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Build Your Own Recumbent Trike

Written By Rickey M. Horwitz

version 2.1

Warning The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law. Disclaimer I am not responsible for anyone's unfortunate circumstances or stupidity! I do not claim that these plans or data are perfect and without error.


Welcome to my web page hosted by the IHPVA. My name is Rickey Horwitz, the former owner of Practical Innovations. Contained at this site are detailed plans on how to design and build a recumbent tricycle. The contents of this site used to reside on my own web page, but I have little time now to support it directly. However, if you have any questions concerning this material, please contact me at To learn more about me and my former company select Who Am I? . The drawings and specifications offered on this web page are for building an advanced version of the tried and true Thunderbolt Sports Recumbent Trike. The original design dates back to 1994. However, even today the performance of this trike is still impressive. I am confident that you shall find my documents exceed in quality and detail to any plans available free or not.

For a specification of this trike, please checkout my old Thunderbolt brochure. If you have any questions concerning these plans, please email me at


After 6/15/2002, I will no longer update this project. Several years ago I made a promise to make these plans available to the public at no cost. I have succeeded in doing this with no compensation other than the bragging rights to claim I have wrote the book on recumbent tricycles. Please enjoy.

Chapters(Some items have not been completed)

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4

Choosing Materials(Updated) Welding Technologies Recumbent Trike Design Thunderbolt Design Overview

Chapter 5 Parts Required Chapter 6 Tools Required Chapter 7 Fabrication Instructions(under construction)

Part 1 Part 2

Constructing the Main Tube Sections Constructing the Trike Rear End

Section 1) Fabricating the Drop-Outs Section 2) Fabricating the Seat/Chain Stays Section 3) Fitting the Stays to the Frame Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Fabricating the Frame Web Gussets Building/Modifying Hubs for Stub Axle Usage Selecting and Building the Steering System

Section 1) Building the Steering Knuckles Section 3) Over Seat Steering System (Work in process) Section 4) Under Seat Steering System Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Building the Bottom Bracket Assembly Building the Seat Assembling the Chain Management System Final Assembly and Adjustments

Return to the IHPVA Building page

Chapter One Choosing the Materials

Version 1.01

Written By Rickey M. Horwitz

Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

In the quest of building the ultimate HPV frame, the frame material becomes an important issue. For building the Thunderbolt, I have narrowed the materials down to three metals; Carbon steel, CroMo and Aluminum. Each of these materials have their strong and weak points as I shall attempt to point out in this chapter. Before we proceed, I want to warn you that I did not double check my technical sources. Consequently, some numbers or data may be incorrect, but should be close enough for the home-builder enthusiast.

Aluminum is quickly gaining ground as the material of choice for bicycles such as Trek, Cannondale, Mongoose, Klien and other top brands. New technologies have emerged recently that have lowered the cost of aluminum fabrication making it a strong contender to CroMo. The proverbial 6061-T6 grade aluminum is now the industry standard for aluminum frame composition. This is in part because this type of aluminum can be easily welded and is relatively strong. Home builders may find aluminum fabrication challenging as it requires a TIG or MIG process and is more difficult to weld than

CroMo or carbon steel using the same process. Additionally, 6061 T6 losses half its total strength when welded. Consequently, a post heat treatment process is required to regain it's full T6 strength. The 6061 series of aluminum is alloyed with magnesium & silicon. However, these are only the majority of alloying elements as other elements are included such as copper, zinc, maganese and titanium. A total of 4% of alloying elements comprise the 6061 specification. The 6061 series is divided into grades or designations that refer to the post temper process. The most common grades are T0, T4, and T6. The grades, processes and strengths are depicted below:
Temper T0 T4 T6 Process fully annealed aluminum Solution heat treated and naturally aged Solution heat treated and artificially aged Tensile(PSI) 18,000 35,000 45,000 Yield(PSI) 8,000 21,000 40,000

Aluminum is extremely easy to work and machine making frame fabrication painless. Depending on the diameter and wall thickness, aluminum tubing can be easily formed using a standard conduit bender. Since aluminum is relatively soft, it can be filed, drilled and sanded with ease. Just for conversation, I'll also mention the 7075 series aluminum. This type of aluminum is heavily alloyed with zinc making it incredibly tough and strong. However, this aluminum is very difficult to weld making it's use limited to machined components or glue bonded frames.

Chromium Mollybenduim (CroMo)

I do not have extensive knowledge or a lot of experience frame building with CroMo. I do understand that it is an extremely hard and strong material making it an ideal choice for frame building. The strength to weight ratio of 4130 (most common) CroMo exceeds that of 6061 T6 aluminum. This true statement makes you wonder why most aluminum frames are lighter than their CroMo counterpart. The best attribute of CroMo is its inexpensive cost relative to other performance materials. Because of the alloys used for 4130 CroMo, the material must be welded using a TIG or MIG process, although it can also be brazed. The major alloys used for making CroMo are Chrome and

Mollybenduim. Surprisingly, only 2.3% of alloy material is added to give this material its super strength. The designation '4130' refers to the alloy and carbon content. The '41' represents the alloy type and quantity and the '30' represents the carbon content as a 10th of a percent. As with Aluminum, 4130 CroMo has different Temper conditions. However, these temper conditions are not readily identified making the 4130 specification almost meaningless. For example, I may have a bicycle frame advertised as made from 100% 4130 CroMo. The yield and tensile strengths can vary drastically depending if the material was 'normalized' or 'water quenched and tempered'. Although many people think that the difference are conjectural, there is a large variance as the example below depicts: Temper Annealed Normalized WQ&T Tensile strength(PSI) 80,000 90,000 128,000

Yield St 50,000 70,000 113,000

The temper condition is a post process, meaning that a post-weld, heat treatment is applied. If a CroMo frame is not heat treated after welding, the joints subjected to heat during the welding process are annealed or normalized. Remember that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Therefore, if a CroMo frame has not undergone a post heat treating process, the frame is inherently weak. This shortcoming is prevalent in the recumbent industry as most frame builders (who know nothing of metalurgy) ignore this important issue.

Carbon Steel
The most popular material for bicycle frames is carbon steel as it is inexpensive and can be welded or bonded by a number of processes making it ideal for mass production and for the home frame builder. Several grades of carbon steel exist. The grades I am familiar with are 1010, 1018, 1020, 1028. The last two digit represent the carbon content of the steel as a 10th of a percent. Therefore, 1028 has .28% carbon which is slightly less than 4130 CroMo. The more carbon, the harder and stronger the steel. However, too much carbon causes the steel to become brittle. Therefore, .5% carbon is about the maximum you shall see for frame building.

For frame building, I would prefer to use 1028 if available. It offers a tensile strength of 87,000 PSI and a yield strength of 72,000 PSI. However, plain old 2 inch muffler pipe might work just as well providing that the rider is under 180 lbs.

CroMo Vs. Aluminum

In the bicycling community a lot of debate is being stirred up between the use of Aluminum and 4130 CroMo. Each material does have its good and bad points. However, I wish to dispel some unfounded myths between the two. CroMo is stronger then Aluminum. Yes and No. The strength to weight ratio of CroMo is slightly more than 6061-T6. The strength difference is about even when compared to 7005-T6 aluminum with aluminum taking the advantage. However, the 7075-T6 alloy aluminum is far superior to CroMo in strength to weight. Aluminum frames tend to crack more easily than Steel. Absolutely false. First of all, aluminum frames are generally manufactured as a medium to high end market. Therefore, the fabrication is of higher quality. Up until recently, the same was true with CroMo, but since new manufacturing technologies have evolved, a CroMo frame is now found on many low quality bicycles. Obviously, a low quality frame with marginal workmanship has more of a chance of failure than one of higher quality. Secondly, aluminum frames are built lighter than CroMo making them more susceptible to breakage. This gives the impression that aluminum breaks easily. Lastly, many CroMo frame builders do not post heat treat their frames making them weak. In the last 20 years, many aluminum frame designers (such as myself) have learned to used oversized tubing and web gussets to reduce tube flexing. The major cause of failure with aluminum is fatigue caused by overflexing. Unlike CroMo, aluminum is not resilient and shall eventually fail if allowed to overflex. Using a rigid frame design, aluminum becomes a very reliable material. Aluminum is used extensively in aircraft. If the physical properties were inferior to steel, we would expect to see aircraft made of materials other than aluminum. Aluminum frames do not last as long as CroMo frames.

In theory, this has some truth, but has not been proven in the bike industry. The use of aluminum in mass production bicycles is only recent. Therefore, not enough data exist to compare aluminum to CroMo. It is theorized that a 6061-T6 aluminum frame shall eventually fail as the aluminum ages over time and becomes brittle. This aging can be reversed by re-heat treating the frame (a costly undertaking). It should also be noted that CroMo frames will eventually rust leading to premature failure. However, this condition can be prevented by performing periodic maintenance. Earlier aluminum frames used a bonding process that glued the tube into a lug. These frames were infamous for their tendencies to fatigue and crack. Additionally, they were fabricated using small diameter tubing causing the frame to flex easily. Today, a small number of aluminum frames are still bonded. However, the processes have been refined and the tubing diameters have been increased to provide a rigid more reliable frame. Additionally, these frames use the stronger 7075-T6 aluminum. Some of the lightest frames available (with the exception of Composites) are made from bonded 7075-T6 aluminum. Although the 7075-T6 aluminum has a much higher strength to weight ratio, it does have a higher tendency of cracking than 6061 T6. These facts only prove that the reliability of a bicycle frame is more dependent on the quality of the design and manufacturing process rather than the type of material it is made of. Aluminum corrodes Yes it does. The 6061 series of aluminum has good corrosion resistance. However, if left partially submerged in a salt water it will eventually corrode. Once aluminum is placed in an oxygen environment it builds a protective layer of oxidation. Although this layer plays havoc during any welding process, it does protect the aluminum from many outside elements. As for bicycle frames, this corrosion is benign as it possesses no threat to the structural integrity. The same cannot be said about steel. It can and will rust. If left unchecked, a rusting steel frame shall fail. Aluminum frames are lighter than CroMo frames This is not always true. As pointed out, CroMo has a strength to weight ratio advantage over 6061-T6 aluminum. However, very few bicycles are built out of 4130 CroMo. Most cases mild or low carbon steel is used for lugs, crowns, dropouts, and various tubes on the frame. Secondly, most 4130 CroMo frames are not heat treated. In order to retain ample strength at the welded seam, the tube wall thickness is increased making the overall frame heavier. The end

results is a steel frame that is heavier than aluminum. Only the finest steel frames rival aluminum frames in lightness. Ultimately, it is the frame designer who decides how much the frame weighs.

The facts about Aluminum and CroMo

Aluminum cost more than CroMo CroMo is relatively inexpensive (cost a fraction more than carbon steel) Aluminum welding requires a high degree of skill than CroMo, aluminum cannot be brazed. CroMo can be brazed, TIG or MIG welded, but cannot be welded with an oxyacetylene torch. Aluminum frames do not rust, CroMo and Carbon steel do rust. CroMo is hard to machine Aluminum tubing comes in a much wider range of sizes and thickness than CroMo Aluminum is a reliable metal, after all, most aircraft use aluminum, go figure.

From the arguments covered, you must obviously think I am biased towards aluminum. This is because I am one of the few HPV frame builders that has mastered the technique of aluminum welding and manufacturing. Most HPV or recumbent manufacturers rely on working with CroMo as it takes very little skill to TIG or MIG weld this material. In my opinion, an aluminum frame properly welded is a work of art that has no equal. I am quick to add that aluminum is not always the best material to use in all applications.

Chapter 2 Welding
Version 1.0

Written By Rickey M. Horwitz

Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

I don't have the resources to go into great lengths on how to weld. If you don't know how to weld, then you better learn quickly. I have provided this summary on welding so that you can determine which technique best suits your skills and resources. There are four basic methods of bonding a metal frame material together. These methods are as follows:






Please do not critique or correct me for omitting other processes such glue bonding or some other lesser-known bonding method that has no place in MY discussion.

The most common form of welding is oxyacetylene. This method is good for welding high carbon steel only. Almost every shop has an oxyacetylene torch. If you have access to an oxyacetylene torch, use it!


Brazing is accomplished by using a bronze alloy that is melted and adhered to the parent metal. Normally the melting process is performed using an oxyacetylene torch. However, MAP gas can be utilized, but is not quite hot enough to do most work involving thick parent metals. It is best to use a low fuming bronze rod and applicable flux. Brazing can be used for both CroMo and high carbon steel. Best of all, brazing is a preferred method for attaching small frame components such as cantilever posts and cable stops. Although some frame builders claim that a TIG welded frame is stronger than a fillet brazed frame (the filler bronze doesn't have the strength of CroMo), a brazed frame does not require a post heat treatment. This is because the brazing process does not require as much heat, hence the parent metal is not affected. If you are a novice, brazing is strongly preferred as it produces good results. However, good results require that all joints are mitered to close tolerances as to provide a uniform fit. This practice makes the brazing process much easier and predictable.

MIG can weld aluminum, carbon steel and CroMo. A MIG welding machine is generally inexpensive and is readily available at most school metal shops. For the Thunderbolt project, a 100 amp MIG would need to be employed. Contrary to what anyone has heard, MIG welding does not produce good quality welds. MIG welding is popular for applications requiring lower heat or for automated production. The welds are generally sloppy, but effective. The cheapest bikes built today use MIG welding as these manufacturers have no pride in their workmanship. MIG welded CroMo frames require a post heat treatment just as a TIG process requires. Although I speak of this process in a disparagingly manner, I strongly endorse its use for the hobbyist as it is the cheapest way to start welding.

As with MIG, TIG can weld just about anything that can be welded. TIG welding is the most superior method for all three materials reviewed in chapter 1. Additionally, TIG is the only reliable method for welding aluminum. However, a TIG welder is more expensive than both MIG or oxyacetylene torches. A basic TIG unit costs around $1500. Even at this price, the owner must invest in further options to weld thin wall steel as most cheap TIG welders are unable to weld DC at 30 amps or less. Also note that the TIG method requires greater skill and patience. Although a preferred process, I do not suggest investing in such an apparatus unless you are dead serious about frame building.

Although this section appears vague, I am only presenting available options. If you desire, a combination of two or more of the welding technologies can be used. It's up to you.


Chapter 3
Recumbent Tricycle Design
Written By Rickey M. Horwitz
Version 5.0 Proofed

or the latest changes, look at What's New This section takes over 2 minutes to download at 28.8K (2 min. 12 sec.)

Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Basic Trike Frame Design Trike Steering Geometry Trike Rear End Design Wheel Size Consideration The Human Factor Steering Systems Caution

Frame Weight Seating Brake Systems Wheel Bearing Chain Management Examples of Trike Frame Designs

The written material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

This chapter focuses on the basics of recumbent tricycle designs. In order to keep the concept elementary I have simplified many of the terms and explain the technology in detail at a level that most people will enjoy. If the explanations contained in this document do not address your concerns or doesn't present the 'big picture', please email me (Rick) at

Tadpole vs. Delta Design

Before elaborating on the design overview, I thought it would be appropriate to offer some reasons why I prefer the two wheels front, one wheel aft design commonly referred to as the 'Tadpole' configuration. The most common tricycle design is the single wheel in front, two-wheel aft configuration (1F2R) referred to as the 'Delta' design. Although this design has many merits such as reduced cost,

weight and complexity, it has one outstanding drawback -handling. Although a well-designed Delta configuration offers good handling, the basic geometry prevents the vehicle from exhibiting excellent handling qualities as compared to a tadpole configuration (2F1R). Having limited experience with Delta trike designs, I rely on articles comparing both configurations. In these publications the tadpole comes out ahead as the preferred design for all-out handling. In summary, these articles claim that delta trikes tend to over-steer making a minute twitch at the handle into an exaggerated steer. Personally, the only recumbent delta I have ridden had more of a tendency to under steer as the front wheel had little weight to make it effective. As for a comparison, most people agree that the handling characteristics of a tadpole configuration is slightly more forgiving and predictable than the delta. A tadpole configuration uses the same steering geometry design principles as an automobile. Geometry considerations such as Caster, Camber, and Toe-End exist for this trike design just as they do on an automobile. In contrast, a Delta design uses geometry similar to that of a bicycle. The design objective for the Thunderbolt was to create a 'Cycle-Car', not a bicycle with a third wheel.

Front Steering vs. Rear Steering

One gimmick that pops up every year or so is a rear steering HPV. The rear steering concept has been applied to both Tadpole and Delta trike configurations without any staying success. Although the virtues of rear wheel steering include a simplistic design, lighter weight and a smaller turning radius, the fact that the trike drives like a forklift makes it a losing proposition every time. Since people have a fascination with gimmicks, the rear steering trike shall always have a place in the HPV industry.

Lean Steering Trikes

A lean steering trike is a three wheeled vehicle that steers by virtue of leaning the rider's body into the desired direction of the turn. Although several variations exist, the most notable implementation is where the seat moves in relation to the frame causing the vehicle wheels to turn. A stationary horn or tiller is fixed to the frame (this can also be a U-bar) allowing the rider to lean the seat left or right, hence steering the vehicle. Since the rider leans into the direction of the turn, the center of gravity is optimized producing a trike with excellent low speed handling. The concept is

similar to steering a bicycle with one obvious exception: the leaning is linear to the steering and not by the G forces applied. Consequently, the steering in this implementation is not optimized for higher speeds. Obviously, the example explained here may not be characteristic with all lean steering tricycles. Lately, there have been other implementations of the lean steer trike that allow the front wheels to lean into the direction of the turn. Not only does this enhance the handling characteristics of the trike, it also relieves the wheels from side-loading allowing larger diameter wheels. As with most emerging technology this concept is relatively new, requiring future improvements to make it practical. The main premise of a trike is to provide a stable platform that does not require balancing. Although lean steering has the potential of optimized handling at lower speeds, it does require equilibrium to master. As with rear steering, this is yet another gimmick that comes and goes. Those who are hopelessly hooked on two wheels will be glad to know that there will always be a lean steering trike in at least one incarnation or another.

Front Wheel Drive vs. Rear Wheel Drive

One of the virtues of the recumbent industry is the ever-evolving, innovative change being made. The recumbent trike market is undergoing even more changes. The recent technology making news is front wheel drive systems. The main virtue of a front wheel drive system is superior traction and a localized drive train. Currently, two trike manufacturers build front wheel drive, tadpole-configured recumbent tricycles. This technology is still in its infancy as both manufacturers have several problems to address. Two outstanding problems preventing this technology from instant success are weight and reliability considerations. Ironically, one would think that a localized drivetrain would have these points as virtues instead of liabilities. Perhaps in the near future, these problems shall be worked out, making it a desirable alternative to the conventional, long-chain and idlers of the rear drive system.

Suspended Trikes

A well-designed suspension system can offer a featherbed ride regardless of the conditions of the road. Up until recently, most implementations have been limited to front suspension, as a majority of the rider's weight is placed directly over the front wheels. However, a lightly dampened front suspension system hampers handling, as the trike is more inclined to sway. More sophisticated suspension designs use a parallelogram configuration that reduces sway and brake dive. Simplistic designs avoid these side-effects by restricting the shock travel to under 25 mm (1 inch). Since rear suspension poses no severe adverse consideration to handling or steering geometry, it is gaining fast popularity. With easy-to-route chain management systems, and the cranks being so far forward from the swing arm, it's obvious to see that rear suspension can be easily adopted to a tadpole-configured recumbent trike with little compromise. However, the virtue of a rear suspension system is refutable as the rear wheel delivers less than 1/3 of the total shock felt by the rider. Secondly, the swing arm designs currently employed on these trikes are all more susceptible to sideloading forces than conventional triangulated rear ends.

Basic Trike Frame Design

In this section, I discuss the basic elements of a Tadpole trike design. I also attempt to discuss the hierarchy of each as they apply, so that the readers can understand that any trike design is actually a compromise of all of these elements.

Weight Distribution

The weight distribution of a trike dictates how well it handles. The more weight on the forward wheels, the better the cornering. However, too much weight on the front wheel causes the rear wheel to be too light, and the rear wheel to either wash-out during hard cornering or to end-over during braking. Too much weight in the rear of the trike causes it to capsize even during mild handling as the single wheel has the majority of weight. A trike with 70/30-weight distribution is optimum.

Center of Gravity

Forget what I said about weight distribution. If all the weight is placed well below the axle, the trike is going to have excellent handling regardless of weight distribution. Obviously, a low slung vehicle does have several disadvantages including visibility, safety and comfort.


