As stated in the sales text Karl sent the Mercian to Wales to have the Newton conversion brazed on. The completed machine was then refinished to make a superb tadpole trike.
During the last 100 or so years there have been some tricycles produced with two wheels at the front; their lack of success probably owes more to the development of a suitable differential axle and to poorly designed steering than to anything else. The Newton conversion uses an Ackermann-type steering, just like a car, and, while steering and riding any trike takes a little time to get used to, the steering of the Newton is extremely good and the handling is better than most "conventional" trikes.
There are three main advantages in the "2-front-wheels" layout - firstly, the drive is applied to the centre-line of the machine, which is not the case with many cheaper conventional trikes using single-wheel drive, additionally, any conventional cycle transmission can be used. The second advantage is in weight distribution, firstly the weight on the is increased, giving better traction, and secondly weight transfer when cornering is much easier - if the inside wheel starts to lift on a corner, you simply lean your weight onto the inside handlebar. A related issue is that if the machine lifts a wheel, it tilts diagonally towards the rear, whereas a conventional trike tilts towards the front - since generally you are going forwards, your momentum makes the conventional machine more likely to overturn. Finally, the braking is far superior, now using Avid mechanical disc brakes as standard on both front wheels, giving much greater safety - by contrast, many cheaper "conventional" trikes only brake one of their back wheels, some even have 2 brakes fitted to the front wheel and none on the rear! disc brakes can easily add another UK£1000 to the price.
The main tubes of the conversion are Reynolds 525, bronze welded. The conversion is designed to fit a standard frame 21" (53cm) or over in size, and using wheels in the range from 24" to 27", including ATB sizes. It fits onto the bicycle by removing the complete front fork assembly and attaches by means of a clamp at the head tube and another at the . The conversion set weighs around 8.7 Kg, whereas a typical front fork, wheel and brake assembly weighs around 3 Kg, so the increase in weight over a standard bike is about 5∏ Kg or 12 lbs. The front wheel track is about 27" (68cm), and the overall width is about 33" (84cm) when travelling in a straight line. The complete machine can be got through a doorway as narrow as 29" (74cm) by turning the front wheels. For this conversion, which is also available for aluminium frames, we prefer to have the frame here to ensure a good fit. We can also offer a permanent conversion welded on to your bike frame, which is neater, stronger and slightly lighter - of course, to do this, we have to have the cycle frame here."
Front offset view showing layout of the extended steerer tube, axle and kingpins. Everything is nicely triangulated for stiffness and lightness without excess use of materials.
Ackermann steering rods, arms, joints and stays in detail. The forward projecting stays are shaped to allow clearance for the rider's feet. Note the oval axle beam for lower drag and a hint of understated quality.