Archive for the ‘Recumbents’ Category

Before we moved back to a big city, we lived in semi rural Michigan for about eight years. During that time, a great deal of my recreational bike riding was on recumbents. So I was interested when I found a FB page for the Recreational Recumbent Riders of Hamilton (3RH). Today they had an around the bay ride, and I decided to join them.

We met at Bayfront Park. Here are Cora and Rob, both on ICE trikes. I dragged my Aiolos Speedlite out of the garage for the occasion. You can see that I misplaced my kickstand for the bike.

John took this group picture at the start.

The plan was to go clockwise around the bay. I did the HamBur loop a couple of years ago, and that version went up the mountain. Today’s ride will cut back through downtown. Here we go.

Just past Dundurn Castle.

At the high level bridge.

Crossing the 403 onramp was not fun. Not even any paint indicating where to cross.

Nice buffered bike lane on Plains Rd.

Nice view of the Skyway bridge.

Approaching the high level bridge.

The multiuse path along the beach spit is always a great ride.

Do I look happy?

Rest break. We are joined by Donna on her orange Catrike.

She said this was an attachment so her dog could tow her trike.

A look at Rob’s homebrew electric drive with a brushless motor. He says that it is much more efficient than a hub motor.

A flock of birders waiting to see if they can get a glimpse of a brown booby.

Crossing QEW Niagara.

Meeting a recumbent rider that was not part of our group. I liked his leather tool sling.

Rob’s turn signals

Bike lane along Britannia.

Now turning onto Cannon St. The eastern portion of Cannon had bike lanes on both sides.

Short picture break at Tim Horton Stadium (that I will always think of as Ivor Wynne)

Just a few blocks past the stadium is where we transition to a bi direction bike lane on the south side of Cannon.

This protection along Cannon was new since the last time I rode along here. Note that the concrete curbs are more solid than the precast ones that are now common in Toronto.

One last group picture close to the starting point.

Thanks to Cora for organizing today’s ride. It was a nice easy pace, and it was also a no drop ride.

Cora is also a trike and ‘bent dealer, and from the looks of her FB page, she has a very wide selection of trikes available.

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It was the first really nice Saturday of the year. So of course time for a family bike ride. As a special treat, I dragged the Daisy Mayhem out of the depths of the garage.

Proof that the wife and I are tandem compatible.

After a quick spin of High Park, we were feeling guilty so we circled back to pick up Lucy.

It was a spectacular day. Hope that you managed to get out and about.

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Cycle Toronto organized a “Yonge Loves Bikes” ride on a gloriously sunny Saturday. The ride started at Heath and Yonge, just a little north of St. Clair so that we could all look forward to riding down the big hill. This is in contrast to last year, when we had to bike up the hill.


It’s always interesting to see some of the fine machines that show up. This is TBN member Roy’s Air Friday, to which he has added e-assist.


He also locked out the flexing of the Ti beam with this bracket.


Sam with one of his bikes. He says he has been trimming down the size of his fleet.


It turns out that this big orange Bullitt with a trailer belongs to Cycle Toronto.


The combination of horizontal dropouts, disc brakes, hub gear and tight fender line is going to make repairing a flat on the rear a real pleasure. (I hope I didn’t jinx things by pointing this out). Note the Shimano e-assist and and electronic shifting.


Sam et al tell us how the ride is going to be organized.


We line up behind some police bikes.


And off we go, turning south on Yonge.




Regroup after the steepest part of the hill.


Is that “V” for victory, or a peace sign?


At Davenport.




Approaching Bloor St.



South of Bloor now.


Here comes that Imperial Star Destroyer the Cycle Toronto portable mothership.


Sorry this one is blurry.


Yonge/Dundas. At this point, the police escort peeled off.


At Shuter.


Turning at the foot of Yonge St.


Along the MG trail.


Turning into the southernmost part of Sherbourne Commons.


Group picture, without the lake in the background.


