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EcoSpeed Electric Power Assist

EcoSpeed is a Portland based company that manufactures high performance electric power assist systems for bicycles. Their systems come with either a 700Watt or 1000Watt high torque motor, that will blow away most other add on systems. What makes their design unique is the use of a freewheeled crankset, that allows the rider to power a bicycle without the cranks rotating along with the motor like a fixed gear bicycle.

The workmanship looks fantastic and we’ve heard great things about their performance. The only drawback is the high initial cost. The starting price for a complete system is $2800. Add that to the cost of a brand new European or American built bakfiets and you’re looking at a starting price of around $5000, which is about the same cost as a used street legal GEM electric car.

We hope that as the popularity of these systems increase, the costs will go down with economies of scale. If price is no object and performance is your number one criteria, then you’ll love Ecospeed. Also as you shop for a power assist system, you might want to check out another Portland based manufacturer Stokemonkey as well.

Links:
EcoSpeed Homepage
Stokemonkey

Posted in accessories, Load Carrying, Tech TalkComments (12)

Grocery Cart Bicycle

This is a great idea. Not sure how well it works, but you’ve got to give Ryan McFarland kudos for coming up with this idea and for recycling. He’s got tons of other interesting projects he’s built on instructables.com and his blog which is worth checking out.

Posted in DIY, Load Carrying, special purpose, Tech Talk, Work CyclingComments (0)

The Perils of Hybrid Design – Triobike Redux

Triobike is a Danish company that makes a family tricycle with a nifty “Multi-purpose Design” which can be converted from a tricycle to a bicycle to a stroller. On paper it has many of the design features that families are looking for such as 5 point harnesses for kids, front & rear lights, disk brakes, etc. It’s sleek minimalist European industrial design will send hearts aflutter anywhere. Who wouldn’t want a tricycle you could drive the kids to daycare with, convert into a bicycle, and then ride to work with.

However in the case of Triobike, it’s Achilles Heal may be that it does neither of it’s intended purposes very well. As a tricycle, reviewers are beginning to talk about it’s dangerously unstable ride. As a bicycle, it’s sporty design doesn’t lend itself well for city riding (no fenders, uncomfortable forward leaning style, men’s style swing over frame) Finally as a stroller it’s unwieldy bulk makes it impractical. Imagine a parent struggling to load it into a car or better yet trying to get it through the doorway of a local store with a sleeping toddler on board.

Hybrid designs in and of themselves are a neat idea. They take up less space but serve multiple purposes. However, history has been marked with endless hybrid designs that try to do too many things and fail to do any well. Airplanes that convert into a car, cars that convert into a boat, and so on.

In the case of Triobike, it’s a great idea with flawed execution. Like any groundbreaking innovative design there will be growing pains and hopefully an evolution to an ideal form. If the makers of Triobike continue to refine and iterate the design, then it has a great future. Otherwise, it’ll remain another industrial design study where style has won out over function, with the added bonus of a $3000 USD price tag.

Triobike Links:
www.triobike.com
Triobike photos by Carteco
Triobike Video

Other Luxury Cargo Tricycle Makers:
Winther Kangaroo
Nihola
MyZigo (US manufacturer)

Posted in Tech Talk, tricyclesComments (10)

Dual Pull Brake Lever

Dual_pull_brakes
I thought I’d re-post about these really cool dual pull brake levers I installed on my front load cargo tricycle (2 wheels up front 1 wheel in back). I’ve had them on the trike for about 6 months and they work great! Basically, you can run two brake cables from two different brake sets into one lever and the lever balances the pull going to both sets of brakes.

Inside the lever there is a little mechanism that balances the pull between the two brake lines. That way you have equal pressure going to both front brakes on the trike when you pull the lever. What this means for cargo tricycles is that you can have one lever that actuates both front wheels equally without any brake steering effect. Brake steering is when one wheel brakes harder than the other, which pulls the tricycle violently to the left or right when braking.

In practice, you still need to make sure that your brakes are tuned similarly. Meaning that you can’t have one brake cable totally loose with the other one completely tight and still hope that the dual pull brake lever will work it’s magic. However, if you spend the time to at least adjust your brake cables reasonably, these things work great!

