It’s always inspiring to see people overcome life’s challenges, and when they accomplish this with the help of clever bike technology it really piques our interest here at Bikerumor. During Crankworx in Whistler this year, we caught a few glimpses of a DH rider cruising around the village on a Norco Aurum frame with a two-wheel conversion kit on the rear end. Finally we crossed paths with this unique rig and its rider, Joel Caplette, and were able to get the scoop on his adapted downhill trike.
Caplette hails from Aldergrove, B.C, and due to cerebral palsy lacks the strength in his legs to provide sufficient balance for riding a typical bike. But instead of letting that stop him from shredding, Caplette found and adapted a conversion kit that enables him to ride most bike park trails (but does make crashing a bit scary!). Read on for more photos and details of Caplette’s customized trike…
The rear axle conversion kit on Caplette’s Aurum is made by a company called Utah Trikes. He’s using their Quad Conversion Rear Brake Kit with the optional Mid-Drive system which adds the Alfine rear drivetrain. This kit was actually meant to be installed on one of Utah Trike’s tricycle frames (which explains why it’s called a Quad kit) so Caplette had some additional bracing added where the assembly clamps to the bike frame’s seat stays. This is his third season aboard the kit, and everything seems to be holding up fine for DH duty.
The conversion kit adds about 20lbs. to the bike, so Caplette figures with his Aurum front end the complete trike weighs about 65lbs. The rear drivetrain features Utah Trikes’ own Posi-Trac system that drives both rear wheels for maximum traction and pedalling/climbing ability. The drivetrain uses an 8 speed Shimano Alfine hub on the rear, matched to a Nexus grip shifter.
This axle kit includes mounts for disc brakes at both rear wheels, so Caplette runs two rear brake levers stacked on top of each other. As you can see, there’s nothing too fancy or custom holding the second lever on, just an extra long bolt with a nut and washer. The rear levers usually have a block off plate on them so both are pulled evenly and simultaneously, but this isn’t shown in the pictures because Caplette had removed it to address a technical issue that day.
On trikes or quad bikes, the wheels have to be good and strong so the rear end runs two beefy 24” Alienation Black Sheep rims with 20mm hubs. Caplette also has one interesting personal modification on his ride- Velcro foot straps are affixed to both pedals to help hold his feet in place.
As far as riding the trike, Caplette says the bike’s geometry remains fairly close to stock, but definitely changes a bit with the 24” rear wheels (his angles have never been measured). He’s able to ride many of the wider bike park trails including Freight Train, Crank it Up, Blue Velvet, and A-Line, but admits he hasn’t quite mastered jumping and shredding his trike as well as Whistler local Stacey Kohut, who absolutely tears the place up on a four-wheeled machine.
Caplette says tighter technical trails can get a bit ugly, and as for crashing on the trike? “Hairy,” he says. “You get pinned by it… you get slam dunked!” he adds, while recounting a particularly nasty overshoot on one of Blue Velvet’s step downs. Ultimately it’s a small price to pay for the joy of riding so Caplette will be strapping in and dropping in, chasing the adrenalin fix we all crave- just on three wheels instead of two.