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Facing Bottom Bracket Shells on the Catrike

Yesterday I did a bottom bracket shell facing and thread cleaning job on Bob Shaver’s Speed. I took lots of pics of the job showing the steps in getting clean faces on each end of the shell.

After reading the text below each pic, it’s very interesting to watch them all in slideshow mode. The progress shows up much better that way.


This is the bottom bracket face before it was faced, showing the layer of powdercoat. The external bearing cups press down on this face, and if it is not perfectly flat the bearings are cocked to one side.


This is the Park tool for facing the bottom bracket faces.


This is the cutting tool cutting away the powdercoat layer, and a tiny bit of metal.


This is the face showing slight chatter marks from the tool.


The chatter marks are smoothed off and the face made perfect with emery cloth pressed in by the cutting tool.


The face after the final smoothing and polishing.

This facing of the bottom bracket edge is part of Bob’s upgrade to ceramic bearings in the BB. They are typically much tighter than the steel bearings that come in most bottom brackets, so they will not tolerate as much misalignment as the steel bearings. This is why the faces of the shell must be absolutely parallel with each other and perpendicular to the axis of the bottom bracket spindle when converting to ceramic bearings. The Park Tools threading and facing tool is a very precise piece of equipment that does a beautiful job of truing up a BB shell, even if it is very expensive. Most shops will do this job for about $50 if they have the tool, but most mechanics, in fact very few, know how to do the job correctly. They usually leave the chatter marks. That’s OK, actually, as long as they are even all the way around the face.

As can be seen in some of the pics in Bruce’s flicker photos (linked below), a lot of powder coating gets deposited on the surfaces where the bearing cups tighten. This uneven buildup causes the cups and bearings to cock sideways, as the powder coat is never perfectly smooth. Cheaper and sloppier steel bearings will absorb a lot of this alignment displacement, but better ceramic bearings won’t, and it will often cause bind in the better, tighter bearings. Pictures iL1, L2 and L3 in Bruce’s flicker pics show the non-drive side of the BB shell with a huge buildup of powdercoating. This is enough to cause bind in even a steel bearing. If you look really close at these pics, you can also see the only three small areas of contact that the bearing cup had with this face!

Besides the powder coating buildup, warpage from welding will distort the shell faces. This is shown in the pics as small areas at a time of bare aluminum showing up as cutting progresses. If they had been absolutely true from the start, the aluminum would have shown up all at once as soon as the powdercoating was removed.

If any Catrike riders intend to put ceramics in your BB, or you feel some resistance and just want to feel sure about your’s, and your lbs can’t do this job. Contact Bruce and if you ask nicely he may do it for you. You will need to send him your bare boom/BB and return postage. (Oh, and a pan of brownies!)(Hey! it never hurts to ask!) Contact Bruce at

This is the link to Bruce’s pics on flickr


P.S.  mikeatlbch made a comment that jogged Bruce’s memory, and he is right.  mikeatlbch notes that facing the bb is needed only for external bearings, not for cartridge bearing assemblies.  Thus the Speed, Expedition, and 700 model Catrikes, which all have external bearing assemblies,  need to be faced.  Other Catrike models or any bike/trike with cartridge bearings don’t need to be faced.

1869 Tadpole Recumbent Trike

This figure from a U.S. patent from 1869 shows a tadpole recumbent trike. It is powered by the user’s hands and feet. The feet work a treadle, and the hands work the rods. Rod and lever propulsion was common in those days, because reliable chains had not been developed yet, and the crank and chain was not proven as the best way to transfer power. This wheel and frame configuration is about 140 years ahead of ahead of the Catrike and other trikes, which have similar frame and wheel configuration.

Adjusting BB7 Brakes on Trikes

Bruce’s advice on adjusting the Avid BB7 brakes on Catrikes:

Avid BB7 PROPER brake alignment and adjustment, and the physics behind it.

For the sake of simplicity I will restrict this explanation to the Avid BB7 brakes found on Roads, Speeds, Expeditions and 700’s. The BB5’s are similar, but just harder to adjust and maintain.

