Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Michigan Recumbent Rally - West - Sept. 12, 2009

The annual rally, organized by Paul Pancella, took place on the Western Michigan University Parkview Campus. (Photos by Mike Eliasohn and Paul.)

DON AND JODE TAYLOR of Hersey brought their homebuilt recumbents, "loosely based on the Meridian" design from the site, Don said. These were No. 1 and 2; Don was almost done with No. 4 as of when the rally was conducted.

THIS IS JODIE'S MERIDIAN, shorter than her taller husband's bike. The main frame tube is 1-1/2-inch; 18 gauge (.049 in.) on Jode's, 16 gauge (.065) on Don's. On the Meridian, the seat position is fixed; the bottom bracket position is adjustable to fit different-sized riders. Rear tires are a fat 26x2.1; fronts are 20 inch.

ONE CHANGE DON MADE to the Meridian design was addition of sprung seats for a comfortable ride. He taught himself how to weld and built his first bike during 2006-07. "I built jigs for everything." Jode sewed the upholstery.

TERRATRIKE of Kentwood (, also known as WizWheelz, brought some of its recumbent trikes for people to try. The smile on this woman's face was typical. (And no doubt the WizWheelz folks had smiles on their faces if some of the people who went for test rides ended up buying a TerraTrike.)

JOHN MATHIESON OF BREAKAWAY Bicycles and Fitness (shops in Kalamazoo, Grand Haven and Muskegon) bought several recumbents bikes and trikes (Sun and Bacchetta) for people to try. Here he helps a potential customer try a Bacchetta. (

PAUL BRUNEAU tries David Middleton's CruzBike. CruzBikes, with front-wheel-drive and moving bottom bracket, are available as kits to convert a mountain bike, such as this one, or as complete bikes. (

UNFORTUNATELY WE DIDN'T GET the name of this gentleman, who brought his made-in-England Trice with fold-under (for transporting) rear suspension.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Michigan Human Powered Speed Challenge

DOUG PERTNER of St. Claire Shores rode his Predator – an Optima Baron with homemade fairing – 100 miles in 4 hours, 3 minutes and 52 seconds, during the 6-hour event on Sunday. His average speed was 24.6 mph.


The Michigan Human Powered Speed Challenge July 17-19 at the Ford Motor Co. Michigan Proving Grounds near Romeo was a big success. Several world records were set and more than 50 competitors came from the United States and Canada, of course, plus the Netherlands, France and Slovenia.
(The count, according to MHPVA treasurer Bill Frey was 54 riders and 50 HPVs, plus four Electrathon electric vehicles. Some riders rode more than one vehicle and some vehicles had more than one rider.)
Complete results, plus lots of photos and videos, are at, then under "Recumbent racing," click on "2009 Ford 1 hour challenge."
All competition was on the 5-mile oval at the proving grounds. World records set were:
Women: Barbara Buatois, France - women: 51.1 miles on Friday in the Varna Tempest, then on Sunday, she broke her two-day-old record with 52.2 miles. She continued on for 100 km (62 miles) and set a record for the distance of 50.3 mph.
Men: Sam Whittingham on Sunday, 56.3 miles. He continued on for 100 km (62 miles) and set a record for the distance of 54.2 mph. Sam and Barbara rode the same Varna Tempest, designed and built by Georgi Georgiev. He and Sam are from British Columbia, Canada.
DISTANCE IN SIX HOURS (Sunday)- Women: Ellen Van Vugt, Netherlands, 187.1 miles. During the six hours, she also set a record of 35.6 mph for 100 miles. Men: Hans Wessels, Netherlands, 233.3 miles for six hours and 100 miles at 39.1 mph.
ARM POWER – During the mass start 1-hour race on Saturday, Greg Weslake from Canada set a record of 20.6 miles in his hand-cranked steamlined tricycle.
ELECTRATHON – Vehicles are powered by electric motors and limited to two car batteries totaling 67 pounds. C. Michael Lewis of Portland, Maine, set a record Sunday of 62.1 miles in an hour on Sunday, breaking the record he set last year of 58 miles. (Michael also did the artwork for the Speed Challenge T-shirts and other things.)

