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FAQ: Everything

Use the table below to locate your topic or browse for pleasure.

    Bearings
    Cargo Monster
    Fairings
    Handlebar Fitting
    Idlers
    Steering Systems
    Tire Sizing

Idler? I Thought My Bike Was A Mover!

Idlers 101: Power, Return and Over/Under

Chain that moves from back to front and does all the work is the power portion of chain. It's the line of chain on top and it carries the load (all that muscular power that you're putting into each push of the pedal). This is where a Power Idler goes. In the old days, recumbent manufacturers used skateboard wheels for idlers, but because you're pushing so powerfully, the chain would wear down the polyurethane with unnecessary friction. Today, thanks to a guy named Pat Franz, we put a toothed cog in our power idlers. The teeth keep your chain from wandering and, because the line is so taut, the chain spins the idler without any undue friction or slowing.

The other half of the chain, the part that runs below the power, is the return. It's the bottom and just kinda hangs out. Its job is to return back to the gears and roll around until it changes sides (and becomes power). On this section of chain is where you find the Return Idler. We don't leave out the toothed cog in the return idler just because it's extraneous; we do so because a lightly loaded chain (the return side) can skip over the teeth of the cog, causing noise and friction and possibly damaging your chain.

Both instances (power and return) occur on any given chain, but, depending on the cycle, the chain can follow different paths and require different sets of idlers. For bikes whose power-side and return-side chain spin the idler in the same direction and run close together, an Over/Under Idler is perfect. The over/under is a two-in-one idler, serving both the power and return chain.


Idlers 201: Sport vs. Elite

Originally designed as a cost-saver to help first timers (or those with multiple bikes) to upgrade to TerraCycle quality, the TerraCycle Sport Series Power Side Idler, Return Side Idler or Over/Under Idler will be the best (and only) idlers many riders ever need. Sport Series Idlers are designed for supreme function and durability. Made with a precisely crafted 7075 aluminum cog for the power side and an industrial urethane band on the return, with military-grade ballistic nylon side plates and with top quality ABEC 7 steel bearings, the Sport Series Idlers are built to last and do an exceptional job maintaining your chainline.

Upgrading to Elite Series Idlers gives a slight boost in performance, further improvements to durability, and an MTV-worthy makeover in looks. When you upgrade, you find that what was an all steel ABEC 7 bearing is now a smoother and more durable hybrid ceramic ball bearing; what were ballistic nylon are now two immaculately machined aluminum side plates whose beauty is only surpassed by their fortitude; and what was precision aluminum is now an indestructible titanium cog born of meticulous and unrelenting fidelity to the the ideals of the perfect idler. In short: the Elite Series Idlers are the undisputed best idlers in the world in functionality, durability and serious bling-factor.


Getting Your Bearings: Why Do Good Ones Matter?

Ceramic vs. Hybrid Bearings

Short answer: because better bearings—like those found in TerraCycle idlers—drastically increase the lifetime of your product. One customer has ridden for 50,000mi in the rain and mud of Oregon without his TerraCycle idler giving way!

The Annular Bearing Engineering Committee (ABEC) is a group that formed within the American Bearing Manufacturers Association in order to create an industry standard for the tolerances of ball bearings. On the ABEC scale a higher number means a more precise bearing. There are five grades: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. All TerraCycle idlers come with high quality ABEC 7 bearings, with the exception of Elite idlers, which can be upgraded to hybrid ceramic bearings.

In a hybrid ceramic bearing, ceramic balls are encased in the same steel rings as a standard bearing. The ceramic balls, however, are stronger and more friction resistant than steel, giving the bearing a smoother and longer-lasting ride. Since the ball is what wears out when the bearings are used on cycles, the hybrid ceramic is a good match.

For those of you looking to impress your friends with intricate technical facts of bearings and the ABEC rating system, here's a link to AST Bearings Inc.'s explanation of bearing precision.



How Many Numbers Does It Take To Change A Tire?

Understanding Tire Sizes

One piece of cycling knowledge that is supremely frustrating is tire sizing. The late Sheldon Brown, was, undoubtedly, the foremost authority on bike tire sizing, and even he had to admit that "bicycle tires come in a bewildering variety of sizes."

