Sunday, July 16, 2017

Two nice homebuilts at the Michigan HPV Rally

Rob Lloyd of Whitmore Lake and his long-wheelbase recumbent. He started construction in December 2015 and rode it for the first time on Jan. 2, 2017.

Words and photos by Mike Eliasohn

There were two interesting homebuilt cycles at the 33rd annual Michigan HPV Rally, both raced by their builders.
Mike Denninger drove all the way from Bedford, Mass. (about 1,640 miles round-trip) with his short-wheelbase creation. In contrast, Rob Lloyd came from Whitmore Lake, north of Ann Arbor, with his long wheelbase bike.

Mike Denninger of Bedford, Mass., started construction of his bike in October 2016 and finished in March 2017.

Both started with existing designs, which they then modified. Rob’s inspiration was the Rans Xstream, “but some things about the geometry I don’t like.” The Xsteam is a long-wheelbase (69.375 or 73.375 inches) wheelbase, with big (650c ) wheels at both ends and direct steering, with swept-back handlebars.
The result of that design, Rob said, is a lot of wheel flop, which he doesn’t care for. “I wanted more traditional geometry,” which he got with remote steering. His creation has a 68 degree head tube angle and 2 inches of trail.

Rob during the Sunday morning road race.

All of the chromoly tubing, purchased from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty (, is .035 inch wall except for the bottom bracket (.028). He bought the seat from Power-On Cycling (, with the grooved foam padding coming from Don Smith of Chesterfield ( The carbon fiber fork was manufactured in China, purchased via eBay. “It had the rake I wanted, so I started with that.”
Rob said he started designing his bike in October 2015 and started construction around that Christmas. His first ride was on Jan. 2, 2017.
But his work on the bike has continued. As raced at Waterford Hills, it had its third set of handlebars and second version of rear seat stays. The first rear stays allowed a lot of horizontal seat flex, which affected the handling. “When I firmed up the seat, the handling got instantly better.”
Still to come are reducing the weight of some components and paint, though some at the rally thought Rob should clear-coat the frame, to show off his beautifully finished brazed joints. He said he used a combination of filing, grinding, sanding and a Dremel rotary tool to finish the joints. 

A closeup view of some of Rob's immaculately finished brazed frame joints.

The wheelbase is 68 inches. Weight is an estimated 35 pounds. Rob started with a 26/20 wheel combination, but wheels are now 700c in the rear and large size 20-inch (451) in the front. There’s disk brakes front and rear.
“This is the first bike I ever finished,” Rob said. He previously started building a prone-position bike.  

Mike Denninger talks to Wally Kiehler before the start of Saturday's hillclimb/coast down.

       Mike Denninger started with plans for the Atomic Zombie TomaHawk design (plans for it and other designs can be purchased at and used the fabrication techniques outlined in the plans. But made changes in the geometry, in accordance with the writings of Steve Robson. (
The main frame is 1-1/2x3/4 inch, rectangular chromoly tubing, .049 wall, purchased from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty. Mike did his own MIG welding. "It's all fabricated in my basement and garage," he said.
The wheelbase is 44 inches and the weight is approximately 27 pounds.  Wheels are 26 inch (559 size) and 16 inch (349). The TomaHawk design uses a 20-inch front wheel, so one change Mike made was the smaller front wheel.  Paint is spray can orange.

 In the stock class, Rob finished 9th and Mike was 13th.    

No comments: