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Thread: Touring tadpole

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    Senior Member PJones0012's Avatar
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    Touring tadpole

    I have many years (since early 70's) riding experience but because I'm getting older (61) and arthritis it makes sense to go to a recumbent that I'll be using for touring. There's some requirements which is that 1) a adjustable seat back, 2) tadpole design, and 3) the same size tires all around. I want to stay with 700 wheels and have read someplace (don't ask where, I can't remember) that 700 wheels have some advantages over smaller wheels. The only real disadvantage is a slightly bigger turning radius. Also, it makes no sense to carry different size tubes and maybe spare tires, when touring. The Catrike 700 looks like a likely candidate except the seat back doesn't adjust.
    So, with those 3 things in mind, adjustable seat back, tadpole and able to use 700 wheel set at all 3 corners, any suggestions?
    Thanks.
    I got 3 tail lights! You can't see 3 tail lights at night you blind SOB!!!

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    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Before the question can be answered, do you feel that you require a trike with suspension?

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    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    I don't there there's a production trike with 3 700c wheels anywhere. Why the love for 700c? Especially for touring?
    Get something with 3 406's and be happy. There's lots of those.
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    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by delcrossv View Post
    I don't there there's a production trike with 3 700c wheels anywhere. Why the love for 700c? Especially for touring?
    Get something with 3 406's and be happy. There's lots of those.
    Agreed. The only place you'll do better with larger wheels is off road. Otherwise 20" all around works great.

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    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    You've ruled out a comfortable recumbent bike?
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    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Trikes tend to use 20" wheels because they don't lean in corners. 20" wheels are much stronger when subjected to side forces during cornering. Back when I was building trikes, we collapsed 700C rear wheels regularly.

    You should follow Sylvia (Myrtle the Turtle). She's toured all over the world on her trike: Travels By Trike Home

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    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    Something else to consider in your quest, often overlooked. Having a 700c back wheel increases your gear inches in proportion to a 406 (20"). It means greater speed downhill and in the flats, but harder climbing.
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    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by punkncat View Post
    Something else to consider in your quest, often overlooked. Having a 700c back wheel increases your gear inches in proportion to a 406 (20"). It means greater speed downhill and in the flats, but harder climbing.
    Gearing itself is sort of a null-gain argument because chainring sizes are not set in stone. Ultimately, lower gears are possible with a 20" drive wheel, but by the same token higher gears are possible with a 700c. In reality, few people take full advantage of either situation. I like 700c drive wheels because normal gearing is easier to obtain; but I would not even try to put 700c on the front of a tadpole. If it were important to me that all three wheels be the same size, that size would be 20".

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    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
    Gearing itself is sort of a null-gain argument because chainring sizes are not set in stone. Ultimately, lower gears are possible with a 20" drive wheel, but by the same token higher gears are possible with a 700c. In reality, few people take full advantage of either situation. I like 700c drive wheels because normal gearing is easier to obtain; but I would not even try to put 700c on the front of a tadpole. If it were important to me that all three wheels be the same size, that size would be 20".
    Yes, but most folks are going to select the commonly available group set thinking about what they rode on a DF. A tadpole is, in my experience, much harder to move down the road at a comparable speed, particularly when you factor in the added weight and gravity advantage you lose not being able to stand up on the pedals the 'traditional' way. To a person whom has never ridden a trike it could easily come as a shock that the cassette they were considering is not appropriate for that use....especially on a 700c wheel drive. My condition requires that I consider gear inches lest I be on the side of the road on a hill calling someone or walking.

    To add- I also second checking Myrtle's blogs. She taught me a lot about the value of low gearing and patience.
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  10. #10
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    I currently ride a Catrike 700 which has 20" 406 front wheels and the 700C rear wheel. The advantage of this setup (3X10 gearing) is a fairly wide gear range that is equivalent to what you get on a road bike - 21.9 to 124.2 gear inches. Most regular trikes with three 20" wheels usually have a gear range of 19 to 90 gear inches. The 20" wheels are far stronger than the 700C wheel even though mine is a high quality wheel with a Velocity A23 rim. I also own a 2001 Greenspeed GTO touring trike though I never used it for touring. It has even wider gearing than the CT700 because it uses two internal hubs (SRAM dual-drive in the rear and Schlumpf Mountain Drive as the front). Both of these internal drives are quite robust but if you did have a failure while on tour, your tour is probably over. It is exceedingly hard to find bike shops that will fix them. It is probably a good reason to stick with standard gearing using an FD and a RD. Both of these trikes have a fixed seat angle. It hasn't been a problem for me to adjust to either one. The CT700 has a 25 degree seat while the GTO is in the 40s.

    The closer to the ground you are, the more stable the trike is. If you had a trike with 3 700C wheels, it would be far easier to tip over. BTW, some people have modified trikes to take bigger wheels. Utah Trikes has made a good living making customized Catrikes with 3 24" and 26" wheels Utah Trikes - Catrike Annihilator V81 by Utah Trikes. These are not my cup of tea. My CT700 weighs 33 pounds and I like it that way - light!

  11. #11
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    A 26" wheel will keep your RD and chain further up out of the dirt. Also with a 20 inch rear wheel, you are limited to what panniers you can use without dragging or at least getting really dirty.

    If you go with a 20" inch rear wheel a trailer might be the best route instead of carrying everything on the trike.

  12. #12
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    Also with a 20 inch rear wheel, you are limited to what panniers you can use without dragging or at least getting really dirty.
    Nonsense. I've got a regular size rack on my 20” folding bike, and the panniers aren't anywhere near the ground.

    The derailleur, however, is close. Most people with 20" wheels never hit their derailleur while riding, but the possibility is definitely there.

  13. #13
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    My 20" drive wheel Greenspeed GTO touring trike came with a beautiful set of Carradice SuperC panniers that I frequently used for carrying groceries. The clearance to the ground is 9 inches. The RD is a Shimano 105 short cage so the clearance on it is less than for the panniers. A touring trike is not the equivalent of a mountain bike so you do need to take more care with it. I've ridden mine across grassy areas and through many campgrounds and never had to replace a damaged RD.

    BTW, if you could find a used GS GTO in the right frame size for you, it is a very fine touring trike. It has a great reputation for durability. Mine has 27,000+ miles on it. There are two that show up on Ad Hunt'r but they aren't near you. One is on the Tampa, FL CL and the other is on the Phoenix CL. Both have asking prices at $1,800. The one in Tampa is similar to mine except for the Schlumpf Drive mine has. The hydraulic disc brakes alone were an $850 option in 2003. If you spent $1,800 on a brand new trike, you don't get much.

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    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    As I mentioned earlier if you dont feel you need a suspended trike, there is less to go wrong on a long tour without it. What aint there cant break. IMO simplicity is the way to go.

    BTW while some say their panniers work fine with a 20 inch rear wheel, it still puts them further down in the dirt and muck like the chain and RD.
    Last edited by rydabent; 10-30-14 at 07:33 AM.

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    The myth of the recumbent not having the "gravity" advantage seems to come up a lot. The thing is, it doesn't hold water. In fact, the opposite is true from a max power per stroke point of view. On a DF, your max power on any one pedal stroke is capped at around 1.6*your bodyweight, if I recall. The fact that you're standing up limits it from going further. The thing is, in a recumbent, you're not standing up, you're doing leg presses. The limit there is set by your own willingness to and ability to push with your legs.

    That said, the trike almost certainly weight more, losing the strength advantage of the triangle. And it does have 3 wheels instead of two, so rolling resistance might be higher.

    All that aside, the main thing that most DF riders seem to miss when they "try out" a recumbent, is that they have years, maybe decades of building and training their muscles to power an upright bike. The muscle use on a recumbent is somewhat different. So of course its going to feel harder to go the same speed.


    The concerns about panniers and 20" rears are mostly unfounded. they are right behind your seat, so anything that hits them.. already hit you.

    I can also vouch for the validity of rear derailleur concerns on a 20" wheel. that thing is like.. 40mm off the ground. It has not given me any trouble aside from generally being dirty a lot of the time, but its one of the reasons I've seriously considered a rohloff in the back and a big ring with a schlumph mountain drive up front.

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    For touring, 20" wheels and gearing work fine.
    My ICE Q came with touring gearing of 26/38/48 and 9/32.

    It was quick and simple to swap the 32 cog for a 34, and go 22/36/48 up front for a 12.9/109 gi ratio.
    Trikes are slower on hills, so along with carrying a load and the reduced strength that age brinfgs, low gearing is more important than high.
    I tried a 700 rear wheel trike, but the lateral flex and lack and lack of strength out me off for roug road and loaded use.
    Consider at least rear suspension, the elastomer type used by ICE is simple, robust and vlomg lasting.

  17. #17
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Another thing to think about for 700c front wheels on a trike is that they cut into the cockpit area more when you're turning.

    Most trikes have an 85-90 inch top gear as an implicit acknowledgment that they're 15-20% slower than a 2-wheeler. Gearing can always be changed, but gearing up doesn't necessarily produce more speed.

  18. #18
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PJones0012 View Post
    So, with those 3 things in mind, adjustable seat back, tadpole and able to use 700 wheel set at all 3 corners, any suggestions?
    Thanks.
    You'll need to go custom to get 700's all around. Having actually ridden such a trike, I doubt that's what you want.

    Unless you get something that looks absolutely ridiculous (as if 700 up front didn't already look that way), 700 in front is going to put you high off the ground -- and make your ride tippy. As has already been mentioned, there will be stress issues on the wheels so you'll need extra strong ones. Unless you have physical issues that make it hard to get in a regular trike seat, there is zero advantage to 700's in front aside from tire selection. If you do have physical issues, you're better off going with a more upright delta trike.

    Don't worry about the differences in rolling between 406 and 700. Get a model with 406's all around and you'll be much happier. Note that tadpoles are not at all equal and some handle poorly at high speeds.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Trikin''s Avatar
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    I'm riding a '13 Catrike Expedition now but started out with an '09 Catrike Trail, I've toured with both these trikes. The Trail had 20"tires but I wanted a higher ground clearance at the rear derailluer so I put the Utah Trikes rear conversion kit for a 26"wheel. The EXP came with a 26" rear wheel plus 30gears, a great machine, like a sports car. I really enjoy cycle touring, to compliment my touring rig I'm using a BOB trailer and installed a 500w hub motor into the trailer wheel. The 36VLit-Ion battery is mounted to the trailer deck, still providing cargo space. Used mainly for hill assist and used sparingly, I've gotten over 100K on a single charge.
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    Last edited by Trikin'; 12-09-14 at 09:20 PM.

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