The State Of The Artifice

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Photos by MJ Klein

A few days ago I took a ride on the trike.  I left Hukou and traveled up to the Yong An fishing port area and then headed back down towards Hukou.  The ride would have been somewhere around 43 KM, but it was cut short when no less than five dogs from a single house ran out to chase me.  Since they were only about 3 meters behind me, I did a very fast stop.  The brakes locked up.  The rear wheel of the trike came off the ground.  The dogs immediately lost interest and I continued on my way at very slow speed.

I was facing into a headwind, making about 9 or 10 KPH.  Since I had been making speeds of about 15 ~ 17 KPH despite the headwind, I knew there was something wrong.  I got off the trike and tipped it on it’s side.

State Of The Artifice

I found that both front wheels were dragging, and the left front wheel was dragging very severely.  I took the left front wheel off (as shown in the photograph) and tried to see what the cause of the problem was.

The problem was with the brakes.

State Of The Artifice

In this photo you can see that the inside brake shoe (on the bottom) is protruding from the housing.  I wouldn’t go back into the housing and I didn’t know how to adjust it.  I had to end the ride and ask Hui-chen to come get me in the car.

State Of The Artifice

What I didn’t know at the time was that I had also bent the Quick Release bracket.  Look at the thin piece of metal at the top of the clamp and you will see that it’s curved and not straight.  This would not allow me to open the QR and fold the trike.

I called Kevin Kao, the owner of TW Bents.  Kevin agreed that I should bring the Artifice so his guys could take a look at it.

When Kevin saw that the QR bracket had bent he immediately suggested that they swap out a new frame.  I insisted that wasn’t necessary and if the curved section could be straightened out (perhaps with a drift pin and a small sledge) the QR would work again and everything would be OK.  The frame itself hadn’t suffered any damage – only the Quick Release.

Kevin’s assembler was able to get the QR to function properly.

State Of The Artifice

Here we see Walter (left, the designer of the Artifice), Mr. Lieu and Kevin on the right.  They are checking out the QR that Mr. Lieu had just repaired.

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Next, Kevin showed me new steering components.  This bracket is stronger than the original bracket on my Artifice, so Kevin asked Mr. Lieu to change them for me.

State Of The Artifice

Here we see Mr. Lieu swapping out those steering brackets.

When I had the trouble with the brakes on that ride, I searched for a procedure to adjust the Avid brakes.  It was then that I discovered that my Artifice had been outfitted with BB5 and not BB7 brakes as specified (because there was only one shoe adjusting knob).

State Of The Artifice

I mentioned this to Kevin and he immediately asked Mr. Lieu to replace the BB5 brakes with the BB7 models because a mistake had been made at assembly.

State Of The Artifice

Mr. Lieu swapped out the BB5s and installed the BB7s in short order.

State Of The Artifice

Next, Mr. Lieu put my Artifice up on the build stand and adjusted everything on the trike.  Mr. Lieu grew up working on bicycles and he is very fast and a perfectionist.

State Of The Artifice

He adjusted the brakes until they were perfect.  He also adjusted the rear derailleur and found that the cable was loose.  No problem!

State Of The Artifice

Mr. Lieu checked every single cable on the trike and made adjustments where things didn’t suit him.  Kevin told me that Mr. Lieu can assemble a complete Artifice from bare frame to finished in less than 3 hours.  Now that’s impressive!

State Of The Artifice

The last upgrade was the new idler wheels.  These wheels are designed for longer life.

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The final touches.

Kevin then took me to lunch.  When we came back, Walter insisted upon doing one more thing.

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Walter is a big man himself.  He knows that us larger-framed riders can experience a bit of discomfort from the lower part of the seat.  He wanted to do what he did on his personal trike: install some foam on the side tubes.

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Walter removed the lower seat cover and went at it.

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Mr. Lieu came over to help him.

State Of The Artifice

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Here they are putting the seat cover back on.

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Mr. Lieu’s attention to detail is impressive.  He doesn’t stop until everything meets his personal standards and they are very high.  I also couldn’t believe that I had Walter, the designer himself, personally working on my Artifice.

Altogether, TW Bents did the following:

  • Got my rear QR functioning again.
  • Replaced the steering brackets with the new design.
  • Replaced the BB5 brakes with BB7s.
  • Replaced the idler wheels.
  • Checked every cable and adjusted them where necessary.
  • Installed foam padding on the lower seat side tubes.

There was no charge to me for any of the work that was done. In addition to that, Kevin insisted upon paying for lunch too!

I want to thank Kevin, Walter and Mr. Lieu for not only producing an excellent product, but for standing by it 100%.

I have one more thing to show you:  The newest thing they are working on.

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This is the new front-wheel drive Cobra.

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They are working on an electric-assist model of the Cobra.  This is going to be one sweet ride!

Thanks for reading.  We hope to hear from you in the Comments section below.  Please leave us a rating!

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9 comments

  1. Pingback: MJ Klein
  2. Enjoyed the story about your Artifice rebuild. My wife Janice and I have 2 TW Bents trikes, a Mantis Hillclimber purchased new this year from Action Bent, and a Trike II purchased used two year ago. I researched and read much data about trikes including many posts on BROL before buying the Mantis 81 speed Hillclimber. TW Bents makes good quality trikes and they are competitively priced. We ride in the Middle Tennessee Hills.
    Thanks, Garry

    1. hi Garry. glad you found us. TW Bents sure took care of me and i wanted to share that with all the other TW Bents enthusiasts! i bet you enjoy climbing those hills in TN. i used to live in NC and took many trips to the beautiful state of TN and i remember those mountains. sounds like a fantastic place to live and ride, Garry. enjoy your trikes!

  3. Well I’ll be MJ what a small world , I am from Gastonia and grew up in Mt.Holly. what part or you from. ??? That is a great bike , but I am afraid with my big pung and short legs , I would have a hard time riding , and the roads around here are not the greatest. But it sure looks like fun to ride , great story and pictures and good to see that they stand behind their product, as most Thai dealears , when they see you coming with a problem they run the other way .Have some good rides with all the updated stuff they put on for you , should make a big difference , Hello to you and your’s from me and mine Malcolm

    malcolms last blog post..I AM A THAI LADY

    1. hi Malcolm. we moved to Greensboro in 1973. i graduated from high school and stayed a total of about 5 years before moving to Massachusetts on my own. i also lived in Raleigh for awhile, when i was playing with some Raleigh-based bands. my father and sister and family live north of Greensboro to this day.

      Malcolm, recumbent trikes can be adjusted to make riding very comfortable for you. probably the biggest obstacle to you riding one would be the high number of stray dogs in rural Thailand. they can be a real threat to cyclists of any type,. especially on the low trike. i’ll be back to riding tomorrow if it doesn’t rain. it’s not supposed to rain until Sunday but it did drizzle a bit today. thanks Malcolm and take care.

  4. Now… you said in your article that Mr. Lieu can assemble a complete Artifice from bare frame to finished in less than 3 hours. How long did it take to do the repairs to your trike???

    To me… it looks like it would’ve taken a couple of hours to do… but then again… I don’t work on bicycles for a living. I’m sure those that have a LOT more experiences at it… would be a lot quicker than I would be.

    mike01905s last blog post..Boston’s Freedom Trail

    1. Mike, not long. he was able to change out the steering brackets in less than 10 minutes, and the brakes in about the same amount of time. adjustments took only a few minutes. i arrived mid-morning and everything was finished by lunch time. talk about quick! quicker than you and i put together! thanks Mike.

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