Thanks to Cycle Toronto for organizing, and all the rides who rode with us.


Once again this year, there will not be a Bells on Bloor ride as that volunteer group is focusing on the Bloor bike lane pilot campaign. There will be a Bells on Danforth ride on June 24, but regrettably, I’ll be out of town that day.

and of course today there were other rides going on, such as the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and the world naked bike ride, which just happened to go by my office while I was composing this blog entry.




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One of my ulterior motives in coming to Glasgow was the opportunity to visit Kinetics, which is a shop specializing in folders and recumbents, and is specifically known for its custom builds of Bromptons.  A quick ride northwest from the centre of town, and here we are.


Parked out front is an 8-freight, a Mike Burrows designed cargobike that looks like the lovechild of a longtail and a long John.

This one has e assist.


The monoblade fork that is typical of a Burrows design.


The rear is also one sided.


Once you step inside, there are an overwhelming number of things to look at packed into a very small space. Up front is a fully equipped machine shop. Ben is busy working on a Rohloff equipped Brompton.


Fitting either a Rohloff or an Alfine hub to a Brompton requires a new rear triangle with wider dropout spacing, and these are made right here. Here are three pairs of triangles and forks. Custom forks allow for the installation of a front disc brake.


A closer look at the copper plated frame in the corner that was a special request.


This is as close to a smile that I could get out of Ben.


This bike has the version of the rear triangle with an integral rack. It is stronger and lighter than the original.


This particular bike was also being built with components from the Brompton black edition.


The back room is filled with a variety of folders and recumbents.


On the floor, an Alleweder, and on the wall, various HP Velotechnik bikes, a Birdy, and a bright blue Brompton that is his demonstrator.


On the opposite wall, a Moulton, and some other bikes nearer the ceiling.


The demonstrator has a Rohloff rear hub and front and rear disc brakes. Ben is now partial to this hybrid front brake that is cable actuated, but has the hydraulic advantage of being self adjusting as the pads wear.


The rear triangle with Rohloff, and an Avid disc brake. There is not enough space in the back for the hybrid.  On the green bike, there was a TRP mechanical disc that is better than the Avid since the pads are actuated on both sides of the disc.


This plaque is a nice touch.


Do I look happy riding the bike?


Overall impression was very good. I haven’t had that much time on a regular Brompton, but compared against my Tikit, I would say that the stem is much stiffer on the Brompton, and the gearing and brakes were terrific. What I thought was the rear brake was particularly strong; I almost lifted the rear wheel the first time I used them, but upon further reflection, what I was using must have been the front brake. I forgot that the brake levers are reversed in the UK. Both brakes were much better than on my Tikit. First time on a Rohloff equipped bike, so all I can say is that the shifting was reliable. My Alfine is a bit out of adjustment after many times of folding and unfolding the bike, although nothing I can’t put up with even on a long ride. Ben explained that the indexing on the Rohloff is in the hub, so it can’t get out of adjustment due to a change in cable length.

The new rear triangle makes the folded bike about an inch wider than the regular bike, and it still ships in the regular cardboard box. It will still fit in the hardcase if a little foam is carved out.

For a more comprehensive review of the bike, see this link to Velovision.

My visit came to a close as another customer rolled up with a Nexus equipped Brompton that needed some attention.


Thanks to Ben for all the explanations. You’ve given me much food for thought…..


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A couple of months ago, NHK broadcast a show that revealed that a Japanese team was building a streamliner to compete at the WHPSC in Battle Mountain this fall. The show, SUGOWAZA (roughly translated as “supreme engineering skills”) was a weird hybrid of an educational feature about engineering, and a reality show that featured a race between the Japanese team and Team Cygnus.


The show was broadcast in North America on Japan TV this past weekend. What follows is a capsule summary. I will note that my Japanese is rudimentary, and so I was only catching about 25% of what was being said. Any errors of interpretation are entirely my fault.

