Monday, July 25, 2011

Electric powered KMX?

Yup, they exist. I've posted a couple before, but here's another that caught my eye.

See the gears above the rear fork? That motor powers these puppies up to at least 50mph. Crazy fast speeds cost a bundle. Prepare to pay at least $1,500 on top of the cost of the trike to get one of these.

It's definitely an experience you'll never forget. Their videos are amazing! Pretty scary stuff. These guys don't just sell power kits. If you're not up for the high speed stuff, then FFR also sells the trikes in stock condition:

The toughest part about an electric setup for me to swallow is the location of the batteries. To generate the power to push the trike at high speeds requires some pretty hefty sized ones.

Where to put 'em? This is the cleanest setup I've ever seen. The battery enclosures look good too!

Final Flag

Accessory 49: Flag @
$32 + $5.50 shipping = $37.50

That's an expensive flag! The last ones were $6/each and come with the two-piece poles! These ones are made-to-order I think. When I asked when they would be ready to ship, the seller said that it's still be made a day later.

The shipping costs were accurate. When it arrived in a tiny little box, the stamps did add up to the shipping cost. The company doesn't try to getting extra profit by exaggerating the shipping. I suppose that's good but the unit price is a bit on the high side. Either fortunately or unfortunately, this is a flag I like so the price was what it was.

My last two flags fell off on the road, I'm hoping this one will stay put. I'll need to strengthen the bracket that connects the two sections of the flag. So is the flag pole too long? I wonder how much drag it'll cause.

The alternative was either a checkered racing flag in black/white or red/white. I was having a hard time finding a simple red triangle flag. The retailers call them "red" in the description, but when ordered, they arrive more orange than fire engine red.

This new flag is definitely red, recommended by my buddy Mike Beatty who's got a cool blue one with custom KMX lettering.

Another thing to add to the trike storage area. Hopefully by putting it here, I won't forget to bring it.

UPDATE: 8/26/11

How high should I make the flag? High enough to see over a car? Or does it need to be lower so that driver can be at eye level? I think both. I'll be lowering it tad so that the half way point of the flag is at the car's roofline.

How high does it sit now? 80" once installed on the flag mounting bracket. That's about 4" higher than the clearance of my garage. Do I want to clear it so I can roll right in? Maybe. Is that my finger in the top left corner of the camera? Yes.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

For Sale: Sachs 3x7 internal gear hub + extras

Up for sale is my Stage 1 IGH setup. It's perfect for anyone looking to increase their gear ranges to climb hills and speed down them faster on a budget. Please see my previous blog posts for details including gear charts.

I am selling this b/c I have upgraded to a Stage 2 8-speed setup with a custom wheel and no longer need this. It's therefore available to go to a good home. Note that this setup (unfortunate for me) is actually lighter than my current setup. The hub weighs under 3lbs. My current one weighs OVER 3lbs. Ugh. If you want a lighter weight IGH setup with everything you need (except shifter cable and housing) for cheap, then this is it.

I only have one set, so first to pay gets it shipped. As with all my sales, I include:

FREE shipping
FREE insurance
FREE tracking

Your new setup includes the following:

- Sachs 3x7 internal gear hub mounted on
- a 20" (406mm) wheel
- with rim tape
- Wrapped in a KMX beaded tire
- All proprietary hardware (shifter, mounting hardware)
- Sunlite anti-thorn tube (1.75-2.125" although the box says something else)
- 11-34T generic Megarange 7-speed cassette

Everything in this photo is what will be shipped to your door in the USA for $175. Perfectly priced for those that do not want to spend over $1,000 on a Roloff.

Note the red cassette box is empty b/c it's already mounted on the wheel. The little clear plastic baggy contains the hardware and proprietary Torpedo shifter.

Note that this is an older setup. The hub has not been serviced, but has performed well. I did NOT use this for my recent 7-day 545 mile ALC ride so I have not put that many miles on it myself. I purchased it used so I do not know how many miles were put on it prior.

This IGH is different than the SRAM 3x7 which people have had reliability issues with. This SACH's version is an older model but supposedly has been built a lot better. I have researched and found no complaints on this unit. It's pretty much bullet proof.

For those that are overwhelmed by this and aren't familiar with an internal gear hub, it basically gives you 3x the number of gears you currently have (assuming you have a 7-speed rear). If you have a standard 3 chainring crankset and a 7-speed cassette, this setup will put your trike at 3x7x3 = 63 gears.

The gear range will give you an ultra low gear to climb hills and an ultra high gear to speed down hills faster. The cassette I've included is somewhat rare. An 11-34T 7-speed cassette isn't very common. It provides a huge range for those that want both high and low end gears. It's worked well for me and I hope it works well for you too.

I can ship this the next business day after receiving payment. It's ready to go!

UPDATE: 8/22/11
It looks like the IGH went to a really good home. Look how excited the buyer was to receive the package! I'm super happy that it went to such a bike enthusiast who can really make use of the IGH to its optimal potential. I couldn't have sold it to someone more deserving.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Is Riding a Trike Harder?