The effect of the wheelbase on a trike influences the steering, weight distribution and overall comfort. The wheelbase is the length between the rear wheel axle and front wheel(s) axle. A short wheelbase makes the turning radius of a trike much smaller while a long wheelbase makes the turning circle larger. Additionally, a trike with a short wheelbase exhibits faster steering than a trike with a long wheelbase. A short wheelbase trike generally places more of the payload weight on the front wheels. On the other hand, a longer wheelbase trike offers a much smoother ride, as the rider is not placed on top of the wheels. Obviously, a happy medium is needed. For the Thunderbolt and Zephyr, I used a 43-inch wheelbase. If all-out performance is required, a much smaller wheelbase should be used.

Wheel Track

The wheel track is the width between the two front wheels. The wider the wheel track the less susceptible the vehicle is to capsizing during cornering. However, if too wide, the vehicle becomes impractical on most bike lanes. A 32-inch wheel track offers excellent handling and is practical for all bike roads, too.

Steering Geometry

The quality of the steering system and steering geometry also dictates the performance of the trike. The steering geometry is outlined later in this chapter.

Frame Design
The last element in basic trike is the frame design. There are several issues here that affect efficiency and handling. The most important issues of the frame is weight and rigidity. Along with rigidity comes stability, as the lack of frame or wheel flex is always desirable. Beyond these basic requirements are other elements that should be equally noted. Reliability, cost, ergonomic and convenience are but a few requirements that the designer must consider. An excellent frame configuration is a 3-dimensional space frame (e.g., Greenspeed/Zephyr/Diablo), as it is both extremely strong and lightweight. The next choice is a web-gusset, reinforced frame (e.g., Thunderbolt/Spitfire), as it is strong, relatively light and compact. However, the lowest weight, lowest cost, and least rigid of any vehicle would be a two-dimensional frame without seat stays (e.g., Terra Trike and older Trice).


The success of a recumbent tricycle design is a careful mixture of Weight Distribution, Low Center-of-Gravity, Wheelbase, Wheel-Track, Steering geometry and frame configuration.

Trike Steering Geometry

A recumbent trike frame is only as good as the steering, as it behaves similar to an automobile. Therefore, the steering system is inherently complicated as more than a single geometry is used to define it. In this section, I'll discuss the fine art of steering geometry.

Caster Angle The first geometry is the caster angle. This angle is the kingpin plane relationship to the wheel contacting the road (contact patch). Refer to the drawing below. As the drawing illustrates, the kingpin points down in front of the tire's contact patch. This relationship between the contact patch and the kingpin forces the wheels to point inward as weight is placed on the wheels. Increase the kingpin angle, and more force is applied to bring the wheel inward. The resulting effect forces the steering system to return back to a neutral (or straight) position. We use a 12 caster on the Thunderbolt project. As a footnote, a standard automobile uses a 4-5 caster and a race car or go-cart gets much steeper.

Camber The next geometry is the camber angle of the front wheels. If the wheels are at exact right angles to the ground (90 degrees) or the distance between the top of both wheels equals the distance between the bottom of both wheels, the camber is said to be neutral. If the distance between the top of both wheels is shorter than the bottom, the camber is said to be negative. And, if the distance between the top of both wheels is longer than the bottom, the camber is said to be positive. Normally, a negative or neutral camber is desirable. The Thunderbolt project has adjustable camber so that you can adjust it to your satisfaction.

Toe-End The toe-end is actually the desired relationship of the front wheels. Each wheel points inward very slightly when the vehicle is pointed straight. On a trailing arm steering system (such as the Thunderbolt), both wheels have a natural tendency to point inward, as the castering effect forces them to do so. However, the forward motion of the wheels counteracts this force. To reduce this effect, we bring-in, or toe-in, the front wheels slightly. A toe-end of no more than 0.1" is sufficient.

Ackerman Steering Compensation The Ackerman steering compensation provides a way for a vehicle to turn without the front wheels scrubbing. In layman's terms, this means that when the vehicle is steered in either direction, the inside wheel shall always turn sharper than the outside wheel. Let's look at this with an example: My Thunderbolt can turn around a 15-ft. circle. This means that the outer tire is pointing at a particular angle that follows the 15-ft. circle. However, the inside wheel, which tracks 32 inches closer to the inside, must turn at a sharper angle so that it can follow a 9.5 ft circle. Obviously, if both wheels turned at the exact angle, they would scrub when the vehicle turns. Not only would this wear out the tires, it would also cause the vehicle to drastically slowdown during cornering.

Although Ackerman steering compensation is a requirement, it can make the steering sensitive, leading to over-steering at high speeds. As a way to make the steering less sensitive, an AntiAckerman is used. An Anti-Ackerman is actually a partially compensated Arckerman implementation and allows a small amount of scrubbing when turning. Although this Anti-Ackerman slows the vehicles into corners, it does allow the trike to sustain faster speeds

without steering instability. My personal T'bolt can sustain speeds greater than 50 MPH without steering instability, as it uses a 2 AntiAckerman offset. Kingpin Inclination (Center Point Steering)

The inclination of the Kingpin allows the steering axis to turn precisely on the center patch of tire contacting the pavement (hence the name Center Point Steering). Because the steering axis rotates directly over the contacted patch of tire, the steering is less affected by defects in the road, hence reducing 'bump steering.' In addition this concept also reduces brake pull. Another by-product of kingpin inclination and Caster allows the camber to change in relationship to the wheel steering angle. This compensation allows the wheels to lean into the corner in which they are turning. Ultimately, this dynamic orientation modifies the wheel geometry resulting in enhanced handling. The kingpin inclination is at a 90-degree plane in relationship to the caster angle. Some manufacturers refuse to implement center point (pointe for you over the pond) steering into theirs designs. In some cases the designer has placed the King Pin axis so close to the wheel that the king pin centerline becomes very close to the tire patch. However, in most cases the designers or builders are just plain ignorant, as their designs completely ignore this concept.

Kingpin to Wheel Axle Orientation

The placement of the wheel axle, in relationship to the kingpin, drastically affects the steering. If the wheel axles are placed in front (lead) of the kingpin axles, the 'caster effect' is defeated making the steering unpredictable. However, if the wheel axles trail too far behind the kingpin, the steering may be influenced by road shock and by braking. Again, this occurrence is referred to as bump steering and brake pull. Ultimately, the wheel axle and kingpin should intersect or be within 0.5 inches trailing.

Trike Rear End Design

Note In this section, I address the stay reinforcement issue by referring to a Seat Tube. The name originates from descriptions intended for the standard diamond frame bicycle. Beyond this discussion are other types of designs. Additionally, in terms originating from the diamond frame bicycle, we refer to the 2 sets of tubes that support the rear wheel as Chain and Seat stays. The chain stays are normally oriented close to a horizontal plane, where else the seat stays are normally oriented 30 to 70 degrees in relationship to the chain stays and intersect at

the wheel drop-outs. Recumbents are weird, as these conventions sometimes do not apply.

Designing Rear Stays for a Trike

The rear-end structure of a trike requires a balanced combination of reinforcements to overcome direct vertical weight loading, chain loading and torsional side loading. Each of these forces is dynamic and some directly interacts with each other. The designer or builder must make provisions to address each of these loading forces as they play a critical part in the trike's overall design.

Direct Vertical Weight Loading

As mentioned, only 25 to 35% of the total weight of the vehicle is placed on the rear wheel. Therefore, the need for designing rear wheel stays for vertical weight loading is not a chief concern. Most trike designs that do not include triangulated seat/chain stays (Dual Cantilevered stays) still use seat support rods that attach to the chain stays. Although this does not remedy torsional flex caused by side loading, it does offset some of the vertical force applied to the chain stays. Refer to the illustration below.

Chain Loading
Chain loading dictates that when high torque is applied to the crank arms the force is transferred through the chain to the rear wheel. The pulling action of the chain causes either a compression action or cantilever action to the rear wheel stays. If the chain stays are relatively parallel with the chain line, the energy exerted as a compression force. If the chains stays are angled in relationship to the chain line (e.g., the base of the stays are above the chain line), the stays undergo a cantilevered force instead of compression force. As the angle increases so does the tendency for this type of flexing. The vertical weight load on the stays help offset some of this energy. In summary, the chain stays oriented to the chain line handle the compression loading with more predictability than stays that are angled away from the chain line.

Side Loading
Side loading is the affect of the rotational side force placed on the rear wheel (although the front wheels exhibit this too). This force is exerted during cornering or swaying of the trike; hence a torsional

force is applied to the rear wheel stays. The most common method of counteracting this type of force is to triangulate the stays using a combination of seat and chain stays. Both sets of stays require mounting to a firm seat tube (a term used to describe the base tube that both sets of stays attach to) with a minimal space between each stay at the base. The angle between the seat and chain stays is arbitrary as other compromises exist. If the seat tube were a nonflexing structure, the optimum angle of the stays would approach 90 degrees with the chain stays parallel with the chain line. However, the seat tube is an integral part of the trike frame and is also subject to flexing. Consequently, added reinforcement is necessary for the frame to accommodate this configuration. A compromise would be to lower the angle so that minimal reinforcement would be required for the seat tube. Another method for reducing side loading forces on the stays is to use a smaller rear wheel. Since a smaller wheel has a reduced radius, the side forces have reduced leverage on the wheel axle. Additionally, the smaller radius allows shorter chain stays decreasing the side loading effect even further. On the down side, a smaller rear wheel makes the ride of the vehicle even harsher. Special gearing is also an issue. An Angled Cantilevered Stay is yet another method for reducing side loading. I will discuss this design later.

Rear Stay Examples

Although many configurations exist, I have compiled together a study of a few basic designs that summarize this sections discussion.

Dual Cantilevered Stays

The rigidity of a trikes rear-end increases both reliability and performance. Many trike designers choose to use only dual cantilevered chain stays (or a single stay with a stub axle). Although this is a violation of my trike design principle, it does reduce the overall cost and weight of the trike. Furthermore, reducing the size of the wheel makes this approach more attractive, as it reduces the cost and weight further and increases the stiffness and reliability. It is my opinion that the overall weight and cost penalty outweigh the penalty for sacrificed performance and reliability.

Angled, Dual Cantilevered Stays

Triangulated stays are not the only solution. Back in 1995, I met Bill Hauzak who was displaying a new, lightweight version of his popular short wheelbase Horizon recumbent bike. Instead of using a triangulated rear stay, Bill opted to use a single chain stay rear-end design using a modified BMX fork. At first glance I thought the rear wheel would be susceptible to severe side loading. However, after careful inspection I concluded that the rear end was adequately firm proving my first impression absolutely wrong. What made Hauzaks rear frame design so rigid that he could use a single stay design? The answer lay in the geometry in which the stays were designed. The best way to explain this configuration is to use the standard front wheel and fork as an example. The fork blades point towards the ground in a vertical fashion. The supported wheel transfers all the side loading forces to the fork crown. A dual cantilevered stays design

is identical to a standards fork assembly, except its mounted horizontally instead of vertically.

Let us compromise and move the fork/stays to 45 degrees. We now have stays that can handle side-loading forces. This is what the Angled, Dual Cantilevered Stays are all about. This approach can be implemented for a trike, provided that a seat tube is added to compensate for the low CG required for a tricycle design. For any type of structure, the price for rigidity is weight. The low CG required for a trike makes it difficult to maintain angled chain stays without increasing the amount of main tubing material. This can be seen in the illustration above. Another penalty that must be paid is chain line routing. If the chain line routes directly from the main tube to the rear wheel, the chain stays would flex under the demanding loads of the chain. Consequently, either the angle of the stays must be reduced or conventional triangulated stays must be employed.

Full Triangulated Stays

This classic design has been in use for over a century. No surprises here, it works and there has not been a tube design since that can rival the strength and reliability. Any trike manufacture worthy of praise would design a trike rear end with full-triangulated stays. This design solves all loading problems as well as chain and vertical loading. The drawbacks of a fully triangulated rear end are that it complicates the design, costs more and adds weight to the trike. However, these issues I regard as trivial. See the illustration below.

Single Cantilevered Stay

The Windcheetah, AS32, and the Rubicon all use a Single Cantilevered Stay design. In comparison to the Dual Cantilever Stays, the rear wheel is supported on only one end of the axle. This chain stay in most implementations is an extension of the main frame tube. Although I have little experience with this design, I can confidently remark that the chief redeeming feature is aesthetic quality and certainly not performance. As with the dual cantilever stays

configuration, the design is void of any side loading support. Additionally, the single end support of the rear wheel axle is subject to added cantilever forces. Again, a smaller rear wheel reduces these problems, but does not eliminate them.

As with all aspects of the trike, the rear end design is based on the builders specification. However, I have made the decision for the Thunderbolt and have designed it using triangulated rear stays.

Wheel Size Consideration

Tadpole-designed trikes come in a wide variety of wheel size configurations. If the center of gravity were not an issue, I would be bold to mention that wheel size has little affect on handling (if the rear wheel stays are sturdy enough). Chiefly, wheel size affects efficiency, weight and quality of ride. During the testing of my first prototype, I discovered that large diameter front wheels were too weak and tended to fold (taco) easily during hard cornering. BMX 20-inch wheels (ERTO 406) were tried and found to work without any problems. Since the rear tire is under less side loading, I was able to use 26-inch wheels that offered excellent rolling resistance and made the ride significantly smoother than a rear 20-inch BMX wheel. The chief advantage of a small rear wheel is that it offers better reliability and lighter weight than a large wheel. The reliability aspect of a smaller wheel system is that smaller wheels tend to take side loading better than larger wheels. The lighter weight virtue is obvious, as a smaller wheel is lighter than a larger diameter wheel and the wheel stays are smaller, too. The chief advantage of larger wheels is that they provide better RollOver resistance and offer a stable, comfortable ride. Additionally, a large rear wheel does not require special gearing (such as an oversized chain ring and extra chain). Although I show more virtue for a small rear wheel concept, the Thunderbolt project uses standard 20-inch BMX wheels in the front,

and a 26-inch ATB tire for the rear. If an 'impractical for street' vehicle is desired, the Thunderbolt geometry can be easily altered to accept 16-inch wheels in front and a 20-inch wheel for the rear. In fact, such a trike could theoretically weigh less than 29 lbs. versus the nominal 33-34 lbs. for a 20x26 configured Thunderbolt.

The Human Factor

The basis for a recumbent style HPV is to provide comfort. Therefore, great care should be made to provide simple ergonomics such as the placement of key controls. The seat should be somewhat adjustable as to modify the orientation to suit the rider. In the case of a recumbent, the height of the bottom bracket should require deliberation, as it is a very important and subjective issue. It is best to use a neutral or conservative approach to ergonomics as a baseline. After your experimentation, the design can be changed to accommodate your special needs. The key advantage of a tricycle recumbent is that the orientation of the rider has little impact on the handling characteristics or performance of the vehicle (as long as weight distribution and CG are optimum). A tricycle allows the designer greater flexibility in the design so that more emphasis can be placed on the rider's ergonomics.

Steering Systems

Steering systems come in two basic flavors: Over Seat Steering(OSS) and Under Seat Steering (USS). Each of these steering systems have several configurations. Over Seat Steering- OSS Advantages

Lower weight Lower complexity Allows a narrow track wheels configuration Lowers overall frontal area, improved aerodynamics


Rider cannot use the tiller for support, requires a seat with lateral support to keep the rider from falling out. Not as popular as Under Seat Steering, due to arm fatigue or lack of intuitive design.

The Over Seat Steering (OSS) system is normally configured as a 'T' or 'Y' bar Single Handle Tiller. As for the better steering handle configuration, it is a matter of personal preference. From an inconclusive observation, the Single Handle Tiller (or 'Y' bar) is geared towards sport riding, as the rider's arms have limited support, but tight control. The 'T' bar fits the more traditional role as it is both user-friendly and a bit more comfortable than the 'Y' bar. Whatever the preference, the design of the OSS mechanism is a science. On higher quality trikes, the steering column rotates freely using a universal joint (U-joint). The U-joint allows the steering mechanism to move with the rider's body, as to allow body English. On cheaper trikes, the steering column is either fixed or restricted to a single axis movement. Under Seat Steering-USS Advantages

Intuitive control makes it easier to master Provides comfortable support for arms Gives the rider support during high G turn, precludes the use of lateral seat support.


Heavier weight compare to OSS Added mechanical complexity (depending on the implementation)

Places the riders hands dangerously close to the wheels or ground Requires ample wheel track for U bar clearance

As for Under Seat Steering, the actual steering mechanism is either a U-bar configuration or dual lever design. Again, the choice is up to the rider, as to which configuration is better suited. The dual lever design is best suited for ultimate comfort, while the U-bar gives the vehicle a sportier and lighter feel. Additionally, the U-bar system tends to be simpler and cheaper as it requires less parts for operation. However, the expensive, dual-lever system offers superior linearity and better flexibility for adjustment. Steering Linkage Systems and How They Work The steering linkage is another factor in the equation. Although more than a dozen steering systems exist, I'll mention a few widely used steering linkage systems as they would apply to the Thunderbolt. These are shown and explained below:

Single Tie Rod and Drag Link System

This type of steering system was common on early automobiles and eventually found its way to farm tractors. A knuckle-to-knuckle Drag Link provides continuity between the wheels, while the Tie Rod provides linkage to a Bell Crank (Pitman Arm). Although this system uses more parts than the other two steering systems, it provides superior flexibility for adjustment without affecting Ackerman. However, the system weighs slightly more than the other two systems mentioned. Misalignment of the Bell Crank orientation (caused by the Tie Rod deviating from 90) causes a slight nonlinearity throughout the steering range. This inconvenience can be compensated, but not fully eliminated.

The above drawing depicts an application for OSS (Over Seat Steering). For USS (Under Seat Steering U-bar), the drawing below applies.

The example above is used for the Thunderbolt USS project. One of the confusing questions concerning the above configuration, is why I placed the two knuckle levers aft instead of forward with the other lever. The answer is obvious. For Ackerman compensation, the levers would require angling out towards the wheels. Although this could be done, the levers would be too short for practical use. Additionally, the forward mounted drag link may interfere with the rider's heels. Dual Drag Link System
The illustration below refers to the geometry relationship as it applies to the Thunderbolt. As depicted, the bellcrank axle does not align with the kingpins. Obviously, a shorter bellcrank arm can be adapted with success if the bellcrank axle is moved aft so that the both control arms are almost parallel. However, the shorter length lever shall have some affect on the overall Ackerman.


The example above is used for the Thunderbolt OSS project. This system offers lower weight and less parts than the Single Idler Arm system and is optimized for Over Seat Steering, as the Bell Crank is mounted almost at the kingpin plane. The major advantage to this system is that a knuckle-to-knuckle Drag Link is not required. This design was used on the Volkswagen Bug over 50 years ago. The Bell Crank orientation and length must remain constant to maintain proper Ackerman. Adapting a USS steering system requires a U-bar mounted aft of the king pins. Unfortunately, the steering linkage becomes increasingly complicated as a second Pitman Arm (Bell Crank) and Tie Rod are required (refer to the drawing below). The Bell Crank length (from arm pivot to axle) must equal the Steering Knuckle Lever length (measured from the arm pivot to kingpin axle). Deviations to this relationship can diminish the Ackerman compensation.

The example above was initially used on the production Thunderbolts. Obviously, you can see why we are using the Single Tie-Rod/Single Drag Link steering system.

Crossed Dual Drag Link

The Crossed Duel Drag Link is optimized for a USS (U-bar system), as the Bell Crank (Pitman arm) is placed behind the steering Kingpins. This linkage system is used on Ian Sims' Greenspeed Recumbent Trike. Although I applaud for the ingenuity on its implementation, I question the placement of an exposed steering system on the bottom of a trike. Note that this is the only example rendered of a Leading Lever steering system. The Crossed Duel Drag Link system can be adapted for OSS by moving the Bell Crank forward. However, an Aft Lever Dual Drag Link steering system is better suited for an OSS configuration. The science of maintaining a linear rod linkage system requires the application of the Right Angle Rule. The Right Angle Rule requires that both rod ends maintain a 90 angle to each linked lever arm when the wheels are in a neutral, forward position. Not only does this practice insure that both rods maintain a linear arc throughout the full range of motion, it also insures the stability of the linkage. As the rod ends approach an angle close to 0 or 180 in relationship to either of the lever arms, the linkage rod loses its ability to hold and control the arm. The Right Angle approach guarantees the steering linkage force is optimized throughout the 90 arc of steering travel.

This principal is applied to the Crossed Dual Drag Link steering configuration shown above. To achieve the 90-angle relationship with the above example, the two drag link rods require separate mounts on the Pitman Arm. To prevent tire scrubbing during turning, these mounting locations are angled back further on the Pitman Arm to provide the necessary Ackerman compensation. Summary Each steering system has its advantages and disadvantages depending on its application. My personal choice is an aft lever system using a Single Tie Rod and Drag Link System. My decision is based on cosmetics and practicality.

