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Patterson Metropolis on a Terratrike Rambler

Patterson Metropolis 2-speed geared crankset extends gear-range of 8-speed Terratrike Rambler

Using the Shimano Nexus internally-geared 8-speed hub on any trike gives you the enclosed reliability of planetary-geared hubs, but it's a bit slim on gear range -- particularly with a small 20" wheel on the back.

We installed a 2-speed Patterson Metropolis geared crankset on an 8-speed Nexus-equipped Rambler and economically extended its gear range up and down from the OEM spec while satisfying the owner's desire for internal (rather than derailleur-based) gearing.

There are several options for geared cranksets in the world, but the premier one is the Schlumpf drive. Schlumpf drives come in three flavors -- Mountain, Speed, and HighSpeed. They all have a 1:1 gear setting and a geared setting. They all shift by pushing a button across from one side to the other with your heel. As the dominant brand in the market, the Schlumpf drive is priced above newcomers.

The Patterson drive is a cost-effective alternative. It lacks the extensive options of the Schlumpf for satisfying all permutations of possibilities, but weighs in with a solid 28T integrated chainring and a 160% upwards gearing mode. Best of all, by just concentrating on one permutation, FSA is able to get the Patterson Drive into the marketplace at a lower cost. The Patterson drive uses a conventional shifter and incorporating a satisfactory cable stop is sometimes a barrier -- particularly on a recumbent trike.

We used a Minoura Water bottle mount on the front derailleur post for a cable stop. The mount is still useable as a front light mount.

For shifting, we used a 9-speed Microshift shifter. We had the choice of left (front) or right (rear) shifter, and decided that the rear shifter mounted upside down would give good tactile and visual feedback, so the rider can monitor the shifting position.

The gearing of this trike went from approximately 17.5-54 gear-inches to 15.4-78 gear-inches.

Our gearing calculator is quite handy for quickly doing these sorts of calculations.

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Bluebird tests Catrike 700

In a sight that's becoming quite common at the shop these days, some bluebirds tried out a Catrike 700. [In reality, only one bluebird tried the trike while the others watched.]

He liked the color and the lines, but found it too difficult to shift. Also, the headrest was too big.

Meanwhile, the young'uns zipped their mouths shut, abiding by engrained maxims to speak only when spoken to and to be seen and not heard.

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Bionx electric-assist systems

We just got some Bionx 350W electric-assist systems in!

A little creative work, and we found a great spot to mount it on the HP Velotechnic Scorpion (tight spaces.)

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Bacchetta bikes in Northern California

AlphaBENT is now selling Bacchetta recumbent bikes!

With the shop fairly saturated with trikes, we have found that we haven't been adequately serving the two-wheel recumbent market.

We're taking immediate action to resolve this issue with new Bacchettas now gracing the floor of the shop.

Bacchetta has established itself as a premier manufacturer of fine recumbent bikes and secretly we've long glanced enviously at any of these beauties.

Time to stop casting sideways glances and enjoy the simplicity and speed of a good high-racer.

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ICE Running Improvements / 2014-2015 model-year changes

One of the sillier things we've inherited from the auto industry is the concept of "model-years". The "model-year" is a fabrication arbitrarily used by the auto-makers to make their own products prematurely obsolete. By making their own cars obsolete, they create a perception among consumers that the older car versions are somehow inferior to the current model, and this drives [pun intended] consumers and dealers to pursue a never-ending cycle of buying and selling -- forever falling behind the curve of endless "improvements"... more and more thneeds which everyone, everyone needs.

Thankfully, the fine people behind ICE do NOT think in these terms. At ICE, the end of the year is just that, and when they have a new improvement, they just put it into the pipeline and it pops out magically whenever the next batch of parts get manufactured.

For this reason, we see a steady improvement in ICE trikes, and yet since the improvements interleave into the regular production cycle and the ICE people are so modest they see improvement as part of the job rather than something to trumpet far and wide, there is little attention paid.

This article is to bring much overdue attention to some really fine improvements which have found their ways into ICE trikes just in the past 1/2 year:

  • ICE trike steering dampingSteering damping: The ability to introduce dynamic friction into the steering system is quite useful. In engineering, this is used to dampen systems that might otherwise have resonant oscillation. In trikes, this resonance is called "shimmy". Over the years, we've seen fewer than one handful of ICE trikes with any user-reports of shimmy, however, there have been a couple of bugaboos that would have been resolved much more easily if we had been able to just tighten up the damping in the steering system.

    Now, ICE trikes have steering damping. Look for the little set-screw on the handlebar pivot.
  • Chain-tube restraint: On trikes, the chaintube tends to get pulled slightly forward on the drive-chain and slightly backward on the return-chain. For this reason, something needs to restrain the chaintube to keep it from migrating forward or backwards. On an ICE trike, the return chain tube is held with a small plastic clamp at the idler-pulley bracket. The drive-side chaintube, however, is separated into forward and aft sections. ICE drive chain-tube retention crimpsThe forward tube is restrained using the same plastic clip, but the tube is held loosely to allow it to move with changes in the front gearing, a flare at the aft end of the tube has the dual function of guiding the chain into the tube gracefully while simultaneously preventing the tube from sliding forward through its loosely held clamp.

    This leaves the aft drive-chain tube and ICE has long restrained this tube with a perfectly placed stainless-steel crimp (crimped vertically to allow perfect chain passage). Unfortunately, with many cycles [pun] and lots of use, the crimp can loosen unexpectedly allowing the tube to move forward into the idler pulley. This failure, though rare, is surprisingly difficult to resolve without a lot of duct tape.

