Tadpole for commuter? Ebike?

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Re: Tadpole for commuter? Ebike?

Postby wojtek » Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:17 pm

i would highly recomment fully suspended trikes, but not many out there and very expensive.
I used to own scorpion FS and Steintrike , both were incredibly stable at speeds, and Steintrike was great for offroad riding

KMX looks cool and lower price but i have heard many owners complaining about no suspension...
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Re: Tadpole for commuter? Ebike?

Postby Ben Wilson » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:04 pm

Long time lurker chiming in here.

I've got a Trident Stowaway II and my package from cell_man is hopefully on the way right now. The Stowaway is one of the cheaper trikes on the market and there is no way I would describe it as unstable at any speed I've hit so far. I think people see two front wheels and one rear and assume that the back wheel is going to have less grip.

Downsides to a trike
- You sit low, without a decent flag you are below the window line of cars, so unless they approach you from behind there is a fair chance they won't see you.
- No suspension does give a harsh ride, but the frame does flex enough to help with that. Remember you can't stand on the pedals when a big bump is coming... Big Apple tyres are very popular on trikes to remove the harshness from chip seal roads, but I haven't had a chance to try them out.
- Getting on and off is slower than a DF bike because of the low seating position.
- You can't bunny hop over kerbs which can limit escape paths from SUVs.
- They are bigger and harder to secure than DF bikes.

Upsides to a trike
- Handling, I have managed to lift a front wheel once when I first rode it. Once you remember that you have to lean into corners, the limits appear to be courage rather than traction.
- Comfort, sit on the couch and put your feet up on the coffee table, that's what your riding position is like.
- Braking, twin mountain bike brakes on 20" front wheels combined with a low centre of gravity give you a ridiculous amount of braking power. It makes DF bikes seem downright dangerous by comparison.
- Aero, my partner has a basic Chinese ebike, she can take me uphills and keep with me on the flats, but on the slightest downhill I'm gone. Once I put my motor on, I don't think she will want to play anymore :)

You do get a lot of attention on a trike, not sure if that's an upside or a downside...

Edit - Forgot one huge upside, crashing. A large percentage (60-70%? - I can't remember where I saw the figures) of cyclist hospital admissions are single vehicle accidents. If you do have a big accident on a trike, you don't have far to fall and you won't go over the handlebars.
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Re: Tadpole for commuter? Ebike?

Postby rscamp » Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:22 am

cbr shadow wrote:I noticed on a few websites that the less expensive tadpoles seem to not be stable at higher speeds.. is this correct? I would really like to get a tadpole ebike for commuting to work and pleasure rides, but I'm wondering if a tadpole is a bad choice. My budget for a bike is around $1300 right now (could save longer to spend more if necessary). The speeds I'm looking to go are 20-25 mph (30 at most - downhill probably). Are most tadpoles going to be ok for these speeds? It seems tadpoles are expensive in general, but I like how they look and are very low to the ground, and like the idea of not needing to balance or put legs down at stops.
What are the disadvantages of a tadpole compared to an equivelant 2-wheeled recumbent?
What tadpole model would you recommend?
Thanks!


As previously mentioned, you need to go to BROL (BentRider Online) where they really know recumbents. Quite a few of us have recumbent trikes with e-assist...
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Re: Tadpole for commuter? Ebike?

Postby kmxtornado » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:43 pm

I'm sorry I found this thread so late, but here's my two cents:

DISADVANTAGE OF TADPOLES VS 2-WHEEL BENTS:
- Heavier. Remember if you're commuting to work, you're going to want to bring it indoors (assuming you work indoors). Carrying it up stairs or down hallways can be a royal pain.
- It's wider which means not all 3-wheelers will easily fit through standard doorways at an office or wherever.
- Harder to store, although I store mine upright facing the wall and it does just fine. I have a rear brake which makes this possible with the KMX. The Catrike needs a stand.
- Perhaps not as fast on flats. You've got more resistance and more weight. It just makes sense.
- If you get a highracer and can't reach the ground, you have to unclip or at least put your feet down.
- Might be more difficult to transport depending on the size of an equivalent 2-wheeler.
- Not easily stored at work. See above.
- Not sure if you're comparing to a highracer or lowracer 2-wheeler, but that will make a difference. There's two schools of thought as far as visibility. Some say the more awkward weird looking you are (trike) the more people pay attention to you. The shorter you are, the more room they give you b/c the line of sight is such that they need to be further away to see you through their passenger window. The other school of thought is that none of that matters b/c you have to ride like you're invisible and for those that manage to see you, they want to kill you. Have a flag on your trike, but don't ride as if you have a flag on your trike. Ride safely like your life depends on it b/c it does. If you plan to go in btw cars on a bent, stay away from a trike. You're better off with the two-wheeler for sure.

