22 Sep 2014

22nd September 2014 Has winter arrived?

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Monday 22nd 50-57F, 10-14C, overcast, very windy from the north. The temperature has plunged today. Threat of showers but it stayed dry all day. Spent more hours attacking an overgrown hedge from a ladder. What not to do when you already have sore knees? Lean your knees on the top rung while you hack away with saws and branch loppers.

Left mid afternoon to shop. It was like being bopped by a giant, down-filled bolster every time I passed a gap in a hedge. Still feeling tired. No idea why. First day this autumn with fingered gloves. Still wearing my bare knees though. Wore the Aldi rain jacket in the absence of my winter wardrobe being laid out.

It takes time to organise everything at the start of the cold season. Jackets, tights, vests, hats and gloves all need to be made ready so I have a free choice. I have at least three variations of winter jacket depending on the day's temperature. Several choices of gloves and several different thicknesses of tights. The difference between being cold and too warm is important on a trike. I suffered far too long from agonizing cold when I first started triking again.

Thank goodness for charity shops. Investing in a new winter cycling wardrobe from a bike shop would set me back hundreds of pounds. I still can't make up my mind about a new rain jacket to replace the Aldi. That was bought secondhand in a charity shop too. I probably paid half the new price! Having a decent, breathable rain jacket means I would no longer be at the mercy of wet weather. Normally, I would just take a rest day. It pays to go shopping for wet weather gear when it is raining hard.

At least I still don't have to wear the crappy, polyurethane coated nylon, mobile sauna of my youth. I thought I was setting a trend for wearing an orange cagoule. On the mountains and on the bike or trike all it ever did was get wet inside. Once I was wet I couldn't take the damned thing off in case of hypothermia. It was a nightmare when I was winter mountain walking and camping in Snowdonia! A new black bin bag a day would have been cheaper. Except that bin bags don't usually have arms. Riding 15 miles to work required a change of clothing and half an hour to lose the sweaty heat built up inside the jacket. Only 13 miles.

Tuesday 23rd 44-57F, 7-14C, sunny and still start to the day. Walked for an hour. Knees still hurting. I also have a sore throat after two days of feeling tired with a slight cough and thick nose. Left on the trike after morning coffee. Sunny but rather cool, with an increasingly strong headwind coming home. I kept my cycling cardigan on under the least windproof, lightweight jacket and it was just enough. Wore gloves to start and then shifted to mitts for the return journey. Two cheese rolls, a banana and a box of apple juice kept me going.

While I was out I visited a huge charity shop which has a barn/hall full of furniture, old bikes etc. There I discovered a Viktor mobility tadpole trike in almost new condition. All but identical to the one in the image. I was keen to have a go as I have admired the design for several years. A few bored furniture browsers glared at my daring but I'm well used to that.

Thanks to a handy corridor between the furniture I was able to ride about 50 yards. The trike ran very smoothly on the concrete floor and the clever steering felt very positive and natural. Though the track is probably too wide for most doors. It even has a small degree of inward lean designed in when it turns. Though I had no room to test this out in practice. I imagine this offers a greater feeling of security on corners. The front hubs and coaster rear brake worked really well too. Far more powerful than my own delta trikes with rim brakes and Ultegra blocks!

The problem came when I tried to lift the front end around in a very cramped space to ride it back. I was almost unable to lift it at all! Being fairly fit and used to lifting fair weights I am arguably in a far better physical condition than most likely buyers and users.

For example, I have just spent several days constantly moving and climbing 10' extending ladders as I hacked back 30 meters of overgrown hedge from the second top rung. I used assorted and lumpen, extended reach, power and hand tools. So I had to imagine myself as a rather frail Viktor owner having to bump the trike up over a typical pavement on a shopping trip. Or even over the threshold into my own trike shed. Did not compute!! It would be like trying to lift the complete trike over a wall! Or up a flight of garden steps.

I just checked online and the descriptive blurb on the Viktor says 30kg. [66lbs!] It really felt more like twice that weight! Almost as if there was a bag of cement in the front basket! I kid you not and I have been lumping bags of cement about only recently.

http://www.vanraam.com/t-bike-front-tricycle-trike-viktor/itm/14165

However much I might like the design from an aesthetic and technical standpoint I would have to say the design is a failure because of its quite incredible [unbelievable] weight. The rear end was not much easier to lift off the ground! The charity shop was asking ~£250 for the Viktor. A lot of money but only 1/7 of the new price of £1750!

Had it been 1/3 the weight I might have been tempted to smash the piggy bank and go without food for several months. As it is, I left it sitting there, feeling terribly disappointed at the crippling weight handicap of such a gorgeous and seemingly competent design. Does it really have to carry the burden of being built from heavy gauge water pipe? Perhaps it was the only way to make the beautiful, single tube design strong enough? Perhaps they wanted total stability and didn't care about the weight? Who knows? An aluminium model would be far more attractive but the price is likely to be even more prohibitive!

The width across the front wheels was easily too great even for my generous shed door anyway. Which may explain why I usually see them standing on lawns at sheltered housing units or in carports. The Viktor is what you might call; the triumph of design over functionality. Beauty and the beast. All rolled into one. 39 miles.

Wednesday 24th 54-57F, 12-14C, heavy overcast, windy. Forecast to rain from 9am-9pm. I walked for an hour in wind chill conditions. It hardly rained at all until a cloudburst mid afternoon. Then it forgot to stop. Though my knees are better today I still think a rest day is in order.


Click on any image for an enlargement.
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2 comments:

  1. Shame about weight of Viktor. Just weighed Freewiel Trike for comparison and it is about 22kg - could probably lose a few lbs with alloy rims etc, I think the published weight of the current Huka equivalent is 18kg.

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  2. Hi Nick

    It is amazing how heavy many of these "mobility" trikes really are.
    Some trikes and bikes were much lighter in the late 1800s!
    I suppose the modern mobility trike makers can get away with using cheap and heavy pipework because they can.

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