Photos, specifications and reflections on my new HPV, by Richard Guy Briggs (c) 2001, 2002

On Wednesday, October 3rd, 2001, I took delivery of the first production build of a new GreenSpeed vehicle model: a convertible tandem recumbent suitcase tricycle -- GTVS6 #790. The Hagues of Westcountry Recumbents in the UK also have a spec page.

Photo Tour

This is how I used to lock the trike before the lag bolts were put into the concrete. The gas company would have had a fit if they had seen that I had locked it to the gas meters.

Detail of a clean Rohloff "Speedhub 500/14" internal 14-speed hub (Sheldon's info page on it).

Serial number plate detail and rear dual push-pull Rohloff cable quick-disconnects.

CfSC members Cathy and Ian trying it indoors at the CfSC AGM.

I live in an 84-unit pilot-project environmetally-sensitive housing co-operative in Ottawa called Conservation Co-op. This is how I lock it inside our co-op. Notice how I loop the cable through itself around the front right wheel and then through the other wheel, then through the lag bolt and then extend it by looping it through the end of another cable. If I am really serious about locking it, I put the cable through the forward seat bars on both seats and through the rear crank. The room where I park it is a bicycle only parking garage that houses 110 bicycles and it has automatic lighting, automatic street-level doors and video surveilance. I am able to drive the tandem trike straight into the room with a canoe on the overhead rack. The second photo shows very clearly the cable loop, U-lock, back wheel, frame and lag bolt ring. The round key faces the wall, making it even harder to mess with the lock tumbler. The third photo above shows the cable looped through itself on the front right wheel, then through the front left, lag bolt ring, then the second cable.

These are general views, with a new model CarraDice SuperC without the heel cutout. The black racks extending upwards from each seat-top was originally ordered to carry a canoe, but it could be used to carry a wide variety of things including step ladders, lumber, sheets of plywood and gyproc, etc. I carried my wedgie (diamond-frame touring bike) home with it when I originally went to pick the trike up from the shop.

Here is an overhead view of the rear rack detail.

A close-up rear-end view.

I found a handy place to stash my U-lock and two security cables.

These are general views from each side without any bags.

This is the head-on view. I have put on single-sided SPDs and added rat traps for others to use since they won't be dragging on the ground. This gives a good view of my asymmetric mirrors, front mudguards, steering linkage, headlight mount on the otherwise unused emergency front derailleur tube, timing chain on the (driver's) left and Schlumpf speed-drive two-speed transmission on the right in the front as if it were a passenger tandem. You can also see the spedometer mount and a bell mounted beside it. I think I will actually move the bell to one of the handlebars rather than have it on the mirror tube. You can also see the disc brakes and their hoses.

This is the view from above the front seat showing many of the same things as the head-on view.

Here is a bit of chain detail, showing the timing chain on the left and the main drive chain on the right. The main drive chain is probably about 20' long, likely 4 standard chain-lengths. GreenSpeed supplied one quick-link in the timing chain for disassembly and two quick links on the drive chain to be able to convert it easily between tandem and solo.

These are general views of it flipped over resting on the overhead racks.

Here are the rear main tube S&S coupling and the Rohloff dual push-pull cable quick-disconnects. These match up with the front dual push-pull cable quick-disconnects to accomodate solo mode. Note also the extra set of unused emergency rear derailleur cable guides. The serial number plate may look easy to remove, but there is also a hidden location where it is stamped more permanently.

This blurry view from below the front boom shows many of the same things as the head-on view.

This is where we see how and where the frame breaks for conversion to a solo and for packing into a suitcase. To convert to a solo, the S&S coupling under each seat disconnects, the forward seat bolt from each seat disconnects, the two sets of dual-push-pull Rohloff shifter cables disconnect, the timing chain is removed and the drive chain is shortened. The front seat, rear crank, and both frame members between the S&S couplings under each seat are completely removed and the frame is reconnected using the front cranks, front wheels and steering, front frame, back seat, back wheel and back frame to run solo. The conversion only takes about 10-15 mins once I sort out a good way to store chains. The couplings use Dupont Krytox GPL205 lubricant, which seems to be available from F-Bacon Industriel Inc. (888-636-9990, Pte Claire, QC) in Canada. I have used Phil's Tenacious Oil on the chain because of the colder wet weather and I think I will change to the White Lightning parafin-based wet weather formula which should be much cleaner to handle.