Be aware that what I describe is for those who want the last degree of fine tuning of their brakes. It involves a lot more work than a bike shop would do for you and is best done with a helper of similar weight to the trike’s normal rider.

The point of brake caliper alignment is to position the caliper properly around the rotor so that the pads contact the rotor squarely and evenly as the brakes are applied. The spacer packs on each side of the caliper mounting ears are made up of ball-and-socket washers that allow the caliper to “wobble” around the mounting bolts to align with the rotor. The caliper’s mounting ears are also slotted to allow the caliper to slide side-to-side as needed to position the caliper evenly over the rotor.

Avid’s instruction sheet recommends that the rotor be positioned in the caliper with a 1/3-2/3 clearance to the caliper body casting. After talking on the phone with Calvin Jones of Park Tools, it is my belief that this is not necessary, and that the rotor should be positioned as evenly centered as possible. Even the techs at Avid that I talked to couldn’t give me a reason for the 1/3-2/3 setting. I set all of mine centered and have had no issues with this. Calvin said that all other manufacturers recommend centering the rotor and that he does so on the BB7’s, too.

Before we get into the actual alignment process, there is some understanding and setup that must be done.

First, it should be understood that these brakes are borrowed from bikes, and their use on trikes is a compromise in application, requiring extra effort in alignment and adjustment for truely proper function. A bike’s front axle is “double hung”; that is, it is attached at both ends to the fork dropouts. There is virtually no bending action of the axle at either end. On a trike, the axle is “single hung” and there is considerable flexing going on compared to a bike, even with our 20mm axle tubes. The caliper is mounted on the spindle steering arm and the rotor is mounted on the wheel’s hub. The point at which the axle flexes is between these two mounting points, so the caliper and rotor move in relation to each other as the axle flexes. This movement disturbs the proper alignment of the rotor to the caliper. As you can easily imagine, the weight of the rider and cornering forces, as well as other factors, will cause the axle to flex. We can’t anticipate and compensate for the constantly changing cornering forces, but we can do something about the flexing caused by the rider’s weight. This is what this “story” is all about, and how to do it.

Second, there is a constantly overlooked situation that affects rotor-to-caliper alignment. It’s the clearance between the 20mm axle tube and the spindle. To accomodate removal of the wheel while on the trail for tire repairs and other reasons, the axle should be an easy slip-fit into the spindle, which means there is some clearance, although a very tiny amount. This tiny amount of clearance allows the axle to “wiggle” a tiny bit in the spindle with no weight on the trike, which translates into movement of the rotor in relation to the caliper body. This tiny bit of wiggle is at the same point as the flexing mentioned earlier, and has the same effect as flexing. However, the quick release skewer removes this wiggle when it is tightened properly, leaving only the flexing to affect the alignment when the trike is loaded and being ridden. Again however, when the trike is in the repair stand, unloaded, that tiny bit of wiggle allows the axle to “droop” slightly from the weight of the wheel as it is mounted on the trike, then the skewer is tightened. All of that tiny bit of play is shifted downward at this point. When the trike is taken out of the work stand and set on the ground, then the rider sits on it, the axle actually shifts upward from the rider’s weight, again shifting the alignment of the rotor to caliper. It is this position of the axle that should be established before doing a caliper alignment. It should also be noted that when the caliper has been previously aligned and the wheel is removed for any reason, then put back on the trike, the caliper will appear to be misaligned until the trike has had the rider’s weight on it and the trike ridden a short distance to help the axle “settle” into it’s “natural”, operational position. It should then be back in alignment again!

It should be clear by now that to do an accurate caliper/rotor alignment, the trike must have the rider seated, and the trike should be rolled a few feet to allow it’s front wheels to “squat” as much as they are going to. Once this is done, the calipers are ready to be aligned by a second person while the rider sits on the trike.

