Rad corporate shakeup, defective trike repairs


So I have been going back and forth with Rad for a couple of weeks. They’ve been very responsive. They sent a replacement right away. Unfortunately the second one had the same problems. They were willing to send a third, but I said let’s troubleshoot a bit first. (I will make another thread for my technical issues. This one is for Rad corporate speculation.)

Anyways, the people there were super. Someone always answered the phone pretty fast, and I was getting answers to my emails in under a day.

That responsiveness seems to have ended. The last call I had with them was last Monday. Since then my emails have gone unanswered. I was trying to be patient so I waited until today to call again. This morning when I called, I got a recording saying their phone support was closed right now and to use the web chat. So I did. When I started the chat it said there were 13 in the queue ahead of me. I waited 20 or 30 minutes and eventually made it through the queue. She couldn’t really help me, but I didn’t expect her to, I mean, my case is a bit beyond the front line at this point. She said she would have someone reach out today. So far that has not happened.

I asked her when the phone support would reopen. She said they were restructuring and did not know when phone support would reopen. You can’t tell emotions in chat, but she seemed cautious.

I suspect a lot of those nice support people have been laid off. I asked her point blank if they had, and she just repeated that they are restructuring. It was like talking to HR during a mass layoff.

Anyone know any more details about what is happening?
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Ok, I guess I will tell my tech story here as well. I changed the thread title. 😀

There were two issues. Both issues appeared on both trikes.

1. The long chain was so tight it could barely move, even with the chain tensioners all the way lo the loose end. And with it adjusted that way, the short chain was so loose it was about to fall off. It was like the long chain was one link too short.

2. Bent axles. The first trike had a bent axle on the driven wheel side. The second trike had a bent axle on the non-driven wheel side. We measured the first trike with a runout gauge at the hub. It was out by 90 thou. At the rim, this was a half inch of play. We didn’t measure the second one but visually it was even worse. If you spun the driven wheel, the non-driven wheel waggled so much, while not even turning, that the whole rear end fishtailed. That wheel was also wildly out of true, so there was some complex orbiting going on there!

We are pretty far towards solving both problems.

1. The chain tension thing was an assembly error. I don’t know what you call it, but there is a pulley wheel under the frame, that tensions the long chain. The chain was routed UNDER this pulley. Court‘s video had a closeup of this area of the trike, and the chain was routed OVER this pulley. When we rerouted the chain to the correct side of the pulley, we were able to adjust both chains perfectly.

2. I was trying to get Rad to send a good axle and some technical docs, since I never took the rear axle out of a trike and I don’t know which side it’s supposed to come out! But after my conversation with Rad via chat this morning it seemed we were on our own, no parts were coming, and it was time to just forge ahead. We tackled the trike with the bent axle on the non-driven side. We took the wheel off and measured the axle itself with the runout gauge. Where it comes out of the frame, it was only off by 3 thou. But at the end, it was off by 75 thou. With one person on each side, and a five foot long pipe, we were able to straighten it down to 4 thou. Put the wheel back on and the biggest issue remaining is just the wheel truing. I will tackle that tomorrow; wheel truing is something I can do unassisted, but it takes calm patience and I was worn out!

Given my druthers I would not straighten an axle this way. It’s not good for the wheel bearings and metal fatigue is a concern. But I can’t find a source for replacement axles. If Rad is imploding, I may see what local machinist contacts can do for me. I am not without resources, but good machinists have to be paid and it would not be cheap. It would not be worth the trouble and expense, except that I have some serious physical limitations and there are so few options for me.

I am grateful to my spouse for diving into this with me today, since I couldn’t fix it alone.
Just a tip on machinists: Check your area for trade schools that teach machining. Many times they will allow students to take on jobs like that so they get experience in filling customer orders. I did that with a shaft I needed made for a vintage power tool. It took a while because the kids are busy with regular school work, but they made me the two shafts. I provided the materials even though the instructor said I didn't have to. No charge, but I think being that I'm an alumnus of the school (in a different program) helped with getting it done. But it doesn't hurt to try to find one.
Striking the axle would be bad for the bearings because of brinelling. Just a simple loading from a lever will not damage them one bit. A couple of load cycles will never cause metal fatigue. If it did, all bicycle bearings would quickly die after jumping a few curbs. I was an engineer at Caterpillar Inc. Just take out the axle and have a machine shop straighten it if you aren't up to the task. Making a new axle would be really expensive and quite difficult because of the length and small diameter.
We got the axle pretty close with our careful levering. Close enough that it is probably within normal tolerance. Glad to hear that you don’t think we damaged anything, rich c!

Anyone know which side the axle comes out? Or how to determine this?
Looks like this could help both parties?

Screenshot 2023-05-01 at 7.38.56 PM.png
For what it’s worth I have been riding my repaired trike a lot over the last several days and I love it! It is very smooth and quiet, no creaks or rattles, very stable and comfortable. Now that we fixed the issues it came with, the quality seems terrific. I think they did a great job with the design, the choice of components, the programming, etc. It is just really well thought out.

I am enjoying personalizing it. No matter how well it is thought out, there is scope for making it my own. 😀 I did not buy any of the cargo accessories with the trike. I already had their front rack on my Rad Runner, where I never used it. I moved that rack to the trike and it fits perfectly. I will put a plastic crate on it. Next I get to choose what goes on the back. I love that it is just a huge flat space that lets me do my own thing!