Saturday, September 18, 2010

Red light traffic light changer mod

ACCESSORY 43: Red light traffic light changer $0 @ Reused junk

It's not what you think.

Although ambulances and police cars do have devices in them that literally change traffic lights from red to green in seconds to allow them to pass more safely through intersections during emergencies, this isn't what I'm going for. Having something like that in a non-city or government vehicle is punishable by fines and imprisonment.

Not worth it.

The device I'm looking for is to solve one problem. Small vehicles like bicycles, motorcycles, mopeds and tricycles are not detected at intersections where traffic lights change by under ground sensors. Our tiny vehicles are too small and the amount of metal in them doesn't trigger the traffic lights to turn green appropriately they effectively do for cars - a much larger mass.

Solution? Magnets. A company called Green Light Trigger sells magnets for $25. To keep $25 in my pocket, I looked for other sources.

Hidden inside computer hard drives are such neodymium (ultra strong) magnets. After watching some Youtube videos on where they are located and how to disassemble them, I took one apart from an old '80's computer and will be attaching it to the trike shortly.

This is how they look like. My old drive has four tiny ones. A newer drive from closer to the millennium will have two large ones equal to two of these.

Although I haven't personally encountered traffic lights not being able to sense the trike, I can imagine how frustrating it would be if I ever were to encounter such an intersection where the pedestrian button wasn't conveniently located or existing. As soon as I figure a nice clean place to put this, I'll pop it on and hopefully I'll never have to experience this traffic light issue. I'm tempted to put it on the bottom of the frame for maximum effectiveness, but I'm worried if and when I need to jump a curb, it'll scrape right off.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Wet Sunday

It's supposed to rain again. This is the second time a Sunday Streets event will be rained out. The event goes on rain or shine, but last time time the weather was anything but dry, only 5 people showed up all wearing complete rain suits. I'm not up for that. The rotors have just been changed out. I'm not looking to get them or other components rusty again.

Looks like I'll be absent from Sunday's event. Fairly disappointing considering I was looking forward to trying those new brakes and riding around in a new neighborhood. Life goes on.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Brake Adjustment

Finished! All three wheels rotate freely w/o any friction from warped rotors and poorly adjusted calipers. The front wheel setup is in good shape and the rear wheel spins more freely than ever!

I had previously been adjusting the brakes incorrectly! No wonder it took me so long! I've finally figured it out. 10 steps to proper brake adjustment:

1. Remove the cable completely free from the caliper.

2. Loosen the caliper so that there's a bit of play with the trike frame.

3. Push the caliper towards the stationary brake pad. This is to ensure that the caliper is parallel with the pads. A gap will be made later.

4. Tighten the two screws to secure the caliper in place.

5. There should now be no gap between the rotor and the stationary brake pad. There is a gap between the rotor and the active brake pad. Slip a thick business card (credit card is too thick, 0.76mm) in this gap. I've found that placing a white sheet of paper as a background will help you see the gaps more clearly especially when working in a dark garage that has a dark colored floor.

6. Pull the active brake pad towards the credit card gently - not too hard.

7. While holding the active brake pad against the business card, reattach the cable and secure it with the screw. The business card is meant to maintain the gap. Securing it too tightly will not allow the wheel to spin freely. Nor will it allow you to remove the business card in the next step.

8. Slip the business card out. If it can't be removed, the cable is secured too tightly. Loosen it and try removing the business card out again.

9. Using a 5mm allen wrench (the same size used for the other adjustments) adjust the stationary pad so that it has a sufficient gap between it and the rotor. The closer the better. But spin the wheel intermittently to be sure the gap is wide enough and there is no friction. There should obviously be no friction before the brake lever is engaged.

10. There should now be a perfect gap on either side of the rotor. Test the brake lever. A full stop should occur before the brake lever touches the handlebar. If it touches, the gap between the rotor and the pads is too wide. Make necessary adjustments using the hand-tightening (w/o tools) the screw by the cable.

The only thing to worry about now is fine tuning any adjustments for brake steer. I haven't yet had a chance to take it on the road. Once adjusted, everything should be set and the efficiency should drastically be improved.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rotor up

ACCESSORY 42: 160mm Avid G2 Rotors (3) $41.98 shipped @ Ebay

I can't believe these things normally sell for $35/each! Ebay's the best. The rotors came in! Though all the rotors are identical, they must be orientated correctly. They are directional. An arrow on the face of one side indicates the direction they're designed to spin in the forward rotation.

New vs. old. The stock Tektro rotor on the left was warped and I had been dealing with it by making brake adjustments to compensate. Once it started to rust though, it was time to swap them out for a new set.

This is the left front wheel. The original set required a T25 torx head to remove. The bolts were pretty worn out and at first it made me think they were hex screws.

The new set came with hex screws - size 3. They came with locktite already on them! How convenient! Again, the rotors are directional. After confirming that the rotors are in the correct orientation, all screws were secured.

