View Full Version : Steering help

05-27-2013, 07:30 PM
Hi All,
My first post and I have a steering problem. I am building a long wheel base recumbent trike it was a 4 wheeler but I have noticed it takes more room to turn then a trike. I have tried to set it up that my steering handle bar is about 2 feet from the front fork. I attached an offset connecting rod or linkage using the tie rod swivel and I can not make the front fork turn like the handle bars. I am not having a lot of time working on this since my wife has had a surgery that went bad very bad with a major infection of the incision site. I get out a couple hours once in a while.
I guess I should post some recent pics but it's not real pretty with the different bikes and colors welded together.
I have the the linkage offset to the left of the handle bars about 2 inches to where the swivel tie rod attaches, this is pretty level to the front fork and I have a bike seat post sticking horizontally to the left and the linkage is about 3" from the center. I thought this would give it more swing.
IDEA # 2
I was going to weld sprockets to both forks and use a chain to move the handle bars and fork in the same direction.
Please any idea drawings pics IDEAS I am going crazy looking at all the other projects, none show exactly how the steering connects.
Thanks for reading hope you can help.
Zcliff aka Larry
PS I will post a pic once I figure it out.

05-27-2013, 09:00 PM
Hi Larry---you are right--pictures would help here. Dose not matter about paint at this stage.
OIf you are thinking about cahin steering, you need to consider two points .
One is you must be able to adjust chain tension (not a spring loaded tensioner) and two is that the head tube and the rear steering sprocket shaft (could not think what else to call it) must be parallel, and the chain run at rightangles to both of these. That may be a bit hard to do.
Without a pic I can't say more right now.
Brad has a good tutorial on uploading pics, so best to have a quick look at that.
Steve G

05-27-2013, 11:40 PM
"I have the the linkage offset to the left of the handle bars about 2 inches to where the swivel tie rod attaches, this is pretty level to the front fork and I have a bike seat post sticking horizontally to the left and the linkage is about 3" from the center."

If I'm reading this right, you have 2" at the handlebar pivot and 3" at the fork? If so then this is just the opposite of what you need to achieve your goal. An equal distance from center at both ends of your rod should give a 1 to 1 throw rate. To increase the throw rate you need to have a greater distance from center at the handlebar end than the fork end.

I hope this helps.

05-28-2013, 09:36 AM
Its impossible to give advice based on the information given so far. We do not know what the aim is as far as h/bar to forks ratio is wanted, and the description given is not enough to to have a firm idea as to what has been done, or what is intended.
That's why I stopped and said we need some pics before we can offer any meaningful advice.
Also bear in mind there are two threads running nearly the same question on nearly ther same topic at this stage, and it would be easy to answer the wrong one (I nearly did). But the answer could be different for each when all the facts are known.
Steve G

05-28-2013, 07:38 PM
Thank You,
I been stuck in the hospital all day with my wife so I have not had a chance to read up the tutorial as of yet but it looks just like the long base Delta
I seen I think. The handle bars are two feet behind the front fork and I seen so many bikes with longer steering shafts so this must work unless all the bikes have pretty bad steering. For the most part It turns slightly and I can actually rotate the handle bars with the linkage hook up. I thought about just a long extended handle bar but thought it would look a bit odd and the turning would be a long swing.
I will work on the pics, I used to have a photobucket up link is this what I need to load them. I am spoiled using the Browse up link lol
Zcliff aka Larry

05-28-2013, 07:43 PM
Oh thanks pileit1,,, I just seen your response I hate being a newbie in a forum lol. I will reverse this and try it. I noticed some had a more like a 15 degree slope where mine is damn near level. I could change this easy enough. I hope tomorrow is a better day here for me to play outside.
Zcliff aka Larry

05-28-2013, 09:46 PM
http://i795.photobucket.com/albums/yy239/Razzincain/RECUMBENTSTEERINGPICS002.jpg (http://s795.photobucket.com/user/Razzincain/media/RECUMBENTSTEERINGPICS002.jpg.html)http://i795.photobucket.com/albums/yy239/Razzincain/RECUMBENTSTEERINGPICS001.jpg (http://s795.photobucket.com/user/Razzincain/media/RECUMBENTSTEERINGPICS001.jpg.html)

