Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Attaching gadgets...

After riding the trike for a while I realised I needed a few things to make the experience more enjoyable and informative - plus I like gadgets!

The speedo...

First task was to put on some sort of trip computer. The initial difficulty with this was the front wheels have no 'fork' that you would find on a normal two wheel bike - this fork being necessary to attach the magnetic sensor. Attaching the sensor to the rear wheel would have necessitated a very long cable to cope with the turning of the front box. The problem was solved by the fabrication of a small bracket and pop riveting it to the metal frame supporting the front cargo box -

Time for a drink...

Next up was drink bottle cages. The frame of the Christiania does not have the screw points you would find on a normal bike to attach a cage. There are two on the handlebars but for some reason Christiania have put one on each side and not two near each other to enable the secure attachment of a cage. These problems were solved by the use of a cage bracket that attached to the top of the handlebar. You can see this in the photo below along with the display for the speedo and a thermometer I picked up from Kmart (always nice to know if my water bottle is likely to freeze) -

For the the kids water bottles I used the existing screw points on the handlebar tube for the upper hole on each water bottle cage and trusty old cable ties to secure the bottom of each cage -

Odds and ends...

The little bag in the picture above I found at a clearance store. I used velcro to attach it securely and it is great for holding the phone, house keys etc. I also installed a handlebar mounted mirror which is very useful as I have a habit of unconsciously turning the box slightly when glancing over my shoulder to check for traffic. At speed this habit means I can actually turn into the path of traffic when I don't want too!

Who turned out the lights???

In winter it gets dark very early and we get some very thick fog on a regular basis that sometimes does not lift until midday. The front frame of the box is steel and thus magnetic so I had an idea based on my previous camping experience. I purchased two tent lights that use magnets to secure the light to a steel bracket placed on the outside of a tent. The magnets in these lights attach very well to the front frame as can be seen here before our ride to daycare in some of that cold fog we enjoy -

I also used a small bit of velcro on the back of each light for a bit of extra strength. Despite all the bumps and jolts they have never fallen off but are easy to remove when not needed and are usually stored in the lockable seat box. And as a bit of trivia that particular bike ride was very eventful with lots of fire engines and police whizzing by until we then came across this scene -

Not entirely sure what happened but looks like the van may have swerved and hit the traffic island before continuing on to the wrong side of the road and tipping. But back to the lights they are more for being seen rather then seeing in the dark. For some extra illumination I converted my AA Maglite to be used on the bike through the use of a magnetic clip and a bulb/switch upgrade. The magnetic clip was not quite strong enough to remain attached to the front frame over bumps so I also used some velcro to secure it - by now you may have realised I like velcro! I have not tried this setup at night yet but the bulb upgrade has meant the torch is now a lot brighter then it was previously so I expect it will at least illuminate the road directly in front to a fair degree. The new switch on the Maglite also has a flash mode and it can all be seen in this video -

If you wanted really powerful lights I would suggest investigating helmet mounted options as installing headlights on the handlebar is fairly useless in this type of bike given the kids would be sitting right in front of them!

On the rear of the trike I have mounted a very cheap (ie I wont be worried if it gets stolen) tail light that I can switch on when needed. I have additional tail lights on the luggage rack and on the side of the box (mounted low down on handlebar tube). These can be unclipped and stored in the lockable box when not in use. In recent heavy fog though I noticed that when I was a short distance from the bike (maybe 30 metres) I could not see any of these lights (or the trike) very well! If you click on the photo below you may just be able to make out the trike in the centre (or maybe you wont!) -

Given the fog is common this time of year when doing school drop off at 9am I upgraded one of these lights to a 'Superflash' tail light that has two normal LEDs and one very bright 1/2 watt bulb. The bike also has good reflectors mounted in all three mudguards plus I have one half of a set of Tioga pannier bags (my wife's 'normal' bike has the other half) on the rear rack which have a large reflective patch on them. It all reflects / lights up fairly well as can be seen below.

I think that is everything I have put on the bike so far (with the help of the local bike shop!) Always looking for new things of course so let me know if you have any ideas!


  1. We've just got our trike. Gadget-wise, I am using a Garmin GPS for speed/distance/elevation. For front lights, on the right it has a dynohub with an Axa Pilot that will soon be junked for a B&M IQ Cyo. On the left, it has a B&M IQ Ixon. We light the inside of the box using a torch mounted on a lockblock on the bars. The back light is currently a rackmounted Smart, but we're planning on installing 3x Fenderbot on each of the mudguards

    I reckon they are a pretty neat rear light solution for trikes. We're still planning out or reflectives. The Clarijs rear panniers we have do have big reflective panels, but I am thinking something like the wide-load panels you get on trucks would be pretty good.

    Really enjoying reading through your archives.

  2. Hey thanks for your comments! The fenderbots look good. I've been using my iphone with a bike GPS program recently and also have a few other odds and ends to update the blog with shortly.