I got that question at least 20x during the ride and I didn't really have a straight answer since I'd never attempting anything at this caliber on an upright bicycle before. The most I've ever ridden on a DF bike at one time was just in college years ago riding to and from class. I road around the neighborhood to explore but even those rides didn't stretch out for more than 1 hour.

So the differences btw riding a trike and bike?

1. The trike is slower:
Lots slower up hill. Slow = 2.5-3.5mph. As I mentioned, riding with DF riders on a team would be tough. You'd never get to ride together except for that split second as they pass by you yelling, "On your left" on the uphills and when you pass them on the downhills,

"Brian on your left please! Brian on your left please!"

If you don't mind being passed by people every few seconds and hearing, "On your left" throughout the day, then triking is for you. Keeping up on a trike is a game of "leap frog" as one rider put it. Trikers can keep up by taking shorter rest stop breaks, getting on the route early, riding longer and coming from a stop much more quickly since we don't have to clip in and out of our pedals.

The ability to ride slow on a trike can be an advantage on super steep hills. While some DF riders are forced to walk their bikes on these 15 degree plus hills, trikers can continue at their super slow speeds b/c we don't need to balance.

2. No balancing required:
This also means we can go down hills fearlessly. Yes, I think I hit 50mph on that hill after the "Half way to LA" point. That was the most fun hill I've ever descended. Amazing experience! If your equipment gives you more guts to go faster, then you will. The trike has that advantage and in that sense, it's easier than a DF bike.

3. No clipping in and out of pedals:
Although it seems like very little time saved, it adds up. From a stop sign or traffic light, trikers can accelerate much more quickly than upright bikes. The advantage is pretty surprising. I never realized this until my first (and only) formal ALC training ride. Trikers can also stop on a dime b/c we don't have to worry about falling over.

4. No butt sore:
The trike is easier in that there's no sores to complain about or to treat on the rest stops. The only thing I needed to give a rest at night was my eyes and body. I never visited Medical other than for sunscreen and moleskin for my foot. I can imagine it's tough for DF riders to continue riding at the same pace when they're uncomfortable in their groin area. That's a non-issue for trike riders.

5. Better gearing:
Although DF bikes can have custom gearing just as easily as trikes (if not even more easily due to the simplicity of how the components are put together), trikes tend to be customized by their owners much more often than DF bikes. For the most part, DF riders ride their bikes as they are straight from the factory. Bent riders are peculiar in that trikes are awkward to begin with as are their owners. We are attracted to weirdness and embrace it by tweaking. We tend to mess with parts more often than DF riders.

The gearing on the KMX Tornado has been replaced completely over the past year and as I mentioned in previous posts, it can pretty much climb a tree. With gear inches down to 8.9, there's no hill I can't climb on the trike that a DF rider can.

The weight of trikes already tend to be fairly heavy, so any addition of weight from an internal gear hub is not as big of a deal. If you asked a carbon fiber 17lb DF bike rider to add 3lbs to their rear end by installing an IGH, they would gasp. That's almost 20% additional weight! Trike riders with 35+ lb rides tend to be more willing to add this weight for the advantage of being able to climb hills more easily.

6. Mirrors
I swear fewer than 10 people had mirrors on their bikes. Yes, that's 10 out of 2,300 riders! I'm not comfortable riding anything w/o mirrors, so in this sense, riding a trike was much easier. Mirrors can easily be attached to regular bicycles since they attach the same way on the handlebars, but this shows how much more trikers tend to modify and accessorize their rides than DF riders do.

7. Less neck sore:
Since the default recumbent position of the trike is looking forward and toward the sky, there's much less strain on the neck. DF rider's default position is looking down in their aero position and have to strain to look forward. This can easily lead to fatigue that trikers know nothing about.

8. Durability:
Most DF riders use a road bike. Road bikes are light and fast, but are also quite delicate. Most trikes are like mountain bikes on three wheels. The durability was tested on a couple stretches of rough roads on the ALC ride and it shined! No repairs had to be made and the need to inflate tires was minimal. This saves a bunch of time on the route since there are fewer needs for repair. I did meet one DF rider however that didn't have a single flat tire on the entire 500+ mile route. So DF bikes can definitely withstand less than ideal conditions but they just need to be equipped with the proper tires and tubes. I'm sure a bit of luck is involved too. The fewer times you have to pull over and repair something, the better off you are. This is another advantage of the trike and definitely makes riding easier in this sense.

I would never ride a DF bike on the ALC. There are too many advantages of a trike that I would be neglecting if I chose the alternative. A recumbent is as fun and as cool as you imagine it to be. The only drawback is the speed up hills. Most of this can be offset by higher speeds down hill. I would see the same people throughout each leg of route b/c we'd be taking turns passing each other.

My major concern apart from possibly having to replace a rear drive wheel tube, is taking up too much space on the bike lanes. The last thing I want to do as a stand out I-chose-to-ride-a-weirdo-recumbent-trike is to annoy and bother other DF riders. I didn't want to feel like I was messing up the experience for DF riders with my wider-than-a-bicycle trike. This luckily was never an issue. I pulled over closer to the shoulder than the other trikers and I think the DF riders appreciate my consideration for them. I also acknowledged their presence and looked out for cars as they attempted to pass. This helped me gain a level or respect enough that I felt like less of an annoyance and more of a team player improving riders' experience (and safety) on the ALC.

