archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

Tilted Rear Wheel

I was out in the garage today, getting my pannier setup prepped for the upcoming expeditions into the mountains, and I was rather startled to discover that my rear wheel and tire did not seem to be vertical! Hmm, I had not noticed this before (must have been asleep at the wheel). On the standard ICE street trikes with 20-inch wheels, this may not be noticeable at all, but today on this Full Fat, with its mega-huge wheel and tire, it popped out at me, as if to shout, “Hey dummy, how have you been missing this?” With a tire this large (26×4.7), a few degrees of tilt off of vertical is much more obvious than with a tiny twenty-by-one point five.

So anyway, my own lame powers of observation aside these past months, I could not let this pass without a remedy of some sort. I retrieved my handy level from the bench drawer just to satisfy my mind that I was not imagining this tilted tire and wheel. Sure enough, those mischievous trike gods had been messing with my mount, up there laughing their heads off that this sorry triker dude wasn’t even aware of a problem. Better late than never! The bubble level tool did indeed confirm that I have been riding down the road with a tilted rear wheel/tire set all this time! How come nobody else ever mentioned it to me? Maybe because they were all ahead of me ;-)

On ICE trikes, the main cruciform part of the frame has the rear part of the frame, which holds the seat and rear wheel assembly, that slides into it. The two frame parts are secured by two bolts so they do not rotate. There is no slotted tube design that holds the two frame pieces in line with one another, so it is possible to assemble them originally slightly askew, which results in the rear wheel not tracking vertical with the front two wheels. If the two bolts were not tight enough, the rear wheel could eventually just rotate into a really bizarre tilted position. Mine was off just enough that I could see it (today finally), but not enough to have any negative effect on handling and riding. Over time however, my minuscule tilt would wear the tire more on the left side than right had I not fixed this weird little alignment issue today.

The two bolts were plenty tight, so it was not a matter of the rear frame portion slowly rotating over the months as I rode the trike. It was really bugging me seeing this tilted tire, and you know how it is: Once you know something is amiss, it just drives you crazy until you do something about it. So, I got out my hex-head tool, loosened the two bolts up quite a bit, and then applied some opposing sideways pressure to the tire (to the left up on top and to the right down on bottom) until I had reached that sweet vertical position. Then, I re-tightened the two large bolts to hold it all in perfect place for all time, or at least until the day I check out of this adventure called life, because this trike is my “keeper” human-powered Jeep vehicle (love the freedom to ride nearly anywhere compared to my former pavement-only days). All this work took only a few minutes.

It was raining outside, but a really pleasant and quite balmy sixty degrees Fahrenheit.

Here are some photos to reveal that which my words only served to confuse:

Man, I’ve got a problem! And I only thought my brain was tilted.

Look at that bubble! Bubbles never lie. I can hear the trike gods laughing at me.

I even did both sides just to make sure it wasn’t my eyes playing tricks on me.

Now, THIS is what I like to see, but alas, this was the front wheel and tire. Bubble centered.

Notice the two large hex-head bolts that keep the mainframe cruciform tightly anchoring the rear portion of the ICE frame. Essentially all I did was loosen up these two bolts on the orange part of the frame, rotate the black part of the frame by applying pressure to the rear tire, and then tighten up the bolts once everything was perfectly vertically aligned according to the bubble. Ahh, now I am once again one happy trike hobo, ready for the upcoming trail riding season! Yee haa …

FINAL NOTE: If you own an ICE trike, go get out your bubble level and fix it. See ya’ …