If you do a Google search for “dual pull brake lever” there are a lot of companies selling these. I think I got mine for about $12 USD.

Posted in accessories, DIY, Load Carrying, Tech TalkComments (9)

Ghetto Engineering

Bicycle crank repaired with welded on construction rebar

Bicycle crank repaired with welded on construction rebar

Here’s a picture I took in Korea of a repaired delivery bike. Rather than throw away the bike or broken part, the owner just welded construction rebar to fix a broken crank. I love seeing old bicycles evolve and take on a life of their own. I guess when you have to use your bicycle everyday for work, it’s a completely different mindset from people using bicycles for sport. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re useful.

Posted in DIY, Load Carrying, Tech Talk, Work CyclingComments (2)

Aileron Trike: Tilting Three Wheeler

Inventor Wayne Soohoo has been working years on a system that allows a tricycle to lean into turns. The leaning allows tricycles to go into turns at higher speeds with stability. Although it looks like there haven’t been many updates to his site for years, there is a treasure full of great information for anyone thinking of building their own leaning tricycle. Hopefully, someday we’ll see a mainstream leaning tricycle based on his designs.  Keep up the great work Wayne!

Link: http://www.maxmatic.com/soohoo.htm

Posted in Tech Talk, tricyclesComments (83)

Atomic Zombie Bicycle Builder’s Bonanza

Brad Graham and Kathy McGowan have written an amazing book called Atomic Zombie Bicycle Builder’s Bonanza. This book is a “must have” for anyone that loves to tinker and make things. Inside the book are detailed instructions and over 200 photos that teach you how to hack, modify, and build bicycles using minimal tools. 

The book is written in a clear and easy to understand style that walks you through real projects ranging from playful to surreal. Anyone who loves DIY projects will love this book. After reading it, you’ll be ready for any Franken-Bike creation.

I found the book on Amazon for about $17 and they even had an electronic version available for an additional $5.  It won’t compare to the two week frame building course at the United Bicycle Institute. But if you think of the cost of tuition and room & board, this book is a real bargain. Also checkout Brad Graham’s website, which is definitely worth a visit.

Posted in DIY, Tech Talk, Useful ReferencesComments (0)

Types of Steering

A front load (tadpole) cargo trike has two wheels in front and one wheel in the rear. There are three main types of steering for front load cargo trikes:

• Axle-pivot
• Articulating frame
• Ackerman linkage

Axle-pivot steering is the most common kind of steering on a front-load trike as well as the simplest to manufacture & maintain. Axle pivot steering is great at low speeds, because it has a much tighter turning radius than Ackerman steering. Also, for the same size tricycle frame, Axle pivot steering trikes can fit a much larger cargo box.

Posted in Load Carrying, Tech Talk, tricyclesComments (1)

Shimano Automatic Transmission

Coastinggroup_550x412 Shimano makes an attempt at attracting technophobic new riders to casual cyling by eliminating the gear shifter.  The system relies on a front hub dynamo that powers both a headlamp and plus the computer chip that makes the gear selection.  The rear hub is a three speed internal with coaster brakes.

Posted in accessories, Tech TalkComments (2)

Open Source Design: Jetrike

Jetrike
I ran across this website while doing research on leaning tricycles. The inventor of Jetrike has put all of his notes, working drawings, and research onto his webpage in hopes of fostering innovation in the field. His work is amazingly detailed and useful for anyone trying to develop a leaning trike with popular appeal.

We’d like to applaud his generosity and willingness to share. Keep up the great work!

Posted in DIY, Load Carrying, Tech Talk, tricycles, Useful ReferencesComments (3)

Family cycling

Adams_bike_2
Here is another great article on Sheldon Brown’s page about family cycling,
covering tandems, trailer cycles, and teaching kids how to ride a bike.

To the right is the popular Adam Trail-A-Bike.

Posted in Family Cycling, Tech Talk, trailersComments (2)

Types of Tricycles

When riding around with my son in the front of my cargo tricycle around town, onlookers often ask me “What’s that?” I think the main reason is that most people are used to seeing tricycles with two wheels in the back and one wheel up front, rather than the other way around. Well, for those of you who are new to cargocycling here’s a quick summary of the main types of tricycles.

