Saturday, July 31, 2010


I forget where I saw this, but I've seen a photo similar to this before. Theirs was much better of course, but here's my attempt at the same artistry. Background has been edited to a grayscale leaving just the red accents of the trike and my helmet.

Quad burn

Ouch! I traveled about 15 miles in agony before being convinced that it wasn't my lack of preparedness or fitness that brought such pain to my quads. The tires felt fine to the touch but after checking with the air pressure gauge I found that my normally 40lb PSI rear tire was only filled with 25lb's!

No wonder!!!

It was a relief though. I was starting to doubt the effectiveness of the elliptical chain ring. Had the oval shaped ring made climbing and even flat ground riding even more difficult??? Luckily it was just the low tire pressure! My pump is no good so I wasn't able to get the air pressure back to 40lbs, but 35lbs was close enough. The 5lb was a big difference. I wish I had it up to 40lb.

Lesson learned? Check tire pressure before long journeys. I crossed 33miles this morning starting at 7:30am.

New downhill speed record was touch today just before Broadway in Sausalito after the GG Bridge - 34.2mph. I'm hoping once I swap my 40T chain ring to 42T, I can get at least 35mph. 40mph might be wishful thinking, but that would be great. Maybe when I swap the two front tires to Schwalbe Big Apples to match the rear, I can get up to that mark.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Testing testing 1-2-3

22.5 mile test ride today with the 40T elliptical chain ring and one minor modification - toe clip adjustment!

I'm definitely spinning faster. I'm upping the gears so much more quickly. The 42T chain ring is definitely going on. Totally glad I got it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Meeting fellow riders

I never thought I'd find myself intentionally going to the Tenderloin, but there I was at the home of the SF Aids Foundation attending the first Aids Life Cycle meeting. Though a bit disappointed to see only 16 or so people at the meeting, it turned out to be a good experience. The program leader was hilarious!

The 25 minute wait for the MUNI bus ride back home was worth it. Russ gave me one of his promotional items - a bike bag! It felt a bit heavier than I would imagine. After getting home, I tore open the plastic wrapping to find there was something in the bag! A brand name tool made by Topeak!

This was also a great opportunity to get responses from veterans of the ride to a couple of my biggest worries concerning the ALC ride.

"How long is the Quad Buster?"
There's a portion of the ride that is a long uphill ride. It's one of the bigger obstacles on the ride that people are always worried about. I've heard rumors about how difficult it was, but wanted to hear from some veterans first hand. It turns out that that Quad Buster is only 1.3 miles! I had read elsewhere that it was 4 miles and have been looking for 4 mile hills to practice on. Glad to hear it's much shorter.

"How do I transport my trike back to SF once I reach Los Angeles?"
No need to disassemble the trike and find a box for it to ship by Fedex. There's actually a company that will round up bikes at the finish line and drive them back to SF's Golden Gate Park for $55! That pretty much relieves me from my biggest worry. Fitting a 43lb awkwardly shaped trike in a box would be a bit of a challenge.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Q-rings at last!

The nice fellow I met at the track had agreed to let me borrow his 40T Q-ring for a test run. I'm wondering how much improvement over my current ellipticals it could be. I'll soon find out I suppose. Fine tuning it to one of the 37 holes sounds like it might work better than the 5 I have to work with on my current oval ring.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Spin out

I asked my fellow BROL (bentrideronline) forum members how the orientation of the elliptical chain ring looked on my trike by posting the photos from yesterday. Their feedback suggested that I should turn the chain ring counter clockwise by one bolt. I did this last night and couldn't wait to take a test run. My first ride was this morning but it was only up and down the block. I felt an improvement, but I couldn't say for sure it wasn't just my head hoping to see a benefit.

Rushing home after work, I hopped on the trike and away I went. Normally on the first downhill sloped I'd be in 4th gear, but I found myself to already be in fifth. I was going faster than normal but gave credit to the fact that I just ate a good meal and was rushing before it got dark.

Both my underwear and tanktop were more drenched than normal.

When I finally got to my first uphill on my usual route, I found myself climbing higher up the slope maintaining a higher gear before having to gear down. To reach the top using the same amount strength, I still had to drop to my normal 3rd gear before the peak.

I felt the most difference of the elliptical chain ring yesterday going downhill. So the natural thing to do to test the new orientation of the ring was to take another downhill ride. I found myself changing gears a tad bit slower (almost negligible) from the top. This could have been for other reasons. I don't know for sure, but just wanted to make mention of it for record. However, I found myself spinning out in my top gear sooner than before!

