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Enclosed pedal-powered recumbent in production

November 22, 2023 — BarryK

I hunted around, trying to find any enclosed (with canopy) recumbent three or four-wheel pedal-powered vehicles, with electric assist and maybe solar panel, in production. There are lots of projects that never made it into production, and some that were briefly in production but no more.

I found one that is, apparently, in limited production, the "pedilio":

img1 Germany. Cannot find a price. Very nice specifications, full suspension, solar panel.

The pedilio looks like it would be legal in Australia, except that it is a quad. Oh, and 870mm wide, so not legal in WA. In Western Australia, the definition of a bicycle is 2 or 3 wheels:$file/Road+Traffic+(Bicycles)+Regulations+2002.pdf

“bicycle” means —
(a) any 2 wheeled vehicle, not being a scooter, that is
designed to be propelled solely by human power;
(b) any 3 wheeled vehicle, intended for use on a road,
that is designed to be propelled solely by human
power; or
(c) a 2 wheeled or 3 wheeled vehicle that is a power
assisted pedal cycle; mention of 4 wheels.

I'm not sure, but I think some other States define a bicycle as being "2 or more wheels". Ah yes, South Australia:

A bicycle is classified in the Australian Road Rules as being any
two or more wheeled vehicle that is built to be propelled by
human power through a belt, chain or gears (whether or not it
has an auxiliary motor) and includes a pedicab, penny-farthing,
tricycle and a Pedalec.

While hunting for bicycle definitions, stumbled upon this 2022 update to the maximum width allowed for a bicycle in WA:$FILE/Road%20Traffic%20(Vehicles)%20Regulations%202014%20-%20%5B01-af0-00%5D.pdf?OpenElement

Dimension requirements for bicycles and their loads
The overall width of any equipment or load carried on a bicycle
must not exceed 800 mm.
[Regulation 406 amended: SL 2022/130 r. 5.]

...the wording is weird. Doesn't say the bicycle itself can be 800mm wide. But the "660" limit has been removed, so 800 must also mean the bicycle itself, not just load/equipment.

So, can update this blog post: 

Rick sent me a link to the "Veemo" enclosed trike, apparently starting production in Canada:


...not a recumbent, so quite tall; not leaning either, so the thought occurs it might be a worry when cornering. Can't find a width specification.    

Tags: light

Beware cheap drill bits

November 20, 2023 — BarryK

I learnt something very important today. Continuing the custom trike project, previous two posts in what is turning out to be a very long saga:

There will be 10mm shafts to mount the wishbone swing-arms, inserted at each end in an aluminium plate. So the aluminium plate will have holes, that the shafts go through, with locking nuts on the outside.

I decided to insert bushings in the holes, so as to have a wear surface between shaft and plate. So, bought some of these, 10mm ID, 12mm OD: 


I have access to a workshop, but the set of drill bits kept near the drill-press did not have a 12mm size, so I bought this one from Bunnings: 


...a cobalt drill bit, price AU$14.26. Bunnings also have 12mm cobalt bit, Kango brand price AU$41, Sutton brand price AU$61. So, a considerable cost saving!

Today at the workshop, drilled some test holes in some scrap 5mm thick aluminium. Used the drill-press, and the aluminium was held in a vice and was immovable. Drilled the hole, but the bushings were a sloppy fit. In other words, the drill bit cut with a slight wobble. Until the last about 1mm when it broke through the other end of the aluminium plate, then it cut the last 1mm correctly at exactly 12mm diameter.

I found another 12mm drill bit at the workshop and tested that. It cut a nice 12mm hole and the bushing was a snug fit.

So, why did a brand new drill bit cut with a slight wobble?

There is a guy at the workshop who explained the cause of the problem. He explained that the cutting edges of the drill bit are not exactly equal on each side of the central point. He used a grinding wheel to improve it, but explained that it might take some experimenting to get it right. He also explained how to test that both sides have been cut evenly.

The lesson is that those cheap drill bits at Bunnings are not necessarily a cost-effective buy.   

