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Four wheel, four seat, pedal vehicle

photo(1).28 photoIMG_0195I ran across this totally cool vehicle in downtown Boise.  It has 4 wheels, and seat for 4 riders. Each rider has pedals, and pedals at their own pace.  It has 4 disc brakes.  The seats slide up and down on slanted posts to adjust for height.  What a cool ride!


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.

The First Tadpole recumbent tricycle? A cool one from 1875

According to the Field:

My tricycle weighs 83 pounds, and, when loaded for a summer journey of several days, it is made to carry myself, 196 lbs, and an overcoat, spare clothes, a book, sketch book, colors, etc to the extent in all of 221 lbs.  I have always a comfortable seat to sketch in, or to rest in when I need, with great ease in driving.  Although I can put it along on level ground at the rate of 8 or 9 mph, I seldom cover more than 6 in traveling/ but the road must be very bad to reduce me to 4 mph.


Gregory Allen’s Steampunk Trikes

If you are around downtown Boise for long, you will notice an unusual trike driven by an interesting looking fellow.  Dawson’s coffee shop is a likely place to run into the driver, which I often do.  It is a handmade trike designed and built by Gregory Allen.

They are pedal assisted, but run primarily on battery power.  He used lithium for long life, and lead acid for quick take off.  This is about the 17th model he has built, and each version has some different features.

Shop / Repair Stand for a Trike

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:

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.

1936 French SWB Recumbent

The question is, when was was the first recumbent made?  This is the earliest bent of the short wheel base (SWB) variety I have seen, by a Mr. Albert Raymond.  I know of an earlier long wheel base bent invented by Jarvis in the U.S., from 1902, but this is the earliest SWB I have found.  That it was from France should be no surprise, since Charles Mochet was making recumbents in France about that time period.

1886 MASA Slingshot?

Well, if its not a MASA Slingshot from 1886, at least its a tadpole trike with similar general appearance.  

Tadpole Upright Trike, Underseat Steering

Here is a comfy looking tadpole trike.

This looks like its chain drive, single speed, the rider’s back would be straight up, not leaning forward.  I don’t see any brakes, but if it was direct drive, you could brake by resisting the pedals turning.  This would work well today.


The MASA Slingshot, by Trikebldr

In 1974 MASA (Multi-Advanced Sports Action) (of Japan) created a new class of closed-course track racing. They set up the rules so tight that only one trike would qualify,……their’s! Japanese companies could do that in those days.

MASA was a Japanese company, but targeted the US with this form of racing. In 1975 they finally brought a few of these over here and did some exhibition races between their own staff.  It never really caught on, but they still imported about 1500 of these into the US over a three year period.

There were some very minor changes made to the trikes over the three years they were produced, like the rear dropouts, the chain tensioners, seat materials, colors, elimination of a lot of the original chrome parts, and the elimination of the use of a mid-drive that followed the rear der’s movements (called a reciprocal-gearing system).

Since these trikes were focused on track racing only against like trikes, the lack of braking and their size was not a problem. Their wide, long front end was thought to be better protection for the rider.

Two major problems that kept them from becoming popular was the single, minimally effective rear brake and their humongous size (56+lbs). The Slingshot really was intended solely for track racing where braking was only used to adjust speed entering the corners. Even the disc brake on the rear of earlier models was way less than effective for street use. Later models tried the Bendix drum brake on the rear wheel, but still fell short of being able to lock up the wheel. The trike’s 56-65lb weight didn’t help with it’s stopping problems either.

Earlier models came with an aluminum ‘wing” over the front axle, probably more for looks than anything, and a bullet-shaped, sports car-styled rear mirror on the left side. The chain and front sprocket was also completely enclosed in an aluminum guard. They were very high tech looking machines, but too heavy to compete with any other HPV around.

The first year only came in red or yellow, with lots of chrome on the front end. The second and third years offered the orange and black colors, with the loss of all chrome on them, except the rims. The one you have there now is a very late first year model, with a tan seat and simpler, single cog rear jack-shaft on the driveline. It still has some of the chrome on the steering components, but not all. It is a transition model. The seller claims it to be original paint, but that’s not true. Orange wasn’t introduced until all chrome was eliminated. Black also came out first, with all parts painted black, then the orange was added to the frame only.

One last feature that also killed it was it’s tendency to flip over in high speed corners! The rider’s center of mass was closer to the rear wheel than the fronts so it wanted to tip that rear wheel over, and the front wheels couldn’t stop it with so little weight on them. It as about a 30/70% weight distribution on them, front to back, whereas our current generation of tadpole trikes average about 60/40% front to back.