Sunday, January 11, 2009

cargo trike update

I had few posts about the cargo trike in 2008, but that's mainly because it runs fine and there's little to report! It did exactly what it was supposed to do with little fuss, and was used more than any previous year. Few long trips like in 2007, but that's fine; the short trips more than caught up the mileage (kilometerage?).

I think the only failure was having three spokes break in the front wheel. Which is pretty good, considering that I built it myself three years ago, and it hits whatever road debris I don't steer around with the weight of me sitting on it. And without suspension. The real adventure was having to cut, thread, and install three custom-length replacement spokes. They are not a common size due to the large hub in a small wheel, and when I built the wheel I customized enough spokes for the job, and no spares. But this replacement job was made easy by the re-Cycles shop now having the necessary threading tool (thanks to whoever donated it to us!).

Improvements for 2008:

- built a coroplast rain cover for the cargo box (why did I wait four years to do this, and put up with a tarp?).

- replaced the battery pack (I abused the old one by not recharging it often enough).

- replaced the excellent but worn down Schwalbe Big Apple 50mm wide tires with new 60mm ones (the 50s went on my trailer).

The last ongoing issue was the electric assist acting up in rainy weather, partly because the wiring connectors would pull apart and let moisture in. Juergen (my co-builder and e-assist guru) suggested replacing the stock ones with Anderson connectors, and last Spring, with the help of our friend Charles, the swap was done.

(Yes, the trike's paint badly needed touching up, and that was done shortly thereafter.)

This change, as well as relocating and covering the motor controller to protect it from wheel and road spray seems to have solved the problem, though I did not ride in the rain as much as in 2007.

So it looks like the concept has matured and stabilized. I was able to ride the trike into the first week of December, and now it hibernates, awaiting the non-slushy-salty roads of Spring.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,
Been following your blog for a while now. Really enjoy it. I saw the pic of you in the "Year in Review" pictures. Too cool. Fortunately we don't deal with alot of that kind of weather here. (West Texas) Actually I was wondering, how has the coroplast held up to the elements? I am getting ready to build a good size trailer - modified slightly from your layout thank you, and I want to erect some sort of enclosure around it. I think you found the answer in coroplast. I hope. Anyway, if you don't mind emailing an answer also, would it be alright if I put a link on my blog to yours? Mine is "For the Love of Bikes", at
Thanks a bunch,,,
Ride Hard and Laugh Often,

Mark said...

Glad you like the blog - I always hope to inspire. ;)

The coroplast holds up well. The duct tape doesn't like getting wet, but that's why I used the zipties on the joints and the tape just covers those. If the tape peels off or ties snap it's a pretty easy fix.

In terms of strength, the lid on the cargo box fits rather snugly, which I think helps the sides of the box not flex too much. To protect the electronic gear I often cart around I put a 3" layer of foam on the bottom, so things are not bouncing and shifting around in the there.

For a stronger box I'd suggest using strips of aluminum channel (like I did for the trike's cargo box) to create a sort of skeleton, with the coro as the "skin". It's all about keeping the weight down when moving by human power...

And sure, a link would be great!

Anonymous said...

You are without a doubt an inspiration. Thank you so much, now I can get started.