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Friday, October 3rd 2014

19:25

Indian Summer Quadracyling

 

The past week and a half have featured amazing warm Indian Summer weather with no rain and lovely warm days. It might have been the best days of the summer, actually!

I haven't been able to get out and use the quadracycle very much this summer at all, so the last day of the Indian Summer period left a chance that could not be neglected, especially with rain and cooler temperatures in the forcast for the next week or so.

My friend Chris and I headed out after lunch as the temperature reached about 24C. We pedalled about 10 km in the warm sunshine, with only a bit of a southwesterly wind to contend with. We covered many of the streets in my neighbourhood, taking in the fall colours which seemed to be at a peak.

I am not sure if I will have the chance to get the quadracycle out again this year, but at least we had one lovely ride.

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Wednesday, August 20th 2014

11:17

Website Updates for 2014

It has been a while since I have posted anything here, but I have had the quadracycle out for a couple of trips this year, both solo and with friends. I have to admit that without Ruth here to ride with there haven't been many opportunities to use the vehicle.

But I have been spending the summer learning HTML5 and CSS3, the latest standards in website design. Recently I finished re-writing the Quadrcycling in Ottawa website in that new format and have added some new features, plus lots of new accessibilty enhancements as well. I have also combined the many photo pages all into one new page to make the photos easier to browse though and also fixed up some of the photos that needed reworking. I hope you will all find the re-design an improvement.

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Saturday, February 1st 2014

9:54

Quadracycling Partner Lost



On 30 January 2014 I lost my best friend and quadrcycling partner.

People who read this blog will have noted earlier posts about Ruth's cancer. The disease finally took her away last Thursday. I miss her so much.

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Sunday, October 13th 2013

14:32

The Summer Weather Nears an End



With a cold front on its way this evening our run of warm and dry weather over the past month seems to be coming to an end, heralding the beginning of cooler and wetter months before the snow falls.

With that in mind I decided to take advantage of the day and get the quadracycle out for a run around the local area. Ruth was too tired as her illness is getting worse and declined to even just sit in the passenger seat and not pedal. That left me with a solo trip, which I haven't done in a while. I pumped up the Schwable Big Apple tires and set off for a trip of about ten kilometers. The Rhoades Car is certainly a workout to pedal on your own and doing that keeps me in shape!

Not knowing if I will be able to get it out again for another trip or not, once I got home I lubed the four chains, the steering rod and the rear axle with oil and put it away for a while. Hopefully the fall weather will allow at least one more ride, but if not it is ready for winter.
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Thursday, October 3rd 2013

18:58

Autumn Quadracycling



Ruth's cancer continues to progress and she is often weak and tired these days, having recently got out of the hospital and back home. The weather recently has been quite warm and sunny and we used that opportunity to get out and see the fall colours by quadracycle.

We completed a 7 km ride in our neighbourhood, with Ruth doing a bit of the pedaling, when she was up to it.

Once again the quadracycle proved its worth in helping a sick person get out of the house, kind of like a wheel chair, but more fun and faster, even with just one person pedaling.

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Saturday, September 21st 2013

7:54

One Year and 2,100 km with a Sinner Comfort Trike

By Gordon Koppang

The most memorable and outstanding feature of my first year as a Sinner owner is the horrible, damnable customer service provided by Sinner Bikes!  Here is a summary of what I put up with:  

Failure to respond to emails

About half the emails I sent to Sinner Bikes received no reply at all.  The trail of unanswered emails goes back to 2008.  Out of frustration, I tracked down an email address for Sinner owner and founder Jan de Vries.  I know he received them, but Mr de Vries did not reply to any of the emails I sent him.  

Failure to draw up an accurate price quote

The Dutch-speaking importer who brought in my Sinner travels often to The Netherlands.  During one of his trips he stopped by Sinner Bikes in person to draw up the purchase agreement.  Two men whose mother tongue is Dutch negotiated the quote face-to-face (with pictures and notes) yet, Sinner still managed to screw it up.  Specifically, they failed to add the cost of the extra seat I ordered.  Later Sinner wanted to revise the quote, but Mr. Bylsma, the importer, held them to the agreement.  

Failure to include the hitch with the trike when it was shipped – followed by months long failure to send the hitch by mail

I ordered the optional hitch with my trike, but Sinner “forgot” to include the hitch with the trike when it was shipped from The Netherlands.  Sinner received payment in full in late June 2012.  They did not mail the hitch until September 3, 2012!  

Failure to properly fabricate or inspect the hitch

When the hitch finally arrived it was unusable.  The hitch plate contains a hollow axle which supports the front fork of the trike being towed.  A quick release slips through the hollow axle and clamps the fork in place.  We found that the hitch plate was too wide so that not enough of the hollow axle stuck out the sides to support the fork.  We had to pound the hollow axle out of the hitch plate (it had been powder coated in place) and grind about a centimetre of material off the sides of the plate.  

Failure to install a 44/32/22 crankset

I ordered a 44/32/22 crankset paired with an 8-spd hub.  I knew from experience that this gearing would allow me to climb the steep hills around Lethbridge and still give me a useful high gear.  I took pains to communicate the details of the gearing I wanted; I put together detailed pictures and notes, which Mr. Bylsma, the importer, took with him to Holland and left with Sinner employee Arjen van Dam.  

