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RideAtaxia 1 June 2019, Winters, CA - NorCal - Friedrich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA)

The 2019 annual Northern Californa FARA RideAtaxia to raise much-needed funds for research is coming up!

The ride will happen early June 1, 2019 and starts and ends at the Community Center in Winters, CA

Make your plans, join or form a team, donate, and show up and be part of the cure.

... And, delicious BarBeCue

Together, we will cure FA!

More information at:

Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA)
533 W. Uwchlan Ave  |  Downingtown, PA 19335  |  USA  
Phone: (484) 879-6160  |  Fax: (484) 872-1402  |  Email: info@CureFA.org   |  Website: CureFA.org 

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Pinking clamps memorize ICE handlebar position

British recumbent trike maker ICE goes pink with an obscure, but very useful, innovation built into the handlebars of ICE recumbent tricycles. The new design uses a sawtoothed edge on the ends of the handlebar clamp tube that mates to a variably-placed equally-sawtoothed clamp that gets fixed to the handlebars.

The jagged sawtoothed effect is not unlike the result of using "pinking shears" to cut cloth.

With the new ICE pinking handlebar system, every time the handlebars get released and repositioned for folding or any other purpose, they can be reset to the original position with no guesswork. Given that the handlebars have quick-releases on them and moving the left handlebar is usually required for folding the trike, this innovation ensures that recovering your handlebar position will be a no-brainer.

Mechanisms to recover a set handlebar position are not a new concept. Czech recumbent trike maker Azub has long offered a very sturdy castellated quick-release as part of their folding trike system upgrade.

The ICE mechanism is lightweight and now included with all folding ICE trikes at no additional cost.

Kudos to ICE for this simple yet effective refinement!

[Note: The actual color of handlebars on ICE folding recumbent trikes is still black. "Pinking" refers to the analogous effect of cutting cloth material with "pinking shears".]

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New Bacchetta seat: B3 fine-tunes recumbent comfort

Bacchetta has expanded its seat selections to include a new style that mixes and matches the designs of the existing Recurve and Euromesh seats. Recumbent riders wanting the upper width and general shape of the Recurve upright seat, but in a more reclined angle used by Euromesh riders will find a comfortable option.

Until now, Bacchetta has offered two primary seat styles [Note: there is a third carbon seat for performance bikes, but we will leave that for a different article]:

  1. Recurve: has a wide seat back, a defined seatpan to sit on, and a sharply-defined relatively high angle between them
  2. Euromesh: has a narrow width and the lower part (seatpan) blends with the seat back at a shallow angle and no sharply-defined transition

For riders wanting the width of the Recurve, and a shallower seat angle, there has been no option until now. Riders wanting the seatpan of the Euromesh with a wider back support have also been given a new option.

The new B3 seat has a tight-stretched mesh similar to the Euromesh combined with a defined seatpan and the wider seatback of the Recurve. The angle between the seatpan and the seatback is in between the angle of the Recurve and the Euromesh.

The pictures tell the differences. In general, Bacchetta riders will choose between the seats as follows:

Recurve: most upright riding position, wide and contoured seat pan, wide seat back with upper shoulder support

B3: allows middle upright to medium reclined riding positions, medium-sized but defined seatpan, wide seat back with upper shoulder support

Euromesh: most reclined riding position, narrow and loosely defined seat pan, narrow (spinal) back support

The three seat styles are largely the same price and each has its strengths, so it's just a matter of personal needs for the recumbent rider.

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Bionx bankruptcy

Electric-assist and retrofit electric motor company Bionx has gone bankrupt and its assets are being sold off.

After cornering the North American electric-assist retrofit market, Bionx suddenly closed its doors and laid off all workers in February 2018, just at the start of the busy Spring season in the bicycle industry.

Apparently, the financial failure of the company is related to a deal with General Motors, in which Bionx was to produce electric bicycles for the auto-maker at a cost of $1000/ea. After finding that the bicycles would actually cost $1400/ea to build, Bionx defaulted on the contract and went into receivership shortly thereafter.

This is not the first time that Bionx has had to reboot. The previous iteration of Bionx was originated by a company called Electric Propulsion Systems (EPS). EPS' Bionx was plagued by quality control issues until the brand was acquired by auto parts supplier Magna International Inc. in 2008.

Under Magna ownership, Bionx resolved many of the quality-control issues and redesigned many aspects of the product. An innovative and extremely lightweight 500W motor hub was introduced and an unobtrusive controller ring was devised with full controls, but without a conventional screen.

Bionx systems are characterized by a proprietary battery, controller, and motor and require company support for even such essential aspects as activating a system. Without the company in existence and supporting the product, Bionx end-consumers and dealers are left with unsupported or non-useable products.

When the company announced going into receivership in February 2018, many people familiar with the company saw it as a blip and expected a new Bionx to rise from the ashes. However, as time has gone on and the phones continued to be unanswered, hopes for a revival have dimmed. Now, Grant Thornton, the accounting and business advisorial company handling the receivership, has announced that most of the assets have been sold and buyers for the remaining assets and patents are being sought.

