Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Setup Review

Wow, what a difference 18mm makes! I haven't exercised much lately so I can't contribute my health to the increase ease of riding during my test run this evening. With these shorter crank arms my legs/thighs don't come up so high.

My theory on why short crank are easier to use (even up hills):
It mimics our natural daily body movement much better. With shorter crank arms, the rider's legs don't have to come up nearly as far towards the chest. It's much closer to a walking stride than it is an exercise where knees intentionally come up so high. In other words, shorter crank arms create a very natural uneventful stride. Short crank arms enable us to use the same muscles we use to walk.

Since there's less effort needed to pull each leg up/back, all the energy can be reserved for the positive part of the cycling stroke. That's where we get most of our efficiency.

UPDATE: 4/3/11
I had a chance to ride it for 12 miles today and what a wonderful experience it was! Wow, going up the Ocean Beach hill was easy! I popped the chainring into the smallest 22T ring, engaged the underdrive, pushed the cassette to the 30T cog and away I went. It was super duper easy. I could definitely do that for miles on end. This isn't even the best of it. It'll be even easier to pedal when I swap cassettes giving me a 34T low gear cog.

The overdrive is amazing too! I found that I was still able spin out even on the highest gear, but I could definitely feel the IGH kicking in on the downhills. As the elevation evened out, I was still able to keep a good pace. A mountain bike rider comes up behind me and says,

"That's the fastest recumbent I've ever seen!"

Hahah. That was good to hear since fast isn't often associated with the KMX Tornado. It definitely was fast though. I think I was hitting 27mph on one particular stretch. I reached higher speeds down the Cliff House hill. Wow, that was fun! When I had the single chain ring up front previously, the bumps would cause the chain to fall off. This time it fell from the largest ring to the middle ring. It still falls which is disappointing, but at least I can still pedal w/o having to pull over. Installing the derailleur should relieve this problem. It'll hold the chain in place much better.

I'm looking forward to the ALC again. This new drivetrain has worked wonders. I'm loving it so far.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another set of short crankarms

The crankset I ordered finally arrived! It comes with short crankarms, 152mm. I was a bit worried that they'd be too short. The 155mm ones seemed perfect. The difference is only 4mm (2mm x 2 crankarms = 4mm) but it's fairly noticeable. 155mm would be the perfect length, but I can't be picky right now. This 152mm ones are still a huge improvement over the 170mm ones from the KMX X-Class that Andy sold me.

I was shocked though that the crank arms look nothing like the photo from Amazon on the left. The one that arrived in the mail has bright satin colored arms. It looks a lot more like the Lasco ones than what's pictured on even the manufacturer's Action Bicycle website.

I had preferred black b/c satin matches nothing on the trike except I guess the spokes. Maybe it's better this way though b/c there's better contrast with the chain rings and boom which are both black.

It's always good to see a before and after shot.

The new one looks a ton bigger b/c it has a built in chain guard! No more dirty pant leg! Fancy stuff. I can't believe this thing was only $29 shipped! It won't take me long to remove the ugly "Shun" sticker on the arms.

The only downfall on this product from what I can tell is that the chain rings are riveted to the arms, meaning they cannot be swapped for alternative sizes. For the price, I'm not complaining.

Here's the collection of cranksets I have. I can't believe I've gone through so many! They are in order of sizes.

In order from left to right:
170mm (X-Class)
170mm (stock)

This is a closer look at the crankarms. The difference in lengths are a bit easier to see in this photo of the left arms.

Engaging the IGH!

The cables arrived the other day and I finally got a chance to install it on the 3x7 internal gear hub. Thinking I was saving a ton of money by buying the $2.99 5' cables, I was disappointed to later realize that a special cable cutter is required. This runs $30!

After some heavy searching, I finally found an alternative that's slightly more competitive in price.

