I'd like to add gears to my disabled son's pickle pashley tricycle. I have made a start by adding a 5 speed casette, but I'm stuck trying to work out how to shift the gears as there is no where to mount a derailleur and not enough vertical clearance anyway. Any suggestions for alternative gearing solutions would be appreciated.

enter image description here

  • I think that's the right image, please edit a better one in if it's not. – Móż May 12 '16 at 2:13

Normally I would say "you wouldn't start from there", but since you have...

Since you've managed to add a cassette, I assume you're reasonably confident with tools. You're going to have to make a derailleur hanger that sits in the right place. If you can get a sealed bearing over the axle it'll be easier, but if not you will need to make a plain bearing that can be split to get it onto the axle. Then use that to locate a short arm that attaches to the frame and holds the hanger in the right place. I suggest starting with a scrap bike (from the tip if possible, you only need the derailleur hanger and a short length of frame, the rest can be damaged beyond recognition). One problem is that the derailleur will hang very low, with those small wheels it might not survive long in the hands of a child.

If that sounds impossibly daunting... sorry. That's why I started with "I wouldn't start from there". If you have to pay someone else to do much of the work it'll end up cheaper to buy a trike that has been built with gears from the start.

Quick Sketch

Looking from the back of the trike,you need to build the blue bit. The green bit is the bearing on the rear axle, and the really bad photo of a rear derailleur shows where that will go. The blue blob at the top is where you bolt the new part onto the frame of the existing trike.

sketch of derailleur hanger arm

Where I'd start from if I could?

While I'm usually reluctant to say "this brand, and only this brand" here, there really aren't any other options for readymade kids recumbents that I know of. So... The KMX kids recumbent trike (or in the UK). If you can find one and put your kid on it, see what happens. If you can get him off it without tears and screaming... maybe look at an upright trike again. If you do need to go with an upright, I'd approach Pasley and see if they can put gears on that trike, or suggest a framebuilder who can. But if you can braze or weld, building something like that will be a good start on a second career as "building stuff for my son" because from experience, you will get a better product even if you're a bit ham-fisted, and you'll definitely save money. But that assumes you have the "spare" time to do this stuff :)

enter image description here

But seriously, try a recumbent trike, anything that he can even vaguely fit onto will do as a first attempt. They're more stable and more robust, so as a result more fun. You might find it helps to use toe clips with heel support, or the Shimano SPD "clipless" shoes and pedals - I can't imagine riding a recumbent without them.

Also, able bodied kids ride the KMX trikes... or want to :)

added rear derailleur held on with circlips

To make shifting easier you could try longer levers. These are some vintage ones: clip on downtube shifters

But you can more reasonably get shorter ones from a scrounged bike and make an extension for one of them. Take the other one off, they just unbolt. That way if you stuff up the first attempt you can try again with the other one :)

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    Thanks so much for all the responses it is the first time I have ever asked a question on any website. I was wondering whether a bearing on the axle would work. Do you think the hangar also needs to be attached to the frame somehow to stop it rotating? I am also interested in where you would have started from because I'm happy to rcethink. The pickle pashley is the only trike I have found which is the correct fit for my son wth short pedal arms which he needs. I'd consider getting a trike custom built but have no idea how to go about that. – Mike West May 14 '16 at 6:05
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    @MikeWest if he's that small you might struggle, but you can fit short cranks to most bikes (down to about 90mm). Getting the bearing onto the axle would be my first concern, but if you can do that it'll make life easier. You do need to anchor the derailleur hanger to the bike, the bearing on the axle is "just" to make it more rigid more easily. Time for a sketch... wait a few minutes. – Móż May 14 '16 at 6:10
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    I thought I should update with progress. I got an old frame from the dump, drilled the gear hangar and frame to be same diameter as the axle and temporarily mounted it using circlips. It seems to work to my amazement. Only issue I now have is that my son finds it very hard to change the gear using the lever type of gear changer which came with the frame. Any suggestions? – Mike West May 21 '16 at 17:55
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    I have found a supplier of kmx locally so will arrange to check a kmx k3 out as well. – Mike West May 21 '16 at 18:13
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    I'm impressed, that looks quite effective. For shifting, you could either extend the lever, try one off an old 10 speed, or make your own - with friction shifting like you have it doesn't really matter how you pull the gear cable. Also, if he's pushing hard on the pedals while shifting that will make shifting harder. But I'd start by getting a clip-on shifter and extending that. ... see edited pic above. – Móż May 21 '16 at 22:28

Alternatives to adding a (possibly very low) rear derailleur:

  • add a hub gear instead

    I'm not sure you can do this in-line with the rear axle (it would have to be joined to the hub shell), so it might need to precede the rear axle and drive a second chain.

    Actually, I see Sturmey Archer make specific tricycle hub gears, but I have no idea how they're supposed to be fitted.

    Edit - the TS-RF3 is described here:

    This is a gearbox, not a hub and must be used in an intermediate position on the frame, with input and output chains, because the secondary sprocket attaches where the spokes would

    They do make kickshift gearhubs as well, which - if suitable - would remove the need for a gear cable. Again, see Sheldon.

  • add a front derailleur instead

    The chainguard might need modifying, but an 2-ring MTB front might work, depending on the gear range you need. You can get clamp-on front derailleurs, so it might be easier to retrofit than the RD gear hanger

  • add a bottom-bracket gear hub

    I'm not certain anything suitable exists, but mention it for completeness. The Pinion gearbox looks much too big, which is a shame.

  • The Schlumpf BB gearing systems can probably be retrofitted but are heavy and expensive. – Móż May 14 '16 at 6:38
  • Thanks, I was sure Pinion wasn't the only type, but it was the only result of a cursory search. – Useless May 16 '16 at 21:26

I found this image in an untrusted link, on a site called https://www.factorydirectbikes.com/.

It seems to show a trike with gears. Perhaps either the people at that site, or Pashley themselves might help you.

At the very least, you'll need to add a bracket to the centre frame member to hold the derailleur.

enter image description here

See https://www.factorydirectbikes.com/bikes/pashley_handbuilt_bikes/

BTW, I found this by a Google image search for pickle pashley tricycle.

  • This image looks to be an adult sized trike, but the wheels appear to be the same size as the kids version. Extending the search to "pickle pashley tricycle gears" shows more, similar trikes. By the look of it, they've mounted the derailleur a little further forward than would be ideal on a bike. Perhaps they're trying to increase the ground clearance. – andy256 May 12 '16 at 5:33
  • Thanks for the suggestion, this trike would be too big (and heavy possibly) and the crank arms too long for my son. Do you think it would be easier to start from this size trike with gears and make it smaller and add short crank arms than start from the pickle and add gears? – Mike West May 14 '16 at 6:20
  • Hmm. I wasn't suggesting the adult sized trike. My answer was more of, "Well no ones answered, so here's an example". With the suggestion to talk to the makers. Sometimes a question gets more attention after someone has posted an answer, because it gets back to the top of the heap. The other answers give more concrete options, with the one by Moz being closest to the needs you express. His advice is valuable because of his experience building his own bikes and other human powered contraptions. – andy256 May 14 '16 at 13:11

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