Bionx had made a significant preseason sale throughout the bicycle industry and many dealers have received Bionx products that they have been unwilling to sell to unwitting consumers, given the lack of warranty, company support, and even essential configuration and activation functionality.

It will make for a lively show as Grant Thornton attempts to collect payment for bricked merchandise or sends those bills to debt-collectors for a more heavy-handed approach. Grant Thornton has refused to take back any of the merchandise that was sold with a promise of company support and basic functionality.

Most Bionx customers were small-businesses. These were bike shops with few employees, which were sold proprietary Bionx product with a promise of functionality and support. Lack of support and basic functionality makes the remaining product close to worthless.

On the human side of the equation, Bionx also employed many good, honest people who worked hard and very competently. These people were all laid off in an instant due to a seemingly negligent miscalculation at a high level of the company. 

And, last, but not least, end-user bicycle-riding customers who bought into a premium product based on the manufacturer's promise to support them into the future are left with systems that can not be supported even by third-party suppliers due to the proprietary nature of the design.



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ICE Full Fat Hunting Trike w. Rohloff

This trike is outfitted for multi-day camping trips and specifically for hunting and packing in and out of the backcountry.

The ICE Full Fat is built up with the large-size Schwalbe Jumbo Jim 4.8 tires and full rack system with top carrying capacity. Extra load-carrying is strapped to the seat with ICE pods sidebags (by Radical Designs).

A Rohloff 14-speed internally geared hub drives this beast. By keeping all the gears inside the hub, we should see excellent wear in all sorts of muck and mud.

We loaded up some Ortlieb packs mounted high and low on the full rear rack and it's clear that a lot of meat can be packed out on this trike. We could increase this with some shallower longer packs.

[Note: Dog not included with trike.]

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Folding and unfolding a Catrike Dumont

This is a short (4 minute) video of folding and unfolding a Catrike Dumont full-suspension trike at the recumbent trike shop in Sacramento.

Caveats such as proper placement of the seat stays are pointed out, and how to trundle the trike about in its folded state.

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Recumbent trikes, aging, and the immune system

Researchers in Britain studying elderly endurance cyclists have discovered profound benefits to cycling at an older age.

Looking at markers in the blood for T-cells, the researchers found the endurance cyclists in their 70's and 80's were producing similar levels of T-cells as adults in their 20's while a sedentary group produced very few. T-cells are a key element of a properly functioning immune system.

The BBC reported a synopsis of this research which was originally published in the journal Ageing Cell.

Given the difficulties many people have maintaining balance on a two-wheeled bicycle, elderly people riding recumbent trikes have the edge on their sedentary contemporaries when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system.

AlphaBENT customer JCS, summed it up when he said, It should be almost illegal for old people to ride road bikes. They should ride these...--JCS

Apparently, the researchers agree...

[Note: We need to add a picture of JCS on his ICE Full Fat to the picture of him on his Catrike 700]

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Flags of 2018

Recumbent trike makers are revising their OEM safety flags for 2018 with a priority on safety over self-promotion.

Until this year, the only recumbent trike maker actually making a safety flag with safety as its primary focus has been ICE. ICE flags have been made of high-visibility material with a highly-reflective spine for many years. Even so, ICE owners have given feedback requesting better daytime visibility than the ICE strip offered.

For 2018, ICE has revised their flag to have more surface area and more nighttime reflectivity.

The lack of flag visibility has led to a booming aftermarket for safety flags led by Soundwinds and Purple Sky.

It seems that other manufacturers like Catrike, HP Velotechnik, and Hase must have finally gotten the message that safety flags should be about safety more than brand-name recognition, so all of these brands have drastically revised their flags for 2018 increasing visibility and nighttime reflectivity.

Greenspeed has also moved to a high-visibility color-scheme, but still has room for improvement in nighttime visibility.

Here are some interesting photos of the assortment. From left to right:

  1. ICE
  2. HP Velotechnik
  3. Catrike
  4. Hase Spezialraeder
  5. Soundwinds
  6. Greenspeed (lower right)
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Catrike 700 gets 2018 makeover

Catrike is giving the venerable Catrike 700 racing trike a makeover for 2018 and addressing rider feedback gained over the years.

One constraint that has been a sticking point over the years is simply the 130" ground-shipping limit imposed by UPS and Fedex. In order to keep the length plus girth of the package close to 130 inches, the frame has to be physically limited. And although Catrike takes some liberties with that 130" limit, the fact is that the 700 recumbent trike, with its longer rear fork (to accommodate the larger 622 ETRTO rear wheel) and more laidback seating angle, will always be a large shipping package.

This is the primary reason Catrike has been unable to increase the frame length to gain the extra space to dip the upper seat cross-tube backwards to move it away from the rider's upper back. At our recumbent trike shop, we have addressed this issue for years simply by bolstering the upper part of the seat with large-pore open-cell foam, or with a Ventisit seat-pad.

For 2018, though, Catrike has formally redesigned the seat to include a special cushion on the upper seat covering the cross-bar. The seat now also includes lumbar/kidney side cushions to fit the rider more snugly and work against centrifugal forces in turns.