In February 2013 – after months of cursing the Sinner’s heft – I decided to count to teeth on my granny sprocket.  I already knew that Sinner had fitted a cheap “kid’s bike” crankset with welded together steel sprockets.  When I discovered that Sinner had fitted a 48/38/28 crankset I became absolutely apoplectic!  A six tooth difference on the granny sprocket (28t vs. 22t) means that my bottom gear was 27% higher than I thought it was!  That’s the equivalent of climbing a hill in third gear instead of first gear!  No wonder the Sinner felt heavy!  

A new crankset, new bottom bracket and an hour of shop time cost me $120.69.  I emailed Sinner a digital copy of the receipt and ask them to reimburse me.  Harma de Vries replied with excuses but no apologies and no refund:

“We didn’t have a 44/32/22 ”.
“We thought it was a small difference ”
“You’ll DESTROY your hub with a 22t sprocket ”  

I blamed Arjen van Dam from installing the cheap and incorrect crankset, but Harma’s email indicated that it was the man at the top, Sinner founder and owner Jan de Vries, who decided to breach our purchase agreement.  Making a substitution is one thing; making a substitution without informing me is quite another.  I’ve had too much of Sinner’s insular arrogance and incompetence and I regret writing about it again.  If I am lucky, I will never have to deal with Harma or Jan or Harry again.  Arjen van Dam was fired in November 2012.  

As the aggravation of dealing with Sinner Bikes recedes, I have to admit; I’m quite happy with the trike itself.  Getting the gearing sorted made a big difference.  The trike still weighs 67 pounds, but now, with an adequate bottom gear, it feels a little lighter.  On long steep hills my speed drops to just over 3 km/hr.  On level ground I can sustain a little more than 20km/hr in short bursts.  

In 2009 – when I was still dreaming about the Sinner – I found some pictures posted by a woman named Mina Bilder.  The pictures of Mina in the Swedish countryside with her dog and her horses and her Sinner trike went straight to my heart.  They reveal an unhurried life – cycling at a leisurely pace – life in the slow lane.  The Sinner trike fits perfectly in that world.  I’ve also spent years looking at Hase Kettwiesels flying around racetracks – and soaring over jumps!  The world of the flying Kettwiesel and the world of the Sinner trike do not overlap.  As I’ve come to terms with the fact that the Sinner is heavy and slow, I’ve taken to calling it a “geezer glide”.  The geezer glide segment includes the Hase Lepus, the van Raam Easy Rider and the PFAU-Tec Scooter Trike.  Anthrotech makes a “tall” tadpole that could be considered a geezer glide.  All the aforementioned trikes have high seats, rear suspension and big cargo racks.  Lighter delta trikes weigh 39 or 40 pounds.  Geezer glides weigh 60 pounds and more; they’re built for comfort not speed.  

I recently rode the Sinner Comfort from Lethbridge to Waterton Lakes National Park, a distance of 140km.  I only rode one-way (a friend brought me and the Sinner home in her van).  Waterton is a mountain park – getting there involves a lot of climbing.  I carried food, water, tools and camping gear.  My average speed was a smidge over 7 km/hr.  I rode 5 hours on day one, 12 hours on day two and 3 hours on day three.  After all that time in the saddle, I’m pleased to say that nothing hurt.  My butt, my back, my wrists, and neck were fine.  The only indication that I had done a lot of work was some tenderness in my knees.  

When I bought the Sinner I was hoping for an all-season, all-surface, all-purpose trike.  The Sinner hardly noticed the snow, ice and muck of winter riding.  It is an all-season trike.  I have pointed the Sinner up and down dirt roads, shale trails, gravel roads and icy streets and it has “hooked-up” on every surface.  I’ve owned four recumbent cycles since 2006 and the Sinner is the best grocery-getter and errand-runner of the bunch.  In the past year I’ve enjoyed many casual group rides with the Sinner.  As long as speeds stay in the 10 to 20 km/hr range I can keep up.  I never thought I’d ride the Sinner 84 km in a single day – but I did.  I wouldn’t call the Sinner Comfort a “touring trike” but on a very brief, very slow tour, the Sinner and I did pretty well.  
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Sunday, August 25th 2013

9:05

Gordon Koppang Rides His Sinner to Waterton



By Gordon Koppang

After years of talking about it, I finally did it!  I rode the Sinner to Waterton and then got hauled home in a friend's van.

I left Lethbridge on Wednesday morning for an easy ride to Magrath - about 40km.  Day two was the make-or-break day.  Magrath to a campground just outside Waterton Park.  Total distance for day two - 84km.

On day three I rode into Waterton and up the the Prince of Wales Hotel then back to the park gate to wait for my friend with the van.
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Sunday, August 18th 2013

18:14

Late Summer Ride



We have actually found a new use for the quadracycle.

Right now Ruth is in the middle of her second series of cancer radiation treatments. She is pretty tired out most of the time and hasn't been getting out much beyond the daily hospital trips for treatment. Because of her nephrostomy hardware she really can't ride her recumbent trike, as there is nowhere to put the bag.

All of these factors worked out well for a quadracycle ride, though. The more upright seating position means it doesn't interfere with the nephrostomy hardware and best of all I can do most of the pedaling and Ruth can help out on the pedals as she feels able to do so.

