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   This file contains two reviews: 
       * The Rhoades Car  
       * The Sun Bicycle Company's EZ-3 recumbent tricycle  







   
   Rhoades Car 

   Rhoades National Corp 
   125 Rhoades Lane 
   Hendersonville  TN  37075 
   (800) 531-2737 
   rhoadescar@aol.com 

   
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
 
   The Rhoades Car is a four-wheel pedal-cycle that drives like a car. 
   From their website you can submit a request for a very nice info package 
which has good photos and prices for all models. 1, 2 and 4 seat models are 
available with prices (in late 1998) from about $1000 to about $2000 
   I bought the one-seat model in September of 1998. Delivery was in 7 
weeks. 
   Rhoades Car is run by a libertarian (David Rhoades). When you are 
deciding where to do business, remember that every dollar traded among 
libertarians is a dollar denied a statist. 

   I have only one little complaint about the Rhoades Car: The brakes are 
not the usual caliper-style bicycle brakes that pinch the wheel rim. They 
are 5-inch diameter drums encircled by a one-inch wide compression band. 
These brakes are EXTREMELY good at retarding forward motion, but because of 
the way their leverage is applied they don't work well (hardly at all, 
actually) at retarding backward motion. However, this deficiency can be 
easily overcome if you order dual brakes and then reverse one brake band. 
This is a very quick and simple operation and the result is exactly what I 
expected: the reversed brake works just as well backward as the other one 
works forward. Each brake is separately controlled by standard bicycle-type 
grip levers on the handlebar, and each is so effective that one brake alone 
will stop the car very well. It takes surprisingly little finger effort to 
lock up the wheels. No matter how weak your hands may be, you will be able 
to stop the Rhoades Car quite easily. 

   During the first few months that I was using my Rhoades Car two of the 
freewheel bearings failed. Not until then did I realize that these come from 
the factory with only a thin coat of light oil. I got a quart of 85 weight 
gear oil and every couple months I tilt the car over on its sides and put a 
few drops of this heavy oil into everything that rotates. I have had no 
further troubles, in spite of the fact that I (a serious weightlifter for 
many years) put some really heavy strains on the drive train from time to 
time. (I would add that the Rhoades Car Company immediately replaced both 
bearings at no charge to me. They DO honor their warranty.) 

   Aside from these little grumbles, I am delighted with my Rhoades Car!  
This thing is a VERY well-constructed machine! The main frame is 2-inch 
square tube. I stood on the middle of the frame and jumped up and down 
(we're talking 195 lbs of meat here folks) while watching the wheels, axles 
and the frame arms. The car did not complain at all. I drove one front wheel 
up onto the curb and rocked it back and forth with no problems at all. This 
thing is really rigid. The cargo rack is a one-inch square-tube framework 
projecting out from the rear of the main frame. I found that putting 90 lbs 
on the cargo rack will raise the front wheels off the ground, but it is 
clear that 90 lbs is nowhere near the maximum load this rack will support. 
With a simple box mounted on that rack, I can now carry several times the 
weight and volume of cargo that my bicycle could hold. 
   By early 2008, after almost ten years of rather rough treatment up on the 
wilderness pathways of the Wind River Mountains, I have not been able to 
cause my RhoadesCar any significant damage. The thing seems to be 
indestructible! 

   The bicycle I will compare my Rhoades Car with is an off-the-shelf, 18-
speed Schwinn mountain bike. 
   The first thing I experienced when I drove my Rhoades Car was the 
complete elimination of three sources of discomfort that had always bothered 
me on my bicycle: 1) I don't get a kink in my neck from having to hold my 
head at an acute backwards angle. 2) The weight of my torso is no longer 
resting on the palms of my hands (a real discomfort for me as a 
weightlifter--a LOT of that 195 lbs of meat is around my shoulders). 3) My 
pelvis is no longer being pummeled by a miniscule triangle of hard plastic. 
   Sitting on the Rhoades Car is just like sitting in an automobile. I paid 
a bit extra to get the deluxe padded seat rather than the plain bare 
plastic, and I'm really glad I did. It's just like a small-sized car seat 
and is VERY comfortable. 
   Cranking the pedals from this seated position uses some different 
muscles, but it sure provides an enormous increase in bodily comfort. And if 
you do get a bit tuckered out, you can add some power to the pedals by 
pushing on your knees with your hands. 
   When seated on the Rhoades Car, your fanny will be about 21 inches off 
the ground. For me, this results in my eyes being 16 inches closer to the 
ground than when I rode my bicycle. But although seated lower, I find that I 
actually perceive MUCH more of what is around me while on the Rhoades Car. 
Partly because my head is upright and I can rotate it easier, partly because 
with four wheels under me instead of merely two I have no concern whatsoever 
with having to maintain my balance. The only thing I lose is several inches 
of altitude. What I gain is the ability to perceive between five and ten 
times more of my surroundings. 

   I opted for the dual traction, whereby the drive power is transmitted 
equally to both rear wheels. I expected to use this thing in the winter and 
foresaw a need for that extra traction. Sure enough, I learned when winter 
began that my Rhoades Car will go through 5 inches of heavy snow. It's a bit 
of work to push two sets of 2-inch wide tires through that snow, but it does 
go. I went out again the next day when the snow had partly melted, been 
trafficked somewhat, and then partly re-frozen. I was faced with deep ruts 
in the mushy snow, chunks of ice, slush, and puddles of half-frozen mud--
about the worst possible conditions for a bicycle--but the Rhoades Car went 
right thru all this mess easier and faster than walking and MUCH moreso than 
a bicycle. It has EXCELLENT traction. If you keep the speed to less than 5 
miles per hour you will have no trouble with slosh being thrown off the 20-
inch front wheels. 

   On a bare and level highway the Rhoades Car requires somewhat more work 
to go at the same speed as a bicycle (I find it to be about 20% slower), but 
this is to be expected given that at 96 lbs it is three times the weight of 
my bicycle. My Rhoades Car is VERY much easier than my bicycle at going up 
hills! Not only is it geared lower, its sideways stability permits me to 
move at as slow a speed as I wish without toppling over. The stability of 
the Rhoades Car enables me to trade speed for leverage, making it quite 
comfortable to go up steep mountain roads. 
   Another big difference from a bicycle is that the car's turning diameter 
is 24 1/2 feet. (Gimme 40 acres and I'll turn this rig around!) But it takes 
only a 30 lb lift to pick up the front end and swivel the car around 
manually. 

   Here are the travel distances, in lowest and highest gear, per rotation 
of the pedals: 
   18-speed Mountain bike       6'3"   23'7" 
   36-speed RhoadesCar          5'     19'4"    (46-tooth front sprocket) 
   6-speed RhoadesCar           8'5"   17'      (46-tooth front sprocket) 
   Nimble (see below)           5'     25' 

   Bicycling uses 5 times less energy than walking, and I would estimate 
that the Rhoades Car uses several times less energy than bicycling. You 
gotta keep a bike moving fast enough so as not to topple over, but this 
necessity completely disappears with the four-wheel Rhoades Car. You can 
move this thing forward literally inch by inch. Driving the RhoadsCar is not 
exercise unless you make it so. It can be a VERY relaxing experience. 
   A bicycle also requires you to focus your attention on balancing. The 
Rhoades Car frees your eyes and mind to focus on your environment. I can 
study nature from my Rhoades Car in a detailed and comprehensive way that 
was never possible to me on a bicycle. 

   This machine was a very good buy. It is well worth what I paid for it. I 
just love it! The more I use it the more I like it. For general highway use, 
for trundling around town on my weekly shopping trips, and for traveling up 
into the mountain wilderness, it is just perfect! I find it to be better 
than a bicycle because it is MUCH more comfortable to drive and it can carry 
much more cargo much easier. The ease and comfort of the recumbent seating 
are such that I have resolved never to return to an upright style bicycle. 
As a result of the Rhoades Car's outstanding performance, even during the 
Wyoming wintertime, I have completely retired my motorcar. 
   I would also mention that although I have been observed by many police 
during this time, I have never been hassled. 

