Sunday, March 28, 2010

I'm an Alien!

If I keep this up, I'll be a fast food junkie. I just came back from Burger King in Westlake Shopping Center. That's over 10 miles round trip!

I was the top of a hill and thought to myself,

"Do I really want to come back up this hill on the way back? It's the only route."

Every workday morning, I'd see people jogging or walking along Lake Merced and was always curious what it'd be like to be on that road. I had made it this far. I figured,

"Why not go all the way? I didn't make it this far to turn back now. It's Sunday. I have time. Let's do it."

I raced down the hill still wondering in the back of my mind whether or not I made the right choice. I was dreading the return trip but tried to clear my mind and just enjoy the moment.

This was the first time I'd be in a bike lane with cars racing by over 40mph. I don't know if I'd be gutsy enough to do it if I didn't have that new mirror installed. This was probably the best piece of safety equipment I've purchased. The best way to protect is to avoid accidents.

After a few dark patches, I could finally see Burger King! I made it! The "Drive Thru Open" sign was lit. Uh oh, is that the only thing that's open? I peaked in and found some people, so I attempted to open the double doors again while pulling the trike through. The only customers there were in the back, too far away to see me come in.

Before I could even approach the cashier to put in my order, a guy came out from the back and said,

"How fast does it go? Does it go fast?"
"Not really."
"It's really hard to go up hills."

He knew this was probably one of his few opportunities to ask questions, so he kept going.

"What is it called?"
"It's called a recumbent trike. Recumbent means to lie down."

He walked away briefly and reported to his coworkers who were manning the drive through window. The lady putting together the Burger King paper crowns looked up.

"Does it require a license?"
"You only need a license if you go faster than 35 mph."

One of the girls comes out to the front and inspects the trike. She makes a single loop around it.

"It doesn't have seat belts!"

20 minutes earlier, I had thought about peeing in the bushes. I didn't give in. So now that a Burger King's restroom was open, I set the trike's alarm and headed for the Jon. I figured enough people at Burger King liked the trike enough to hopefully help protect it in case someone comes in and tries to swipe it. After washing my hands, I came out and found the trike was still there! Good.

The ride back so much easier than I expected. By the time I started getting tired, I looked back and I was 80% there. Just as it was getting a bit boring pedaling in the dark with cars wizzing by, I looked down about 300 feet down the road and saw a young guy smoking by the intersection. It looked like he was waiting for the bus. He said something as I rode by,

"Man, you scared me! I thought it was an Alien."
I never know what else to say,
"Hahah, good night!" and I waved.

Further down I get another comment from a group of twenty-somethings,

"Hey!!!" He's yelling thinking I can't hear him otherwise, but I'm only 30' away.
I look to my left and my neighbor whom I never met and probably doesn't know I'm his neighbor says to me,
"Looks like an alien!"

Two alien comments in on trip! So I guess it's determined. I'm officially an alien.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My trip to McDonalds

I'm always trying to up my distance on each trek if I have the time. I ended up going to the Stonestown McDonalds to stop by for a Sweet Tea. Manuevering through the double doors was a bit of a challenge as the trike barely fits through one of the swing doors.

As I approached the entrance, I saw a guy cut in front of me. Thinking to myself that he would see me struggling and hold the door open, I took a rest and paused so he could get by. But guess what? The fool creaked it open just enough for his lanky body to fit through and let go of the door! He was was close enough to me where I could lean in and touch him. He was literally within 1'-0" of me!

Seriously? Seriously? *sigh* Some people just grew up wrong.

Back to the reason why I'm here. I managed my way through the door, pulled it over to the side out of people's way and set the alarm. This was my first time using it outside my garage. Although distracted by my thirst, I was thinking in the back of my mind whether this alarm was worth my $8.

As I was waiting in line eager to order, I did feel reassured that if someone tried to take my trike and somehow ran through the exit with it, I would at least hear the high decible alarm (which turns out not to be that loud) to buy me some time to chase them down as they're lugging around my 43lb ride.

As I was pouring my drink into my Camelbak water bottle, the girl at the counter leaned over and said smiling in wonderment,

"What is that for?"
This was unusual for me b/c when people see the trike, I'm typically riding it. They know exactly what it's for. It's for entertainment! Lean back, pedal and go. But this time the Tornado was just sitting there on the tile floor next to the garbage can - lights flashing with me standing next to it.