Along with a really nice Sunday today for weather, this all added up to a short 6 km quadracycle trip to Giant Tiger to get some milk and other groceries. Ruth really enjoyed getting a bit of exercise, as well as some sunshine. It was a nice break for her from being on the couch or in bed and the exercise seemed help reduce her leg pain to some degree as well.

I am sure we will get the quadracycle out for some more trips in the near future while Ruth is recovering from her treatment regimen.

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Monday, March 18th 2013

15:57

Getting The Terminology Right

Our Sinner Comfort rider and writer, Gordon Koppang, has been thinking about the right name for the class of vehicles that the Comfort fits into.

He has decided that it isn't exactly a "Granny trike", but more of a "Geezer Glide". He explains, with pictures, in this new PDF article:

Tricycle Taxonomy: The Sinner Comfort as Geezer Glide
   (PDF) (783 kB)
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Tuesday, February 12th 2013

13:40

Six Months (1200km) with a Sinner Comfort


By Gordon Koppang

Things I like about the Sinner Comfort:

  • Good value.  Large rear rack, rear suspension and 2-wheel-drive included in the base price.  
  • Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, Busch & Müller “Ixon Pure” front light, three aluminum fenders, Sigma 509 computer, bottle cage and spin bell all included.  The complementary rear light was junk. 
  • Quality components, fasteners and powdercoat.  
  • 80cm or 31.4 inches wide; fits through my balcony door.  
  • Stands completely upright on its rear rack and tires.  
  • High seat (Approx. 55 cm or 21.75 in.) makes for easy on and off. 
  • Height of rear rack makes packing groceries into cargo bag easy.  No more painful stooping.  
  • Suspension takes the roughness out of back alleys and curb cuts.
  • Permanent mounts for front and rear lights.
  • Amazing traction from full-time 2-wheel-drive.
  • Highly adaptable mid-drive gearing.  

Things I don’t like:

  • The weight!  30kg or 67 pounds!  Don’t let the 6082 aluminium alloy fool you.  
  • Three cassette sprockets used as spacers on the rear axle (Shame!).  
  • Limited fore and aft adjustment for final drive chain.  A tensioner is needed. 

Overall impression:

An excellent shopping trike.  Definitely not a sporting trike.  Think “perambulator” or “invalid carriage”.  Built for Comfort not speed.  Go slow and enjoy the ride.
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Friday, December 14th 2012

6:01

Sinner Comfort - Impressions at 1000 km


by Gordon Koppang

This is how I got into recumbent cycling: 

  • I don’t own a car.  
  • I have Cerebral Palsy.  
  • Public transit in Lethbridge is lousy (and even if it wasn’t lousy, have you ever watched a man with Cerebral Palsy lug groceries on and off a bus?)

When I got my four-wheeler back in 2006 there was one grocery store left in the downtown where I live.  I got that quad (a Rhoades Car 4W1P) because I wanted to get around in winter without fear of slipping and falling.  Now the nearest grocery store is 2.5km from my apartment building.  A 5km round trip is too far for me to walk and carry groceries even in summer.  Now I really need to cycle year round.  

I used to say that the best way to improve a Rhoades Car would be to replace the frame, the wheels, the seat and all the cheap cycle components.  The Rhoades was so poorly made that I came to despise it.  On the other hand, the Rhoades Car allowed me to get out and enjoy the many paved and unpaved recreational trails around Lethbridge.  The Rhoades was a decent grocery getter, kid hauler and even furniture mover.  With two-wheel-drive and compound gearing the 4W1P handled shale and gravel, ice and snow and even spring mud.  The longest ride I ever completed with the Rhoades Car was 42km (25 miles).  At about 90 pounds, the Rhoades Car was definitely not a touring machine.  

By the spring of 2009, I had grown to hate the Rhoades Car, but couldn’t sell it until I had something else to ride.  When I found a Catrike Villager in Bentley Alberta, I snapped it up!  The Villager was a “you’ll do” purchase, but I liked it immediately.  The Villager is a little jewel.  It’s beautifully made and – four years later– all its components and fasteners still glow with quality.  The Catrike introduced me to the joys of the 60-80km “day ride”.  The longest ride I completed with the Villager was 100km.  The Villager and I weren’t perfectly matched, however.  The super-stiff aluminum frame was great on smooth pavement, but brain-jarringly rough every time I ventured off pavement.  The Catrike is definitely not made for unpaved trails and dirt roads.  A 50-degree seat angle, contributes to the Villager’s pronounced forward weight bias.  With so little weight on the rear wheel the Villager will not climb gravel or shale hills.  I rode the Villager through three winters.  It hooked better than I expected on level ground but never could find traction on slippery inclines.  

Having experienced the highs and lows of two quite different recumbent cycles, I developed a wish list.  The ideal trike would enable me to:

  • Carry groceries, and run errands year-round
  • Ride 80-100km/day on day trips or tours
  • Explore unpaved trails and roads
  • Ride through the snow, muck and ice of winter

I’ve been riding the Sinner Comfort trike since July 24, 2012.  A couple of days ago the odometer rolled over 1000 km.  The Comfort is your Dutch grandmother’s shopping trike (which, strictly speaking, makes it a granny trike).  The Comfort is a workhorse; it’s a superb town bike.  The optional mesh back seat with padded base boosts seat height to about 55 cm (21.75 inches) laden.  The seat padding and rear suspension take the pain out of rough back alleys, and getting off the Sinner is a lot easier than pushing up from the Villager’s 12.5-inch seat height.  

