Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Official Comprehensive Catrike Speed Review

I published this initially on BROL since the readership is much higher. I'm reposting it here for the sake of adding a much needed resource to my existing blog (and in case BROL ever goes under). Here it goes:

- I gawked at the Catrike ever since I learned about it. I love the lines. Just looks beautiful compared to the other trikes I've seen. And when cost (used) falls into the equation, I never looked back at anything else.

- I like the culture. It's nice that Paulo gives the annual tour and there's a Catrike ride every year.

- There's also a fairly huge following which means there's support for any questions I might have. I'm more than willing to learn about stuff on my own, but it's nice to have someone who's gone through the same stuff. Why make it harder on myself than I have to?

- Since there are so many Catrike purchased, there's also many that are being sold on the used market which helps me out in terms of budget.

- Surely suspension would nice and so would an adjustable seat angle, but personally I can deal w/o either. The KMX has been heavy enough. At 45lbs, I wasn't looking for anything close to that in weight. A suspension trike would've been heavier than the 30lb Catrike Speed for sure - at least within my budget of $1,700.

- As far a the seat angle, the ultra reclined position doesn't bother me one bit. I did some comparisons (shown on my blog) of the Speed vs where I like my seat on the KMX and I recall it being fairly similar.

- It's small. I wanted something that would fit vertically in my garage. I have limited space and that was the most efficient way to store it. The one rule in my house is that if there isn't a place for it, we don't get it. It's also small in terms of width so it fits through doorways better than most other trikes in their fleet.

- I wanted something faster than my KMX. The Catrike wasn't an option initially when I first got into the bent world b/c of the cost. The KMX only cost me $700 used on Craigslist, so I wasn't complaining. I was hoping the Speed would live up to its name.

- I like the wheel size. I don't like the rear wheel being the same size as the fronts. The Speed was nice in that it fell into familiar territory. The KMX also has a 20" rear drive wheel with 16's up front (different mm, but close enough).

- Yes, it lives up to its name. Perhaps it's the weight or maybe I've just ridden the KMX Tornado so long that the 12lb weight difference is just so overwhelming. I literally feel the lower rolling resistance of the configuration. It's like night and day. There's absolutely no way to not notice the difference in performance of the trikes. At $1k for the KMX Tornado and $2,600 for the Speed, it comes at a price.

- The 42T middle chain ring feels like a climbing ring compared to my KMX which currently uses a 42T chain ring (stock is 40T) as the largest downhill chain ring! In other words, I typically climb steep hills with a 22T or a 32T chainring for less sloped hills on the (modded) KMX. I can climb the same hills on the Speed using the 42T middle ring!

- The climbing capabilities on this thing is amazing. I'm surprised there aren't any compromises to get the flat and downhill speed. I have yet to really use the smallest 30T chain ring on the Speed in real world riding. I've only tested it for the sake of seeing what it was like and checking that everything was working okay.

Ground Clearance:
If you're looking for lots of ground clearance, neither the Speed nor the KMX are for you. This thing is low - way low. If you have problems getting up and out of trikes, then look elsewhere. You'll hate this. Many owners already have an issue with the bottom of the frame scraping against speed bumps and other uneven ground. The owner of my aunt's trike bashed the idler somehow - yes, even with the Speed's idler protector. Easy to see that it can happen considering the limited ground clearance. The last owner of my trike opted to protect the underside with a tire tube. Precautions are made b/c it's really an issue for those that need more clearance for the type of riding they do or the environment in which they ride.

Maybe FFR can chime in on this, but I suspect their choice in using the KMX frame for their electric mods has a lot to do with the durability of the frame (warranty, quality and strength of a steel frame), but probably also b/c it's got a square section vs a round. Perhaps square is easier to mount electrical components (especially mid-drive systems). I won't pretend to know a lot about this. FFR can say a few words for clarification if they wish.

When my aunt bought a Catrike Speed not long ago, my uncle took it for a test ride and though the steering was broken - something was wrong with it. He didn't realize that the Speed was designed to be a bit "twitchy". It's all part of the sporty feel of the trike. Moving the handlebars a bit here or a bit there causes the trike to turn quite a bit. Although the stiffness I learned this weekend can somewhat be adjusted and the handlebars can also be adjusted, note that the trike itself is inherently "twitchy." It's just the way it is. Physics majors would probably be able to explain it better, but I'm sure it has something to do with the narrow dimension of the distance btw the two front wheels.

Although there's adjustment capabilities for the KMX, there's tons more for the Catrike. The distance the handlebars are from each other are somewhat fixed on the KMX. They can be pulled closer to the rider or further out at a fixed angle which can ultimately alter the distance they are from one another, but not by a huge margin. While the KMX's handlebars angle are welded, the Catrike has a proper headset which allows free movement of the handlebars to sway left or right before fixing it to your custom position. Tough to explain w/o photos, but just know the Catrike allows more flexibility in handlebar configuration. The KMX's setup happen to fit me just fine, so no complaints in that department. I can't say this'll be true for all riders. I'm 5'-7" and 145lb's. I believe this fixed handlebar setup was compensated by the seat forward/back adjustability that's absent in the Catrike lineup.

