Trike Traction

Recumbents and all feet forward machines

Trike Traction

Postby Profpinz » Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:02 pm

G'Day All,
I've been a lurker since I decided to by a recumbent trike about 6 months ago, then I purchased a MR1 (basically a GT3...I opted for the Greenspeed steering option) from Michael Rogan about a month ago.
I'm very happy with the unit but I have one question that I thought riders and owners with far more experience of trikes than me, may be able to offer some advice on.

I tend to ride the bike paths in the eastern suburbs, but I also like to explore some of the smaller tracks that branch off the main bitumised routes.
The other day I took a well defined, gravel covered track and was almost at the top when I ran out of traction....the rear wheel just spun!
I spoke to Michael and have since played around with the tyre pressures to try and get the best ride/grip/minimise rolling resistance although even with the tyres reduced to the minimium recommended pressure I still can't get grip on the gravelly slope (My main passion is 4/6WDriving, so I know about traction :D )

My trike is fitted with Scorcher tyres but being slick I was debating about fitting a slightly "grippier" tyre on the rear.
Question:
> Is it acceptable to mix and match tyres ... different tyre on the rear to the two fronts?
> Would a tyre like a Schwalbe Marathon (which has some tread) be better in this situation?

Being a newbie any advice on the subject would be appreciated!
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by BNA » Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:36 pm

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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Kalgrm » Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:36 pm

In that situation, definitely get something with knobs on. However, it's going to cost you some rolling resistance on the bitumen.

See if you can get some extra weight onto the rear wheel too, but I don't know how to transfer weight back on a 'bent. I know how to do it on a MTB.

Cheers,
Graeme
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby PEDALPOWER44 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:17 am

Hi Profinz,
Well you have come to the right place for advice on recumbent related matters.
I also have purchased 2 trike's through Mr Components, Michael Rogan is one of the most helpful people regarding any issues that arise with these wonderful machines. :D
I have to agree with Kalgrm though that some knobby tyres would probably be the way to go if you were to adventure "off road"
Can't say that i have had any wheel spin as i don't venture off road.
Btw the trikes i own are the MRX'S with all the bells and whistles i have had mine for about 6 months now and enjoy every minute i get to ride it.
My wife has just received hers and we both enjoy riding much more now ahhhh the comfort of it all. :D

Happy riding

(PP44)
Steve :D
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby JulianEdgar » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:22 am

1) Change weight distribution - currently probably about 1/3rd on each wheel if it's a GT3 equivalent. Adding rear panniers (assuming the carrier is fitted) and putting your drink, food, etc in them will help.

2) Fit knobbly rear tyre - not just one with tread.

3) Smoothness of pedalling - use of clip-in pedals and shoes will allow you to pedal more smoothly through full rotations, better retaining traction

4) Suspension (not applicable to your trike) - good, long-travel and soft suspension will keep rear wheel much better in contact with ground over bumps.

5) Three wheel drive - for short sections of no traction (eg deep gravel, mud) you can manually wind the trike along by turning the front wheels as you pedal

Edit: tonight on my homebuiult suspension trike I rode up a very steep dirt slope covered in loose rocks ranging in size from gravel to as large as my fist. I don't have a knobbly rear tyre, just one with vestigial tread. I got up it fine, helped a lot I think by the rearwards weight transfer of the suspension (front susp extended, rear compressed) and the fact the rear tyre was always on the ground.
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby papa » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:14 pm

In addition to the tips mentioned, try to avoid the lowest gear(s) if at all possible. The lower the gear you use, the greater the propensity for wheel spin. I realize of course, it's frequently unavoidable. Attack the hills with greater momentum, then back-off a tad on the pedals as you crest the hill.
Last edited by papa on Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Profpinz » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:16 pm

Thanks for the suggestions guys, I guess the first thing to do is to investigate "knobblier tyres" if I'm going to recee these gravel tracks.

