Pedicabs for Professionals, Part 2- Rolling Resistance, Lower Center of Gravity, Protected Derailleurs

Depending on how you count, We have been developing our pedicab for 5 plus years.  It has gone through many changes over that time.  We had several prototypes that were perfectly functional, but did not make the grade for one reason or another.   In the course of this development cycle we came to the conclusion that we should focus or efforts on upgrading pedicabs where we could make the greatest improvements on the day to day difficulties in the life of a pedicabber.  It would be nice if we could make every passenger a one hundred pound cutie who wants to go one block down hill and give us a hundred dollars.  Passenger weight, hills between point A and B, and headwinds, are not something that a pedicab manufacturer cannot change.  Other things we can.

We talked about reducing weight in our previous post.   We will continue to decrease weight if doing so does not sacrifice reliability.  We have also done a great deal of work to reduce the rolling resistance of our pedicabs.  By being lighter and having less drag from the tires, we have created a bike that is much easier to pedal through the course of the working day.

To get to that goal of lower rolling resistance we have developed a bike that uses 29’er sized wheels.  Bigger wheels are known to smooth out bumps.  29’ers are great, but if you just take a standard pedicab built for 26″ wheels and throw some bigger 29’er wheels on it, the bike gets raised up almost 2 inches.  That’s 2″ higher center of gravity, two inches higher step-in height, and two inches higher and on ground clearance.  Yes if you change nothing but wheel size, you can get some benefits that way, but the down sides of the higher, less stable, more “tippy” bike have not been mitigated.  We had the chance to start from a clean slate with our design.  In doing so we wanted to get all the upsides to the larger wheels, without sacrificing good handling and safety.

To fit those bigger wheels, and a lower the center of gravity was not an easy task.  We were able to build the bikes to have an approximately 12 1/2″ step in height, and a seat height that is lower than the top of the tires.  The effect of  lowering the passenger compartment was to make the bike much more stable.  We did this without any auxiliary steps that tend to catch the back of the pedicab driver’s foot and bruise their Achilles tendon when walking the bike (been there, done that).  We also did this without putting any passenger trip hazards or chain tunnels or humps in the passenger floor board.  This eventually led us to the idea of protecting the rear derailleur by placing it between the rear wheels.  This placement allows us to get rid of chain tunnels found on some bikes and makes it nearly impossible to damage the rear derailleur when rolling up or down curbs or parking blocks or other obstacles or when engaging in other tomfoolery.  With the rear derailleur tucked up between the rear wheels it is no longer vulnerable to damage from high-centering on obstacles.

For the pedicab operator 29er wheels are wonderful, but they make the manufacturer’s job of designing a great pedicab a lot harder.  We have gone that extra mile.  In the end we have a bike that rolls fast, especially when loaded, is great to operate in the grass, is easy for passengers to get into, handles well and is exceptionally stable.  29 inch wheels were tough to get to work well, but we feel confident that our design solutions will make a great bike for years to come.

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