To align the calipers, begin by making sure that the rotor is absolutely straight and doesn’t wobble (this is done ahead of time with the trike in the repair stand), then loosen the caliper mounting bolts (2) just enough to let the caliper body wiggle on the bolts. Now, adjust the pad adjusters (the read knobs on each side of the caliper) until the pads are tight against the rotor, holding it solidly, and the rotor is centered in the caliper body. Use the pad adjusters to center the rotor in the caliper body. Once the rotor is centered and the pads are very tight against it, tighten up the caliper mounting bolts. Now, back off each pad adjuster about 3 or 4 clicks and check for rotor clearance by looking for a gap between the rotor and the pads. It helps to hold a piece of paper behind the brake caliper to see this gap. If there is a gap (and, there SHOULD be!), make sure the rotor looks parallel to each pad, and that neither of the pads is “cocked” at an angle to the rotor. It is best to set the gap to the fixed pad as small as possible without any drag, then set the gap to the moving pad to suit the rider’s feel for lever movement. In any case, be sure that the rotor doesn’t drag on either pad. The fixed pad is the one nearest the wheel with the largest adjuster knob. Some older calipers had a T-25 torx fitting in the center of this larger adjuster knob to make it easier to access and turn. If the gap to the fixed pad is too much, the rotor has to bend too much to contact it during application of the brakes and it may warp under hard use. This is why the gap to this pad must be kept as small as possible without creating any drag on the rotor.

Of course, there are thousands of trikes running around out there with brakes adjusted and aligned while still in the work stand. This is what you will get if you have a bike shop do the work for you. If the wheel hasn’t been recently removed before the alignment process, this will work reasonably well for most folks. But, if you’ve read this far, it is because you want your trike to run it’s very best, and are willing to do the extra work to be sure your brakes don’t drag at all.

As a final note, some riders have reported hearing their brakes squealing in hard turns even when not being applied. This is dirrect evidence that the caliper and rotor are moving in relation to each other from axle flexing, and that movement is sufficient to cause the rotor to contact one of the pads, causing drag and wear of the pad. This is especially true of heavier riders, so if you are a heavier rider who takes corners fast, then try backing off the pads another click or two to give them a little bit of extra clearance for the rotor to move more from flexing. On all Catrikes, the right brake would get those extra clicks on the moveable pad, and the left brake would get them on the fixed pad. Don’t ask why, because that is another story that would take just as long to tell !

Setting Toe on Front Wheels of a Trike (Catrike)

Mikey says: Toe is a measurement of the horizontal diameters of the two front wheels, and how close to parallel they are to each other when the wheels are pointed straight ahead. If they’re not parallel, the wheels either “toe in” (the fronts of the wheels are closer together than the backs of the wheels) or “toe out” (backs are closer). I’ve seen people use a tape measure, piece of string, Catrike flagpole, trammel points, framing squares, or (last resort) a special tool. Once you’ve got a way to measure the inter-wheel distance front and rear, just fiddle with a tie-rod end to tweak the wheels to make the distances equal, or at least within about 1/16″ of each other. Loosen the stop nut, disconnect the tie-rod end from the bracket on the wheel, turn the rod-end in (adjusts the toe “out”) or out (adjusts the toe “in”). The finest adjustment you can make is a half-turn of the rod end, so you may have to settle for a tiny bit of toe. Some people prefer toe-in, others toe-out if they can’t make it exactly neutral, and some people don’t want it exactly neutral anyway. Once you’re happy, reconnect the rod-end to the bracket, tighten the stop nut, and go riding.
trikebldr adds this about toe:

Basically, toe-in gives better stability at higher speeds, but higher tire wear. Toe-out will give more nimble, power-steering feel, with more tire wear. Neutral toe will give a balance of the two, with very little tire wear.

To explain the stability issue, think of it this way; with toe-out, each wheel is trying to pull the trike in it’s direction, and when you try to go straight and hit even a tiny bump with one wheel, that wheel gets a traction advantage over the other and begins to turn the trike it’s direction. As it does so, the weight advantage transfers to the other wheel. And, this cyclic action happens over and over, making the trike feel very unstable. Example: left wheel hits a bump, gets more traction than the right wheel and the trike starts to turn to the left, shifting the weight over to the right wheel. Now, the right wheel has more traction than the left, so the trike starts to turn to the right, shifting the weight over to the left wheel. This cyclic action happens over and over, creating an unstable, unpredictable feel for the rider. It manifests itself as a tendency to wander from side-to-side.

