Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tadpole trike turn signals.

After a close call in traffic while trying to make a left turn, I decided I needed some turn signals on the trike. After a quick search on the Internet, I found no kits that had front lamps in addition to rear ones. So, I finally just built my own.

The light bar is a 2ft piece of "T" aluminum outfitted with motorcycle mini blinker lamps on the ends. The bar is powered by a small12V battery. The lights flash by an automotive flasher (the green thing) being in series with each light pair. The bar itself is pinched to the pannier rack by a lower aluminum bar. Automotive wire (and wire-wrap) connects to two handlebar mounted front switches. The tail LED light and front LED light are still independently powered. I started with AA batteries in series (pictured) but soon will be using either two 6V lantern batteries in series or possibly a small gel cell rechargeable battery.

Once I have more time, I will put push-buttons, one on the top of each handle. For now, I use toggle switches on "L" brackets with zip ties in front of the brake handles. Each toggle switch illuminates when the blinker is operating which at first I thought was only cute but has turned out to be quite handy. To prevent the brackets from sliding around, I put electric tape underneath them before I ziptied them to the bar. I have found that I can operate the switches rather well even with gloved hands. Since installing the light bar, cars now consider my trike a regular vehicle.  This makes  left turns much easier since I can now go into the left lane and make my intentions to other vehicles known!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Three wheeled therapy

Work takes up so much time that what we do becomes tied to who we are. I was conscious of this link. So through the years I did after work activities to make sure "who I was" wasn't just my occupation. Still, when I was let go from my last job, it was like loosing a piece of me. That combined with the need for money made for a stressful experience.

One stress reducing technique I developed was to stop worrying about what I can't control and concentrate on what I can. Since I anticipated a long job hunt, I decided to reduce my expenditures. Reducing my petrol was a natural for me since I had been preparing to live in a post-peak oil economy. So, previous to this crisis, I settled in a walkable town and have a recumbent trike. I've found it's an inexpensive and somewhat convenient way of transporting myself around town.

It took a while to develop my "bikers legs" especially in the hilly terrain I lived in. However, I developed enough stamina to make trips to the grocery store. As you can see with the image, the trike can carry quite a load of groceries! Then I started making trips to the laundromat and other points around town just to see if I could. Here's what the trike looks like now. I've bungee corded a milk crate to the pannier and added some additional reflectors. With the addition of a backpack, it can now transport quite a bit! On flat ground, a comfortable summer cruising speed with cargo seems to be about 15mph.

After a while, I started to notice I was loosing some weight too! What was even better was that I seemed to be loosing it around my gut. It turns out the reclining position of the bike was causing years of subcutaneous fat around my midsection to slowly melt away. I don't know if it's helping with other issues such as cholesterol. All I know is I feel better when I take a daily ride.

For some reason being close to the ground with the bike also makes me a very approachable person. So, on occasion, I'll sometimes stop to chat with someone too. These human interactions, however small, have made all the difference to me in maintaining my quality of life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Winter damage, not too bad.

Most of the Winter Trike seems unaffected by salt thanks to generous use of lubricants and a freshwater rinsing after each winter ride. Unfortunately, I didn't get to ride the trike for about 2 months. So, it sat in my garage. I found that there was some rust on some bolt tops but nothing serious. What I didn't expect was a section of rather bad rust on a small chain section! I think it might have been caused by moisture and salt sitting either in the chain tube or on the idler gear (hard to say which one). Fortunately, a generous amount of gear oil on the chain seems to have taken care of that issue or at least stopped further rusting. After that, a tire pressure check and check of lighting batteries. All fine. The bike was then ready to go....somewhere. So, I took a trip to the grocery store. It works fine!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter bike wash

After my last winter trip, I noticed the bike had quite a bit of salty dirt from it's travels through the snow and slush. Since salt and metal typically don't get along very well, something had to be done! Fortunately, I had a garden sprayer that I use to water my plants during the summer. After using about a gallon of plain warm water to spray it down, the bike looks much better. Hopefully, by washing away the salts, the frame and other parts won't rust away. As for drying, I simply leave it in the garage to drip dry. Fortunately, my garage is dry and seems to stay just above freezing so the water will eventually evaporate. Ah, if only my car were small enough to wash off after each of it's winter trips.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More winter mods

The advantages of limiting extra structure are significant. Structure adds cost, instability and weight. However, the rainsuit way is not problem free either. There are two main problems with the rain suit approach.

First, it's inconvenient to put on and does add some minor friction to pedaling. That, I can't do anything about.

Second, the safety visor I use has a fogging issue. However, there are helmets and visors that have built-in defoggers. They are expensive but they do exist. A visor system would require quite a bit of 12V power. So, I would need to mount a 12V battery to the bike. If I had such a 12v battery, it would also make sense to power the other accessory lights from it as well.

This approach is not beyond imagination but it's currently beyond my pocket book. So, for now, I'm staying with the original visor. While I'm underway, I just flip up a bit for the wind to carry away my exhaled breath.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Trike traffic problem

Today, I had a problem. I was going to ride my trike on a relatively busy section of our downtown. (I had to wait quite a while for enough cars to clear to get this photo). The place with the arrow has a store around a corner. Staying close to the side of the road is usually fine except I've noticed cars on this section of the street go around that bend quite fast so they might not see me in time. Although there is a sidewalk, I really don't want to ride on it. Plus, I would have the problem of parking my trike when I got there. So, I had a radical idea. Lock up my trike at a nearby bicycle rack and walk! It's truly amazing how a car centered culture can change a person's thought patterns to make the idea of walking seem so new and revolutionary.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's a quicklink, and why should I pack one?

Last evening, I was on my way home, gliding down the street when I crossed over some rather rough railroad tracks. This caused the bike to lose the quick link. This is a link I use to adjust the chain if I need to adjust the front chain crank longer or shorter. Since the crank is the way I like it and my legs don't normally fluctuate in size, I didn't think I needed to pack one of these. I would only need one if my original was lost - which unfortunately it was.

After a few minutes of mucking about, thinking of possibly fabricating a temporary link using some wire, one of the city DPW trucks stopped to see if I was OK. He pointed out that he couldn't see me very well and recommended I put on some reflective tape. So, after giving me a rag to clean off my now greasy hands, I decided a field-fix of the chain was not possible. So, I decided to push the bike home. I found I could steer the bike as I pushed it without needing to bend down by attaching a pull-string to one of the steering stalks.

So, next trip I'll be packing some cord, a plastic bag (for greasy broken parts), my multi-tool and of course an extra quick-link!