Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Northbrook, Ill., HPV races - July 10, 2010

Brian Stevens of Grand Rapids, shown here on his Lightning M5, was one of three Michiganians competing in the HPV velodrome races July 10 in Northbrook, Ill., and July 11 in Kenosha, Wis. The others were Tedd Wheeler of Reed City and MHPVA President Mike Mowett of St. Clair Shores. (For results and lots of photos and videos, go to www.recumbents.com/wisil/racing2010.)
Brian started riding recumbents four years ago, beginning with a short wheelbase Vision, found about the HPR-A race series on online recumbent forums and competed for the first time in North Manchester, Ind., in August 2009, on his Easy Racers Gold Rush. He then participated in the HPV races in Florida in February and the Michigan HPV Rally in June.
"I saw how competitive the stock class was," he said, so he decided to buy the used M5 for racing, which he first raced in Florida.
Brian still uses his Gold Rush for commuting 18 miles to his job as a lab technician at Amway in Ada. He leaves home at 6 a.m. in order to be at work by 7:30. He commutes on his Gold Rush year-from early spring to late fall.
In the stock class at Northbrook, Brian was fifth in the 200 meter flying start at 32.97 mph and in the 50-lap race, he finished 11th, completing 42 laps at an average speed of 23.82 mph.
"I'm definitely having a lot of fun," he said about his HPV racing.

Steve Jacobson of Evanston, Ill., said he's hoping to turn making folding recumbent bicycles from a hobby into a business. Since building his first one in 1980, he has sold eight. "I'd like to be selling eight a month."
There's a hinge in front of the head tube, so the forward part of the frame folds back after the seat is removed. The rear triangle folds under after the pin is removed that connects it to the rear shock. With the wheels removed, the folded bike can be put inside a large suitcase.
The frame is made of stainless steel because Steve commutes to work at Northwestern University year-round, so doesn't want to worry about it rusting. (His job is teaching freshmen engineering students on how to build prototypes of whatever they design.) The high seating position is partly due to the suspension and partly so the rider easily can be seen in traffic.
Steve made the molds for 11 frame parts, including the hinge, dropouts and head tube, which are manufactured using a process called investment casting.
The wheels are 20-inch (406mm). The bike weighs about 31 pounds, but by re-doing the molds to result in lighter castings, "I think I can take four to five pounds out of it," he said.
Jacobson sold his last bike for $2,500, but a higher price is likely in the future because of the extensive amount of labor involved. For more information, go to his website, www.jacorecumbents.com.

Todd Beary of Naperville, Ill., starting building recumbents in 1987-88, when he was in high school. He built his latest, which he raced at Northbrook, when living in California. He built it on his apartment patio using a MAPP gas torch to do the brazing.
The frame is made of new chromoly tubing and some tubing from old bicycle frames, with a front fork supporting the undriven rear wheel.
The wheels are large-size 20-inch (451mm). A triple crank runs to four sprockets at the top of the front wheel for a total of 12 speeds The gearing will allow a potential 70 mph. Todd didn't know the weight or wheelbase. The wood bulkhead eventually will support a fairing.
Todd said he built the bike "to go as fast as I can." In the stock class at Northbrook, he finished 10th in the 200 meter flying start at 26.31 mph and in the 50-lap race, he finished 12th, completing 39 laps at an average speed of 22.28 mph. "Today is the fastest I have ever ridden it," he said.

MIKE MOWETT on his Cervelo (the upright bike) finished second in the superstreet class in the 100-lap at Northbrook, completing 71 laps at an average speed of 25.19 mph. (The race ends when the fastest vehicle, regardless of class, completes 100 laps.) In the flying start 200 meters, he finished first in class at 34.74 mph. The superstreet class allows added streamlining, but with some restrictions, such as the rider's head must be exposed.

Text and photos by Mike Eliasohn

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Terry Gerweck visits the dark side

Photos by Terry Gerweck

THIS BEAUTIFUL wood stretch cruiser uses a hood ornament from a 1950s Chevrolet BelAire as the centerpiece on the handlebars.

Terry Gerweck's interest, or renewed interest, in freak bikes started with Dave Moeller, builder of the Dragonwood and other interesting cycles, inviting Jim "Chainsaw" Johnson of Holly, president of the Great Lakes chapter of the FreakBike Militia, to this year's Michigan HPV Rally.
Jim came Saturday, had such a good time that he returned on Sunday with his wife, Dora "Giggles," and his latest creation, which Paul Pancella rode as the pace bike for one of the Sunday morning road races.
That got the wheels in Terry's head turning -- what he could do with some of the junk bikes in his garage -- so he visited two freak bike gatherings.
Here's Terry's reports:
Made a road trip June 26 to Ionia for the FreakBike Palooza. I've messed with choppers before, so it wasn't any stretch to be interested.
For one reason or another I never seem to get involved with people with "normal" interests. Wonder why that is?

It was hotter than hell and mostly folks just sat around and discussed the finer points of building choppers and other weird and different kinds of bicycles. Other than the typical configuration (if there is a typical configuration), these bikes aren't that far removed from what we run at Waterford. The "freak bikes" may attract a few more younger participants.
These folks are just as serious about their bikes as the HPVers, but the focus is fun, not speed. Pedaling efficiency and aerodynamics don't even register on their priority lists and here there was nothing wrong with a 75-pound bicycle!
All that said, my new 'bent would not have been out of place here. I rode the motorcycle today and didn't want to haul the trailer 300 miles or I would have brought the 'bent along.
And yeah, if he doesn't reclaim it, the Huffy a guy from work gave me is destined to be "converted" into "all it can be."