With toe-in, when one wheel gets a weight advantage and tries to turn the trike, that action only adds more weight to that wheel and nothing changes, giving a feeling of stability. No wandering!

Absolute neutral toe tends to feel more like toe-out at very high speeds, so just a touch of toe-in is preferable for most riding conditions, but not so much that it causes tire wear. That’s where it gets tricky! I run all of my trikes at zero toe when unloaded (in the work stand), and that gives it just a hair of toe-in when I sit on the trike. My original set of Stelvios on my ’07 have over 9000 miles (YES! NINE THOUSAND!), and are still useable. I replaced them only because Tickle Pink was going to be riding that trike during the rally week this year, and I wanted it to be absolutely trouble free. I think this setting has well proven to be optimal for at least my ’07 Speed. Tire wear on my ’08 looks good so far, too, with this setting, and it has over 2000 miles so far.

Here’s a little bit about setting toe. The trueness of the wheels can kill an adjustment completely!!! If each wheel wobbles even 1/32″, and they are in just the right position to each other during the toe setting, that could affect the setting by 1/16″, and that is all I would recommend as a maximum toe-in value. So, even if you actually have neutral toe, it COULD look like 1/16″. The only way to eliminate that is to bind the wheels slightly by adjusting the brake pad just enough to hold the wheel from spinning freely, but allow you to rotate them during this operation. Now. working from the right side, take your toe reading, front and back. Write it down. Now rotate only the right wheel 1/4 turn and take the toe reading again. After doing this at the four “corners” of the right wheel, rotate the left wheel 1/4 turn and start over on the right wheel. This means you will be taking sixteen readings total to see how much your wheel trueness affects the real toe setting. An average of all sixteen values will be a very accurate reading!

This is all very tedious, but if you like a very accurately tuned machine, it is worth it. And, once done to this accuracy, it shouldn’t change unless you take things apart or bend something. My ’07 never changed, and it was never apart in over two years until I recently took it completely apart for “surgery”. My ’08 is now almost 18 months old and has also never changed.

Ceramic Bearings for Catrike Front Hubs

Bruce on ceramic bearings: I’ve replaced the stock Catrike bearings with ceramics bearings on both of my Speeds. Front and rear. In a year and a half I’ve burned up two of the stock bearings, so I was looking for something that is more durable and that I wouldn’t have to worry about again. It just so happens that they really improve the coasting abilities of a trike, which also means they reduce pedaling effort. But, they ain’t cheap! PRH has just done the ceramic swap in the rear of his trike, and is awaiting the arrival of his new fronts. He felt the improvement from just the rears. If I recall, they are about $50/bearing, and there are four of them in the two front hubs. It takes about ten minutes to replace them in each front hub. Here’s a link to my section on Flickr where I keep my pix of the guts of a front hub, showing the bearings and how they fit. For information on how to remove these bearings, check out this post. It’s easy!

Click here to see pix of a front hub disassymbled.

ABEC stands for Annular Bearing Engineers’ Committee. This committee works to determine the standards for bearings for the Anti-Friction Bearing Manufacturers Association (AFBMA).

The ABEC scale classifies different accuracy and tolerance ranges for bearings. The first column of this table lists the five ratings in the ABEC scale.

ABEC Ratings ISO Class

ABEC1 Class 0
ABEC3 Class 6
ABEC5 Class 5
ABEC7 Class 4
ABEC9 Class 2

The ABEC rating of a bearing is determined by the following (for a 608 size bearing):

1. How close the bore is to 8mm in microns
2. How close the outer diameter is to 22 in microns
3. How close the width is to 7mm in microns
4. The rotating accuracy in microns


Thanks to PRH for this latest info on these bearings! These are the bearing and part numbers to order them from VXB Bearings. You will note that these are also ABEC-7 bearings, as well as ceramics.

Kit8041 6904-2RS Bearing 20x37x9 Si3N4 Ceramic:Stainless:Sealed:ABEC-7 Quantity 2

same bearing from BOCA Bearings

Kit7660 6805-2RS Bearing 25x37x7 Si3N4 Ceramic:Stainless:Sealed:ABEC-7 Quantity 2

same bearing from BOCA Bearings

Each front wheel uses one 25x37x7 bearing, and one 20x37x9 bearing, so you need two kits, each with 2 bearings, for a total of 4 bearings for the two wheels.