The show started with a backgrounder on streamliner racing at Battle Mountain. I am only speculating, but it would seem that when “Team Japan” was being assembled, the producers took their cues from bikes like Velox 1 since they separated the project into three aspects: the rider, the bike, and the cowl (fairing).


This is the graphic introducing the team.


The rider (left) is Ryohei Komori, a pro rider who appears to be a time trialist.


The frame designer (centre) is someone named Ikegami who has designed motorcycles for Yamaha, and also was part of a team that won the World Solar Car Challenge.

The shell designer (right) is a junior engineer that works for Toray Carbon Magic, and is part of a team that has made carbon aero bodies for race cars.

The next sequence introduced Team Cygnus. There is some footage of them taken in the Netherlands.


Thomas and Jan Marcel looking very seriously at a laptop.


The premise for the competition is a race at a test track in Japan. It is 5.5 km a lap, and the bikes would be timed over 200 m after about a lap and a half. Jan Marcel is quoted as saying that he would think that this would result in at least 20 kph less than Battle Mountain.


Team Cygnus was shown at the test track, unveiling their bike.


Then, there was a fun sequence where the host got into the bike and had the hatch lowered onto him which made him feel very uncomfortable to the merriment of all others present.


Team Cygnus was also asked how many years it took them to get to their best speed of 125 kph. They said seven years, and the aspect of the contest that was emphasized was to see if Team Japan could get to that level with a bike built from start to finish in four months (although it must be noted with significant resources behind them).

There was a short sequence showing the first time Komori rode a recumbent (not successfully), and then the show turned to a summary  of the frame build.

There was an illustration of the tradeoff between fork angle and having the rider’s leg not hit the mid drive. There was also a quick note about head tube angle and speed induced shimmy, but the discussion seemed a bit cursory.


Then there was a demonstration of the rider on the bike without shell, showing that he was faster than on his regular bike.


Then there were a lot of shots showing the cowl designer in front of a terminal showing CFD simulations, with dramatic music added to attempt to keep the viewer from losing interest. The final shape resulted in their modeling predicting a top speed of 132 kph. Again, there some simplified technical discussion of how a small tweak in the shape near the tail improved the top speed.


This was followed by some shots of a smooth shell being popped out of a mold by some technicians (must be nice).

Finally it was race day. Each team would get two attempts.

Team Cygnus went out first and achieved a speed of 93.38 kph through the traps. Apparently the wind was gusting up to 3 meters per second (which was about double the legal limit at the WHPSC) making handling a bit dicey.  Certainly Jan Marcel was weaving more than he would at Battle Mountain.  The first Japanese run was a bit slower.

Jan Marcel didn’t get a clean launch for the second run, and their fairing was scratched. They ended up going fractionally slower. Finally during the second run, the Japanese team went just a bit faster (93.69 kph) and there was much rejoicing.


How fast will Team Japan go at Battle Mountain? The bike has some similarities with Team Policumbent’s Pulsar which went 72 mph last year. Komori seems like quite a strong rider, and so we might expect a similar level of speed. Could they get to 75 mph? Their design goal of 132 kph (82 mph) seems a bit out of reach. There are some things that can be improved with the Japanese bike. Firstly it was pointed out during the show that the seam around the windshield could cause significant drag.


You can also see the horizontal seam on the body, and the untaped Dzus fasteners; OK for a race car with hundreds of horsepower, but for a human powered streamliner, not so much.


There were also no internal wheel covers, and at least from the front view, the fairing around the wheel openings seemed very wide.


Finally, the flat sides would make the bike rather sensitive to cross winds.

Nevertheless, it will be very exciting to how the Japanese team does this September. Wishing them every success (and also wishing that Jan Marcel gets his 80 mph hat).

Update: I’ve been informed that they will build a different bike for Battle Mountain. Here is a picture of Ikegami in front of a particular storage locker in California…..



photos: Al Krause

Update #2:  thanks to the NHK for sending me a DVD copy of the program!