Some non-record performances of note:
Damjan Zabovnik of Slovenia in his head-first, feet-last Eivie streamliner (he sees through a mirror) lost his one-hour record to Sam Whittingham, but did have the top speed in the 200-meter sprints on Saturday, 66.2 mph. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing too fast for that to be a record. He was the only one of the world-class competitors to run in the sprints. Second fastest was Sean Costin of Arlington Heights, Ill., on his NoCom, 44 mph. Sean also had fast time for the standing start quarter-mile, 28.24 seconds, but the wind speed was high for that to be a record.
Rick Gritters of Pella, Iowa, in his homebuilt streamliner, won the one-hour mass start road race on Saturday at a speed of 39.5 mph.
Despite rain on Friday evening and on Saturday, we got all the scheduled events in except for the tricycle race planned for Sunday, though finding space to conduct it would have been a problem. Some of the 1-hour record runs had to be postponed until Saturday or Sunday. A planned coast-down event was cancelled prior to the start of the Challenge because of lack of time. To much to do, too little time.

ROBERT TEREGAN and stoker Merlin Elsner, both of Warren, rode the entire six hours Sunday on Bob's Rans Screamer. They rode 19 laps for a total of 95 miles.

JOHN MORCIGLIO of Waterford raced his latest carbon fiber creation at the Speed Challenge. In the one-hour mass start race, he rode 25.2 miles. He also makes carbon fiber bikes for customers. ( or call 248-499-9915)

TEDD WHEELER of Reed City in his Aleweder velomobile pedaled 23.3 miles in Saturday's mass start event and in Sunday's 6-hour, rode 65 miles in 3 hours and 4 minutes, for an average speed of 21.1 mph.

Here's some comments from MHPVA President Mike Mowett (with editing by Mike E.), who had the idea for and organized the Speed Challenge. Working as an engineer for Ford gave him access to the officials who had to approve the event:

I want to thank everyone who worked to make this event a success. Without an incredible amount of dedication and efforts on the part of many people, this event couldn't have been the success it was.
I cannot believe that an idea I pitched to my management at Ford 10 months ago, just before many of us left to attend the World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain, Nev., would turn into a major international event where 13 records for human powered and Electrathon vehicles were bettered (some twice!). Eleven records in all were set for human power by the end of the weekend and numerous people did their personal bests. Final records are subject to review by the International HPV Association Records Committee.

WALLY KIEHLER (in front) of Grosse Pointe Woods and Bob Krezewinski of Ypsilanti rode their Lightning R-40s during the 6-hour event on Sunday, but started late and no times were recorded. During the mass start 1-hour on Saturday, Wally averaged 22.3 mph.

This event was a success because we had a core group of people who stepped up when needed. All the past races and big events gave many people experience in running things at the Michigan HP Speed Challenge. An incredible amount of work went into this event before, during and afterwards. There was countless e-mails, phone calls and meetings held to make this event a reality.
There are dozens of individuals I'd like to thank, who were invaluable in making this event a reality, including:
PLANNING COMMITTEE – Bill Frey, Mike Eliasohn, Mike Mowett, Sean Costin, Al and Alice Krause, C. Michael Lewis, Garrie Hill, Don Smith.
TIMING and RECORDS MEASUREMENT – Paul Pancella, Garrie Hill, Jun Nogami, Jim Karnes, Luke Gilbert, Warren Beauchamp,
Scott Wilson, Mike Mowett.
SUPER VOLUNTEERS – Tedd, Donna and Trent Wheeler; Brian Martin; Charlie Doran Jr.; Chris and Dora Cortez; and many others, including the names above.
T-SHIRTS – C. Michael Lewis (design) and Mike Eliasohn (sales).
WEB PAGE – Warren Beauchamp.
FORD STAFF – Mark Mikolaiczik, Michigan Proving Grounds manager; Kevin Halsted, MPG external customer manager; Rick Willemsen, section supervisor; Vickie Jaje, MPG supervisor; Bill Gipperich, MPG test coordinator; Mark Hockenberry, Ford manager; Jim Downs, Ford supervisor; Sharon Vostal, Christina Mullins, and Oscar Monroy, Ford employees; and the staff and security people at the proving grounds.
Without Sean Costin and Garrie Hill stepping up to the plate to run the events, we would not have had a successful event.
There are no immediate plans to have this event again year. I do not think it would be feasible financially to hold it year after year. Like the Olympics, a record setting event is good every few years or so.
Next year, the Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Association likely will again conduct the Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Rally – the 26th annual – at the 1.4-mile Waterford Hills race track.
The Michigan Human Powered Speed Challenge was the second major event conducted by the MHPVA, the first being the the International Human Powered Speed Championships in 1989 at the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway. I am proud to have been a participant at the first in 1989, which got me very inspired to be a part of the HPV movement, and now
as a race organizer 20 years later.

BILL FREY of Grosse Pointe Farms took time out from his extensive volunteer activities at the Challenge to ride his Easy Racer Fold Rush with homemade tailbox during part of the 6-hour. He rode five laps (25 miles) at an average speed of 16.1 mph.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bryant Tucker 100 - Northbrook, Ill., June 13, 2009

Photos and captions by Mike Eliasohn

THE RACES AT NORTHBROOK and the next day in Kenosha, Wis., were both on velodromes, so Tedd Wheeler of Reed City raced his Bianchi fixed gear track bike. In the stock class at Northbrook, he finished 9th in the 50-lap race at an average speed of 20.6 mph; in the 200-meter time trial, 5th at 29.02 mph.

AT THE MHPVA WINTER MEETING in February, John Morciglio of Waterford showed the carbon fiber low racer he custom built for Alan Arial of Illinois. Here's Alan on the bike at Northbrook. In the 50-lap stock class race, he finished third at an average speed of 25.21 mph.

MHPVA PRESIDENT MIKE MOWETT, no longer "upright Mike," on his Baron. In the stock class at Northbrook, he finished fourth in the 50-lap race at 24.74 mph and in the 200 meters, 31.82 mph. Mike, next time, for safety's sake, helmet straight on your head, not tilted back.

TWO VIEWS of the leaning tricycle built and raced by Tim Hicks of Barrie, Ontario. He won the 20-lap tricycle race at an average speed of 23.54 mph, and again on Sunday in Kenosha. For more information on his very innovative trike, go to his Web, then click on "BlackMax."

AFTER Tim Hicks won both tricycle races at the HPRA races in Indiana April 25-26, Dennis Grelk of Donnellson, Iowa, built his own leaning trike. The rear axle assembly, with drum brakes (Tim uses disk brakes) bolts onto one of Dennis' home-built front-wheel-drive low racers. He finished fourth at Northbrook, switched the axle to a different bike for Sunday, then finished second at Kenosha.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Three homebuilts from Zeeland

JERRY MEYAARD'S first EZ Clone, which is his personal bike. He also made the seat.

By MIKE ELIASOHN (photos by Jerry Meyaard)

When Jerry Meyaard showed up at work riding his homebuilt recumbent bicycle, two of his co-workers wanted one.
So he recently completed building bike No. 3, with plans for No. 4.
The Zeeland resident said he first got interested in recumbents about 11 to 12 years ago when a neighbor won a Linear in a raffle. (Linears were/are manufactured aluminum frame long wheelbase recumbents, most with under-seat steering.) Meyaard bought the bike from the neighbor, but, “I just wasn't comfortable.”
After that, he said, he thought about building a recumbent with above-seat steering and looked for plans. In the summer of 2008 he finally found what he wanted on the Internet,, which has two designs similar to the manufactured Tour Easy. The plans are free.
The first three bikes are EZ Clones, which are made (mostly) from two cut-up steel frame road bikes. Jerry said plans to make No. 4 using the more complex Mach 2 design, which uses one cut-up frame.
The EZ Clone design gives a choice of using a 16- or 20-inch front wheel. Meyaard has used 16-inchers. The Mach 2 requires a 20-inch front wheel. Both designs use a 26-inch or 27-inch/700c back wheel.
His next recumbent may have a disk brake in the rear. “I do think it could use a better brake (than a caliper),” he said.
Jerry's first EZ Clone was welded by his nephew, Keith Brown, builder of the Bike-N-Bar (see story below) and son of Kelvin Brown, who now owns the previously mentioned Linear. Jerry's brother-in-law, Ken Breuker, has welded the bikes built since then.
Meyaard, 60, said he weighs 270 pounds, so his Clone obviously is strong.
When he pedaled his creation to his job at Zeeland Wood Turning Works Inc., two co-workers wanted copies. So bike No. 2 and 3 went to the co-workers. Jerry said after he builds bike No. 4, he plans to sell his first bike.

THE SECOND EZ-CLONE, built for a co-worker, who bought a seat used on Sun EZ recumbents. The seats can be purchased without having to buy a whole bike.

