The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the temperature was in the 60′s. Sooooo, I decided to do a longer ride with the trike loaded to ‘trip weight’ and see how things went. As it turns out, there were indeed several learning experiences.
I have not ridden nearly enough this spring, and during the last part of the ride my body reaffirmed this. Note to self: Get out and ride more. Procrastination will not get me from Alaska to Montana.
Overall, I was very comfortable on the bike, and it appears to be set up properly. Leg extension was good, shoulders/arms/hands were well positioned, and my neck/head rested comfortably on or off the headrest.
The bike seems to be much more stiff than the Giro 20. The Rambler has a 20″ rear wheel versus a 26″ for the Giro; other people have mentioned that a 26″ tire gives a more comfortable ride. In my case, I put 1.75″ tires on the bike and 70 psi tire pressure in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the smaller rear wheel. Maybe the frame design is inherently more stiff.
The web seat was comfortable and hopefully its design helped reduce some of the rough ride characteristics on my body.
The mounting bolts on several accessory parts came loose and had to be tightened up. I typically use ‘blue’ thread lock on all bolts to minimize the chance that something will come loose. All bolts need to be double checked.
I spent a fair amount of time aligning the front tires before the ride, and the steering improved 100%. It was much easier on my shoulders and arms because I didn’t have to constantly ‘steer’ the bike down a straight line.
The gear ratio seems to be right on; it was good that I upgraded to 9 speeds (11-34) in the back and dropped the front gears down one step (26/36/48). Going up hills was definitely easier.
As a note, there was nothing unusual or rough about the roads; they are similar to most road surfaces across the country.
Panniers & Storage:
Primarily I used the Lil’ Roy saddle bags on this trip and they worked very well. Between getting my sunglasses, grabbing a few munchies, getting my camera and putting it back, I was in and out of them somewhat frequently. At this point, I am not sure if there are any changes that I would make. Glad I had them.
The water bladder and bag worked extremely well, and so did the tube clips that I made. This was a good addition, particularly since bottle holders could not be attached within each reach while riding. I will discuss the bladder bag and clips in another post. Note to self: remember to un-clip the water tube when I stand up.
The handle bar stem that I added in the front to hold the headlight and the Garmin 800 was just the ticket. I am able to turn the headlight on/off while riding and the Garmin screen is very visible.
The Minoura Accessory Holder that I installed to hold the horn and the Bontrager computer began to ‘flip over’ due to the rough ride. I finally used a piece of double sided Velcro tape, wrapped around the vertical arm and the steering bar, to ‘tie’ the arm up. I need to look at this and see if the holder can be tightened enough to hold the weight ‘up’ while on rough roads.
I really enjoy having a headrest to lean back on. The TerraTrike headrest has an almost infinite adjustment range which is nice, and it has a curved surface to cradle the neck/head, also nice. Unfortunately, the headrest support mechanism is 100% rigidly attached to the bike through the seat frame , as compared to the ADEM rest which has some inherent spring in the support. The headrest ‘foam covering’ is very thin, again as compared to the much thicker ADEM design. As a result, the headrest transmits any and all shock from the frame to the head. I was able to use the headrest, particularly at lower speeds. Perhaps a thicker foam pad would reduce the head trauma.
I had clipped a second rear light on the Arkel Tailrider rear strap. The light bounced off the bike twice (I heard something hit the ground) before I finally put it away. The bolt on rear light stayed put. Maybe a clip on light is not a good idea.
I tried a ball cap instead of a bike helmet. Bottom line: what ever head gear I decide to use needs to have some sort of strap to hold it on. There are pictures on various blogs show trike riders wearing ball caps and other head gear with no holding straps: not sure how they keep them on.
One of the biggest issues I have is the position of the rear view mirrors. The mirrors are down low and extremely wide set; I must intentionally look down and out to see what is behind me. The mirror location on my Giro 20 recumbent was 6″ higher and 12″ out from the center line versus 21″ on the Rambler. The Giro mirror position allowed me to easily glance at any traffic coming from behind. I definitely need to resolve this issue.
At the 20 mile mark the clouds started gathering, and at the 24 mile mark they opened up and the rain began; a real gully washer. Fortunately I was riding ‘fully loaded’ and had the rain gear with me. For the remainder of the ride people probably wondered about the yellow colored Pillsbury Dough Boy pedaling down the road. The rain gear worked very well, and I will make a separate post to discuss it.