Later on my next hill riding alongside a group of 6 I've-never-met-before DF riders, the intensity of the spinnout was much more apparent. The difference was ridiculous. I've never spun out to that degree ever before even on steeper slopes on smoother terrain! It literally felt like I didn't have a chain. Zero resistance on the pedals in gear 7 - 70 something gear inches.

I'm 100% convinced that elliptical chain rings promote faster spinning on downhills. As for flat ground and uphills, I'm still figuring that out, but leaning towards positive feelings about it. I'll need more than 8.5 miles (what I did today) to be as convinced of the benefits like the downhills. So far though, the elliptical chain rings seem to create better momentum through the stroke over all terrain. It's as if the mashing during the power stroke brings momentum to the pull part of the stroke. With the circular chain ring, it felt forced but here it feels a lot more natural.

1. Taking it to the track to see some endurance results. The track has always been my control area where everything is pretty much consistent. It's a good way to test any variables in the trike. Even the wind direction is predictable.

2. I'll be riding a few hundred more miles before switching up to a 42T elliptical chain ring. Since I'm spinning more quickly with my current 40T ring, I'm assuming the 42T ring will provide some performance gains with the same effort as my circular 40T ring. Hopefully I can gain some extra speed down the hills! My goal is 40mph. I'm peaking now at 33mph at top speed.

Take my chain

I had a chance to take a test run with that one link removed and twice the chain came off. I may be contributing to this be changing gears at the wrong time or pedaling with the incorrect intensity, but either way it looks as though I may to remove another chain link. I'll go one by one until the gears no longer change smoothly.

Chainlink gone

I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. On my last ride with Mike covering 50 miles, my chain come off the chain ring at least 8x. It wasn't more than a mere inconvenience, but I can't help but to worry if it were to happen in a bad place. At one point, it had come off while I was in the middle of an intersection crossing from sidewalk to sidewalk. I'm just lucky that cars weren't coming my way.

It was time to remove a chain link to make the overall chain tighter against the drivetrain.

Removing the link was fairly easy. Very easy actually. The tool I used worked perfectly and the link came right out! I'll test it out next weekend on rougher roads. The usual weekday roads I take are fairly smooth and don't typically cause my chain to fall off.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Give me a ring

ACCESSORY 40: Elliptical Chainring $15.00 (used) + shipping @ Zach from BROL

I'm always looking for more efficient ways to increase efficiency of the trike giving me the edge I need for completing the Aids Life Cycle next year. Though elliptical chain rings aren't 100% well received and are one of the most controversial pieces of technology, the cost was worth a personal test. For $15 apiece, I could find out for myself the effectiveness of elliptical chain rings.

Time for the installation. Since yesterday night, I've decided to go with the Q-ring methodology. After further reading, I've found that there are too many people who recommend this for me to ignore it. The effective smaller diameter will be at the dead spot and the longer diameter will be in the power phase.

This will hopefully help me skip over the dead spot more quickly and help me enter the power phase earlier in the stroke. These are various photos of my current installation orientation of the ring. Phase one of the stroke is when the crankarms are in the power position. The chain ring is at it's longest diameter at this point.

This is the transitional phase as it approaches the dead spot.

Here's the final phase of the stroke at the dead spot. The crank arm is slightly higher than complete horizontal. The only real way to determine this is for the rider to simply sit down and go through a normal stroke to see where the leg is most extended. This will change based on boom angle, rider height, seat height, etc.

After further discussion and analysis of my setup from fellow BROL members, I've been recommended to turn the chain ring counter clockwise by one position, 70 degrees.

Before doing that, I'll review the performance and experience with the current setup. This will give me something to compare to after I make the change.

If my attempt at orientating the chain ring so that the dead spot is virtually eliminated is correct, this would mean that I'd be spending more time in the power phase. My muscles would no longer get the split second rest at the dead spot that I would get with the traditional circular ring. My setup would ask for muscle work more often.

Some have complained that the elliptical chain rings make riding more difficult. If my theory is correct, this is exactly what we'd expect. The dead spot rest is virtual removed from the equation therefore giving more opportunity to work the muscles in the rest of the stroke.

I did feel this in the real world test run of 25 miles. One additional benefit I noticed right away while going down hill was that I could go through gears more quickly. I no doubt reached higher speeds sooner than I did with the circular chain ring.

