Thursday, June 21, 2012

Christiania Trike rates well!

The latest edition of Ride On magazine reviewed a large assortment of cargo bikes and trikes that are now available in Australia. Both the 2 and 3 wheeler Christiania's were rated a 'recommended buy' scoring 94 and 92% respectively! What also impressed me about the review was the sheer number of cargo options now available. When I first started exploring options all those years ago the range was a lot more limited. Ride On magazine was able to get their hands on 14 different options compared to the 3 or 4 that were around for me in 2007. The market in Australia has certainly grown significantly in five years.

Motor Update

I have been off the road for a little while unfortunately. About a month ago I removed the rear wheel with the motor from the trike to get some broken spokes repaired. Whilst it was off the trike I thought this would be the ideal time replace the seven speed freewheel with a higher quality Shimano one. This is where the problems began as despite the best efforts of my LBS the freewheel would not come off. This is probably due to the fact when I first screwed it on I never greased the threads! In addition my use of the low geared Mountain Drive on occasion would have applied an awful lot of torque to the freewheel ensuring a very tight attachment. So after a substantial amount of effort we gave up on the idea however our attempts caused the threads on the hub motor side cover to strip. So basically when I pedalled the rear wheel did not move - the freewheel just spun around all by itself!

I tried to get a side cover from (who supplied the motor originally) however they were a bit slow to my requests to get one sent (unusual for them but later found out some emails fell through the cracks with staff on leave - it happens!). Being keen to be back on the road as soon as possible I decided to contact Ezee direct and within an hour of my email to them I was told to contact Glowworm Cycles in nearby Sydney who are now an Australian dealer for Ezee gear. They were great and when I explained the situation they offered to remove a side cover from one of their motors and send it to me express post for only $55 and I had it within a few days of contacting them! They even gave me some pointers on how to remove my cover and replace it with the new one.

The side cover was attached with 9 small phillips head screws secured with Loctite. Most were OK to remove with a bit of firm pressure but one needed a hair dryer to melt the Loctite before it would come off. I replaced the 9 original phillips head screws with ones that used an allen key - much better in my view as the head of the screws is less prone to being wrecked when removing or tightening.

It was interesting to take the motor apart and check out the insides -
Drive side of the motor
Internal gear assembly
My previous seven speed freewheel was 11T-32T. However I could not use the 11T cog as it was to close to the frame and due to a fault in the freewheel itself I was also never able to use the 13T cog (the freewheel would just 'ratchet' around and not drive the wheel when pedalling). So in effect I have gone from a 15T-32T 'five' speed to a 14T-34T six speed! I will not have much need for the 34T cog unless I get stuck somewhere with a flat battery and need to pedal up a hill but the 14T will be useful when pedalling on the flats. For the technically minded I have now have a high gear of 72 gear inches instead of 67.2 or to put it another way a cadence of 90rpm will see me cruising along at 31km/h instead of 29 (info courtesy of Sheldon Brown's gear calculator).

My first ride with the new freewheel was going well until I went on to the 34T cog and it all seized up! Looks like I needed a slightly longer chain to use the very low gear. I adjusted the low stop point on the derailleur to lock out the 34T cog until this was installed a few days later. I may also look at changing the current 7 speed trigger shifter to a 6 speed twist. Now that my handlebars come apart in the middle a twist shifter can be installed very easily.

So after all that I am now back on the road and it is all going very well!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


For the second time since owning the trike I received a flat tyre due to a thumbtack! I don't know why these things appear on the bike paths - I suspect idiots leave them there to create mischief. Anyway it was time to get a new tyre anyway so I ordered a Schwalbe Marathon Plus after hearing about them some time ago from my LBS. Unfortunately buying the 24 inch size in Australia turned out to be pretty difficult hence I ordered one from Chainreaction Cycles in the UK. It arrived really quickly and thanks to this helpful video I had it on pretty easily. The ride seems pretty good and hopefully punctures will be a thing of the past. It might be my imagination but the tyre seems to cushion the ride a bit better then the old Schwalbe Big Apples. Anyway the other two tyres on my trike have not been replaced since purchase so I have now ordered two more of the Marathon Plus to ensure all round protection!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Trike update

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Life has been a bit hectic and the trike was off the road for a while after I had some issues with the steering. It was all a bit technical but the part of the trike frame that interacts with the pivot point / headset under the cargo box was slightly worn away. Simon from Cycle Surgery helped diagnose the problem and after discussions with Peter from PSBikes a new frame was supplied by him and has now been installed. Christiania in Denmark say they have never seen one of their trikes have this issue before so all should now be good - probably just a one off manufacturing issue with my frame. Indeed a google search turns up no reports of anything similar ever happening to anyone else. As always great to see after sales support from PSBikes and I couldn't have got it fixed without my great LBS!