For standard Catrike rear hubs you need one of each of these kits from

Kit7653     6000-2RS Bearing 10x26x8 Si3N4 Ceramic:Stainless:Sealed:ABEC-7 (about $30)
Kit8160      6200-2RS Bearing 10x30x9 Si3N4 Ceramic:Stainless:Sealed:Nylon:ABEC-7 (about $33)

I believe that all current Catrikes use the same hubs and bearings. The older front hubs used two of the 6904 bearings, but all of the current models use one each of the above bearings in each hub.

An excellent step up from the stock bearings on a Catrike would be to good stainless steel bearings. The next step would be to stainless ABEC-7 bearings. The next step would be to non-rated ceramics. The top of the line (well, almost!) would be ABEC-7 ceramics. You will note that “Stainless” is listed in the description. That’s because the globes (balls) are the ceramic component, but the races are stainless steel.

The best analogy I can give of the difference in ceramic versus steel balls is the difference between a golf ball and a ping-pong ball, as far as smoothness.

Unless you just have a bunch of money to spend, I would recommend running the stock bearings until one of them gives you trouble, then replace them all with ceramics, keeping the stock ones for spares.

Concerning sealed bearings, they can be lubed. That process is discussed in a separate post located here.

My experience (Bob’s) with ceramics has been that they make a 2-3 mph difference in my riding. I found a roll out hill with a straightaway below it, and I coasted my trike on the test track before and after installing ceramic front bearings. Over about a 300 yard run, the trike went 40 paces (120 feet) further with the ceramics. On all the “go fast” sections of my regular route to work, over the next week I set new personal best times on every section, by about 3 mph. On one section, the new speed ability made me try to complete a 6 block section at speeds above 20 mph. I was successful at that. My usual speed over that route is more like 17, and on some areas I usually drop down to 13 or so.

Bruce says the bearings will get better after 200 miles of run in, so I’ll retest them later.

If you install ceramics looking for speed, you should remove the seals, clean out the grease they come with, add replacement grease, and replace the seals. Excess grease would be displaced by the bearings as they rotate, and would come to rest on the bearing cage. During use, oil from the grease would seep out and lubricate the bearings. But if there is so much grease that the bearings have to continually push it aside you will lose any speed advantage the ceramic bearings might have given you. When you replace the grease, you can also make a batch of “thin” grease to pack the bearings with, made of 70% grease and 30% 3-in-1 oil. The picture below shows how much “thin” grease I added.


Replacing the Rear Wheel Bearings on a Catrike

Bruce’s Complete List of Bike Tools

Below is a list of the tools that trikebldr used when stripping and assembling a Catrike with Lucinda C. (Pink Panther) .

Says Bruce: Some are listed as the set they are a part of. I’m a big fan of Park’s line of tools, but you can substitute for a lot of them. With this list, you can tear a current model Catrike completely apart.

Park Tools list (with Park parts numbers)

Polylube 1000 (PPL-1)
Antisieze compound (ASC-1)
Master link pliers (MLP-1)
Allen wrench, folding set (AWS-11)
Cable and housing cutter (CN-10)
Pedal wrench (PW-3)
Chain whip (SR-1)
Bottom bracket cup wrench (BBT-9)
Crank removal tool (CCW-5)
Crank extractor (CWP-6)
Cassette lockring removal tool (FR-5G)
Bottom bracket retainer tool (BBT-32)
Chain breaker (CT-3)
Spoke wrenches
Adjustable spoke wrench (SW-10)
Wheel truing stand (TS-2)
Wheel dishing guage (WAG-4)
Cone wrench set (SCW-13 through SCW-18)
Repair stand (PCS-9)