When I brought the MR1 I opted to fit Greenspeed type steering and SPD pedals (and metallic powdercoat, although that doesn't help with traction) so I have clip-on pedals, but as regards Julians other suggestion "manually wind the trike along by turning the front wheels as you pedal" I had to resort to this system on my ride earlier tonight........Forward progress on a gravel path stopped, so I switched to 3 wheel drive :D

Steve; When I was researching Michaels trikes I came across the picture of your MRX, which I used as "incentive" to further investigate purchasing one of MR Components trikes.
When I went to see Michael he was very good and helpful about recommending a suitable bike, gearing, options etc and when I suggested an MRX he thought an "optioned" MR1 would better suit my requirements and budget ....so see, you are partially reponsible for my purchase :wink: :D
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Profpinz » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:22 pm

Good point Papa.
I must admit I think I would have struggled to pull a higher gear when I got stuck on tonights ride, but I'm slowly developing "recumbent legs" so maybe in the future my leg strength will improve and allow me to do so.
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Joeblake » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:50 am

Rather than just buying a knobblie tyre, have you considered the possibility of buying an entire "dirt" rear wheel?

If you intend to do any amount of dirt work, mixed with on-road, this may be a better option. (a) depending on the set up of your machine it may be quicker to change the entire wheel rather than the tyre (you'll have to take the wheel off anyway to change the tyre) (b) you could have a different gear cluster with a spread more suited for dirt. (c) it will save wearing out your "road" gears/wheel and make cleaning the "dirt" cluster easier, which will also help to reduce chain wear.

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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Profpinz » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:37 am

Hmmm....Smart thinking Joe!
An idea well worth considering as it shouldn't take long to change wheels.
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby chuckchunder » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:04 pm

i've done lots of riding on gravel roads and trails. I ride a Greenspeed GTS, and previously a GTR. I use a Maxxis Holy Roller on the rear, and reduce the front and rear pressures to about 30psi. I've never felt the need for knobbies on the front, though wouldn't go less than 20 x 1.5 to save the rims from nasty rocks and the tubes from pinch flats.

I realise your trike will have 16" wheels, and having just checked notice Holy Rollers don't come in that size. Sorry, I guess any knobby will do, I just like the Holy Roller cause it rolls quite nicely (relatively) on bitumen. I did find that just about ANY tread on the back would make a difference though, so if you are riding bitumen as well it might be worth trying something with only a bit of tread, like a Schwalbe Marathon or similar (say something very cheap from K-Mart as a test?).

cheers

glen
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Kalgrm » Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:32 pm

Great point Glen - lower tyre pressure is the most important factor in gaining and maintaining grip in the dirt. Every MTB rider knows this and I'm ashamed that I forgot it in my earlier answer.

The second most important factor is maintaining a "circular" pedaling profile by trying to keep a nice, constant pressure on the pedals during the whole pedal stroke.

Cheers,
Graeme
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby fredinver » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:17 pm

If purchasing 16 inch tyres just remember that the 16 inch in kmart and the like are not the same as the 349 mm tyres required for the Gs 16 inch rims. You will need to get the correct size tyres and these are generally scarce in country areas such as where I live.
BTW anyone need 2 16 inch kmart tyres?
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Profpinz » Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:02 pm

What is the lowest pressure you could reduce the rear tyre to, without running into trouble (wear, roll-off etc) and increasing the rolling resistance to an excessive ammount?
(I go down to between 4 and 6psi in the 6WD with beadlocks, to get maximium traction, but I've got a feeling that maybe a bit low in the trike tyres :wink: )

Based on the info, I'II experiment a bit before venturing to the next stage...... namely a more aggressive rear tyre.
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Kalgrm » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:11 pm

On my MTB's rear wheel, I run 25psi on 26"x2.35" tyres without tubes. I weigh 85kg. (Tubeless tyres need sealant, but have no chance of snakebite punctures at low pressure.)

When you are riding on dirt, lower tyre pressures provide lower rolling resistance due to the way the tyre rolls over bumps instead of being lifted by them, so don't worry about rolling resistance (at least while you're on the dirt).

Cheers,
Graeme
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Profpinz » Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:56 pm

Well, I've been learning a lot about trikes lately.

Firstly I've been experimenting with tyre pressures and riding techniques that people have suggested, and I must say I can now get up some of the gravel tracks that have previously defeated me!
Today I got really brave and decided to tackle a narrow, mountain bike track that went through the bush over the top of the Ringwood tunnel. I'm keen to explore the limits of my trike and find it's maximium traction capabilities..... it's the 4WDriver in me that just can't resist those little tracks .
I got down the path without any problems but only about a third of the way up the other side before I lost traction, so I ended up carrying it up like a wheelbarrow.
OK, so I now know what a pretty standard trike can tackle, steepness wise.

I must admit I really like my tikes handling dynamics which seems more to me like a go-cart than a bike......lately I've been getting more brave tackling corners faster and faster, but yesterday I got a little over confident and rolled it in the carpark of all places whilst making a sharp U turn .....no major damage apart from a scratched wheel hub and seat top, but again I've learnt what the trike can and cannot do!

Basically I now know:
1/. The handling and cornering on bitumen is amazing, but sharp aggressive turns on grippy surfaces/bitumen, at anything more than a fast walking pace speed are a no-no!
2/. The handling and cornering on gravel tracks is "predictable" and a LOT of FUN!
3/. Traction on "steepish" gravel tracks is OK, but hightly dependant on tyre pressures and rider techniques and experience!
4/. I love my recumbent Trike! :D
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Joeblake » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:21 pm

Profpinz wrote:Well, I've been learning a lot about trikes lately.

...
I got down the path without any problems but only about a third of the way up the other side before I lost traction, so I ended up carrying it up like a wheelbarrow.

...

I must admit I really like my tikes handling dynamics which seems more to me like a go-cart than a bike......lately I've been getting more brave tackling corners faster and faster, but yesterday I got a little over confident and rolled it in the carpark of all places whilst making a sharp U turn .....no major damage apart from a scratched wheel hub and seat top, but again I've learnt what the trike can and cannot do!

Basically I now know:
1/. The handling and cornering on bitumen is amazing, but sharp aggressive turns on grippy surfaces/bitumen, at anything more than a fast walking pace speed are a no-no!

...

4/. I love my recumbent Trike! :D


Up until Monday this week my driveway was an absolute sandpit. Then it RAINED and the sandpit is now set like concrete. Before the rain I had to push my Greenspeed GTIII through the sand, but a little trick which may help you. Get about a metre or so of cord, make a loop and then put it around either the stub which holds the front derailleur or around the bottom bracket. I use this to "tow" the trike. The steering on the GTIII is set up so it follows behind me like a little dog on a lead. I don't even need to bend.

Your comment about cornering on bitumen. I've found whilst it is possible to roll a 'bent trike, if you lean into the turn, in much the same way as a sidecar passenger does, it will help keep the inside wheel down. I used to do turns on two wheels a bit when I was (much) younger, but it stresses the frame and wheels too much. If you are looking for a bit of "Hoon" fun, find a place with smooth concrete (such as petrol service stations have) and throw a bucket of water on it. All sorts of fun. (In the interests of safety I won't describe what I used to do, but I'm sure you'll figure it out. :wink: )

Yep. Trikes are FUN. Glad to hear you're finding that out. :mrgreen:

Joe
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Re: Trike Traction

Postby Profpinz » Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:25 pm

On my quest to find the boundaries of trike traction :D on non-bitumen surfaces, I have just replaced the standard rear slick "Scorcher" with a Schwalbe Marathon and the results were quite interesting (the front tyres are still the Scorchers)
I have one steepish gravel track that I use as a "control" and taking into account all that I have learnt from posts on this forum I have in the past, at best, "just" made it to the top.... with 30PSI in the Scorcher.
Today I managed that same track/control with the Marathon on 65PSI and I reckon I had a bit of traction in reserve, so I think the change was pretty beneficial.
(I didn't notice any real difference on the bitumen)

....and so the quest continues with pressure changes next on the agenda.
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