Original handlebar - all in one piece with lots of curves
When the new frame was dropped off by Peter he had a new trike in his van and I noticed the handlebars were higher then mine. Apparently they now come this way as standard and as an added bonus the handlebar splits in two to make it easier to install brake levers, gear shifters and all the other gadgets people like me put on their handlebars. As you can see from this old photo of my trike, previously anything that needed to be 'slid' onto the handlebar could only be done by removing the entire bar and sliding it from the bottom, over the drink bottle mount points, around a few corners and over the hand grips. I remember the trouble we had getting the throttle around this obstacle course - it was almost as hard as getting the motor itself on! So I took the opportunity to order the higher set of handlebars and installed them whilst also switching over to the new frame (with help from Simon of course). I find it a lot more comfortable to ride now and making changes to items on the handlebar will be a lot easier in future as the bar splits in two about 3/4 of the way along the top.

New handlebar mounting point for lights
Another new item from Peter is a headlight mount that attaches to the front of the box after drilling a small hole through it. Positioning bicycle lights on the handlebars is obviously not much good on this type of trike as it would just illuminate the back of the kid's heads (hence my current helmet mounted light). This new mount from Christiania screws through the front of the box and basically adds a small 'handlebar' where any standard bicycle light can be positioned. I am thinking of obtaining one that can run off the motor battery so am researching a few options for this.

And my youngest is happy with this new piece of equipment below that he spied on the trike Peter had in his van. A bit florally for my tastes but hey whatever keeps the kids happy and it does spin very well in the breeze!
Every kid should have one on their bike!

Friday, July 8, 2011

School run.

Winter is well and truly here and this morning the ride to school required some rugging up and the use of bright tail lights! The trip to school is up hill and with the kids only getting bigger I am very thankful for the torque of the geared hubmotor in the back wheel.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Christiania goes electric!

I was chatting to Peter from PSbikes and received some information on the new e-trike now available direct from him. Christiania has come to the electric bike party and can now supply cargo trikes (and two wheelers) with a small geared hub motor in the rear coupled with a 9 amp hour Panasonic Li-ION battery integrated into a rear carrier rack -

It utilises a pedal assist sensor (common in Europe) that applies power automatically as you ride. The power level can be varied from none to low to high through a controller on the handlebars. Power is cut when you stop pedalling or your speed reaches 25km/h and I believe this is the European legal standard for e-bikes. I actually have a 25km/h cut off on my trike as well because if I am travelling faster then this I am probably going down hill and don't need the motor on!

The rear hub gears standard on a normal Christiania are replaced by a seven speed derailleur system and the rear coaster brake is replaced by a hydraulic disc brake. It all looks very good. Throw some panniers on the rear rack and you would have no idea it was electric!

Nice to see Christiana copying my idea for a geared hub motor in the rear! These bikes really need a geared motor with the extra torque it provides to get up hills - especially when you have substantial weight in the cargo box. Peter tells me some people in Australia have them already and are happily riding around hilly areas loaded up with the kids and groceries!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quick update!

Yes it has been a while since the last update. A combination of Christmas holidays, school holidays and not much happening with the trike are the main causes of the lack of posts.

The only issue lately was some weird noises emanating from the left front wheel - lots of 'clunks' as we rode along. The kids thought the wheel was going to fall off but it turned out the wheel bearings were the cause and I had these replaced (as well as the ones on the right hand wheel as a precaution). Got the front disc pads replaced also - they get a fair workout trying to stop my fully laden trike! Speaking of brakes the installation of Avid BB7s inspired a fellow Christiania owner to undertake the same thing with similar success. His write up of the Christiania and the modifications he has undertaken are well worth a read as well.

The motor is powering along very well. On a couple of tests of my range the two batteries I have now installed in parallel have given me full power for about 16 amp hours before dropping off. I routinely charge up well before this though.

I hate posting without a photo so here is a shot of the boys in the trike and my lovely wife after a trip to a local park. Happy cycling!