Frame Weight
Note In several periodicals and articles, I have found conflicting definitions of "Sprung" and "Unsprung" weight. In the automobile industry, Unsprung weight refers to the weight not supported by springs (e.g., wheels, steering linkage, etc.). People talking about bicycles have contradicted terms referencing both Sprung and Unsprung weight as the same. Consequently, I am avoiding the semantics of both definitions, as they officially do not apply to HPV's (according to my Webster's). The performance merit of any bicycle or HPV is based chiefly on gross weight; however, more important is where the weight resides. Weight or mass residing in the moving parts (e.g., wheels, cranks, chain) significantly compromises overall efficiency. This is what I refer to as Dynamic Weight. In simple physics, the larger the mass, the more energy it takes to alter its motion (and the more energy stored, too). Mass that maintains a constant velocity or subtle changes there of, does not require much energy to maintain its motion. The key phrase is altering or changing velocity. Obviously, it takes more energy to achieve a velocity than to maintain it. That is why the dynamic weight of the vehicle (the wheels, cranks, and chain) must be as small as possible. Weight residing in non-moving parts (e.g., rider's torso, HPV frame, accessories) presents less of a performance penalty, as it is only

plays a factor during acceleration, up-hill riding and added wheel resistance. In summary, lighter wheels and drive train are the key to optimum performance. Weight loss in non-moving components should be of secondary concern.

Note I do not have quantitative data that specifically addresses this subject. However, I have conducted numerous experiments in sling/webbing and rigid back seat design.

Seating is a preference. Basically, an HPV seat is divided into two types: Mesh or Rigid. In some incarnations, a combination of the two can be had. Each has its virtues and disadvantages. Some people indicate that foam-back rigid seats have the greatest efficiency, but none have substantiated their claim. The same applies to mesh seats. Performance Criteria The critical performance issue of an HPV recumbent seat is the provision for firm support of the rider's lower back. Deflection for the lower back of the seat should be less than 1.5 inches. Deflection for the buttocks and upper back can be exaggerated without much efficiency loss. Please note that this performance criteria may not apply to low angle seating. Another important performance issue is seat weight. Lately, graphite composite materials have made rigid seats as light as the nylon mesh on aluminum frame seats. A lower seat angle allows better aerodynamics. Aerodynamics play a critical role in an HPV's overall performance. With a low slung seat, the trike rider can cut through the wind like a hot knife through butter....right smack into a car! Low slung seats compromise the rider's vision, so beware! Comfort Criteria As for comfort, take your pick. My personal preference is a Mesh Sling seat. The fabric is breathable and is void of uncomfortable hard

spots. A well designed, quality made sling seat has several adjustments that can fit the most discerning buttocks. The virtue of a rigid seat is that it can provide firmness. However, in my experience, they have been scorned by many racers, as they retain heat and moisture and many are not adjustable. Easy Racer has addressed some of these problems by using a set of contoured pillions. These pillions are designed for minimized area, but allow maximized support and comfort. Seat angles and head rests are subjective topics. As for an efficiency advantage (disregarding aerodynamics), I have heard pros and cons from each camp. As for head rests, they're great. However, bicycle helmets are designed for upright bicycles and not for recumbent trikes. Consequently, back rests and helmets don't seem to get along these days. Side/Lateral Support Criteria A trike seat is unique in that it must provide lateral support for the rider. However, this is not always true. In the case of the Greenspeed GTS and GTR model trikes a piece of nylon mesh (simple potato sack) is stretched over the seat frame and offers no lateral support. In this design, the Under Seat Steering 'U' bar provides the lateral support for the rider. In other cases lateral support is built into the seat. A primary example is the Windcheetah. The Windcheetah or Speedy was designed as a narrow track, Over Seat Steering configured trike. Thus lateral support is required to keep the rider in the cockpit during high G turns. As mentioned, everything is a compromise, even the seat.

Brake Systems
Before I go off the deep end on this subject, I must mention that most tadpole trikes use only front brakes. A back brake is rarely used. Therefore, this discussion focuses on front wheel brakes. I'll elaborate on the rear brakes later. Basically, three types of braking systems are employed: and Caliper. Drum Brakes Drum, Disc,

The standard drum brake used for the majority of recumbent trikes is the Sachs VT5000. This drum brake is classified as a single, leading shoe brake. The basic drum brake uses two brake shoes inside a cylinder drum. When the brakes are applied, an actuator rotates an oblong cam that forces both brake shoes outward against the cylinder

drum. See the illustration below.

Drum Brakes, Pros and Cons The major advantage of the drum brake is that it provides solid and reliable braking and is optimized for Tadpole trike designs. The disadvantage is that a drum brake performs poorly in wet weather conditions (if moisture gets into the drum) and is susceptible to heat fading. Additionally, the self-energizing drum brake action is nonlinear and may be slightly unpredictable.

Single Leading Shoe Drum Brake The single leading shoe drum brake is a self-energizing brake system. The principle behind the self-energizing brake is that when the brake shoe is applied to the drum, the brake mechanism diverts some of the rotating energy and applies it to the shoe for additional contact force to the drum, hence more friction and stronger braking force. In essence, the self-energizing mechanism operates as a positive feedback system. The chief component of the self-energizing system is the leading shoe. As mentioned, the shoe moves on a stationary axis. On the opposite end, a cam is used to push the shoe against the drum. The leading shoe is designed in such a fashion that when the cam pushes that shoe against the rotating drum, the initial friction grabs the shoe and forces it even harder against the drum. As the name implies, only one of the two shoes is self-energized. The direction of rotation dictates which shoe is leading (self-energizing). In most cases. the drum brake manufacturer designs the leading shoe slightly larger and heavier than the passive shoe. The Single Leading Shoe Drum Brake is widely used for bicycles and HPVs.

Dual Leading Shoe Drum Brake The dual leading shoe self-energizes both brake shoes. In this configuration, the stationary axis is replaced with another Cam. The Cam profile is changed from an oblong shape to a half-crescent. This applies to both cams. The new shape allows each cam to operate a single brake shoe. The rounded portion of the crescent shape cam acts as a stationary axis for one shoe while the flat portion of the cam actuates the other shoe. In summary, the leading shoe is the near pinnacle of drum brake design. Unfortunately, the Dual Leading Shoe has not found an application on production bicycles or HPVs. Drum Brake Fading Brake fading is the degradation of braking power over a defined time of constant usage. An example is traveling down a steep and long descent, applying the brakes constantly to maintain a safe speed.

During the descent, the brakes may appear weaker, requiring extra force. Contrary to popular superstition, brake fading is caused by the expansion of the brake shoes and drum that occurs during extreme heat. When brakes are cold or at room temperature, the brake shoe fits flush against the drum. When both of these components get warm, they began to expand. Consequently, the brake shoe no longer fits flush against the drum and braking is impaired. The brake shoe material does not compromise due to heat, and hence does NOT cause brake fading! Over the last century, scientists and engineers have perfected several composite materials that stand up well to excessive heat and wear. Braking is a science, not voodoo magic. Disc Brakes

The problems with brake fading and sensitivity to moisture have both been remedied by the advent of the Disc Brake system. The disc brake applies a set of flat pads on opposing sides of a revolving rotor. Since both brake pads and rotor surfaces are flat, the brake is infallible to fading or moisture buildup. Disc Brake Pros and Cons

The major advantage of Disc Brakes is that they provide excellent and reliable braking and are optimized for Tadpole trike designs. The disc brake action is proportional and provides smooth braking even during the harshest weather conditions. As for disadvantages, the majority of disc brakes are heavy as compared to drum brakes. Lighter disc brakes are available, but are very expensive. Performance reliability for disc brakes is another problem, as most disc brakes are prone to rubbing.

Not only is this rubbing an annoyance, it is also a performance robber. In recent times, the disc brake systems adapted for bicycles have advanced dramatically. In the past, the bicycle disc brake had a negative reputation as being heavy, noisy and having lackluster performance. However, due to many technological breakthroughs (chiefly in material science), disc brakes are now smaller, stronger, and quieter.

Disc Brake Characterization Several variations of the disc brake exist. A disc brake is categorized by Actuation and Execution. Actuation Actuation is how the brake is activated. Three types exist: Mechanical Cable, Hydraulic, and Hybrid. Mechanical Cable Systems use much of the same hardware as a standard bicycle caliper brake. The brake is actuated using a conventional handle and cable/housing. A levering or cam system constricts two brake pads against the rotor in order for braking. The advantage of a mechanical disc brake is that the cabling is simple and parts are always readily available. The major disadvantage of this system is that the inherent cable-stretch and cable housing compression reduces the overall effective force that can be applied to the brake mechanism. Hydraulic Systems rely on a Master and Slave cylinder system to provide the actuation. As with all hydraulics, the medium is a lightweight oil that is moved through a semi rigid line from the brake handle (Master Cylinder) to the disc caliper. The amount of force developed by the Master Cylinder depends on the cylinders displacement. The direct force that can be applied by a hydraulic system is awesome! However, no system is without its problems.

Replacement parts are difficult to find, and if you dont like the handles that came with your brakes, well... too bad. The Hybrid System uses standard brake cables, but actuates a mechanism that contains both Master and Slave cylinders. The reason for this system is it allows a cable linkage system to be optimized by the caliper. Additionally, the hydraulic actuator provides better performance than a total mechanical system. As a mixed blessing, conventional cabling and brake handles can be used. Execution The mechanics of a disc brake are simple: Squeeze two brake pads against a turning rotor and voila! However, preventing the brake pads from rubbing against the rotor (when the brake is not engaged) has always been a problem. I'll describe two methods how this is accomplished.

In the Floating Rotor design, a Caliper containing the actuator and

brake pads is situated in a fixed position (e.g., mounted to the steering knuckle). The Rotor is mounted to a spline shaft on the wheel hub where it has restricted horizontal movement. When the rotor is rotating, it can brush up against either of the two opposing pads. When this occurs, the rotor bounces off the pad and is resituated (hopefully) in a position where it is not touching either pad. The premise of this design is that rotor and pad rubbing cannot be avoided, but can be reduced to a tolerable level. Advantage: no calibration or adjustment and the system is light and simple. Disadvantage: always slight rubbing, and the spline is prone to wear out quickly. In a Floating Caliper design, the caliper is either floating or is biased to a location where neither pads contact the rotor. On the Practical Innovation's disc brake, the caliper was designed so that it was in a fixed or biased position during no braking. During braking, the caliper became free-floating so that both pads could contact the rotor with identical force. Advantage, least susceptible to rotor/pad rubbing. Disadvantage, many adjustments and weight penalty. The Fixed Caliper design, is built around the assumption that the rotor is perfectly true and will remain so. As the name implies, this caliper design is stationary and can have one or both pads activated (via hydraulic actuator) during braking. These disc brake system are usually the lightest and also the most expensive.

Caliper Brake System

The venerable caliper brake offers adequate performance and reliability. Since several books exist on this subject, I will not elaborate much. The caliper brake system can only be used with the Steering Stirrup that supports a standard BMX wheel. This additional ancillary can compromise weight constraints. However, the caliper brake is readily available and so are the BMX standard wheel sets. The economy and practicality of this system makes it a very attractive alternative for the home builder. Summary

As a designer and innovator of disc brake systems for tadpole trikes, my opinion stands as an authority on this subject. Currently, I feel that the drum brake is the most practical choice (not always the best) for recumbent trikes. The drum brake is inexpensive and easy to adapt to tricycle needs. Even though the hydraulic disc brake beats the drum in almost all categories, the hydraulic system does not allow single master/multiple slave operation (similar to an automobile). With several experiments slated for 1999, I may have a viable solution at hand to resolve these shortcomings. Side Note
As the former owner of Practical Innovations, my mission was to produce a product that was technologically ahead of its time. I spent many months and thousands of dollars developing a practical disc brake system. My first two generations of disc brakes were utter failures. However, perseverance prevailed and I finally developed a high performance disc brake system that was reliable. The disc brake was the main selling point for all models of Zephyrs sold. Although there are now disc brake systems that offer better performance than my own, I am the only manufacturer that has successfully implemented a proprietary brake and linkage system to a recumbent.

Wheel Bearings
The biggest misunderstanding in designing a recumbent trike is the requirement for both front and rear hub bearings. For years we have been tantalized by all the great custom hubs built by Phil Wood and countless other manufacturers. Most of these hub builders use sealed cartridge bearings. When we hear the word "Cartridge Bearing" we think of performance, quality, and reliability. What we are not told, is that sealed cartridge bearings are specifically designed for radial loading and not optimized for axial loading. Radial loading is the amount of weight placed vertically above the axle. Sitting on a trike places an axial load on the bearings. The drawing below is a cross-sectional view of a radial bearing.

Axial or Thrust loading is the amount of force placed against the horizontal plane of the axle. Negotiating a tight corner at high speeds places a radial load on all three wheels. A cross-sectional view of a cup-and-cone Axial bearing is shown below.

Although all bicycles use a combination of both axial and radial loading, the recumbent tricycle places much more emphasis on axial loading. Therefore, the venerable cup-and-cone bearing arrangement is still the most effective. If an axial load rated bearing is the best, why are they less reliable than the sealed cartridge bearing? It turns out that the seal makes the biggest difference in the cartridge bearing. If a similar seal existed for the axial cup-and-cone bearing, the longevity would exceed that of the cartridge bearing. Another advantage of the cartridge bearing is the easy serviceability. In most axial bearings, the cup is an integral part of the hub and cannot be replaced. Summary Although the cartridge bearing appears attractive, it is not always the ultimate solution.

Chain Management and Drivetrain Efficiency


Chapter 4 Thunderbolt Design Review

Written By Rickey M. Horwitz
Revision. 2.6 February 5, 2000
Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

The Background of the Thunderbolt

Up until the release of the Zephyr Mk I (May 1994), I had never bothered to study another production recumbent trike. My first encounter with any recumbent trike was Mike Burrow's Windcheetah found in Richard Ballentine's Ultimate Bicycle Book. I was so impressed by the design's utter simplicity and styling that I went to work designing a trike with similar traits.

The newly designed trike was originally dubbed 'Mariah' and was intended as an OEM to EcoCycle as the next generation Trice. However, the deal fell through and I was stuck with a product I didn't have a market for. In 1996, my Zephyr Mk III increased in cost and I wanted to offer a product that was a bit more practical and affordable. Therefore, I tweaked the design a bit, renamed it the 'Thunderbolt'. The Thunderbolt or "T'bolt" as I nicknamed it, is a very high performance, low cost trike. Sadly, it was not until I closed my business, that the recumbent market realized the potential of this product. In almost every category, it was superior to anything available. As the recumbent industry releases improved products over the last four years, the value of the venerable Thunderbolt design was bound to lose some appeal. To stay on the competitive edge, several refinements have been made from the original design. As a result of these improvements, the Thunderbolt specification now competes on the same level as any of the leading trike manufacturers. A list of improvements include; steering geometry, weight distribution, lower center of gravity, and a much lighter frame.


Many neophytes may think that this Thunderbolt frame is too complicated. The design of both the Thunderbolt and Zephyr emphasize on artistic quality that goes much deeper than most simpletons can admire or comprehend. I don't claim this project is for the average homebuilder, as it is a terrific undertaking. However, if the trike is built to the specification outlined in the drawings and instructions, I am confident that you will be extremely satisfied with the results.

Work Required
The art of bicycle frame building is not for the faint hearted. Additionally, building a complex Cycle Car is no easy undertaking either. To complicate these matters, the Thunderbolt design requires lots of fabrication details. I have attempted to simplify this project, but found that few shortcuts (deviations) from the original design could be made. Novice frame builders may find this project challenging. Improvising is a necessity, as materials and tools may not always be available. Although, a well-designed jig insures near perfect results, such a tool is a luxury, as it requires precise fabrication. Consequently, the builder must improvise for these shortcomings too. The purpose of this project is to build a recumbent trike with as little resources and time possible. I don't expect to get into specifics on time consuming apparatuses such as frame fixtures. These items require painstaking detail and are normally reserved for individuals who have advanced skills and machinery.

Note This is a living document. I change the specifications and material requirements as required and at any time. If you feel the documentation is too confusing or I have left something out, contact me so that I can make the corrections. RMH

Aluminum Construction

The lightest and strongest frames ever built are fabricated from aluminum. The Thunderbolt can be built easily under 31 lbs. using a heat treated aluminum frame (the production versions weighed <35 lbs.). I understand that many homebuilders do not have experience with aluminum fabrication. However, changing my design to adopt steel would have been too time-consuming and I saw no value in it for myself. I have included some deviations for steel fabrication, but I cannot verify if the numbers are correct. I want to emphasize that the aluminum design requires a post heat treat. If this is not done the frame will be weak and ultimately fail. If a post heat treat cannot be had, increase the wall thickness of all tubes 25%. BTW-a .065 wall aluminum frame is sturdy enough for 225 lbs. .085 frame is good for 275 lbs.

Single Frame Fits All

Originally, I built two sizes of Thunderbolt frames, large and small. Obviously, this would require two set of plans. To reduce the confusion, the plans focus only on a modified version of the large frame (shorter boom using a lower angle) . The frame can be easily modified for smaller people (those having an inseam less than 32") by adjusting modifying the angle of the cross members so that the bottom bracket is elevated for adequate heal to ground clearance.

Angled Cross-member

The 114-degree angled Cross-Member was originally intended for the Zephyr Mk II and Mk III. This angled cross-member allowed the sliding bottom bracket assembly to move fully aft. Since the original Thunderbolt used the same fixtures as the Zephyr, this design attribute was copied. Although there is nothing structurally wrong with the design of this cross-member, it can be simplified to a 90-degree structure. An obvious virtue of the 90 degree system is that it allows simplistic approach to building the trike. The steering knuckle levers can be reduced decreasing weight and adding reliability.

When reviewing the drawings you may encounter 110-degree vice 114 degree. During the documentation, I inadvertantly recorded the angle incorrectly from my notes and placed this error on most of the drawings. it

wasn't until a recent audit that this error was discovered. the 110 as 114.

Therefore, treat

Adjustable Steering Geometry

Almost all production trikes use fixed geometry system. A fixed geometry means that neither Caster or Camber is adjustable. The most common method for securing the Kingpin to the tricycle frame is by using a standard bicycle headset. Obviously the tube interfacing with the inner race of the headset represents the Kingpin. The Kingpin secures the steering knuckles using a single-ended cantilever design. Although the materials for these steering systems are universal, they do not allow any geometry changes to the steering. The Thunderbolt, Zephyr Mk II and Mk III all used Rod-End Bearings as a way of securing the kingpin to the tricycle frame. These bearings have proven to be extremely reliable and effective. I first got the idea of using rod-ends from a local Go-cart shop. In fact most of what I learned about recumbent tricycles, I learned from the knowledgeable people at Cal Karts in San Jose, CA. I figured if these bearings were tough enough for Quarter Midgets, they must be good for recumbent trikes too. Another reason I chose to use the adjustable rod-end bearings was to compensate for the frame distortion caused by heat treating process of the aluminum frame. Since the usage of these bearings allows very loose tolerances, extreme trike frame alignment will not be a critical issue.

Rear Wheel Triangulation

Several Trike designs notably the Terra Trike, Dragon-Flyer, early Trice (US and early UK models), Landstrider, Rubicon and Windcheetah do not use a seat tube and/or seat stays to add support to the rear wheel. The flimsy chain stays results in a wheel that flops during hard cornering (commonly known as side loading effect). Although all these manufacturers dismiss this anomaly as benign, it does compromise the trikes handling capability and can lead to early frame failure. Designs such as the new Crystal Engineering Trice and the Greenspeed GR20/20R are both fine examples of sturdy rear-end design. To reduce rear wheel flop, the Thunderbolt uses a fully triangulated rear stay system. The weight penalty is only 10 oz, and the overall rear stiffness is excellent.

Webbed Gusset Reinforcements

Web gussets add structural integrity to the trike design preventing it from flexing and from early frame fatigue. CroMo trikes are allowed to flex without fatiguing, so these structural supports are not as common on steel frames. The T'bolt uses a total of three of these structures to insure extended reliability of the frame.

Chain Management

The T'bolt uses a two set roller system. If I had the opportunity for a redesign, I would convert the system for a single roller system.

Removable Seat

With the seat removed, a T'bolt can be shipped UPS, or can be placed in the trunk of a car if needed. Additionally, the seat offers no structural support to the frame, hence it not required to permanently fasten it.

We Have a Seat!

The seat for Thunderbolt requires a special fixture and detailed instructions. At first, I saw no value in it for myself as these instructions were too complicated. After much thought, I took the the plunge and painstakingly detailed the instruction for fabricating the seat. These plans have been released. As before, a Lightning Stealth seat (or any seat with a 2" tube mounting and stay mounts) can also be used for this project.

Upright Seat Position

Some Greenspeed and Windcheetah customers claim that the steep 35 or even 30degree position of the seat is much more comfortable than an increased upright position. I refuse to argue about religious subjects such as seat angles. However, lying on your back impairs your vision, and lowers the visibility of the trike, hence creating a potential safety hazard. As for efficiency, the steep angle does reduce the overall frontal area of the trike, making it increasingly aerodynamic. However, this steep position does not make pedaling more efficient.

Single Tiller

I designed an articulated single handled tiller back in 1994-95. The design was based upon the Windcheetah steering mechanism with some radical changes (see above). For a more conventional approach, I have a simple 'T' bar design that uses standard grip shift (see image below). I will also offer plans for an underseat steering similar to the one used on the production version of the T'bolt. However, it is mechanically complicated and adds an extra 1 lb. to the trike.

Absolutely Painless Steering and Braking System

The most challenging problems building a trike is fabricating the front steering system. After all, modifying a Sachs drum brake hub to accommodate a single ended axle is not a task easily accomplished by the average enthusiast. Secondly, fabricating the intricate steering knuckle to accommodate a drum brake is equally difficult. I understand that most people interested in this project wouldn't want shell out $200.00 for a pair of unmodified Sachs brake hubs. Obviously, there is a risk involved here. In fact, some trike manufacturers don't have the know-how to design or build a front brake systems for a trike. Instead of capitalizing on your shortcomings, I have redesigned a new front wheel system that uses standard BMX wheels and axles and standard caliper brakes. This new steering system which I have coined the "Cantilevered Stirrup System" is the most practical approach ever conceived. The system weighs only a few ounces more than the more elaborate designs found on the expensive trikes. The geometry and braking performance rivals that of conventional designs using drum brakes. Best of all, fenders can be easily fitted and the system is very cheap and simple. The only draw back to this system is that I have never tested the prototype. If this unproved design appears

questionable to you, I suggest sticking to the conventional method using the Sachs hubs as outlined in this document.

The Stirrup design allows use of standard caliper brakes and BMX wheels

Thunderbolt Configurations
The Thunderbolt project is offered in many different configuration. Currently, these configurations affect steering, braking and frame geometry. The list below itemizes the different configurations and requirements. Frame Type
o o

Standard 114 Cross-member Optional 90 Cross-member

Steering Type

Over Seat Steering using a Tiller

Under Seat Steering using a U-bar

Brake Type
o o o o

Sachs VT5000 Sturmey Archer Elite No drum brakes in front Stirrup wheel knuckle support assembly using caliper brakes.

Chapter 5 Parts Required

Version 2.3 Written by Rickey M. Horwitz

Below is a listing of all hardware and materials required to complete the Thunderbolt project. Although the listing has been scrutinized, some material may have been omitted from the list. If anyone finds a reasonable source for any of the materials below or has discovered an error on this list, please share your findings with us by E-mailing If a more accurate listing is needed, refer to the hardware requirements of each applicable chapter or section. The Thunderbolt can be fabricated using three types of braking. Each braking scheme require different parts. To reduce confusion, I have color coded the parts as follows: Standard common parts are shown as black Parts for rear brake only system are shown in Green. Parts for the steering stirrup and caliper brake system are shown in dark Blue. Parts for the Sachs Drum brakes are shown in Red.
All dimensions in SAE unless specified

Aluminum Tubing and Round Stock (all 6061 -T6) 68" long, 1" x .083" round tubing. If frame is heat-treated .063 can be used. 12" long, 1.125 x .063" round tubing. 16" long, 1.75 x.083" round tubing. 2.5" long, 1.75 x .250" round tubing*

36" long, .875 (7/8") x .083" round tubing. 16" long .4375" (7/16") round Aluminum stock. 28" long, .375 (3/8) round Aluminum stock. 2" x .083"x 84" round tubing. If frame is heat-treated, .063 can be used. 16" long, 1" round Aluminum stock. 10' long, 1"x1"x .083 or.125" Square Aluminum stock. Aluminum Raw Stock 4" x 14" x .250" Aluminum Plate Stock. 16" x 14"x .125" Plate Stock. 1" x 1" x .125"x 8" angle stock 2" x 2"x .125" x 24" Angle Stock. Delrin/Polypropylene 4"x4"x.5" Derlrin Stock. 1/2" x 80" Polypropylene Sprinkler Hose. Miscellaneous Hardware 6 ea. 5/16" Rod End Bearings (Baileys Catalog #170-303). See below 4 ea. 3/8" Rod End Bearings (Baileys Catalog #170-305). See below 5/16 All-Thread Rod, 24 TPI 1 ft long, Stainless Steel or #8 preferred. 1/2 All Thread Rod, 20 TPI 1 ft long, Stainless Steel preferred. 1 ea. 3/8" Universal Socket Adapter. Tie Wraps, various lengths 1 ea. 60-72 mm Skate Wheel with a Durameter rating of 88 or

harder. Bearings and spacers required. 1 ea. 38-45 mm Skate Wheel with a Durameter rating of 88 or harder. Bearings and spacers required. Lightning P-38 or Stealth Seat Assembly 3 ea. Seat Post Clamp, 1" diameter (Odyssey). Fasteners 4 ea. 3/8" fine thread Jam Nut. 7 ea. 5/16" fine thread Jam Nut. 2 ea. 1/2" fine thread Jam Nut. 2 ea. 1/2" fine thread Nyloc Nut. 2 ea. 5/16 fine thread Nyloc Nut. 2 ea. 5/16" x 2.25", fine thread, Allen Cap Screw 4 ea. 3/8"x 1.5", fine thread, Allen Cap Screw 4 ea. 3/8" lock washer Standard Bicycle Components Front Derailleur, non-compact, standard high clamp (Shimano RX100). Rear Derailleur, Long Cage, (Shimano RX100 or better). Chain, 3 sections, Sachs SC55 or better. Crank/Chainwheel Assembly, non-compact. Shifters, Shimano Bar-Cons 2 ea. Sachs VT5000 Front Hub Brake Assemblies* 2 ea. 20" ERTO 406 BMX front wheel assemblies 2 ea. Wheel Chair Hubs, with .5" axles 2 ea. 20" ERTO 406 AlloyRims, 36 spoke

72 ea. Stainless Steel Spokes ~168 mm length (depends on type of rim and lace pattern) Rear Wheel Assembly, 32 or 36 Spoke with Alloy Rim, Stainless Steel Spokes, Cassette Hub Freewheel Assembly, Cassette type, 7 or 8 Speed, 12 to 30 teeth range Brake levers, MTB type Brake and Derailleur Cabling with Housing Rear Caliper Brake (Dia-Compe) 2 ea.Front Caliper Brakes (Dia-Compe)

Bailey Sales Corporation Toll Free Number 1-800-800-1810

Chapter 6 Tools Required

Version 1.1 Written by Rickey Horwitz

This list is compiled from all the completed chapter's tool requirements.
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

3/4" Conduit Bender #Q drill bit (.3320") #Y drill bit (.4040) alternate .421" or 27/64" (10.8mm) 1/16" drill bit 23/64" Drill #29 Drill 1/2" SAE drill bit 3/8" SAE drill bit 5/16" SAE drill bit #I SAE drill bit (.2720") #U SAE drill bit (.3680") 1" Bi-metal Hole saw 1-1/8" Bi-Metal Hole Saw 1.25" Bi-metal Hole saw 1.5" Bi-metal hole saw 2" Bi-metal Hole saw 3.5" Bi-metal Hole saw 7/8" (.875) Bi-metal Hole saw 5/8" hole saw Stainless Steel Wire Brush Hack saw Drill Press 3/8 x 24 TPI SAE tap

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

12mm x1.75 Metric tap, alternate 12mm x 1.25 10 MM x 1.0 Metric Tap 8 x 32 UNC SAE Tap 5/16 x 24 TPI UNF Tap Ruler and tape measure Compass Computer and Printer Metal Band Saw Metal Drum/Belt Sander Assorted metal files and emery cloth Spring Clamps, 3-6", 3 ea. TIG Welding apparatus using 100% tungsten 1/8 inch diameter tip Metal Lathe, optional Shear optional 1" solid dowel, either aluminum or steel 16 oz. Hammer or mallet MAP torch Random sections of wood used for setup (as required) Tube Cutter All Thread, 3/8 x 24 x 7" 4 ea. 3/8 x 24 nuts

Chapter 7 Fabrication Instructions(under construction)

Chapter 7, Part 1 Fabricating the Main Tubes Sections

Version 4.0 Written by Rickey M. Horwitz
Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

This section focuses on building the main tube section of the Thunderbolt. The main-tubes consist of .065 inch thick 2-inch diameter tubing. If a post heat treat is not performed the tube wall thickness should be increased to .083 inches or thicker. Included with the two inch tubing, is the fabrication of the pinch collets, idler/steering mounts and knuckle faceplates. This section accounts for the bulk of the trike.

Required Materials

The following materials are required for this section:

2" diameter x .065" thick tubing x 85" length. treating increase wall thickness to .083". 5/8" diameter x 7.5" length Aluminum Rod 1/2" diameter x 8" length Aluminum Rod 2" x 8" x .250" thick aluminum extrusion 2 ea. 7/8" seat clamps, aluminum

If no post heat

Misc. wood stock and hardware for building temporary frame fixture

Required Tools

The following tools are needed to conduct this section:

Drill Press 5/16 x 24 TPI SAE Tap 1/2" SAE drill bit 3/8" SAE drill bit 5/16" SAE drill bit #I SAE drill bit (.2720") #U SAE drill bit (.3680") 5/8" hole saw 7/8" hole saw 1" hole saw 1.5" hole saw 2" hole saw Hack saw or metal band saw Misc. files and emery cloth Stainless Steel Wire Brush TIG Welding apparatus using 100% tungsten 1/8" diameter tip


This section covers the following accomplishments:

Fabrication of Main Frame Subassemblies (gussets not included) The cut-out and shaping of all 2-inch tube sections Welding of all 2-inch tube sections and Frame Subassemblies

The completed assembly drawings (including the sheetmetal) are shown below along with all applicable angles and dimensions. Note The drawing below is the Standard Thunderbolt with 114 Crossmembers

Note The alternate 90 cross-member Thunderbolt is shown below.

Building the Bottom Bracket Pinch Collets

Two Pinch Collets are used to secure the Bottom Bracket Boom to the Forward Tube. The Pinch Collets are machined as follows:

The 2-inch radius, shown above, is cut using a 2-inch hole saw.

Chain Idlers and Steering Mount Fabrication

Both chain idlers and Bell Crank mount use 1/2-inch diameter aluminum rod. The rod lengths used for the idler's mounts are cut at 2 inches as to span the diameter of the 2-inch frame tubes. If OSS is desired, a Bell Crank Mount is required. This mount uses a 3-inch length of 1/2" diameter rod. A .272-inch hole is drilled (using an 'I' size drill) lengthwise through all three rods. These holes are tapped to accept a 5/16x24 thread. The tap should thread at least 1" into each of the mounts.

If Under Seat type steering is desired (USS), a steering mount is required. This mount is fabricated from 5/8" diameter aluminum rod that is 2.25" inches in length. A .3680" hole is drilled through the entire length using a #U drill bit. The mount is finally tapped using a 7/16"x14 TPI tap. This tap should cut to a depth of 1.25 to 1.5 inches.

Building the Cross-Members

The Cross-Member Tubes require a 26-inch section (actually 25.2") of 2-inch tubing. Each end of this tube should be cut to an exact flush, right angle. Instead of cutting the 26-inch in half to make each of the cross-members, we are going to intersect it using a two-inch hole saw. To make things increasingly challenging, the hole saw shall cut at a 66 angle. See the picture below for details. When the hole has been successfully drilled, two identical pieces should exist. These are the cross-members. If by chance one of the cross members is longer, it must be trimmed so that both pieces are exactly the same length. The exact length to the prescribed specification is not as

important as making both cross-members equal lengths. Refer to the illustration below for instructions on building these assemblies.

If the 90 Cross-Member Assembly is desired, follow the simple instructions in the illustration below:

Building the Knuckle Backplates

The Knuckle Backplates interface the steering knuckles to the crossmembers. Two of these parts are required. To build these parts refer to the drawing below.

After the part is complete chamfer all corners and relieve all burs.

Cutting the Main and Forward Tube

Before getting involved with cutting and mitering the tubes, there is an alternate method that involves bending the tubes. This method reduces cost, errors and time. Check it out by clicking Tube Bending .

The Main and Forward Tube are fabricated from a 43 inch section of 2-inch tubing. This section of tubing is cut as illustrated below.

Fabricating the Seat Tube

The Seat Tube is fabricated using a 2-inch diameter tubing that is >12 inches in length. As with all 2-inch tubing specified, the wall thickness for this tube is .065" (16 gauge). The tube is mitered on one end using a two-inch hole saw to reduce the length to 10.8 inches. The mitered angle of this cut is 66.

To finish this Seat Tube assembly we need to make provisions for the chain pulley mount. To accommodate this mount, a .5" hole is drilled into the seat tube 90 from the orientation of the 2-inch miter. The exact placement of the hole is 9.8 inches measured from the nonmitered end and at dead center of the tubing. The .5" hole should pierce both tube walls.

Preparing the Forward Tube

The forward section requires the placements of two pinch collets. These pinch collets are welded to the forward tube as shown in the series of drawings below.

Note Prior to any welding clean all weld affected areas with a Stainless Steel Wire Brush

Upon welding, a 7/8-inch hole is drilled 5 inches down the tube as shown in the above drawings.

After the 7/8-inch hole has been drilled, a .5-inch trough is cut all the way to the end of the forward tube. This trough allows the collets to constrict freely. Refer to the above illustration.

If the alternate cross member design is desired, than the forward Chain Idler Mount must be attached to the Forward Tube as shown in the illustration below:


All tube ends must be prepared prior to welding. Using a file or a sander, bevel all tube edges to allow a sizable fillet weld. Insure that all joints are flush and are free of contamination. Using a wire brush, clean all tube ends just prior to welding. An oxide forms on aluminum after an hour. Therefore, it is important to perform this step immediately before welding. Take the Seat, Main, and Forward Tube assemblies and situate them as shown below. The Pinch Collets and Chain Roller Mounts can be used to anchor the tubes to a flat surface (e.g., 3/4" plywood). This practice insures that all tubes maintain proper geometry during welding. If a wooden surface is used for fixturing the tubes, drill or router-out the wood adjacent to the welding area making sure the wood does not obstruct the welding area. A solid fillet should be welded around the entire circumference of each tube. Note Prior to any welding clean all weld affected areas with a Stainless Steel Wire Brush

Welding Tip It is recommended that when welding around a perimeter, a series of tack welds should be used. Each of these tack welds should be placed at 90 from each other (four each).

Drilling the Pulley Mount

Upon welding the three main tubes, the Pulley Mount holes are drilled. If the 114 cross-member frame is to be made, this 1/2-inch hole is drilled 24 inches as measured from the aft main tube forward. The hole is placed dead center and goes through both sides of the tube. If the 90 cross-member frame is desired, the 1/2 inch hole is drilled 29.5 inches as measured from the aft main tube forward. As shown in the above and below drawings, this hole is located on the forward tube near the bottom extreme of the tube. To drill this 1/2 inch hole through the bottom extreme of the tube is

challenging. However, it can be best accomplished using a 1/2- inch hole without the pilot. Below is a cross-sectional view of the 90 version of the forward pulley mount and hole.

Drilling the Chain Stay Reliefs

The Chain Stays collect on the aft end of the Main Tube. To insure a maximum surface joint between the two parts, a 1" 180 relief is cut into both left and right sides of the main tube. The results should appear as drawn below:

Installing The USS Steering Mount

If USS steering is desired, a hole must be mounted on the main tube to accommodate the 'U' bar steering handle mount. A 5/8" hole is drilled vertically through the frame 12" forward from the front of the seat tube. It is important that this hole be drilled straight downward, as it can impede the steering of the trike. Refer to the drawing below for proper placement of this hole:

Insert the Steering Mount into the 5/8 hole drilled. The tap side of the mount should be facing upwards. Using a SS wire brush, clean all surrounding areas in preparations for welding. The steering mount should fit flush on the bottom side of the frame, while the top should have 1/4" of the mount extending past the top of the frame. Weld a 360 bead on both top and bottom sides.

Welding the Cross-member to the Frame

Attaching the cross-members is the hardest part in building the Thunderbolt. In order to accomplish this task, a frame fixture must be built for proper alignment. Refer to the drawing below for building this fixture.

Using the fixtures above, adjust the right and left cross-member for an exact 23 as referenced to the fixture base. Additionally, insure that both Seat Tube and Forward Tube maintain a perfect right angle to the fixture base. If possible, take your time to recheck the geometry of your setup. The cross-members should be 20.3" from the rear section of the Main Tube assembly. For the 90 cross-

member version, this length is 25.2" from the rear section of the Main Tube assembly. Note Prior to any welding clean all weld affected areas with a Stainless Steel Wire Brush Once the proper alignments and angles have been achieved, the cross-members are ready for welding. A solid fillet should be welded around the entire circumference of each cross-member tube.

Attaching the Knuckle Faceplate to the Cross-Members

Attaching the faceplates to the cross-members is a complicated task, as there are several geometry concerns. To ease some of the confusion, this explanation is included below. Looking at a side view of the trike, the faceplates tilts back at 12 to give the suspension adequate caster.

Looking forward, the bottom of the faceplates lead outwards by 16. This angle compensates for the kingpin inclination. See the drawing below.

For 114 Crossmembers The 114 Crossmembers require the ends trimmed so that the knuckle face plates run on a parallel plane to the main tube. Refer to the drawing below for a visual explanation. Note Trimming the 114 crossemembers requires a compound angle. Not only does this angle allow the face plates to run parallel the main tube, it also adds the 16 angle needed for the King Pin inclination.

Before welding these assemblies to the cross-members verify all geometry specs on the cross-members. Insure that both crossmembers are equal length, that they both tilt at 23 and that the tube ends are consistent with each other. Adjust as needed. When building the production thunderbolts, special jigs were used to align these parts. However, these are impractical for the home builder. Therefore, it is up to your own ingenuity to figure a way to align both of these faceplates. A straight piece of flat wood or metal 36" long can be used to align both faceplates by situating it against the front leading edges of of both faceplates. This would insure that both assemblies are aligned the same. Note Prior to any welding clean all weld affected areas with a Stainless Steel Wire Brush

Once the parts are secured in place it is time to weld them to the cross-member tubes. The weld bead should run the complete 360 circumference of the tube. When the first one is completely welded, check it against the the other so that last minute adjustments can be made.

Welding the Front Seat Mounts to the Frame

The front seat tubes are mounted on top of each of the crossmembers using a BMX style 7/8" seat post clamp. The clamp is situated as shown below:

Note Prior to any welding clean all weld affected areas with a Stainless Steel Wire Brush Prior to welding these clamps to the frame, insure that they both are pointing straight forward and directly on top of each crossmember. When welding, insure to use a generous bead around both sides of each clamp. The completion of welding the faceplates to the cross-members finishes this section. In the next section, we will fabricate the web gussets. As for the OSS Steering Mounts, this is covered in the next section.

Chapter 7, Part 2 Constructing the Trike Rear End

Version 1.0

Written by Rickey M. Horwitz

Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Introduction Building the Seat and Chain Stays is not an easy task. The complete assembly requires a total of seven compound bends and comprises of five individual tubes of aluminum. To make matters even worse, a total of seven miters are required to fit this assembly together. If that wasn't enough, the whole assembly must be TIG welded (including a pair of dropouts). the end results will be well worth the effort, as these stays are of the finest design in the recumbent industry. This section constitutes a major effort on my part, as precise detail and instruction are required. Pay careful attention to all instructions. If you feel lost, please E-mail me. Design Overview The illustrations below represents all aspects of the trike rearend. Regardless of how each part is fabricated, the end results should appear as dimensioned in these drawings.

The above drawing dipicts a side and top view of the chain stays.

Chapter 7, Part 2, Section 1 Constructing the Drop-Outs

Version 1.0 Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.


The dropouts for the Thunderbolt are both constructed out of .250 thick, 6061-T6 Aluminum stock. Unlike conventional drop-out designs which interface both seat and chain stays, the Thunderbolt drop-outs interface only the chainstays. Not only does this design offer excellent strength, it also gives the trike a touch of artistic styling.

Materials Required

5" x 5" x .250", 6061-T6 Aluminum White Glue

Required Tools

Drill Press Computer and Printer Metal Band Saw Misc. Metal Files and emery cloth Drill Press 3/8" Drill

23/64" Drill #29 Drill 10 MM x 1.0 Metric Tap 8 x 32 UNC SAE Tap


Metal Drum/Belt Sander


The fastest and easiest approach to building the drop-outs is by taking the actual drawing, glue it on the aluminum stock and simply use it as a template. I have included some dimensions so that the builder can scale the drawing to the proper size when printing. Upon printing the drawing use a ruler and verify that the dimensioning is within spec, resize as required. Below is a drawing of the Dropouts in a Microsoft Windows Metafile (*.WMF) Format. Click on the filename below to download: Dropout.WMF

Prior to cutting the Drop-Outs, drill out all required holes. These include both rack/fender mounts using a #29 drill, the Derailluer Hanger using a 23/64" thread and both Axle Channels (as shown below). Once these hole have been made, the Drop-Outs are ready to be cut using a metal band saw. As shown, the 3/8" holes provide a perfect radius for the axle channels. With a little patience 85% of all the shaping can be accomplished using the band saw. For final finishing use a file or belt/disc sander.

Upon final finish, tap the rack/fender mounts using a 8-32 tap. Tap the derailluer hanger using a 10mm x 1.0 metric Tap. the Drop-Outs should now be ready for Stay assembly.

Chapter 7, Part 2, Section 2 Building the Seat and Chain Stays

Version 1.2 Proofed Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Introduction As warned, the most difficult task lay ahead. Read this document carefully. If it's not clear, e-mail me for clarification. Materials Required The stays are fabricated from a 74" piece of 1 inch aluminum tubing with a .065" wall thickness. If a post heat is not used, the wall thickness should increase to .083". Tools Required

3/4" Conduit Bender Tube Cutter 1" and 2" hole saw Drill Press Metal Band Saw Metal File 1/16" Drill Two Spring Clamps All Thread, 3/8 x 24 x 7" 4 ea. 3/8 x 24 nuts Ruler and tape measure Compass Stainless Steel Wire Brush

TIG Welding apparatus using 100% tungsten 1/8 inch diameter tip.

Building the Seat Stays In order for the seat stays to clear the tire, both tube ends must be bent inwards before reaching the seat tube (see the drawing below). Additionally, a flush fit to the seat tube and chain stays is required. Consequently, each tube end must be carefully mitered using compound angles. Lacking full detailed illustrations, the builder must visualize the construction process prior to the performance of the section. Bending and Cutting the Seat Stays Using a tube cutter, cut two tubes at a length of 15". On each tube, place a mark or band at 1 and 2" inches from the end. Place the marked tube into the 3/4 Tube Bender so that the 2" inch ring or mark is aligned with the arrow on the bender. Bend the tube 50 so that it resembles the drawing below:

The drawing above shows a completely mitered seat stay. Perform this operation for both seat stays. Mitering the Seat Stays Two complex tube miters are required for each seat stay. The first miter uses a 60 with a 2" hole saw and the second using a 46 with a 1" hole saw. To perform this operation the builder must situate the tube in a vise and cut as shown below:

Note When making the miter cuts remember that the right and left Chain Stays are exact opposites.

Building the Chain Stays The chain stays require a great deal of concentration to fabricate. However, before you panic, remember that it will never turn out as good as the drawings and that there will always be distortion and some non-conformity. In this case close is close enough. The chain stay drawings show a 14 bend near the rear of the chain stay. For ease of construction, it is suggested that this bend be performed prior to fixing the drop-outs to the stays.

Cut two lengths of aluminum tubing at 19" each. On both of these tubes measure 4" from the end and place a mark or ring around the entire circumference. On the opposite side of each tube measure 3.5" from the end and place a mark or ring around the entire circumference. Insert the aluminum tube into the 3/4" tube bender so that the hook faces toward the end and the arrow is aligned to the 4" mark. Bend the tube until a 23 bend is achieved. Aluminum tubing is resilient and may require several passes until the desired angle is achieved. Perform this operation for the remaining 19" aluminum tube. Next, situate both tubes so that they resemble chain stays. The ends (where the drop-outs attach) should be at a 4.5" distance as measured from the inside. 11" from the ends, the inside distance should be 3.25". Observing the other ends of the stays, they should be overlapped. On one the tube (stays) place a mark where the overlapping occurs. Using a 1" hole saw cut the marked tube so that the opposite tube fits as shown below:

Upon achieving a good fit, determine which stay shall be used for the chain or right side. Insert the chosen tube into the 3/4" tube bender so that the hook faces toward the end and the arrow is aligned to the 3.5" mark. Bend the tube until an 8 or 9 bend is made. This bend compensates for the wide gear cassette that offsets the center of the wheel. Building the Chain Stay Cross-Member An easy piece to fabricate, the Chain Stay Cross-Member provides stiffness for the rear end and allows placement for a caliper brake. This piece is fabricated from 1" aluminum tubing with a 1", 90 miter on each end. Fabricate the cross-member from the drawings below:

Using a 1/16" drill bit, drill a hole in the middle of the cross section tube above. This will allow gas to escape during welding.

Obviously, the drop-outs are placed on last, but have been included here to provide a conceptual view of the chain stays. Preparing the Chain Stays for the Drop-Outs The right chain stay is critical as it must clear the chain and small sprocket on the cassette. Consequently, the drop-out is placed at one extreme side of the stay tube. However, on the left side chain stay no severe clearance problem exists. Therefore we place the drop-out in the middle of the chain stay tube. When all is said and done both drop-outs are aligned so that the right angle plane is

straight up and down (in the case of a wheel) and the distance between each is 5.35". The drop-out channels or reliefs should be 1/4" deep and 1" deep as shown below.

Welding It All Together In this section the cross-member and both chain stays are welded together to make a single assembly. A fixture is not required, but can be used. The best way to get proper alignment is to place both chain stays on a flat wooden surface (work bench) and use #16 nails to maintain proper alignment of the tubes while welding is performed. Once all three tubes are properly situated, place the welding ground strap to either of the two stays and weld both of them together. Caution During welding insure that the wood does not catch on fire!


Prior to any welding clean all weld affected parts with a Stainless Steel wire brush Obviously, the assembly will require removal and reversal so that the bottom side can also be welded, but this will come later. Now, weld the cross-section tube in place. Insure that it is properly aligned as per the drawing. Turn the assembly upside-down and weld the bottom joints. When all completed, the cross section tube should have two 360 beads at both ends, and both chain stay tubes should be attached to each other with a single 360 bead. As mentioned earlier, the rear part of the chain stays are bent last. Insert each tube into the 3/4" tube bender so that the hook faces toward the stay ends and the arrow is aligned to the 3.5" mark. Bend the tube until a 14 bend is made. Do the same for the other stay and insure that both stay ends are at the exact height. Welding On the Drop-Outs Using a 7" piece of all-thread, place two nuts inside so that they are 5.35" in distance (measured from the outside) and centered. Place the two drop-outs onto the all-thread as if it were a wheel axle. Insure that the all-thread is buried to the extreme back of both dropouts. Place the remaining two nuts on both ends so that the drop-outs are fully secured to the all-thread. Adjust as needed and place onto the chain stays as shown in the illustrations. If needed, use a spring clamp to hold the Drop-outs in place. Each Drop-Out should be mounted so that it fits 1" deep within the tube. When the alignment is achieved, weld both drop-outs in place. When completed, the tube ends may be exposed. Use pieces of aluminum scraps to fill these voids and weld as required.

Chapter 7, Part 2, Section 3 Fitting the Stays to the Frame

Version 1.0 Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Introduction Using the assemblies manufactured in the previous sections, the rear end of the trike can now be completed. During this accomplishment, it is important that the geometry be maintained as close to the drawing specification as possible.

Materials Required This section deals with the final assembly of pre-assembled parts. These parts are assembled as instructed in Chapter 7, Part 2, sections 1 and 2, and Chapter 7, Part 1. The only material consumption is 7/16" diameter x 2.5" length aluminum rod and welding rod.

Tools Required

1" solid dowel, either aluminum or steel 1/16" drill bit #I drill bit (.2720") 5/16 x 24 TPI UNF Tap Drill Press Assortment of files for final shaping 16 oz. Hammer or mallet MAP torch

TIG Welding apparatus using 100% tungsten 1/8 inch diameter tip. Random sections of wood used for setup (as required)

The objective of this section is take the already made subassemblies and weld them together so that the finished article appears as shown below.

Attaching the Chain Stays to the Main Tube Take the main tube section and situate it so that both left and right cross-members are level. Place the chain stay assembly into the open rear of the main tube. Situate this assembly so that it appears as drawn above. In some cases the intersection where both chain stays are welded must be trimmed to fit correctly. In other cases the main tube may need reshaping to accommodate the stay assembly. Regardless, make the neccessary modifications so that this assembly fits properly and the alignment of the drop-outs are true.

Once the assembly is situated and held in place, weld it as shown below:

Obviously, the welds made are not complete as the stays are not fully fastened to the frame yet. Using a MAP torch, heat up the bottom rear of the main tube. The heat should cover an area about 1" from the end of the tube to each one of the welds made. The temperature should be around 800 F. This effort should anneal the aluminum so that it can now be easily formed. Using a 1" rod and mallet, form the bottom rear of the main tube so that it now interfaces with the remaining bottom portion of the chain stay assembly. Refer to the illustration below for detail.

Once this contour is made, proceed to weld the remaining bottom portion of the stays to the main tube. There should be a small gap on the top of the stays and the top of the main tube. This gap is normally small and can be filled with welding rod.

Attaching the Seat Stays Although the concept of attaching the seat stays appears an easy task, special precautions must be made to insure proper alignment is achieved. To insure the stays are properly aligned, take a spare 26" wheel (preferably the one being used for the trike) and place it into the drop-outs. Insure that the axle is fit flush to the back of each drop-out. Observe the orientation of the wheel and the seat tube; they should both be parallel. The wheel should also be pointing parallel with the main tube. Bend or adjust the stays as required. Once proper alignment is achieved, place both seat stays into position. If the stays were cut perfectly, no adjustment would be required. However, being that nothing is perfect, some adjustment may be required. Using a felt pen, place a small mark where the left and right seat tubes should be situated. Using a 1/16" drill place a hole near the inside bottom of each seat stay. This hole should be 1/2" from the bottom. The purpose of these holes is to allow gases to escape during welding. Remove the rear wheel, and insure that no stresses are built up in the stays as the wheel is removed. Situate the seat stays so that they align into the marked positions. Once secured, weld them so that the bead is completely 360 around each tube. Perform this for all 4 joints.

Fabricating the Seat Mounts The seat mounts are fabricated from 7/16" Aluminum rod. Cut the rod into two separate 1.25" long sections. Drill a .2720" hole using a #I drill down the middle of each rod section and tap using 5/16" x 24

TPI thread. This tap thread should reach through the other end of each rod section.

Upon completion, situate the newly made seat mounts onto the seat stays as shown in previous drawings:

Since each seat mount is 1.25" in length, the ends should have a 1/8" overhang on both sides. Secure the mounts and weld them using a 1" bead on each side.

The trike frame should now be nearing completion and only requires the installation of the steering knuckle mounting plates to be complete.

Chapter 7, Part 3 Constructing the Web Gussets

Version 1.1 Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Introduction All web gussets used on the Thunderbolt (with exception of the 114 cross-member gusset) are fabricated from .125" 6061-T6 Aluminum sheet-metal. For vehicles undergoing heat treatment, the thickness of these gussets can be reduced to .065". As mentioned, these gussets make the trike frame incredibly strong and stiff and are strongly recommended. Additionally, these structures increase the reliability and longevity of the frame.

Hardware Required

.125" thick aluminum sheet-metal .065" thick aluminum sheet-metal (if a post heat treat is performed) 1"x1"x.125"x7" of aluminum angle extrusion Bell Crank Mounts (if building the OSS configuration) Aluminum filler rod

Tools Required

Drill Press Hack Saw or Metal Band Saw/Shear 5/16" Drill bit 1/2" Drill bit

.875" Hole saw 1" Hole saw 1.25" Hole saw 2" Hole saw Assorted files TIG Welder

Gusset Fabrication

Forward Tube Web Gusset Fabrication The drawing for the Forward Tube Web Gusset is shown below. Because this piece is relatively large and requires several dimensions, the illustration below is shown at 50% scale. For full scale viewing, use your browser to select the image and zoom-in. For the 90 degree Cross-member Trike Design, the Gusset is extended by an inch as shown.

90 Cross-member Gussets The Cross-member Gussets intersect the Forward Tube gusset at 90 on both left and right sides. This intersection coincides with the

cross-members. Two Cross-member Gussets are required for both left and right sides. Refer to the drawing below:

114 Cross-member Gusset The 114 Cross-member Gusset is actually a piece of 1 inch, rightangle .188" thick aluminum stock. Refer to the drawing below. The .5 inch hole is only required if the OSS Tiller steering system is used. Otherwise ignore this hole.

Seat Tube Web Gusset The Seat Tube Web Gusset is shown below at a 1:1 ratio. This Gusset is used for all Thunderbolt variations. Note that the exact hole locations have not been rendered. These holes are arbitrary and can be placed anywhere as long as there is at least .375" or more distance between the hole and any ends.

Fixing the Gussets to the Frame

Rear Seat Tube Gusset The Rear Seat Tube Gusset is the easiest gusset to install and it is common for all configurations. Therefore, we start with it first. Situate the gusset as shown below. Insure that it is properly aligned, and that both angles are cut properly for a flush fit. The weld bead between the seat and main tube will prevent proper fitting of this gusset. Consequently the 114 corner shall require some chamfering to allow proper fit. When the gusset fits flush on both seat and main tubes, it can be fixed in place for subsequent welding. However, prior to fixing in place, prepare the general area (both gusset and a 1" perimeter surrounding both seat and main tube) by scrubbing it down with a stainless steel brush.

Assuming the frame is properly grounded to the welder, the gussets are ready to be welded to the frame. In order to conserve weight and prevent distortion, a continuous bead is not recommended. A 3/4" bead is welded at specific areas. Initially, a 3/4" weld bead is placed on each end (one on the seat tube and one on the main tube) on one side only. Next, weld a 3/4" bead in the gusset corner. This weld should be shared between both sides as to make it symmetrical. Next, inspect the gusset for warpage and straighten as needed. On the opposite side, place two 3/4" beads as shown below. Place identical weld beads on the opposite side of the gusset. This means that a total of five weld beads per each side or ten total. Upon completion, check for any subsequent cracks in any of the welds, re-weld and check as required.

Note Before proceeding, you must know what type of steering arrangement that is to be employed on your trike.

90 Cross-member Configurations The forward, left/right cross-member gussets are required for this configuration. For Under Seat steering, this work is minimal as the forward tube gusset is intact as it interfaces both left and right crossmember gussets. For the Over Seat Steering configuration, the main gusset interfaces with the Bell Crank mount. This requires slight modification of the rear of the main web gusset so that it can accommodate this mount.

For USS Configurations The forward tube gusset 26 corner must be chamfered so that it can accommodate the weld bead connecting the main and forward tube sections. Upon chamfering, place the gusset onto the frame. Insure that all surfaces are flush, if not file down to proper size or angle. Once proper fit is achieved, pre-weld preparations must be made. Using a stainless steel wire brush, scrub the entire gusset assembly and both forward/maintube in the areas where the gusset

shall be placed. Situate and align the forward gusset so that it appears as illustrated below. Hold in place for welding. Place Assuming the frame is properly grounded to the welder, the gussets are ready to be welded to the frame. In order to conserve weight and prevent distortion, a continuous bead is not recommended. A 3/4" bead is welded at each end (one on the forward tube and one on the main tube) on one side only. Place a 3/4" bead weld at the forward tube/main tube junction (the gusset's 26 corner). Check the gusset to insure proper alignment. Use the drawing below to place the pattern of remaining weld beads. Note If the OSS configuration is required, the Bell Crank Mount must be installed first. Refer to the applicable section for details.

Welding on the 90 Cross-Member Gusset

Situate the cross-member gussets so that both assemblies are situated on the mid-section of each right/left cross-member tube as shown below:

Place a 1/2" weld bead at the outside ends of both cross-member gussets. Place another 1/2" bead in the inside so that the bead contacts cross-member gussets and the main tube. Do the same for the opposite side. Inspect both gussets for proper alignment, and adjust as required. Place a 1/2" weld bead at each corner of the main gusset and cross-member gussets; a total of four is required. Caution Thin sheetmetal melts very quickly. Weld with extreme caution!

Place two more 1/2" beads between the ~5.5" length section. Upon completing both gussets, place another two weld beads on the opposite sides. The finished assembly should resemble the drawing below.

For OSS Configurations The only difference for OSS configuration is that the rear of the main gusset is shortened by 1.5 inches. This shortened distance allows the installation of the Bell Crank mount. The bell crank mount requires a 1/2" hole be drilled in the frame as shown in the drawing below. The 1/2" hole must be drilled and the mount welded to the main tube prior to installing the main web gusset.


Insure that the 1/2" hole is aligned directly at 90

114 Cross-member Configurations The fabrication of the main web gusset is almost identical to that of the 90 version. The major difference is that the 114 version uses a single 7"x1" angle extrusion for the cross-member. If an OSS configuration is desired, the bell crank mount must be installed before any of the gussets are fastened in place. Other than this, both OSS and USS configurations are identical. Note

For the 114 Cross-member configuration, the main gusset below is shortened slightly to accommodate the Crossmember. Consequently, welds 1 and 5 are omitted.

The exact configuration and locations of the web gussets appear as drawn below.

Weld the main gusset as shown in the drawing above. For a procedure on welding this assembly, refer to the 90 assembly section. Remember that the main gusset is slightly shortened to accommodate the cross-member gusset.

For USS Configurations For the Under Seat Steering only the Cross-member gusset needs to be installed and welded. This part is a pre-shaped 1"x7" angle extrusion. Situate this part so that it fits as shown above and

below. Weld it to the frame as per instructions in the drawings below.

For USS Configurations Instruction for OSS configuration require the addition of a bell crank mount. This requires drilling a vertical .5" hole through the frame. This hole is placed 16.3 inches behind the front tip of the main gusset as shown. Caution Insure that the 1/2" hole is aligned directly at 90 Insert the bell crank mount into the freshly drilled hole. Insure that the threaded portion of the mount faces upwards. The bottom mount should be flush with the frame. Weld the bottom mount to the bottom of the frame by welding a 360 bead around the entire joint. At the top, a one inch section of the mount should be exposed. Again, weld a 360 bead around the entire joint. Situate the Cross-member gusset to the frame. For secure fit, file as required.

Weld the cross-member gusset as shown in the drawings below:

Chapter 7, Part 4 Hub Modification for Stub Axle Usage

Revision 1.2 Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

During this discussion I use both metric and SAE measurements. The reason is obvious, we Americans are still stuck with SAE while the majority of bicycle components are metric.

Introduction Bicycle hub axles are designed so that the frame dropouts support each axle-end. Obviously, this poses a grave concern, as a tricycle requires that a single ended axle support each of the two front wheels. Modifying an existing bicycle hub is a very challenging issue for the first time trike builder. For this reason I have created instructions for modifying a standard bicycle hub for single ended axle (or commonly referred to as the Stub Axle). Armed with this information, the home builder or frame builder enthusiast shall discover that this hub modification is actually an easy operation.

Axles The diameter of a conventional bicycle hub axle is normally too small for a stub axle. These axles are commonly 10 mm in diameter. For a

stub axle, the diameter is increased to 12-mm or greater. This added diameter thickness is required because the axle is supported on a single end and undergoes a tremendous amount of cantilevered force. It should also be mentioned that the longer the axle, the more likely it is to flex and place additional stress at the axle steering knuckle termination. Stub axles are constructed of carbon steel. Experimentation has suggested that #5 hardness is recommended as it is strong enough to retain its elastic properties during overstressing and does not break easily. High carbon steel is not suggested, as it is brittle, having a tendency to crack rather than bend when overstressed. Stub axle fabricated from 4130 CroMo are also recommended. The nominal length of a 12 mm axles when used with a Sachs VT500 drum hub is just under 6 inches in length. A 12x 1.25 (or 1.75) pitch thread is cut 1.5 inches down the length of one end of the axle, while the other end is threaded 1 inch with a 12.x1.25 pitch thread. AllThread can be substituted if it consist of the same properties as a #5 hardness fastener.

Bearing Requirements The increased diameter of the axle may require larger bearings for the hub. Therefore, the hub must have provisions for bearing replacement. If a different size bearing is required the bearing cups must be removed from the hub. Once removed, a suitable cartridge bearing may be substituted. However, the hub may require machining to accommodate the new bearing size.