Tags: light

Updated maximum width of bicycle/tricycle in WA

November 18, 2023 — BarryK

Western Australia has an archaic law that a bicycle/tricycle may be no more than 660mm wide. Our Minister of Transport, Rita Saffioti, was approached by NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme), informing her that their mobility vehicles are wider than that. Ms Saffioti responded that she would "look into it". That was mid-2021.

I haven't read anything about that width limit being changed, until today, read this:

...800mm! That's nice, but has it actually happened? That article was posted in June 2022.

So, I searched, but cannot find anything about the limit being increased to 800mm. But, did find this, published November 7, 2023, about "eRideables":

...maximum width 700mm. But pedal ebikes, motorized wheelchair and mobility scooters are explicitly stated to not be eRideables.

So, do not know if or when this 800mm limit will come into effect. The trike I purchased from China, that I am customizing, is 870mm wide, so would be illegal even if the limit is increased to 800mm.

I would like to keep the trike inside, and my front door is 750mm wide. The current front-suspension design is 660mm wdie, so should I increase that to 750mm in anticipation of the law being changed? Hmmm, what a politician says and what actually happens is another thing. So no, will stay with 660mm. Of course, the wider it is, the less need for a leaning design.

Have just now stumbled upon this:


The Insurance Commission of WA – a state body which last year paid $29 million to cyclists “for treatment, care and support for injuries sustained in a crash involving a registered vehicle” – told CyclingTips that “the specifications of the bicycle used, is not considered in confirming that right to claim.”

...that is very interesting. But as the article points out, private insurance companies are very different, looking for any loophole to get out of paying.   

Tags: light

Two-shock design with swinging steering linkage

November 18, 2023 — BarryK

Continuing the design of two shock absorbers in the front suspension of a custom leaning trike. Here are the previous two posts:

The idea behind the curved-rod is for the steering to tend to go naturally back to driving straight, without any lean. The same effect can be achieved by a swinging linkage, like this:

img1 is a T-shape, hinged at the bottom. It would be linked (somehow) to the steering, so turning to the side will swivel on the hinge, like this:


...the natural tendency will be to return to driving straight.

As far as handling road bumps, it will handle up to 75mm (3 inch) bumps.

I had rejected this design before, due to potential kickback into the steering mechanism. However, that can be mitigated by a dampener and some flexibility in the steering linkages. Of course, those country roads that I have previously posted photos of, where both wheels will hit the same ripple, the kickbacks will cancel out.

Here is the latest SolveSpace file (with false ".gz" appended):


This design has one big advantage compared with the curved-rod; it is simpler and easier to build.   

Tags: light

Two-shock design with curved rod

November 18, 2023 — BarryK

This post is a continuation of the previous post:

It looks like there is a problem with slider on a straight rod; when lean to the side, there will be a tendency to pull more to the side. This will require more effort to ride in a straight line, as there may be a tendency to pull to the side.

This is a variation, with curved rod. If I have been able to get my head around how this will work in practice, it looks like the curved rod will correct for the rendency to pull to the side. Here it is with the slider pushed so that the trike is leaning:


...the drawing looks like it has two rods. The bottom one is just a path for SolveSpace, for the slider to move along.

Here are the SolveSpace files, first with straight rod, second with curved rod (with false ".gz" appended):



...note, if you want to experiment with pushing the slider, you will need to delete the "H" that can be seen just above the rod. That is a horizontal constraint.

I have another variation of the design in mind, will post about that soon.

Here is the next variation:      

Tags: light

Solar leaning trike safety concerns

November 17, 2023 — BarryK

I have been discussing with Bart via email, safety concerns for a leaning trike with large solar panel on top. Some quotes from Bart:

when pivoting around and when going to the max., that the momentum of the top weight will kick your back wheel away. Then you end up with the bike on top and you trapped underneath it.
Your solar panel is not a big sail in the wind when it is turned flat. But that's a real problem when turning that panel sideways by leaning the bike.
Turning TOO much and you collapse under the own weight. .... one way or another: Getting a blast from the wind and you lie on the OUTSIDE the corner.

Yes, the momentum of weight up high is an issue. It is important that be minimized and the weight be as low as possible; preferably most below the axis of the wheels.

The wind, now that's a big concern. Lots of guys have added solar panels on top of bicycles, such as this one (image copied from here):

img1 windy conditions, an accident waiting to happen!