05-28-2013, 09:52 PM
http://i795.photobucket.com/albums/yy239/Razzincain/RECUMBENTSTEERINGPICS007.jpg (http://s795.photobucket.com/user/Razzincain/media/RECUMBENTSTEERINGPICS007.jpg.html)
The seat is only for mock up, my plans are to build a better typical foam recumbent seat. For now I had to get the pedal distance right, I am a pretty tall guy and don't fit most bikes well.

05-28-2013, 10:05 PM
http://i795.photobucket.com/albums/yy239/Razzincain/RECUMBENTSTEERINGPICS008.jpg (http://s795.photobucket.com/user/Razzincain/media/RECUMBENTSTEERINGPICS008.jpg.html)
Only problem with this steering is the handle bars sway pretty far out your using one hand to turn. I did change the angle like Pileit1 suggested and the steering work great turning only right would barely turn left??? I know I am missing something. BTW my other project is a motor and interior of my 1973 Mach 1. Got tired of working on it and since momma had surgery and I am unable to work at the family auto electric business funds are short right now. Any ideas on my steering SNAFU would be greatly appreciated. Also I do have both handle bar goose necks quite in line/ level and welding a sprocket to each would be simple and running the chain would not be hard to place an tension adjustment not hard either. I was wondering if I would place a larger sprocket on the front fork and a smaller on the handlebars would it make a better turning radius??? Thinking I may be thinking backwards lol big in back and little in front may be better?? Any help Please pics or sites or even plans?? I'm eager to get this moving and start back on the Mach 1.
Thanks Larry

05-28-2013, 10:29 PM
Now that we have pictures I can see why it might not be working very well. Please check out tutorial of rake and trail. You head tubes are straight up and down and I suspect it does not steer very well. Your first photos looked fine for the linkage but without the proper trail steering g will be all over the place with very little steer. Hope that helps

05-29-2013, 09:27 AM
With the near vertical steering head and curved forks you probably have negative trail, which means nthat once moved from straight ahead, the front wheel will want tom keep going to full lock--often at high speed with unstoppable force!.
next problem is the geometry of you steering linkage!!! Bet you get heaps of left lock and nearly no right lock!~
Reason is the use of the gooseneck to hold the steering arm.
You need to set this arm so that a line from the steering head center to the pivot point of the tie rod ball joint is at 90 degrees to then center line of the bike.
Effectively, the arm on your bike is at about 45 degrees! Means you will need a longer tie rod.
Change this and you should get equeal steering each way.
To save a lot of work on the front end , you could try bending then forks backward enough to give you some positive trail. Because this is on a trike, head angle is nowhere near as important as on a solo bike.
Trail is the main factor. try around 1 to 2 inches to start with. More trail gives heavier but more steady steering. Less trail gives lighter steering, and can get too twitchy if you go to far!
Steve G

05-29-2013, 01:04 PM
I am impressed Steve, I was going to drill a hole in the goose neck tube and bolt the swivel tie rod there , but I lost my common sense and welded a scrap piece of L angle thinking I would use less rod??? This is my first attempt at bike building from scratch. It look much better as a four wheel recumbent but I was concerned with my turning radius. I have MS and used to ride a Pride scooter and I had the brilliant idea to cut it up and make it a 4 wheel and not a 3 wheel. I lost the ability to turn a short circle in the stores. Now that I have complete use of my legs thanks to a lot of exercise I did not need it any more, well until I have a spell. My plans were going to build a hand operated bike also but I doing great now and love riding my two wheel bike now.
I will relocate the steering rod up about 3" to the center of the tube or use another means of attaching to the front fork.
Thanks all so much, you guys are great.

05-29-2013, 08:48 PM
The first idea was better! You could cut off (or remove) the bar from the goose neck, and simple turn the gooseneck to 90 degrees, and fix the tie rod pivot to the end of the gooseneck. Then use a longer tie rod. This will give a slightly slower response at the front wheel, but give equeal steering each side. If the wheel does not turn enough, you will have to use a shorter arm at the forks, or a longer arm at the bars, but remember that the pedals have to turn---steering arms cannot be too long if feet legs or pedals get in the way. Steel is harder than knees!
steve G

05-29-2013, 09:55 PM
Update, I lengthen the steering rod and removed the goose neck and used an old training wheel bracket with hole every inch or so, I bolted this to the front handle bar goose neck threw the top hex bolt I turned the goose neck side ways to use two bolts to hold it. I moved the front linkage to 3 1/2" from center and the handle bar moved the linkage 4 1/2" and this will let me have full complete turn in all directions. Really to much I can turn the wheel damn near side ways. May move in back in some. At 2" in front and 3 in back it did not move enough for turning.
I wonder how much is to much?
Looks like I will have to weld a piece into the linkage about 6", just because of the need to bring it up to the front fork.
Now I just need to make a better bracket on each end now that I have this turning so nice. Not sure if I mentioned why both handle bar heads are so straight was for the first idea of chain drive steering.
I wonder if I need to fix the rake now? It turns so nicely now.
Thanks for all the input.

05-30-2013, 09:56 AM
I have equal steering at the settings now maybe to much like I said I can turn the front wheel almost side ways now. I may reduce the offset from at the fork 3 1/2 to a little less like 3" and at the handle bars 4 1/2 to maybe 3" and try that again. It was pretty good coverage if I remember. I went a bit further out just to see how far it could go. I should show a pic of this. I have a piece of flat bar from trainings wheels bracket because it has a hole every 1" for testing my steering throw. The front fork head is straight almost perfect level. The fork has a nice bend forward. If I cut this to gain more rake I will have to reset every thing,,, but it's only welding. I just wonder if it would handle OK the way it is? I remember someone mention about a full lock?? Not sure if that will happen. I also wondering where I can purchase about 95" of chain? Do i just get a bunch of older chains and attach the master link?
Thanks for being so helpful,

05-30-2013, 11:39 AM
The local bike shop, or Ebay should be able to supply, but be careful to get the right chain! Speed chain for derailers comes in different sizes, and does NOT have a master link. BMX chain , or single speed , may or may not have a master link. Looks like you are using a single speed front sprocket, with a three (?) speed hub as a mid drive. If so, I would guess you need BMX chain. A cheaper source could be the local hardware, if they sell garage door chain in bulk--its the same size!
I would suggest you set steering stops to prevent the wheel going much past 50 degrees, and to start with, 1;1 is not a bad number.
I would not cut a curved fork unless there is no other way. They do bend if you can get something solid-but, is it possible to turn the forks 180 degrees??!! without the wheel hitting the frame?
If so , take a good side on pic of the front end, with the wheel turned backwards, and I can have a look at what happens. I know it sounds nuts, but there is a good possibility here.
Steve g

05-30-2013, 11:10 PM
for your steering problems have a read of this thread as it should explain a lot.

06-02-2013, 01:22 PM
Thanks I bought chain at a local bike shop, I made pretty good friends with over the past year I also bought a chain tool so I will have no master link. I have to tweak a few more things like I changed the steering to almost 1 to 1 and it turns just fine. I need to mount the chain and since it's only 33" from axle to crank I don't think I need any idlers. I need to make a better seat clean up the linkage so it looks nice and figure out how to set up the the 3 speed rear cable at the hub.
Thanks all,

06-04-2013, 08:35 PM
your right on the money this thing was almost impossible to steer lol the steering linkage was perfect but just a little bump or turn and that thing wanted to run away. I will re cut and place the right rake on the heads and clean up the old bikes I welded to make this work enough for a test ride. I have to admit I turned a lot of heads they all stared and thought it was something lol. I think with the two front ends welded back to back was a bit FUGLY but I had to get a idea how to place things to work.
I will read the rake posting again.
lol it was a hell of a ride lol

06-04-2013, 09:59 PM
See-this can be fun even when it goes wrong!
Remember that the main thing to watch for is trail rather than head angles. And being a quad, you can use a little less trail (but not negative???) than is needed on a two wheeler.
Two wheeler geometry works fine, but tends to produce heavey steering--but its safe!
Steve G

06-05-2013, 12:36 PM
well buddy it's a 3 wheeler and I am wondering if I screwed up making it this way?? I hope with the new rake and trail that it will feel better in a turn or back to the 4 wheel concept, hell I got the time. I let my car sit for the summer :( since I can't work playing home nurse to my wife surgery that went bad!!!
Not sure how I would steer the quad? Would I have to scrap the handle bars?

06-05-2013, 09:08 PM
its probably easier to fix what you have rather than try to reverse the first wheel removal!
Quads have their own version of problems, and generally its easier to tame a trike.
If quads were really any advantage, they would be in constant use in China--and I have not seen a quad here--but there are millions of trikes!
Steve G

06-06-2013, 11:08 AM
I will have to post the new rake pics later I have it welded up now, thanks goodness for my magnetic swivel/ degree level thingy lol I was hoping to get 10* and I got a perfect matching 15* angle. I removed one of the steering wheel goose neck tubes for testing purposes and to see how this steering I may remake the entire front end. The bike was made out of a heavy roll bar tubing 1 1/2" pretty thick and the bike front ends are so thin. It was a bit PITA to weld together but I was a certified wire and stick welder from my 30 yrs on a Rail Road. The welds on this look a bit ugly but most of the front end is cut away and re welded. My plans were to make a fiberglass cover around the frame so you would never see the welds anyways.
Since this is 7 feet in length I hope the turning gets better now with the changes.
I do have a funny grinding noise when I apply the coaster brake and the chain seems to have one spot maybe a bent tooth in the trike axle every so often you here a noise when you rotate the pedal?? I had to straighten it once before, should of used the new one but it did not fit the axle, I have to drill it out. I have a great drill press, may have to drill it out after all. I really hate that I sold my tube bender when I sold my dune buggy,(I do still have my tubing notch-er) pics are in my photobucket of the last buggy I built. I swear I should of kept the bender for as much as it cost. :(
Pretty sure there will be little issues to fix.
Thanks Steve, I guess the trikes win after all, can't argue with the numbers ;)
I wonder if the chain noise could be the master link in the short chain around the axle to the hub sprocket???

06-06-2013, 10:45 PM
Just thought I report the steering angle set at 15* at both heads worked perfect, you could even ride with no hands lol BUT,,, I have a problem at the chain. The sprocket on the axle of the tires keeps coming loose?? I fear its a hair big or the square key slot is also a touch loose and I tried tightening the hex head which hits the square key is the problem. So bad that the chain got so tight like it was over stretched. My guess is that the sprocket became a little loose and moved and forced the chain to pull the hub back. Because the chain between the hub and the axle was very loose. This is my guess? Any other suggestions. Wondering if there is a better trike axle hook up? This is from a trike conversation, you can apply this to pretty much any older bike and make it a trike, or so I thought. Must be a better axle system I can find. I bought the Shimano SG-3C41 3 speed hub for this. I like to make it work even if I have to weld the sprocket to the axle.

06-07-2013, 08:13 AM
Sorry, but once again I have to ask for pics, sketch or just more info to be certain, loose hubs normally result in loose chains--not tight chains, and tight chains don't normally derail!
Steve G,

06-07-2013, 09:05 PM
tomorrow buddy, I got the chain all figured out and the steering is great. Only problem is the coaster brake makes a vibration noise when applied and the rear wheels creak like hell. I honestly think I am to large for this axle, I am 6' 4" at 265 lbs and it really creaks when I turn. I supposedly bought HD rims but I don't think they are. I will get Pics tomorrow but the old pics may show the wheels and the rear axle. How I fixed it was welding the sprocket ( tacked ) to the 1/2" axle. I know I am to large for this flimsy set up??? When I stand next to it and push down on the chrome axle housing it makes the same creaking noise. I know you can't fix that creaking noise, Well I am not the expert like most of the folks here.

06-07-2013, 09:22 PM
No idea about the coaster brake--never used one.
As to the rear axle--yes 1/2 inch is a little on the light side--5/8 works---3/4 is un-breakable. The creaking is probably coming from the frame distorting under load. Two ways to fix that---don't load it(???) , or fix the distortion problem. Can you add a truss under the axle, to stop downward deflection , and the spreading of the two half axles when it does bend.?
This will also help to stiffen the frame a little at the same time.
Can do sketch if you want, but not right now---she has made plans!
Steve G

06-08-2013, 01:53 AM
I get the pics tomorrow, give this some thought about a support system. After all it's just tubes right stronger and thicker would be better. I noticed placing the axle back in the tubes had a very slight sag and you could feel it when the axle rotated. The seat rest completely on the heavy tube frame I built and not the axle. But it all meets right there weight wise. I like to see your ideas/

06-08-2013, 08:29 AM
I have sketch prepared and saved somewhere in the maze of electons in this computer > But I cannot get Post image to upload it. Once I beat the system, you get a pic!
Steve G

06-09-2013, 08:54 AM
So far here it's been a Honey -Do weekend been busy as hell, pics today I promise, more i kook at the flimsily-ness off the tube I know it's the problem

06-09-2013, 12:03 PM
With luck--you will see a pic in a second--
I think this will be enough to fix the rear axle
Steve G
Looks like I win this time!

06-10-2013, 11:19 PM
Thanks Steve,
I have a very similar idea in mind I got the pics just been under the weather I have have MS and I having a spell and I will be better in a few days. My thought was to add a heavy piece above the axle and attach the new seat to it. Making it a axle stiffener/ seat bracket

06-11-2013, 12:01 PM
http://i795.photobucket.com/albums/yy239/Razzincain/recumbenttrikepics004.jpg (http://s795.photobucket.com/user/Razzincain/media/recumbenttrikepics004.jpg.html)http://i795.photobucket.com/albums/yy239/Razzincain/recumbenttrikepics003.jpg (http://s795.photobucket.com/user/Razzincain/media/recumbenttrikepics003.jpg.html)http://i795.photobucket.com/albums/yy239/Razzincain/recumbenttrikepics001.jpg (http://s795.photobucket.com/user/Razzincain/media/recumbenttrikepics001.jpg.html)http://i795.photobucket.com/albums/yy239/Razzincain/recumbenttrikepics005.jpg (http://s795.photobucket.com/user/Razzincain/media/recumbenttrikepics005.jpg.html)

06-11-2013, 12:09 PM
Hey Steve,
Once I get back on my feet in a day or two I will see if the bearings in the axles will fit the heavy roll bar and make a heavy complete new HD axle still using the 1/2" axle inside. I have a great bearing store down the road and I can match up a bearing to axle to any size tubing I use and Michigan Ball Bearings. They have all bearing for anything you can imagine. This tubing is so thin anyways it would be easier to start from scratch with a thicker tube and then weld on my new seat brackets. I did like the little of the chrome look but what the heck lol.
I was also thinking if I can find a sprocket similar I could see if the bearing place could fit a bearing for a larger 3/4" axle?? I wonder where I could find a 3/4" sprocket and axle? Axle is just a typical rolled steel right. If the bearing place can fit a 3/4" bearing into my wheel that is. Just a thought. The sprocket is my main concern if I upgrade. Again where would I look for a 3/4" inside Dia. sprocket???
Thanks so much.

06-12-2013, 11:25 AM
Well I made a mistake my axle is 5/8" not sure why I thought it was 1/2" I will build the outer tube out of the thicker roll bar tube that I built the frame out of. I will build two support square tube connecting / reinforcing brackets to serve as seat post and stiffeners. This will replace that thin chrome connector that attaches the tubes together. I plan on looking at a local scrap yard for more metal just for the hell of it, can't beat the price. I have a Contractors Steel Co. about 20 miles away they sell everything just need to buy in full lengths which is a lot of excess right now.