For tire sizes, we primarily use the The European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation (ETRTO) method of measurement. The ETRTO format has been adopted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and is recognized in the industry as a reliable and uniform method for tire sizing.

An ETRTO size is comprised of two millimeter measurements, separated by a hyphen: "Tire Width - Rim Diameter." A tire reading "50-406" is 50mm wide and 406mm in diameter. For convenience, we've included traditional units beside the ETRTO listings on our website.

To find your size, simply search your tire until you find your ETRTO measurement (## - ###). Remember, if you want to change the width to a skinnier or fatter tire, then you want to get a tire with a smaller or larger first number, but be sure to keep the second number the same. For example, a 50-406 and a 40-406 will fit the same rim on a bike; the difference is that the 50-406 will be a fatter tire. But a 50-406 and a 50-355 will not fit the same rim on a bike, even though they're the same width.

Here's a good explanation of the difference between ETRTO, Inch and French readings.
Here's a link to Sheldon Brown's own website about the trials and tribulations of tire sizing.



Do These Handlebars Make My Seat Look Big?

Finding The Right Size Handlebar

Well, friends, there's an easy way to figure out what size handlebars are the perfect ones for you. Our five step program takes no more than a couple minutes and requires the help of a trustworthy assistant. Alright, let's do this:

1. Find a helpful assistant and ask them nicely for their help.
2. Sit down in a chair that has no arms and let your arms dangle freely at your side. (Hint: Pretend your arms are the tentacles of a squid that has mastered the art of Zen and give them a gentle, jiggly shake before allowing them to relax at your sides.)
3. Now, clear your mind, like a Zen-guru squid, and reach up as though you're gripping your perfectly sized and positioned handlebars.
4. Next, have your loyal assistant measure the distance between the knuckles of your middle fingers to get your grip to grip width.
5. Finally, have your assistant put a straight object, like a ruler, in your hand and estimate the angle that your straight object makes against the ground.

Now you have your numbers! Go and assemble your perfect ride!

Three Reasons That A TerraCycle Steering System Will Better Your Ride

It's important to start off with a good base, which is why there's the GlideFlex Folding Stem. The boost your bike's steering system gets from a GlideFlex is unparalleled in today's market*. Other folding stems bend a pair of arms that squeeze on a central pivot to produce friction. This bending yoke design is easy to make, but has numerous drawbacks: poor friction control, uneven feel, sticky adjustments, rapid wear, eventual sloppiness and a silly sounding name. If you've used a floppy, jerky folding folding stem, you know what we're talking about. Our GlideFlex uses a more advanced disk brake parallel squeeze mechanism. When you tighten this stem, precisely machined disks evenly squeeze special thermoplastic (Delrin) friction bushings. Besides sounding way cooler, our design provides a full 5/8" diameter pivot and completely eliminates metal-to-metal contact in the hinge, resulting in a silent ride with low wear that is almost completely unaffected by the weather.

Then there's the Handlebar Mast with Adjustable Handlebar Stem. A mouthful? Try miracle. Many stock handlebar masts are cut, welded, bent, glued or just plain stuck in one position. On top of that, they oftentimes have a fixed handlebar stem. This combination severely limits your opportunity to find the perfect fit. With eight distinct varieties of handlebar masts/stems, TerraCycle is here to liberate those stuck with stock. The possibilities, though, are limitless. Dialing your handlebars in to the perfect height is as easy as sliding the fully adjustable handlebar stem that comes with your TerraCycle Handlebar Mast.

Finally: Handlebars. Some bike companies don't stop at fixed handlebar stems. No, some go so far as to make one single set of handlebars to accompany their products. Common sense dictates that this is completely ridiculous. An economic idea, perhaps, but only providing one size of handlebars would be like a shoe company selling only size of shoes. Now, imagine you're a person who has purchased a pair of these shoes. If they're the only shoes you've ever had, you might believe that blisters and toe cramps were just a price to pay for not walking barefoot. The same is true for handlebars on a bike, especially for those who ride long distances. You may find that your shoulders aren't as sore, that your wrists don't burn, that you don't get off your bike and feel like a stiff-armed zombie anymore. In addition to size, TerraCycle also recognizes that the angle of handlebars can dramatically influence the feel of the grip. We offer four different angles and if your current handlebars aren't the right ones, the difference can be surprisingly delightful.