Update #3: some notes on the program from the CFD software firm.

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This is Victoria Day long weekend. Since it was so beautiful, we dragged the kids out for a ride down to the lake. Here Lucy and I are keeping an eye on the bikes ahead of us as we head down Ellis Ave.


Trapped on that small triangular island on the northwest corner of Ellis and Lakeshore. Sometime this summer, there will be a northbound bikes only crossing installed on the other side of the intersection, but eventually we want the right turn lane for cars taken out so that this intersection is safer for pedestrians and cyclists.


Selfie at the lake.


Lucy loves digging in the gravel.


Now headed home.


Daughter #1 puts on a fake smile for dad.


Waiting at another intersection that could be made safer.


Water break at the top of the hill/


Hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!


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T-Shirt Ride

This past weekend, we visited some good friends in Michigan, and also took advantage of the fact that my former bike club, the Tri-County Bicycling Association, or TCBA, was running their 100K Meter Ride, AKA the T-shirt ride.We figured that the kids would be up for the 25 km length. We were joined by friends Danny, Tim, and Jeff.

Here we are heading out.

The older daughter went out a little hot, and started fading after about 10K. She didn’t eat enough for breakfast, and so she was running out of gas.

Time for a water break.

The riding was beautiful in rural Michigan, near Laingsburg. It’s always good to expose our city daughters to the country “Look, goats!” “Eeeew, what’s that smell?”

TCBA does a great job running these rides. The rest stop was well stocked with drinks, fruit and cookies. After quite a few of these luscious strawberries, the older daughter was good to go, and she didn’t have any difficulty finishing the ride.

Here we are at the finish. Danny, second from left, rode a Trek recumbent, which by now is a bona fide collector’s item. Tim, on the right, runs the Michigan State University Bike Program. His brother Jeff, of Out your backdoor fame, had already ridden home separately at this point.

We saw some interesting bikes at the start/finish. Here is a Quest velomobile with a nice carbon top.

Here is a semi-recumbent tandem based on the Counterpoint Viewpoint.

I hadn’t been on a TCBA ride for almost ten years, so it was good to see some of the usual suspects that I used to ride with.

Later that evening, Tim came over to show his recently restored Assenmacher tandem.

This was a racing tandem, so the stoker setup was particularly compact, and the bike had this neat seatpost with variable setback to compensate.

The next day, Tim, his son, Danny and I did a short morning ride.

I tried out Tim’s commuter on the way back. This is the cockpit which has the unusual combination of aerobars and moustache bars. The red switch for an Air Zound is also visible. This was the bike that Tim rode in the Urban Transportation Contest a little while ago.

Here’s that tractor shot at the turnaround point, as requested in the comments. The farmer watching us take photos was mighty amused by us city slickers.

All in all, a wonderful weekend, and made even better with some riding.

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I had a great Saturday immersing myself in bike geekery at the Niagara Velomobile Happening.

This is the scene around midday, with people still arriving.

This is our host Reg describing the design evolution of his Stormy Weather velos. In front of him are two of his velos, both with FWD and electric assist. The yellow one is his “head out” design.

Jay was the lead organizer, and kept things on track the entire day.

Rob shows off his electric assisted Ice Trike.

Jensen’s leading trike. It was fun to testride. Note the very simple, non-leaning rear end.

Larry explains how he was inspired one night at 3 am to use pool noodles to form the carbon fiber members for his trike.

Now that you know the secret, you can see the pool noodles in the frame’s shape.

He also built this wonderful trailer and colour coordinated it with his FJ.

Team Bluevelo arrived during Larry’s talk. They had cycled from Toronto over the previous two days.

Here is a rain cover on Scott’s Bluevelo Team.

Scott tells us about his first year of velo ownership, and some of the issues that crop up during his commute to work.

Merrill arrives in style, having driven 800 miles from Connecticut.

How do you get a 100+ lb velo off the roof? With a home built (folding) ramp system, of course!