"It's actually a tricycle. Three wheels. It's!"

She didn't have anymore questions and turned away, so I walked off to continue pouring my drink. She then turned back around, gestured as if she were holding my handlebars and said,

"So you lean back like this?"

In hind sight, I probably should have offered her a ride, but oh well. Next time.

Managing my way through the exit doors wasn't any easier than getting in. It's actually harder to push the door than it is to pull. When you pull, you can at least use your foot to hold it open while pushing the trike through. When you push the door open, you have to stretch your arms further than possible while reaching back to maneuver the trike through. Not easy, but I'll get the hang of it one of these days.

Reclining on the trike, I see a little old Russian lady standing next to me. Her smile was not so much one of curiosity nor eagerness. I could tell she was just happy to see someone else doing something she knows is fun. I smiled and took off down the road.

Which way do I go?

I wanted to take a different route back than how I came. I probably should have hesitated longer than I did when I decided to go through the "cars only" street through the tunnel. No cars were coming, so I took my chance and sped down the asphalt looking through my mirror more often than normal.

On the way back I was going probably 7mph downhill at one portion when I hit a huge bump in the road (the kind made by tree roots taking over the sidewalk). I wasn't close to falling out of the seat, but it definitely got my attention as my butt was at least an inch off the seat.

Just outside my garage, my neighbor complimented the ride.

"Nice lights!"
"Thanks, good night!" as I waved bye-bye.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Stickers Gotta Go

Sorry KMX, but these gotta go. I really don't see that the trike is as rebellious as the graffiti graphic implies. I wish it was a block type font that would mesh well with the aggressive square tube framing. Something a bit less organic would also lend itself to be a good match with the trike's modern expression. Ideally the KMX brand w/o the .com portion would be permanently engraved or stamped into the metal w/o any color. White on white shows a bit of class that true curious onlookers would identify and appreciate.It would then be more of a brand then a cheesy desperate attempt at advertising. The KMX on the pedals by the front crankshaft was perfect. Perhaps all the text should have leaned towards that look. I'm not sure why KMX tossed around different fonts.

Luckily the text is just a sticker that comes off very easily. I'm thinking there's a chance that KMX may have intended for some customers to remove these. Since KMX has manufactered such a good product, I felt a bit bad so I relocated the Tornado sticker rather than removed it completely. It now appears at the cross section of the frame at the top.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Old Man is Storing

It's raining.
It's pouring.
The old man is storing.
He bumped his head,
Fell off the bed,
And couldn't wake up in the morning.

- Kin Eagle

Either I didn't think it would rain or just plain didn't care. Well, it rained. Not that hard. It was a disappointment at first, but after awhile it was sorta fun until I realized that I better take some time to wipe down the trike before it starts rusting the next day.

I've scraped up the bottom of the trike frame already the time I raced over a curb. Gotta make sure at least that part is dried for the night.

The good news is that I discovered my new trike jacket is waterproof! Yeah! Reflectors, white, and waterproof. Who could ask for more?

Fun times. It should be dry this weekend. Can't wait to head to the park again.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No more flats

ACCESSORY 17: Self Sealing tubes $4.60 each @ Amazon

This made me wonder why I had been willing to pay $10 plus tax for a single 20" tube! Amazon has these for less than half price shipped w/no tax! This Schwinn brand got better reviews so I opted for a set. They're going in later this week. I plan to swap out the OEM ones and use those as spares. Hopefully these things work and I won't be left hanging with a flat on the road.

Who goes there?

ACCESSORY 16: Mirror $19 @ Amazon

I got two packages today! Thanks Angela for picking them up from the USPS for me! Two boxes under a single package slip! Ever heard of that before? Awkward, but I'm not complaining. Now let's see what's inside!

This is the Blackburn Multi Mirror. I knew I wanted an ovular one. The circle ones just look too out dated. This one's solid enough to not vibrate out of place and plugs directly into the handlebar ends. When installed properly, this thing holds very well. It's almost like it's part of the handlebar. Since the mirror mounts to the same place as the red LED lights, I unfortunately can't have both at the same time. I removed the left side LED light and stored it away. I have a couple ideas on how to remount them which we'll see later.

In the first minute I used this, I could recognize that it was the most useful accessory yet. I now take use of the full lane when riding in the residential neighborhoods until I spot a car coming from afar.

