Recumbent Trike
Part 4: Steering


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If the rider sits somewhere on the plywood or a seat above it) then he/she would have to have mighty long arms to reach the handlebars.  So the next step is to attach a new set of handlebars -- within reach -- for the rider.  These handlebars will be connected to the ones operating the front fork.  My plan is to use steel cables for this task.  First the mounting of the new handlebars.

My plan is to use one of the headsets (head tube, which holds the front fork to the frame) from one of the cannibalized bikes to create the rider's handlebars.  It will be mounted on the seat post of the front end.  Here goes.

Cutting the Fork

I disassembled the headset (stuff that holds the front fork onto the bike) from one of the bikes, and used my angle grinder to cut the front fork off the headset.  In this picture you see the cut components, as well as the seat post where the head tube will be mounted.  Discard the front fork.  Not shown in the picture are the two sets of bearings, and other fittings that hold the steering mechanism in the head tube.  Also the handlebars were removed, but kept!

I then cut the tubes (called the top tube and down tube) from the head tube leaving two pieces of a few inches attached, which will be used to attach the head tube to the seat post.  Here's a picture with the seat post (the piece of wood in the picture is purely for show):

I then cut slits in the tubes connected to the head tube, so that I could attach the seat post. 



I drilled holes for 1/4 inch bolts, and attached the head tube to the seat post using the bolts, lock washers and nuts.



It was a simple matter to reinstall the seat post with the attached head tube on the trike.  I used the seat post tightening bolt to affix this assembly to the trike.




The pictures show the handlebar reinstalled.  I also cleaned and re-greased the head tube bearings.

At this point, the rider's handlebars are not yet able to control the trike.  They just swing freely.

Interim Evaluation

Last night we had some friends over who are maniac bike riders (the dinner was for two of the group who had just returned from cycling from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to New York city...they took a train back).  They were all enthused about the trike project.  One suggested that I incorporate some shock absorption in the design.  I showed her that there was lots of flex -- acting as a spring -- in the plywood structure of the trike.

Connecting the Steering Control

I bought some aircraft 1/16 inch steel cable, eye bolts, and turnbuckles to attach the new handlebars to the existing ones on the front of the trike.  This will provide my steering control.

The Cable Method Did Not Work

Aaaargh!  I connected the two cables via eye bolts and turnbuckles between the two handlebars.  The steering was no good.  It did not provide the control that I needed.  Ten dollars wasted!

A Solid Link Works

I removed the front handlebars, and rotated the stem (that part that connects the handlebars to the front fork) 90 degrees.  I then took a piece of tubing (brass with some kind of plating) and flattened and drilled the ends.  I attached one piece of the tubing to the stem bolt that normally tightened around the handlebars, and one to the driver's handlebars, via a bolt.  It worked well.  Here are some pictures of the completed steering arrangement:

(May 19, 2010)

Next, Brakes, Shifting, and Pedal Power