This is what the centre span looks like acting as art in my hallway.

Here's the first glimpse of it in solo mode, locked up in the co-op.

Here you can see the underside of the front seat with it's front bolt and front coupling. On the left are the main chain guide pulleys.

Here the two centre span couplings are visible. This is where the centre span disassembles for travel. Also visible are the main chain guide pulleys and the rear crank with its combination SPD/traps. You can also see some of the seat lacing. The cables at the top of the photo run underneath the trike.

Here's a very good view of the rear main coupling with its lock ring. Also visible are the Rohloff dual push-pull cables with their quick-connects. On the left is the main chain guides, the PVC tube for the lower chain and the roller for the upper chain.

Ok, let's take it out into the park and take pics under the same scene as I took the tandem pics above...

Here you can see the main chain guide tube and pulley and just behind that the main coupling. The Rohloff grip shift is visible on the bottom half of the right handle bar. Below that is the right Hope hydraulic brake cylinder and (silver) adjusment wheel.

Rear view. Note the taillight still glowing after about 4-5 minutes stationary in the park.

Note the dynamo on the rear wheel.

Ok, time to flip it over again.

These two photos show a bent wheel incurred while a couple of young men from the local Unitarian youth group were a little too exuberant, brought it up on two wheels, then brought it down and shmucked it on a curb. Interestingly enough, it is still quite ridable with no noticible effect on the ride. It was examined later to determine full extent of damage and the axle has also been bent up to about 5 degrees, just outside the inner wheel bearing. In communications with Mick at Greenspeed, he was quite doubtful that it had been bent and asked for a confirmation. He said that he has never heard of a bent Greenspeed axle and wanted it back for forensic research if we had not yet straightened it and were quite willing to replace it. He said the wheel should have prezelled first. It is still stable up to 50 km/h with no wobble obvious to the rider without looking at it in motion. The wheel has now been fixed.

Here is a detail of the front crank. The Schlumpf (Ew, javascript...) "speed-drive (Ew, flash...)" is visible. It is the black core of the crank to which the the right chainring and guards are attached. The boom adjustment is visisble lower left. The unused front derailleur tube (except for the light, which will be moved onto the fairing hardware) is there for contingency in case the Schlumpf blows up on the road and I can only get triple crank parts. You can see the single-sided SPD-compatible pedals with a rat trap on the other side since the traps won't scrape on the ground.

Here we see more pics of the centre span, right-side up. Notice the rag tucked in the front of the seat which contains the timing chain and the unused half of the main chain while it is in solo mode. Also notice the two black rear handlebars which have been tucked inside the seat (about 2/3 up the centre bend of the seat, in the centre, visible through the mesh).

Finally, the photos I have been anticipating for 8 months... It is securely attached with ropes from underneath, but at this stage, I would not go any significant distance yet. I need to add some kind of buffer between the metal of the overhead rack and the wooden gunwale. I was thinking of a 2x4 with hooks on the end to prevent from sliding off the sides because as it is now, it fits with no spare on the sides. I also want to jack up the front by about 5 to 10 cm so that forward visiblity is improved for the captain. As it is, I am able to see the horizon right at the tip. It was quite stable, even with only one person riding. The canoe is a 47 pound, 15', 3-thwart fibreglass-covered cedar strip from the Stalek Canoe Co. (addr, hist, ref)

Detail of the rear lashing, better view below.

The view from the rear seat.

Hmmm, these are a bit dark, but you can get an idea of sight lines of the captain.

The view head-on.

The view from behind.

Detail of the rear lashing, which did not work very well. I have since added wodden slats wider than the rack, secured by hose clamps and pipe insulation foam for cushioning the ride.

Detail of the front lashing, which did work quite well, except for the rattling, which will be taken care of by the pipe foam.

The view from the driver's seat. Keep in mind that for the first, the offset of the SLR was enough to make it look like horizon was visible, but also remember that the trike was facing downhill and would point below the horizon anyways.