ADVANTAGES: Despite all that, I got mine b/c:
- Cheaper?
- Feel safer at higher speeds especially when taking corners
- Sense of speed since it's lower.
- More awkward looking and stands out from the crowd.
- Perhaps more comfortable for long ranges.
- Ability to drift.
- It's what was available on Craigslist when I was looking.
- $700 for my used KMX Tornado picked up locally.
- Most go from 2-wheelers to 3, but not usually the other way around.

RECOMMENDED TADPOLE:
Firstly I disagree that cheaper ones aren't as stable. Expensive ones get you suspension, light weight, better components. I don't think the frames are necessarily weaker. In fact lots of folks get KMX's b/c they're rigid, have an awesome warranty and are square framed which makes it easier to mount electrical components onto. I'm srue FFR trikes can tell you more about why they picked the KMX lineup to mod with their cool e-toys.

Not sure why stability is an issue for you. I don't think you'll be ramming into things on the way to work. Or maybe I'm mixing up between stability and durability.

My recommendation really depends on what you plan to use it for. If it's solely for commuting, then I'm assuming you're on paved roads and speed is probably of the essence. Not sure if you're climbing hills on this commute, but that's something to think about. I chose the KMX Tornado b/c it was the base model of the KMX brand which made it cheap especially when bought used. I did like the higher priced models, but I knew I would've modded the gearing differently and would've replaced all pricier components with my own anyway. But that's just me. I wouldn't commute on it daily in an urban environment on my route (even if I didn't have to go on the freeway to get to work). People's commute varies so much, it's hard to assume anything with your situation. You'll have to elaborate on that.

Although I've never ridden a Trident Stowaway or even seen one in real life, they seem like really good affordable bent trikes. The poster above seems to think so too. Good reviews, all options are standard. You even get a flag! And the best part is that it Stows away. It's a folder. The cheapest folder in fact which might be nice for storing at work under your desk or something. If my wife was willing to ride with me, I would've gotten a used Trident Stowaway II that I was eyeing on craigslist last year and it'd be in my garage. The price is close to your budget if you get it used. As is the...

Catrike Speed. It'll be pricier and finding one for $1,300 will be impossible if not very difficult. This falls into the "save for a bit longer" category. I love the thing. While the KMX is like the mountain bike of trikes, the Speed is like the road bike of trikes. I love them both, but the Speed is definitely a different machine. I wouldn't rough it up as much as the KMX and tend to baby it more. It is much more efficient b/c it's lighter and the wheels are race wheels, but I'd never take it offroad if I could help it. 30lbs vs the KMX Tornado's 45lbs. The weight difference is in the trike - not the rider. We can argue that in a different thread.

Your budget's in a good place. Those looking for a trike under $1,000 don't have many options and the extra $300 gets you a lot. I lucked out on my find, but unfortunately for you, the 7-speed (non IGH) version has been discontinued.

So for you specifically based on what you've said so far, I recommend the Catrike Speed. It's also high end enough where you'll have room to grow and you'll still like it 2 years down the road. If you get a KMX Tornado and keep it stock, you'll wish for a lot more sooner than you may like. I wouldn't recommend a KMX anything for you. Either Catrike Speed or Trident Stowaway or their Stowaway II version.

If you were an old geaser just running errands on the trike (I would never recommend the Catrike Speed) or someone riding for recreation on weekends, my recommendations would be different (although the Catrike Speed is versatile enough for commuting on the latter). Older and/or heavier riders tend to do better with trikes that are higher up off the ground. It's just easier to get in and out of. The KMX for this group of folks would hate it. The seat is just way too low and way too narrow to be comfortable.

EDIT:
I made a mistake. I hadn't noticed that you were intending on electrifying the tadpole. I should've known. Duh, this is Endless-sphere - not bentrideronline. The most common bent trike to electrify has been the KMX for reasons listed above and people tend to like it. Another reason is the price is so much lower than the others that it helps offset the expense of electrifying it. When you add the batteries and other components, it gets up there quick. Mounting on round frames may be a challenge, but perhaps you're up to it.