    ICE now make the aft chain-tube with a double-crimp.  Thank you, ICE-people!
  • Quick-release seat clamps: For an eternity, ICE seats have been held at the forward point by a steel cradle that is part of the frame. The cradle is semicircular, allowing the seat frame to rest in it when placed from above. A simple plastic ring kept the seat from moving upwards in the unlikely event of upward force. For a while, ICE used a quick-release lever to allow the plastic ring to be loosened and tightened rapidly with no tools. However, it was too easy for the lever to come loose and fall off. Since the plastic ring is only a retainer rather than a structural component, a missing retainer might not be noticed for a long time and by that time, the lost lever would be long gone -- left behind on the side of the road. ICE quick-release seat retention clampsEventually, ICE gave up on the levers and started using plastic thumbscrews with a retention nut. The retention nut kept the thumbscrew from getting lost, but the plastic thumbscrews took an extra ten seconds out of your day when you actually took the seat off to fold it.

    Enter the new quick-release seat clamps.... No longer made of mere plastic and sporting a long positive-action quick-release lever, these are seat retention levers for the long-term. Now, the seat clamps down and actively holds the seat in its cradle. Now, the lever releases in a snap. On the flip side, the lever pops into locking position with an active click and you know you are set to roll! Nice job, ICE!
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Azub introduces "optional" hinge technology for 2015

To fold, or not to fold... this is the question.

No doubt, the ability to fold your trike or bike, particularly, the recumbent ones, can be a tremendous asset in getting it from point A to point B. On the other hand, who wants to fold something if they don't have to, much less spend the extra money on folding mechanisms and including extra weight that may be unnecessary.

Azub is introducing a new system for 2015 that defaults to being "take-apart". Separately [pun intended], a hinge can be bolted into the middle of the take-apart joint converting it the take-apart trike into a folding trike.

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Rohloff lacing for ICE

Left-dished wheel with non-dished Rohlloff Speedhub!

In the recumbent world, we get to rewrite the rules. ICE and Greenspeed have designed trike frames with offset rear forks/ triangles to accept non-dished, left-offset wheels. This allows use of symmetrical lacing patterns with offset hubs, resulting in stronger wheels to withstand tricycles' higher sideways forces.

However, as a recumbent trike customization specialist, it introduces a quirky problem: the super high-end Rohloff Speedhub must now be dished the wrong way in order to line up properly. Dishing the wrong way strikes us as WRONG.

AlphaBENT has been experimenting with wheel lacing techniques to resolve this problem and this answer presents itself:

a Rohloff wheel laced with all spokes left-wise to offset the rim to the left for proper presentation to the ICE rear fork while retaining the benefits of symmetrical lacing...

And, it looks totally cool! You don't see a wheel like this every day.

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New Azub Six arrives in Sacramento

AlphaBENT is now an Azub dealer. The first Azub Six recumbent bike has arrived in the shop and it is SWEET!

It sports full suspension, ergonomic composite seat, and a bunch of cool accessories.

Something about it really appeals... perhaps the colors...

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NeoDrive - German electric-assist for recumbent trikes

22 October 2014, Sacramento, CA: AlphaBENT is shipping its first NeoDrive electric-assist retrofit kits.

For the past 5 weeks, AlphaBENT has been sourcing the German-engineered NeoDrive electric-assist systems to fit onto most of the trikes in the recumbent market. The first two kits have shipped this week for installation on ICE and Catrike recumbent tricycles.

The NeoDrive is the same system promised by ICE for the 2015 model year and is pictured prominently in the 2015 ICE catalog. The NeoDrive is rated at a nominal 250W with peak power output of 600W. Coupled with a high-capacity 15.5amp-hour lithium-ion battery, the NeoDrive is expected to be capable of tremendous distances between charges.

How far that is has yet to be determined and will depend on factors such as boost setting and rider behavior. Distances of 60-80 miles per charge are expected. More concrete numbers will be forthcoming. Pricing for a 250W system with 15.5Ahr battery and associated mounting hardware is approximately $2650. This system is drop-in compatible with standard configurations of ICE, Catrike, and HP Velotechnik recumbent trikes -- meaning that no major changes to other componentry are needed. Unlike other hub-based electric-assist systems, the NeoDrive retrofits can be fitted with quick-release axles facilitating wheel changes and tube and tire repairs.

The NeoDrive is a torque-based pedal-assist system, meaning that the system measures rider pedaling force and amplifies that force without the need for external throttles. Its motor occupies the under-utilized left-side of the hub to reduce rotational inertia. The NeoDrive is made with an external freehub body allowing use of the standard 8, 9, and 10-speed cassettes predominant throughout the recumbent trike industry.

All of these factors weighed into the decision to carry and support the NeoDrive brand at AlphaBENT.

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United States

Bacchetta performance

Bacchetta is known for making high quality recumbent bikes.

The products concentrate on short wheelbase (SWB) design with a hat-tip to the easier rideability of the long-wheelbase (LWB) philosophy.

Products range based on:

  • frame materials
  • seat style and angle
  • wheel configuration
  • level of components
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The Ataxian arrives

Come out to Davis on Saturday, May 30, 2015 for the Ride Ataxia NorCal ride.

Join Kyle, Izzy, and a whole bunch of amazing people in the FARA Norcal Ride.

All the details right here on the official FARA Norcal website.

Always great food, friends, and beautiful weather.

See you there.

Find out more about FARA here.

Veteran's Memorial Center, 203 E 14th St, Davis, CA 95616 And, coming up soon, the movie...

The Ataxian

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Czech Republic

Azub recumbent technology

Azub manufacturers recumbent bikes and trikes in the Czech Republic.

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