Some detail of the overhead racks, nearly identical.

View of the bike parking room in our co-op.

A patient pile of trike parts has been waiting for 6 weeks for the Christmas rush to subside before having a soft transport case made.

The first frame above is all the parts that make up the solo configuration of the GTVS6. The second is all the parts to augment it to a tandem. The third frame is all the parts.

Here is the first glance at the custom soft cases I had made for it presented by it's craftsman, Peter Brebner, owner of Brebner Manufacturing, +1.613.729-8178 (fax:-6297), 244a Britannia Road (@ Western Pkwy bike path), Ottawa, ON K2B 5X2, Canada (Mon-Fri, 9:00-17:00, except Thurs. 9:00-20:00)

The large bag holds all the parts for a solo trike. The smaller bag holds all the parts to augment it to a tandem. The bag is made of cordura with internal zippered panels to insert recycled/recyclable cardboard for stiffness and padding. Once I arrive where I unpack the trike this allows me to pack up the bag into a package slightly smaller than a pannier allowing me to take the case with me and find more padding later when I need to pack up the trike again. The large bag turns out to be a little difficult to handle, so I am looking at adding a piece of plastic with detachable wheels that will fit into a pannier that I can just velcro onto the bottom of the big bag when I need to move it any distance without a cart.

donuts anyone?
... got caught in the snow.

The timing and weather co-operated to allow me to take the trike out onto the frozen canal. Ottawa has the World's longest skating rink: The Rideau Canal Skateway is 7.8 km long. On March 5th I took it out at 03:30 as a solo. It was about -10 with no wind. Perfect weather! The ice was good and solid and very smooth since it had just been flooded. It was very slippery. What a complete blast! I was doing controlled spinouts and cutting across areas that would not be fun to skate or walk on. I covered the entire length of the canal twice (there and back). I had to start out in about 6th gear on the Rohloff with the Speed drive in high to get some traction. Turning the wheels abruptly was fruitless. I was able to turn slowly, then when applying a burst of power, the ass end would swing around. The following night after posting to the local HPV list, 5 of us went out again, this time adding the tandem section. It was not quite as slippery because it had not been flooded yet. We had to co-ordinate the power boost, but it swung out even more...

I built a heavy-duty hitch for the trike to tow heavy duty trailers.

Here are some photos of the tandem with Juergen's trailer in the conscoop bike room.

I built, with Juergen's help, a 3/4 ton tandem-axle 4-wheel trailer for towing MKP playing a Hammond C3 organ live in the St. Patrick's day parade.

An experiment in adding mudguard-mounted headlights.

I used the overhead racks three times in a week, to go get a couple of 4x8' sheets of plywood and lumber to rebuild the back steps, to deliver an extension ladder, and to pick up three odd bikes from Mike Watson.

July 18, 2006: Lanark local papers: Photos on front page of Briggs-Sauvé family on tandem with canoe. images

Three dozen banker's boxes

Another run to fetch lumber to fix the fence on Wurtemburg

While I was in Australia for the 20th anniversary of the World Solar Challenge as a volunteer, I tacked on an extra week to visit people and I swung by the Greenspeed factory in the Melbourne area to vist and to pick up a new Trailer Trike for my four and a half year old son Nicolas that attaches to my GTV. Here are the two sets of photos from that visit (they are on two seperate days because my camera stays in EST).

Repairs: , new seat , cracked main steering pivot painted main steering pivot , repaired and braced rear rack painted rear rack and front right (and left) mudguard , , right steering handlebar right front mudguard , , upper left back seat tube crack , left steering handlebar

I recently overhauled the Rohloff and Schlumpf hubs. , Right steering handlebar repair , Rear seat tubing repair , Rohloff chain tensionner spring

All photos above (c) 2001, 2002 Richard Guy Briggs Email Web


DimensionValue (m)
Length as tandem, tail light to chainring3.35
Length as solo, tail light to chainring1.87
Extension of rat trap beyond chainring0.18
Width at widest, front hub to hub1.00
Height at rear seat back0.75
Height at front seat back0.72
Height to top of rear overhead rack1.17
Height to top of front overhead rack1.14
Width of overhead rack0.80
Distance between overhead racks1.50
Distance from tail light to rear seat top0.44
Eye height for me0.93
Top-of-head height for me (with helmet)1.11

