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RideAtaxia NorCal 2016 comes to Winters

Ride Ataxia comes to NorCal this coming weekend!

Come out Saturday, June 4, 2016 to support this worthy cause and these fine individuals.

Every year, we all come together at this time of year to raise awareness of and money for curing this debilitating disease called Friedrich's ataxia. Last year, RIdeAtaxia NorCal raised more than $109,000 for research to cure this disease.

It promises to be a scorcher this year, but there will be plenty of hydration and snacks and a meal afterwards to keep the riders going.

PLEASE NOTE: This year, Ride Ataxia Norcal begins and ends in the beautiful little town of Winters rather than Davis, where it has been hosted for the past several years.

Join Teams Kyle, Sean, Megan and all the other Ataxians and their supporters on this pretty and worthy ride.

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Catrike Dumont Update: Availability and front-suspension retrofit

Many Catrike owners are probably wondering:

  1. Will Dumont front suspension spindles be mountable on other Catrike recumbent trikes?
  2. When will the Catrike Dumont full-suspension trike begin production?

Front-suspension Retrofits NOT possible

Catrike reports that the engineering specifications and forces involved preclude retro-fit capability. The suspension spindles (kingpins / kingposts) for the Dumont have been completely engineered from scratch and they are designed to different specification than non-suspension Catrike recumbent trikes. Therefore, retrofits will not be possible.

Recumbent tricycle spindles are extremely complicated. They are not only responsible for resisting riding forces, they also make the ride and steering what it is. Spindles are the nexus of a recumbent trike's handling, stability, self-centering, anti brake-steer, pedal-steer, and turning radius. In short, they dictate how a trike will ride and behave.

Catrike is understandably playing it quite cautiously with the new suspension spindles in order to avoid making any costly errors like their massive spindle recall when they last re-designed their non-suspension spindles. In this instance, there were a couple failures and Catrike replaced every spindle at its own expense.

It is common for front suspension to be non-modular and non retrofittable. Certainly, no one has ever expected HP Velotechnik to allow front suspension retrofits pulled from its Scorpion FS-20 and FS-26 models. The new Azub front suspension due out this summer will technically be retrofittable, but the retrofit will involve a replacement of the front cruciform including spindles and this is expected to be an expensive proposition.

The only currently commercially available front-suspension retrofit option is on ICE Sprint and Adventure models. In such an instance, a retrofit is possible, though more expensive than when installed OEM at initial purchase.

Catrike Dumont full-suspension trike not available until June at the earliest

On 3 June 2016, Catrike will get word that will dictate when they will finally be able to begin production of their new Dumont full-suspension big-wheel recumbent trike. Other than that, mum is the word, but is is likely that people anxiously awaiting this model will be able to look forward to getting their own in July.

The Dumont was announced in 2015 at the Interbike trade show, and Catrike has been shooting for a Spring 2016 initiation of production.

Catrike manufactures recumbent trikes in Orlando, Florida using Just-In-Time manufacturing philosophy and methods.

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Ti-FLY action video | full-suspension recumbent trike

Assuming that a video is worth a million words, even if it is only half a minute long, Azub released a video today illustrating the Ti-FLY front suspension in action.

The recently announced Ti-FLY full-suspension recumbent trike will be in full production during the summer of 2016.

Ti-FLY recumbent trike is to be built as two platforms:

Production is limited so reservations are being taken right now. Reserve yours now.

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HP introduces US-exclusive Scorpion FS-26 with upgrades and fast delivery

In an increasingly competitive market, HP Velotechnik is taking pre-emptive measures against the impending arrival of Catrike's new full-suspension Dumont model.

Production leadtime has long been HP's Achilles heel. Custom HP Velotechnik purchases often require a one month leadtime. This has been a competitive disadvantage as compared to Catrike's 1-2 week just-in-time production schedule or ICE's ability to ship a trike within mere days of receiving the order.

To address this issue, HP is now producing a standardized upgraded version of their best-selling and award-winning full-suspension Scorpion FS-26 model for the United States market. Trikes with the US-Special specification can be shipped immediately.