Not sure if you're comparing a epowered trike to a human powered 2-wheel bent, but if that's your intention, good. Traveling on a epowered 2-wheel bent is not for the faint of heart. Cornering will take some skill, but if you're up to it, go for it. Each to his own.

STORAGE SOLUTION:
If you plan to put panniers on a KMX, note that it takes some creativity. I've only seen one guy do it using a regular bicycle rear rack. Others opted to purchase the KMX specific rack for it. I believe KMX is the only trike that doesn't easily accept standard rear racks designed for upright bicycles. This might be important to note if you're intending on traveling with stuff.

OVERALL:
After all this writing and thinking. I think you're better off with neither the 3-wheel or 2-wheel bent for commuting, electrified or not. If it's just for commuting to work, I'd stick with the typical 2-wheel upright diamond frame run of the mill bicycle. You'll get a lot more technical support b/c more people have done it. The bicycle will also be ridiculously cheaper and you may already have one. if you make it stealthy, theft may not be as much of a concern. If you ride around on a bent, theft will be looking for you whether epowered or not. Okay, that's enough typiing. I only have 7 minutes of battery power left on my laptop. See ya!
- My very first e-bike conversion ever: http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=32668&p=474570#p474570
- Build Blog (more detailed than the above thread): http://e-bikeconversion.blogspot.com/ (20mph)
- Ultra mini folding bike upgrade (in-progress): http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=33471 (12mph > 18mph)
- Recumbent Tadpole Trike completed Aids Life Cycle ride from SF to LA: http://kmxtornado.blogspot.com (27mph flats)
- Catrike Speed (in process)
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Re: Tadpole for commuter? Ebike?

Postby cbr shadow » Fri Jun 29, 2012 2:58 pm

Hey guys thanks for the detailed responses. This thread is a bit of a blast from the past, but I'll respond since the thread was brought back from the grave :)
I ended up buying a KMX Tornado F3 which I found online for $535 shipped! It's a 2011 and was used, but barely at all.. looked new! So I decided right away to electrify it and bought an HS3540 through Methtek, along with throttle, Cycle Analyst, 3 speed switch, 7 speed freewheel, derailleur, torque arms, etc etc.. I'm waiting on my Lyen 18FET controller and soon will be ordering a 66v 13.8Ah battery (A123) from Cellman and I'll be good to go. Even though I got such a good deal on the trike the project is very expensive so it's taking longer (because of $$$) than I expected. I'll be excited to see what 66v 45A feels like.. especially when I"m 4" from the ground.
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Re: Tadpole for commuter? Ebike?

Postby Kirk » Fri Jun 29, 2012 5:42 pm

cbr shadow wrote: I'll be excited to see what 66v 45A feels like.. especially when I"m 4" from the ground.


Well I can tell you what 66V 80A feels like at 4" off the ground, OOOOOOHHHH shit this fun, I don't want to stop!! :D
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Re: Tadpole for commuter? Ebike?

Postby kmxtornado » Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:05 pm

cbr shadow wrote:Hey guys thanks for the detailed responses. This thread is a bit of a blast from the past, but I'll respond since the thread was brought back from the grave :)
I ended up buying a KMX Tornado F3 which I found online for $535 shipped! It's a 2011 and was used, but barely at all.. looked new! So I decided right away to electrify it and bought an HS3540 through Methtek, along with throttle, Cycle Analyst, 3 speed switch, 7 speed freewheel, derailleur, torque arms, etc etc.. I'm waiting on my Lyen 18FET controller and soon will be ordering a 66v 13.8Ah battery (A123) from Cellman and I'll be good to go. Even though I got such a good deal on the trike the project is very expensive so it's taking longer (because of $$$) than I expected. I'll be excited to see what 66v 45A feels like.. especially when I"m 4" from the ground.


Wow, that's an excellent price. KMX's tend to do that. They let us into the scene for a low budget so we can spend our $$$ on the epower. Sounds like a fun project. Can't wait to see some pics and videos of the finished product.
- My very first e-bike conversion ever: http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=32668&p=474570#p474570
- Build Blog (more detailed than the above thread): http://e-bikeconversion.blogspot.com/ (20mph)
- Ultra mini folding bike upgrade (in-progress): http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=33471 (12mph > 18mph)
- Recumbent Tadpole Trike completed Aids Life Cycle ride from SF to LA: http://kmxtornado.blogspot.com (27mph flats)
- Catrike Speed (in process)
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