The Sinner uses double freewheels instead of a differential.  Power is always delivered to both rear wheels resulting in fulltime two-wheel-drive.  The Sinner gets an A+ on any test of traction.  I have ridden the Sinner up steep gravel hills and through heavy gravel, shale, ice and snow.  On level ground, the Sinner will push forward even on glare ice.  The semi-slick Marathon Plus tires would not hook up on an ice-covered incline, but with studded tires, I might have been able to climb even that.  

The Sinner Comfort weighs 30kg (67 pounds!)  All that weight might help with traction but it’s a liability in a panic stop.  Feedback from the Tektro Aquila brakes and 160mm rotors isn’t great.  On slippery surfaces, it’s difficult to feel the difference between braking and skidding.  

The Catrike Villager was short on carrying capacity, comfort and traction.  The Sinner is more comfortable on-road and off, it carries groceries and recyclables more easily, and the Sinner is a better winter ride.  The Catrike weighs 35 pounds; the Sinner weighs 67.  If I’m out for a 60-80km day ride, it’s the Villager I want, not the Sinner, especially if I’m with riding with friends who are (almost always) stronger and faster than me.  

Here again is the list of things I want a trike to enable me to do:

  • Carry groceries, and run errands year-round
  • Ride 80-100km/day on day trips or tours
  • Explore unpaved trails and roads
  • Ride through the snow, muck and ice of winter

The qualities that make the Sinner great in town make it less than ideal on the road.  There may be a sweet spot between speed and comfort, but when Jan de Vries designed the Sinner Comfort he wasn’t aiming for the middle.  
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Thursday, November 15th 2012

8:55

Follow-up on Sinner Customer Service

By Gordon Koppang 

After many complaints about Sinner’s shoddy email correspondence, Arjen Van Dam has been dismissed. Harma de Vries and Harry Lieben have taken over customer service and have begun cleaning up Arjen’s mess. Already there are signs of life coming from the computers at Sinner Bikes. I received an email from Harry!

I wish to make clear that I have never tried to communicate with Sinner by phone. I left all the phone calls to Anno Bylsma, the importer who brought my bike into Canada. Anno’s first language is Dutch, so he is obviously better qualified to talk to Sinner on the phone than I am. Paul Riggs owns a Sinner velomobile. Despite having to call Holland in the middle of the night (Australian time) Paul tells me that he received excellent telephone service from Harma (Mrs. de Vries) even before Arjen was dismissed. On November 5, 2012 Paul sent me this message: “Harma has really improved things since she has taken over customer service. She replies to emails promptly and actually sends stuff out! The improvement is massive.” In the interest of fairness, Paul asked me to post his favourable comments about the good service he has received. 

I’m certainly willing to turn the page and start again with Harry and Harma. I’m daring to hope Harry will answer my Rohloff questions. Wish us luck.
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Sunday, November 4th 2012

15:03

Sinner Bikes: Not reliable – not prompt – not friendly.

by Gordon Koppang

Sinner Bikes has consistently provided the worst customer service I have ever encountered. I can’t say that communication with Sinner “broke down”. For communication to break down it must first be established. I have not had an exchange of emails with Sinner that added up to communication. Most of my emails got no reply at all. I tried repeatedly to find out from Sinner whether my Rohloff hub could be adapted for use in their trike. Not one of those emails was answered. I sent an email asking whether the different seats used on the Sinner Comfort were interchangeable. No answer. I tried the office email and the garage email. I received no reply. I tried posting my questions to Sinner’s Facebook page. They responded with, “Please email us.” I became so frustrated that I turned all communication with Sinner over to the Dutch-speaking importer who arranged to get my trike from Holland to Canada. By the end of the process, he too was frustrated and fed-up.

Unfortunately, my experience with Sinner is not unique. Writing under the heading, “sinner bikes.......what gives?”, ckaudio complained: “3 emails to them and so far no response......” John Lewis replied to that post with, “Yes I found similar difficulties.”

Much of the blame for this poor service falls on Sinner employee Arjen Van Dam. One of my Facebook friends is a fellow from Australia who bought a velomobile from Sinner. Paul wrote, “The email correspondence could be improved a lot!” He added, “I agree, Arjen is mostly hopeless, emails disappear into the Sinner black hole!!”

The importer who brought my trike into Canada travels regularly to Holland on business. During one of those trips he stopped by Sinner’s office to order my trike in person! The quote for my trike was discussed face-to-face and in Dutch, but Arjen still managed to screw it up. The Sinner trike comes with either a hard shell seat, or a mesh-back seat. I didn’t know which one would work better for me, so I ordered both. When it came time to build my trike, Arjen complained that he didn’t understand that I wanted both seats and that the price he had quoted would have to be adjusted. I was willing to pay more, but the importer, Mr. Bylsma, insisted that Arjen honor his original quote.

When my trike was packed up and sent to the port in Rotterdam, we discovered that Arjen had neglected to install the hitch I ordered. My trike left Holland in June. I did not receive the hitch from Sinner until the middle of September. Arjen’s work habits can best be described as careless and inattentive. Each time the importer, Mr. Bylsma, called to ask whether the hitch had been sent, Arjen was evasive: “Oh… I don’t know… I think my co-worker might have….” I became so frustrated that I sent an email to the founder and owner of Sinner Bikes, Jan de Vries. I wrote, “Please discipline your employee.” The next day I got an email from Arjen! It wasn’t an apology – it was a snarling complaint that I had treated him badly!

The hitch arrived without fasteners and without illustrations or instructions. A hitch on a delta trike mimics a quick release front hub. The “axle” in the hitch was not centred. There was a setscrew, but the axle appeared to have been painted or powder coated in place. I removed the setscrew but could not get the axle to move side-to-side. Before I beat the crap out of it, I thought I’d better seek clarification from Mr. de Vries. I sent another email to the founder asking about the axle and the setscrew. I should have known better. Mr. de Vries forwarded my email to Arjen who – in his careless and inattentive way – sent useless pictures, but not a word of instruction about the axle or the setscrew. Believing I had nothing to lose, I sent another email to Mr. de Vries pointing out that neither he nor Arjen had answered my question. Weeks have passed. Mr. de Vries has not replied.

During the many months that I struggled to get answers from Sinner, I thought, “To hell with it! I should buy a Kettwiesel instead.” Hostel Shoppe (in Stevens Point, Wisconsin) provides great customer service. Unfortunately, a Kettweisel from Wisconsin would have cost about $2.000.00 more than I paid for the Sinner (and the Kettwiesel doesn’t have suspension or a cargo rack). Customer service from Sinner has been atrocious, and I’m disappointed that the trike is 12 pounds heavier than Sinner claims. On the other hand, I admire many of the Sinner’s design features – especially the highly adaptable mid-drive layout and the full-time two-wheel drive. I can’t quite say, “To hell with Sinner Bikes!” – but it is just plain wrong to hand over thousands of dollars to a business that couldn’t care less. The problems at Sinner run deeper than the difficulties of English-to-Dutch translation. I can’t send a simple email – “What model of Rohloff hub do you use in your trike?” – and get a simple answer. That fact will probably irritate me for as long as I own the trike.

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Thursday, October 25th 2012

17:18

Sinner Comfort in the Snow

By Gordon Koppang

More than 20cm of snow has fallen in Lethbridge in the last couple of days. My Rhoades Car was pretty good in winter. The Sinner trike is as least a good – maybe even better. 

On October 24, 2012, I took my first winter ride with the Sinner trike. I headed for my friend Scott’s back alley where no plough ever goes.  I made it up and down the alley with no difficulty!  Then I rode down the sidewalk on 3rd Avenue to get to 13th Street and over to Save-On Foods. 3rd Avenue was terrible.  Every curb cut was blocked by a mound of snow or had a salty, sandy lake in front of it. I flipped over twice because I couldn’t see the curb cuts and got one rear wheel in the curb cut and the other bouncing up over the full curb.  Instant rollover.  Deep ruts of frozen slush obstructed every “crosswalk”.  I learned quickly to stand up and paddle the Sinner through places where the muck was just too deep for pedal power. I hoped that the Sinner would hook up as well on ice and snow as it does on sand and gravel.  I’m happy to say it does. The Marathon Plus tires (47-406) are semislicks, but they provide impressive traction.  

Without criticizing my tadpole trike, I can say with certainty that the Sinner is a better winter ride than the Catrike Villager.  Winter may prove to be the Sinner’s best season.  In winter, distances are short and speeds are low.  In winter all that matters is traction and comfort and the Sinner delivers plenty of both.  
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Thursday, October 11th 2012

14:13

Wheel Woes


With October now here Ruth and I decided we had better get the quadracycle out for at least one last run before it gets too cold for cycling, but we didn't get far.

I was looking the quadracycle over while I topped up the tires, when I noticed some missing nuts on the brake hubs on the right-hand rear wheel. These are not the nuts that hold the wheels on, they are the nuts that hold the brake disks to the wheels. In this case two of the three nuts were gone, with only one nut holding the assembly in place.

We ran into a similar problem in 2009, when some of these self-locking nuts backed off. This time two of them were gone altogether. Of note the last time I this problem it was the left-hand rear wheel, this time it was the right hand.

Fixing it was a matter of getting some more self-locking nuts from Home Depot and then installing them, reassembling everything and testing it out.

A lot of the problems with the brake mounts are due to the fact that the brake-mounting system is not designed very well. One set of studs attaches the brake disk to the spacer and then another set of studs, with the nuts, attaches the spacer to the wheel. The brake disk actually covers up the other studs, which means that to check tightness you have to remove the wheel, the brakes and disks. While taking it apart is quite easy, assembly is not. If this had been better designed it would have made maintenance a lot easier. 

Perhaps the newer model Rhoades Cars have solved this this?
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Saturday, September 15th 2012

6:33

Sinner Comfort Impressions at 500 kms

By Gordon Koppang

Since I got the Sinner Comfort, my Catrike Villager has become my “buddy bike”. If a friend wants to try recumbent cycling, I offer them a ride on the Villager. On a recent buddy ride, I rode the Villager so my friend could try the Sinner. The Villager’s steering is sharp and fast but composed. The Catrike weighs at least 30 pounds less than the Sinner, so the Catrike is much faster. The Villager’s seat never seemed uncomfortable to me before, but after riding the Comfort for almost two months, the Villager’s seat felt like a real liability. It seems I’ve become accustomed to the luxury of rear suspension and a padded seat.

I’ve put over 500km on the Sinner since late July. About 400 of that has accumulated as I’ve run errands and taken leisurely rides in the park. The Sinner is a better town trike than the Villager. The Sinner’s 21.75-inch seat height makes me more visible to car drivers and getter off the Sinner is much easier than hoisting myself out of the Villagers 12.5-inch seat. The Sinner Comfort really does take the punishment out of curb cuts and rough alleyways. While riding in town, I have not thought, “Gee, I wish I was riding my old Villager”.

I’ve done about 100km of highway riding with the Sinner. On longer faster rides, the Sinner’s weight and height are a real drag. My average speed on those rides (13km/hr) can hardly be called speed at all. The highest maximum speed I recorded was just over 31km/hr. If I’m trying to keep up with other riders, I do find myself wishing for the Villager. My favourite outings with the Sinner to date have been solo off-pavement rides where speed is not a priority and where the Sinner’s two-wheel-drive and rear suspension can prove their worth.

I ordered the Sinner with the optional hitch or “tandem adapter”. Unfortunately, the trike left Holland without the hitch. That was back in June! After many phone calls and emails, I just received word that the hitch is finally in the mail. I will go into detail in another entry; for now it is enough to say that Sinner’s customer service has been deplorable at every stage. I keep my feelings for the trike and my feelings for Sinner’s careless and inattentive staff separate, but the atrocious service has left a negative impression that may prove indelible.
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Thursday, September 13th 2012

12:54

September Quadracycling


This week the weather has been marvelous, warm and dry, but not too hot. Ruth and I couldn't resist the opportunity to get the quadracycle out from the back of the garage where it had been relegated, pump up the tires to 60 psi and go for a run.

It was mid-morning and the day was just warming up from the overnight low of 12C, towards its afternoon forecast high of 28C. By shortly after ten o'clock it had crossed the threshold of 20C, a nice temperature for some quadracycle touring.

And so we backed out and headed off through the back streets, chatting with each other and waving to the pedestrians who stopped to watch us. When you ride a quadracycle you get used to people looking at you all the time, it just grabs people's attention.

We detoured to do a paved forest pathway trek, passing a few elderly dog-walkers along the route. We stopped in a sunny area to snap the photo seen above and have a drink of water. Then we carried on covering about 12 km altogether, most of it on roads. We heard the usual "wow is that neat" calls as we rode by. 

We wound up back at home just in time for some lunch and to sweep out the garage before we filled it with pedal-powered vehicles once again.

If this is going to be a nice autumn season, then I think we will have our quadracycle out a few more times before the snow falls and you never quite know when that will be these days.
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Wednesday, September 5th 2012

17:22

30km Grocery Run August 30, 2012

By Gordon Koppang


Since I got the Sinner, my friend Kathy has been trying out my “old” Catrike Villager. Yesterday Kathy and I rode out to Harvest Haven (an all-organic grocery store). We strapped Kathy’s cooler to the Sinner’s cargo rack and headed for the country. With the wind at our backs and the grade in our favor, the outbound leg of the trip was a cyclist’s dream. Our average speed was only 13km/hr, but we spent a good part of our time gliding along in the low 20s.

Between the main road and the store there’s a short section (less than 1km) of genuine Alberta gravel road. This was test. Would the Sinner’s rear suspension and thick Marathon Plus tires prove to be worth their weight in comfort? Kathy rode ahead of me on the Villager (shod with skinny Marathon Racers). From my vantage point on the Sinner I watched as she juddered and jarred her way over and through the gravel. With its ultra-stiff aluminum frame and short wheelbase, the Villager can be downright painful in rough going. As I watched the continuous high amplitude shaking, I could see what I had only felt before. Meaty tires, coil-over-damper suspension and a thickly padded seat all contribute to the Sinner’s titanic weight (67 pounds!). I’m happy to report that those heavy bits also blunt the nastiness of riding on gravel.

As we turned for home, the wind that had been at our backs was in our faces. I like the Sinner’s high, upright seat and wide handlebars, but they’re a liability when riding into wind. My average speed dropped to about 9km/hr. The Sinner is heavy, but at least it’s nice and slow. As my friend Scott loves to point out, all that would change if I lost ten pounds. Ah well, I’m old and I’m fat but Kathy and I got 30km of late-summer fresh air and sunshine and that ain't bad.
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Wednesday, September 5th 2012

17:10

Team Euthanasia Rides Again!

By Gordon Koppang


I’ve taken to calling our little band of recumbent riders “Team Euthanasia”. We’re not only getting up in years, we put up with a variety of disabilities including post-polio syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and brain injury caused by stroke. Our friend Scott has returned to cycling after enduring a severe case of Shingles that kept him housebound all winter. The virus caused the usual Shingles horrors; it also paralyzed Scott’s right arm and hand! Only recently has Scott recovered enough hand-function to get back on his trike. I don’t like to venture out of town on my own. With Scott in the injured list all through March, April, May, June and July, I had not ridden any of our usual highway routes. Last Sunday, (August 26, 2012), Scott, Mark and I rode what we call the “30km triangle”. We were joined by our friend Arlyn – a true hard-ass cyclist. A couple of years ago, Arlyn shipped his Rans Rocket to Australia and rode about 5000 km in three months!