Riding Alone on the ALC

So what's it like riding alone on the Aids Life Cycle ride?

I wasn't really alone. Angela was a great help and was much more than a volunteer nurse and tent companion. She was of source of great support throughout the ride. As far as riding on the actual trail, I was surrounded by thousands of riders, but I personally wasn't part of a group or team.

Paul who recently emailed me concerning the bent trike had asked about riding a recumbent on the ALC. I'll post something about that topic next. His question inspired me to write a bit about riding the ALC solo.

For those who don't already know me, I wasn't much of a cyclist and generally am not much of an athlete. I've got decent hand eye coordination (can juggle with ease), but don't participate in many team sports. I'm much more of a pool and bowling kinda guy more-so than a basketball player. The last time I rode a bicycle for more than a couple hours prior to getting the trike was back in college over half a decade ago.

As a student of architecture w/an odd work/play/sleep schedule, I found a few solo activities to keep me occupied like golf and weight lifting. Unlike my former college roommate, I don't get embarrassed being seen eating by myself on campus. So when it came time for the ALC, riding alone wasn't much of a concern.

In fact, I noticed that when a member of a team popped a tire on the route, the rest of the team would stop and assist. This was probably one of the major reasons I was able to catch up with the rest of the DF riders. How else was I able to catch up as a solo bent rider?

2. Durability:
The trike is super durable. I got zero flats during the entire 545 mile ride! I was pretty surprised considering how many others I saw stopped on the side of the road making repairs to their bikes on a regular basis.

3. No Schedule:
My only schedule was to get out onto the route as early as possible and get back as soon as I comfortably could. This meant no waiting for friends or teammates to brush their teeth in the morning or finish their breakfast. As a solo rider, I could hit the route on my own schedule. Angela helped out tons since she was required by her volunteer group to get up and ready by 6:15am daily. This forced me to get up early too at 5:30am at the latest.

4. My pace:
Not having a team to ride with allowed me to ride the route day after day at my own pace. No waiting for other people to hit the restrooms or finish their snacks.

5. Trike 'n bike:
I'll put up another post about trikes vs bikes, but wanted to mention here that trikes and bikes obviously have different speeds and capabilities. Riding with DF riders would be tough. Literally hundreds of bike pass me on the route throughout the day. I'd be lying if I said I passed by an equal number on the downhills, but for the most part I completed each day in the first 2/3 of riders by the time we hit camp. As a trike rider, I'm glad I didn't have any teammates on DF bikes. I'd otherwise feel like I was slowing them down. There were no trike teams on the ride. Although I rode with a couple trikers during a few stretches along the way, no other trikers really road together for this reason.

6. Purpose:
The reason for riding the ALC was to give something to my future kids to be proud of their dad about. It was for a personal accomplishment. Again, as a non cyclist attempting the ALC (although I trained for 1 year for it), my main goal was to finish every time of the 545 mile ride. It really wasn't until the last few days that I really learned to appreciate the ride as a ride. I was focused the first couple days on just finishing the route before it closed at 7pm. With so much focus, I wasn't really thinking much about not having anyone to talk to along the route. That wouldn't have been the case anyway b/c there were lots of friendly strangers willing to chit chat at the stop lights, stop signs, traffic.

I took all this for granted at the time and never really appreciated how convenient it is to ride the ALC as a solo rider. Although it'd be nice to have a friend ride with me, I never really expected that to ever happen. Since I wasn't much of a cyclist, I was never really part of the cycling perscene and therefore didn't have anyone who would consider riding the ALC. My personal friends also have better things to do than take vacation time to ride 545 miles from SF to LA. That's not really their thing.

From day 1 of training when I heard about the ALC, I knew I'd be riding alone. It was no biggy. Throughout the 7 days, there wasn't one time I felt lonely. I'm happy to have ridden alone with the opportunity to ride with other trikers if I wanted.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sunday Streets SF

This was the first time I took the trike for a spin since I completed the Aids Life Cycle. It was also my first time trying out the Schwalbe Marathon Racer on the back drive wheel. I originally had the regular much heavier Marathon. Since the tire did so well on the ride and didn't rupture once, I figured I could take the risk of a weaker Racer tire to gain some extra speed and agility.

It was well worth it b/c the tire does do wonders. I don't know if it's the tread or the slight decrease in weight, but riding the trike with the Racer tire is much easier than with the Marathon. It performed decently in the bit of sand I encountered this past Sunday as well.

It looks like I'll be keeping the Racer on there for awhile.

I don't know if I wish I used this on the Aids Ride earlier or not. Perhaps if I did, I may have experienced a flat since it's weaker. I may never know. I guess I should be glad I made the decisions on the trike setup that I did in prep for the ALC. No regrets - really, no regrets. The setup was perfect.

I still have my eye on a Catrike Speed, but that probably wouldn't be a financially smart idea. It would still need a lot of work to make it perform to the level of my custom created KMX Tornado F72.