Before the mirror, I used to be really worried about cars coming up on my left. Now I can relax the ride is much much much more enjoyable. It's definitely required on the left side and w/such a big improvement in comfort, I'm considering buying another one for the right side. The only thing stopping me is that the installation would mean I would not be able to use the LED handlebar lights on the right side either.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let me go left

ACCESSORY 15: Signal lights $27 @ Safeturn

Even strangers know riding the trike in the dark is dangerous. The guy at the corner liquor store as I rode by this evening yelled aloud to his buddies,

"What the hell is that?" Followed by a big pause,
"Be careful!"

Ever since I got the trike, I was trying to find the best way to add a turn signal to the trike....especially in the dark. I saw all those rear lights with built-in turn signals on the market, but the fact that they were integrated into a single unit made it less effective. From far away, you see a big blur of red and orange. I needed something that was much more clear. The orange lights would have to be as far left or right as possible from the center of the trike.

I considered making my own signal lights and hooking it up somehow, but just before I was about to get down and dirty, I luckily I came across the Safeturn product! Each of these lights wrap around your glove or wrist. There's a sensor inside so that when you move your hand away from the handlebar to indicate a turn, it registers the movement of your hand and lights up the three built-in LED's. The best part is that it will continue blinking until you return your hand back the neutral handlebar-holding position. The unit is fully adjustible. You can modify it so that your hand at rest can be in any position in the off position and turn on when your hand moves to gesture a turn.

After my first run, I can say this product works very well. I highly recommend it. There's nothing else on the market even remotely capable of mimicking the same thing. I'll try to film a video of this in action. The company's own marketing videos don't give it justice.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Grip shift

Accessory 14: Handlebar grips $12 @ Mikes Bikes

I bought this pair for $9. I figured the deal was good and I liked the eronomics of the handlebar grip. It tapers in slightly towards the top for your thumb and forefinger to hold onto the handle. The top holds the LED handlebar ends caps fairly well. After writing this post so far, I'm starting to wonder why I went with the other set instead.

I ended up install these ones. The rougher square pattern goes better with the aggressiveness of the square metal frame of the trike. The top and bottom grey ends also finish the ends very well. I ultimately decided on this pair of grips b/c 1) The grip has much better friction. 2) It holds the LED end cap lights better. It's a snug enough fit where it won't fall off and the grip isn't forced to wrap around the caps like the first pair of grips.

My twin!

I saw another KMX! Actually, the guy saw me. While at Golden Gate park, I hear a shouting from behind me,

"Is that a KMX?"
"Yes," I responded as I turned my head to see my little bother, the KMX ST.

The KMX ST is what preceded the Tornado. It's looks very similar but the seats are different, the steering mechanism is different and this guy's trike stock would've had 1 more gear than mine. His was modded though! Performance - not just accessories. He swapped out his front crankshaft for a three gear one for a total of 24 gears! Compared to my measily 7, it only took half a second for me to get jealous and hop out of my seat to get a closer look.

Looking around, this guy's KMX trike was very well used. You know a guy's had fun with his trike when he goes over wood stumps and cracks his frame in half.....which was replaced by KMX's lifetime warranty. Good stuff. The company even covers it non-original owners which is a blessing.

Hopefully I see Warren around again sometime.

Protecting my knoggin

ACCESSORY 13: Helmet $40 @ Lombardi Sports

The last and only helmet I've ever owned was a purple Giro that my parents bought me when I got my first bicycle when I was 12. Since before I could remember, I wanted a helmet with the built in visor in the front. Looking around, I found real helmets (not the ones from Target) are around $35-$80 for the entry level to mid range ones. Sale prices are around $24-$50.

Who would've known that there's so many different types of helmets! Doing a quick search I found MTB stands for mountain biking. There's road helmets, race ones, sport ones and BMX ones. They all have their different characteristics. Being that the KMX Tornado is basically a 3-wheeled mountain bike, I opted for the MTB version. This particular one is the Bell Influx. It's a bit hard to find b/c it's an older model which I believe was replaced by the Bell Delirium. They're both slick and have low profiles. It's not bulky at all. The Delirium has different graphics and just had too much red in it for my taste. As hard as it was to find, I had my eyes set on the Bell Influx and spent forever looking for a good price.