Wheelbase2.48 m (98")
Track0.90 m (35.5")
Width1.00 m (39")
Length3.50 m (138")
Front & Rear Wheels20" x 1.75"
TyresTioga "Comp Pool" 90 psi
BrakesTwin Hope C2 Hydraulic Discs with Pro Levers
Gears28-speed Rohloff/Schlumpf
Chain Wheel47T Schlumpf [Ew, javascript...] "speed-drive [Ew, flash...]" (extra wide gear range)
Rear Cog16T Rohloff "Speedhub 500/14" 14 speed internal gear hub
Gear Range1.2 to 11.1 metres (15 to 139 gear inches)
FrameAircraft grade Cro Mo 4130 tubing
Seat Angle35 degrees (from horizontal)
Leg length AdjustmentCrank brackets, both seats - seated leg from 104cm to 116cm for heights of 1.63m to 1.88m (5'4" to 6'2")
SteeringCentre Point Ackermann with inclined handle bars
Standard fittingsRear mudguard, Cro Mo Rack, Safety Flag
PanniersCarradice Super C Recumbent Panniers (on a Greenspeed trike)
LightsUnion Halogen dynamo lighting set with a Busch & Mueller DToplight plus rear light, Lumotec plus front light and Dymotec S6 generator
ComputerSigma BC 800 Cyclocomputer
Front mudguards
Six S&S BTCs (two breaks & removable seats)
Weight (tandem) with fairing37.7 kg (83 lbs)
Weight (solo) with fairing25.5 kg (56 lbs)
Weight (solo) with fairing, packed35.9 kg (79 lbs)
Weight (tandem pieces), packed16.8 kg (37 lbs)
Frame colourFlame Red
Seat colourBright Yellow
Overhead RackFor carrying a canoe, lumber, plywood, plumbing, skis, ladders, tools, other bikes...

Random musings...

'Bent muscles

Last year after owning the trike for 3 days, I tried a trip that was 135km each way over Canadian Thanksgiving. On the way there, I didn't make it, running out of daylight, so it is hard to measure performance, but on the way back, it took me about 9.5 hours and I was quite sore.

Normally on my touring bike, it takes me 6 hours, maximum 8 hours, minimum 5 hours (I have been doing that ride for 17 years...). This year on the trike it took me 7 hours there and 6.5 hours back and I felt much better but still somewhat sore despite a headwind in both directions and a trike that weighs at least 50% more than my touring bike.

It is a very different set of muscles, and I have spent 20 years developping upright muscles for my touring bike. They developped in concert with my aerobic system. I am hitting muscular limits but not really hitting aerobic limits over distance yet on the trike.

At this point, I have about 4000km on the trike. By this time next year, or two years from now, I expect to be doing better than my touring bike times.

Airplane baggage

I didn't have a problem when I took the GTV over to the UK and back in April 2002.

I had a custom soft case made locally for it. See below. I should have taken a photo with the cardboard strapped on to and from the airports in Ottawa and Heathrow. I expected them to weigh in at about 32kg and 12.5kg (without the extra luggage in the second case), but the main bag weighed in at 41kg... I need to weigh this thing to find out what it really weighs...

There are some photos towards the end of the photo section.

In the case of both airports, I showed up, drove it right into the departure lounge and disassembled it in front of the check-in counters and possibly because they saw it when I first came in, watched me disassemble for 1.5 hours, then belly up to the check-in counter with two packages with a grin on my face and staff remarking how compact it was (everything is relative...), I didn't end up paying any excess baggage either direction on a single passenger ticket. Perhaps I was quite lucky both ways. The large case was definitely oversize and overweight, but it probably got through on an exception for a dedicated case for a cycle. The second case was ok for weight, but it is oversize, but I thought I had sized it to be within regs... Also turns out my carry-on was overweight by almost 50%, but they let me go since it had all my valuables (laptop and camera equip) and I assured them there was no way I was putting it in an overhead storage because of the valuables.

The only train my GTV (in tandem config, no less) has been on was from Bristol Parkway station to London Paddington. When Carole and I got to the Bristol train station at the end of our not-so-direct cycling trip from London, Carole was sufficiently comfortable by now captaining that she drove it straight into the Bristol-Parkway train station lobby through the double automatic doors right up to the ticket windows with a huge grin on her face. We paid 6 pounds (equiv. 2 bikes) to get it to London, but had to break it into only 2 pieces (S&S under the front seat) to do so. The station staff was terrific. They gawked at it a bit to figure out what to charge us, then settled on the fair rate of the equivalent of 2 bikes. They led me around the end of the platform, rolling it the entire way, through a locked gate, up onto the platform. The platform staff were very helpful in predicting exactly what type of carriage would be able to accomodate and where it would pull up. We only had 2-3 minutes to load it on since the station staff get billed for any delays. I don't have the vocabulary, but we put it into one of the carriage that had 5 wedgie slots vertically mounted across the carriage. I put it across the end, occupying 2 spaces, leaning against the racks. So it turns out we didn't need to bring the custom soft-shell cases with us, but it was comforting to know that we had it. People thought we were nuts riding it from Heathrow to north London (Kentish Town), but I didn't find it a problem other than navigation.

I also have more photos that have not been scanned yet.

Securing the Canoe

The canoe to which I have access is 47 pounds (er, about 21kg). Obviously the more weight put that high up, the more unstable the macine would become. The design limit is about 40kg. I have tested the width and it just fits but I don't see a huge problem as I can just add 2x2" wood beam with hose clamps to extend it. My sightlines out the front are just barely OK. I think I will add a 2x4 onto the front overhead crossbar, partly to add width for the canoe to hook onto and partly to dampen the clang of metal against a wooden gunwale, but perhaps foam would work better for dampening.

It is more obvious to me that this is a very flexible attachment and am very glad I asked for it. I was originally inspired to get it because I had seem a photo of them in use in a photo on the manufacturer's web page described as the workhorse, combined with a friend teasing me about a canoe trailer. I will be able to carry step ladders, 2"x4" wood and/or steel studs, 4'x8' sheets of plywood, bicycles (yes, I did this the first time home from the bike shop). I might even add solar panels, but I have been advised by a very knowledgeable person that for aerodynamic reasons, I would want to add that behind rather than overhead. I don't anticipate a problem with stability since the trike probably weighs about 30-35 kg and I weigh 75 kg, Carole weighs about 60kg for a total of about 170kg low with 20kg overhead. I have tucked the two paddles and life jackets up inside the canoe, but would not add anything more than really light bulky things like sleeping bags.

Trike in the Canoe?

Someone asked recently if the trike would fit in the canoe... I hadn't thought of it before, but... I am already planning to have a canvass soft-shell case custom made with compartments for each frame member and wheel which can be supplemented with locally acquired cardboard for padding. This will let me roll up the case and stuff it under the seat or strap it on the back so that I don't have to worry about shipping a transit case to the next pack-up point. That case would also allow me to put the trike into the canoe.

Mudguard mods?

There has been talk on the mailing list of modifying mudguards. I am thinking I will do this because I have caught them on curbs several times and am just waiting for them to split... I will likely trim them and add a flap of some sort that will be flexible, but slightly wider and reach closer to the ground. I will likely anchor the flap under the bottom rear support arm bolt.


I am also intending to put the same type of reflective strip that is on the rear mudguard also on the back of the front two mudguards since the tyres, mudguards and the handlebars and grips are all black and will disappear at night with those approaching from behind not realizing just how wide the vehicle really is.

Dynamo Lighting

I am really glad I went with the dynamo lighting system. The LEDs that glow after coming to a stop are a big win. I intend to add 2 or 3 red LEDs facing backwards and 2 or 3 amber LEDs facing forwards mounted on top of the front mudguards.


I am looking into putting chainring guards on the front and rear 52-T timing chainrings and adding chain tubes on the front part of the timing chain. I like how well the right-hand main chain is protected and really like the Schlumpf speed drive chainring guard.

Seat Belts

One of the initial ideas that came to me and a couple of others that have ridden it is the idea of seat belts. It occurred to me because of wanting to lean into a seat belt for cornering, but after a while, you learn to lean into corners anyways. Others had concerns about being thrown from the vehicle.

Parking Brake

Another thing that occurred to me early on was the need for a parking brake. I will cut a piece of old inner tube to loop over the Hope hydraulic disc brake handles to act as a parking brake.

Rohloff Grip Shift

Someone on the trikes list mentioned something about a full-length Rohloff grip shift as opposed to the short one, which seems to be designed for use by thumb and forefinger. The way it is installed, it is used by pinky and palm, which are not the strongest parts of my hands especially in the cold, under full tandem pedalling... I usually slide my hand down and shift with my thumb and forefinger, but I end up bumping the disc brake adjutment that way. It looks like I may be able to invert the grip and actually use it the way it was intended by thumb and forefinger.

Chapter 2 of the inverted grip shift: I have inverted the grip shift and it is much easier to shift now. The cables are too short, so for now, I left about 2cm exposed at the top of the handlebar. I will get new cables and housings that are long enough. To avoid affecting the brake lever operation, I put the two shifter cables facing the inside.

Passenger Tandem/Cargo Trike

This vehicle could be easily converted to a passenger tandem. In a pinch, all I have to do is remove the coupling chain. I would really like to add foot supports as the level of the main tube, whether it be two small platforms or two slings. I would also like to add a level platform that would only be used in passenger tandem mode that starts from the peak of the main frame just behind the front seat, back to about 20-30 cm in front of the rear seat for carrying luggage or boxes of cargo. There are concerns about stability and higher centre of gravity. I am also looking at having a cargo frame made that will replace the back seat, attempting to maintain the structural integrity that the back seat provides. This cargo frame would extend forward to the back of the front seat. With the heaviest stuff immediately behind the driver or at the front of the lowest part of the cargo tray, it should minimise the instability.

Soft Transit Case

A friend of mine locally runs a canvass repair business. I have approached him about making a customised soft case for the trike with compartments for each part so that I can simply roll up the canvass bag and stuff it under a seat so that I am able to travel without worrying about where its transit case is.

Soft Transit Case, part 2

I was in my friend's canvass shop the other day and it looks like I will have one soft canvass case of 100x100x40cm for the solo trike and a second of 90x40x50cm for the additional pieces to make it a tandem and hold extra luggage. Both will have internal sleeves for adding scrap recyclable cardboard for stiffness and padding. There will be custom sleeves for each delicate part such as each wheel, crank and rear triangle. This will allow me to take this tandem trike with me on an international flight by myself with no extra baggage charges, and also have it flexible enough that I can pack up the collapsed cases and take them with me on the trike and avoid leaving them behind or shipping them ahead. I will get photos at some point, of course. ;-)


I ordered a Mark Mueller WindWrap RS-G fairing with the One-point mounting hardware with the Flip-it option in November. Mark has had problems with his "One-Point" mounting system hardware supplier and so it arrived March 1st. Since it is here, it sounds like he has sorted out the supply problem and should return to his normal 2-3 week turnaround. Other than fretting that it would not get here in time to be useful, this hasn't really been a problem since I won't ride the trike in heavily salted Ontario winter roads. The timing turned out to be just about perfect.

Riding a Tandem half-empty

I have been riding it around Ottawa as a tandem with an empty rear seat. At first I was a little self-concious about riding it half empty, but then again, most cars are running 3/4 empty so why should I let that bother me.

Sluggish Rohloff Shifting

I am having some sluggish shifting problems with the Rohloff because of the viscous oil in the hub. I will try to find an all-season oil that will not appreciably change viscosity.

Winter Riding

I am not letting this vehicle anywhere near the harsh Ontario road salt because this is simply too big an investment to be dissolved away. Having said that, I am looking forward to getting the trike back from the canvass shop before the canal closes this winter. Ottawa has the World's longest skating rink: The Rideau Canal Skateway is 7.8 km long. I would like to take it out there at about 3 AM and take it for a spin. It would be really nice to have the fairing by that point. I don't have concerns about salt on the canal, obviously because there shouldn't be any on the canal while it is frozen.

Solo Riding

Using it as a solo, it has much more responsive steering, perhaps too responsive, probably because it was optimised for tandem, as I had asked for. It cannot easily be optimised for both: pick one or the other or somewhere in between. This is part of that hairy adjustment called Ackermann Steering.

I tend not to do lots of long day rides, but more long weekend and multi-week trips. For the weekend and multi-week trips, if I go alone, it will be well-worth the time to convert it to a solo if I am not going with others who may want to share the joy.

Transportation entirely inside a Jetta Sedan

My dad and I were able to fit it in solo configuration entirely into my dad's Volkswagon 4-door Jetta sedan. We put both back seats down, which opens up the passenger cavity into the trunk. I then took the trike apart in only one place at the S&S coupling under the seat and removed the front seat bolt (well, removed the chain and lighting wiring too). The crucifix plus front wheels and crank in one piece fit in through one of the side doors, facing backwards and the rear/seat in one more piece fit in through the trunk. I could have fit the centre tandem span with its seat disconnected in as well. Dad was surprised. I wasn't. :-)

French Wheelies

As a solo vehicle, it is quite easy to tip the trike up on the front two wheels when locking up both disc brakes. Even my dad did that in about 10 feet in a carpeted room! Has any thought been given to adding a tube with a metal skid that comes forward and down at about a 30 degree angle from the horizontal from the front crank axle tube (bottom bracket on a traditional diamond frame) to protect the front chainrings? There have also been jokes about adding another appendage with an angel launching forward with wings and arms back or an animal of some kind such as an eagle or a jaguar protruding up and forward from the same place. I was thinking of a penguin, because of my current Linux propensity. ;-)


I want to thank all at Greenspeed yet again for all the work and dedication they have put into such an engineering feat! It really is fun to promote it, it sells itself on technical merrit, kinda like Linux in that way!

Other Greenspeeds in Canada

Wow! There appear to be 21 Greenspeed trikes in Canada now, half in BC!

Photo of FreeS/WAN team present at meeting on 2001-11-02 Heh, the *other* Greenspeed owner in Ottawa, Jonathan Mau, contacted me as a result of this very thorough, fair and relatively accurate 2-page+ article about the FreeS/WAN team in the Thursday December 6th, 2001 edition of the High Tech section of the Ottawa Citizen. I am wearing the red shirt.

HPV Operators of Ottawa (HPVOoO) (HPVous?)

An HPV group has started up in Ottawa. To find out more, click here.

Chain Tensionners

Upon reading previous posts about chain tensioners, I was inspired to do some calculations to try to come up with chain tensioner dimensions.

Both seats are designed for 13cm (5") of adjustability since we differ in height from 5'4" to 6'2".

Main Drive Chain

This means that for the main drive chain needs 26cm of adjustability because of the send and return chain. I am running a Rohloff hub with a Schlumpf Speed-drive, so the chain length is otherwise fixed. In theory, the Rohloff tensionner gives only 24cm of adjustability, while a regular short-cage derailler gives a little more than 26cm. A long-cage touring derailleur gives about 30cm. Since there is no backforce (no coaster brake or stoker) on the main drive chain, if I could get the alignment right, I should be able to swap in a long-cage derailleur with a screw holding the lateral travel fixed for the Rohloff chain tensionner and never have to look at it again! Does this sound feasable?

Timing Chain

For the timing chain, this is a bit more complicated. In theory, the maximum required adjustability on the chain would be double that at 52cm, since the two extremes would be (1) front-short, back-long for the shortest chain length and (2) back-short, front-long for the longest chain length. Since the difference is 13cm in leg length, double this for two rider adjustments at once and double it for send and return chains this translates to 13cm * 2 * 2. In fact, it is less than that because the axis of adjustability in the back is not parallel to the chainline while the front is.

An additional complication is that the chain needs to be capable of dealing with backpressure since the stoker and captain cranks must always move together. This requires a fixed position tensionner as opposed to the sprung one in use on any derailleur system. I figured a tightening large knob might be able to temporarily fix the angle of the tensionner arm, or maybe use a keyed block with a sprung pin that would engage in several useful positions.