Tricycles are generally defined by their wheel arrangement. The three most common are:

• Delta Tricycle: 1 wheel in front and 2 wheels in the rear
• Tadpole Tricycle: 2 wheels in front and 1 wheel in the rear
• Sidecar: 2 wheels in line with each other and 1 wheel parallel and offset

Deltatricycle_2Delta Tricycle:
A delta trike has 1 wheel in front & 2 wheels in the back. It is sometimes refered to as a traditional tricycle or rear load tricycle (meaning the cargo is behind the driver). A lot of times you’ll see older people using these bicycles because it is stable at slow speeds and uses standard bicycle steering.

Tadpoletricycle_2Tadpole Tricycle:
A tadpole trike has 2 wheels in front & 1 wheel in the back. It is sometimes refered to as a front load tricycle because the cargo is in front of the driver. These tricycles are useful for drivers that need to keep a close eye on their cargo or need quick access to it without having to get off of their trike. This makes them ideal for use by food vendors or pedi-cab drivers who have frequent interaction with customers.

Sidecar_2Sidecar Tricycle:
In the side car arrangement, two wheels are in line with each other like a bicycle. The third wheel is parallel to the other two wheels but is offset from the center line of the two wheels.

In future posts, I’ll try to include information on other aspects of cargo tricycles for those of you who are interested in picking up a cargo tricycle.

Posted in Family Cycling, Load Carrying, Tech Talk, tricyclesComments (8)

Apax Leaning Tricycle

ApaxA start-up company called Apax Vehicle Dynamics is developing an interesting leaning tricycle. They’ve got some great video footage of their tricycle in action going down stairs, offroad, etc. The design has a lot of potential for other applications.

Hopefully as they develop their design, they’ll be able to improve the aesthetics, reduce weight, and simplify the design.

Keep up the great work!

Posted in Load Carrying, Tech Talk, tricycles, VideosComments (0)

Leaning Tricycle

In many situations tricycles have advantages over traditional bicycles. Tricycles don’t fall over when sitting at a full stop, they are stable at low speed, they can carry tremedous loads, and you can take a rest any time.

However one of the most difficult things for riders to get used to is the fact that most trikes do not allow you to lean into a turn like on a bicycle. There are many people who are developing designs for leaning tricycles and we’ll start to post links to some of those.

One of the cooler designs we’ve seen so far is from Apax Vehicle Developments in Canada. Their website is barebones, but they’ve got some cool videos that shows their trike in action.

Posted in DIY, Load Carrying, Tech Talk, tricyclesComments (2)

Internally Geared Hubs

Sacutaway
Internal-gear hubs offer the advantage of less maintenance compare to a standard derailleur based drivetrain, great for wet weather riding.  You can change gear when at a stop, a plus in traffic.  The disadvantage is the extra weight and increase in drivetrain friction.

Shimano Nexus (3/7/8)
SRAM/Sachs (3/9)
Sturmey Archer (3/5/7/8)
Rohloff (14)
Nuvinci (CVT)

Check out Sheldon Brown’s page on internal-gear hubs.

Posted in accessories, Tech TalkComments (1)

John Forester & Effective Cycling

Ec_book02
Anyone interested in cycling in traffic should take a look at John Forrester’s website.

He is a Cycling Transportation Engineer who wrote ‘Effective Cycling’ and ‘Bicycle Transportation: A Handbook for Cycling Transportation Engineers’

He promotes the idea that "cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers
of vehicles
".

He also offers a traffic-cycling course for riders of all ages.  Check out the ‘Effective Cycling’ dvd.

Posted in Riding Tips, Tech Talk, Useful ReferencesComments (3)

Bicycle Maintenance Book Recommendations

Barnett’s Manual: Analysis and Procedures for Bicycle Mechanics (4 Vol. Set)

• Comprehensive reference on all makes of bicycles and components
• Tons of great diagrams that walk you through each step
• Expensive – $115 for the manual and $85 for the optional CD-ROM from the BBI website (OUCH!)
• Worth the money for any professional or serious home mechanic

The Bicycle Book (Haynes Automotive Repair Manual Series)
• Book for general bicycle maintenance
• Good book for the average home mechanic
• In-expensive (around $16 at Amazon)

Posted in DIY, Tech Talk, Useful ReferencesComments (0)