Catrike is also upping the ante on the specs converting the rear wheel to a modern disc-compatible 24-spoke Zipp wheel, and building it around a wider (142mm) hub with a 12mm through axle for increased stiffness. The new wheels will be compatible with newer 11-speed drivetrain technology.

New changes for the 2018 include:

  • new seat mesh incorporating upper support cushion, and side lumbar bolsters
  • slight frame change focusing on the upper seat
  • 142mm rear wheel with 12mm through-axle
  • carbon triple crankset
  • rear disc brake for drag and parking usage
  • new dropout system to accommodate the rear wheel and disc parking brake
  • 11-speed drivetrain compatibility

The new Catrike 700 will also be significantly more expensive than the current $2950 price tag, though how much more is still not known.

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HP Gekko FX26 folding recumbent trikes become scarce in USA

HP Velotechnik has sold the last of its US supply of Gekko FX-26 folding recumbent trikes to its premium stocking HP Velotechnik dealers like AlphaBENT.

HP has announced some changes to the Gekko components for 2018 which include hydraulic brakes and downgraded wheel hubs. Up until now the lower-priced Gekkos had the same excellent-quality hubs of the most expensive HP recumbent trike models. For 2018, however, HP promises that people wanting the premium hubs will have to pay a premium price. Buyers who want the easier-to-maintain mechanical disc brakes and top-quality hubs of the 2017 models will have to act fast before the last ones are gone from HP dealers.

The Gekko FX-26 is an entry level recumbent trike with a market position competing head-to-head with the Catrike 5.5.9. Though the two trike models share some design features including an integrated folding mechanism, they are radically different in their components and their production. The Catrike 5.5.9. is manufactured in the USA and has a premium 10/30-speed drivetrain and bar-end shifter set, whereas the Gekko FX models are equipped with the much less expensive 8/24-speed drivetrain and twist shifters.

US recumbent trike manufacturer, Catrike, has implemented a different supply chain by manufacturing its own frames in-house using just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing methods. Catrikes JIT model assures the company that it won't run out of trikes unless it somehow runs out of materials or components. The downside of Catrike's JIT model is that popular models might have lengthier lead-times if they are not produced anticipatorially.

Although HP Velotechnik is a German company, it has the Gekko FX-26 models manufactured in Taiwan and exported directly to the USA. This takes advantage of the lower labor costs of Taiwan, but requires much longer lead-times on production and shipping. Customized Gekkos remain available from Germany at approximately a $600 premium over the US models.

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Announcements

Catrike Eola: new for 2019 recumbent trike model

Catrike introduced some tempting views of the Eola, a new recumbent trike model that will hit the streets sometime in 2019.

Like the 2018 redesigned Catrike 700, the Eola will depart from the traditional standard components used on most other Catrike models. Instead of having multiple chainrings and a front derailleur and shifter, the Eola will use a single chainring and have an extra-wide 11-42 cassette on the back.

Taking many hard-learned lessons from the years that Catrike has been manufacturing recumbent trikes in the USA, the Eola is designed for streamlined production time and resources. Examples include:

  • a trimmed down 3-color palette accented with neutral hard-anodized gray.
  • single-part, fixed-camber, fixed-reach handlebars designed for most people
  • derailleur-less boom
  • fixed-angle seat-back

The Eola will also come with many standard features that might otherwise cost extra, including rear flashing taillight, rear fender, integrated carrying bag, and two-sided SPD-compatible clipless pedals.

All specifications and components for the Eola are subject to change, but the preliminary look suggests that the Eola will have:

  • all three wheels 20" (406 ETRTO), probably equipped with Schwalbe Marathon Racers
  • 1x11 drivetrain with FSA hollow-axle bottom-bracket, 42T chainring and 11-42T cassette
  • Catrike seat-pad
  • Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes

There might be a temptation to call the Eola an "entry-level" trike, but, if so, it will certainly be one of the best entry-level trikes on the market.

At first blush, the Eola might look similar to a Catrike Pocket, but will the Eola will have a higher seat, more upright seat-back angle, and wider track.

The Eola is clearly laid out to compete head-to-head with the HP Velotechnik Gekko model lineup.

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Disability

How to get out of a recumbent trike if you can't get out of a recumbent trike

Catrike Speed rider, Miles, has worked out a great system for getting in and out of his very low and laidback recumbent trike using a strap attached to his roof-rack.

The Catrike Speed is no longer in production, but is most closely related to the current Catrike 700. It is a sport trike with a very low seat and very reclined seat. Another trike in this sport or racing class is the ICE VTX.

Miles has ALS, but this technique would work well for a lot of other situations. His trike is equipped with a Bionx electric-assist.

It's all in the positioning of the trike and the foresight in lashing the strap to the roof rack, and then, when he comes in for a landing, he just grabs the strap off the ground and pulls himself up.

Thanks for demonstrating this clever trick, Miles.

Find Miles at the Walk to Cure ALS or back an ALS walker.

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