For a fixed tensionner system, I would not be crazy about using the usual 10-tooth 4cm idlers found in derailleurs because the frictional losses are probably horrible both because of the cog size, but also because of the (non-existant) bearings. Instead, I would want to use minimum a 12-tooth cog, but more like a 16-tooth cog or the rollers that Ian uses on Greenspeed's trikes. This would require a 19cm centre between the 12-T cogs or 14cm centre between 18-T cogs or rollers to get above 52cm. This contraption would be kinda huge, but should fit behind the rear seat. Does this sound workable?

Freewheeling Bottom Bracket for Stoker

Another possibility that I tripped upon while digging through used parts in our local bike repair co-op is a Shimano FF freewheeling bottom bracket with 52-T chainrings already installed with chainguard! This looks a bit ancient and is unfortunately a cottered crank and it freewheels the wrong way, so would need to be reversed. To avoid too much customisation, I would use it on the stoker crank.

This would actually make a lot of sense since there are times when the stoker might want to freewheel while the captain wants to/needs to keep pedalling and would lessen communication needs. In particular, when maneuvering around parking lots or other similar situations, effort from the stoker is not really necessary. When the stoker is trying to get something out of a pannier or fix something, they don't have to stop the captain. When the stoker comes out of the clips (which happens often with guests in back) the captain can keep pedalling while the stoker mucks around to re-clip. If the stoker wants to take a nap, they can do so without needing to disconnect the timing chain. At the same time, the captain can force the stoker to stop pedalling when they come to a stop.

Even better would be to have the freewheel on the timing chainring on the captain's bottom bracket so that the chain does not move when the stoker is not pedalling. This would be safer and more efficient, however, it would probably be a customisation nightmare because of the Schlumpf Speed-Drive.

All of this leads to the fact that the timing chain no longer needs to be fixed and can be a sprung tensionner.

What would also happen in this case would be that the phase of the two cranks would never be guaranteed, potentially doubling the normal forces for which this vehicle was designed.

Is the freewheeling bottom bracket worth investigating?

I have done up formulas for calculating tensionner dimensions that takes cog size in teeth, cog centres distance, tensionner angle as inputs. I also have a worksheet in Gnumeric format.


Although I don't seek attention it is hard to avoid the Q&A that begins almost any time I am stopped around people. One of the most common questions is how much my trike cost.

My answer depends on the person asking. Greenspeed is on the high end of the trike scale. The GTV is on the high end of the Greenspeed scale. I've added lots of options including the suitcase frame option, Rohloff hub, Schlumpf speed-drive, high-efficiency generator light set, speedometer, mudguards, leg length adjustability, overhead canoe rack, WindWrap fairing, shipping from Oz in 2 parcels, extra mirror tube...

Some answers have been "Check the web site at" and many people completely ignore the ".au" on the end of the URL, which I frequently have to point out... This way, they get some of the background information and if they bothered to get that far, they would appreciate the information. If not, they wouldn't simply be wandering the streets bragging that they had seen a $X "bike"...

Many answers have been "They start at $3500 canadian", since I often ride it around in solo configuration.

Some replies to the reply to the answer above have been "how much did you spend on your car including fuel, repairs, insurance, traffic jams?".

Some answers have been to disclose the full amount if I had a good feeling that the person had a good understanding of the issues, potential, production and market for this type of vehicle.

For more ideas, see Stephen Beck's comments on the expense of owning a trike.


Here's an excellent guide to fitting a new trike.

My friend Randal asked if I would take him to the OCLUG meeting by tandem. I was only too delighted to do so. pics

Green Party of Canada colleague Joe Foster, who is blind, wanted to do the Ride for Refugees, but needed a tandem and a captain. I was only too happy to oblige.

One of the Otesha Project touring group members in New Brunswick was hit by a passing truck and wanted to participate in the Critical Mass in Ottawa, so we worked out a solution.

The Otesha Project approached me about using the tandem to accomodate a person with a history of epilleptic seizures. We were able to work out a solution quite easily.

Randal Leavitt asked if I could take him to his final OCLUG meeting, which I was delighted to oblige.


Last modified by Richard Guy Briggs on Fri Nov 14 12:09:30 EST 2014 . Please email me for more info or feedback.