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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Mr. Lieu swapped out the BB5s and installed the BB7s in short order.
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.
He adjusted the brakes until they were perfect. He also adjusted the rear derailleur and found that the cable was loose. No problem!
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!
The last upgrade was the new idler wheels. These wheels are designed for longer life.
The final touches.
Kevin then took me to lunch. When we came back, Walter insisted upon doing one more thing.
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.
Walter removed the lower seat cover and went at it.
Mr. Lieu came over to help him.
Here they are putting the seat cover back on.
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.
This is the new front-wheel drive Cobra.
They are working on an electric-assist model of the Cobra. This is going to be one sweet ride!
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