Shoppe. A long spoke held under the idler bolt and tied to the tube as far along the tube as possible will allow the tube to move around as much as it needs to in reaction to chain movement, with very little restriction.  The longer the spoke, the more flex is would have.  

tcycle floating tube holder

Terracycle floating tube holder.  They also sell flared sections of chain tube.  Although the floating tube holder is cool, the bike has chain routing and crossover issues. Without tubes the chain would rub itself, causing it to “snag” on itself as the pin ends catch each other.  Also, the chain runs along the side of the fork, rubbing it almost constantly.  Even with a tube, the tube rubs the fork.  It also limits the turn radius, because the tire will rub the chain with very little turn input.  Bruce  


PhattKat’s setup, from his blog. Note the attachment of both the power side tube and the return side tube to the idler.  These attachments look solid. Also full coverage of the chains, as shown below.  How does one keep a chain so clean!!??  My trike is a mess by comparison.


Phatkatts chain tubes.

Tube Storage Unit for trike

I commute on my trike about 355 days a year (all days except when snow is plowed onto the shoulder of the road), and I need to pick up mail, and have sufficient storage to carry my cold weather gear home, on days when I don’t wear it on the ride home.  I had a rack, and panniers, and they worked fine, but I wanted something lighter and that didn’t make the Speed look like a utility truck.  I got the $14 Nashbars triangular frame bags at Bruce’s suggestion, and they are great for summer commuting.  I still needed a little more storage for winter use.

I saw all the room under the seat and thought I could use a PVC pipe to use that space.  But I found a Pickett blueprint carrier which is very light, and with its screw top lid is totally waterproof.

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It can carry my rain pants (in stuff sack), my rain coat, gloves, and head covering.  They also have extension sections, so I can add another section for longer loads.  it would also be perfect for carring lunch, as long as its a round lunch, like bagels, hot dogs, donuts, etc.  This tube setup seems light and aerodynamic, and is working well.

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A stuff sack in the tube.  It holds about 3 stuff sacks like this.

A stuff sack in the tube. It holds about 3 stuff sacks like this.

A Bad Case of Drillium!

Bruce went crazy with his drill press, and removed, if I read his notes correctly, about 13.7 pounds from the normally 30 pound Catrike Speed!  This is Catrike #CS754, named Holey Spokes.







Now we need to see that thing assembled, a final weigh in, and a test ride to see if it whistles.  Its just remotely possible that Bruce has too much time on his hands. One last picture: