Monday, November 27, 2017

Direct vs Indirect Steering

Everyone has an opinion and I'm no exception. And here's my opinion on direct steering versus indirect steering.

My take on this subject is influenced by many years of riding Catrikes with direct steering and more recently riding my ICE SprintX FS with indirect steering. With direct steering the handlebars are connected to the headset of each wheel. Steering is a simple right or left movement.  With indirect steering the handlebars are connected to a pivot point at the center of the trike. From there it connects to the wheel via some sort of linkage. Steering is accomplished my pushing and pulling the handlebars.

Direct steering

Indirect steering

Direct steering

- Good road feel. Especially welcomed at higher speeds.
- Simplicity of design makes maintenance easier. Especially when adjusting toe in.

- Wheel vibration on rough roads is more pronounced. It's important on rough roads to avoid a "death grip". Relaxed hands and arms is important, especially on rough roads.

Indirect steering

- Wheel vibration telegraphed through the handlebars is less pronounced. The steering linkage absorbs some of the rough road conditions. Combined with front suspension the rough roads are easily tamed.
- Smooth and easy to turn.

- Disconnect from feeling the road. I find the lack of road feel to be a bit disconcerting at speeds over 30mph. The steering can feel a little squirrelly at higher speeds. The Sprint has an adjustable steering damper that helps the steering from feeling too loose. I feel I need more time on the fast roads before I get truly accustomed to indirect steering at higher speeds.
- More complex design requiring more skill to maintain. Toe in adjustment is more complicated.
- For weight weenies the extra steering linkage components means a little extra weight.

All things being equal I personally prefer direct steering.  I feel more connected with the road and I prefer the simplicity of design of the direct steering. Whether you go with direct or indirect steering it all comes down to the overall quality of the trike and deciding which features are important to you when choosing a trike.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ortlieb Bottle (Speaker) Holder

As far as water bottle holders go Ortlieb's add on water bottle holder for Ortlieb panniers seemed a little funky at first. But it works well for bottles and more importantly for my JBL Charge speaker.

The Ortleib water holder mounted on my Ortlieb front rider pannier. 
I like using the small panniers when I ride my ICE Sprint so I can carry more stuff on longer rides.

My JBL Charge in the water bottle holder. 
The water bottle holder consists of three straps that have to be connected at the back of the holder. The JBL Charge usually fits in most frame mounted water bottle holders but it's a little too big for the Ortleib holder. The center strap of the Ortlieb holder is a little tighter then the top and bottom straps. I leave one side of the center strap unconnected to accommodate the speaker. Even without the center strapped connected the speaker remains firmly in place. 

Closeup of the Ortlieb water bottle holder. The center strap on the opposite is left unconnected to allow for the JBL Charge to slip in. When the center strap is connected on both sides it creates a pressure ring that keeps a water bottle from bouncing out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

So Much More to See

Cars, SUVs and buses are passing me by at 55mph and usually more as I ride HWY 1 along the Central Coast. They're headed to their pre-planned tourist destination. Occasionally they'll stop at a point of interest that yells out to them, like the Hearst Zebras that sometimes graze close to HWY 1. As they're whizzing along, the world beyond their steel beast is a blur. "So much to see and so little time to see it" is the mantra of the typical visitor trying to take it all in.  While I'm riding along on my trike it's not uncommon to see visitors park at a turnout, pop out of their car, take a picture and move on to the next picture opportunity. 

Cyclists see the world in slow motion, seeing the details around them. Recumbent cyclists especially have a unique vantage point in the world of cycling. Riding laid back allows a recumbent cyclist to take it all in. And then there's the recumbent trike for those who are in no hurry and want to see it all without the bother of balance or maintaining a minimum speed. And imperfections in the road that may be a hazard for the two wheeled cyclist is just a nuisance for the adventurous triker.

So much more to see on a trike.

This little gem of a cove is only visible to the observant cyclist. It's packed with Elephant Seals this time of year. Cars go speeding by on their way to the official Elephant Seal viewing area another 1/3 of a mile up the coast. There you'll find plenty of other car centric visitors walking the fenced boardwalk that keeps the Elephant Seals safe from the antics of human visitors.

A blubbery mass of Elephant Seals.

Friday, November 3, 2017

ICE Sprint Mesh Seat Adjustment

My brain kicked in and I figured out what I needed to do to make the Sprint mesh seat comfortable for me. It's all about adjusting the right seat straps.

On my Catrike 700 seat I keep all the seat straps as tight as possible and I'm comfortable. So I used the same strategy with my new ICE Sprint. I started off riding on the Sprint mesh seat with all the straps pulled tight. I felt like I was at the edge of the seat and my hip muscles would sometimes get uncomfortable (all the details here). So I played around with adjusting the straps under the bottom of the seat. Adjusting only the bottom of the seat made sense to me at the time. The seat still didn't feel right.

I started to give up. I even tried selling the Sprint. I had a buyer who was new to trikes but he backed out at the last minute. I took it as a sign from the triking Gods that I needed to give it another try. And then in a moment of clarity my 63 year old brain (almost 64) started to work and the answer came to me. I went down to the garage, took the seat off the Sprint and started making the necessary new adjustments.

Sure enough after adjusting the seat and throwing it back on the Sprint I rode off feeling more comfort. Now comfortable I've been taking longer rides on the Sprint without any issues.

Why I didn't try this earlier I don't have a good excuse. I tighten all the straps to their max but loosened the bottom three straps behind the seat back (not the seat bottom). The third strap from the bottom is now a little bit loose. The second from the bottom is a little looser and the last the strap at the bottom of the seat back is the loosest of the three. The strap adjustment changed the ergonomics of the mesh seat just enough to resolve my issues with the seat. It allows my rear end to settle deeper into the seat. The adjustment also provides better lumber support. All is now good down south.