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700c rear & 26" front wheels on an ICE Sprint 26

This trike has already been heavily customized. We put a 700c / 29'er rear wheel on with a road tire. It often sports a TerraCycle fairing.

But, big feet are now the problem. With the 700c rear wheel, the bottom bracket is a bit lower to the ground, and its owner, MK, finds that his generously-sized feet sometimes hit the ground. We have examined all the possibilities we could think of to solve this problem, and in the end, settled on larger front wheels.

26" was chosen as a size that would be relatively strong and still have a reasonable selection of tires.

The results are good. There is a bit larger turning radius, and MK reports having to think a bit longer about how to avoid the wheels when getting in and out.

However, the ground-heel clearance is impressive. The handling is good. It's smoother on the rough roads. And, according to MK, there has been no change in overall performance. Perhaps, the better rolling resistance is cancelling out with slightly higher weight.

[Note: the handlebars are folded back in preparation for folding it to put in the back of a Toyota Prius.]

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Push brakes and paddle shifters on ICE Sprint 26

We are putting together a trike for a gentleman with a neurological condition that inhibits "pulling" action with his hands.

He has settled on an ICE Sprint 26 recumbent trike and we have determined a configuration that will allow him to operate his trike with "pushing" actions.

The pictures show a prototype solution. We intend to mount the brake levers backwards so they operate with pushes rather than pulls. Trigger shifters mounted upside down and on the "wrong" side allow the paddles of the shifters to be actuated with pushing action using the palms of his hands.

The cost to configure this is nominal.

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Patterson Metropolis on Terratrike Rover

The Patterson Metropolis is an economical way to extend the gear range of an 8-speed Terratrike.

This morning we put one of these on an 8-speed Terratrike Rover. The drive installation went smoothly. Then, a Terratrike front light mount was used to reposition the front water bottle cage to a much more vertical angle -- much improving its ergonomics.

Simultaneously, a cable stop was positioned on the end of an attached bracket. The bracket was custom fashioned in the shop.

Shifting is via a Microshift twist shifter with the cable run along the mainline of the frame.

The result looks great!

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Trigger-shifters on Gekko FX26

We have converted an HP Velotechnik Gekko FX 26 to use trigger shifters as an experiment. It seems to work well.

Trigger shifters offer full thumb control and have excellent ergonomics for regular horizontal handlebars. On recumbent trikes, they present some logistical difficulties, with the primary one being the cabling must go up into a loop and then get routed through the handlebars.

The main downsides are:

  1. a mounting point (the top of the handlebar) for the sideview mirror is lost;
  2. the shifting mechanism is somewhat vulnerable.

On the positive side:

  1. there is no twisting input into the steering when shifting;
  2. they use the parts of your hand that they are designed for, so the ergonomics are good.

The converted trike is available at its original price, and can be tested while it lasts.

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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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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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Disability

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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Commuting, Exercise

Catrike Folding Trail

New Catrike Folding Trike hits the Trail

The new Catrike model (Trail) announced last year at Interbike is finally in production.

After a seemingly endless wait, dealers will have Trails in stock across the country within a week.

"We're expecting the new addition to our family next Wednesday.", said Hugh Kern of AlphaBENT, California's biggest Catrike dealer in Sacramento. "It's pretty exciting to have this kind of portability in a Catrike."

The Folding Trail has features recumbent trike riders have been demanding, particularly:

  • Self-contained seat: Unlike other folding trikes that require removal of the seat, the seat stays on the trike and folds with it.
  • Self-locking package: With more than one cue taken from the tight-packing Brompton bicycle, the new Folding Trail locks together when folded.
  • Self-standing and rolling luggage: When folded, the Trail stands upright and can be rolled around like a piece of luggage. This makes the Trail's modest weight manageable by anyone regardless of their strength.
  • New seat design: In a look at what might be in the future for all Catrike models, the new Folding Trail sports a comfy-looking set of side-supporting pads for added rider comfort.
  • Same Catrike durability, handling, and efficiency: These hallmark features of all Catrikes stays the same on the Trail.

The new Folding Trail is available in a variety of colors at no extra charge and comes with a complete set of Catrike-signature accessories such as computer sensor mount, sensible flag mount, integrated headlight mount, hand-rests, mirror on mirror stalk, and clipless pedals -- not to mention top-of-the-line components such as a 30-speed SRAM drivetrain, Kevlar-belted tires, and Avid BB7 disc brakes at a competitive price.

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