A recumbent bicycle with weight lower down may be an improvement, like this one (image copied from here):


...but on the otherhand, the recumbent position maybe means reduced ability to lean into a corner and retain balance. And of course, once the rider does lean, the solar panels become a sail.

A non-leaning trike keeps the solar panels horizontal, so less likely to behave as a sail. A leaning trike that relies totally on the rider's balance, is just like a bicycle; at the mercy of wind catching the tilted solar panels.

The earlier blog post described a leaning trike design with a single shock absorber. The advantage is simplicity; however, the downside is it relies totally on the rider's balance. The single-shock design is here: may be possible to introduce linkages from the steering to control the lean, but I have not discovered any practical way of doing it.

So, have returned to thinking about using two shock absorbers. The major advantages of this is that it can be locked to become a non-leaning trike if desired, and lean is controlled by linkage from the steering handles.

The go-kart suspension kit came with two 222mm shock absorbers, but I also bought a couple of 165mm shocks. This design is using the latter, as it is perhaps a bit neater, keeping the shocks mounted low-down:


...the two shocks are mounted at a common point called the "slider". If this slider is fixed in place, then the trike becomes non-leaning. The slider is attached to the "rod" and can slide along it. The intention is that the slide will be controlled by a linkage from the steering. In SolveSpace, pushing the slider along the rod, shows that leaning occurs:


...what possible downsides could there be for this design? Well, if a wheel hits a bump, there will be some kickback to the steering. That could be eliminated by a worm-gear drive linkage, but perhaps that is an overkill. A steering dampener could also be used, which is probably what I will do -- especially as one came with my trike.

Will it be difficult for the steering handles to slide the slider? If required, the linkages could provide some mechanical adavantage -- hmmm, which might also increase kickback.

An alternative is to use the original 222mm shocks that came with the go-kart front suspension kit. Then, the slider would be much higher:


...the almost 80 degree angle of shocks to slider would mean far less kickback to the steering.

Currently I am favouring the 165mm shocks. The 222mm shocks would mean the slider will be close to the rider's legs, not quite sure if too close.

Still haven't figured out the linkage from slider to the steering mechanism; kicking that can down the road.

Note, that second photo came from a fascinating web page:

EDIT 20231118:
This rod-and-slider design is continued in the next blog post:     

Tags: light

Graham's simple DIY trike build

November 04, 2023 — BarryK

Continuing the trike project, previous post:

This post is a digression, thinking about various other approaches...

There are lots of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) trike builds on YouTube; however, Graham's project is one of the simplest and most detailed. Graham has done it without any welding. Here are his YouTube videos, in chronological order:

diy trike build

steering geometry

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

part 5

part 6

Graham's trike only has rear suspension, nor is it leaning; however, it is an excellent base for implementing those features.

With the knowledge I have accumulated so far, I reckon if starting the project from scratch, an attractive proposition would be to buy a couple of cheap Kmart full-suspension 20" bicycles. They only cost AU$129:

...reckon that has everything needed for a trike project. Steel frame, which is very good, as it can be cut up and welded -- so, would need to be able to weld.

But, would prefer disk brakes. Maybe a couple of secondhand bikes could be located with disk brakes.

One thing I have learnt is the bicycles have different wheel spindle diameters (that is, the diameter of the central hole when the wheel is removed). Mountain bikes are 12mm, 15mm or 20mm spindle diameter. My Motrike/Trikexplor trike has 20mm front wheels.

Likely the Kmart bike has small diameter spindle, which might be considered inadequate for trike front wheels, due to the spindle only being supported on one side. A leaning trike would improve that situation; however, there will be forces trying to bend the spindle when hits bumps on the road.

Interesting thoughts anyway. This post is just contemplating possibilities, not what I will do, as already commited to a certain build. Continuing the contemplation, a trike could be built with both of those front forks as-is, providing front suspension and spindle support on both ends.

Fascinating! I can see why guys beaver away in their garage for years. I was recently reading a forum post, a guy said that he tinkered with trike DIY designs over 14 years, and it is still a work-in-progress.    

Tags: light