*Note that the stems on the newer Bacchetta bikes look suspiciously similar to a GlideFlex, but are not—they've got a simple bent yoke folding mechanism. If you'd like to upgrade your bike, a GlideFlex is the stem for a long life of durability and performance.

Can A Fairing Make Riding Less Of A Drag?

What Fairings Do You Sell?

Here at TerraCycle, we build and sell Windwrap Fairings, as well the as the mounting hardware and some accessories to go along with it all. First off, there are six types of fairings:

The BLC Fairing is designed for high bottom bracket remote-steered bikes. The curve of the bubble provides good aerodynamic coverage and all the clearances where you need them.

The Cafe Fairing is designed for bikes where the cranks are just ahead of the head tube. It provides a nice aerodynamic toebox and clearance for the handlebars to turn. It's also used on MBB bikes like the Cruzbikes.

The ERX Fairing is a fairing that turns with the handlebars and is made for long wheelbase bikes where the pedals are down fairly low, like the Easy Racers Tour Easy, Gold Rush, and others. The shape and contour of these fairings provide great aerodynamics. The ERX is capable of supporting a Body Sock.

The GX Fairing is a full-sized fairing that wraps around from under the pedals up and over your knees. It's ideal for lots of bikes and trikes with the cranks out front.

The RNS Fairing is a fairing that turns with the handlebars and is made for long wheelbase bikes where the pedals aren't down as low, like the Rans Stratus, Easy Racers Tomahawk, and others. This fairing is designed to provide great aerodynamics and good foot clearance, with the main curve of the bubble shifted up compared to the ERX type fairings. It is capable of supporting a Body Sock.

The XT Fairing is a small fairing that typically mounts on the derailleur post. It works on a lot of different bikes and trikes. Since it's a small fairing, it doesn't provide as much aero assistance as the larger fairings. On bikes and trikes with low seats and limited forward visibility, it's sometimes the only fairing that will work. In spite of its small size, it's great at keeping your feet warm if you're a cold weather rider.


To further complicate matters, we sell seven types of fairing mounts:

The BLC Mount Kit is specially made for remote-steered long wheelbase bikes and Delta trikes. It uses a lower mount that extends up, over, and down from the main tube.

The Cafe Mount Kit uses hardware specific to the bikes that use the Cafe Fairing. It has a bottom bracket mount for the lower part of the fairing and an angle adjustable upper mount that attaches to the derailleur post.

The Classic Two Point Mount Kit is used in situations where the bottom part of the One Point Mount Kit can't be used (Rans VRex and Lightning P38, mostly, with their other tubes coming out under the boom). An arm attaches to the bottom bracket to support the lower part of the fairing. The upper part of the mount is the same as the OnePoint mount.

The ERX Mount Kit is for fairings that turn with the handlebars on long wheelbase bikes like the Easy Racers. The standard width has handlebar mounts sized for the bar spacing on the Easy Racers, Sun, and Lightfoot handlebars. The wide version of the mount is for the wide version ERX Fairing.

The One Point Mount Kit is the most adaptable and universal fairing mount. It is used with the GX and BLC Fairings on lots of bikes and trikes. It has an upper arm and a lower arm. Each arm mounts at the same place on the main frame of the bike/trike, hence the name "One Point." You can separate the attachment of the upper and lower mounts if you wish (you'll need an extra set of mounting bands).

The RNS Mount Kit is a mount that turns with the handlebars on long wheelbase bikes. The T-Bar option is for bikes with a single large handlebar mast like the Rans Stratus and Easy Racers Tomahawk. The Chopper Bars option is for the Rans long wheelbase bikes with wide chopper style bars. They are similar to the ERX mounts but sized for the spacing on the wider Rans chopper bars.

The XT Mount Kit is a universal, easy fit mount for the XT fairing. The mount attaches under the main frame tube behind the bottom bracket shell. It has built-in adjusting hardware to provide anglular adjustment and extend the positional range. It is easily removed and reinstalled for transport.

Which Fairing Do I Need?

Well, that's a great question. To answer this, we've assembled a little chart where you can match up your bike with the applicable hardware and fairing. Click here to check it out!

Can I See Over It?

Before you order a fairing, you should check for vision restrictions, because, though they are often clear, fairings are meant to be primarily looked over and not always through.