Spin Doctor sells a version of the cable cutter. It also cuts the cable housing. I learned the hard way that regular cable cutters don't work. Those only work for brake cables which apparently are woven differently than shift cables which are tougher. This puppy still ran me $20 which I still think is way overpriced. At least it's not a Felco which costs $94! Yeah, close to $100 for a stupid cable cutter. Can't believe people actually buy those things.

After about 2.5 hours, I finally got the thing installed. I was chatting w/my friend on the phone while doing it, so the time went by fairly quickly. It took me about 3 tries before I finally got it working correctly. I'm glad I spent the 15 min to locate exactly where I want the shifter. I opted for the left handlebar since the right side one is already occupied with the computer, brake and rear derailleur shifter.

I popped the trike onto the new roller trainer and it worked wonders. I can't see any other way I could ride the trike stationary in a garage.

I'm finally getting the full range of gears! See the reinserted GI chart below:

Review to follow once I get a chance to take this on the road.

Golden Gate Ride

Sunday was sunny enough to take a ride through Golden Gate Park. I felt completely out of shape. I couldn't even make it up the same hills that I was once used to riding up week after week!

Even on the smallest chain ring, I was having a hard time speeding up the hill. The long 170mm crankarms didn't help either.

It was relieved when I finally realized towards the end of the ride that my IGH is set on overdrive by default since no cables are yet installed to engage the neutral and underdrive. I had been riding with GI's on the far right columns (not the middle like I had thought):

The cables arrived the other day and I finally got a chance to in

Friday, March 25, 2011

To buy a Catrike Speed or not to Buy a Catrike Speed

That is the question. I had considered the Expedition for some time, but the wider dimension and overall length is turning me off and keeping me with the Speed. If I were to get the Catrike Speed, what mods would I make to it? Let's see what I'd be starting with first.

Though the specs show 19-95 GI, I calculated it myself and found a discrepancy. The chart shows 17-87 GI's.

I'd like to see what I would do with it if I actually got one. I'd swap out the crankset for something that would give me better hill climbing ability. This means using the same crank as the one I ordered for the KMX. The next thing I'd do is swap the 9-speed 11-32T cassette for an 11-34T one. The chart looks like this:

Both the high end and low end drop fairly significantly. Both numbers are worse than my soon-to-be KMX setup. Looks good and weighs less, but the performance just wouldn't be there.

Here it is with a Sturmey Archer IGH:

9-94 GI's. Much better! Cost? Sturmey Archer IGH ($109) + wheel ($65) + labor ($65) + spokes and other ($35) = $274 roughly. If I spend the extra on a Lasco crankset with a larger 44T chain ring, I can up the high end to 98GI's - not worth the extra $60. That would put upgrades totaling over $300 - not good.

UPDATE: 8/29/11
Apparently someone has tried to swap the stock cassette on the Speed with a 11-34T and the 34T cog is too big! It makes it so that the chain rubs up against the frame. Not a good thing! Looks like Paulo, the inventor of the Catrike brand had already figured that out and topped it out at 32T in its stock configuration.

This looks like another reason why the KMX Tornado F72 is the winner when it comes to hill/mountain climbing. To by a Catrike Speed or Not to Buy a Catrike Speed. That is the question. And this looks like another reason NOT to buy one. Hmmm, still so tempting.

Wheel Shopping

The quoted price for the Tornado 16" spoked wheels is $120/each + $9 shipping. The dual wall Typhoon ones are $150/each. Ouch. Since these replace the fronts, I need two of each. $249 vs. $309. The single walls should be fine especially for this size - hopefully. I'm going with that. I'll also be assured that these will fit vs. modding the Catrike ones to work with the Tornado frame. Headache will be gone at the cost of $249. Ugh. That's pricey for a set of tricycle wheels. 4 of my car's rims cost less than that and they come with tires!