The seat on the KMX is adjustable in increments. The Catrike's seat angle is completely fixed. The KMX is definitely has a softer foam cushioned seat whereas the Catrike is just mesh like all the other trikes out there (majority of them at least). The KMX setup allows for different types and thicknesses of foam to be swapped out while the Catrike's configuration can be changed by altering the tightness of the straps that secure the mesh seat. Looser allows it to sag and stiffer makes it harder. The seat position itself can be moved forward and back by 4 increments on the KMX. No such adjustability exists for the Catrike.

- I doubt the KMX was ever designed to be modded, but I've successfully been able to do so w/o much of a problem. The learning curve for me was just huge b/c I didn't know much about bicycle components when I started. The KMX frame allows multiple sizes of rear wheels. The Catrike Speed maxes out at the stock 20" wheel unless you purchase Utah Trike's extension kit to allow a larger size. As for the front wheels? KMX has a proprietary hub (although FFR was able to mod theirs with custom hubs using what I suspect to be custom axles). The Catrike uses what I believe to be a typical axle with standard quick release skewers for all wheels.

- All the other components to be modded pretty much can be done on either trike. The wheels are probably the only thing worth mentioning in this regard.

OMG, this is a big one. The overall weight is quite different. KMX is 45lbs and the Catrike Speed is 30lbs. What's even more crucial though is that the rear of the Catrike Speed is a lot less heavy than the front. The KMX's huge weight seems to be balanced more evenly across the length of the frame. Although this weight distribution may be ideal for cars where 50/50 is often desired, that's not necessarily true for trikes. Though open for debate in other threads, I believe lower drivewheel weight translates directly to higher speed and efficiency. This opinion comes from:

1. Racing my KMX Tornado against a friend who claims he's 100lbs heavier (though probably closer to 50lbs) on his Expedition. He's tons faster. No doubt about it.
2. Swapping my rear IGH wheel for a lighter weight one (less than 3lbs difference) and the differences were quite noticeable.

- A lower weight is also nice b/c it allows me to pull it up onto the rack (I haven't done this yet, but it just makes sense) more easily. 15lbs is a huge difference when the thing you're lifting is more awkwardly shaped than a dumb bell.

- For some reason, I suspect even if I strapped 15lbs of weight to the Catrike Speed to equal the overall weight of the KMX, the Speed would still feel faster.

- Storing the trike in a vertical position would've been easier on the Catrike Speed if it wasn't for the lack of a rear brake. Speaking of which....

The Catrike's brakes are ridiculously awesome. They stop on a dime. No joke. When engaged abruptly, it's like hitting a wall. It's nice having that ability. You can obviously engaging it for a smoother experience. The KMX has cheaper brakes and doesn't brake nearly as well as the Catrike despite having a third rear brake.

Rear Brake:
I hate that the Catrike doesn't have a rear brake. I suppose it saves money on production costs, is one less thing to break or maintain and adds weight but I miss the rear brake I have on the KMX. The KMX can power slide like none other. I love it. That's all gone when riding the Catrike. You win some. You lose some. The smoothest way to add a rear brake on a Catrike is unfortunately with the extension kit ($150) which comes a bit pricey and that only allows you the option. It doesn't include the cost of the cable nor the caliper itself.

No emergency brake on the Catrikes? Sorry Paulo, but that was a horrible move. But then again, most trikes don't come with a rear brake as standard equipment or even as an option. Perhaps the introduction of the rear brake is something uniquely KMX. The KMX comes with a stock emergency brake button on the lever. The Catrike? It comes with a high end velcro strap? Pleaaaase. Catrike did such a great job on the rest of the trike and they decided to go cheap on the parking brake. This can easily be upgraded yourself with the right component, but it's a disappointment that this feature was missing. All trikes should have parking brakes that don't equal to a 5 cent piece of velcro. In the meantime I'm using a "Bike Brake" branded rubber band thingy which works in the meantime but is nowhere as clean as a button setup.

Those with sub $2k budgets like me have a hard time getting into any serious bent trikes w/o getting one used. New ones these days seem to be priced at around $2,100-3,400 (maybe you guys can comment on the accuracy of this since I haven't really looked at many new ones over $1,400). Both the KMX and Catrike brand are great for those on a limited budget and allows those into the sport who otherwise wouldn't be able or want to. If you have $700-1000, get the KMX, understand it's limitations and upgrade as you have more available funds (assuming you like that activity of tinkering and modding). I spent close to 2 years doing this. If you have a budget of about double and have interest in a Catrike Speed, you can get one for $1,100-1,800 (or window shop for one) depending on the mileage and production age of the trike. First production models with the ugly blue mesh seat used go for as little as $800 before shipping while newer 2011 ones can land in over $2,000. I've noticed 2008-2010 models go for about $1,300-1,600 or so as of the date of this post.

Those that have read up on this thing, know that the Speed is pretty much Paulo's baby. It's tweaked almost every year as a developing trike. More changes have gone into the Speed than any other model as what I suspect to be an attempt at refining for perfection. Other threads will educate you more on the differences btw the years, but you're looking mostly at the frame's shape and seat angle. Crankset height off the ground from my understanding has also altered a bit. Some may prefer grip shifters which can be found on the older models.

I put my trike side by side with my aunt's 2008 and it looks very similar. Was the seat angle different? Tough to tell even when looking at them both at the same time, but for sure the bend on the upper portion of the seat is more extreme on the 2010 than it is on the 2008. Were decals different colors amongst all those in that year or was it just my '10 that had black stickers and her '08 that had red? Perhaps a minor difference that some of you may be considering when purchasing.

The gears of the Catrike Speed and I suspect all the Catrikes or (non KMX's) shift very smoothly. I don't think my used one's been tuned and even then, it's been shifting flawlessly. A few awkward sounds here and there, but it's nothing I shouldn't be able to fix when I get some time to attend it.

The ride is also very smooth. Of course you feel the road as you would a sports car, but I'm surprised even with the slick no-tread Kojak tires that the ride is as smooth as it is. Is it smoother than the KMX stock? Definitely. Smoother than the KMX with Marathon Racers? Not quite sure. I can't say one way or the other. If there's any difference, it's not obvious.

Though some may see the super heavy weight seat as a drawback (and it is), but the frame itself allows mounting of all sorts of stuff that a mesh seat doesn't quite offer. Mesh seats go over the tubes which pretty much hide it and limit where you can mount stuff easily. Whereas the KMX is all exposed and ready for mounting of things such as:

- I was able to put my bike license plate on the back in a really clean it-belongs-there kinda way.
- My water bottle mounting brackets fit super nicely, again as if it was that way out of the factory. If symmetry is your thing, it's worked wonders with water on one side and Gatorade on the other. It came out to a pretty sleek look.
- I also strapped on a Timbuk2 handlebar bag (currently discontinued) onto the back w/o a problem.
- My vibration alarm fit nicely under the seat within the metal frame well hidden from view.
- The recent addition of the Topeak bag was a nice touch. It took some experimenting, but worked out in the end and I have no regrets with the mounting design.

The Catrike's two horizontal bars at the top of the seat are often times used with Minoura or Topeak water bottle cage mounting brackets. Two fit there quite nicely. Perhaps not as convenient to retrieve, but it works. The single cage on the boom was a nice touch in that it follows the lines of the trike and I can't imagine it anywhere else. Of course this limits you to one bottle which may be fine for the casual shorter distance rider. But for those that ride longer routes and cover more miles w/o stopping, two bottles are great and can be put nicely here above the seat.

While the KMX as I mentioned takes some improvising to figure a storage solution, Catrike offers a few integrated solutions for those that want to carry more stuff.

The new Catrike seats as I mentioned previously, have 3 pockets. One on the left at your lower back, another smaller one under the seat on your right and a place for your pump. That'll be sufficient for most. For those that want to carry more on the road, there's the Arkel bags. Though the fitment of the Arkel bags are poor at best on the Speed, they're available and some people seem to deal with them okay.

Some find that the Nashbar or any triangle bags that typically are designed for DF bikes fit okay.

The Catrike's frame design also allows for standard trunk racks to be installed like you see on a typical bicycle. Not the case with the KMX. The KMX uses a proprietary $89 plus shipping rack.

Fenders can't be easily put on a KMX without some customization. I actually haven't seen any for the front wheels. The stock rear one is a great touch though. That rear fender really finishes off the look of the KMX. I like that the front wheels are bare, but that's only until dirt kicks up into my face on a rainy morning ride.

Catrikes allow easy fitment of fenders on the front wheels. I believe this requires a special bracket. Not sure if this is supplied/designed by Utah Trikes, Catrike themselves or Planet Bike. Either way, they're available and I've seen them installed. I personally still prefer to run fenderless, but I'm sure others would like the option of having them and now you know what the limitations are.

Catrike wins in this category. A few screws loosen everything, The seat can't be removed anyway (nor would you want to), the boom holds nicely with quick release skewers. All three wheels have quick release skewers too which are absent in the KMX. The KMX requires tools to lug around to remove the wheels, most of which aren't necessarily on a standard bike tool.

So if removing pieces for a more compact unit to fit into a sedan (non truck, SUV, wagon or hatchback) is important, note doing so with a KMX (which I've done on a few occasions where I drive long distance) isn't nearly as easy as I can imagine it would be with a Catrike.

Yes, I made that word up. The KMX's boom seems to like to loosen itself, especially during aggressive pedaling down hills. Part of it is due to the poor design of how it's secured. The KMX uses two screws. The only contact that secures the outer boom sleeve to the main frame is the end of the screw to a corner of the square frame. Hard to explain, but you'll see it immediately if you ever look closely at a KMX boom. I suspect an easy way to manage this w/o too much redesign is to cut a V-shaped groove into the end of the screw so that the full surface will make contact with the boom. Anyway,...

The Catrike doesn't have this issue. As Paulo noted so humbly in his Youtube video, owners of trike competitors have admitted that there's more technology in the Catrike boom than their entire trike! I can't say if KMX was the competitor (though I doubt it since hte quality, features and price point are completely different), but whomever it is, they remain anonymous.

I haven't dealt with the Catrike enough (being that I've owned it for less than 2 weeks) to know what irritates me about the trike if anything. I'm still in the honeymoone fast and I love the thing too much to see any flaws quite yet.

If you know you're getting a non-suspension strike with twitchy steering that's super low to the ground and the stock seat angle is perfect for you, then the Catrike Speed might be the ticket.

Car Analogy:
If the KMX Tornado is the Scion of tadpole recumbent trikes in that they're super affordable relative to all the features you get stock, then the Catrike Speed must be the Mazda Speed 3 in the world of comparable bents. The quality and performance are there with a slightly better price point. Not seen as high end as HP Velotechnik, but provides all the needs in a cool sleek way.

Or perhaps better yet, a comparison can be made btw the Speed and a Lexus. While the Lexus continues the great reputation of reliability as a Japanese motor company, the Lexus brand also has been privileged to sit alongside luxury brands and may be even considered competitors. Though often compared with the high end of Mercedes and BMW, the lower price point and good reliability of this Japanese car seem to both be attractive traits appreciated by fanatics.

The Speed is the same way. Though not quite an HP Velotechnik nor (TR)ICE, it's still considered higher end all while achieving this at an attractive price point. Lexus and Speed are both answers to those who are looking for something above mid level (Acura and Trident), but want to take advantage of price tags that look like bargains compared to the high end brands. Perhaps "upper middle class" may be the term that most accurately describes the Speed and Lexus.

Motorcycle Analogy:
Continuing with a similar analogy of rides: If you're a fan of the Suzuki SV650 motorcycle, the Catrike Speed may be comparable to that as well in that it's well loved by novices as well as professionals. It's at the perfect price point as a higher end intro ride but still well used and loved by riders who have owned it for years and compared it to others they've ridden.

Mt. Bike vs Road Bike:
While the KMX is like a mountain bike on three wheels, the Catrike Speed is like a road bike w/an extra wheel. The two are vastly designed for different uses and does each very well. Try to take on the same conditions meant for the other and you may find yourself wishing you had the other. Neither trike has enough clearance to hop onto (nor off curbs) w/o scratching the frame.

I'd consider the KMX a great training trike. Riding the KMX as extensively as I did (from SF to LA in 7 days across 545 miles) allowed me to really appreciate the upgrade to the Catrike Speed. You travel a shorter distance on the KMX with the same force as you would on a Catrike. Strength and endurance was built on the KMX and now when used on the Speed, makes the Speed feel like a demon. Dare I say a Speed Demon? No plans to let go of the Tornado. It's worth more to me than anyone would be willing to pay for it. If the perfect fan comes along, I may consider. For the time being, there's two bents in my fleet and I don't plan on being a collector by any means. I expect the Catrike Speed to provide perfect use now, but also plenty of room to grow on.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tandem Tadpole Tornado?

Is that what this thing is? OMG, how did I miss the release of this? I happened to go through the Utah Trikes website looking at a BROL member's ICE trike and accidentally fell upon a blue tandem KMX trike! Wow! Pretty nuts.

Doesn't look that slick though. A design issue with these tandems always has to do with the connection btw the front section and the rear. Looking at this awkward pyramid shaped contraption isn't very attractive. Bold yes, but it looks like I could have designed and welded this at home in my garage - not the look we're going for KMX! Could I have done better? No and that's the point! Ugh. The color's cool and I'm glad they have something new for their new product, but the execution of a tandem isn't quite working. And at $4k, I'd like to know who's buying these.

With my criticisms aside, I'd still like to take this thing for a test spin both as a front/rear rider. Looks like fun, but I'm disappointed there aren't any improvements in the technology or design of it overall.

I'm happy to see better components. The gearing uses an 11-34T rear cluster which is nice for hill climbing. What were they thinking w/the design of the rear rider's handlebars? It doesn't even look like that thing would really work. Not excited about this new one KMX. Please try again.

UPDATE: 12/31/11
A buddy of mine informed me that the KMX Tandem is actually a Utah Trikes custom build. No wonder. I guess it's a good way to show off what UT can do at their shop. Pretty ingenious and it's cool that they made the effort. This explains the unrefined look that I hope KMX otherwise would have mastered if they had done it themselves.

I still can't imagine many people buying this thing. There aren't many tandem buyers to begin with and to choose a KMX for that purpose doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me. Most tandem rides tend to be longer than single person rides. I can imagine tandem rides are more for exercise and leisure than they are for commuting or running errands. For long rides, KMX just isn't the natural company to go to.

Surely, I've completed the ALC on a KMX but it's far from recommended. Super durable and I'm glad I took it to prove to myself (and perhaps others) that it's possible, but I would not have picked it as my first choice if I had the luxury of choosing another trike.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On The Road

The test ride impressed me. I'm glad I got the Speed. It really does live up to its name.

The only things I've heard about the Catrike Speed were positive, but I couldn't help but to think that there are drawbacks. If speed is what it's known for, then perhaps braking or hill climbing are expected drawbacks. We'll see.

I quickly noticed after taking on the first hill that if there are any drawbacks of the Catrike Speed, it's not an inability to climb hills. The thing hauls up hills like none other - even in the middle chain ring! Of my first two rides lasting longer than 5 minutes, I only used the smallest chain ring on the second ride and even that was only out of curiosity.

The crazy thing is that it climbs ridiculously well on the second 42T chain ring! My Tornado's largest ring is 42T! The downhill chain ring on the KMX is the climbing ring on the Speed! That's nuts!

The KMX has a 22/32/42 crankset.
The Speed? 30/42/52.

If the Speed can climb on a 42T chain ring, the 30T small ring does wonders. With a 52T large ring, the trike feels like it has a huge gear range. I also noticed that having 9 speeds instead of my stock 7 allows minimal changing of the crankset. Most of the gear changing is done on the rear cassette.

Gotta exchange more Xmas gifts. More reviews to come.

First Impressions of a Catrike Speed

The only time I really got to ride this thing was around the block at a recumbent shop in Los Angeles and another time when test riding my aunt's. That's pretty much it. Total time on the trike prior to today? about 10-15 minutes.

This afternoon after running around getting last minute gifts for the in-laws, I had some time to inspect the trike further and go for a test ride.

- The end of one of the boom skewers was missing. When I mentioned it to Patrick, he said he'd send over a spare from one of his old road bikes. Awesome! What a good seller. I don't blame him for the missing piece. I could tell he tried hard to make the sale smooth. It's nice that even after the sale, he's very responsive to questions via email.

- The trike's got 2 computers? Why? Not sure. I'll shoot that question over to Patrick and see what he says. Both have magnets, but only one has a sensor.

- The rear pillow underneath the headrest turns out to have housed speakers! Custom speaker mount! There's a cord that plugs into an MP3 player. I haven't tried it out, but it's quite ingenious and it turned out fairly clean in terms of looks.

- The 2010's come with the newer upgraded seat. This one's got a place for a pump, but it also has two additional pockets for whatever. In one closest and accessible by my right hand under the seat, I put my garage door opener. Super convenient. I put the included bike tool in the other.

- I didn't really like the foam and wanted to keep the trike as simple and close to stock as possible. I removed the underseat padding. The trike definitely feels different now. I feel more "in" the trike than "on" the trike which is something I prefer.

- I removed the speaker system b/c at the time I didn't really know what it was. I'll give it a test try outside the trike just to see how well it works. I'm not much of a music fanatic so not having this wouldn't be a big deal for me.

- The Airzound was a cool accessory that was included. I pumped up the air canister to the recommended 90-100psi and depressed the button. BOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTT! That thing is loud! No doubt, that'll get the attention of drivers even with their windows rolled up and the music blasting. I learned just a few hours ago that there's even a volume control! Another great thing about the particular Airzound that was included was that it was the white/grey version as opposed to the one with the orange button. White matches the trike and my attire so much better. Glad Patrick went with that rarer color. It's hard to find - at a good price.

- The left side was making some noise during my spin around the block. I also noticed the brakes needed some adjustment. I didn't break anything down nor did I crawl on my knees to get it seriously repaired. I just pulled the brake pad out a bit for better clearance with the disk and it's worked okay. I'll fine tune it later. For the time being, I wanted to ride!

- I removed the reflectors from the front wheels. I'll leave the back. Not sure why, but I left the rear alone.

- After my first 15 minutes of my ride, I had been hearing some rattling and quickly pulled over to address it. My adjustement of the headrest wasn't complete. After tightening the screws, it worked out well.

- I tried twising the thumb shifters in a more ergonomic direciton, but it didn't budge. Not sure how it works.

Too tired. I rode fast enough to feel like I was about to puke. Gotta get some rest. More details tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Did It Come?

Rushing home, I was expecting to possibly see a package in my living room. Did my wife sign for it?

Uh oh. She's not home! The last thing I wanted to see stood before my eyes. Before I could even get into my living room, I saw on the door the UPS tag.

"Will return Monday for 2nd attempt for delivery." Something along those lines. Ugh. Monday? That's two days from now. At least Monday's a Holiday for me and I'd be home to receive the package w/o a problem, but I would've missed my weekend of riding.

Trying to relax and get the absence of my trike off my mind, I took the ebike out for a spin. Guess what I saw! A UPS truck! I followed it 'til it stopped which unfortunate for me was at least 8 blocks from where I live. Ugh, how would I carry the box and my bike back to the house??? I didn't really care; I would've leapfrogged it if I had to. I'm destined to get to that UPS truck!

Approaching the driver, I say, "Sorry, I know you are busy with a delivery schedule 'n all but do you think you might have my package?" I gave him my street and told him how big the box was. I figured it'd be the only one that size and he would've had to remember.

No, we don't go there. Then he told me where my truck might be. I rushed home to drop off the bike and pick up the car. But before I reached my driveway, guess what I saw?

Another UPS truck! Could that be it? I ran through the same routine only to learn that it was again the wrong truck. Ugh! How unlucky can I be? I stored my bike, hopped into the car ready for a joy ride through the 42 block radius looking for my truck.

20 minutes pass. Nothing.

It's getting dark. This should make it easier to spot big trucks double parked in the residentials. Oooo, I see something! I bust a U-turn and approach the truck only to find that it's a PG&E truck! Ugh! This is my third wrong truck!

Just as I'm about to give up after my 25 minute trek, I see a brown truck. Yup, maybe that's it. I bust another U-turn and disappointingly noticed that the driver looked like the one I saw 15 minutes ago. Ugh, the same truck?

Looking closer, I realized it wasn't! It's a new guy! Same height and same colored hair, but the truck driver was different! Yes, here's my other chance. Could the 4th truck be it?

"Oh yeah, we have it."

In my head, I'm saying, "Yes! Yes! Yes! I found it!!!!" The search was so worth it. The driver warns me of the same concern I had before pulling out of my driveway looking for the truck. "Will this fit in your car?" I had pulled up in my sister's Mini Cooper. The seats were folded back and while doing it I had promised myself that if I found the package I'd make it fit one way or another. I don't care of it's hanging out the back.

That's when I became really convinced that hatchbacks are totally awesome! Man, these things fit anything - even a 2010 Catrike Speed! It fit perfectly. Good thing I didn't have any passengers b/c the front passenger seat was pushed way up forward. No biggy b/c my only companion for the next 5 minutes would be my long awaited Catrike Speed! Home sweet home.

Yup, here it is in my garage! Not much of a looker. I was too excited at its contents to really care about all the holes on the backside and the weakening cardboard.

The box is bent out of shape but I'm hoping the stuff inside is in good shape and not damaged. Insurance ran through my mind.

I began unboxing. I had been curious how this thing would be packaged. I can't imagine how I'd box up a recumbent for shipment. Sounds like a complete hassle. I noticed there was foam in it as Patrick had said he would include to protect any protrusions. That would've helped if he had taped it or somehow secured it to the box. But instead, it lay in the box pretty much useless. All parts shift during shipment.

If everything's in good shape, then I suppose it doesn't really matter. I'll have no way of knowing until I put this thing together and start riding.

Patrick included a separate box of goodies:
- 3 sets of pedals
- Bike tool
- Even latex gloves!
- Paperwork from the sale
- Some pedal strap thingies
- Skewers

How's a Catrike look without legs? Here she is disabled. Fresh out of the box. One thing that was nice was that Patrick took apart only what he had to in order to make it fit in the box. This meant everything's easily put together. Apart from the wheels and boom, the only thing to install was the derailleur.

The chain ended up getting pretty mangled during either packaging or en route to my house, so I had to remove the whole thing and reinstall it. I had been worried that I'd have to tune the derailleur and all the gearing. I hate doing that.

The pedals for some reason look reversed so I had a hard time installing them, but I finally got it on. Tested it with my shoes and it works!

Uh oh! Missing piece! The boom typically comes with 2 skewers that secure the boom. I looked in the box and found the other skewer, however the other end where it screws into was missing. With all the holes in the box, I'm not surprised that it fell out somewhere. I'm pretty sure the seller packaged it in there b/c all other loose items were in a separate taped box. I really wish that foam was taped to the inside of the box and that there was more foam or newspaper.

I moved the complete working skewer to the rear hole and that prevents the boom from sliding. So at least I can at least ride this. No downtime while I get a hold of the missing piece from probably Utah Trike.

Part of the house rules is that we can't buy anything w/o first finding a place for it. This is where the Speed will sit when I'm not enjoying it on the road. I decided to use the bike stand for this trike to hold it in place since it doesn't have a rear brake. The KMX does, so it stand just fine w/o one. Perfect! I don't need two!

