The Chain Idlers from TerraCycle
Most recumbents and trikes require a longer chain than conventional bicycles due to their design. The recumbent riding position requires a greater distance between the crankset and the rear wheel. Chain idlers are used to optimally route the chain along its path. Often recumbents are only equipped with simple plastic idlers without a cog.
A chain bouncing up and down on a plein hard plastic surface is unfortunately not useful at all. Everywhere else in the drivetrain, chainrings and sprockets are in use. Why should your chain idler be any less important? A chain idler without teeth guiding the power side of the chain causes friction and thus loss of power. This can be easily seen when the chain starts to mill deeper and deeper notches into the plastic material of the chain idler. If the plastic is very hard, the chain will even bounce up and down constantly on its way from the rear wheel.
A chain has a very specific shape that is designed to run on a chainring or cog. The shape of a chain idler without teeth would be best suited for a belt drive. However, recumbents and tricycles are typically chain driven and therefore none of the components over which a drive chain passes should look like it was built for a belt drive. As a result, your valuable muscle power is transferred to the rear wheel with little efficiency. That's why we recommend focussing your attention on high quality chain guide components.
Day in and day out, TerraCycle thinks about chain idlers and works on their further development. Every week customers contact TerraCycle and pass on their experiences. With every conversation, TerraCycle increases its knowledge and experience of chain idlers and chain guides, and it is no exaggeration to say that no one in the recumbent industry has more expertise on this subject than Pat Franz and his dedicated team. Every single chain idler is manufactured in Portland, OR with absolute dedication to detail and quality.
Every single chain idler is made in Portland, Oregon
with absolute dedication to detail and quality.
At TerraCycle, only aluminum tubing in various diameters and solid blocks of aluminum and titanium are supplied. From these, the many high quality products are created in many careful manual steps and with precise support from an impressive machine shop. By using its very own CNC machines, TerraCycle can actually produce small batches. This approach is ideally suited to the recumbent and tricycle world.
The CNC machined cogs that are produced in this way, with minimal tolerances, form the heart of each chain idler and provide more efficient power transmission, less noise and reduced vibration. Power is transmitted entirely through metal, from the ball bearing to the housing core to the cogs teeth. There are no plastic parts involved from which the cog could tear off under load. For the sections of the chainline, which are not under tension during pedaling, TerraCycle also offers so-called return idlers. Since the chain runs here with much less tension, no sprocket is necessary. All chain idlers run on high-quality ABEC ball bearings, which are replaceable, just like the industrial urethane bed of the return idlers.
The sideplates of the Elite chain idlers are made of CNC machined aluminum. The cog and its teeth are made of 6AI/4V titanium. The Elite rollers run on sealed hybrid ceramic ball bearings. The chain idler can be dissasembled completely. Thus, the bearings can be exchanged and if ever necessary, the pinion can be replaced. Since both of these parts will last quite a long time, this will hardly be neccessary.
The housing of the Sport chain idlers is made of high quality polycarbonate. The chain idler cog is made of 7075 aluminum and runs on sealed ABEC7 steel ball bearings. Each chain idler can be completely disassembled.
When choosing between the aluminum or titanium cog variants, we recommend the titanium version for strong riders or for frequent riders. The aluminum cog offers a long service life, but signs of wear will be visible after several thousand kilometers. We also generally recommend the titanium cog version for the smaller chain idlers. In addition, TerraCycle generally recommends the titanium cog for recumbent trikes, because the extended chain line often tends to put more load on the idler, and thus on the cog.
With the TerraCycle chain idler you increase your drivetrains efficiency and reduce its noise. You even save money in the long term through the high durability and ease of maintenance! To prevent the chain from jumping out of the idler in case of strong vibrations, we always recommend to install an additional chain guide. These are also available from TerraCycle in two variants: Steel or CNC machined aluminum.
For mounting the chain idlers to the recumbents frame, we offer CNC machined aluminum frame clamps in various common diameters. If none of the sizes match the tube diameter of your bike, we can also make custom spacers for you. Just contact us. In addition, of course we offer the matching M8 bolts in different lengths as well as various spacers that may be necessary to set the optimal chain line. At your request, we can even change the bearings from 8mm to 10mm!
We are pleased that the chain idlers from TerraCycle have been available at our webshop for a long time. As exclusive importer for Europe, we will continuously expand our TerraCycle assortment and would like to offer more and more accessories for European recumbents and trikes in the future.