Looks like I don't have much of a choice if I'm going to hit the roads for the ALC. If I decide to swap out the Schwalbe Big Apples up front, it'll be at an additional cost of roughly $75. Ouch! $325 just to get replacement wheels? Plus the $250 I already spent on the rear wheel, that's at total of $575. I suppose it's still cheaper than the Catrike Speed or Expedition, but still seems like a lot for modding a trike.

I chose this hobby, so I can't complain. I'll just keep convincing myself that this is all for exercise and is beneficial to my health. The value of that?

Priceless.....or $1,350+.

Sunrace Cassette poor quality

I heard from a couple of sources that their Sunrace cassettes broke shortly after using it. I was prepared, but I got it anyway since they're the only supplier of a 11-34T 7-speed cassette. Although I was expecting it to break, I didn't think it would arrive in the mail already broken! Two of the smallest cogs spin right out of the box! I contacted the seller through Amazon right away. We'll see what they do to help.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The rest of the components

After some heavy thoughts in the shower realizing the ALC event is quickly coming up in less than 80 days, I jumped on the computer and ordered the remaining parts I need to complete the ride safely and comfortably.

1. SRAM 3.0 twist shifter. Andy included one in the set I bought from him, but it doesn't have the numbers 1-2-3. I like having the numbers and wanted something to match the existing 7 gear twist shifter. I'm down $11.86 from this purchase - not bad.

2. Chains. The bent uses 3 chained in a string. I bought a few of the cheap ones from Nashbar. $15.99 a pop.

3. Pump. I've been wanting a new pump for awhile. Anything that has a gauge attached to it would be easier to use. I'm tired of pumping, pulling the nozzle off, checking with the tire gauge, then pumping again realizing I didnt' pump enough air the first time. Nashbar has a cool one for $14.99. That's cheaper than the crappy no-gauge one I have from Target.

4. Backup cleats. It's listed on the recommended list of things to bring from the ALC website, so I'm not questioning it. Plus one of mine are getting loose and at $9.99, it's a no brainer. It's also from Nashbar.

5. Derailleur cables. This is the whole reason I started any purchases at all. I needed cables and hoses to make my SRAM 3x7 internal gear hub function. It won't work w/o it and local shops charge $2.50/foot. Nashbar has these things for $2.99 for 5', so again it was a no brainer. I picked up 2. One is for the twist shifter's front chain rings and the other is for the IGH.

6. Megarange Cassette. SRAM no longer sells the 7-speed 11-34T cassette, so I turned to a generic company that calls themselves Sunrace. I got the CSM63 model. I confirmed that my trike can't be converted to have an 8-speed cassette. It's not compatible with the IGH b/c of the overall width.

7. To install this cassette, I need the special $5 tool. I already have the freewheel version, but this is the cassette version. Slightly different, but still needed.

8. For the life of me, I couldn't find a 4-bolt short crank arm set. The Lasco one's $75 and out of stock. This one's $29 and is being shipped to me.

It may weigh a bit more and I lose two teeth since it's a 22/32/42 (instead of a 44), but I think it's worth it. Drew from Action Bicycles picked up the phone but wasn't able to give me the weight on this crankset. He confirmed that the rings cannot be removed. So much for swapping the 42T ring for a 44T. The 152mm arms will help a ton compared to the 170mm I have now from the old X-Class.

I'm starting to question whether I should have bought all that stuff from Andy. The wheels /tires and the shark fin all don't fit and the crank arms from the X-class are too long. He had good intentions, but I probably would have spent the same on the Sturmey Archer CS-RK3 and a custom wheel. With that setup, I'd have a nicer wheel, a matching hub, and would have gotten to keep my rear brake. I may sell the parts to another KMXer who isn't as picky as I am.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Light weight KMX

I heard from a buddy of mine that who recently spoke to KMX that they're coming out with a lighter weight aluminum framed trike! They're releasing the Venom and Viper with light weight seat frames too! This pulls them closer to the weights of the Catrike lineup.

Since the KMX's biggest drawback was weight, this new 2011 makeover makes it much more competitive in the market with Catrikes. The original trike's weight was 43lbs. It's now down to 37lbs! That's shedding 14%!

