Adding mock-up wheels and forks to the raw trike frame

I wanted to start by recommending some reading to people who are interested in parenting styles: Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior. It’s funny because today when I was at Toys-R-Us picking up some Mechano (to build a mock up of the trike forks to test some ideas about optimizing the turning radius) there was a Chinese kid screaming their head off at their mom in the rudest do-what-I-command spoiled kid freakout I’ve ever seen, and the mother was completely passive and seemed to be pretending not to hear her, quite contrary to the aggressive parent described in the article. Anyway, the gist of the article is that Chinese parents are willing to tell their kids that they’d damn well better get an ‘A’, whereas Western kids should just “try and do their best”, and a Chinese mom can say “lose some weight fatty”, but a Western mom tiptoes around weight issues lest they cause a complex. Anyway, it’s worth a read.

Today I did a little more work on the trike, dropping in temporary rear wheels to figure out where the axle will lie, and also building a mock-up of the front forks. There will still be changes but at this point you can get a much better idea of the end product. You may be worrying about the rather extreme rake that I’ve got on the front end, and whether or not it’s going to be able to turn inside an acceptable radius. As I mentioned, that’s why I got the Mechano today, so I have the same concern. That said, this is no more extreme than what I’ve seen on the gorgeous trikes from Phoenix Trike Works (which were an inspiration in the design of my “electric wheelchair chopper”). That said, if you look carefully at theirs, the hinge and the forks are not parallel like they are on my mockup — the angle of the hinge is more “normal” than the extreme forks — and I’m certain that this engineering decision was made to allow the trike to be able to do a U-turn in a normal street. I suspect that I’ll end up doing the same on mine.

I want this vehicle to be street ready for spring, so I’m going to place the order for the fiberglass supplies shortly (I’d considered using more exotic materials, but since this is very much a learn-as-I-go project, I think it makes more sense to waste some cheap fiberglass tape than to destroy a roll of carbon fiber). I’ve been looking at all my options in the e-bike world for a driveline, mostly looking at various hub motors because they’re so space efficient, but I’ve got some limitations because I definitely need reverse, a feature that is pretty much never used on bicycles.


  1. Troy wrote:

    Whatever happened to the Iron Horse trike?

    Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  2. Alice wrote:

    That looks pretty damn awesome so far!

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 4:39 am | Permalink
  3. Gracie wrote:

    Interesting comment about parenting styles. Personally, I think it comes down to very different cultures. I had a Chinese exchange student in several classes in an American college, and we had a couple of discussions about how government/family should work–the ‘American’ opinion being that things should be more individual-oriented, and the ‘Chinese’ opinion being that the community was more important than the individual. No idea which is better in the long run, but it did make me think.

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 5:55 am | Permalink
  4. sfhellwig wrote:

    I read the article about Chinese mothers, really wish I hadn’t. I just kept reading hoping that the author would break into a joke at the end, or admit they were trying to cram as many stereotypes into one article as possible. For someone who thinks they are “doing it right” that was one of the most racist, poorly worded explanations of an opinion I have ever seen. And I live in rural America! The fact that she was bragging about what she had done to her child and then justify why it was “right.” A law professor no less, is this how she teaches her students? I bet her children are very socially awkward. This is why I try not to follow links to other stories…..

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink
  5. starbadger wrote:

    thanX for sharin’

    how does it feel

    Monday, January 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink
  6. Paul wrote:

    Two points on the trike (sorry if you know all this & I’m just over-reacting to a simplified exposition):
    (a) I believe that the steeper ‘hinge’ angle is not there to give a better turning circle (although this is a secondary benefit), it’s there to tame the ‘wheel-flop’. By avoiding too much wheel-flop, it lets the steering turn safely off-centre from the straight-ahead ‘balanced on a knife-edge’ position that you have it set to in the pictures… Try turning your steering geometry slightly and observe the front tyre lifting off the floor. Imagine this on the road (and without the foam blocking holding up the bike) – as the steering turns, the chassis would drop down slightly towards the road surface. The weight of the bike (especially under braking) would tend to force the steering further & further off-centre – a nasty feedback ‘spiral’ which would result in the front wheel turned hard onto its stops and your steering locked at close to right-angles. (Unless you had the arms of Tarzan ;-)
    I found this to be an interesting link:
    (b) Many DC electrical motors (which I’m assuming you allude to with ‘hub motors’ will simply run in reverse (albeit at a slight loss of efficiency) when electrically connected in reverse – which is usually a simple switching job. I’d think that systems from wheelchairs, golf carts & forklifts might be interesting here…

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 3:45 am | Permalink
  7. HJP wrote:

    Sounds like the parent at teh toy store has been “Westernized” in compassion to the stricter old ways. I grew up in a progressive thinking family been conservitive acting one – you could learn about everything you’d like to, but couldn’t do a damn thing about it while you were living under the family roof. Once you moved out you were out – none of this coming back home because you lost your job, nope, you lived in your car or sofa surfed until you figured out how to fix it. My parents have loaned me money sometimes since leaving home, but only for things they approved, most recently helping me have money to close on a house while I wait on my tax return. If parents gave in less and expected more we wouldn’t have 30 year olds living at home – unless they were paying rent or servicing a purpose for their family by being home – aside from leaching off them. I raised my kids in much the same way, although I wanted them to experience more in their life, but I wanted them to learn consquences as well. Although my kids have had a few ‘rebel’ stages, they push themselves harder than I expect at times and have higher goals than I ever did. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink
  8. Looks great.

    One tip when you are applying the fibreglass and resin is to get electrical tape( the black kind or white whatever the cheapest one available) and poke lots and lots of holes in the rolls with a pin. Then when having applied the resin-soaked fibreglass wrap it wih the tape. But heres the clever bit. Reverse the tape so its sticky side out. YOu get great compression and the resin cant bind to the PVC in the tape.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink
  9. Steph wrote:

    I read the parenting article as well. It seems to me that this woman would have a field day at my work (daycare). Some parents are ridiculously uptight and some quite simply aren’t uptight enough and pretty much let their children dominate their lives.
    Granted I am all for finding a “balance” that works for both the parent and the child. I do agree though that some parents (not all) give in far too easily to their children because it’s “easier”.

    Very excited to see what you do with your plans Shannon! It’s an interesting concept :)

    Friday, January 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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