Of course, none of us could challenge Arlyn in terms of speed or stamina. I struggled to pedal my heavy and aerodynamically challenged Sinner trike into the steady 50km/hr “breeze”. The first leg of the triangle is up-grade. Between the terrain and the wind, I could barely exceed 10km/hr! These days Mark is riding his third home-built trike. Trike number two was better. It’s a long story, but the moral is clear: “If you’re going to build a trike with adjustments in the steering for rake, camber and caster, don’t try to save money by scrounging the parts from your junk bins.” With his front wheels steering independently of one another, Mark struggled too. According to my GPS our average speed was just 13.9 km per hour.


Apart from the need to occasionally spray down his nerve-damaged arm with a cooling peppermint mist, Scott seemed to be in fine form. He rode taunting loops around Mark and me every time he pedalled back to see why we were taking so long. Arlyn must have been bored stiff. We would ride for a while and stop and chat. Ride and stop. Ride and stop. Ride and stop. It took us almost five hours to ride 30kms! That’s what happens when Team Euthanasia starts “spring training” in August. When we turned for home, the wind and the grade were in our favor. I finally got up a bit of speed, topping out at just over 30 km/hr.

The last ten kilometres were agony for Mark; he was exhausted and having terrible leg cramps. Unfortunately, nobody had thought to bring electrolytes or 5 Hour Energy. We all made it home. A bit of salt and a night’s sleep was all Mark needed to recover. I’m sure we’ll do it again.
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Friday, August 17th 2012

19:07

Sinner Comfort Impressions at 250 kms

By Gordon Koppang

When a guy brings a Sinner Comfort trike in from Holland, the first question might be, “Why didn’t you just buy a Kettwiesel?” The Sinner Comfort trike comes with full-time two-wheel-drive, rear suspension and a cargo rack as standard equipment. Three fenders, a Busch & Müller “Ixon Pure” (with USB charging socket) and a Sigma 509 cycle computer (speedometer) are also standard equipment. A similarly equipped Kettwiesel would cost at least $1,200 dollars more than I paid for the Sinner – and that includes shipping, duty and GST.

The Sinner Comfort really shouldn’t be compared with the Kettwiesel. In terms of intended use, the Sinner seems closer to the Hase Lepus (and Lepus Comfort) that also have rear suspension and a cargo rack. Other competitors include the van Raam Easy Sport and perhaps even the much heavier van Raam Easy Rider (with electric assist). The Sinner Comfort is a town trike – a shopping trike. It weighs 67 pounds. It’s built for comfort not speed. It may not be a touring trike. Time and experience will tell.

The wheel track (centre tread to centre tread is 28.75 inches. I have the optional mesh-back seat with foam-padded base. With my friend Scott on the trike, the seat height was 21.75 inches. The trike is more stable than the numbers suggest. Just riding around, I have only lifted an inside wheel once or twice. Riding in a straight line at about 20km/hr I can give the bars a pretty good tug and not cause the trike to lift a wheel. The steering gets very twitchy around the 40km/hr. At that speed I definitely wouldn’t want to swerve to miss anything. I have cerebral palsy, which impairs my core strength. This makes me susceptible to being pitched around in sudden manoeuvres. My loss of control threshold is a lot lower than a non-disabled person’s would be.

The weight of the trike disappoints me, but I’m impressed by the Sinner’s ability to “hook up” or find traction in loose dirt, gravel and shale. A day or two ago I ran the Sinner through a construction zone where the earthmovers and other heavy equipment had just been. I was surprised that the tires didn’t even spin as I bounced across the rough stuff. I tried to climb a dirt embankment. I was stopped by a lack of power, not a lack of traction. I found a short section of deep unpacked gravel. The Sinner just rolled on through. I’m hoping this means it will be a good winter trike.
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Thursday, August 2nd 2012

5:53

Gordon Koppang Tests the Sinner Comfort Delta Trike

By Gordon Koppang

My friend Arlyn and I rode down into Alexander Wilderness Park yesterday.  Arlyn was on his Bike-E and I was on the Sinner. The park is one of my testing grounds because the road down is what I call “car gravel” (the same course rocks they use on gravel roads).  There is also a fairly steep climb on a shale trail.  The last time Scott and I were down there on our Catrikes, we could not climb all the way up the car gravel or the steep shale trail.  We spun out because there is just not enough weight over the rear wheel of a tadpole trike. 
 
When I went down the car gravel hill on the Catrike Villager my glasses bounced off my face and my water bottle rattled out of its cage.  No such drama on the Sinner, though to be fair, I don’t think my descent was as fast.  The good news is, the Sinner climbed to the top of the shale trail and back up the car gravel hill and didn’t even spin its tires in the loose gravel.  The weight of the Sinner is punishing however.  Pedaling almost 70 pounds of trike up hill is no fun!  I have decided to go up two teeth on the input sprocket on the mid-drive hub.  The change will drop my bottom gear from about 14.5 gear inches to about 12.8 gear inches.  That should level out the hills! 
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Tuesday, July 31st 2012

6:01

Aaron Gets His First Quadracycle

In May 2011 I posted a story about Aaron Rosenzweig, of Maryland, USA who had an ambitious plan to import the Dutch Quattrocycle and the Chinese Guangxin GX01 quadracycles. He has persevered in his project and the first order of Quattrocycles has arrived! His first one is assembled and rolling as can be seen in his introductory video.

