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Old 06-18-12, 03:43 PM   #1
AlteredWalter
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Rhoades Car problems

I recently purchased a new, modified Rhoades Car 4-seater. Unfortunately, my experience has not been a good one.

I would definitely think twice before taking a Rhoades Car for a ride of any distance as mine has broken down 3 times in the four months I've owned it.

Here is a list of the problems I've had thus far:
1. Tailgate on the Rhoades Car cargo bed would not stay in the upright and locked position. This problem presented itself on my maiden ride
2. Hinges in the Rhoades Car tailgate fell out. This took a couple of days for this to happen.
3. One of the plastic connectors Rhoades Car uses to connect the cargo frame together broke. I've tried to glue it without much success.
4. Drive sprocket on the Rhoades Car motor broke apart. This happened after I had had the Rhoades Car nearly two weeks. I had no load at all in the cargo bed at the time.
5. At 6 weeks 3 of the Rhoades Car wheels folded as I pedaled down from a curb. I had to call a flatbed wrecker to carry me home at a cost of over $200.
6. 2 weeks ago the right-rear axle bearing failed and is still in need of repair.

To date, my repair costs have exceeded $1500, on a Rhoades Car purchased for $7500.

Here are what I feel are some of the Rhoades Car design flaws:

The drive train sprockets on a Rhoades Car are Chinese made and will not stand up to heavy use.

The Rhoades Car aluminum cargo waggin' cannot handle any frame torsion as the plastic connectors will easily break. It should be noted that the Rhoades Car does not have any suspension whatsoever which makes for a rough ride on uneven surfaces - and riding on uneven surfaces will void your warranty.

The position of the rear axle in the Rhoades Car is too far forward which causes steering problems with the vehicle; i.e., when loaded, the Rhoades Car wants to continue in a straight path even though the front wheels are turned as there is not enough forward weight for the front wheels to gain significant traction.

Replacing the front wheels on a Rhoades Car is quite easy - replacing the rear wheels on a Rhoades Car is an absolute nightmare. The left-rear drive wheel on a Rhoades Car is nearly impossible to remove/replace, especially if you opt for dual disc brakes.

Having said all of this, if you can find a good used Rhoades Car for very little money (1/4 of the new price), and you don't plan on doing much more than an occasional trip around the neighborhood with it then I think you might be satisfied with a Rhoades Car.

Last edited by AlteredWalter; 06-18-12 at 03:50 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 06-19-12, 02:54 AM   #2
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Well I hope something good comes of it all--but if you do a search, you will find that the general opinion of the Rhoades cars is not real high among riders of more-mainstream recumbents and velomobiles.

Even though most have never seen one in real life, it is simply MUCH heavier and bigger than any recumbent bike or trike. I have seen the ads in certain magazines for years, and wondered who was buying them.
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Old 06-19-12, 06:52 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by AlteredWalter View Post
Here is a list of the problems I've had thus far:
1. Tailgate on the Rhoades Car cargo bed would not stay in the upright and locked position. This problem presented itself on my maiden ride
2. Hinges in the Rhoades Car tailgate fell out. This took a couple of days for this to happen.
3. One of the plastic connectors Rhoades Car uses to connect the cargo frame together broke. I've tried to glue it without much success.
4. Drive sprocket on the Rhoades Car motor broke apart. This happened after I had had the Rhoades Car nearly two weeks. I had no load at all in the cargo bed at the time.
5. At 6 weeks 3 of the Rhoades Car wheels folded as I pedaled down from a curb. I had to call a flatbed wrecker to carry me home at a cost of over $200.
6. 2 weeks ago the right-rear axle bearing failed and is still in need of repair.
My experience with axle bearings on Rhodes Cars and similar adult trike products has been uniformly bad. I suspect they frequently have alignment issues and I don't know how to fix them.

If I was still working in a shop today, I'd decline to accept one for service unless the customer had bought it from me. I'd decline selling one too.
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Old 06-19-12, 02:03 PM   #4
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They sure got an eye catching web site. Be easy to get sucked in if the design was your thing and the pocketbook big enough. Maybe this thread will get picked up by the search bots and warn ppl to stay clear.
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Old 06-19-12, 05:09 PM   #5
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I tried to be dispassionate and objective in my original posting, but quite honestly the Rhoades Car is simply a pile of junk. If you're still considering buying a Rhoades Car after reading this thread then you will have no one else to blame but yourself if you decide to buy one.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to view the Rhoades Car prior to purchasing and relied instead on the reassuring word of the salesman - after all, their website looked good and I couldn't find much on the Internet about Rhoades Cars that wasn't posted by Rhoades Car itself.