As our shapely green man demonstrates, there are four main points that should be taken into account:

1. The top of your foot stroke.
2. The top of your knee stroke.
3. The highest point of the handlebars, including your hands if you have above the seat steering.
4. Your eye height while seated on the vehicle.


In order to properly see over a fairing, your eyes need to be:

1. 1.5 inches (3.8cm) higher than your knees.
2. 2 inches (5cm) higher than your toes.
3. 3 inches (7.6cm) higher than your handlebars.

Following these rules will give you a line of sight to the road about 20 feet (6 meters) ahead of you. If you want to see the road closer without looking through the fairing, you need to add 1 to 2 inches (2 to 5cm) to the above differences. For most riding conditions, 20-30 feet (6-9m) is a reasonable sight line. Keep in mind that while fairings are transparent, glare, rain, fog, superheroes and other conditions can impair your ability to see through a fairing. For racing, where absolute speed is paramount, you could reconsider the above requirements, but for the day to day, it is important that you have a good sightline over your fairing.

Also keep in mind that fairings alter the aerodynamics of a bike considerably. If you have a greatly laid back seat for aerodynamics, the gains from adding a fairing will be less dramatic. So, as you take the measurements listed above, remember that you can raise your seat now that you have a sleek, wind-fighting fairing!

Should I Be Afraid of The Cargo Monster?

Not unless you're a load that doesn't want carrying. Below, we've put answers to some of the most prevalent questions concerning the unbeatable Cargo Monster:

1. What is a Cargo Monster? The Cargo Monster is an extension to the frame of your bike/trike. It bolts in place of the rear wheel, and extends the wheelbase back by 18" (46cm). Your rear wheel bolts back into the Cargo Monster. The rear derailleur moves back too, of course. The Cargo Monster has mounts for a 203mm disk brake so you can have lots of braking if you need it. The Cargo Monster has plug-ins to accept the various pannier and load carrying platforms made by Xtracycle for their popular upright bicycle load carriers.

2. Can I put one on my bike or trike? Almost certainly yes, but since recumbents are all so different, it takes a few special parts. We have kits for most of the WizWheelz, Catrike, and Greenspeed trikes right now, and are working on the parts required for other bikes and trikes, including things like upright folding bikes. We designed the Cargo Monster to adapted to all sorts of things, so nearly anything is possible.

3. How does it attach? The Cargo Monster attaches in place of your rear wheel, at the dropouts, and to the main tube of your bike/trike. The dropout plates match the 135mm spacing of your rear wheel. The mount on the frame is a clamp that is CNC machined to exactly fit the tube. The rear wheel goes back into the Cargo Monster frame. The height at the dropouts remains the same, so the seat height, etc. remains the same. The rear derailleur moves back. The original cable and housing flips up and plugs into a stop on the Cargo Monster, and a provided extender cable and housing take it back to the derailleur's new location. Installation takes 15 to 20 minutes the first time, and much less after that.

4. What if I want to take it off and put things back the way they were? No problem. In about 5 minutes, you can take the Cargo Monster off and have everything back to the way it was.

5. What is the weight limit? We suggest a load limit of 200lbs (90Kg) if low and evenly centered on the rear axle, and not to exceed 350lbs (160Kg) combined rider+cargo. 200lbs is a lot, and you have to keep in mind that requires careful loading, a strong rear wheel, and a strong bike or trike—as well as a strong rider, no hills, and good brakes. A good amount of judgment and common sense is called for when hauling cargo. How things are loaded, how they are secured, and where you are going may all be more important than the weight limit. You can carry all kinds of things, but you do have to be sensible about it.

6. What can I carry on it? Oh my... almost anything that weighs less than 200lbs. There are several options for things that you plug into the Cargo Monster to hold things. The basic one is the Xtracycle LongTail Kit. It has two aluminum rails that plug into the vertical tubes on the Cargo Monster. A plywood deck snaps onto the top of the rails. The rails have extensible bags that can carry six bags of groceries, a couple bags of cement, ladders, touring gear, all kinds of things. Another useful kit Xtracycle makes is a set of rails that carry 4-6 panniers, plenty of room for carrying everything you need while touring cross country. There are also plug-in platforms, and you can easily make your own attachments if you like.