Removing the front rotors also requires removing the wheel, but it's a bit more complicated to take off the frame than the back. An allen wrench is needed to hold the axle in place while the bolts are removed. The axle needs to slip out before removing the wheel. It took me about 20 minutes to figure out, but I'm sure I can do it next time in 5 minutes. I've learned that replacing it with traditional bicycle skewers is not possible due to the thickness of the axle.

Removing the front wheel isn't much of a chore, but it is more difficult than removing the back wheel. It requires a 17mm wrench and an allen wrench. I don't recall the size, but it's the third one missing from this red pack.

The axle looks like this. The right side has fatter threads and is orientated on the outside. After degreasing all the gunk, I put some new grease on it to keep it running smooth. I used locktite on the threads when replacing the nuts and washers.

I was in a bit of a hurry for dinner so I didn't clean the wheel, but this would be a good time to do it while it's off the trike. It's much easier to get into the grooves to clean it out from sand and dust that's collected. Brake adjustment is next.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Work Station

Thought I'd post a photo of my work station. It's just a shelf, but it works for the time being.

I chose it knowing it's got enough room for the wheels to rest on either side when the trike is placed on top of the shelf horizontally in this photo.

Rather than tossing out some plastic foam packaging I found with my old Dell computer, I found use for it to prop up the wheel. Works perfectly.

When I had worked on it previously, I was hunched over on the floor with the wheel over an open box. It was horrible for my back. This setup is tons better and all my tools are within reach so everything can more easily be accounted for.

I just finished slapping on the reflective rim tape on the new wheel and replaced to stock 12-28T freewheel with my old 11-34T one. Glad I got the tool and learned how to do it myself. I think I paid $25 to swap it out at the shop last time. Not much excitement since it looks identical to the old wheel, but there's definitely less play in the axle. It's way smoother than when I first got the trike!


Since the new wheel didn't come with a rotor, I had done a quick search for affordable ones to replace the warped one I have. Since the stock Tektro 160mm ones have rusted, I thought I'd try something new. If the price is right, I'm picking up 3. The Delta Aztec looks to be its twin except it has red accents on its profile. Sounds good, except I'd still like to try something different for comparison. I might be missing out on something.

The Avid G2's got very good reviews for the most part. Great stopping power and no squeaks. At $25 a pair, it sounds good to me! A third rotor was $15.99. I could have bought another pair to save myself $4, but I decided I'd only purchase my equipment as I need them. No such discount was available for the Delta Aztecs nor Tektro's. They're about $17-20/each all over the web. What would I have done without ebay?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bike vs. Trike

I had another opportunity to ride the upright bicycle again and have a few thoughts on its comparison to the bent trike. In no particular order...

1. Higher seating position allows more visibility above car hoods and other obstacles.
2. Slimmer and lighter, 17 lbs for a high end road bike compared to 33lbs for quality bent trike.
3. Can be easily pushed by the stem while standing up off the bike. Pushing a recumbent trike would require the rider to hunch over while walking behind or alongside it.
4. Much more availability of parts for easy repair.
5. Bicycle stores love you. Recumbent riders are hated at most bike shops due to their size.
6. More easily transportable compared to a non-foldable recumbent trike.

1. Too much upper body weight is placed on the hands especially while going down hill which makes it more difficult to produce hand signals.
2. Balance is required which makes it difficult to change directions quickly.
3. The need for balance on a bicycle also makes it difficult to go up extremely steep hills where low gears and therefore lower speeds are necessary.
4. It also makes it more difficult to start from stop on a hill.
5. There are many areas where bikes aren't allowed, but often times security will allow a recumbent tricycle pass for whatever reason. Perhaps they think the rider is disabled? They know the rider can't conveniently push a tricycle like then can a bike?
6. A bit scarier. If the front wheel comes off or goes flat, it could lead to detrimental occurrences.
7. Handling is not as good as a recumbent trike. A trike can turn from left to right to left again w/no hesitation.
8. An upright DF is not as good for the back as a bent trike.
9. Views aren't as good. While it takes a bicycle rider an unnatural effort to look up, a bent rider is in a reclined position perfect for looking forward or up.
10. Isn't as respected on the road by motorists as a bent.
11. Endurance is much weaker.

1. A trike is less efficient b/c it doesn't let the rider stand up and use body weight to create assisted momentum during the pedaling cycle.

Although on an upright bicycle, the rider can stand up, the gears have to be significantly increased to maintain a constant cadence. A tricyclist can create even more momentum by pushing back against the seat which is option an upright cyclist doesn't have. An upright cyclist is capped at the riders weight, while the recumbent tricylist is limited by muscle power. Since the tricyclist doesn't need to balance, the rider can use a significantly lower gear that wouldn't otherwise be possible with an upright bicycle.

2. Trikes are slow.

This is true only while going uphill. Trikes can go much faster during a downhill run.

3. Motorists can't see you.

Ironic b/c motorists claim that, but they're constantly approaching bent riders saying, "I can't see you." Motorists typically leave much more room for bent tricylists than upright bicyclists. Motorists also often times slow down to get a closer look at the bent trike than they would a much more common bicycle.