I haven't enjoyed one complete day's ride on the Rhoades Car without something breaking down - not one! I simply cannot afford the constant maintenance on this Rhoades Car - and breaking down a distance from home compounds the repair costs as a wrecker must be summoned to carry me either to a shop or home. I want to sell the Rhoades Car but my conscience prevents me from unloading this junk on someone else.

I've been a cyclist my entire life - in fact I believe so strongly in cycling that I haven't had a driver's license since 1991.

I thought I was getting a quality product when I purchased a Rhoades Car - boy was I sure mistaken.

I hope that by relating my disastrous experience purchasing a Rhoades Car it will save others from a similar fate.
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Old 06-21-12, 04:07 AM   #6
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are you sure ? the website says `Simply the finest 4-wheel bicycles in the world - and proudly made in the USA!`

i kid, sorry its not working out for you !
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Old 06-21-12, 11:10 AM   #7
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From what I've read here and there, I'm under the impression that the quality of a Rhoades Car is pretty low. Square mild steel frame, BMX wheels, bass boat seats... According to their web site, the standard 4-seater weighs 125 pounds, has a payload of 700 pounds, and has ONE disc brake to stop 825 pounds. That's unbelievable. Of course, the possibility of getting something that heavy and clunky to go fast is pretty slim.
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Old 06-22-12, 02:54 PM   #8
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I was surprised at how the rear wheels "float" on the axle. The only thing that really holds the wheels in place are the callipers on the disc brakes - really, I'm not kidding. I've never seen a wheel setup like this. Travelling over smooth surfaces where there are no lateral stresses on the wheels would probably be fine - but going over bumps in a Rhoades Car with a frame that is rigid (no suspension) and you're really inviting trouble.

I don't understand why Rhoades Cars continues with this design. When I query them about this I'm told they've been doing it this way for 20+ years and have never had a problem. I have difficult time believing the last half of that sentence, but even if true, my research shows that the bulk of their sales have been for light duty applications. It is as if they're satisfied with their niche in the quad market and have no desire to expand or improve anything.

It's a shame really as they could have a quality product if they incorporated some design changes and used some better components.

It won't be long (what with the price of gas) before the market begins to fill up with quadricycle builders.

But by that time it may be too late for Rhoades Car.
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Old 06-22-12, 03:17 PM   #9
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I believe that the reason Rhoades Car offers only one disc as standard is because changing the left rear drive wheel that has a 2nd disc brake is nearly impossible.

Let me say that again: Changing the left rear drive wheel on a Rhoades Car that has the 2 disc brake option is unbelievably difficult. And it is simply because of the design.

The design is such that the placement of the rotors don't give you clear access to the hex bolts that hold the wheel to the floating hub - the rotors partly cover these holes. The non-drive wheel (right rear) was easier to change as I could pull it and the floating hub off of the drive shaft, mount the wheel to the floating hub and then attach the rotor. Not so with the drive hub (left rear), it insists you use a gear puller to get it off - and I didn't have one. So I was faced with having to wedge a hex wrench at an angle (because the holes don't line up) to hold the hex bolt while I tried to tighten the nut through the spokes. If you've got images of a monkey and a football here you'd be correct.

It's much easier to stick your elbow in your ear.

EDIT: The right-rear disc brake isn't attached to the drive shaft (no posi-traction). So one brake cannot add to the stopping power of the other wheel. And each disc brake has its own separate lever, which I found to be odd.

Last edited by AlteredWalter; 06-22-12 at 03:26 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 06-25-12, 04:21 AM   #10
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Good lord, I just took a look at that site. Given the styling, I'm surprised they don't offer a "Help me I can't get up" pendant with each new purchase. Or maybe a free fill-up for your Buick.
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Old 06-30-12, 02:28 PM   #11
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I bought a used one and had it for a while...did not ride it much because it was, as has been said, too heavy and not engineered well. Then I took it to an auction house and got at least as much as I paid for it, which was not much, it was so long ago I do not remember the amount.
Sorry you got into yours...maybe you can get it 'running' and at least get part of your money back at an auction house? that would be an option.
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Old 06-30-12, 02:56 PM   #12
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Had a look at those Rhoades cars a few years back, considering an alternate way to travel, but it would have been too wide, and my daughter wasn't too keen on sitting with me while we pedaled.
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Old 07-06-12, 03:35 PM   #13
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I am new to the forum but not new to recumbents or a Rhoades Car. It's a heavy, badly designed pile of . . parts. My brother bought one when his MS made it impossible to ride a bike. The weight and poor design made it impossible for him to ride the RC. He sold it at a high loss to a neighbor who gave it to his kids to use as a glorified pedal car on the flat street in front of their house. He would have given it to me and I wouldn't take it - really. It was that bad.
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Old 07-06-12, 03:43 PM   #14
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I wouldn't mind one for free to try and see if you can gut it/upgrade it.
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Old 07-07-12, 06:09 AM   #15
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I am new to the forum but not new to recumbents or a Rhoades Car. It's a heavy, badly designed pile of . . parts. My brother bought one when his MS made it impossible to ride a bike. The weight and poor design made it impossible for him to ride the RC. He sold it at a high loss to a neighbor who gave it to his kids to use as a glorified pedal car on the flat street in front of their house. He would have given it to me and I wouldn't take it - really. It was that bad.
I can believe it. I wish I could have seen a Rhoades Car before I bought one. I must shoulder some of the blame in that regard.

If you're thinking about buying a Rhoades Car, don't. Save your money and have a look at something like http://lightfootcycles.com/products-...-overview/atc/

They seem to get pretty good reviews from riders.

I think my Rhoades Car has greater value as scrap metal - it is worthless JUNK!!!

Here is what the Chinese are saying:

罗兹车是垃圾

(copy and paste to: http://translate.google.com/#zh-CN|en| )

Last edited by AlteredWalter; 07-07-12 at 01:17 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 07-07-12, 10:46 PM   #16
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Lightfoot would be the way to go. For only one rider, a trike would be better. Lightfoot makes two seaters, also.
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Old 07-15-12, 11:33 AM   #17
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Lightfoot would be the way to go. For only one rider, a trike would be better. Lightfoot makes two seaters, also.
I'm sure it would be better than a Rhoades Car. Quite frankly, I'm surprised State Departments of Transportation even allow Rhoades Cars on roads as unreliable as they are.

The only way Rhoades Car is going to improve its product is if people quit buying them.
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Old 07-25-17, 01:16 PM   #18
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Rebuild the Rhodes bike.

i am actually interested in the Rhodes Car but will be building it myself.

After reading all these comments I have a question.

What would you do to design this to be used daily?

I am building a 4 seat version but with a bench back seat.

I have already been planning to add suspension to the bike and have bee trying to figure out the best way to set up the rear axle. I was thinking of using go kart parts for most of the build and also building the frame out of aluminum and using mountain bike style tires .

I read along here the placement of the rear axle is too far forward, please elaborate if you don't mind.

My reason for this car is that I am visually disabled, just enough I can not legally drive. This will be my transportation.

Your thoughts and opinions are greatly appreciated.

Last edited by djsshaw1723; 07-25-17 at 01:28 PM. Reason: add another important detail
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Old 07-25-17, 03:10 PM   #19
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Zombie Thread Alert

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You might want to start a new thread. This one expired in 2012. You can see from the comments made by previous posters that the Rhoades Car is a really a poor choice to copy. If you are thinking about building a side-by-side model, consider where you would be able to ride it. It is going to take up a lot more room than a conventional bike or trike. There are many roads I ride that I feel very comfortable riding my trike but it it were 50% wider, I would be pretty apprehensive.

You don't give a hint about how much you are willing to put into this in terms of $. Buying a used recumbent trike, if you can afford it, would be a better way to go. Three wheels will solve most of the problems that four wheels can do but will be lighter and easier to pedal. There is a forum for homebuilders on the Bentrideronline site where you can get many more people to give you advice: Homebuilders - BentRider Online Forums
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Old 07-27-17, 01:56 PM   #20
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You can buy quadracycles. In principle they're a tadpole trike with a rear end conversion. OTOH, if you're getting something to replace the necessity of a car and want all-weather protection, maybe you want a velomobile.

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Old 07-30-17, 12:17 PM   #21
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Good lord, I just took a look at that site. Given the styling, I'm surprised they don't offer a "Help me I can't get up" pendant with each new purchase. Or maybe a free fill-up for your Buick.
My 67 year old father owns a Buick...and a 2017 Giant road bike that he rides 10miles minimum per day...lol

Could likely outride people half his age.
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Old 07-30-17, 08:08 PM   #22
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old thread not old person

I did not know the thread was dead, this was the only thread I saw that was related to this topic.

I agree the Rhodes bike is crap and a design for seniors on their way to the pharmacy.

I will be using this bike to cruz around when I need to and the extra seating is needed for the kids. I can obviously see that going anywhere in the Rhodes design would be extremely uncomfortable. I plan on using the frame idea and adding suspension on it possibly springs, sort of like a buggy and beefy fat tires and a way cooler design.

Seeing that the Rhodes car has a $8,000 price tag I can build something much better than that for way cheaper. I do not have a price to spend in mind just an idea and that's good enough for me.
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Old 07-31-17, 11:03 AM   #23
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It is always OK to start a new thread even if it is your first visit to the site. The problem with a lot of zombie threads is the information in the earlier part of the thread is long out-of-date and people end up reading through multiple pages to get to the part you want them to read.

I still question the wisdom of building a wide quad because of the safety factor. It is too darn wide for many of the roads I ride. Their new four-seater solar powered with electric assist is 55" wide and over 9 feet long. That takes up a lot of space on the roads and if I were to encounter something that wide coming at me on a bike trail, I doubt we could pass each other coming in the opposite direction. You could never get it between the barriers erected at the ends of many off-road trails. It is just pretty impractical.
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Old 07-31-17, 07:06 PM   #24
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Prior to your post, the last post on this thread was 5 years ago. So yes, it was dead. And your post isn't even about a Rhodes Car; you're just thinking of making your own multi-passenger velomobile.

One of the problems with the Rhodes Car was that a steel frame that big but built to any reasonable weight is going to be too flexible. If money was no object, carbon might offer hope. Triangulation and depth-of-structure will be your friends. Use fat tires for shock absorption.

Keep the weight down further by using mesh seats like Andrew uses at RecycledRecumbents.com. And keep the seats down low for aerodynamics, not like the Rhodes Car which put the riders so high they could see over small buildings. And far from finally, do some research into building a freewheel-based differential so you can drive both rear wheels without scrub destroying your maneuverability.
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Old 07-31-17, 09:26 PM   #25
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There are a number of 4-person Surreys available. They are great fun...for a half-hour. Typically rented at resort places. And really not something you want to use for transportation. The pedals and seats are not set up for efficient pedaling, they're heavy, catch a lot of wind, etc.


There are some side-by-side recumbents available. The Worksman model is low-tech, not going to be especially fast or efficient, don't know about the others. Speaking of which, Worksman makes a cargo quadricycle, but it's intended for industrial use, not around-town transportation- so, in particular, watch the gearing for hills, and brakes for downhills.


There are pedicabs available, also trailer pedicabs to pull behind a bike- assuming your range is pretty limited, and there are no big hills!


On your project- I'd say building something like that sounds like a fine project- but for the building, not for transportation. That is, you could pour a gob of time and money into it and still not have anything you wanted to ride, either. If you specifically want transportation, then buy something well thought out, lightweight, and efficient. And if you like to tinker, then get to designing and building, just don't get your hopes too high on the outcome.


As a side note- a standard tandem upright bicycle is perfectly rideable by person. Nobody ever does that because it's also extra heavy, catches extra wind, etc. So if you want something that'll be hauling you around, mainly, then don't make it for 4 people or you'll be cursing all that extra weight and wind drag from here on out.


I have a Worksman front-loading tricycle. It is wide. And more specifically, it sort of forces you to take the lane whether you want to or not. So it's less attractive for regular transportation that a regular bicycle.


Your topic could go here in Recumbents, could also go in the "Alt Bike" category. If you haven't, peruse around there a bit, you'll find some people who have home-built some things for sure.
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