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Thread: Low Back Pain FROM My Trike?

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    Default Low Back Pain FROM My Trike?

    I converted my 2012 Gold Wing to a Roadsmith trike and had the shock preload set to the firmest setting. The trike handles great, very flat in corners, but now I am having a lot of low back pain. I believe the pain is either caused by, or aggravated by, the way the trike rocks back and forth. So, I wonder if 1) anyone else has had this problem, and 2) do y’all think backing off the shock preload springs would improve the ride?

    I don’t have the shock preload wrench, or even know how many “clicks” I have available.

    Do I need a jack to adjust the shocks?

    If I understand correctly, the preload on the Wing is active, but it really only raises and lowers the body. It does not affect the ride quality.

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    Can't answer your preload questions but wondering what your rear tire pressures are. Too high a pressure will add to a rougher ride too.
    "I don't need a map. I still have a road in front of me!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by LostInTheCarolinas View Post
    I converted my 2012 Gold Wing to a Roadsmith trike and had the shock preload set to the firmest setting. The trike handles great, very flat in corners, but now I am having a lot of low back pain. I believe the pain is either caused by, or aggravated by, the way the trike rocks back and forth. So, I wonder if 1) anyone else has had this problem, and 2) do y’all think backing off the shock preload springs would improve the ride?

    I don’t have the shock preload wrench, or even know how many “clicks” I have available.

    Do I need a jack to adjust the shocks?

    If I understand correctly, the preload on the Wing is active, but it really only raises and lowers the body. It does not affect the ride quality.
    If you set your individual shock preload on each shock to the firmest setting, that among other factors, will contribute to being too stiff a ride. If you purchased the adjustable preload option for $299, use that for your preload and readjust your individual shocks back to the lowest setting. Then you can use your bikes preload to dial it it to your preferred comfort level. Also, lower you rear tire air pressure to 22 lbs and you'll find that that will greatly improve your ride quality.

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    Thank you for your replies. I bought the bike with the larger anti-sway bar. I am currently running 38# front and 28# rear. I can go lower on the rear tire pressure—lots of people do. The owners manual recommends 26# to 30#. I am willing to try it at 22#.

    I do have the active ride height adjustment. I’ve been all the way up and down with that and don’t feel any difference in the ride stiffness.

    As you say, if the individual shock preload is on 5, I’m sure it can come down. I guess tire pressure and bike preload are the first things to try then. If those don’t work, it will be time to jack up the bike, remove the wheels and adjust the individual shocks.
    Last edited by LostInTheCarolinas; 01-31-2021 at 12:52 PM. Reason: Added recommended tire pressures.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LostInTheCarolinas View Post
    Thank you for your replies. I bought the bike with the larger anti-sway bar. I am currently running 38# front and 28# rear. I can go lower on the rear tire pressure—lots of people do. The owners manual recommends 26# to 30#.

    I do have the active ride height adjustment. I’ve been all the way up and down with that and don’t feel any difference in the ride stiffness.

    I’m sure the shock preload can come down. I guess that is next. I don’t see instructions for that in the manual. I’ll check over at their web sight.
    The trike conversion manufacturers are pretty much forced to recommend air pressures close to the tire manufacturer's recommended air pressure as a CYA for liability reasons, but I can tell you, as hundreds of others here will attest to, that running 22lbs is both safe and will result in longer tire life and a much smoother ride.

    John Lehman, founder of Lehman Trikes, published an article on the subject years ago. There is a link to it here on the site, maybe I will post it when I have a few extra minutes to find it. About to head to Houston to take my son and grandson to Monster Jam.

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    Default Test

    I dropped the bike preload from 20 to 0. That did seem to help, but I’m not sure how it works. The preload motor is no longer connected through the swing arm to the GW mono shock. But going all the way down to 0 seemed to feel better.

    Then, a little later, I dropped the rear tires from 28 to 22 on both sides. That feels a little squishy to me, but the impact from bumps, pot holes and sharp turning inputs seems muted and softer, as it should.

    With these two changes my back pain is much reduced.

    I’ll ride it more and see if I still want to back off the individual coil over shock preload collars.

    Thanks to all.

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    Rodney, here is the link that Papa Zook was referring to about tire pressures

    <LINK REMOVED-NOT WORKING>

    Well crap, looks like the Lehman site is kaput and I don't have the document to post.
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    Default Update

    So, I went back to my mechanic/installer for a little mentoring session. He said the BIKE preset mostly controls ride height. For me, solo riding, he recommended 10 with 15 for two up. These are now programmed into the Wing as presets 1 and 2 (of course).