7. Can I go touring with one? Definitely! The Cargo Monster is a great way to carry everything you need. For touring, the pannier carrying rails is probably the best way to go. That way, you can use standard panniers.

8. Can I carry my child on the back? We strongly recommend that you do not carry people on your Cargo Monster. There are several good reasons for this. On trikes, since they don't lean, it's precarious to be sitting up high when cornering or off camber. Also, on recumbents, there's nothing for a passenger to hold onto like there is on upright bikes. We also have strong feelings about safely carrying children; they are safer in trailers and other things designed expressly for that purpose. So, we recommend that you do not carry passengers on your Cargo Monster. If you are using your Cargo Monster on an upright bike, and you use all the Xtracycle passenger carrying accessories, it would be OK, but, ultimately, you have to decide if this would be safe for your bike and riding conditions.

9. Will this damage my bike/trike or void the warranty? The loads on the Cargo Monster are largely carried by the Cargo Monster and the rear wheel. There will be some cargo load forces into the frame of the bike/trike, but it's a small percentage of the overall load. The Cargo Monster does compound the effect of rider weight, so the upper weight limit on riders is lower. We suggest a maximum rider weight 75% of the manufacturer's maximum.

The Cargo Monster attaches to the inside of the dropouts with sturdy steel dropout plates, which spread the load out more than a wheel would, so there is less strain in cornering than you get with a wheel in the dropouts. The Xtracycle system has been used for a while now on upright bikes, and there hasn't been a rash of frame failures, so we are confident people won't be breaking their bikes with their Cargo Monsters. It is possible a bike/trike manufacturer could say that using such a thing is outside the warranty, since it didn't even exist when they designed their frames. We can't say that's unreasonable, but as long as you avoid heavy loads high up on the Cargo Monster, you should not expect problems. As in all things, you should consider whether your bike/trike can handle the load you wish to carry, and regularly check to make sure all bolts/mounts are secure.

10. Since the Cargo Monster can take a 26" wheel, does this mean I can get a 26" rear wheel on my 20" trike? Yes, it does. Keep in mind that if you do this, the rear of the trike will be raised slightly. This may affect the handling a bit. We recommend wide tires in the front if you do this. It works quite well.

11. Does the Cargo Monster affect handling? Yes, but generally in a good way. The wheelbase is extended, which makes the steering more stable, which is good when you're carrying loads. Your turning radius will be larger, but on most trikes, you can still easily turn around in the street. Purists will note that the steering geometry will be altered, but we have found this is generally an improvement. Twitchy trikes will be much improved.

12. What is Xtracycle, and how is it different from the Cargo Monster? The Xtracycle cargo extension, officially called the "Free Radical," was developed for upright bikes with 26" (xx-559) or 700c (xx-622) wheels. It is a one piece frame that attaches to the outside of the dropouts. It has a fixed sized forward beam designed to attach to a kickstand plate found behind the bottom bracket of most bikes. It has four vertical tubes and two double ended horizontal tubes that take plug-ins to carry various kind of cargo. It's a very clever system, and lets people do all kinds of new things with their bikes. It's not designed to fit any other kind of bike, though, and not designed to take the torsional loads created by trikes. So, we decided to make a more general purpose version, stiffened and strengthened in the ways required by trikes, recumbents, and other unusual bikes.

13. What are the other Xtracycle things I can plug in? The basic Xtracycle load carrying system is the LongTail Kit. It has two aluminum rails, a wooden top deck, and two large capacity side bags. There is also the Pannier Kit, which has two aluminum rails that let you carry four-six standard panniers, though there is no provision for the bottom bungee hooks (and yes, we are working on that). There are also horizontal platforms, different types of top decks, kits for carrying long loads, all sorts of things (visit Xtracycle.com for more information). The system is designed to be very simple to add to, and we expect to see more third parties to make even more accessories. We may be doing some ourselves.

14. Can I use it on multiple bikes? Yes. It may require a different forward beam, frame clamp, or adapter plate, but that's all.

15. Can I add an electric motor? Yes. The Cargo Monster has tabs for mounting an Ecospeed mid drive system. These could be used to adapt to another system, and you can also use a hub drive. The Cargo Monster dropouts are 1/4" steel and are plenty strong enough to handle the load. There is generally a lot of room above or beside the forward beam on the Cargo Monster to hold the battery.



Can You Guys Speak Latin?

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