I can't wait to take this thing out tomorrow. Should I take those ugly reflector's off? I have no plans to ride this thing at night. It might be a good idea to remove these.

1.5 years of research to finally get a hold of this Speed. She's here where she belongs. Yummy! At $1,300 (+ shipping covered by my aunt/uncle), the cost was very reasonable for a used Catrike. Still pricey for a non-motored vehicle, but I think it's a good catch for a bent trike of this caliber. Let's hope it's as fast as the name of it suggests. Off to sleep before my test ride tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mods on My Mind

I can't help it. It's what I do. Here's my list of future mods I'm already thinking about and I don't even have the trike yet!

This is the old list. New one is in the update at the bottom of this post.

- Bell ($3.50)
- Flag ($49)
- Shorter 155mm crankarms ($45)
- Paint job. Red, white or blue? (free)
- Arkel bags ($139 + shipping/tax)
- Handlebar grips ($12)
- Crankset. I'll probably want to drop this down. I can't imagine using a 50T chain ring. Perhaps I could replace the high gears with some low end to take up the SF hills. Who knows though. I might fall in love with the big crankset.
- Water bottle cage bracket mount, 2 ($16)
- Water bottle cages, 2 ($4)
- License plate ($5)

I'm actually surprised there isn't much more than this. It's crazy how buying a better quality trike from the start means you actually get stuff you don't have to upgrade or replace.

- The wheels are awesome. No needs for upgrades there. Although I wish I had kept the black spoked ones I had bought before but ended up selling b/c they didn't fit the KMX Tornado.
- The trike itself is already superlight at 30lbs so no need to upgrade components for that purpose.
- The trike's designed for speed so there will be minimal need for gearing changes if anything. The rear cassette is already an 11-32T!
- Much of the other tools and things that I had bought can still be used for the Speed. Maybe I'll want another bike tool and patch kit so I don't have to take stuff from one trike/bike to another.
- No hydration stuff needed. I don't plan to ride this long distance anytime soon and I can use my existing water bottles. In the case that I ride with anyone on the ebike or they end up using it, we'll more likely than not be traveling shorter distances that wouldn't require more than two water bottles. Once each is sufficient.
- Lighting and computer already come with the used trike. Unless I'm looking to upgrade, there's really no need.

UPDATE: 12/27/11
Yup, the mod bug probably bit me before I even got the trike. Here's the list so far for fun new toys. The list is much different than above. I learned a few things.

- Bell: I just need that pedestrian bell. I'm picking one up from ebay with the compass on it for like $3.50.
- Rear light. Even in the daytime, it's good to have a rear light on a trike. Good for foggy days too.
I ordered a set of these today, 12/28/11. I decided to go with the same ones I bought for the ebike. It fits perfectly on the top seat bar. Looks nice, stands out, comes in black and it's only $4.99 shipped.
- Headlight: I have a front light, but a nicer one would be good. Not sure what I want. With the standard mounting on the frame, the choices are limitless (unlike with the KMX's old frame. I believe they caught up in developing a mounting location for the new ones.)
- Fastback Norback frame pack: It's a bag that holds securely to the underside of the boom for extended storage. Currently looking for a used one b/c that retail $43 plus shipping ain't cutting it.
- Shorter crankarms. I'd prefer 155mm ones but I'm having a hard time locating a pair with 130BCD of an ISIS BB type.
After some searching, I'm finding these are super tough to find in black and with ISIS BB. I may have to swap the bottom bracket from ISIS to square taper and paint the grey that it comes in.
- Flag: Worth getting a second flag for taking out the KMX and Catrike at the same time?
Savings is only $5.50. Not sure if I want a second flag yet. I'll buy my aunt hers (Christmas present) first and continue thinking about whether I really want another one for myself. I honestly don't see the Catrike and KMX being ridden at the same time.

After further exploration, I've decided I no longer "need" (want) the following:

- Arkel bags. They don't fit properly and there's plenty of space in the underseat compartment.
- Handlebar grips. Now I know why Catrike went with the cheap kind. It's b/c it needs to wrap around the thumb shifter cables. Most other handlebar grips are too tight and won't work.
- Crankset does NOT need to be exchanged for lower gearing. Low end gears are perfect.
- Unless I ride extensively, I don't think I'll need two water bottles anymore. Originally I thought I'd have to put the air canister that powers the Airzound in the stock cage, but it already fits nicely tucked under the seat! Very clean look. Almost invisible.

Interesting how the mod list is a lot shorter than the KMX's. I'm guessing it's b/c the Catrike is just so good stock.The gearing is fine. If anything, it can go up a notch for more high gears. Low end ones are superb as-is. Nothing needs to be done as far as weight goes. It's comfy. No complaints in that department.