The US-Special has the following upgrades:

It is available only in the grey / white color scheme and with front derailleur tube.

At $5053, there is no discount over a similarly equipped Scorpion FS-26 with the same options, but, the ability to ship it immediately will no doubt sway some purchasers' upcoming trike-buying decisions.

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accessories

Pannier rack top-bag adapter for ICE 26" suspension recumbent trikes

Recumbent trikes with 26" wheels have a difficult time supporting top-bags -- bags that are intended to be mounted on top of a rear rack.

ICE has just announced the availability of a rack adapter for its 26" models to allow the use of top-mount packs such as the Arkel Tailrider and many more.

The inherent difficulties are these:

  • any rear suspension worth its salt will have a lot of travel and the ICE 26" rear suspension is one of these
  • the rear rack is a suspension rack (not directly connected to the rear axle)
  • the rear rack adapter must therefore be far enough away from the top of the wheel to accommodate all that travel
  • a 26" wheel is already quite high

Therefore, an adapter for this purpose will necessarily be high off the ground with a corresponding contribution to a higher center of gravity. It will probably have more flex.

ICE has clearly stated that this adapter is not intended for loads higher than of 5kg (11 pounds).

An adapter like this might impact the foldability or packability of the trike, but ICE has designed it to fit all Adventure, Sprint, and Full Fat models with 26" rear suspension.

One benefit to using this adapter is that it should stabilize side panniers with heavy loads better than without it.

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Czech Republic

Azub Ti-FLY titanium suspension recumbent trike flight-ready summer 2016

On the heels of winning the "Trike of the Year" award for their outstanding-handling Tri-Con rear-suspension recumbent trike model, Azub has just announced the availability later this summer of their first full-suspension recumbent trike platform.

Dubbed the Ti-FLY, the new model leverages the natural lightness and springing characteristics of titanium as a 40mm travel spring. Upper and lower titanium cruciform pieces form a parallelogram structure which is a natural spring. Dampers tune the spring for desired suspension characteristics.

The engineers at Azub have mated this new front suspension technology to the proven supple rear suspension of the TRIcon model for a recumbent trike with characteristics unequaled in the recumbent tricycle industry.

Reservations for the Ti-FLY are being accepted right now at AlphaBENT. At a competitive sub-$5k base price, the Ti-FLY is to be available in a gamut of gearing configurations including:

  • Shimano derailleur-based 24-speed, 27-speed, and 30-speed drivetrains
  • SRAM Dual-Drive 24 and 27-speed systems
  • Shimano Alfine and Rohloff Speedhub internally-geared rear hub systems
  • and the amazing new Pinion 18-speed front gearbox

Azub estimates that they will be able to produce one Ti-FLY per day, so a first-come first-serve reservation system has been put in place for prospective owners to get their names into the limited production slots for this machine.

Like the Azub TriCON and Azub T-Tris models, the Ti-FLY will be available with either a small (20") drivewheel or a large 26" drive wheel. The larger drive-wheel will have higher gearing and a steadier ride with all other factors kept equal.

  • Ti-FLY 20 has 20" wheels all around
  • Ti-FLY 26 has 20" wheels in front and a 26" drive wheel for ideal handling and gearing

The Ti-FLY is aimed squarely at the burgeoning full-suspension recumbent trike market. Until 2016, only two companies, Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE) and HP Velotechnik, offered full-suspension trikes.

In 2016, the field will double with the arrival of the Catrike Dumont and the Azub Ti-FLY 20 and 26.

Azub's designer has written an interesting piece comparing the relative qualities of the Ti-FLY front suspension system as compared to other recumbent trike front suspension systems by HP Velotechnik, ICE, Catrike, and Stein. In a nutshell, he identifies the main advantages of this design as being lightweight through choice of titanium material integrated into the frame. He points out that torsion bars as used in the HP Velotechnik design is important for balancing load between the front wheels for cornering stability, and argues that in the Ti-FLY design, a balancing transfer of load between the front wheels happens through the middle section of the titanium plates since it is shared by both sides' suspension elements. It is an interesting read for anyone researching full suspension recumbent tricycles.