I am looking forward to more videos, once he gets it out on the road!
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Monday, July 30th 2012

15:12

Gordon's New Sinner Comfort


Contributor Gordon Koppang has recently taken delivery of a new Sinner Comfort delta single-seat trike and trike and so we wanted to present his first impressions here:

We picked up the Sinner trike from Anno the importer on Monday!  It came in a surprisingly small box.  Fortunately, all the bits and pieces were there!  I’m tired from being out riding and fiddling and adjusting and cussing and swearing every night this week!  When one thing shifts, three things go out of adjustment.  Normal new bike
stuff, I guess.   

The good news?  Bumps that used to rattle my teeth on the Catrike are “barely there” on the Sinner.  I have climbed several shale hills with the Sinner and not even spun the tires!  Curb cuts?  I hardly notice curb cuts.  The Sinner rolls easily in and out of my balcony door and takes up very little space when standing on its tail at the foot of my bed.  Important considerations for an apartment dweller.  

The bad news?  The Sinner is a lot heavier than advertised!  Claimed weight 55 pounds; actual weight 67 pounds!  See attached pic off the Sinner on the scales at Greyhound.

Sinner is, perhaps, the least friendly maker to deal with if you’re not Dutch.  They make it clear (by ignoring emails or by emailing thoughtless and incomplete answers to questions) that they don’t give a damn about foreign customers.  I really wanted a delta with two-wheel-drive and a cargo rack, (that didn't cost 8 grand) so I hung in there with Sinner.  To the best of my knowledge, there are four delta trikes with built-in cargo capacity:
 
Sinner Comfort
Hase Lepus
Van Raam Easy Sport / Easy Rider
Lightfoot Greenway
 
The Lepus is so very expensive (and would require a differential and a Rohloff to get the gear range I need); the Lightfoot is too wide for my balcony door and has only one drive wheel.  Van Raam (also in Holland) seems to have an even smaller “presence” in the world than Sinner.  By process of elimination I kept coming back to the Sinner.  Would I have chosen differently if I had known about the weight?  Idle speculation now. 
 
I guess some things can only be learned “the hard way” (by paying and doing).  For instance, Sinner trikes only come with one or two front sprockets – never three.  I thought this was because Holland is flat.  When I asked Sinner if they could put a triple on my trike they said “Yes”.  In fact the frame of the Sinner is too wide to accommodate a triple.  The frame takes up space that the front derailleur needs to move through in order to shift between the three sprockets.  To get the triple to shift they had to remove the tiny screw that keeps the derailleur cage closed – and even then the cage rubs against the frame when trying to drop the chain onto the little (inner-most) sprocket.  Why didn’t they just tell me, that the frame will not accommodate a triple? 
 
As I’ve been telling people “Talk to me in two years and I’ll tell you how I like my new trike.”  It may take that long for me to learn the Sinner way of doing things, sort everything out and learn the Sinners strengths.
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Sunday, May 13th 2012

19:23

Quadracycle Picnic

Finally the weather warmed up again and the rain has stopped!

Ruth's daughter, Rachael, is in Ottawa visiting us, so we all decided to take advantage of the nice day and packed up a picnic lunch and headed out for a cycle to a local park. Ruth took her Catrike Trail and Rachael and I took the quadracycle.

This was Rachael's first time on the quadracycle, but she got the hang of the gears fairly fast and enjoyed the ride. We went down back streets and then finally via a paved pathway to get there. We parked the cycles next to our picnic bench and had our picnic lunch under the shelter. We actually didn't need the shelter as it was a little bit cool out of the sunshine and there was no rain in sight.

After lunch Ruth and Rachael tried out the playground equipment and I shot a video of that before we played some frisbee.

Rachael decided that the quadracycle was fun enough that we took the long way home via some more back streets, the local library, more parks and some further cycle pathways. By the time we got home we had covered 10.3 km.

I am sure we will get the quadracycle out again soon, perhaps for the Bike Sundays on the Colonel By Drive, once those start in a couple of weeks.
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Saturday, May 5th 2012

18:27

The 2012 Season Starts



Already this has been an odd year for weather. In mid-March we had hot summer weather, with temperatures close to 30C, but it only lasted a few days. Since then it has been cool and quite wet, which has precluded getting the Rhoades Car out of the garage.

This weekend though the temperatures have warmed up a bit reaching 15C by early afternoon. Ruth said, "let's get the quadracycle out" and so we did a milk run (literally) down to Giant Tiger for milk. All it took was some air in the tires and it was ready to go.

The ride was only 6 km round trip, but it was a good start to the season at least.

I had forgotten just how much attention the quadracycle gets when we ride it down the street and today was no exception, which lots of little kids saying "Looky mom..." We spend a lot of time waving to people.

Hopefully we will get a chance to get the quadracycle out a bit more this summer and perhaps even take it downtown on the Biking Sundays. Those are always fun to do.

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