10 January, 2006

Ice Trikes

The time is once again drawing near when the Assiniboine River will frozen solid enough for the City of Winnipeg to clear a skating path. Now, I enjoy skating just fine, but I much prefer to hit the river with my ice trike! (I use the term "hit the river" in the figurative sense, although there have been occasions when it has been the literal sense.)

By the way, all these images are stills taken from a video of Colin & me riding around on the river back in March '05. You can watch the video below.

My trike is a front-wheel drive, rear-wheel steered, recumbent tricycle in a delta configuration. I designed it so that the rear part of the frame folds in towards the front for storage. It makes it nice & compact but quickly unfolds for use. Rather than paint the frame, I covered it in "poor man's chrome": aluminum duct tape. Even the rims & wheel discs are covered in the tape.

Currently the trike has a single-speed hub with a coaster brake. It works fine on the ice, but I tend to bog down in snow. It'd be good to have the option of shifting to a lower gear, of course then I'd have to add a rim brake which won't work as well in the wet conditions I usually ride this trike in. I suppose, an internally-geared bottom-bracket hub, such as a Schlumpf Mountain Drive, would be ideal for this. I could keep the coaster brake & the clean drive line, but still have the option to shift down to a power gear.

My fellow bike buildin' buddy, Colin, also has an ice trike that he built about four or five years before we built mine. His looks quite different from mine, but there are similarities: Like mine, his is a front-wheel drive, recumbent delta trike. Where it differs is that he opted for lean steering, and a much lower stance than mine. He set up his rear wheels with lot of negative camber (the wheels lean in) whereas mine have no camber, and he runs a studded tire on the front, which I don't have... yet.

Okay, so what does one do with an ice trike? What possible good could they be? Well, they are a blast to ride and the really catch people's attention.

It's a lot of fun to get up some speed and then crank the steering to put the trikes into a spin. 180° spinouts are easy to do & easy to control. We'd love to be able to do a full 380° spin, but the laws of physics continue to work against us.

Similarly, it is easy to do power turns; instead of letting the rear end spinout, we keep the power on & pull the front into the turn, letting the rear drift out.

We also race along the path, we crash into - & sometimes even through - the snowbanks, and we've even towed tired skaters behind us.

Last, but not least, we enjoy just riding our trikes up & down the river path!


This is a follow up to some comments folks have left me regarding the ice trikes.

Where did I get the plans? Actually I didn't use any plans, I just designed it on the fly as it was built. I did have a basic idea of how I wanted things from the start but most of the time construction continued on until a problem presented itself. Then Colin & I would brainstorm and come up with a solution. Often those solutions would inspire the design to take on new & improved directions.

One of the original design features was to have a combo of wheel & ice blades on the rear forks. A tandem set of 4" scooter wheels would have been used for riding on the road. Once I arrived at the river I would have flipped the assembly over to put the trike on skate blades. So far I haven't build these yet. I kinda like it the way it is with the 20" wheels all around.

As for practical aspects of this design, I'd have to say they are pretty limited. It handles like a forklift so at a "high speed" it tends to lurch from side to side. It works fine on the ice, but makes it a little dicey to use in traffic.

The cost was minimal. We built it out of recycled bikes. I think the only thing I had to pay for this project was the welding wire, a handful of nuts & bolts, and the aluminum tape. Oh, I suppose I should include the cost of the rear tires, which I nabbed from a recumbent project I haven't yet completed.

By the way, thank you all for taking the time to check out this project and leaving your comments. I really appreciate it!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to do this with my Huffy Green Machine. (remake of the 70's plastic one with a real bike tyre in front and a metal frame. http://www.shop.com/op/aprod-p8095884-k24-g4-~green+machine-nover?sourceid=3 )
I'd thought I'd mount ice skates on the back, but this has me thinking I'll just stud a front tyre and go out on the lake. Thanks for the inspiration!

11 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool! Count on a Winnipegger to come up with something fun to do on the river in the middle of winter. Dodging snowmobilers down here in ND could make it a little too exciting, though. Here's wishing you clear ice.

11 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks cool! Looks cold!
Where ya get the plans?
what are the practical aspects of this vehicle: Is is economical and effiencient enough to be wridden to work in snow/ice, - and stil maintan the child inside who wants donoughts? What's it cost to make one? Is there a potty and papers? Boolk schelf?
Wo've gltten mr dreamkng agan...

11 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey... if you need gears, you should invest in an internal three-speed hub. an old sturmey-archer hub would work great - cheap on ebay, with a coaster brake and three speeds. that's be perfect for this sort of thing. MUCH cheaper than any other gearing option, i'd guess.

12 January, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey cool bikes! Is there anywhere I could find plams? Great job ont eh bike, and I hope you have fun with them for years to come.

12 January, 2006  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home