All other tools

Calibro (from Catrike)
3-in-1 oil
Tri-Flow lubricant
FinishLine KryTech Wax Lubricant
Rubber mallet
Ball-peen hammer
Allen wrench set, metric, 1.5mm-10mm, ball-end type
Allen wrench set, SAE, 1/16-3/8″, ball-end type
Crescent wrenches, 6″ and 12″
Channel-Lock pliers, 6″
Needle–nosed pliers
Side cutters, (!+%*%)
Torx wrench, T-25
Ratt-tail file, 3/16″ or 1/4″
Small mill file, 8″
1/4″ drive torque wrench, 0-100 in/lb
1/4″ drive allen bit set, metric
Tire spoons
Tire pump

NOTES- Of course, a lot of these can be substituted for according to personal preference. The lubes are a personal choice. The wheel truing stand and dishing guage are Park’s best and can be substituted for much cheaper. Park makes a new hammer (HMR-2) with a replaceable rubber face on one end and a steel face on the other. It’s very nice and at $10.95 a pretty good deal. Both allen wrench sets are available at Lowe’s as HUSKY brand as one set (about $20). The side cutters are for crimping the cable-end ferrules, and for cutting the excess cable tie ends.

The multi screwdriver I use is a Cobalt brand from Lowe’s. They have several different styles and sizes. Cobalt are good tools, and they go along quite well with all of the Park blue tools!!! The files are for when you drive the axles out with something a little too hard and kick up a burr that won’t let it go back in! I also use a 3/8″ drive torque wrench on some things because Park’s 1/4″ TW only goes to 60 in/lbs.

The repair stand is a personal choice, but I looked at many, and tried fitting my Speed into them, and only the clamping head on the PCS-9 would fit a Catrike frame at the point where it gives a good balance so you can spin the trike to any angle you want for work. Lucinda already had a different stand, but she found out the hard way the same thing I found. I bought the cone wrenches as a set, but we only used the 15mm during the teardown of a rear wheel hub.

Spoke wrenches are also a personal choice. Pedro’s makes a great set, as well as Park. I have found that I use two different sizes on one wheel at times because nipples are often not very consistent in dimension. I just make sure that the wrench fits very tight on the nipple. If one gets rounded, then you will need the adjustable wrench to work it. The adjustable spoke wrench is about $32, but well worth it the first time a nipple rounds off! Park’s four-sided spoke wrenches are better yet. They grip the spoke at all four corners of the nipple to help keep it from slipping. I believe that Pedro’s makes these, too.

Needle-nosed pliers will do the same job as the master link pliers. Lucinda and I never did tear apart the freewheel (don’t confuse this with the cassette!) on the rear hub, nor did we remove it from the hub. Most books say that it takes a 10mm allen wrench to remove the freewheel from the hub, BUT, I found in all five Cats that I have around here that it takes a 7/16″ allen to fit. Maybe Rick (recycledteen) will chime in here to verify what he used to remove his a while back?!?!?! BTW, 7/16″ allens aren’t EASY to come by! The special “socket wrench” that it takes to open up a freewheel can vary, so you need to check with your local bike store to find out which one you need. Most shops don’t mess with them. They just replace the whole freewheel assembly. About the only reason to open one up is to clean out the heavier grease and put in a lighter grease, or use oil in an effort to reduce rolling friction during coasting. It DOES make a difference. If anybody NEEDS to know which tool it takes for Cats, I can look up which one I use.

One last tool I have and use that I would like to mention for you serious wrenches, but didn’t break out while Lucinda was here, is my bottom bracket threading/facing tool. It’s a Park BTS-1, and it ain’t cheap! If you only have one or two trikes/bikes to maintain, just have your lbs do the job. They usually charge about $55 to do the thread chasing and shell facing job, so if you have it done nine times, you’ve paid for the tool!

Of course, good friends, good music and good food go a long way to making the job go better! You’re on your own there, though!

Bruce (trikebldr)

Replacing (Catrike) Wheel Bearings

Says Bruce:

With the wheel removed from the trike, remove the six screws that hold the brake rotor on and set the brake rotor aside. Now, remove the black, stepped-spacer that slips onto the end of the bearing spacer tube. It is being held on by the o-ring inside, so it may be a little stubborn to slip off, but it will come off with just your fingers.


