7 Nov 2013

7th November 2013


Wednesday 6th 41F, 5C, heavy overcast, raining steadily. It stopped raining quite early so I walked around the block in just under an hour. I could feel the coolness on my hands but was soon too warm with a fleece hat on. I'm going out on the trike after coffee. It stayed dry and sunny so I went for a foolishly circuitous and hilly route. If I told you that it involved getting quite lost on waterlogged forest trails you probably wouldn't believe me! The Crud RR2 mudguard is still working well despite all the mud, sand and vegetation on the roads (and tracks) left by the storm. The total silence in use is a huge benefit. "Normal" mudguards seem to amplify every sound. Crud use plastic stays and this may be the secret to running quiet(ly).

I was monitoring the over-spray from the mudguard on my overshoes. Everything was fine until I bogged down to the axles and had to unclip while completely surrounded in 6" of water! Can you imagine climbing 1-in-4 hills on very boggy grass on anything but a trike with 2WD? Though not. BTW: "Why would you even want to try?" is not a valid question to the avid tricycling explorer with a load of shopping on board.

Having exhausted all the local bike shops I have had to order a 103mm BB axle online. I hadn't dealt with this company in Copenhagen before. They still haven't bounced me an automatic confirmation email despite promising to do so on their payment webpage. Not a good sign! Unless I messed up typing my email address...(?) I'll ring them tomorrow and give them a poke with a sharp stick. 25 miles.

Thursday 7th 43-46F, 6-8C, overcast, almost still and dry. I went for a morning walk as usual. Isn't it amazing from how far away one can hear a vehicle? Being so still, without the roar of the wind in my ears, I could still clearly hear cars when they absolutely tiny on distant roads. There doesn't seem to be much peace and quiet in the countryside these days.

I think the walking is making me stronger for when I climb out of the saddle. It used to be agony to do just a few yards out of the saddle when I first tried. Now I deliberately climb hills out of the saddle to see how far I can go without having to sit down again. Several hundred yards is well within my capacity now. I try to maintain a high cadence but still prefer having some resistance. So I usually shift up a couple of gears. No doubt the majority of drivers wonder why a tricyclist would stand up. They probably associate a trike with age and infirmity despite the sporting pretensions of my clothing, the dropped handlebars and the tall, skinny wheels. Come to think of it; they would probably be right!

I left after coffee on another circuitous and hilly route. It rained at halfway but I dried out again. 26 miles. Still nothing from the Copenhagen online sales. No answer to my emails and two phone calls had an answering service. I ordered elsewhere and quickly received confirmation and notification of despatch. Now, that's what I call service!

Friday 8th 43-49F, 5-9C, dry, clear, bright and sunny. Winds are supposed to be fairly light again today. 10m/s /22mph gusts. Tomorrow looks like being very wet with gales.[40mph] It had better happen today if I'm going for a longer ride this week. It was a pleasant, sunny but cool morning but became overcast with a cold headwind coming home.

Lots of trees down and damaged including mature oaks from long avenues. Some must of them have been 3' in diameter at the base. Lots of huge, old willows had been smashed or felled. One main road was closed while damaged trees were pruned and made safe from a cherry picker. Occasional barns seemed to have suffered damage but only a few houses had tiles missing. All very evenly spread across the map with no obvious localised damage areas. 41 miles.

My 103mm bottom bracket turned up in the post today. Next day delivery is incredible service from Jensen Cykler and the Post Office! The (supposed) dealer from Copenhagen was a time waster. No stock and no idea when he would have. No email confirmation of ordering. Claimed his confirmation mail would be in my junk mail file. It wasn't.

Saturday 9th 46F, 8C, breezy, overcast, rain. I'll swap the bottom bracket first. The self extracting crank fixing screws are such a simple and clever idea compared with the separate and usually expensive extractor tools of the past. The difference in weight and bulk between the tool kits on my Trykit and Higgins is ridiculous. The Higgins needs a spanner for the wheel nuts.

Changing the bottom bracket went very well and has finally resulted in a perfect chainline. (Centre sprocket to centre chainwheel) The crank is now much closer to the bottom bracket cup as is the inner chainring. With less distance between the cranks as well. I like to put a screw through the Shimano BB cup extractor to ensure the star "teeth" don't slip. Once the cup starts moving they can usually be removed by turning the extractor by hand. It is important to grease the cups and crank fixing screws to ensure easy removal. I use a copper-based grease.

Gear changes are now effortless (on the workstand) and the cable tension is greatly reduced in reaching the outer chainwheel. The latter is what drove me to try a shorter axle. I could never get the chain far enough out to allow rub-free drive on the 46T chainwheel. Now I have so much freedom that I had to adjust the stop screw and the changer moves the chain over quite effortlessly. With an extra click for chainline trimming if necessary.

The front changer problems have plagued me since I obtained the Trykit. Not because of the trike itself but because of the axle length. Spa recommended a 115mm BB for the Stronglight triple axle. Which was ridiculously long. Even the 107mm was far too long. The Campag 11sp Ergo lever mechanism would trip if I tried to shift onto the big chainwheel. Conversely it was equally difficult to change reliably onto the small chainwheel without shedding the chain onto the bottom bracket shell! I tried an MTB triple changer and even a Campag Athena double front changer without success. I was even seriously considering going over to a smaller double chainset. Now it all looks and feels fine thanks to the much shorter BB axle.

The promised early gales seem to have passed and it is even brightening up. So I'll probably risk a ride to the shops after coffee. I'll take some more pictures when it is lighter. It was so overcast and dark earlier that all my pictures were fuzzy. The camera was probably trying to using full aperture for macro and losing depth of field.

It was spitting with rain as I left  but at least the wind was behind me. The wind picked up considerably while I was out. With fierce gusts. The gears were better but I need to adjust the end stops more carefully. Lots more fallen and damaged trees along the way. I was racing a huge wall of black cloud on the way home while fighting a vicious head crosswind as I plodded on at 7mph with a heavy load of shopping. The rain caught me in the last few yards. My chain had came off the small chainwheel and I was left with my legs flailing. 13 miles.

Sunday 10th 42F, 6C, cool, gentle breeze, cloudy with brighter periods. It was supposed to rain but hasn't so far. Worked on the front changer stop screws and fitted a simple "braze on" front changer clamp as a chain guide. I may add a vertical aluminium tube to the changer clamping surface to provide a larger obstruction to the chain.

Then I went for an hour and half walk along rough tracks, looping up through the woods and back down again by another route. Everything was very wet indeed but the Salomon boots showed no sign of dampness inside. It is brightening up even more now. So I'm going out on the trike after fortifying myself with coffee and rolls well covered with high fruit content marmalade.

An image of the shorter axle with, thankfully, greatly reduced clearances on both sides. The front changer clamp is acting as a chain guide to stop the chain throwing itself straight onto the bottom bracket shell. The gears seem to be behaving themselves better than  before. 

The arrival of more affordable 11 speed cassettes (Sram Force and Shimano Ultegra) tempts me to go over to a double chainwheel and 11-32 11 speed cassette. Unlike a bike the Trykit 2WD freehub can easily take 11 speeds at normal Shimano spacing. This would suit my 11 speed Campag Chorus shifters and avoid having to use a triple chainwheel. I just need to decide on which chainrings to choose to make best use of a wide range cassette.  

It stayed dry but rather cool as I rode a wobbly route gathering more autumn photographs. I saw five well grown deer out on the fields in a relatively unpopulated area. They ran at first but then  decided to stand still to become completely invisible. Still plenty of evidence of the recent storm. 21 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


  1. I've been happy riding 7/8 speed machines for many years. My first experience of 10 speed was on my pink Higgins. I was rather shocked and dismayed, to find how quickly I can wear through 10 speed cassettes and chains. If I had been aware as to how much more quickly 10 speed wares out, I would have gone for a 9 speed set up. I don't know what advantage you are looking for with 11 speed and why you would want to ditch the excelent XD2 triple.

  2. Hi and thanks for your insight. I'm afraid I find myself in complete agreement with your comment. Sadly, I like the technical appeal of multiple rear gears. Even with modern equipment I find shifting at the rear completely effortless compared with shifting between chainwheels. Particularly when using Ergo combination brake/gear levers. I suppose my ideal system would be a single chainwheel and a stack of sprockets. Of course this would introduce more chain bending and presumably greatly increased wear. Rather than scribble a lengthy response here I shall discuss my thoughts on gears in today's normal blog post: [Tues 12.11.13]