It would make sense that this would translate to a similar experience going uphill, but I can't honestly say with certainty that I experienced this. I'll have to ride a bit more. Something tells me that I was able to go up hills more easily, but I can't contribute this to the elliptical chain ring. There's too many other factors that could have made me spin up the hill. Food, rest, mood, weather. There's too many variables for me to commit to the elliptical chain ring as benefiting my spins uphill.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Elliptical Chainrings....ugh!

What makes the elliptical chain ring so controversial is that there are two schools of thought which are completely opposite of one another. Let's examine:

1. Theory 1 slows down the area just before the dead spot at 3 and 9 o'clock (on bents) where the momentum normally speeds up. This is an attempt at evening out the stroke to make it more smooth and therefore efficient.

By cycling backwards, riders will notice that the stroke is naturally very jerky. It's not smooth at all. Before heavy training, this is normal for most people. I've ridden over 2,000 miles in 4 months and I found my stroke to be super jerky during the reverse stroke test.

In this example assuming an elliptical chain ring has an effective 42T at its widest point and 40T at it's shortest point, the chain ring should be installed with the 42T just after the power stroke before reaching the dead spot.

This theory is adopted by Shimano Biopace and Sugino Cycloid (the one I bought).

2. The second theory attempts to increase potential power my offering more teeth during the power stroke and less teeth at the deadspot to get you through it more quickly. The effective 40T portion of the ring is installed at the dead spot so the rider can quickly get through this less efficient part of the stroke and get to the power stroke faster.

Assuming the least power is delivered during the dead spot, theory 2 makes riders feel as though they have a smaller chain ring at this portion of the pedal stroke and a larger one during the power phase.

This theory is adopted by Rotor Q-Rings.

Before trying anything out physically, I'm leaning towards Theory 1 to even out the speed and smoothness of the stroke. I'll have more updates after I give both theories a test run.


It's Biopace, not Biospace! For the longest time I thought these Q-Ring competitors were called Shimano Biospace! No wonder I couldn't find information on them. Unfortunately Biopace is still a tough find.

The chainrings came in the mail today! I bought a couple 40t and 42t rings from Zach at BROL and can't wait to install them, but one problem - don't really know how. I guess there's only 5 options (5 holes in the chain ring to choose from).

I'll give it a try in the morning and go for some test runs.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Metro

Good to know the metro side of me hasn't gone unnoticed. I rode by the Sausalito end of the Golden Gate bridge today when I heard an onlooker talking to her husband,

"Wow, that's a bike! And look at his outfit!"

Hahah! I smirked to myself as I rode on past. She wasn't talking to me and I had already passed too far for me to respond. I wouldn't know how to respond anyway.

I hit a new day's record for miles. In 5 hours and 13 minutes, I covered 48 miles throughout the City. My legs are beat! But I'm still looking forward to tomorrow's bent meet. 2 water bottles pretty much empty. Good to know.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Date at the gate

An old photo recently enhanced using Photomatix. The software imitates a HDR photo using a single image. It's a good reminder of how the chain ring, mirror and pedals used to look like.

Old rear tire too. This was before the Schwalbe Big Apple replacement on the back end. The seat has been reclined since by one notch.


I hit my new flat ground top speed of 26.1 mph. 0.5 miles later, I heard a flapping sound. Ugh, the tire. The same one that was causing me trouble was leaking big time. Luckily I expected this and kept a backup tube in my bag. Tossed the flat tube and am awaiting the replacement to come in the mail in a few days. Free of charge!

Crank me up

After my 5 day hiatus, I started triking. Towards the end of my 10 mile ride on a slight decline, I found the the trike getting way smooth in 4th gear or 44.4 GI's. Trying to confirm that nothing was wrong with my drive train, I took notice of my chain ring and it was intact. No slippage.

I've used the White Lightening chain lube for some time, so I didn't think it had anything to do with that. Continuing my search I still couldn't figure it out so I hopped off the trike at a red light to be sure the chain was on the correct cog in gear 3 when I came to a stop - it was!

I'm finally convinced the shorter 155mm crank arms really have contributed to my increased ease of the stroke. I'm finding the difference/improvement more obvious as I continue to trike.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I've recently come across something called Q-rings. They're ovular or elliptical shaped chain rings! The purpose?

This technology supposedly eliminates the dead spot in the pedal stroke but lowering the number of teeth in the return stroke (pull up) and increasing the number of teeth on the power stroke using the same chain ring.

The mere shape of the chain rings (in theory) does this effectively. I have yet to prove this through experience, but am completely eager to give it a try. Notice the oblong shape. That's not a disfigurement of the photo. Nothing's wrong with the computer screen. It really is stretched out vertically in this photo.