He said he used a grinder at work to grind some metal pieces to fit. Last Christmas, he got a Sawzall reciprocating electric saw and a hand held grinder, both handy for recumbent building.
Incidentally, don't look for Meyaard to eventually try building a wood recumbent. “When I get home, I don't want anything to do with sawdust,” he said.
In addition to riding his creation 1 mile to work, Jerry said he also likes to go on early Sunday morning rides.
One attraction of building recumbents: “People ask you if you made that,” he said. “It gives you a good feeling.”

THE THIRD EZ-CLONE, also built for a co-worker, and with a different homemade seat.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ride and imbibe

KEITH BROWN (left), with his father, Kelvin, and his Bike-N-Bar, powered by four riders on each side. There's five seats on each side, but there wasn't space to install a crank for the rearmost passengers.


Some cyclists like to have a beer after their ride.
Keith Brown's Bike-N-Bar enables cyclists to have a beer (or non-alcoholic beverage) while they're pedaling. And they don't even have to worry about steering straight.
The Holland resident's creation has 10 seats, eight of which include pedals.
The chains from the eight cranksets run to a driveshaft that runs to a differential/rear axle from a Ford pickup.
The driver is “behind the bar,” so to speak, so doesn't pedal. There's usually also a bartender there.
“I built it in my parents' garage,” Brown said prior to the Bike-N-Bar, powered by family members and relatives, taking part in the Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor on May 2. Construction took about a year, finishing in April 2008. His father, Kelvin Brown, helped.
Keith's sole “blueprint” was a photo off the Internet of a similar creation in Amsterdam in the Netherlands (as opposed to Holland in Michigan.). After that, “I started guessing.”
The only bicycle parts are the one-piece steel cranks, chains and freewheels, all purchased new. There's a freewheel on the driveshaft for each crank, so each pedaler can stop pedaling. The chains on the left side are twisted into a figure-8 so people on the left side of bar can still pedal in a forward motion.
Brown made all of the front end components except the rack and pinion steering, which is from a Ford Mustang II.
There's an adjustable tensioner for each chain and the position is adjustable for each seat. Brown made chainguards from plywood for each chain. The upholstered seats are shaped like bicycle saddles, but were custom made for the Nike-N-Bar.

EACH OF the eight cranks run to this driveshaft, which connects via a universal joint to the rear axle/differential from a Ford pickup truck. The only brake is this disk brake is from a Honda motorcycle.

The frame is made from 1-1/2 by 4-inch rectangular steel tubing. The wheels and tires are automobile “emergency spares.”
The sole brake consists of a disk brake from a Honda motorcycle mounted on the driveshaft. Crossing the St. Joseph River from St. Joseph into Benton Harbor means going downhill, then up over the bridge, then downhill again. Despite that and 12 people on board, Brown said, “the brake held great” and they got up the hills okay.
A marine deep cycle battery powers headlights, taillights and lights under the canopy.
Brown guesses his creation weighs at least 600 pounds.
In addition to parades, the Bike-N-Bar is available for rent and Brown has had it at weddings, parties, 50th birthday parties and other events. If interested, e-mail or call 616-405-6779.
Brown, 24, does engineering work and maintenance at Agritek Industries in Holland, which is letting him use its facilities for his new project. He's building a motorcycle three-wheeler, with the two wheels in front and power from a 900cc Honda motorcycle engine.

THE BIKE-N-BAR, with 12 people on board, in the May 2 Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade in downtown St. Joseph (shown) and Benton Harbor.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MHPVA annual meeting - Feb. 21, 2009

JOHN MORCIGLIO of Waterford brought two carbon fiber low racers he built. He's climbing on (or laying down on) a bike he built for Illinois HPV racer Alan Arial. He built the bike he is holding for his wife, still missing some key parts, but as of the meeting, it was for sale. It's not as low as Arial's bike. John built his first bike in February 2008. "Hopefully I can keep on building bikes for a living," he said. John also makes disk wheel covers, forks and handlebars. If interested, go to or call 248-499-9915.