You are now looking at the side of the inner bearing, with the end of the bearing spacer sticking through it. With a leather or plastic mallet, gently tap on the protruding end of the bearing spacer tube until the outer bearing at the other end falls out. Push the bearing spacer tube the rest of the way out and turn it around to use to drive the inner bearing out. Just be very careful when tapping on this tube because the shoulders that the bearing inner races ride on is very critical to bearing placement within the hub. Maybe using a wooden dowel of the same diameter would be better to drive the inner bearing out. The inner bearing keeps the bearing spacer centered well enough to use it as a driver for the outer bearing. Now, your bearings are removed. The bearing spacer and the two bearings that go on either end of it, and the stepped spacer, are shown below assembled and disassembled.



At this point you can relube the old bearings, or install new ones. To relube the bearings, you remove the plastic seals, clean out the old grease with thinner, add new grease, snap the seals in place, and install the bearings. These pictures show those steps. Bruce says that someone who is trying for maximum speed out of a bearing, whether it is a ceramic of a steel bearing, should avoid putting too much grease in the bearing. Real speed seekers can even thin out their bearing grease with 3-in-1 oil, with oil forming 30% of the grease mix, and pack the bearing lightly with this “thin” grease.




To insert your new bearings, start with the outer bearing, insert it by hand and get it as squared up as possible before driving it all the way in. Slide the new inner bearing onto the protruding end of the bearing spacer and drive it all the way against the shoulder on the spacer. Now, insert that bearing into the hub on the brake rotor side. Using a 1/8″ pin-punch, SLOWLY drive it in, working around the outer race 1/8 circle at a time. Don’t use any kind of press, unless it is a precision press that drives absolutely flat against the bearing. If you get the bearing cocked even a little bit, it wll distort the hub’s recess for the bearing. Not good! Both bearings will be slightly recessed when they are fully seated, with the inner bearing being moreso.

Before starting this process, make very sure that the shoulder inside the hub for each bearing is absolutely clean. Again, this is very critical to the bearing’s location within the hub. Any dislocation of either bearing will cause a preload on both bearings when the wheel is back on the trike. This will create bind and make the trike pull to one side and cause premature bearing failure. Once the bearings are both back in the hub, slip the black, stepped-spacer back onto the bearing spacer tube protrution, making sure that the o-ring inside is in good shape. Now, put the brake rotor back on and you’re done!

When both bearings are inserted correctly, if you spin one bearing, the other should spin with it. The black, stepped-spacer shouldn’t rub on the brake rotor tabs. Once you get the old bearings out, do a thorough cleaning of the inside of the hub, especially inside the machined pockets where the bearings fit.

For more pics of the hub disassembly, refer to trikeblkr’s hub photo archive here.

Replacing Rear Wheel Bearings on a Catrike

Arizona Whip Lighted Flagpole

I have been looking for a way to light up the flagpole on my recumbent trike, and found a product that looked like it would work, the Arizona Whip.  Jerry at was very nice to work with, and I got it hooked up this past weekend. The whip is 5 ” tall, and is of clear lexan. Inside the clear tube are 24 LED lights, 12 facing forward and 12 facing backward. Each side has a red group, and a yellow group, and on one side the red and yellow groups of LEDs flash on alternately. Jerry has other color configurations, including a red, white and blue one. The whip screws into a clamp that grips the 1.25 inch tube of the rear wheel fork. The clamp is for 1.5 in. tubes, but with some rubber and duct tape shimming, it grips the 1.25 inch tubing nicely with one Allen bolt for tightening. It extends up through the frame and clears the panniers, rack, seat, and headrest nicely.

These pictures show the whip in daylight, and the clamp attached to the frame.

LED whip 002

LED whip 003


I ran a switch forward to the left hand grip, so I can turn it on
and off from the seat. It runs off a 9 v battery. I have not ridden it to work yet, so I don’t know how long the 9 v battery will last.


LED whip 004


The picture below is how it looks at night, from the rear. The bike is facing not quite straight, and the bag on the rack is blocking one of the LED lights. The headlight is shining across the street at an angle, and provides lots of illumination.


LED whip 015


This sucker is not cheap at $150, but if I can get noticed by a car either ahead of or behind me, it will be worth it.

