August 25, 2015

Shop Talk: Trike Weight

Busted Rim

Over the years we've had to figure out ways to avoid spectacular component fails such as this one!

One of the most common questions we’re asked is “how much does that thing weigh?” or “how much can you carry?”. Sometimes a person will offer a guess, but most of the time our trike’s huge girth will make even a rough estimate difficult. Although appearing bicycle-like, our trikes are actually much heavier and carry much more than their appearance might suggest.

Our standard trike has a maximum payload of 800 pounds, but given the wide range of goods that we deliver the load can sometimes be as little as 200 pounds, or as much as 1000. Since we combine multiple good from multiple customers in a single delivery route, the box often contains a variety of items of different types. For example, a trike might be carrying 400 pounds of organic produce, 50 pounds of Dave’s Killer Bread, and another 250 pounds of Portland Roasting coffee. Sometimes a single office supplies delivery can have as much as 1100 pounds of just paper; other times we fill a trike with high volume/low weight items like styrofoam recycling as part of our B-Cycle program. The trike’s weight when empty is just over 500 pounds, but balloons to 1300 when fully loaded. With a 170lb. rider and a large handtruck the gross vehicle weight rises to a whopping 1500 pounds.

All that weight puts tremendous strain on the components, many of which were originally intended for a typical bicycle weighing 30 pounds or less. In the 6 years since our first delivery, we’ve seen some spectacular component failures, especially in the wheels. The solution, as with our brake system, was to convert to motorcycle-type rims, tires, and spokes. Doing so has made it possible for us to deliver over 30,000 pounds of goods every week, a truly impressive figure.

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1140 SE 7th Ave, Ste. 190, Portland, OR 97214
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