Unfortunately the Tornado doesn't get this new makeover. It's only reserved for the two higher end performance models.

Another surprise for 2011 is that both of these trikes dropped in price! The $2,200 top of the line KMX is now priced at just under $2k. The Viper is even cheaper. KMX is asking $1,500 for that model. Very competitive compared to the Catrikes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Losing the trike?

If I ever lost the trike, I figured it would be b/c someone stole it. I never thought my trike would be at risk from getting wiped away by a Tsunami! Apparently it's becoming a reality as waves from Japan have been traveling through the Pacific ocean at 600mph coming west towards California for the past 6 or so hours.

The quake in Japan wasn't a tiny one. 8.9 - that's the 5th largest quake recorded in the world. ever! I used to laugh at the signs they post here by the water but it's starting to look more serious. I have an evacuation bag, but my trike isn't in it.

Beaches are closed.

What does "warning" really mean? Well, it's the highest level of seriousness. In order of very serious to not so serious, the levels look like this:

Tsunami Warning
Tsunami Advisory
Tsunami Watch
Tsunami Statement

Some streets are closed, BART is considering suspending service, and parts of the Bay are getting crazy traffic from all the people in the evacuation zones. Exciting but scary.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New shades

sI lost my glasses. Yes, I lost my Tifosi's. It'll be a time for a replacement pair soon. I'll definitely need a set for the ride. My eyes are sensitive as they are from the light. Speeding down at what I'm guessing may get up to 35mph w/o eye protection isn't a good idea. That's where these come in.

These are both from Nashbar. They're cheap for what they are. Both sets are Photochromic, meaning they change color in varying degrees of light. - from clear to grey.

Zurich looks close to what I had before. The lenses have an elongated shape. It looks like this pair's eye pieces wrap around much more snugly than the other ones I've seen - $39.

Next is the Platte. The lenses are more square. The eye pieces don't wrap around as far. This particular pair has a vent (probably more for aesthetics than function) built into the corner of each lens - $49.

Dream crankset?

I'm looking at new cranksets already. Shorter arms are fairly important to me since it'll help relieve knee pain in the long run. I recently found one from Utah Trikes.

This set has extremely short arms. 152mm instead of 170mm from my stock setup. My previous set were a pair of 155's. Price tag? $75 before shipping and tax. Chain ring size? 22/32/44

I can't help but to make another gear inch chart. Here it is. 10.1-86.1GI's.

And if we slap on an 8-speed Megarange? Since I won't be able to use the 11t cog, it's still capped at 86.1GI's. The only difference would be on the low end. 10.1GI's becomes 8.9GI's. The work and cost isn't worth the benefit. I'd have to get a new wheel and remount the hub for this to become a reality.

UPDATE: 3/17/10
It looks like the crankset is out of stock! Guess it's popular. Since locating the 7-sp Sunrise Megadrive cassette, I thought I'd post the GI chart for record. This will be my final setup before the trip.

Monterey Gallery pics

Making the Catrike wheels fit

Bad news. I went to two bike shops and both of them shot me down. Neither of them can make the new 16" Catrike wheels fit my KMX by swapping out bearings. They shared the following challenges:

- The bearings are difficult to remove b/c of the spacer that's inside.
- The bearings are difficult to measure while installed on the hub. To get an exact measurement, they suspect the bearings will have to be first removed. They don't know how to remove them. Apparently they're having trouble b/c there is no lip on it to provide leverage with the tools they would use. They know what tool would work, but they don't have it.

Sounds like bad news which it is, but one guy from Nomad Cyclery made an ingenious suggestion! He called it a step-up axle. Keep the stock bearings on the Catrike wheel and fabricate a custom axle. The axle will be the same 1/2" diameter as the stock KMX axle. Since that's too thin to fit in the Catrike hub, the axle will step-up to 20mm thick in the middle. Hmmm, very good idea.