There are two videos on the web. One is in Spanish and the trike is shown while stationary. The rider narrates his experience and that it is quite agreeable. The other is a slick promotional video by Azub.

Initial pricing for the Ti-FLY in its various build-up configurations is available here.

Reserve your Ti-FLY full-suspension recumbent trike now.

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Announcements

Bacchetta 2016 changes affect Giro ATT-20 and Giro ATT-26 recumbent bike models | Adroit recumbent bicycles

The first of the new recumbent bike models from Bacchetta have started percolating into the market.

Code-named "Adroit", Bacchetta changed key parameters in the design of Giro ATT-20, Giro ATT-26, and ATT-700 recumbent bicycle models.

  • Frame dimensions now allow a larger range of rider sizes to fit each recumbent bike model. These changes include moving the cable stops forward so the seat can slide closer to the bottom bracket, and also changing the bottom bracket distance from the head-tube and the front wheel.
  • Innovative new dropout system allows 130mm spacing of road wheels or 135mm spacing of mountain bike / 29'er wheels to be used on these recumbent bikes.

The new dropouts mean that there is an incompatibility of replacement derailleur hangers between older Bacchetta bikes and newer recumbents. However, with the new dropout system, riders can use ultra-high-tech carbon-fiber wheel technologies available for the fastest road bikes, or opt for heavy-duty 135mm mountain bike / touring bike wheel technology for better durability -- without having to change the frame once everything has been dialed in.

Most of the well-refined Bacchetta recumbent design features have been untouched:

  • the seat clamping mechanism is the same
  • components seem largely equivalent
  • brazeons for brakes still allow caliper and disc brakes
  • Bacchetta signature EuroMesh and Recurve seats still have the same positioning and almost equivalent rider positioning
  • Giro ATT recumbent bicycle models keep the B-pivot that allows the handlebar to pivot out of the way for the rider to get on and off the bike.

Advantages of the new system are that models from 2016 forward fit more people better and let Bacchetta recumbent bike riders choose the best drive-wheel dimensions to suit their riding style.

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Catrike Dumont rollout schedule

Catrike expects to begin production of the Dumont in May 2016, but has not yet announced exact dates.

We'll keep you posted when we find out more.

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Directions

Directions to AlphaBENT

Getting to AlphaBENT from anywhere

Our location is at a major hub of roads, trains, and planes. [Here are directions particularly from the Bay Area.]

By road

We are located at the junction of I-5, I-80, US-50, and CA-99

From any of these roads, we have found the directions given by Google to be quite effective.

By train

We are less than a mile from the Sacramento Amtrak train station. Here are walking directions and a map.

By bus

Greyhound: The Greyhound bus stop is on Richards Blvd, quite close (only 1.2 miles) to the shop. However, that particular direction from the shop is a world away and a walk from the Greyhound terminal goes through a rough neighborhood. We recommend getting a ride.

By plane

The Sacramento Municipal Airport (SMF) is very close. To get from the Airport, take the Yolobus 42A. Take light rail or walk from downtown Sacramento. To get back to the airport, take the Yolobus 42B.

By cycling

Sacramento is blessed with a very nice cycle transportation system. The American River Trail is roughly a mile from the shop and is an excellent place to ride a trike. There is a bike path causeway that comes in from the west if you are travelling from the Bay Area. A nice bike route comes down from Rio Oso if you are traveling from the north.

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Bay Area to AlphaBENT

Directions to our recumbent trikes showroom from the Bay Area

We are located on the northern edge of Downtown or even Midtown Sacramento.

By train

Amtrak takes you from Richmond (on the BART Red Line) to Sacramento on the Capitol Corridor train.

The shop is less than one mile from the Sacramento train station. Here are walking directions and a map.

By bus

Greyhound: The Greyhound bus stop is on Richards Blvd, quite close (only 1.2 miles) to the shop. However, that direction from the shop is a world away and a walk from the Greyhound terminal goes through a rough neighborhood. We recommend getting a ride.