Those of you who know me probably would've guessed that I got picky about the color. I wanted the black and white theme with an accent of red at a good price. Normally sold for $65, I got hooked up for $40 after tax. A helmet is one of those things you have to love or else you're not going to wear it. I used it for the first time during this evening's midnight run and rode further up hill in my neighborhood that I've ever gone. I'm certain now that I can make it to my friend's house.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another recumbent tadpole trike!

I never thought I'd ever see one in my neighborhood, but I was riding this morning and saw someone riding one! From the looks of it, it could've been a Catrike. I couldn't really tell at the speeds we were going. He was opposite me. In hindsight, I should've stopped to chat with him a bit.

Last weekend, we saw another recumbent tadpole trike except this one was modded to be powered by arms rather than legs. The rider was way buff and had tons of upper body strength. Looking more closely, it was modded b/c he had lost his right leg. It's pretty cool that someone was able to mod it so that he can get around like other cyclists out there. The hills must be way tough!

Glow in the dark

ACCESSORY 13: LED Underbody kit $6 @ Ebay

I haven't been this excited since Neons on my Rav4. These waterproof bendable LED strips were $1.79 or so on Ebay. The black squares are holders for the 9v battery. It's prewired and conveniently has an on and off switch. I bought this on Ebay about 2 weeks ago! Boy shipping from HK is slooooow. I've been eager since I pressed the okay button on my Paypal account. Since then, I've researched like a mad man to see if these 12v LED strips could be powered by 9v's of power. Most resources indicated no. But there were a few that supported that it could work. For $6, I gave it a shot.

I wasn't this lucky the first time. I think either something's wrong with the battery, battery holder or my connection b/c the first time I hooked it up, it didn't work at all. I was thinking my trip to Radio Shack would have to wait to tomorrow for me to by some resistors. I was a bit upset that the seller claimed the LED strips already had resisters. Desperate for it to work, I tried again and behold the light! It works! Tada! Downstairs to the garage to put these things on!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Click, click, click....

The front crankshaft has been clicking like crazy! The craigslist seller told me about it before I got it, but it's been getting tons worse. Recently it's been clicking and creaking during every revolution. Not only was it annoying, but it rendered my bell useless. People could hear the creaking from a block away. I'd even stop pedaling sometimes to cruise by so I wouldn't bug the heck out of people. So sad. I triked about 20 blocks this afternoon to Nomad Cyclery where one of the techs, Justin helped me fix it.

It turns out the crankshaft was way way lose. "Finger tight," he says. While adjusting it, it fell off completely! I can't imagine if that would've happened while I was on the trike. I think I made it just in time. Good thing I dropped by the shop today.

The gears were slipping too between 1 and 2. He tweaked that a bit too. The only real way to do it was to take it for a spin. So he was on the trike up and down the street turning his head back to look at the gears. I was worried about him with all the cars coming to and fro.

25 minutes later and $35 later, it was all pretty much fixed. He recommends that I go back later to get more adjustments. They're super busy on the weekends, so I'm lucky they fit me in just around 1pm.

Can't wait to ride again tonight.

Brake time

ACCESSORY 11: Brake strap $0 @ work

The IT department was going to throw these velcro straps away, so I picked 'em up knowing I could use them for something sometime. I wasn't sure until I saw Joel's blog where he did something similar with the brake lever. Thanks Joel! This works perfectly! Now I can get off the trike on a hill w/o having to worry. This helps on my driveway that has a bit of a slope.

ACCESSORY 12: Dual headlights $1.50 @ Ebay

Yeah, seriously. These were $1.50 shipped to my door. For $6 I got two of these and two rear lights! These lights slip off and act as regular flashlights you can take away with you. It runs on 4 AAA batteries and has two settings. On/off and flashing. I've got one on each handlebar.

Here's the whole assembly. It's mirrored on the left side. Exact same thing except no bell. Both the red and white lights are visible at all angles. I've already ordered a front headlight for the front boom and will probably pop that on there too. Am I getting close to too many lights? Wait until my next project!

Imagine this when it's superdark outside. All lights are definitely visible. I'll post a picture of it at night on the road soon.

100 block run

Parts of Golden Gate Park closes to automobiles every Sunday. We rode 50 blocks there and back! It was quite a ride with the hills but it was all worth it on our way back! Zoom zoom! I can't wait until this next coming Sunday when I'll have my water bottle to cool me down.