Bearing Modifications If the bearing cups are not removable, do not despair, the conventional cup and cone bearing may be salvageable. In order for this option to qualify, the cone must be able to accommodate a larger diameter axle. Additionally, once the cone is bored to the desired size it must be tapped to the threaded axle as to prevent it from spinning. Therefore, it is important that the cone is drilled undersize to accommodate a thread e.g., for 12-mm x 1.25, a .421" or 27/64" (10.8mm) drill hole size is required. Obviously, the builder must determine if the cup can accept the larger bore. In some cases the enlarged bore may interfere with the bearing race. In this case, saving the cup and cone (or hub) is not an alternative. Another obstacle is the hardness of the cone. In many experiments I have

conducted, the cones required annealing prior to machining. Consequently, the cones required a post heat treating to make them hard again. Last, check the cups, as they may also need boring to accept the larger 12-mm axle.

Summary The hub assembly must meet the following criteria for stub axle modification:

Hub body must be able to accommodate a 12-mm axle. Bearing cups must have an ID greater than 12-mm. Bearing cones must have ample clearance to accept a 12-mm x 1.25 thread without interference with the bearing journals. Bearing cones must be annealed prior to machining and a subsequent post heat-treat hardening.

Wheel chair hubs

Many specialty hub companies including Phil Wood and American Cycle Systems have hubs designed exclusively for stub axle usage. Insure that the desired hubs can accept a 12-mm axle.

Modifying Drum Brakes Hubs

Sachs VT 5000 Brake Hubs The Sachs VT 5000 Drum Brake hub is the most popular hub for tricycle design. The hub only requires that the bearing be replaced to accomadate the larger 12 mm axle. However, the Back Plate Assembly requires major modification so that it can properly interface with the Steering Knuckle assembly. When the hub and steering knuckle is complete the assembly should appears as shown below:

Hub Modification For modification, the existing axle assembly (including bearings, cones, jam-nuts and washers) must be disassembled and removed from the hub. Upon removal, disassemble all axle related hardware from the Back Plate assembly. Take the hub and carefully remove the bearing cups out of the hub journals. This can be accomplished using an arbor press and cylindrical object to evenly force the cups out without destroying the bearing bores. Upon removal, install cartridge bearings (28 mm OD, 12-mm ID @ 8-mm wide) in both ends. A tubular spacer is required that is installed between both bearing. This spacer prevents the bearing from binding during side loading. Additionally it allows the retaining nut to be tightened without damage to the bearing assembly. Refer to the illustration below for the dimensions of this tube. When installing the cartridge bearings, use the arbor press to insure that these bearings are pressed evenly into the hub bearing bores.

Back Plate Modification Remove both brake shoes by removing the retaining clip from the stationary brake shoe axle. Locate the top mounted shoe (this shoe is mounted closest to the retaining clip). Using a screwdriver, work the blade in between the aforementioned brake shoe and the actuating cam. Lift the brake shoe using the screwdriver so that it rests over the retaining washer on the cam. Lift the shoe on the opposite end (stationary axle). Again, work the brake shoe so that it eventually clears the cam retainer, be careful not to place too much stress on the brake shoe as it could break at the stationary end. Once the shoe clears the Cam retainer, the spring should disengage allowing easy removal. Re-assembly will require more patience. Removal of the lower brake shoe should be effortless. Remove the brake Actuator Arm. The actuator arm is stamped onto the actuator Cam axle. To remove it, the area on top of the actuator arm must be ground so that it is completely flush. Place the Back Plate into a vice. Close the jaws so that both cam and stationary axle barely clear. The Back Plate should fit squarely on the vice now. Place the point of a punch (or small bolt) at the mid-section of the brake

actuator arm axle (ground down area). Using a hammer, tap on the ground actuator axle until it recedes and separates from the actuator arm. Remove the Back Plate Arm. The back plate arm is an integral part of the back plate that holds it stationary during braking. Consequently it must be carefully cut off the back plate. This can be performed by making a straight cross-cut that clears the round back plate without damage. The cut can be contoured to the round back plate by using a grinder. Increase the Back Plate axle hole diameter. This hole is 10-mm in diameter. Increase this diameter to 12-mm.
Note The 12-mm hole must be completely centered. Proceed with caution.

Grind the Back plate flush. The back plate shall be mounted to a face plate on the Steering knuckle assembly. Consequently this surface (excluding the cam axle bushing) must be completely flat. The best method is to grind out all the high areas using a grinder. To achieve a flat finish, use a belt sander. Refer to the photo below:

Re-Assembly Re-assembly is performed in the reverse order in which the back plate was disassembled. Replacing the brake shoes is challenging, but can be done with a bit of diligence and patience. Fortunately, the back plate must be installed into the Steering Knuckle Assembly prior to final assembly. The remaining assembly requires the completion of the Steering Knuckle, please refer to this section for closure.

Sturmey Archer 70mm Elite Brake hub

Sturmey Archer builds a drum brake hub that is already modified for stub axle usage. The hubs are sold in pairs and retail for about $200.00. Although I have not received my set yet, my preliminary findings indicate that this is the ultimate choice. The aluminum back plate and removable brake arm make this hub the easiest way of adapting a high quality braking system to a trike. For technical information about this hub, refer to the exploded drawing below:

Modifications Modifications are not specifically known at this time. From the preliminary drawings only the back plate appears minor modifications.

Remove the Back Plate Arm. Unlike the Sachs, the SA elite uses a riveted arm on the back plate assembly. This can be easily removed by drilling each of the two rivet out. The holes in the back plate can serve as mounting holes required by the steering knuckle assembly.

Building the Steering Knuckles The Steering knuckles are one of the most difficult parts to manufacturer, as they comprise of several parts fabricated with nearprecision accuracy. To assist in building these parts I have included assembly drawings and procedures that make this assembly as easy as possible. Since several configurations of the Thunderbolt exist, you should make your choice at this time if you desire Over Seat Steering or Under Seat Steering. Once determined, go to Part 5, Section 1 for Steering Knuckle assembly instructions.

Preview of the Steering knuckle assembly below:

Chapter 7, Part 5 Steering System Overview

Version 1.0

Written by Rick Horwitz

Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Introduction As mentioned throughout my project plans, the Thunderbolt can be built using either an USS or OSS steering configuration. Additionally, each steering system will vary slightly depending on the main crossmembers configuration (110 or 90). Therefore, a decision must be made as to the type of steering desired prior to proceeding. OSS- Over Seat Steering This configuration is simpler and slightly lighter than the 'U' bar USS system. However, for finite control and comfort, many prefer the USS. The OSS is geared towards racing and competition. USS-Over Seat Steering The USS system is a favorite for 85% of all recumbent trikes sold. As the most popular, it is also heavier and more complicated than the OSS steering system.


Below are illustrated examples of all steering configurations supported for the Thunderbolt project. Over Seat Steering Using a "T" Bar Tiller

Conclusion From an assembly perspective, the 110 cross-member system is better suited for OSS. As illustrated, the USS benefits from the lack of obstructions found in the 90 cross-member system.

Chapter 7, Part 5, Section 1 Building the Steering Knuckles

Version 3.0 Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Introduction This section focuses on the fabrication of the Steering knuckles. The steering knuckles come in two basic configurations. The first configuration is for OSS. In this configuration both steering knuckles are identical (reverse symmetry, of course). In the USS, a second arm is used on the right steering knuckle so that it can control an aft mounted U-bar. Therefore, if OSS is desired, omit the second arm. However, if USS is desired build the second arm for the right steering knuckle.

Materials Required:

.125"x6"x6" aluminum sheetmetal .188"x 1.5"x1.5"x22" aluminum angle extrusion 7/8" aluminum Rod, 3.5 inches long 1" aluminum Rod, 5.5 inches long 2 ea. 3/8"-24 TPI x 1.25" Stainless Steel Cap Screw 8 ea. 3/8" flat washer 2 ea. 3/8"-24 TPI Rod-End Bearings 4 ea. 3/8"-24 TPI Nuts (only used temporarily) 4 ea. 3/8" lock washer (stainless steel suggested)

Tools Required

Hack saw or metal band saw

Drill Press 5/16" drill bit #Q drill bit (.3320") #Y drill bit (.4040) alternate .421" or 27/64" (10.8mm) 1/2" drill bit 3.5" Hole saw 7/8" Hole saw 3/8 x 24 TPI SAE tap 12mm x1.75 Metric tap, alternate 12mm x 1.25 Compass Ruler Spring Clamps, at least two Stainless Steel Brush Misc. files and emery cloth TIG Welding apparatus using 100% tungsten 1/8 inch diameter tip Metal Lathe, optional

Building the Raw Components Take the 1" aluminum rod, and cut two sections at 2.50" +/- .01 in length. These two sections shall be the Kingpins when finished. Using a metal lathe or a drill press with a #Q drill bit, drill a hole down the center of each rod. The hole must penetrate at 1" per each side of the cut rods. Situate both kingpins in a vice so that they are side by side. Orient the vice so that both kingpins are at a 107 orientation to the drill. Using a .875 hole saw with pilot drill, cut a 180 hole in each of the kingpins as illustrated in the drawing below.

The finished parts should look as drawn below:

Using the 7/8" aluminum rod cut two sections at 1.5" +/- .01" in length. These sections shall be the Axle Mounts. Drill a .4040 hole down the center of each of the axle mounts using a #Y drill bit and drill press. This hole should penetrate all the way through the mounts. Tap this hole using 12mm x 1.75 metric tap. If a 12mm x 1.25 is desired use a .421" or 27/64" (10.8mm) drill bit. Insure this hole is tapped straight and no misalnment occurs. Using a drill press and a 3.5" hole saw, drill two holes in a piece of .125" thick aluminum sheetmetal. The round inside portions (disks) are used to support the Drum Brake Backplate. Using a file or drum sander, dress the edges of each of these faceplates so that they are smooth and without burs. Depending on the type of drum brake used, a hole must be made in the face plate to accommodate the brake lever axle. Refer to the drawing below.

Find the exact location and diameter of this lever and drill a hole that can accommodate it. Using a .875" hole saw, drill out the middle of the Faceplate. This hole will be used for the axle mount.

Welding the Kingpin and Axle Mount Using a spring clamp, fasten the kingpin and axle mount together. Insure that they are oriented as shown in the drawing below.

On a grounded steel table, place the setup in preparation for welding. Clean all visible area of each sub-assembly using a stainless steel brush. Recheck the setup for proper orientation. Weld a contiguous bead around the entire circumference of the axle mount. Welding the Assembly to the Faceplate Orient the Faceplate so that it is laying down flat (this is real easy!). Insert the axle mount into the 7/8" hole in the middle of the Faceplate. The brake lever axle hole should be pointing towards the top of the kingpin. Clean all surfaces around axle mount portion and Faceplate using a stainless steel brush. Check to insure proper alignment as shown in the drawing below. Weld the axle mount to the faceplate. All welding shall be in the inside of this assembly so that the brake assembly side is clear and flat. Depending on the type of TIG welding tip and lens, it may be impossible for a 360 bead. However, weld as much as possible.

Building the Drag Arm

The Drag Arm subassembly is used only for the USS configuration. Only one of these assemblies is required. Note I intended this arm to be fitted for the right side, but it is drawn as a left. It doesn't really matter which side the drag arm is on. However, if a right side is preferred, pretend the part is upsidedown and fabricate accordingly.

Building the Control Arms All Thunderbolt Steering configurations use this assembly. Therefore, a left and right arm are required. Note As shown, only the right arm is drawn. The drawing must be inverted for a left arm.

Putting It All Together As shown in the drawing below, bend each of the Arms at the 45 mark. They should be at a full 90 when finished. Clean all areas around each 45 with a stainless steel brush and weld as shown. Situate the applicable arms to the knuckle sub-assembly so that the whole assembly appears as below. Once satisfied, clean all areas to be welded with a stainless steel brush and weld as shown below. Also insure that the other side of the angle extrusion arms are welded as shown in the side view drawing.

Top View

Side View As shown in the side view above, both angle extrusion arms are situated flush with the bottom of the Axle mount. Installing the Drum Brake Mechanism Some of this material is covered in the brake modification section. Referring to the Sachs VT5000 brake backplate. This backplate requires modification prior to installation on the steering knuckle. First, the steel reinforcement lever on the backplate must be removed. The best way to remove this lever is to cut it off using a hack saw. Once this lever is roughly cut from the round backplate, use a grinder to shape it so it conforms to the flush round figure of the backplate. Using a grinder, remove the head from the brake lever. Grind this head flat with the brake lever. Remove the brake lever from the Actuator Cam. Place the point of a punch (or small bolt) at the midsection of the brake actuator arm axle (ground down area). Using a hammer, tap on the ground actuator axle until it recedes and separates from the actuator arm. Remove the brake lever from the Actuator Cam. It is your choice whether to remove the brake shoes from the backplate. In all cases this will be required for one set of shoes as the shoe orientation must allow the leading shoe to be placed forward. Caution The spring used to retain the brake shoes is very strong and cause injury if not performed safely.

The last modification required to the brake faceplate, is making the plate flush with the steering knuckle faceplate. With the brake lever removed, this assembly can be installed. Once installed, an inspection can be made to exploit any uneven surfaces that require grinding. Grind all uneven surfaces until the actuator cam barrel extends flush with the knuckle face plate. Refer to the illustration below.

Attach the brake lever to the cam axle as shown below. The orientation of the lever must be situated so that when the lever engages the brakes to the drum, it is oriented between 50 and 60 as shown below. Ideally, the lever should not surpass 45 under full deployment. During shoe wear this requirement may become an issue, so be care. In addition, the brake lever must be bent so that it can clear the steering arm weldment. Bending can be done in a umber of ways, but prior to this, the lever must be annealed so that it doesn't crack during reforming.

Referring the drawing above, place a hole for the cable barrel. this hole is placed 1.5 inches aft of the cam axle. The specific hole size and tap depend on the cable barrel supplied with the Sachs brake kit. Final Assembly As may be suspected, the hole for both draglink and tie-rods were omitted. These holes are drilled when the machine is ready for final assembly. Re-drill the bottom of the King pins. Place the entire steering knuckle assembly in a vise and re-drill using the #Q drill bit. Insure that this hole goes down straight, does not elongate and penetrates at least 1". Tap both sides of each assembly using a 3/8 x 24 TPI SAE tap. At this point, the Knuckles are ready for painting. It's best to sand all exposed parts so that the paint can adhere to the aluminum. For quick drying, try heating the parts in an oven (200F) prior to

painting. This practice allows a much thicker first coat to be applied without runs or sags.

Assuming that the Knuckle Face Plates have been fabricated (and welded to the frame), the steering knuckle assembly can now be assembled. Using the 3/8" Rod-End Bearings, mount these into the face plate on both top and bottom. A total of four nuts are required. Place the knuckle between the two Rod-End bearings. There should be a gap between the Rod-Ends and the Knuckles measuring around 1/4 to 3/8" wide. Using the 3/8" washers fill in this gap by placing the washers evenly on the top and bottom of the knuckle assembly. Once the gap is displaced, place the 3/8" lock washers on the Cap screws, refer to the illustration above. Insert this combination through the rod-ends and washers and secure into the steering knuckle. Do the same for the opposite end of the steering knuckle. Tighten both cap screws securely (no torque specification). Remove two of the nuts securing the knuckle assembly to the face plate. Refer to the final assembly for mounting the remaining hardware to this assembly.

Chapter 7, Part 5, Section 3 Over Seat Steering Fabrication

Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

This section focuses on building an Over Seat Steering System (OSS). The steering assembly is extremely simplistic and light weight, as it consist of a single handled tiller system mounted on a universal joint (U-joint). On the bottom of the U-Joint a bell crank is mounted to the cross-section of the frame. On the opposite end of the bell crank lever, both the steering tie rods are mounted.

Required Materials 7/8" x .065" Aluminum Tubing, 3 ft long. 3/8" Universal Joint used for standard socket/ ratchet. 1" aluminum bar stock. 1" Seat Clamp, two each. 1" x .065" Aluminum Tubing, 8 inches long. 4" x 1.5" x .250 Aluminum plate.


The OSS Steering Tiller is preferred where weight constraints and high performance is demanded. Although OSS can be easily adapted to the 114 cross member frame, the proximity of the Tube Collet may come close to the riders crouch making this steering type uncomfortable. On the 90 Cross member frame, the OSS tube mount is placed a few inches forward making it a desirable if not an overall choice for both comfort and performance. One of the significant reasons why the OSS configuration is lighter is due to the simplicity of the steering linkage configuration. Instead of using two long steering control rods, the system uses a dual draglink system (as shown below) mounted to a simple bell crank. The bell crank connects to a Tiller handle using a universal joint. This precludes the use of a heavy steering stem and associated hardware. In theory, this OSS system saves approx. 12 oz of weight as compared to a USS configured trike.

Fabrication The steering mechanism used for this configuration is a modified 'T' bar. The 'T' bar is assembled from three pieces of 7/8" OD aluminum tubing as shown in the drawings below. The two tubes that make the handle bars, are mitered at 80 or 100. These two pieces are then welded to the third center tube as depicted. To simplify, a single cross tube can be used instead of the two handle bar tubes. This single cross tube is bent to 20 and welded at the middle to the center tube.

The exact lengths and angles shown above can be deviated to match specific needs. A Tube Collet is provided to allow vertical adjustment of the 'T' bar. The Tube collet accepts the 7/8" steering tube of the 'T' bar. 1" seat clamp is used as a pinch bolt to keep the 'T' bar A

stationary. This assembly is shown below as a photograph with the Universal Joint attached. In addition a drawing is rendered showing the critical dimensions.

More to come. On the lower portion of the steering mechanism is a universal joint that allows the steering assembly free 360 rotation. This universal joint mounts to the bell crank and OSS Mount collet. For this application, we use a standard 3/8" universal used for a socket set. This universal joint must be modified to reduce the amount of torsional play. The U-Joint and modifications needed are shown below.

After the U-Joint is modified, a detent must be made on the lower base to prevent it from rotating under load. Refer to the drawing below for details:

The Bell crank is attached to the universal joint, left and right tie rods, and to the trike frame. The bell crank assembly is shown below.

Next update I'll show how to build the upper and lower collet assemblies. The topic to keep in mind is 'broaching'. Stay tuned!!!!

Club Tiller
The Club Tiller is scheduled for use on the upcoming Z-4 and T2000 series trike. The uniqueness of this device classifies it as valuable intellectual proprietary (even though many would ask why). Consequently details on how this device is fabricated will not be given away. However, photos of this steering system is shown below:

Brake Linkages All the trike manufacturers have ignored the importance of implementing a working brake linkage system. Whether it wasn't a necessity or they just haven't figured it out yet, I feel reluctant to disclose this valuable proprietary technology. Therefore, below is a picture of a Quasi-Pull linkage system. Study the drawing and fill in the blanks.

Chapter 7, Part 5, Section 4 Building the Under Seat Steering System

Version 1.1
Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Introduction In this part hardware assemblies comprising the Under Seat Steering (USS) System will be fabricated. In addition, a modification shall be made to the main tube section of the frame, as a means to securely mount the 'U' bar under the seat.

Materials Required

BMX Steering Stem, alloy (short reach type) 1" diameter Delrin or Nylon Tube 1" long 7/8" dia. x .054" aluminum tubing 42" long 7/16" dia. x .25" or thicker tubing 46" 4 ea. 5/16" Rod-End Bearings 7/16"-20 TPI x2.5" with .75 to 1" shoulder Cap screw (#5 or harder) 2.25"x4" x .125-.250" aluminum sheetmetal 5/8" dia. x 2.25" aluminum Rod.

Tools Required

3/4" Conduit Bender Hack saw or metal band saw

#I drill bit (.272") 5/16" drill bit 3/8" drill bit 1" Hole saw Assorted files and emery cloth Stainless Steel Wire Brush

Modifying the BMX Steering Stem Building the Under Seat Steering system requires the correct type of BMX Steering stem. This assembly is characterized by having four bolts to fasten the handlebar to the stem. Additionally, this assembly should have the stem in close proximity to the handlebars. A typical BMX steering stem is shown below with the required modification.

The first thing that needs to be done is removing the steel post out of the aluminum base. This is not an easy task as this post has been

press fitted under a tremendous load. Best way to get it out is by drilling a 3/8" hole through a cross section of the post. This hole is under an inch from the aluminum base. See the drawing below:

Place the aluminum base in a vice so that the jaws barely contact the post and that the base rest on top. Using the existing long bolt that came with the steering stem, drive the bolt downward using a hammer. Eventually the post will work itself free from the base. After the stem is removed, there should be a big hole in the bottom of the base. Shape a piece of delrin stock so that is fits tightly into this hole (it's a great time to have a lathe). Allow a .25 of delrin to extend out the bottom. Place the aluminum base in a vice and insure that it is aligned properly. Using a drill press, drill out a 7/16" hole through the center.

Building the Steering Arm The Steering arm is constructed out of 1/8" (.125) plate aluminum. The drawing for this part is shown below. This part is designed to interface with the BMX steering stem as shown above.

NOTE Every Steering Stem is different. Consequently, the mounting holes for each type of steering stem differ, so I left them out of the drawing.

Situate the newly completed Steering Arm into the handlebar clamp as shown below. Since steering stems come in all varieties, we must measure and mark the exact distance and size of the holes on the handlebar clamp. Using the holes as a template ( the bolts have been removed, right?) mark the arm so that it can be drilled. Normally, the bolts used on these BMX type steering stems range from 5/16" to 3/8". Once drilled, check the arm in the steering stem to insure that the two bolts holes can be installed. A perfect fit is when top clamp fits firmly down on both steering lever and handlebars while maintaining parallel with the lower casting.

Attach the Steering stem into the frame. This means that the 7/16" cap screw is secured down until the movement of the stem is restricted. check the clearance between the frame and the steering stem. This clearance must be minimized as to provide maximum strength. However, insure that the tie rod can attach and move without clearance issues prior to any rework. Once satisfied with all issues, remove the 7/16" capscrew and place some blue lock-tite and refastened.

Cutting, Drilling and Tapping the Steering Rods There are two steering rods, the Drag link and Tie-Rod. 17.5" for the Drag Link section and 24" for the Tie Rod. These lengths are fairly liberal and you may have to trim them down a 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Each rod end is drilled out using a #I drill bit. The drill must

penetrate at least 1.5 deep. Each hole is tapped using a 5/16 x 24 TPI SAE tap. The threads should go done at least 1.25". Upon completion of all four ends, remove all burrs from the corners.

Bending the 'U' into a 'U' Bar Using the 42" section of 7/8" dia. aluminum tubing measure and mark a 7" distance from each end. Using the 3/4" conduit bender place the hook so that is faces towards the end of the tube. Align the arrow to the 7" mark and bend to a 90. Reinstall the bender so that it faces toward the opposite end of the tube. Again, align the arrow to the 7" mark and bend the tube so that it resembles a 'U" shape. In some case you may want added clearance between the U bar and seat or you may want to position the U bar further away from the front wheels. This can be accomplished by marking at 6" inches vise 7". Examples shall follow on next update. Note

Because the bender handle interferes with the opposite side of the tube, the 'U' bar may resemble a pretzel. After both bending are complete straighten and align the 'U' bar by hand.

Chapter 7, Part 6 Building the Bottom Bracket Assembly

Version 1.2 Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Tools Required:

#32 drill bit 1/8" drill bit 1-1/8" hole saw 1-1/4" hole saw 1-3/8" hole saw 1-" hole saw Drill press Belt and Disc sander Misc. Files and emory cloth Pliers Pop rivet gun Compass TIG Welding apparatus using 100% tungsten 1/8 inch diameter tip 1-3/8"x 24 thread set tap, both Left and Right Tap.

Material required:

1-3/4" x .063" x 13" Aluminum tubing 1-1/8" x .063" x 6" Aluminum tubing 1-3/4" x .1875" x 3.0" Aluminum tubing (Wall thickness may require machining for proper threading) 1/8" x .3/4", Stainless Steel Pop Rivet, 2 ea. " diameter nylon pulley (can be brass) with 1/8" shaft, 1 ea.

2" x 2" x .5" delrin stock 1/8"x " roll pin, 1 ea. 5 minute epoxy

Building the Bottom Bracket Shell

The bottom bracket shell is a 68 mm (2.66") long, thick tubular structure that contains a 1 3/8"x 24 pitch machine thread on both ends. On the right end, a left-hand thread is used. The bottom bracket can be fabricated from any type of 6061 T6 aluminum, as long as the stock is 68 mm wide, has an I.D. of 1.33" and a wall thickness of .180" to .250". Once these dimensions are achieved, the applicable threads can be machined. For those not having the resources, this threading can be accomplished by a bicycle shop. Once the bottom bracket shell is machined and threaded, drill a 1-1/8 inch hole directly in the middle of the shell. For good results use a hole saw. Refer to the illustration below.

Building the Derailleur Tube

The Derailleur Tube consists of a 5-1/2 inch long 1-1/8 inch diameter tube. This tube is ultimately inserted into the Bottom Bracket Shell and welded. However, for proper fitting the tube must first be mitered with a 1-3/8 inch hole saw as illustrated below.

Welding the Derailleur Tube to the Bottom Bracket Shell Clean both parts using a stainless steel brush. Referring to the illustration below, insert the Derailleur Tube into the 1-1/8" hole in the Bottom Bracket Tower. Insure that the tube is flush inside the shell and that no obtrusions exist. Using a TIG welder, carry a bead along 360 degrees of the derailleur tube. Place most of the heat on the shell as the greater mass absorbs the most heat.

Building the Bottom Bracket Main Tube The main tube uses a 12" long 1-3/4" tube. At the end of the tube, a 1-3/4" miter is made using a hole saw. Insure that the miter contains the arc as shown in the illustration below.

90 from the 1-3/4 Miter axis, miter a 1-1/4" miter as shown in the illustration above. This miter relief allows accommodation for the Delrailleur Tube.

Welding the BB Shell/Derailleur Tube to the Main Tube It is assumed that all parts have been thoroughly cleaned for welding. If not, do so now! Alignment is critical in this step. Therefore, use extreme caution in aligning the shell to the main tube. The derailleur tube should be oriented at 55 in relationship to the main tube (refer to the illustration below).

Note Insure that the left-hand thread is facing the right side of the Bottom Bracket assembly!
Some filing may be required to achieve this orientation. Insure that the face of the BB shell remain at a parallel relationship with the BB Main Tube. Again, some filing may be required. Once all parts are fully aligned, inspect the intersections of all parts and verify no gaps greater than .10" exist. Once this and other mentioned contingencies have been achieved, the assembly is welded together. Since the assembly is rather complex, it is best to perform a tack weld on four corners. Once these tack welds have been made, recheck the geometry to insure that it has remained intact. Weld the remaining assembly together, including the Derailleur tube to the BB Main Tube. The bead must be contiguous around the entire 360 of the assembly.

Post Work
Once this assembly has been completed, it must undergo a post heat treatment and painting. Insure during painting that the Bottom Bracket Threads do not get painted.

Building the Derailleur Pulley Assembly

The Derailleur Pulley Assembly allows a way to route the derailluer cable without adding friction. This assembly is constructed from delrin. For simplistic construction, much of the fabrication can be done by rough cutting the delrin into the basic geometry and sanding it into the desired shape. However, for proper main tube fitting, a 1-3/8 inch hole saw cut is recommended. Once this fabrication is shaped as shown below, drill the pulley axle using a #32 drill bit. Prior to assembly check to insure that the 1/8 inch Roll Pin turns freely inside the " pulley. Drill or ream as required. An oversized hole in the pulley is OK. Situate the pulley into the base so that all holes align. Push the Roll Pin into the base on either side. A pair of pliers maybe required to push this pin all the way through.

Installing the Derailleur Pulley Assembly to the BB Main Tube

Situate the Pulley assembly as shown in the illustration. For exact placement the actual front derailleur should be installed. Observe the derailleur cable line and situate the pulley accordingly. Using Crazy Glue or 5 minute epoxy apply to the bottom base of the Pulley assembly and situate as desired on the BB Main Tube. Once the glue has dried, drill a 1/8" hole on both sides of the Derailluer Pulley base (as shown in the illustration). This hole is drilled through the Pulley base and completely through BB Main Tube. Insert the Stainless Steel Pop Rivets into each of the tool holes and secure using the Popriveting Tool.

Chapter 7, Part 7 Building the Seat

Version 1.0
Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Introduction The sling seat completes the personality of the Thunderbolt trike design. This sling seat features a deep bucket that act as lateral support, preventing the rider from falling out during high G-forces. The top of the seat features a padded head-rest that adds vertical deflection for added comfort. Last, the seat is designed to distribute the full load of the rider directly over each of the three wheels. Weight loads placed directly on the frame have been minimized. The results provides a rugged frame system that resist stress flexing. The step required to build this seat is not easy and requires considerable detail. People undertaking this project must have determination and patience. Cosmetic and dimensional defects are allowed to a certain extent, but must be minimized, as to insure overall reliability. The reward for successfully completing this section is an alternative to an expensive pre-made seat that can range from $175-$350. An estimated cost of $40-$50 is required for this seat.

Deviations The seat shown in this design has been slightly improved from the original Thunderbolt. The most notable change is that the bottom seat bow is now situated aft by 2 inches from the original design. This modification allows ample clearance and placement of the USS steering handle assembly. Other modifications are very subtle and require no explanation.

Tools Required

2 ea. Conduit Bender, 3/4 in., Gardner #932 (w/level gage), or Gardner #911 (w/o level gage). 2 ea. 1-1/4 in. x 3ft steel pipe with pipe threaded on one end only. A 4-ft. Section with threads on both ends and cut in half may be substituted. 1 ea. 1-1/4 in x 6ft steel pipe threaded on one end only. -inch drill. 5/16-inch drill 1/16-inch drill. 7/8-inch BI-metal Hole Saw. 2-inch Hole Saw TIG Welding apparatus using 100% tungsten 1/8 inch diameter tip. 1 ea. Tube cutter (a hack-saw can be substituted) 1 ea. Hack-Saw 1 ea. Tape Measure Heavy duty sewing machine 1/4 Grommet punch and die Pop Rivet Gun 1 ea. Wooden scaffold or fixture as shown below:

Rear View

Isometric view

Side view showing Tube bender Installed


1 ea. 3/4 inch EMT conduit, 120 inches in length 104 inches 7/8 inch diameter 6061 aluminum .065 inch thick. 54 inches (.75") inch diameter 6061 aluminum .065 inch thick. 5x5 inch .125 thick 6061 aluminum 3 linear yards of black Lano-Loc Mesh Fabric 8 ft of 2" black nylon webbing 8 ft of 1" black nylon webbing 16 ea. Grommets, 1/4" brass 1/8" thick nylon lace (cord) 12ft long, black Multifiliment Nylon Thread Canvass quality 4-6 ft of 2" or 3" Neoprene or Polypropylene pipe insulators. Should have an ID of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. 1 ea. 1/8"x 1" pop rivet, SS

Fabricating the Seat Gussets The seat gussets are made using a 5-inch by 5-inch section of 1/8 inch 6061 aluminum stock. The stock is cut diagonally so that the equal pieces resemble triangles. A inch hole is drilled into each of the pieces as shown in the drawing below.

Building the Seat Support Rods The seat aft support consists of two aluminum rods that attach to both seat stays by means of rod-end bearings. The aluminum rods are 3/8-inch diameter and are approximately 12 inches in length. The exact length depends on the desired angle of the seat (which can be adjusted slightly). For lighter weight thick walled tubing can be easily

substituted as long as the inside diameter does not exceed .25". On one end of the rod, a .300 hole is drilled and tapped to 5/16" x 24 thread, as to accommodate the rod-end bearing. The opposite end is cold worked by pounding it with a hammer until flat. Not only does this shape the rod into the desired shape, it also makes the rod extremely strong (cold forging). A inch hole is drilled so that the rod can be fastened to the seat. Refer to the drawing below.

Building the Seat Frame Practice First! Tube bending is not for the first-time amateur or novice. Consequently, if the material is not bent to the correct specification it must be scrapped. At the high cost of aluminum stock, you can obviously determine that there is no room for chance or error. Therefore, I suggest practicing on an inexpensive stick of EMT conduit. If by chance this tube is destroyed by an incorrect action, it can be easily replaced for under $3.00. Therefore, practice on the EMT. Once you feel confident that the material is formed to the desired shape, you can perform the identical operation (minus all mistakes) to the actual aluminum stock. The bending characteristics of aluminum and mild steel are similar. The major difference is that the aluminum is more resilient then mild steel and may require additional over-bending for it to hold the desired angle.

Tube Bending Familiarization Tube bending is an art turned science. What this implies is that with limited practice, tube-bending can produce inconstant results. However, after much practice, one can expect with a high degree of certainty, how the bend shall result. Here are some tips that can lead to a successful bend: Tube to bender alignment is always referenced at the arrows directly behind the hook (on either side). Refer to the drawing for details.

While performing bends, insure to place maximum weight on the heel of the bender. This practice insures that all bends shall be sharp and uniformed. Do not allow the tube to slip inside the bender while the bending is in progress. When bending insure that the handle is pointing straight up and not pointing to either side. Check and double-check all alignments.

Marking the Seat Frame Tube Prior to tube bending, all markings must be placed on the tube, as to the relationship where the bends occur. Place a mark at the following distances on the tube:

Note To designate the exact location on the tube, a ring should be drawn completely around the circumference of tube using a felt pen.

Distance Mark Designation 23.0 inches Base to Back (4th bend) 41.0 inches Head Rest bend (3rd bend) 43.0 inches 2nd bend alternate 52.0 inches 1st bend 61.0 inches 2nd bend alternate 63.0 inches Head Rest bend (3rd bend) 81.0 inches Base to Back (4th bend) 104.0 inches Cut length

Bending Your First Tube What is intended in this first procedure is transforming the single tube of aluminum (or steel) into a simple U-shape. A total of two bends are required for this process. Beware that the tight radius (7 inch) of the bend shall require careful negotiating as the tube shall interfere with the bender handle making this procedure challenging. The process may resemble a pretzel upon completion. Obviously, all misalignments must be corrected prior to the next section. For bending the tubing into the desired U shape follow the bullets below:

Cut the tube to 104 inches Place the tube bender at the 43-inch mark as referenced to the arrow behind the clip. The heel of the bender should face towards the 104 inch marking on the stock. Bend the stock to a close 90-degree angle. Move the bender to the 52-inch mark on the stock as referenced to the arrow behind the clip. The heel of the bender should face towards the 104 inch marking on the stock. Bend the stock to a close 90-degree angle. Interference between the stock and the handle of the tube bender is unavoidable. Consequently, both legs of the U shaped stock may be mis-aligned. Ignore this for the meantime. The main concern is to form the tube to make a symmetrical U shape. Once this has been achieved, than the legs can be aligned.

Making the Group Bends At this moment we should have an almost perfect U-shaped tube as shown in the above drawing. The next process is to place the head rest and seat back bend. These two bends require each of the two tube legs are bent identically, hence I refer to them as group bends, as they are performed in pairs. The group bends refer to the Head Rest and Lower Seat angles. To insure proper bend alignment for

each tube we will be using the seat bending fixture specified earlier in this section. If you have not completed this fixture, it is suggested you do so now! The operation of the seat bending fixture is fairly simple. The U shaped tube is placed in the fixture so that each leg is inserted into a tube bender. Using equal force on both tube leg ends, the tube is bent to a desired angle. Head Rest Group Bend Situate the U-shaped seat frame into the seat seat fixture as shown in the illustration below. Align each of the tube legs so that the 41" and 63" mark aligns to the applicable bender arrow. Using equal force on each of the tube leg ends, bend both tubes to 31. Insure while bending the assembly that the alignment marks maintain alignment with the bender arrows.

Lower Seat Group Bend

Upon successfully making the head rest group bend, we are now ready for bending the Lower Seat Group bend. The angle of bend is in the same direction as the head rest. However, the angle for this bend is at 33. Situate the seat hoop into the bending fixture as shown below. Align the 23" and 81" marks with each applicable bender arrow. Using equal force on each of the tube leg ends, bend both tubes to 33. Insure while bending the assembly that the alignment marks maintain alignment with the bender arrows.

Building the Upper and Lower Seat support Bows The seat uses two support bows that prevent the seat sides from compressing inwards. In addition, the lower support provides a mounting point for the seat. Each of these support bows are different in dimension, but both are constructed .75" (.065 wall thickness) diameter tubing. Fabricating the Upper Support Bow

Using a 25" section of .75" diameter x .065" wall tubing, place mark at 2" from the end of each of the tube. The tube stock should now have a total of 2 marks.

Place the tube bender at either of the 2-inch marks as referenced to the arrow behind the clip. The heel of the bender should face towards the opposite end of the stock. Bend the stock to a 90 angle. Remove the bender and place on the opposite end at the 2" mark on the stock as referenced to the arrow behind the clip. The heel of the bender should face towards the 90 angle that was made in the last step. Bend the stock to a 90 angle. Since the bender is designed for 1" tubing (actually 3/4 ID conduit), the tube my slip making this bend extremely difficult. Vice Grips can be applied to the tube and bender clip preventing slippage. Additionally, placing down a 1/4" thick x 3/4" wide x 12" piece of wood underneath the tube may also prevent slippage. In any event slippage shall be a concern. On each of the tube ends, cut off each at the 2" marks. Check this part for accuracy. It should have the dimensions as shown below. The height of this bow can vary as much as an inch, but should maintain proper symmetry and width.

Once satisfied with the dimensions of the upper bow, cut a 7/8" miter on each end. This miter cut is at a 90 angle as shown

above. Insure not to cut too much length at either end, as this will affect the overall height.

On the bottom of the bow, drill a 1/16" hole. This hole shall allow gasses to escape during welding.

Fabricating the Lower Support Bow

Using a 27" section of .75" diameter x .065" wall tubing, place mark at 1" and 2" from the end of each of the tube. The tube stock should now have a total of 4 marks. Place the tube bender at either of the 2-inch marks as referenced to the arrow behind the clip. The heel of the bender should face towards the opposite end of the stock. Bend the stock to a 90 angle. Remove the bender and place on the opposite end at the 2" mark on the stock as referenced to the arrow behind the clip. The heel of the bender should face towards the 90 angle that was made in the last step. Bend the stock to a 90 angle. Since the bender is designed for 1" tubing (actually 3/4 ID conduit), the tube my slip making this bend extremely difficult. Vice Grips can be applied to the tube and bender clip preventing slippage. Additionally, placing down a 1/4" thick x 3/4" wide x 12" piece of wood underneath the tube may also prevent slippage. In any event slippage shall be a concern. On each of the tube ends, cut off each at the 1" marks. Check this part for accuracy. It should have the dimensions as shown below. Unlike the upper support bow, the height of the lower bow must be maintain along with proper symmetry and width.

Once satisfied with the dimensions of the upper bow, cut a 7/8" miter on each end. This miter cut is at a 90 angle as shown above. Insure not to cut too much length at either end, as this will affect the overall height. On the bottom of the bow, drill a 1/16" hole. This hole shall allow gasses to escape during welding.

Welding the Seat Together This is the fun part. During the production of the Zephyr and Thunderbolt I had the luxury of building specialized fixtures for holding the seat pieces in place during welding. Unfortunately, I am not going into details on building these fixtures (Most people that charge for their plans do not include fixturing design) as there is absolutely no value in it for myself. Consequently, you must fend for yourselves on this one. Creativity and resourcefulness shall come in handy now. The net assembly should appears as shown below. Some design changes have been made from the original Thunderbolt. The must critical is that the lower support bow has moved back by an inch or two allowing improved steering swing. The upper support bow is mounted at a 90, this allows easier fabrication.

The first job to do is to mark locations on the seat frame where the support bows are to be placed. Referring to the drawing below, place an 18 inch mark on each of the seat frame legs. This mark should be placed on top of the seat frame, as not to interfere with the weld.

Next , place an 31 inch mark on each of the seat frame legs measured as shown above. Again, this mark should be placed on top of the seat frame, as not to interfere with the weld. Welding the Lower Support Bow At the 18 inch marks the spacing between both legs (as measured from the outside) should be around 18.5 inches. Using bailing wire and or wooden spacer attempt to maintain this distance so that the lower support bow can be welded to the seat frame. Since this support bow is mounted almost on the corner of the lower seat bend, it is difficult to quantify the angle representation. Maintaining equal angles on each side of the support bow should be sufficient. Once this piece is properly oriented, weld a tack bead on each side and resituate the support bow as needed. Once satisfied, weld it up completely.

Welding the Upper Support Bow At the 31 inch marks, the spacing between both legs (as measured from the outside) should be around 16.5 inches. Using bailing wire and or wooden spacer attempt to maintain this distance so that the

upper support bow can be welded to the seat frame. The angle of the support tube in relationship to the seat frame should maintain 90. Once the support bow is properly in place, weld a tack bead on each side and resituate as needed. Once satisfied, weld it up completely. Insure to keep the outer welds relatively small as they may interfere with the Seat Gussets. Welding the Seat Gussets At this point we should have a beautiful seat requiring the final touch of the Gussets fabricated earlier in this section. Orient both Left and Right Gussets as shown below. Weld the four beads to the seat frame as shown. Upon welding all four beads, the last exposed gusset end is bent to match the contour of the upper support bow. Once the gusset is bent and flush with the support bow, weld a generous bead on both gusset and support bow as shown.

Fabricating the Seat Frame Mount

The frame mount is made of delrin. However, it can be replaced with a variety of different material (Not Wood!). The frame mount provides an interface/support for the seat and the frame. In addition, this part also acts as a cable stops for both rear derailluer and Sachs 3x7 hub arrangement. Refer to the drawings below for fabrication of this part.