Works in theory, but there's some major logistics that might slow me down. Where to get a custom axle?

Looking through the web, I found nothing on custom axles. Looking further I did find a few companies that can make custom bolts. I suppose an axle technically is no different than a bolt. They're both just threaded metal rods. Bingo!

I called up one of these shops and am in correspondence with them to fabricate the custom axle. I need to confirm the inside dimension of the Catrike bearings. I'll have to contact Catrike tomorrow since they're closed now.

Most bike shops already don't want to touch recumbents, let alone a trike version that takes up even more space. Luckily for me, the problem I'm having with compatibility has only to do with the wheel. The problem of trying to make a small diameter axle fit into a hub designed for a larger sized one is difficult.

After calling up 21 (Yes, 21!) bike shops with my intro,

"Good morning. Is your shop willing or does it have the resources to work on a one-off custom project involving a recumbent tricycle?"

Based on their responses, I narrowed down my list to 3 shops that would be worth my visit. My first stop was to City Cycles. Great guys there. John whom I spoke to on the phone was busy so I discussed my project with Ian who was awesome too. He inspected the parts and took the hub apart to access the sealed bearings.

Bad news.

Swapping out bearings with an outside diameter that matches the new Catrike wheel and an inside diameter that matches the KMX won't work. It will work for the outside, but not the inside of the wheel. The bearing unfortunately wraps around the spacer or sleeve. It's the sleeve that governs and limits the inside diameter of the bearing to the stock Catrike wheel.

Since this won't work, I have two other options:

1. Buy the KMX wheels for $120 a pop or hope that they'll be cool enough to support my ride and sponsor me or at least offer some sort of discount.

2. Have custom step-up axles made by a machine shop. My understanding of machine shops though is that they cost a lot to setup and if I'm only making two units, it'll cost a bundle. I'll have to check and get more exact numbers to see which route would be more economical.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gear inches revisited

Now that the drivetrain has been redone, here's the new GI chart. It'll be interesting to see how different modifications will change the current gear inches. Let's have a look.

My new 21 gear setup produces these gear inches, a 13.7-60.4 range. I dropped a ton in the low end gears, but at the expense of high end gears. Even with a larger 42T chain ring compared to my old 40T, the high end has dropped due to the larger small cog in the rear. My smallest usable cog is 13T instead of 11T from the old freewheel.

Once I get the correct cables to get the 3x7 IGH working, the GI's will look like this. The range is 10.1-82.2. Much better than the stock 23.7-67.9GI range, eh? I'm getting a ton more low gears and the high end gets boosted up as well.

How does an 11-30 gear inch chart look like?

The top pops to 97.1GI's. The closer I can get to 100, the better.

Let's see if I can get the low end to drop even more. What would happen if I swapped the cassette for a 11-34 one?

The low end drops by 1 GI. The only real difference is the largest three cogs (bottom three rows of the chart). The ratios between gears is much more spread out when it has to go all the way up to 34T. The 30T chart in the previous chart above has a much smoother transition between gears. I'd prefer that one.

Maybe checking out the prices btw the two cassettes will help me make a decision.

SRAM 12-32: $16
SHIMANO 13-30: $19
SUNRACE CSM63 11-34: $19.50
SHIMANO CS-HG30 11-28: $20 (kmart)

I'm having a hard time finding what I was looking for, the 11-30T Shimano 7-speed am. Alternatives?

Shimano HG-50 13-34: $25 (amazon)
Shimano C-201 Megarange 8-speed, 11(13)-32T: $25
SRAM PG-73,0 12-32: $16.99 + shipping (bikeman)
Shimano HG-40 Megarange 8-speed, 11-34: $27

Since I am having trouble locating a 7-speed cassette with the cog sizes I'm looking for, I'm wondering how I can convert the trike to a 8-speed. There are plenty of 8-speed cassettes which have the specs I want.