   
   
   * The Sun Bicycle Company's EZ-3 recumbent tricycle 
   Sun Bicycles  
   
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
   Sun, a distributor of bicycles and tricycles in Miami Florida, does not 
sell retail - you must order from your local bike shop. I was astonished 
when I placed an order Wednesday midday and then drove my trike out of the 
shop on Friday afternoon. I guess they've got a helluva good distribution 
system. Even out here in the boondocks of central Wyoming. The price was 
$1300 in May, 2005. 
   I am delighted with this trike! It has the speed and agility of my 
recumbent bicycle and also the stability of my RhoadesCar. I have named it 
"Nimble" which suits it exactly! I had hoped to get a compromise between a 
bicycle and a 4-wheeler, and I really got more than I expected. 
   Nimble has 3x9=27 gear shifts. The lowest and highest Travel Distances 
are 5 feet and 25 feet. The inboard two inches of each handgrip is a 
rotating cylinder. To shift gears, you twist this cylinder with your thumb 
and forefinger from one ratchet-setting to another. This is MUCH easier and 
more reliable than a "push-pull" lever shifter. And you don't have to take 
your hands off the handlebar to shift. 
   The rear wheels are canted. This weird-looking design must work, because 
I found it almost impossible to tip this thing over! Before it would tip I 
had to ride on a sideslope so steep that I was sliding off the seat. I also 
tried by making some swift, hard turns on a level surface. I couldn't tip it 
there either, without driving in a manner that is WAY outside any sensible 
operating parameters. 
   The seat is infinitely adjustable along the top frame bar. My legs are 
three feet long (or should I say "one leg long"?) but to my surprise, after 
I got the seat adjusted properly there remained several inches of frame bar 
to accomodate legs even longer than mine! (I am 6'2" tall) 
   One thing I have experienced about Nimble is that is hard to get off! I 
don't mean that it is physically difficult to step over the frame and walk 
away from the trike, I mean that it is psychologically difficult to halt, 
even temporarily, the delightful enjoyment I feel while riding on it!  
   
   After a summer spent rambling all around the byways of my neighborhood 
(including some off-road mountain trails) I am pleased to report that this 
nifty machine performs just splendidly! I was a bit apprehensive that since 
the pedal power is delivered to only one wheel (left rear), I might have 
some difficulty in climbing hills. To my surprise, this did not happen at 
all; I found the one-wheel traction to be quite adequate, even on rough, 
gravely and hilly roads. Anyway, the trike weighs only 50lbs and it is very 
easy to pick up the front wheel and haul the trike across any extremely 
rough ground you may encounter. 
   December, 2005: The one-wheel traction does not work so well in the 
wintertime. On roads covered with hard-packed snow I find it frequently 
necessary to nudge the trike forward from a slippery spot by pushing with my 
feet. The Rhoades Car's dual traction is MUCH better for going through snow 
and ice!! 
 

    

   A List of Links to Recumbent Bicycles 

  Bikes, Trikes, and Velocars:
   Lightfoot Cycles

  Battery-powered bicycles and scooters:
   nycewheels
   electricrider
   electrikmotion

  Online Shopping for bike parts and accessories: 
   PerformanceBike
   Nashbar
   ColoradoCyclist 


   The four major causes of urban car/bike collisions:
     1) Left-turning car cutting off an oncoming bike.
     2) Failure of motorist to stop at stop sign.
     3) Failure of cyclist to stop at stop sign.
     4) Cyclist riding against direction of traffic.

   A cyclist is 8 times more likely to have a fatal accident at night than 
in daylight. 
   Bicycling has become safer over the years: the death rate for bicycle
accidents has dropped by a factor of ten since the second world war.
   At twenty miles an hour, 90% of bicycling effort goes to overcoming wind 
resistance. A windshield can make a big difference. 

   Cars are stolen four times more often than are bicycles.
   As of 2002, the average American car-owner spent $6000 per year on his 
automobile, but he drove that car less than 25 miles per day. 
   I could remark on the price of gasoline, but you already know about that! 




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