Fabricating the Seat Sling (Do you know how to sew?) Unlike most recumbent seats, the Thunderbolt uses a simple seat sling that allows a concave recess for the buttocks area. This gives the seat a bit of lateral support and prevents the rider from falling out during high G's. Unlike the Zephyr seat, the concave recess can be adjusted for lighter or heavier people, making the seat universally comfortable for most needs. To build the seat sling a heavy duty sewing machine must be used. Although a light duty sewing machines can be used, the results may not be favorable. In addition, fabric pins should be used to hold the fabric in place during sewing. Since a full size template does not exist, the dimensions must be drawn on the fabric using the drawings below. In the near future I may transpose these drawings to real size and sell the templates. Until then, the dimensions shown should be adequate. Last, the drawings show finished measurements and allowances. When creating the templates, use the drawings with the allowances only!

The drawing above illustrates the complete Seat Sling Assembly. The dimensions shown are indicative of the final assembly measurements. Caution The illustration above shows the finished dimensions of the seat sling. Do not use these dimensions for the Main Sling template. It does not include the seam allowances . Fabricating the Main Sling

Using nylon lano-loc fabric, trim to match the template above. Insure to include all seam allowances as shown. The crown of the sling does not indicate a radius. However, the diameter should be equal to the seat frame plus 1"-2". On the four two-inch seams using 1/4" grommets, a two-inch wide piece of nylon webbing is placed along the crease (or finished dimension). The 2 inches of seam allowance is folded over the webbing, as to resemble a sandwich. All four seams should be folded in the same uniform fashion. Pins can be used to hold the fabric in place until sewn. Once properly situated, two seams are sewn on both sides of the webbing. These seams should not intersect any of the grommet hole placements. Fold all 1/2" seams and sew. This does not include the upper 12" inches of the Main Sling Crown. Insure all seams are folded on the same side. If required, use an iron to make sharp lasting creases. Use pins to secure the seams in place for sewing. On the bottom of the Main Sling, fold a 2 inch crease as shown in the illustration. The folds of this seam should be on the same side as the 1/2" seams. Pin and sew as required. Fabricating the Hood The Hood is identical in size and shape as the Main Sling Crown. Using nylon lano-loc fabric, trim to match the template as shown in the second drawing below. Once this piece matches the Main Sling crown, fold a 1.5 inch seam at the bottom. After making this 1.5-inch seam the overall height should be 12.5 inches. This includes the .5 inch allowance. Sew the entire width as required.

The finished dimensions of the Hood are shown in this illustration above. For seam allowances and template, refer to the illustration below.

Use this illustration for the Hood template. Using nylon lano-loc fabric, trim to match the template as shown in the drawing above. The cut piece should be identical in shape and size as the Main Sling crown.

Sewing the Hood to the Main Sling As illustrated, the seat sling assembly is comprised of two parts, the Main Sling and the Hood. Upon sewing all applicable seams as indicated for both seat sling and hood, the two assemblies are sewn together as shown. The radius of both the hood and top seat sling are slightly larger than the radius of the seat frame. This oversize dimension provides ample room for the 2"-3" Neoprene head rest that is placed on the top crown of seat frame prior to installing the completed seat sling. Situate the Main Sling so that all the seams are pointed down. Place the Hood on top of the Main Sling so that

the seams are on the opposite side. Use pins to firmly situate both pieces in preparation of sewing. Once the two pieces of fabric are sewn together, the hood is turned inside-out so that the seam is now on the inside. Tip To increase the reliability of the fabric ends (reduce fraying), sew a zigzag pattern on all the fabric seam edges. Installing the Grommets A total of 16 grommets are required for the seat. In the seat sling assembly drawing above, the locations for the grommets holes are shown. the exact placement is not crucial. However, the holes should be uniformly placed. Most hardware stores sell grommet kits that includes a hole punch, and upper and lower die. For fastening the grommets this tool is strongly recommended. To minimize error and maximize efficiency, fold the seat sling in half. Align all corners. Using the punch, place the eight required holes as shown. Since the sling is folded in half, the eight holes for the other side are punched as well. Upon completing the holes install the grommets as per grommet manufacturers instructions. This completes the seat sling fabrication instructions. Seat Final Assembly At this point we are ready to install the seat sling to the seat frame. Once the seat is mounted to the trike frame, the seat sling can be adjusted for proper fit. Using the 2-3" diameter Neoprene or Polypropylene pipe insulator tubes. Place approximately 18 to 24 inches of this foam tube on the center of the seat frame crown. Take the seat sling and place the hood over the frame crown. This might be a tight fit and may require trimming the foam for full fit. Lace the back of sling using 1/8" nylon cord. The pattern should appears as shown below.

Lace the bottom of the seat sling using the pattern shown below. Note that two pieces of cord are used. The second cord provides support for the front end of the seat. Insure the cord is loose, as to allow seat frame adjustment during mounting.

Mounting the Seat to the Frame Mount the seat support rods to both left and right gussets on the seat frame. The support rods should be mounted on the outside of each gusset using a 1/4"x 1" screw using a nylon washer between the support rod and the gusset. Use a nyloc nut for securing the screw. On the end of each support rod, fasten a 5/16" rod-end bearing. Both rods should be adjusted for equal length. Place the Seat Frame Mount to the bottom seat support bow (it may not hold secure). Place the seat assembly on the trike frame by installing the 7/8" seat leg tubes into the crossmember pinch collets. Attach the seat support rods to the seat stay mounts. Adjust the seat for proper fit. This is a balance between both pinch collets and rod-end bearings. Insure that the Seat Frame Mount is secured firmly to the frame. Using a felt pen mark the perimeter of the mount to the frame at to where it situates. Remove the seat frame from the trike

frame. Place the Seat Frame Mount over the traced felt pen marks. Using an 1/8" drill, drill a hole through both mount and trike frame. Fasten the mount to the frame using a pop rivet. Replace the seat and perform geometry adjustments as required. Adjust nylon cord as required for comfort.

Chapter 7, Part 8 Assembling the Chain Management System

Version 1.0 Initial Hack
Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Chain Management Overview In earlier incarnations of the Zephyr, I employed a four chain pulley system for the chain management system. Although I heard all about the success of using Sprinkler Tubing for routing the chain, I thought the idea was crude and inefficient. As I studied the virtues of using sprinkler tubing, I became increasingly fond of the idea. Eventually, I abandon using a four pulley chain system and resorted in using polypropylene tubing for routing the passive side of the chain. Not only did this prove to reduce the weight and complexity of the chain management system, it also kept the chain clean and prevented it from derailing from the pulleys. As for efficiency, the poly tube does produce extra drag on the chain. However, keeping the chain well lubed reduces this effect making it as competitive as the four pulley system. The illustration below summarizes the Thunderbolt chain management system. The system comprises of two chain pulleys (both forward and aft), two chain tube clamps, two 1/2" cable clamps, two mounting brackets (both forward and aft) and two polypropylene tubes (drive side and passive side). Of course this recipe is not complete without a handful of hardware and hard work.

Top and side view shown above

Front View Shown Above

Materials Required

10 feet, 1/2" Polypropylene tubing (used for garden irrigation) 1" x 1.5" x .35" Delrin stock, 2 ea. 1 foot of 5/16 x 24 TPI all thread, preferably stainless steel 4 ea. 5/16-24 TPI Jam nut 2 ea. 5/16-24 Nyloc nut 2 ea. 8-32 x1" cap screw 2 ea. 1/4x3/8-28 TPI cap screw 2 ea. 1/4-28 TPI jam nut 2 ea. 1/4 lock washer 2 ea. 1/2" Cable Clamp 1/2" x 2"x .063" aluminum sheetmetal 4 ea. fender Washer with 5/16" ID 2 ea. 7/16-24 nut 1 ea. 7/16 washer 1 ea. 7/16-24 x 3" machine screw 1 ea. 7/16" Lag bolt, 6" long 1 ea. In-line Skate Wheel, 68-72 mm, 88+durameter hardness

1 ea. Skate Board Wheel, 42-58 mm, 88+ durameter hardness

Tools Required

1/2" drill bit #29 drill bit 5/32" drill bit 5/16" drill bit 8-32 SAE tap Disc sander

Building the Chain Tube Clamps The Thunderbolt trike requires two Chain Tube Clamps. The tube clamp is fabricated out of a 1"x1.5"x .35" piece of Delrin. If required wood can be substituted. The drawing for this clamps is shown below:

Best way to approach this part is to shape the delrin into a 1.5"x 1"x.35 rectangular piece of stock. Don't bother chamfering the edges until the end. Drill the two chain tube holes. Normally, the diameter of this hole can range between 1/2 and 5/8 depending on the type of sprinkler tubing being used. I prefer the thicker 5/8 stuff, as it remains a bit more rigid than the thinner walled tubing. Once these two large holes are drilled, drill a hole using a #29 drill bit through the delrin as shown in the drawing above (90 angle difference from the tube holes). Using a 5/32" drill bit, drill half way through the .135" inch hole (made with the #29 drill). If a cap screw is desired, a 5/16" counter bore is required as shown. The counter bore should be drilled no deeper than 1/4". Next, chamfer the part so that it

appears as the drawing. Using the 8-32 tap, tap threads into the .135" portion of the hole (half the height of the stock). Using a band saw cut the piece in half as shown. You should now have Chain Tube Bracket that has no equal in detail or quality. Two of these bracket are required for each trike. Fabricating the Chain Pulleys It wasn't until the release of the Mk III Zephyr that I discovered the virtue of urethane wheels. Previously, I used custom machined Delrin wheels. However, I found that urethane wheels were much easier to manufacturer and lasted as long as the Delrin pulleys. I cannot emphasize the importance of hardness required for these urethane chain pulleys. I spec out a durameter of at least 88. If a softer urethane wheel is used the finished pulley will wear out very rapidly. -Foot NoteBeing the spoiled bastard I am, I had the luxury of a complete machine shop at my disposal. Therefore, building anything was a breeze. I have since sold all this heavy equipment and I now have only basic tools such as a drill press, sanders and saws. Placing myself in this situation now give me much deeper appreciation for all these homebuilders that build all these intricate parts using simple files and saws. The same applies to chain pulleys. I had to rethink how a homebuilder could fabricate a pulley using a drill press as the only resource. The material used to create my chain pulley fabrication procedures are compiled from works of different authors. Therefore, this procedure is not a Rick original. However, the drawings and procedures are all mine. Building a Tool Rest Next, we need to build a tool rest. The tool rest is built using a 2" long 1/2"x20 TPI screw, a 1/2" x20 TPI jam nut, a 1 ft section of a 2"x4" pine stock and two 4"inch 'C' clamps to keep it secured to the drill press. Take a 1 ft section of 2x4 and lay it flat (wider portion horizontal). Drill a 1/2 hole in the center all the way through. Place the 1/2" screw into the hole and fasten using the the jam nut. Secure using a wrench. Tighten so that the screw head becomes flush with the wood. The tool rest is now complete. Place the finished assembly on the drill press table and secure using the two 'C' clamps. Situate so that it appears as shown below:

Building a Cutting Tool We need a tool for turning a groove into the urethane wheels. This tool should be at least 8" long and 1/2" wide with a negative rake. If wood lathe shaping tools are at your disposal, you can skip this section. The cutting tool should appear as shown in the illustration below.

Take the urethane wheel with both bearings installed and place a fender washer on each side of the wheel. Insert the 3" 5/16 machine

screw through the middle. Place a standard nut on the screw and tighten it down securely. The assembly should appear as shown below:

Place the remaining end of the machine screw into the chuck of a drill press. Turn on the drill press and observe the wheel. It should not wobble. If the assembly wobbles, you must correct this before turning and shaping the wheel. Turning the Pulley As mentioned two different size pulleys are required. The forward pulley is large and is generally made from an in-line skate wheel. The rear pulley is much smaller in diameter and is made from a skate board wheel. Both wheels are turned in the same fashion. Each is cut with a 1/2 to 3/4" groove. The depth of this groove is contingent on two aspects; the groove circumference must be a multiple of .25" and the groove depth must be at least 3/4 of the height of the chain link. The rest is up to you.

Preparing the Tubing As you have already noticed, the polypropylene tubing comes in a helical shape that is unusable for our needs. Consequently, we need to straighten this tubing. Two popular methods have been developed to overcome this problem. Depending on your skill set and resources, the preferred method is your own choice, as both produce excellent results. In the first method, the tube is cut to the desired length plus an inch or so. At one end of the tube the end is folded over at about an inch. Masking tape is used to hold this fold in place. Boiling water is filled into the opposite end of the tube until the tube is completely

full of boiling water. Hold the tube vertically as to keep the water from spilling and the tube from bending. When the water and tubing both cool down, the water is removed. The tube should now be straight. An alternate method is to use a long 1/2" wooden dowel that is placed inside the specified length of tubing. The tubing is heated up using a torch, boiling water, or heat gun. When the tube cools off, the dowel is removed. The tube should be straight. Tube Cut, Trim and Shape For the low chain tension (passive) side, this tube shall be significantly longer than the high tension side tube. The exact length is a preference, but 30 inches is the nominal. Four inches behind the forward tube end of the tube, a small bend is made so that the tube can point towards the chain rings. This bend can be made using a torch or a heat gun. The high tension side tube is trimmed at 20.5 inches in length. This piece is straight. Building Mounting Brackets The Forward and Aft Mounting brackets are fabricated from .5" x 1" x .063" aluminum sheetmetal. The exact shape and dimensions are dependent on the exact diameter of the chain rollers and the depth of the chain groove. Therefore, final fitting will be required. The bracket dimensions appear in the figure below.

Modifying the Cable Clamps (Optional) In some circumstances the Forward Mounting Bracket is not required. Consequently, the 1/2" rubber coated cable clamp mounting hole diameter must be enlarged to 5/16". Use extreme caution when enlarging these holes as the clamp may bind into the drill. Pulley Axle Fabrication The Pulley Axles are fabricated from 5/16-24 TPI, Stainless Steel Allthread. This stock is cut to approximately 3.25" inches in length. Depending on the exact type of wheel and width of nuts being used, the length of this axle may vary. The ends should be dressed as to avoid sharp edges or cross threading.

Final Fitting

When all the parts have been fabricated, we are now ready for the final fit stage. We shall refer to the overall drawing below for details. It is best to fit the chain tube clamps to both active/passive chain tubes. Once both of these clamps are in place, the tubes can be adjusted accordingly. Next, mount the chain pulley axles to the trike frame. A washer and jam nut should be used to keep this axle stationary to the frame. Install the chain pulleys(assuming the bearings have been installed). When placed on the axle, the pulleys must have sufficient clearance so that they do not rub on the frame. On each axle, install a jam nut so that it is secured against the pulley. This nut is hand tightened as to prevent the bearings from binding. The mounting bracket (or cable clamp) is placed on the axle. Insure no clearance issues exist. Last, a Nyloc lock nut is installed on the axle and securely tightened. Conclude this section by attaching the tubes to the chain management system. Place both cable clamps over the chain tubes as shown below. Using a 1/4" nut, screw and lock washer, attach the cable clamp to the mounting bracket. Secure and adjust as required. The Chain Management is complete.

Chapter 7, Part 9 Final Assembly

Version 1.0

Written by Rickey M. Horwitz Notice The material contained in this section is protected by U.S. copyright laws. Any unauthorized duplication or publication of the material contained in this section is prohibited by law.

Procedure Overview This chapter is a catchall for all open items that were not performed in previous chapters. These include the fabrication of the Derailleur Cable Stop, and drilling the holes for both steering knuckle levels. In addition, final assembly instructions including front-end adjustments have been included. Tools Required

9/16" socket 9/16" wrench Adjustable crescent wrench 5 mm hex key (Allen wrench) Wooden or rubber mallet Whiskey


You are not an idiot (even if your wife thinks so). The front wheels have been laced using a two cross pattern. You have the following components: Front and rear derailleur, ATB type, STX RC or better A rear 26" inch wheel with cluster Brake handles Handle grips Shifters, Bar Cons suggested

Cables, derailleur, brakes Three lengths of chain Bottom bracket, UN51 or better Set of cranks w/chain rings, Forged, triple ring

Lacing the Front Wheels Lace the front wheels using a two cross pattern. The spoke size is dependent on the type of rim. These spokes are generally 168 mm in length. This assumes an ERTO 405MM rim. Completing the Steering Control System Each Steering Knuckle is attached to the trike frame cross members using two 3/8" Rod End Bearings. Each of these rod bearings is attached to the ends of the kingpins. On the open threaded end of each rod bearing, place a 3/8"-24 TPI jam nut followed by a 3/8" washer. Situate the steering knuckle assembly so that it fits on to the cross member knuckle back plate. Adjust the jam nuts on both rod bearings so that the axles are perpendicular (at a right angle) to the ground. Perform this operation for the other steering knuckle as well. Place washers on the opposites sides of the knuckle back plates. Last, secure the assemblies by placing Nyloc lock nuts on all four rod bearing ends. Refer to the illustration below:

Place the front wheels onto the steering knuckles and secure them by attaching a 12 mm Nyloc nut on each of the axles. Adjust the steering knuckles using both upper and lower 3/8 rod-end bearings so that the left and right front steering knuckles appears symmetrical and that no camber exist. Using masking tape secure both wheels so that they are exactly parallel. The drawing below shows the Ackerman intersections (look at the dotted line). Note For clarity, the Ackerman intersections lines were drawn from the top of the kingpin. Consequently, the Ackerman is slightly under-compensated (2.75 aft of the rear axle) for the error in the king pin angle. Using the Ackerman intersection lines, find the intersect points where the tie rods should be placed on the knuckles levers. When the intersections points have been carefully identified, mark each knuckle lever with a felt pen, and drill a 5/16" hole through each of the marks.

NOTE Clearance s for the control rods may be impaired by obstacles in the path of the rods. Spa cers on the rod end mountings provide a way of

circumven ting this problem. Install the 24" tie rod as shown below using a set of 5/16" x 1" screws and applicable Nyloc lock nuts. By adjusting both tie rod-ends and Steering knuckle rod-ends, insure steering geometry has a neutral camber, and even toe-end.

The photo above shows the link rod on the opposite side

This jumbo photo shows most of the needed detail for mounting the steering rods. Using a set of 5/16" x 1" screws and applicable Nyloc lock nuts, adjust and attach the drag link as shown above. Note Because of geometry difference s, the exact order of the drag rods may differ. Co

nsequentl y, clearance issues may force you to place the rods on top or bottom of the steering levers. Th is is ok. Toe-In Adjustment Camber and rolling resistance tend to force the front wheels outward at the forward edge. To compensate for this tendency, the front edges of both front wheels are adjusted slightly inward. This relationship is known as the Toe or Toe-In measurement. The left and right Tie Rod linkage arms maintain and control the Toe relationship of the front wheels. If this relationship is altered, excessive tire wear and poor rolling resistance shall occur. For optimum performance, the Thunderbolt uses 0 to 1/8 inch toe-end. The toe is measured at a complex orientation at 180 of both sides of the wheel as depicted on the following page.

Toe-End is: point 1 minus point 2 equals the total Toe-In measurement

Drive Train System A predominant trademark of the Thunderbolt is the extra long chain. The chain is made up of 2.65 standard chains! Before, measuring the chain, the bottom bracket must be properly adjusted for the rider prior to determining the length of chain. The photo below shows how the front chain system should appear. In addition, it shows also how to mount a water bottle.

The rear of the chain can be seen in the photo below. Note the derailleur cable routing (Shimano STX RC).

The metal piece rising from the seat tube is used to support the back rack Seat Installation The rear seat mount uses two rod end bearings which fasten to the seat stay tubes. The forward seat section is secured by use of clamps which secure the two seat tubes to the frame. The mid seat cross section tube rest on a Delrin mount. To secure the seat, fasten the rear rod-end bearings to the chain stays using 5/16 x 1" long screw on each end. Next, place the forward seat tubes into the applicable frame post clamps. Align and tighten as required. Rear Derailleur Cable Stop Fabrication The rear derailleur cable stop is mounted on the right seat mount. This part is fabricated from a small piece of delrin as specified below.

Upon fabrication of the cable stop, the part is situated on the right seat mount on the seat stay. as shown in the cross section below:

Rear Derailleur Cable Routing Upon mounting the above derailleur stop on the trike as shown, refer to the illustration below for routing the derailleur cable to the shifter.

The cable routing is straightforward. The only bend the cabling experiences are within the cable housing. Friction is kept to a minimum. Details on the remaining routing of the cable forward of the Seat Mount have been omitted, as this is a personal preference. Front Derailleur Cable Routing The routing of the front derailleur cable is straightforward. Refer to the photos below for details.

When it's all done, it should look something like the photo below: