Another New Trike... IMGP0576.JPG (668351 bytes)

November 10, 2004

Now a year out from the crash, I've only put a couple of hundred miles on the trike, mostly because we've put a lot of time in on the tandem.  

The trike is still a blast to ride, and I've become more comfortable with riding it at speed.  I replaced the original front disc with a higher-end mechanical system that is much smoother and more powerful and only use the rear brakes at very low speeds.  Overall, it is the fastest trike of the three, cutting several minutes off average ride times for our standard 24-mile Mission Trail route.

Planned upgrades: 

Replace the seat.  The existing fiberglass seat was cracked around the lower mounting holes, so I added a fiberglass patch, but would like to replace the seat with either a tube/mesh unit or aluminum plate design.
Extend the boom.  The boom is too short to allow full leg extension.  It would be fine for someone under 6', but is a fraction short for me.

September 19, 2003 First crash...

Since receiving the trike, work commitments had limited my mileage on this vehicle to around 150, so I decided to take advantage of a brief mid-week lull and explore an extension to our normal Mission Trail ride.  Joined up with a small group of riders that start at Mission San Jose and loop south and got some ideas for extended rides.  

The ride was nice, but I had been experiencing problems with the front brake dragging, enough to significantly increase pedaling workload, so I disconnected the front disk, and figured I could rely on the rear drum brakes.  I was feeling more comfortable with the lean steering, but noted the tendency of the trike to wobble as speed increase.

At a speed of around 17 mph, the trike suddenly entered into a wobble, followed by an immediate hard right turn, causing my right hand and knee to hit the ground, then the trike violently rolled to the left, ejecting me from the vehicle.  I hit the ground on my left shoulder, resulting in a grade 1 separation and a scrape/contusion to my left thigh.  Since my recollection is somewhat hazy, I suspect that I hit my head (I know, I know, should have been wearing a helmet, yada, yada, yada, and now I do, with this trike).

What caused the crash?  Probably a combination of the wobble (contributing factors were a less than smooth spin and speed) and lack of front brake.  During wobble, the rear wheels may alternately leave the ground and application of the rear brakes by the single lever could cause a raised wheel to lock, which, upon contacting the ground, could contribute to a veer towards the locked wheel.

At this writing (Nov 14), I've almost completely recuperated, and replaced the front brake.  Two weeks after the crash, Jayne and I rode the two-day MS150 on our tandem.

July 26, first (short) ride ...

So... the trike goes to the LBS on Tuesday, and I'm on a plane Wed, back home yesterday evening (I hate it when work gets in the way of my recreation). Stop at the LBS right before closing - brakes & gears are tweaked, wireless computer installed (VDO), bottle cages and flag purchased. Home. We have a new dog (Bella, a French bulldog). Miscl 017.jpg (125049 bytes) Dog and domesticity prevail, except for a couple of laps down the block. It's steerable, shifts, and brakes.

Up early today. We're preparing for MS150, so it's an easy 24 miler partly on the San Antonio Mission Trail on the Greenspeed tandem with Jayne.

Finally, it's time to ride. The single Arkel bag full of tools, tubes, pump, etc. is too big for the low-rider racks - no problem, I'll ride without them. Since it's the first ride, and no tools, discretion overtakes valor, and I decide to do an easy flat loop through a nearby park.

Compared to my Optima, the Forte accelerates briskly, and seems to cruise a couple of mph faster. First ride stats are pretty lame: 6.19 miles in 31.17, avs 11.88, max 20 mph per the computer, but for a shakedown run, it was ok, plus already getting hot. Though the route was flat, I did take the Forte up the short hill by the house - it climbs easier than the other trikes (normally I'm in my lowest gearing on the Optima to climb this hill, but used the middle chain ring and middle of the cassette with the Forte).

Steering takes a bit of getting used to. Plus there's a balance component. Not like a regular bike, but if you're not paying attention at a stop, it can flop over on you. At very low speeds, the turning radius increases significantly, but above 2 or 3 mph, and up to 17 - 18 it seems to fall somewhere between the Optima and the tandem. At higher speeds, a smooth spin is essential, otherwise the trike tends to "hunt" a bit. Road surface condition influences steering - the higher the crown, the more you lean toward the center (it just feels odd). Minor road irregularities didn't seem to be a problem, but on one rough section of park road, the trike did dart about a bit when speed was over 14 mph or so, and on one occasion, I found myself headed for the opposite shoulder after encountering a large pothole on an extremely cambered road section. I think most of my issues with steering/leaning will resolve as I get more miles logged.

Shifting - the Shimano 105 gearset shifted crisply, but, unlike the typical trike chain line, the fwd's short drive system won't allow much cross chain, so I'm shifting up to the big chain ring a lot more on this trike.

Brakes - Front disc modulates smoothly and has plenty of stopping power. The rear brakes are drums actuated by a single lever and are will lock up the rear wheels under panic conditions. The LBS added a couple of Rollamajigs (or whatever you call them) to the rear brakes since I didn't like the way the cables entered the rear brake housing and wanted a bit of strain relief on the cables.

Handling is cool. You sort of "swoop" into turns (but keep you inside foot high to avoid heel drag if you've got big feet), kind of like skiing.

First impression - too much fun!

Short term issues - 

1. replace the 40 psi Kenda on the front with a Comp Pool.
2. Get a tool bag that fits the rack.

Long term issues - 

1. Get more seat recline. The Optima seat is comfortable, but I like a bit more relaxed position. Accomplishing this will require new mounting brackets.
2. Raise bottom bracket. At extreme lean angles, my size 13 feet hit the ground if I try to pedal through the turn. Will need a new assembly for the crank.
3. Is there a Rholoff hub in my future?

July 22, the waiting is over...

After wearing out the UPS tracking site, the trike finally arrives.  After about an hour of unpacking, assembling (and one call to Sam), it's finally together, but not dialed in.  I take it for a spin down the block and realize that I'm not the best brake/gearing adjuster, so it's off to the local bike shop.  Since I have to travel for the next 3 days, the trike will stay there until I return.

Miscl 013.jpg (387435 bytes)  Miscl 014.jpg (390367 bytes)  Miscl 015.jpg (115187 bytes)  Miscl 016.jpg (166215 bytes)

July 15, on the road...

Estimated arrival, July 21.

July 1, ready to ship...

First photos:  IMGP0577.JPG (660389 bytes)

Now the waiting really begins...

April 21, 2003, the order is placed...

I've been riding tricycles for about 3 years now, and have bought a new one each year, so, with my fourth year of triking approaching, it's time for something new - and a bit different.

The first 3 were tadpole trikes (2 front and 1 rear wheel), so this time I thought it was time to look at delta (1 front and 2 rear wheels) designs. 

Most deltas have a relatively long wheel base and are rear wheel drive, with relatively complex drive trains.  A few designers have built front wheel drive trikes, and I became interested in the combination of delta configuration, front wheel drive (fwd), with steering accomplished by leaning the forward portion of the trike (including rider). 

Lean steering is more often seen in handcycle designs (I did a parking lot ride on a handtrike to get a feel for the steering), but should be more adaptable to leg powered trikes, since the arms are available to control leaning and act as stabilizers (handtrikes typically have some type of steering damper).

Liking the concept of fwd, ls, delta, I started looking for someone to build the machine.  After talking to a number of builders, Sam Whittingham (Forte! Human Powered Machinery) seemed to be the man for the job. Click on Sam's name for more information about him, but just know this: not only does he build bikes, but he rides them - fast!

Sam and I exchanged several emails and phone calls over a 4 month period, and ended up with what I hope will be an interesting experience.

My idea:lean1.jpg (28471 bytes)  Sam's design: lean trike.jpg (128043 bytes)

Basic specifications:

Main frame tubing: 1 5/8 .065 wall chromoly.
Front loop: 7/8" chromoly with 3/4" support.
Seat: Optima
Gearing: Shimano 105, triple chainring (30-42-52), 9 spd cassette (11-32)
Shifter: Shimano Dura-ace bar-con
Brakes: front disc, rear drum


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