Super Bright Flashlight for Bike Light

I've been experimenting with a lighting setup that is as bright as a Dinotte, but way cheaper. It is based on a replacement LED bulb that an inventor I work with has just come out with. With this insert, a 60 lumen Surefire flashlight becomes a 240 lumen monster. The batteries also last longer, due to a heat sink that improves efficiency.

This light is brighter than a car light’s headlights, because I've driven at night in a car, shined the flashlight ahead onto the road, and you can see the spot in the pavement illuminated by the car headlights. It is unbelievably bright. I was camping next to a huge rock outcropping and I lit up the whole rock with this little tiny flashlight. When I drive down the street on my bike in the morning, all the reflective signs bounce light back at me from at least one block away. I took it into an REI store and compared it side by side to a Dinotte, and they were about equal.

Here is the setup on my bike, the Catrike recumbent shown in posts below:


The parts are shown in the picture below, with where to get them listed below the picture. The picture below shows two Surefire flashlight setups. One has a converter, available on ebay for about $8, which allows it to take the longer 17500 batteries, which last longer. The shorter 17670 regular batteries last about 1.5 hours, the larger 17500 ones about 2-2.5 hours.



Flashlight Setup 1: Surefire 6P flashlight (about $60) (or SureFire 6Z, C2, M2 and G2 or Cabela's 6 v flashlight ($32); from Surefire, Amazon, ebay or Cabela's.

Malkoff M60 insert: about $50: (replaces the fragile bulb that comes with the flashlight), from Tactical Design Labs ( if link doesn't work, under the "New" menu tab.) They are selling the Malkoff device as an upgrade for police, who use Surefire flashlights extensively. They say "It will easily illuminate objects at 350+ feet and will blind opponents within a 100 foot radius." I believe a Malkoff equipped flashlight will easily to that.

Surefire converter (extension tube), ebay for $8, allows use of the longer 17500 batteries.

2 Batteries, AW Brand-17500-Protected-Rechargeable-Lithium-Battery from, $11 each.

Flashlight Setup 2:

Same flashlight body, and Malkoff insert (LED setup)

1 17670 AW Protected Battery,which is available from Lighthound for $11.

Fenix 360 Bike Mount,
light holder, $15, this is high quality in fit and finish, but rattles. A small rubber band between the top half and bottom half stops the rattle. A no-name brand is also pretty decent, on ebay for $4 shipping, titled:
New Bike/Bicycle LED Flash Light Mount Clamp Holder. These are a little loose on the Surefire, so I put a section of inner tube around the flashlight body, for a tighter fit.

Charger: Ultrafire WF-139 Charger for 3.7 volt Lithium Battery Charger, from, $18.00 (charges several sizes of batteries)

I hope someone tries this setup and tells me how it works for you.

Catrike Speed

I have been enjoying my newest ride, a Catrike recumbent trike, the Speed model, since the spring of  ’08.  I have been riding it to work about everyday, and building up my trike muscles.  Pedaling a recumbent trike uses different muscles from riding a DF (diamond frame), and it takes several months to build them up.  My ride from home starts with a fun little hill that gets the heart racing.  I have hit 38 on this hill, then on flat sections of my route I have hit 26 mph for short bursts. This video was shot after I had the trike for a week, and shows the fun part of my ride to work.

I have found that riding a trike is a lot of fun, and I have not touched my Motobecane since I got the Catrike. It is fun and comfortable, and commuting even in the winter has worked out well. There is back support, no need for padded crotch pants, nor padded gloves.  You also can’t fall over, and can crank up a steep hill as slow as you want. 


To the stock trike I have added a chain guard, locking handgrips for the brakes, a rack, an air horn, and a speedometer.  The speedometer mount is a triangle of foam that is strapped to the telescoping boom.



I am using a powerful tactical flashlight for a headlight, and it puts out 240 lumens.  Its a Surefire flashlight with a replacement lamp that really boosts the light output from the stock output of 80 lumens.  A special rechargeable battery lasts for 8 hours on a charge.  I have no idea who the old guy on my trike is in the picture below.