By MIKE ELIASOHN, vice president

Despite terrible driving conditions, 15 people were brave enough (or foolish enough) to come to the Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Association annual meeting Feb. 21 in Erickson Kiva on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing.
Prior to the start of the meeting, Tim Potter, coordinator of the MSU Bikes program, gave a tour of the program's shop in nearby Bessey Hall. ( Our thanks to Tim for arranging use of the meeting room.
There was extensive discussion of the Ford Human Powered Speed Challenge, to be conducted by the MHPVA July 17-19 on the 5-mile oval at the Ford Motor Co. proving grounds near Romeo, instead of our usual Michigan HPV Rally at the Waterford Hills sports car racing track. Webmaster Warren Beauchamp has created a special Web site for the event, so all information about the event is/will be posted there:
All officers were reelected: President: Mike Mowett, St. Clair Shores; vice-president, Mike Eliasohn, St. Joseph; secretary, Paul Pancella, Kalamazoo; treasurer, Bill Frey, Grosse Pointe Farms; and directors-at-large, Paul Bruneau, Portage; and Don Smith, Sterling Heights.

PRIOR to the start of the annual meeting, MSU Bikes coordinator Tim Potter (center), gave a tour of the program's shop. Reconditioned bikes are available for sale or rent, parts are for sale and repairs made. Donation of bikes and parts is welcomed. (

WALLY KIEHLER of Grosse Pointe Woods brought his new carbon fiber Lightning R84. Weight, once the the chain and cables were installed, is under 25 pounds. As of the meeting, Wally was debating whether to transfer the full fairing from his Lightning F40 to the R84. Catrike Speed in the background belongs to Chris Evans.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Big Moe's bikes – the last chapter (for now)

OrangeAppeal after Dave replaced the ape hanger handlebars with remote link steering and made other changes.

By DAVID MOELLER, Linden, Mich.

At the end of the last installment, we left Big Moe contemplating how to progress with his all wood "DragonWood" creation. While waiting for parts, etc., I ended up reworking my last project, "OrangeAppeal."
Originally, I had used ape hanger handlebars and although the looked kinda neat, they were not real practical. I moved the handlebars back on the frame and connected them to the front steering post with a connecting rod.
I replaced the rear cassette with a 7-speed internal hub and installed a front shifter, so I now have 21 speeds. A slight adjustment to the seat helped. I also made custom walnut handlebar grips.


DragonWood has a main frame made from a standard 2X8-inch plank. After cutting and joining (using Titebond yellow glue) to get the profile, there are join lines in various places. To insure sufficient strength, I felt I should add a outer lamination. I planed ash boards down to a half-inch and screwed them in place.
I intended to put lightening holes in several places, but reconsidered. Because of my X-seam (nominally 48 inches) and weight (300 pounds), I didn't want to gamble with structural failure.
Yes it is heavy. Originally I wanted a low racer but as things progressed I went with the dragon theme and opted to make a parade/fun ride vehicle. I can't wait to ride in a parade with other members of the Michigan Freak Bike Militia.
The fishbone seat back is very comfortable. I contoured it to fit my back and the openness will help keep my back cool. The custom made ash grips feel great. The dragon's eyes are multi-flashing lamps.
There's a six cog cassette on the rear. No shifter in front, but by using a derailleur tightener I can move the chain manually
on the front rings.
The length is 8 feet, 10 inches. (Editor: Part of the reason for the length is Dave is 6-foot-5.) Obviously not a speed bike. But
I don't know what I'm gonna do next. My list is down to three "next ones". Ride on!

THE LATEST FROM DAVE: Believe it or not, I've already torn down the OrangeAppeal. I'm trading the frame to a friend. I'm using all the parts on a long wheelbase racer. (A generic term considering my age and weight.) Lower and I hope faster than OrangeAppeal, which just didn't fit me right.
The racer is painted and awaits cables. It sits very well, much better than the OrangeAppeal, and is very low. I custom fit the seat back to fit my lower back. The frame is 1x2-inch steel tube. Again, very long, around 9 feet to fit me. As light as I can build it using street bike components and steel.
The ideas keep coming. I'm at the point where I have to replace something when I build cause I've got no more storage space.

Dave plans to bring the DragonWood, his new low racer, and if he can get it in or on his van, one of his trikes, to the Ann Arbor Classic Bicycle Show Sunday, April 26. (Worth attending by any bicycle "junkie." For more information:

DragonWood's eyes are multi-flashing lights.

Builder Dave Moeller says the fishbone seat back, contoured to fit his back, is very comfortable.

Dave Moeller is now making custom wood grips. These on the DragonWood are ash. He's made a dozen sets, which he's planning to sell at the Freak Bike Militia booth at the Ann Arbor Classic Bicycle Show April 26.