Rhoades Car 
   Rhoades National Corp 
   125 Rhoades Lane 
   Hendersonville  TN  37075 
   (800) 531-2737 
   Rhoades Car is run by libertarians. When you are deciding where to do 
business, remember that every dollar traded among libertarians is a dollar 
denied a statist. 

   The Rhoades Car is a four-wheel pedal-cycle that drives like a car. 
   From their website you can submit a request for a very nice info package 
which has good photos and price info for all models. 1, 2 and 4 seat models 
are available with prices from about $1000 to about $2000 
   I bought the one-seat model in September of 1998. 

   I have only two significant complaints about the Rhoades Car: Front 
traction and Brakes. 
   The seat is placed too close to the rear axle, the result being too 
little traction on the front wheels. With a goodly weight of cargo, and on a 
steep enough grade, I can tip this car over backwards. But if you are 
shorter than I am (6 feet 3 inches) you will have less of a traction problem 
because you will sit farther forward and thus more of your weight will be 
resting on the front wheels. I installed two carefully-placed angle irons, 
projecting forward through the steering rods, and put a nice big wire basket 
on them. Carrying some of my cargo in this basket makes a BIG difference to 
the front-wheel traction. 

   The brakes are not the usual caliper style bicycle brakes that pinch the 
wheel rim. They are 5-inch diameter drums encircled by a one-inch wide 
compression band. These brakes are EXTREMELY good at retarding forward 
motion, but because of the way their leverage is applied they don't work 
well (hardly at all, actually) at retarding backward motion. This deficiency 
can be overcome if you get dual brakes and then reverse one brake band. This 
is a very quick and simple operation and the result is exactly what I 
expected: the reversed brake works just as well backward as the other one 
works forward. Each brake is separately controlled by standard bicycle-type 
grip levers on the handlebar, and each is so effective that one brake alone 
will stop the car very well. It takes surprisingly little finger effort to 
lock up the wheels. No matter how weak your hands may be, you will be able 
to stop the Rhoades Car quite easily. 

   A minor complaint is the clearance: I opted for the 36-shift transmission 
and thus I have two loops of chain and two 6-sprocket Shimano shifters 
hanging down under the seat. The ground clearance under these shifters is 
only 4-5 inches, so I pick up shreds of sagebrush and tumbleweed when I go 
out into the bushes. 

   Aside from these little grumbles, I am delighted with my Rhoades Car!  
This thing is a VERY well-constructed machine! The main frame is 2-inch 
square tube. I stood on the middle of the frame and jumped up and down 
(we're talking 195 lbs of meat here folks) while watching the wheels, axles 
and the frame arms. The car did not complain at all. I drove one front wheel 
up onto the curb and rocked it back and forth with no problems at all. This 
thing is really rigid. The cargo rack is a one-inch square tube framework 
projecting out from the rear of the main frame. I found that putting 90 lbs 
on the cargo rack will raise the front wheels off the ground, but it is 
clear that 90 lbs is nowhere near the maximum load this rack will support. 
With a simple box mounted on that rack, I can now carry several times the 
weight and volume of cargo that my bicycle could hold. 

   The first thing I experienced when I drove my Rhoades Car was the 
complete elimination of three sources of discomfort that had always bothered 
me on my bicycle: 1) I don't get a kink in my neck from having to hold my 
head at an acute backwards angle. 2) The weight of my torso is no longer 
resting on the palms of my hands (a real discomfort for me as a weightlifter 
- a LOT of that 195 lbs of meat is around my shoulders). 3) My pelvis is no 
longer being pummeled by a miniscule triangle of hard plastic. 
   Sitting on the Rhoades Car is just like sitting in an automobile. I paid 
a bit extra to get the deluxe padded seat rather than the plain bare 
plastic, and I'm really glad I did. It's just like a small-sized car seat 
and is VERY comfortable. Cranking the pedals from this seated position uses 
some different muscles, but it sure provides an enormous increase in bodily 
comfort. And if you do get a bit tuckered out, you can add some power to the 
pedals by pushing on your knees with your hands. 
   This seating position results in being somewhat closer to the ground: on 
my bicycle my eyes were 68 inches off the ground; now they are at 52 inches, 
but the tradeoff is the enormous increase in comfort. 