More on the crank

I rode another 15.5 miles on the shorties and found it to be very efficient. I noticed a couple days later (today) that my knees started hurting a bit under the kneecap earlier in the morning. I hadn't ridden today and the pain has gone away. I'm expecting to be reminded of it next time I go on a ride, but hopefully the pain will go away after I get used to these new arms.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More impressions of the crank

I had a chance to ride my usual track for a bit over 10 miles yesterday evening. I revisited the same routes and can honestly say that the 155mm crank arms are an improvement over the 170mm stock ones.

The benefit of not having to move my entire leg over such a large stroke is a great benefit not only for my knees, but for the sake of efficiency. I'm still getting the same gear inches, but cycling with less leg movement per stroke seems to give me a bit more endurance.

Looking back after having tried the 155mm crank arms, the 170's seemed to have wasted a lot of energy on the upstroke. Though the cycling shoes provide more efficiency through the entire stroke, the upstroke (when my knees come up towards my chest) still puts less power to the pedals.

If I ever go shorter, it'll be to the 152mm arms that come on the Schlumpf drive as an option. I can't really imagine myself liking anything shorter. 135mm seems ridiculously short. Still curious though.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shorty crank arm review

WHY 155mm's?
I wasn't sure what to expect with the shorter crank arms. I suspected 165mm's wouldn't be a big enough difference from the 170mm stock ones to be worth the purchase. As a test, I picked the 155mm's in preparation for my future Schlumpf Mountain Drive which has a 152mm option. No 155mm, but that's close enough.

My first test run was up and down the block. There was a noticeable difference, but I knew the real test would happen after a few miles. Immediately though, it felt easier to pedal a full stroke. My knees no longer had to come up so high.

Getting back to my familiar routes, I found that climbing the hills are indeed easier. It felt like getting an extra 1.5 gears. In other words, I can climb one hill at 5th gear as opposed to 3rd gear when I had the stock crank arms. I can't commit to this reasoning until I try it a couple times more. My increased superman powers could easily have come from adrenaline or other unrelated factors.

I found my triking today similar to my experience up and down the block earlier in the morning. It's more comfortable reaching the same speeds and cadence. I'm sure this translates to better endurance and speed in the long run. For now, I'm just getting used to the stroke.

I can't strongly say that I can reach the same top speeds more quickly. The comfort level is probably the biggest benefit of the shorter crank arms which is good enough for me.

Gone? After riding 28 miles earlier in the day, I kept going for another 20 miles trying out the new crankset. My knees started hurting a bit towards the end of the day, but it wasn't the same type of pain as I had experienced before with the stock 170mm ones. The pain before was just under my knee cap; it's now mostly around my knee. I'm hoping it's b/c I'm just not used to the setup yet. We'll see.

Trek with Mike

This ride was better than the one at the East Bay! No sun burn, views were tons better and all in good company. Great despite the....err...flat tire. Guess those slime tube's aren't indestructible.

The day started off crossing a pedestrian bridge over a freeway. First time for me. The views were great and the weather was perfect. We hit up about 38 miles that afternoon going through four different trails!

1. Sunnyvale Baylands Trail going through Alviso
2. Los Gatos Creek Trail
3. Middlefield Trail
4. Shoreland Baylands

- Geese
- Lake with paddle boats for rental
- 1,100 foot long pedestrian bridge

We swapped trikes for a bit and found that the Schwalbe Big Apples on Mike's ride did make a difference in speed. Going down just a short hill, I could already feel the difference. The 20 minute session on his trike sold me on those new tires. I have zero doubts now about the performance of those tires compared to the stock KMX ones on the Tornado.

Mike seemed to love the short 155mm crank arms I had on the trike.

When I came off the street onto a driveway at high speeds, the chain came off the front ring! On a later ride, the same thing happened. After checking the length though, I found that it wasn't too short. The length was fine. I just wish that the stock KMX bash ring was compatible with the new ring. I think this chain ring guard really made a difference in keeping the chain onto the ring during rough rides.

Crank it

ACCESSORY 39: Chainring 14.50 + shipping @

Much like the crank arms, my #1 reason for choosing the Sinz brand chainring was price. The second was that it comes in this fancy red color. Normally priced at $16.50, I felt like I got a good deal.

I never planned on getting a new chainring, but I need this one to mount my crank arms. The new crank arms are not compatible with the stock chain ring.

Let's see the difference in crank arm length. It's not that much shorter. 170mm stock one on the bottom and new 155mm one on top. Though 15mm might not seem like a lot, remember that it's 15mm on each side. The total difference will be 30mm or to us Americans, 1.18".

I like the look of the RMP Components one. I'm not a big fan of showing off brand names and would much rather have a cleaner look than having it plastered with "KMX" on it. The shape is also a bit cleaner too - straight edges. It doesn't have that organic look with all the unnecessary curves.

I'm not a big fan of pink. The chain ring is starting to look more pink than it does red. We'll soon see how it looks on the trike. I want to install this ASAP to test the shorter crank arms, so I'll pop it on for a trial run and get a black chain ring if it ends up not looking right. This might've looked better if the bash ring (chain guard) was compatible.

Installation is pretty direct. 4mm bolts are needed for single chain ring setups. Longer ones are available for double or triple setups. The bolts come as a package. The steel ones I'll be using were about $5.99. The more expensive ones sell for $14 or so. The allen head screws right on. A flat head screwdriver is needed to tighten it from the other side.

Fully installed! Finally. Looks pretty good! Except that I was right about the color. It's off. It's pink. It's ugly. Do I want Schwalbe Big Apple tires more or a replacement chain ring? Hmm...

Thursday, July 1, 2010


ACCESSORY 38: Clicker torque wrench $11.99 + shipping @ Harbor Freight Tools

Something came in the mail for me today and boy was that quick. I ordered it a few days ago and later read that some buyers had waited up to 2 weeks for delivery! With the prices though, I went through with the purchase anyway and lucked out when it came in 2 days!

Yes, and it comes with a case! Wicked. I always wanted one of these. It reminds me of my special inspections days where I used to torque bolts all over construction sites. These torque wrenches typically go for $24-50 each! Quite a deal from Harbor Freight. I have yet to test it though. Hope it doesn't break on the first try.

The ones Park Tools sells are all 3/8", so that's the one I went for. 5-80 lb range sounds good. The difference btw this type and the kind that Park Tools sells is that this one can't be calibrated as easily. But this one seems a lot more durable and I can't imagine I would need to calibrate it ever. I won't be using it that often. Again, the justification for buying this is that it's a fraction of the cost of taking it to the shop to complete the work I need to do installing the crankarms and new chain ring. yes, new chain ring! That's next. Review tomorrow.

Fellow bent rider

Arriving at the Polo Field, I saw another bent! I had seen two on the track before. This is the third. Turns out the guy, Eric had seen me on the road before! In fact, I had see him also, except I didn't know it at the time.

I had been riding around when I passed by a black car which I had thought was a Dodge Charger, but later learned was a Chrysler 300. They look the same. The rear hitch had a tadpole bent trike! By the time I realized it, I had passed it. Little did I know that I would have later been granted my wish of being able to exchange a few words with him.

We ended up riding over 10 miles together. Nice meeting a fellow bent rider who's up for chatting (and slowing down so I can keep up). We were cruising at about 17mph average. The 10 miles went by like 15 minutes.


ACCESSORY 37: Schwalbe Big Apple Rear Tire $0 @ Mike

Thank you Mike for allowing me another accessory w/o having to ride 200 extra miles! Freebee from Mike. I owe you a lunch at the very least! This is a 2" wide Schwalbe Big Apple 20" rear tire. After researching like a mad man, I was still hesitant to buy a set. After trying Mike's ride, I'm sold. He gave me one of his extras and I'll be buying a front pair soon enough.

I guess the people who bought these and reviewed them in various places on the web didn't get them for a KMX kart. I don't notice the tire being thicker and the weight is actually less than the stock ones! The two biggest worries were pretty much non-existant. I'm definitely getting a front set eventually.

As for the tread, the stock tire on the left definitely has more. The BA's (Big Apples) are designed as a road tire so it has less tread as expected.

I have yet to take this on the gravel, but from my 13.5 mile ride today, I can say that these tires do give a bit more cushioned feel to the road. I inflated them to 40lb's. Perhaps a bit less would give me a more comfy ride. I'll have to experiment with the air pressure to see what works the best. It's a bit tough to tell though w/o the front tires to match. Even if the BA's did have less rolling resistance, the front wheels prevent me from noticing the difference.

A lot of people like the reflective grey strip along the edge of the tire. Yes, I said grey. It's not white like people say. It's grey. Grey. Grey. Grey. Like I suspected, I don't like it nearly as much as w/o the strip. It's fighting with the red strip. Not a good look but maybe it'll grow on me. Let's give it a few weeks.