MegaBus: Megabus runs a very inexpensive shuttle from San Francisco in the heart of the Bay Area. The MegaBus terminates in Sacramento near CSU Sacramento at the 65th Street Light Rail Stations. Here are directions to get from the Megabus bus stop to AlphaBENT.

By car

We are at a major interstate hub. We are near the junction of I-5, I-80, CA-99, or US-50. From San Francisco, it is very efficient to take US-50 to the Capitol City Freeway. It brings you into Sacramento past Raley Field and the Gold Bridge.

By trike or bike

When you get close to Sacramento, there is a causeway just west of West Sacramento with exclusive bike lanes. Here are directions to the shop by bike if you are on bike travelling from the Bay Area.

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Long-term wear

Field-fix for broken ICE chain tube flex connectors

Foldability of recumbent trikes is an important feature. It helps many people with transporting and storing their trikes.

ICE pioneered the compact flat-twist (CFT) design which angles the hinge at 45 degrees so the rear section of the trike twists sideways during the fold and lands flatly in the plane of the cruciform of the trike.

This allows big-wheeled trikes to fold even tighter than some of the smaller-wheeled varieties.

The Achilles heel in the CFT design is at the flex-point in the chaintubes where the chain doubles back and twists all at the same time. There is a lot of force on those flex points, and, eventually, we see some of these trikes in the shop for replacement of the flexible connector.

Replacing the flexible connector requires labor, a special part, and some effort removing the chain from the chaintubes and then putting it back. An air compressor comes in quite handy, as well. All of these factors may not be present when you are sitting on the side of the road with a broken chain-tube.

We found that with some creative use of four zip-ties, we were able to recouple the chaintubes with a flexible mechanism and no need for special tubes, nor a lot of time.

We simply put an anchor on the chain-tube on each side of the break, then connected the anchor with two opposing zipties criss-crossing in a helical pattern across the flex-joint.

The zipties we used are white and will not weather as well as black ones. We used them because they show the technique readily.

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Weights and measures, Comparison

Compare weight: 500W Bionx v. 500W GoSwiss 26" wheel

It's not every day that we have the opportunity to measure the weights of different systems. Usually, everything is so intertwined with everything else, that it's hard to pin down exact weight differences of comparable items and components.

Recently, though, we had the opportunity to measure two comparable 500W 26" wheels with very different motor systems by Bionx and GoSwiss, so we chucked them up on the doctor's scale.

The Bionx motor has a huge diameter. Instead of the conventional large-hub system with a conventional spoke flange, Bionx has made the motor into a large disc that sits inside the spokes of the wheel and the spokes are a newer-style straight-pull variety that travel parallel to the motor case. This motor is very thin, but shows a large profile from the side. It looks quite large.

The GoSwiss motor hub uses conventional J-bend spokes with conventional flanges. The sideways diameter of the motor is much smaller than the Bionx, but the motor is much wider.

Given that both motors consume 500W, it might be reasonable to assume that if they use the same technology, then the internal windings would probably have a very similar weight. If anything, it appears visually that the larger diameter Bionx motor would weigh more.

We were quite surprised to find that the Bionx wheel was significantly lighter than the GoSwiss.

Our shop scale is a well-calibrated doctor's scale. It has a resolution of about 1-2 ounce (or about 50g). The wheels were measured with no tire, tube, or cassette.

The Bionx wheel weighed 5lb-4oz or 2380g. The GoSwiss wheel weighed 6lb-8oz or 2950g.

This is a very simple rough comparison of a single characteristic and does not measure comparable power output, acceleration, nor efficiency of the motors. It also does not include batteries, racks, or other auxiliary equipment.

It is also true that a mere 1+ pound of difference in a single component of a system that will have an overall weight in the 60lb range is relatively minor and insignificant.

[NOTE: This just an interesting fact about a measurable characteristic. We install and use both of these systems and find both to be quite impressive technologically.]

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