   I opted for the dual traction, whereby the drive power is transmitted 
equally to both rear wheels. I expect to use this thing in the winter and 
will no doubt need that extra traction. Sure enough, I learned in November 
that the Rhoades Car will go through 5 inches of heavy snow. It's a bit of 
work to push two sets of 2-inch wide tires through the snow, but it goes. I 
went out again the next day when the snow had partly melted, been trafficked 
somewhat, and then partly re-frozen. I was faced with deep ruts in the mushy 
snow, chunks of ice, slush, and puddles of half-frozen mud - about the worst 
possible conditions for a bicycle - but the Rhoades Car went right thru all 
this mess easier and faster than walking and MUCH moreso than a bicycle. 
There is EXCELLENT traction on the rear wheels. If you keep the speed to 
less than 5 miles per hour you will have no trouble with slop being thrown 
off the front wheels. 

   On a bare and level highway the Rhoades Car requires somewhat more work 
to go at the same speed as a bicycle (I find it to be about 20% slower), but 
this is to be expected given that at 96 lbs it weighs three times my 
bicycle. My Rhoades Car is VERY much easier than my bicycle at going up 
hills! Not only is it geared lower, its sideways stability permits me to 
move at as slow a speed as I wish without toppling over. Going up steep 
mountain roads the car pedals VERY comfortably at between 1.5 and 2 miles 
per hour. 
   Here are the travel distances, in lowest and highest gear, per rotation 
of the pedals: 
   18-speed Mountain bike       6'3"   23'7" 
   36-speed RhoadesCar          5'     19'4"    (46-tooth front sprocket) 
   6-speed RhoadesCar           8'5"   17'      (46-tooth front sprocket) 

   As I become more accustomed to the Rhoades Car I find that I drive it 
much slower than I drove a bicycle. I go slower because it's easier. Driving 
a bicycle requires more work because I must keep it going at least fast 
enough to avoid toppling over sideways. The Rhoades Car cannot tip over 
sideways no matter how slow it goes thus, being a lazy fellow, I tend to 
drive slower. 

   Another big difference from a bicycle is that the car's turning diameter 
is 24 1/2 feet. (Gimme 40 acres and I'll turn this rig around!) But it takes 
only a 30 lb lift to pick up the front end and swivel the car around 

   I have driven my Rhoades Car more than 300 miles since I received it 
three months ago. I just love it! The more I use it the more I like it. For 
general highway use, and for trundling around town on my weekly shopping 
trips, it is just perfect! I find it to be better than a bicycle because it 
is MUCH more comfortable to drive and it can carry much more cargo much 
easier. The ease and comfort of the recumbent seating are such that I have 
resolved never to return to an upright style bicycle. 
   I would also mention that although I have been observed by several police 
during this time, I have not been hassled. 
   This machine was a very good buy. It is well worth what I paid for it. 
   The car has a two-year warranty. At one point I needed a new part, so I 
telephoned the company and without the slightest bit of hassle I had the 
part just as fast as UPS could deliver it. 
   The only complaint I can make about the company is the length of time it 
took me to obtain the car. It took 3 weeks to get ordering information and 
another 7 weeks for delivery of the car. But it was worth waiting for! 

   I am planning to buy a Lightfoot recumbent Mountain Cargo Bicycle 
sometime during this (1998-9) winter. (I am a bike freak.) Watch this file 
for a review of that machine next May or June. 

  Other Sources for recumbent bicycles, tricycles and quadracycles 
   A List of Links to Recumbent Bicycles 
   Windcheetah from England 

  Online Shopping for bike parts and accessories: 

   Plans for build-it-yourself Quadracycles
   A Gasoline engine for driving bicycles 

   The four major causes of urban car/bike collisions:
     1) Left-turning car cutting off an oncoming bike.
     2) Failure of motorist to stop at stop sign.
     3) Failure of cyclist to stop at stop sign.
     4) Cyclist riding against direction of traffic.

   A cyclist is 8 times more likely to have a fatal accident at night than 
in daylight. 
   Bicycling has become safer over the years: the death rate for bicycle
accidents has dropped by a factor of ten since the second world war.
   Cars are stolen four times more often than are bicycles.
   Bicycling uses 5 times less energy than walking. (And is lots more fun.) 

    Back to the Table of Contents