Mary (Terry's wife) and I celebrated Independence Day on Saturday, July 3, by attending the Fourth of July Freak Out in Fowlerville. Yeah, I know that's two freak bike events in two weeks. Just think of it as research.
In reality, this isn't my first venture into the realm of custom bikes, but it may well be my deepest trip yet. It seems I now have dual citizenship, MHPVA and the "Freak Bike Nation."

DOING THE FREAKBIKE LIMBO at the Fowlerville event. A rider on a low racer from HPV circles could win this event easily, but maybe that would be considered cheating.

The "Freak Out" was a bit more involved than the event in Ionia. Activities included a bike show with more than 45 bikes shown, including my new 'bent and my old chopper that I dug out of the back of the garage and cleaned off two years of accumulated dirt and crud. There was a potluck barbecue, a freak bike ride in the Fowlerville Fourth of July parade and fireworks at dusk.

Dora "Giggles" Johnson built this bike, including the welding. The side away from the camera is painted red, hence the name of her bike, "Split Personality."

Mike Eliasohn looking foolish sits on Jim "Chainsaw" Johnson's freakbike at the Michigan HPV Rally on June 13. Johnson, at right, cut up several bicycle frames, plus other stuff to build his creation . Paul Pancella, who took the photo, used this bike to pace one of the Sunday morning road races.

The bike show, while foreign to me, was run just like the local car shows I've seen. Bikes were displayed and judged, with the owners sitting around BS'ing with each other and spectators. I have little understanding of the judging or the different classes.
I found it interesting that my 'bent got little attention, but the chopper was deemed pretty cool. In a past post, we (Terry and Mike Eliasohn) talked about the use of gears and making these bike easier/more efficient to pedal. That does happen with some of the bikes. Derailleurs and internal-geared hubs are used by some, but aesthetics, simple clean chainlines, and artistic ideas and interpretation are more important on their bikes, which will seldom see everyday use (like the chopper I dug
out of the garage).
Along those lines, my next build/HPV will be more freak bike than efficient recumbent.
Oh yeah, my chopper won a best-in-class award. (No, I don't know what class and I'm not sure what they saw in it!!!)

The website for the FreakBike Militia - Great Lakes is www.fbmgreatlakes.com.

TERRY'S award winning chopper

OUCH! This bike was built for a bicycle build-off competition. The seatpost was made from an ax, a pitchfork became the seat, hedgeclippers became the handlebars and other "sharp pointy things" also were used in its construction.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

M. Jensen Didulo's tilting tricycle

M. JENSEN DIDULO on his tiling trike, Magic V2.0, during the Michigan HPV Rally.

M. Jensen Didulo of London, Ontario, had his not-quite-finished tilting tricycle, the Magic V2.0, at the Michigan Human Powered Speed Challenge in July 2009, then had it at the Michigan HPV Rally June 12-13, 2010, in finished form. At home, he uses it as his around-town commuter.

Here's what Jensen wrote following the rally in an online discussion about tilting tricycles in the "homebuilders" section on the
bentrideroneline.com site. (Some editing was done by the blog editor.)
In it's current form, the Magic V2.0 has one advantage vs. a bicycle -- its cornering capability. For practical reasons, rather than theoretical), two rear wheels have a little better grip than one and that little extra is enough for the trike to out-corner everything except other tilting trikes.
That said, many tilting trike designers add some kind of zero-speed stability, either with some kind of self-righting mechanism or a tilt lock. I plan to do this also, but have been working on a much lighter mechanism than the typical disk-brake types, or one that engages in more positions than the locking pin type. (Editor: That is, the rider has to
balance as if he was riding a two-wheeler; there's no mechanism to keep it erect when moving, or when stopped. Jensen informed me later that rather than add such a mechanism to his existing trike, he may build a new trike.)
With a tilt lock, a tilting trike has all the static advantages of other three-wheelers, while keeping their cornering advantage over two-wheelers.
The main reason for the development of many more delta tilters (two wheels in the rear) vs. tadpole types (two wheels in the front) has to do with aerodynamics. No matter how sophisticated the design, a tadpole tilter will still have a larger frontal area, whereas a delta tilter can be designed to hide the rear wheels within the wind shadow of the rider.
The reason for all the parallelogram tilters is that they can be any rear track width. No matter the lean angle, the center of mass remains within the footprint area of the three tires and no rollover condition exists. In the case of a simple tilter like the Magic, the pivot height cannot exceed half the rear track width or you can have a rollover condition with high lateral G force. The only reason my tilter has such a narrow track is that the pivot is about 5 inches from the ground. Most single-pivot designs have the pivot at axle height, forcing a track width at least 20 inches.

THE LOW PIVOT POINT, only about 5 inches from the ground, enables the wheels to be only about 14 inches apart. The result, as Jensen demonstrates, is that he can lean to an extreme degree when cornering.

Some specifications:
Main frame: 1 ix 2 in. mild steel
Wheelbase: Approx 42 in.
Gear ratios: 60/52/42 x 7-speed 28-14.
Tilt mechanism: Modified horizontal single pivot based on Magic-type originally designed by Paul Smith. Pivot approximately 5 inches from ground.
Rear track: Approx 14 inches wide, fully adjustable
Rear toe: Parallel fully adjustable
Other: Self-equalizing rear brakes (no brake steer)

Jensen can be contacted at purplepeopledesign@gmail.com.

For a view of two other tilting trikes, scroll down to "Bryant Tucker 100 - June 13, 2009."