    He set the shocks back to the softest setting, but stiffened up the anti-sway bar. So, I have the softest ride, but the anti-sway bar starts working right away in the corners.

    He said that 22 psi for the tires was okay, but I got the impression that he personally like his tires a little stiffer. But for me, dealing with back pain—probably a good choice.

    So how was my ride home with the new suspension settings?

    The ride is comfortable and controlled. The trike does not tip or lean excessively in corners. No back pain at all! Really, the trike feels very comfortable and controlled. I am pleased.

    Next project (hopefully before summer), Comfort Controls!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zammy View Post
    Rodney, here is the link that Papa Zook was referring to about tire pressures:

    Well crap, looks like the Lehman site is kaput and I don't have the document to post.


    Try this it is a good read.


    techbook-master.pdf (mjtrikes.com)

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    Default Here is the article from Lehman Trikes

    "From Lehman Trikes:

    There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation out there when it comes to tire pressures for trike riders. Most all trikes have a motorcycle tire up front and automotive tires in the rear. The motorcycle compliance label has a recommended pressure for both the front and the rear tires. Now that your motorcycle is a trike are these still the pressures to use? Since we are trying to clear up the confusion and misinformation… the answer is yes and no!

    Let me explain more fully. We, Lehman Trikes, have always recommended that you maintain the same pressure the motorcycle manufacturer lists on the compliance label for the front wheel. There is no reason to change this pressure. That’s the "yes".

    The "no" is a bit more involved. First of all, the two automotive tires like those installed on the rear of your trike are a completely different design than the single motorcycle tire they replace. Now for some history. Lehman Trikes has been building and riding trikes for 25 years. Our founder, John Lehman, and many of the dedicated trike riders that work here have experimented for years trying to find what air pressure in the rear tires gives you the best ride, handling and tire life. What they found and recommended for years was an air pressure in the 20 to 22 psi range worked best.

    So why, if you look at a current Lehman Trikes Owner’s Manual or the Owner’s Manual for a H-D Tri Glide, do you see a 26 psi recommendation for the rear tires? When I came to Lehman Trikes several years ago one of the things I was asked to do was to confirm with the manufacturer of our tires that they would support our recommendation of 20 to 22 psi air pressures for our application. What I learned is that no tire manufacturer will recommend anything less than 26 psi for standard automotive tires.

    Where the 26 psi number came from is an interesting and somewhat involved story. There is a regulatory organization called the Tire and Rim Association (T&RA) which, of course, standardizes specifications for all different applications for tires and wheels (rims). One of the things that they provide is a load carrying capacity for each tire size at different air pressures. In their old reference books they listed load carrying capacities for tire pressures all the way down to 20 psi. I don’t know what year they changed but in 1999 they still listed load carrying capacities down to 20 psi.

    Do any of you remember the big public fight that went on between Firestone and Ford Motor Co a few years ago? As I recall, people were rolling over in their Ford Explorer’s and Ford and Firestone were vigorously pointing the finger at each other. The final out come was that it was determined that people were reducing the air pressure in their tires to improve ride quality. That would not have been a problem but they failed to increase the pressure when the vehicle was more heavily loaded. As a result, the T&RA elected to eliminate the lower pressure ratings from their reference books. In support of the T&RA, the tire manufacturers will not support running their tires at anything less than 26 psi.

    So how much difference does it make? Why not just run them at a higher pressure? Running the rear tires on your trike at a higher tire pressure has a dramatic impact on how the trike rides and handles. For each additional psi of pressure you increase the rigidity of the sidewall. At maximum pressure the sidewalls of your tires are quite rigid. Rigid sidewalls will increase the occurrence of the low speed "head shake" inherent in all three wheeled vehicles. They will also transmit more of the bumps in the road to you and your passenger. As you reduce the tire pressure it allows the sidewall to provide additional "cushioning" when riding over irregularities in the road surface. Certainly you do not want to reduce the air pressure too far because that will adversely affect the handling of the trike.

    The "cushioning" effect of the sidewalls is, of course, reduced if you are using a tire that has very little sidewall. For example, those 18 or 20 inch rims that look so cool on the back of your trike do all the wrong things for ride comfort and low speed head shake. A standard 15 or 16 inch rim with a properly sized, properly inflated tire will give you the best ride quality and the least amount of head shake.

    The most commonly used tire on the rear axle of a Lehman Trike is the P205/70R15. As a point of interest, in the 1999 T&RA reference book it lists a load carrying capacity of 1146 lbs for a standard P205/70R15 tire with 20 psi of air pressure. "

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