The problem is that the chain on a 7-speed cassette already rubs the frame when it's on the highest gear (smallest cog). Adding an 8th outer cog doesn't seem possible. I called KMX to ask how they've managed to make it work on their higher end models which come with 8-speeds stock.

The rep confirmed that all KMX frames are the same and suspects the reason I can't get a 8-speed cassette on my Tornado is b/c the wheel may be too wide. It needs a 130mm wide hub. I'm thinking mine is wider which limits the allowable space to have an 8-speed cassette. So much for that idea. Unless I want to spend more cash on a custom narrower 130mm wheel, I'm stuck with the 7-speed. It's good enough for the time being, so I'm sticking with it for now. No need to spend the extra money now.

UPDATE: 3/16/11
I finally counted the cogs on the rear cassette. They are as follows:

13, 15, 17, 20, 23, 26, 30

I must remember that I'm not using the smallest cog. My highest gear is on the 15T cog. I'll be in good shape if I can find something smaller than 15T coupled with something larger than 30T. My actual GI chart looks like this:

Stock Shimano 7-sp G

Shimano 7-sp K


SunRace CSM6
Shimano Megarange 11-34T

Wheel comparison

I swapped the mag for the spoked rear wheel, but I'll also be doing the same for the fronts.

Here's a closer look at the rear drive wheel. Before and after pics. The stock mag one on the right definitely looks more aggressive but it won't accommodate the new IGH (internal gear hub).

Though uglier, the spoked one is stronger and can hold a higher tire pressure. This one's at 60PSI which is far below the limit of the wheel, but just under the 7oPSI limit of the tire. The mag wheel is topped at only 40PSI. Any damage or weakness of the mag wheel is not shown until it completely fails. The spoked wheel however will give warning signs as it starts to weaken. Spokes will come undone providing time to replace it. The mag wheel will just snap without warning. Scary.

The cassettes/freewheels are also different. An 8-sp 13-30 (13-15-17-19-21-23-26-30) cassette replaces the 11-34 freewheel. I can only use 7 of the 8 cogs on the 8-speed, so the usable cogs are actually 15-30.

Though it's not much to look at, the new spoked wheel fits on the frame's fork much better. It's super snug and doesn't wobble side to side like the old stock mags did. Feels much more secure. The quality makes for more confidence at high speeds.

Though the tires are now inflated to 60 psi compared to the old max of 40 psi, I think the extra drag inefficiency from the new rear hub evens it all out. I can't really feel the difference, better or worse.

New Drivetrain Experience

Wife wanted to hit the spa for a massage. I'm not the type to do the same, so I took the opportunity to test out the trike on the bike trails
of Monterey.

Beautiful scene off the coast. I couldn't resist. Wearing a t-shirt and jeans, I ignored that I wasn't well prepared for riding and just took off on the first trail I could see from the Monterey Visitor's Center parking lot. It took me awhile to get the back wheel back on (I had removed it for transporting it in the car) but I can now get the installation down to 5 minutes.

Since I goofed up on the chain length by not extending the boom when doing the measurements, I wasn't able to use the largest chain ring for the test ride. No biggy. This was still a great opportunity to try out the other two rings.

I literally went hunting for hills hoping to test out that new 27T chain ring. I turned the corner and found it! A long uphill slope to the top stood before me. As excited as I was to ride up, I knew the rush coming down would be exhilarating - it was.

Not having a rear brake sucks. Drifting was probably the best part of owning this trike. Engaging the power slide at speed with just 3" of space above ground used to be a blast. One day I'll have the Sturmey Archer CS-RK3 that will enable me to have an internal gear hub while maintaining the use of the rear disk brake. Until then, I'm out of luck. The left brake lever now only hints a sense of security. When squeezed, nothing happens.

I just can't justify the cost right now. The unit itself is decently priced at $140. I found someone to hook me up for $113 shipped, but that's just for the IGH (internal gear hub). I still need a wheel and would have to pay for installation and truing the wheel. That's another $125 at least. That's $240 total. Ouch! No thanks. Not right now at least.

More on this later. I'm getting tired...

This afternoon I had the opportunity to try the new drivetrain in familiar territory. I love the gear range I'm getting! With just 21 gears and no use of the dual drive, it's still a huge difference. Feels as good as I expected. I'm a bit tired of stopping, unclipping and changing front chain rings by hand though. That derailleur really needs to be installed. I haven't heard from KMX yet and they were supposed to call back with updates on the Shark mounting bracket.

I'm hitting faster speeds down the hill by about 2mph. I'm not as in good shape as I was a few months ago so perhaps this is just the beginning of the improvements of the new setup. I'm hoping for better top speed. For the time being though, the low end gears are perfect.

Before, I had thought that a compact double would be sufficient for the front end, but I'm starting to like the triple. I run the middle 32T chain for fairly flat terrain and move to the small 22T or larger 42T for hills. Once the dual drive is functioning, I'll only engage it as a secret weapon to be used only for extreme down hill speed or extreme climbing gears. I'm doubtful that I'll ever engage the over/under drive in the middle 32T chain ring. That means I'll have 63-21=42 useful gears.

Bent chain

I found out why we felt that the chain was too long and removed a big section of it. The boom was collapsed to the shortest setting so it would fit in the car. We didn't extend it to the length of the normal riding position when adjusting chain length. Ooops.

Look what happened when I tried it on my own! Every link that I reconnect looks like this! It's not smooth. Maybe the guys in the forum can lend a hand.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Road KMX Tornado Trike in Korea?

Really? Out of all places, I would have never expected to find a road trike in Korea. I've never been there, but I just assumed it would be almost as densely populated as China leaving no room for 3 wheeled carts.

It looks like an SUV with that extra 2" ground clearance. I'm guessing those are 20" wheels in the front and a 26er in the back. I'm surprised the seat can still recline so low with such a large drive wheel. Interesting storage placement.

I'm envious of the rear quick release system. I've always wanted that. It must be so much easier than pulling out two wrenches and pulling away.

I found these photos on the Rebike website so it's no wonder this KMX Tornado is sporting their SL-II idlers. I'm not a fan of chrome, but the red looks good.

What's missing on this crankset? The Shark! There's no KMX derailleur mounting bracket! How did this guy find a derailleur to mount like that? Maybe it's a custom plate. If you own this trike, please contact me! I'd love to know. It's a very clean look.

New Idlers?

The Aids Life Cycle is pretty much an endurance ride - to me anyway. My max so far is 57 miles/day. The ride maxes out at over 100miles/day. I have a lot to prepare for. I've heard of idler's breaking down which worries me a bit. The best maintenance is preventive maintenance? Sounds like something a salesperson would say. I can't help but to think there some truth to it. If the "rule" applies to cars, it probably does to trikes too.

My buddy at BROL lead me to the Rebike. They make an SL-II line that works with the KMX. $65 a pop though. Ouch. That's $65 x 3 idlers = $195. That's 28% of the cost of the entire trike!

I'll probably end up buying the stock ones as backup at $20/each. That's like a 3 for 1 deal.

After some further investigation, I came across a review from my fellow friends at Recumbent Journal. In short, the Rebike SL-68 idler is more noisy than both the Terratrike and stock versions. Idlers with teeth tend to be quieter b/c they widen the diameter of the idler and therefore deflect the chain at a shallower angle. As for whether or not this applies to the SL-II version, I have no clue. The review was done a year ago. Perhaps Rebike has made changes since? Highly doubtful, but I'd like to think there's a possibility.

Gears revamped

I had been researching options for upgrading my gearing to be better prepared for the Aids Life Cycle and found someone though the forums willing to help. That's when I found Andrew, a fellow member. He came through with the gearing components!