He tells us about how he is going to “Roll Across America” next August.

John Tetz talks about the importance of light weight in the mass acceptance of velomobiles. It was a treat to meet him after admiring his work for many years. His projects are documented on the MARS website.

Tell me that his zotefoam velo is not as pretty as a commercial product. It was fun to ride. It accelerated noticeably faster due to the lightweight. It was also interesting to have the foamshell deform and touch my shoulders during a strong crosswind.

Rick shows off his fiberglass over foam velo with electric assist. The build is being documented on the WISIL site. It was great to see Rick again. We used to be near neighbours in Michigan, and in fact he was kind enough to haul my first sheet of coroplast back to my garage after a workshop.

Bluevelo was the main sponsor of the event. Thanks to them, Jay, Reg, and all the other HPTA volunteers for such a wonderful event. Next time I’ll bring a bike of some sort so that I can partake of the group ride.

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For most of July, I’ve been riding one or two kids downtown for summer camp, and so I’ve been using the Xtracycle to commute.

One of the fun things about this particular camp is that the lunches are delivered by bike:

The lunches themselves, were advertised as very healthy, but they weren’t a big hit with the girls.

But I digress…… one of the issues with my xtracycle is that it has Powergrips, which don’t accommodate wide shoes very well.

Mine are the standard ones, that don’t fit my Keen sandals: I can barely get the toe box into them:

This got me thinking about my favourite type of foot retention for biking. I’ve know people that use the gamut from flat pedals (no straps) to cinelli suicide pedals. The gospel according to iBOB seems to gravitate towards nothing, which certainly works for Kent Peterson. I understand the general argument in favour of nothing: the freedom to use different foot positions.

On the rare occasions that I’ve used clipless pedals, I preferred bebop pedals, which have plenty of float. Clipless pedals are particularly handy on recumbents with high bottom brackets, since they save you the energy of having to keep your feet “up on the pedals”. I’ve never liked the restricted float of spd pedals. In general, I never found a clipless cleat / shoe combination that allowed me to walk without potentially damaging wood floors.

For city riding, my favourite setup is the half clip. It lets me have a little foot retention, and helps me to keep the foot localized in a good position, but is cheap, light, and easy to get in and out of. The best setup is to have double sided pedals with the half clip as shown here:

Of course, you don’t have to settle for plastic. You can get them in titanium, or leather wrapped steel. I actually prefer the plastic ones, since they are more flexible to allow for a range of shoe sizes. They do get trashed on occasion, but they are cheap to replace. If you get the steel ones, make sure you get the right size.

The powergrips were great, but again, I wasn’t happy with how they treated my Keens, which are my summertime biking footwear of choice. So I’m auditioning a pair of Holdfast Straps. They are meant for the fixie / BMX crowd, but they have the benefit of being make in the US, and also they look pretty bombproof. This is what they look like holding my Keens.

I’m using just one of the steel loops in order to make the straps loose enough.They’ve been OK for the two weeks I’ve been using them, but I’m not sure they are the best solution for me in the long run. I have to keep them pretty loose in order to be able to get my feet out of them. Nevertheless, it is handy to have one foot strapped in, when I’m stopped with one foot down and I want to rotate the cranks into a good starting position, using just one foot.

Also, in the course of writing this post, I see that Powergrips have a new extra long size for the fixie crowd, so perhaps I’ll have to check that out as well. I have my doubts that I can have them loose enough for my Keens or winter boots, and still have them work for regular shoes.

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This picture represents an intersection of two of my biking interests. The first is utility biking. With reference to an earlier post, the handy tow hitch on the back of the Xtracycle clearly does not work with a short wheelbase recumbent.

The second area of interest is Human Powered Vehicle (HPV) racing. Today I towed the speedmachine downtown so that I could loan it to a student team who will use it for training. They are planning to go to Battle Mountain to compete in the annual World Human Powered Speed Challenge. I won’t be able to make it this year, but I wish the team well.

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