Waiting for Christmas

It's more like waiting for the Catrike. Just reviewed my tracking number and the Speed is in Ceritos. At least it's in California. It's that much closer to my door. I'm getting antsy. Can't wait for this thing to come. I've never ridden a Speed apart from when I fell in love during my first test ride and then another with my aunt's. Both rides were less than a fraction of a mile. I'm expecting to love this thing though.

Where's that UPS guy?

Monday, December 19, 2011

What Comes of the Catrike?

What am I expecting out of the Catrike Speed?

I'm hoping this thing will be tons quieter than my KMX Tornado. I don't know if it's that I modded it and the derailleur just can't handle all the chain slack needed from the crazy big gear range or what, but the thing gets loud. Lots of chain tube rubbing. I'm hoping the Speed will be speed around like a ninja on steroids.

I need this thing to be quick. My KMX seat alone used to weigh around 15lbs if I remember correctly. That's a ton! The Speed's seat is just mesh so it basically weighs nothing! It's important that I'm not being swept at the next ALC training ride. I hate being last. Especially on a bent, everyone thinks you're trying to be cute so it really sucks when you come in last. I gotta at least keep up with the crowd on the 10-12mph average speed rides. I think we averaged about that including stops last time, but somehow I just got bogged down. I blame the stupid bag on my the KMX (which I've fixed since and it's tons better). I went on a 10+ mile ride with the new rig and although the bag swayed to one side after an aggressive power slide, it at least didn't rub against the wheel.


It'll take some time before the Catrike Speed becomes a looker. The bland gray doesn't really do much in terms of looks. The stock setup will look sorta blah compared to the KMX Tornado. I'm hoping to change that in the next year or so. I'm trying not to get bitten by the mod bug too hard, but we'll see.

Catrike Shipping Today

The seller says the trike's packaged and ready to go. It's shipping out today! That'll mean that it'll get here plenty in time before New Year's. What a cool gift. Much thanks to my uncle and aunt who were nice enough to cover my shipping costs. I can't wait until this gets here! Hopefully it won't be raining when it arrives. I really want to take it out to my routine route to see how well it performs over the KMX Tornado on the paved roads.

It's arriving by the end of the week! Yes, that means in time for Christmas! Awesome. What a lovely Christmas present. This is going to be crazy fun. Can't wait to ride this thing. I guess I'm not waiting to paint it before putting it back together. I'm getting on this Speed Demon this weekend! And no, I don't care how cold it might be.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Catrike Joins the Fleet

After over a year and a half of drooling over the Catrike lineup hoping that one day I'll have one, I took the dive and our brand spanking used trike will be on its way. I told myself I wouldn't participate in bids, but I gave into my passion. Along with a mountain trike, will be a road trike. I'm expecting this thing to be a speed demon compared to the Tornado.

No love for the Tornado? Of course there will be! I'll never forget the Tornado and have no zero intention of selling it. It's like my third arm. It'll be my all around off street climbing monster. Speed will be reserved for the trike that sports that name.

Originally, I had thought of the Catrike as being an improved upgraded Tornado. Not the case. The Catrike will never be able to withstand the abuse that a Tornado can undergo. The plan is pull out the full potential of both trikes. The Tornado will be rugged and the Speed will be swift. I can't wait to be able to catch up to Paul on his Expedition. Hopefully it really is the trike that makes him faster. That green machine hauls arse! He's since lost 15lbs and is going faster! The gap's getting longer. Time to shorten that. Watch out Paul, I'm coming up!

At least now Paul won't have to wait for me. I'm expecting a lot out of this new trike. Hopefully it'll be as good as I'm expecting. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

33 Miles!

I hadn't ridden for awhile, so it was nice getting back on the trike and participating with an ALC training group. This time it was in Mountain View! New ride for me. I've never ridden in that city before so it was fairly refreshing to see the new views.

My quads were killing me by the end. But that wasn't the worst part of the ride.

The horrible part was that I damaged my Topeak Dynapak - in a big way. Although I made every effort to adjust the clearance with the rear drive wheel, it wasn't enough. The weight of the extra stuff I put in it on top of the vibrations of the road added to the load and brought the bag far down enough drag against the wheel.

What a nasty sound!

I kept riding since I was in a group and didn't want to fall behind. I didn't notice as much friction as I would have imagined. I kept riding for a few miles until we came to a stop. I hopped off the seat, raised it a bit and kept going.

Eventually, the bag swung to the side and cleared the wheel. It looked awkward, but at least it was working - so I thought! The side of the bag on occasion rubbed up against the tire. It was like a saw blade on butter. It wasn't until after the ride when I got back into my car and inspected the bag that I noticed there was so much rubbing that the tire almost busted a hole! The friction shaved off the fabric and got into the foam and almost went completely through! Luckily it didn't, but it's still pretty bad. Battle scar.

I knew I should have taken the trike for a test run around the neighborhood before going on a 33 mile ride! Ugh. Lesson learned.