I turned the trip to Monterey/Salinas where he lives into a vacation with my wife. Andy sounded nice over the phone but was even more fun in person. He hooked me up with the following components this afternoon:

- 2 16" Catrike front wheels
- wrapped with Schwalbe tires
- Rear SRAM 3x7 hub
- mounted on a 20" rear wheel
- Internal gear hub shifter
- Front derailleur mount
- 2 twist shifters

That was the agreed list but he threw in a couple other components:
- 8-speed cassette
- Rear SRAM LX derailleur

After Andrew shared with me his overwhelming collection of 7 bent trikes all stored in his garage and 2 bent bikes from his home office, we still had energy to work on my trike. We started with the crankset swapping a single speed one for a 3 chain ring setup. It came off his old KMX X-Class.

Next we went on to installing the new 9-speed cassette onto the hub. When I say "we," I mean "he." Andrew helped a ton with all this. I'm very grateful for his help. Couldn't have one it easily w/o him. He taught me a few things today.

I was able to help with the next part and that was feeding the chain back through after Andy shortened it for me. We're still not sure why there's so much slack we pulled off at least 12 links! Maybe it was too long to begin with.

I learned an important lesson about derailleurs. Any explained exactly how to make the proper adjustments to it. It wasn't rocket science, but I'm glad I had someone to teach me in person.

Without the chain on the derailleur, the chain should be 1 or 2 links longer than snug while on the largest two cogs. I'm guessing it's a 28T rear and a 42T front. Once reattached to the derailleur, the chain should be the perfect length. Thanks for the tip!

He found that the current SRAM 3.0 derailleur was loose and was nice enough to give me a replacement. Unfortunately it isn't compatible with my current twist shifters. So what did he do? He gave me new shifters! We couldn't install them yet b/c we needed longer cables.

Since the trike doesn't fit in the car for the ride back to the hotel, we had to pull the wheel off again to squeeze it in. It has a few more components that keep it secure to the frame and here they are in order. It holds the axle to the dropouts.

It's never good to get too much of a good thing all at once which is why I'm so excited that my upgrade will come in phases:

PHASE 1: (completed today)
- An 8-sp cassette replaces my 7-sp freewheel.

- I loose my granny 34T cog, but the 22T front chainring makes up for it.

- The single 40T chain ring was replaced with a mountain 3. My lowest chain ring for hill climbing is 22T while the largest 42T will be used for downhill racing. One drawback of this is the new crankarms are 170mm. I like my current 155's. Spinning won't be as comfortable but at least I'll have more leverage.

- Unfortunately Phase 1 comes at the expense of my rear brake. No more rear brake - at all. This means no more drifting into turns. It'll be a lot less fun, but at least I can climb hills and speed down them much more easily. Most trikes don't come with rear brakes to begin with, so this bonus that KMX offered on their Tornado lineup isn't too big of a loss. The rear brake is what the KMX line was known for, so I'm a bit sad to see it go. The extra components more than make up for it though. It's worth it.

- The rear mag wheel is replaced by the standard spoked wheel. The spoked one is so much better built. I'm having a lot more confidence in this one in reliability and safety than the BMX mag.

- Making the rear 3x7 hub work. Technically it's a 3x8 since we swapped the 7-sp cassette for the 8-sp one. The internal gear hub doesn't currently work b/c the cable needed for the switch to engage it is not long enough. Once I get a new cable and install it, the trike's gear range will be tripled. Yup, my current 3x8= 24-sp trike will become a 72-sp. That's crazy. I'll get more high end gears and low end gears. I don't care much for the middle. Who needs 72 gears?? 21 would be plenty, but the current setup doesn't give me the range I need to successfully complete the Aids Life Cycle ride safely and comfortably.

- Lighten up the front end. I need to buy new bearings to make the Catrike 16" spoked wheels fit on the KMX. Until then, I'll have to continue using the heavy plastic wheels. I should do a quick weigh-in to compare the difference in weight btw the two types of wheels. I'll report later.