I'm reading and hearing about all these people taking their trikes for 10 mile runs. My 100 blocks was barely 4 miles round trip. My next goal is to hit that 10 mile mark. First I'll need as speedometer for accurate measurement. Looks like I'll be getting another accessory!

My first fall

Well, not quite. All the cool videos online show people doing stunts with the KMX trike and they're on two wheels! Well, I accidentally figured out how they did it.

I came speeding down the street at night going probably 20 mph when I gave into my temptation to slide the back wheels out. Woooops, I slid it maybe a bit too much b/c I ended up on two wheels! Luckily I was wearing gloves and I'm so low to the ground. I planted my hand down to push the trike back on it's 3 legs and continued my way. Good thing it was at night b/c there wasn't a car in sight.

The best way to know your vehicle is to take it to it's limit. I guess I reached the turning limit. Now to go airborn.....

Friday, March 19, 2010

Flash me

ACCESSORY 10: LED handle bar end lights $17 @

I've seen these on racing bicycle handle bars...the curvy kind and they're visible even in the daytime! These pieces each slip into the ends of the handlebars and light up a bright red. There are two settings for this particular model: On/off and flashing. This was my chance to get a pair too! I looked around for awhile and they were priced at almost $30. That's way over budget, so after looking a bit more I compromised at under $20 shipped. After just one day, the right side is already sorta broken. I've only used it 3x!!! Ugh. It will turn on and flash, but after awhile, it will stop flashing and just turn off. I read some reviews that this thing was poorly made, but there wasn't any other option since both companies that sell them are probably from China and the there's zero quality control. I thought I'd take a shot and I guess I lost. Boo hoo. Sucks. Oh well.

So here they are installed. The red LED's don't quite perfectly to the handlebar ends. They're way loose, so I currently have the handlebar grips pretty much holding them in for now. I have to resecure them every now and then and will continue doing that until I can figure out a better solution. The lights are superbright at night. Think of it as a red flashlight. Yes, that bright!

I'm pumped!

It's midnight and Angela's asleep, so I decided to go downstairs and install the pump. It's nicely integrated into the existing water bottle cage mounting bracket. Pretty cool bling factor. Since there's so much going on down there, I decided to swivel it down underneath below the seat of the trike. It's clear out of my way when riding. At least I think it is. I haven't had a chance to take it for a spin yet.

ACCESSORY 9: Water bottle $12 @ REI

Sad ot say, but this is the first thing I bought at full price. No discount. Boo hoo. Who knew Camelbak makes water bottles too? Call it tacky, but I chose to stick with the white, black and red color scheme. I figure I'm only going to need one of these, so I opted for the insulated version.

And here's the set all together! I'll post a zoomed out photo later on.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pop! Tsssss....

ACCESSORY 8: Tire repair kit $6 @ Ebay

I bought this awhile ago, but it just came in today! I knew it would take awhile. All cheap stuff on Ebay is from HK or China and takes forever to arrive. In the meantime while waiting for these slow pokes, I purchased a Bell non-flat tire. It's basically got gooey stuff that comes out and fills the tire when you get a hole. More on that later. I'll fix up my flat tube and store it as my spare.

ACCESSORY 9: Tire pump $19 @ Ebay

If Dyson is the leader in vacuum cleaners and even if they're not, they look darn cool....Lezyne is the equally the leader in bicycle pumps. The aluminum frame's gotta make you drool. If it had a bit more white in its color scheme, it would be an Apple product. The ironic part is that I hope I never have to use this. Emergency road use only.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It didn't fit!

ACCESSORY 7: Toe clips $12 @ Ebay
These strapless toe clips mount onto the pedals to secure the foot a bit better during the ride. Usually during a normal ride w/o the toe clips, only one foot turns the gears at a time. The one that pushes the pedal forward does all the work. With these toe clips, the other foot pulls the pedals back at the same time and helps turn the gear. It's supposed to be a bit more efficient. We'll see. The deciding factor for this particular model made by Zafel was the integrated toe grip that the other models didn't have.

This just came in the mail today! After unwrapping the package and test fitting it I found it didn't fit! Ugh! The holes on the toe clips didn't line up with the ones on my pedals! I guess they're not universal after all. I read a bit about it and others have drilled their own holes into the toe clips. I hesitated for probably only 15 seconds before reaching for my Black and Decker. About 20 minutes later, I was able to secure these.

I picked this particular pair b/c over the others b/c it didn't wrap around the foot as much. I figured during an emergency evacuation, I would have to hop out of this trike lighting fast and I didn't want anything slowing me down. The hole in the middle is also large enough to fit most types of shoes. I wear Adidas Sambas which have a pointier toe and this fits well into the void. The profile is also really low. There isn't much gap which holds the foot in well during use.

I took it out this evening and it really does do a good job! I can now push the pedals at other angles. My foot feels like it's part of the pedal and I don't have to worry as much about my foot slipping. My test run was only about 15-20 minutes, so we'll so how well they perform this weekend on my 1 hour ride.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Addicted to accessories

Since all the accessories will be safety oriented, I was much more will to part with my cash to get a hold of these new toys. It's also much cheaper than modifying a car. These parts average about $8/each. There aren't that many cosmetic modifications to be made to trikes available on the market and the trike looks pretty decent as it is.

ACCESSORY 1: Magnetic Reflectors $1.50 + tax @ Daiso
While at the store, I wasn't really sure if the paint on the Tornado would mask the metalic characteristic of the frame. For the price, I took the chance and it ended up working fairly well. I didn't want anything permanent that would be too difficult to remove if I ever changed my mind about the look, so this worked out perfectly and for the price, it can't be beat.

These came in a 10" strip that I cut up to fit the trike in strategic areas. I figure most of my riding will be done on weekday evenings sometimes after dark. I can use all the visibility I can get.

Bell $1.50 + tax @ Daiso

I mounted it straight onto the left side handlebar. There's more room there since the right side one is taken up by the gear shifter. I also avoided the right side for practical reasons since the right side controls the two front primary brakes. I wanted to be able to use the bell while changing gears and braking.

ACCESSORY 3: Rear light $5 @ Ebay
I bought this awhile ago and it came with a headlight that I used for my electric bike. After buying another two on Ebay for $6 total shipped, I found my old one! And here it is mounted.

It has about 7 settings of various blinking patterns. I typically use the strobe or the regular blinking. At dusk, I use solid red.

ACCESSORY 4: Headlight $0.50 (came in a set of 10) @ Home Depot
My original light was a Cateye, but it fell during a trip and I ran over it with the Tornado, so this will have to do for now.

ACCESSORY 5: Alarm $8 @ Ebay
During my first weekend trek, I came across a cafe that I wanted to stop at. Concerned that someone my try to swipe my new trike, I left it anyway with one eye on it. After getting home safe and sound, I looked up some options for for the price, it was very reasonable.

You press one of the buttons to arm it and follow it by a sequence of numbers to disarm. If someone tries to move the trike while I'm away, a piercing 80db alarm will sound. Will it work? Not sure but it's worth the peace of mind and it looks sorta cool.

ACCESSORY 6: Water bottle mount and cage $16 @ REI
I went to three sporting goods stores before I finally ended up at REI. Their prices are actually very competitive. Luckily b/c they're the only ones that carried a particular part that I needed....a water bottle bracket! It's a bit tough to find one b/c recumbents don't have the same mounting screws as bikes. I ended up with the Minoura Bottle Cage Holder BH-95x.

It was $8, fairly pricey for what it is, but there weren't many other options available. KMX sells their version for $10 plus tax and shipping and I would've had to wait. So the local REI was the way to go.

I chose the Topeak Adjustable cage so I can hold bicycle water bottles as well as the regular plastic ones we get in bulk at Costco.

The water bottle cage mount was a pain in the butt to install! I read about how difficult it was for people and I figured they just didn't know what they were doing. On the contrary. It's an easy mechanism to figure out. It's the actual installation that's difficult. You're basically required to screw in to a nut that's hidden behind a black shell so you can't see it. At the same time, you have to hold back a metal ribbon that the nut is permanently attached to. After 30 minutes, I finally got it on and here it is!

I got really addicted to buying accessories for this trike, so there's definitely more to come. It's all in the mail. Until next time....

Monday, March 15, 2010

My first recumbent bike purchase


Think of it as a tricycle for grown ups. Although the owner of the company initially built it as a fun thing for his son to ride, he has built a few models since then that include ones for adults.

Apparently "recumbent" means, "to lie down." Trikes come in two varieties: tadpole and delta. Tadpole is the one I have here with two wheels in the front. Some people also call it a reverse trike since it's backwards from the typical single-wheel-in-front setup known as the delta style.

Recumbent trikes have been around for at least 25 years, but the the slow following from the US market still makes them feel new. During my first few rides in the city, I get a few stares mostly by curious kids who shout,

"Daddy, daddy what is that?"
"Daddy, I want one of those!"

The adults had some funny comments too,

"That's a recipe for suicide."
"Wow, cool. Be careful."

Last Sunday, the trike actually stopped traffic. A guy stopped his car in the middle of the road as I pulled out of my drive way (looking both ways of course) and with a big smile rolled his window down and popped his head out to get a better look. He was so shocked at the funny gizmo that he really didn't say much. I slowed down, smiled and waved.

I think I saw my first recumbent bike over a decade ago and only recently did I learn about recumbent trikes! I've probably only seen about 6 or 7 of them my whole life running around town. They're a fairly rare sight and only recently did I find out why.

Most recumbent trikes start at $1,200.00. There was no way I was going to spend over a grand on something without a motor. After some research, I came across the KMX brand. The owner of the company was a helicopter engineer who decided to build something fun for his son. Years later after getting neighborhood requests for these funny contraptions, he branded a company called KMX.

KMX is also a fairly new company. KMX came onto the scene less than 10 years ago - about 15 years behind the first introduction of these modified bicycle-like personal transportation devices. KMX managed to hit the top in two categories. Not forgetting his roots, he kept a line of kids recumbent trikes. No other company manufacters recumbent trikes for people under 14 yrs of age. The entire line of KMX trikes for both children and adults are designed to be used offroad. They're basically 3-wheeled BMX bikes. They're very durable and have much beefier tires than other brands. If you do enough research online, you'll find videos of crazy people going airborn off a ramp on this KMX Torando.

The Tornado is the entry level adult recumbent trike. Even at $200-300 dollars cheaper than other entry level trikes, the price was still high. I didn't really see any other way of getting into the scene other than to look for a used one. I loved the brilliant white of the KMX Tornado set against the black accents and fell in love at first sight.

One craiglist search later and a trip to the South Bay, I bought it from a guy who had been asking $850 for this Tornado that typically costs $958. He lowered his price to $750 on the web before I contacted him. By the time I left with the trike, I was $700 poorer. That's almost a 30% discount. Not too bad considering I didn't have to pay shipping and tax. Although it would've been fun to build out of the box, it was very convenient that it was already built and ready to go.


1) Cool factor was probably number one. I just like gadgets and weird unusual things in general. Coming from a design background I just happen to appreciate stuff like this no matter how awkward.

2) The second reason I wanted one was for the exercise. When I'm not sick or too lazy to hit the gym where I only do weight lifting, I'm definitely not getting any cardio workouts. The trike has changed this entirely. I've been triking almost everyday since I got the trike on 3/5/10.

3) Spend time with Angela. We need more stuff to do together than watch TV and sleep. This gives us a chance to get outdoors, enjoy the weather and the area in our neighborhood. Our first trip with her on the bike and me on the trike covered 100 blocks! Not bad for a first trip.

One reason why the Tornado is half the price of the closest entry level trike is b/c it only has 7 gears instead of the typical 24 of the higher end ones. This translates to a lot more sweating and workout than those fancier trikes.

The braking function is different. The Tornado's right side brake handle controls the front two wheels while the left side grip handle controls the rear brake. The higher end trikes have brakes than handle each front wheel independently. The left side will brake the left wheel and the right side will brake the right wheel. The rear can usually only be engaged if it has the emergency brake option.

The Tornado shares many of the same components as the higher end models. The Tornado has disk brakes which is more than I can say for 95% of bikes out there. I've been in touch with guys who have modded this exact model trike to go 55mph with a motor and they are confident the stock brakes do just fine and don't plan to upgrade them at all.

The seat on the 2009 and up Tornado's are very soft with a nice cushion that keeps me comfy for miles on end without any fatigue. So far I've tested it across 100 city blocks.

The Tornado is the only adult trike being manufactered that has the black mag wheels stock. I suppose you can also change them out, but that would just mean spending more money. I like the modern look of the black rims compared to the typical old school thin metal spokes you see on regular bikes.