Fred's bike use and plans

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 The general format of images is images on left margin with "narrow" column of description on
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I've used a bicycle as transportation all my adult life.  I've never had a car that I used on a
daily basis.  I have usually had access to and used a car for transportation for trips that a
bike or public transportation would not serve well. My wife has a car that she uses daily tho I
sometimes use it when a bike is not practical. We often use it when we make a trip together.
Instead of a second car in my family, I use bicycles.

I often bike one leg of a trip and make one leg of the trip with her with my bike in the rack
on top of the car. We often use ham radio to coordinate such trips. Sometimes I take my bike on
public transit. The Twin Cities buses now all have racks on the front that fold down for two
bikes.  The Light Rail Transit cars also have bike racks. (As of 3/06 we have one LRT line from
downtown to the airport and the megamall.) "Multimodal" use can considerably extend the useable
range of bicycles.

I ride my bike whenever the distance and conditions are favorable which is quite often, even
here in Minnesota and even in the winter sometimes (2005-2006 for example). Usually it is if I
am going alone and not too far, up to about 6 miles typically unless a multimodal option is
available. Weather is also a factor.  I will ride if the temperature is 20 degrees F. or above
and the streets are relatively dry and free of ice and snow. Sometimes I'll stretch these
criteria - for shorter distances, special needs, if it will warm up later etc.

Over the years I've ridden many different bikes.  I've seldom bought new bikes. In this
affluent society many people buy bicycles and don't use them for long. Often the don't treat
them well or maintain them or they move on to something else. As a result there are many used
bikes around that are useable or fixable.  Sometimes these bikes are sold at yard sales and
such or simply discarded. This is the kind of bike I typically ride.  At any one time I have
one or more of these in rideable condition as well as others that could be fixed.  The bikes I
use generally have 26"-27" wheels, some mountain bikes, usually have a deraileur for multiple
(10+) gears and are upright conventional bikes.

As of about 2006 when this was written...
I've long had an interest in recumbent bikes ("bents" ) tho I have never purchased or built
one. Here's a good overview of Recumbent bicycles at Wikipedia. There is an active group
here - MNHPVA ( MN Human Powered Vehicle Association ) of people who build recumbent bikes.
As I get older recumbents look more attractive. I have over the years ridden various recumbents
for test rides and pondered what design would serve me best.

Since bents are much less available used, building a bike is a main alternative for a lower
cost. Building a bike also allows one to try various designs and features.  I long ago took a
welding class with MNHPVA but have never gotten set up to do any building.

One main design criteria for me is that the bike be transportable easily on our car, buses and
LRT trains. This means that the wheelbase must be similar to conventional bicycles (about 40"
between axles).  Most "short wheel base" (SWB) "bents" meet this requirement.  What follows are
pictures of bike from which I'd like to borrow features.  March 2006
Update 2012


Burley Canto recumbent bike

 In the summer of 2005 I considered buying
 this used Burley Canto recumbent bike.
 I took it on two long test rides on nearby
 Minneapolis bikeways. I also tried putting
 it on our car's bike rack which would work
 with a little adaption. I also tried it on
 a bus bike rack which worked as is.

 It has an interesting feature NOT shown in
 this picture.  There is a second headset
 in front of the cranks so that it can be
 set up as a long wheel base (LWB) bent.



stealth bent
 This "Stealth" bike has
 a straighter frame that
 I find useful (see
 below), a full size rear
 wheel and a small (20"
 or 16" (?) front wheel)
 which is useful for my



Hornet bent
 The "Hornet"
 (from page 34 of
 the book _The
 Recumbent Bicycle_
 by Gunnar Fehlau)
 has a straight
 frame and under
 seat steering
 which I find
 This bike is
 fully suspended -
 above the forks
 which takes some
 space and the
 rear triangle is
 pivoted and sprung.


Bacchetta Aero:

Bacchetta Aero

 Another straight frame
 tho the larger front
 wheel comes too close
 to the pedals/feet for
 street use (this is a
 racer)  Note the lack of
 suspension and the seat.

 From page 85
 of the book
 _The Recumbent Bicycle_
 by Gunnar Fehlau


Shaft drive bike:

Shaft drive bike
 Tho not a recumbent, this bike
 made by Dynamic Bikes has a
 shaft drive which is very
 attractive for it's durability
 and low maintenance.

 This is the reason for the
 preference for a straight frame.

 The 3/8" drive is in the ~7/8"
 silver aluminum tube with lettering
 that goes straight back from the
 cranks parallel to the frame

 The gear ratio of the shaft is
 fixed so a 7 or 8 speed rear hub
 is used.


Fred's bike plan

Below is a sketch of Fred's current thinking for a design for a bike that meets my design
criteria.  It has not been built tho I would like to.  A lot of development work is needed yet.
Comments welcome.

Straight frame, shaft drive swb Bent
o straight, wide frame (red)
  see detail below
o "short" wheelbase - comparable
  to conventional adult bike (~40")
o ~27" rear wheel
o 16-20" front wheel
o under seat steering (purple)
o shaft drive (parallel
  to the frame - green )
o No spring suspension of
o seat support subframe (blue)
  adjusts fore / aft
o 7 or 8 speed  rear hub


The shaft drive would complicate / prevent moving the cranks fore/aft to adjust for rider size
as is commonly done on SWB bents. Instead I'd have the seat (actually the whole seat support
subframe) slide on the frame to adjust for rider size with the position for me ( 5'-10" ) be
close to the rear wheel. The subframe would be clamped very securely to the main frame with
sizeable bolts. The sliding seat is common on long wheel base recumbents. Hopefully this
combined with the smaller front wheel would allow the cranks to be not too far forward of the
front of the front wheel and still have good clearance.

Shaft drive would also complicate suspension of the wheels so I would not suspend them. Instead
the seat would have springs.

I'd like to have a seat back that folds down to reduce wind resistance when on top of the car.
On the other hand I 'd like to try a "hard shell" seat as on the Bachetta.  Maybe with the seat
bottom similar to the Canto.

Note that using the shaft drive depends on getting access to this technology. If that proves
impossible, a fixed gear chain could be used. Hopefully it could be totally enclosed.

Fred's bike plan - vertical view

Looking down on Fred's plan

o Wide frame (red) made
  of two   parallel
  .75" x 1.5"
  rectangular tubes
o Two sides of frame tied
  together at cranks, head
  tube and by "X" under seat
o Extends behind seat to
  support rear wheel
o Unlike this illustration
  tubes will bend closer together
  starting just behind the front


o Under seat steering (purple)     o seat support subframe (blue)
o Tie rods to front wheel            (shown separately for clarity)
  (also purple) on both sides      o dashed line is top of triangle.
  (for added reliability)          o slides on red frame to adjust
                                     for rider size.
                                   o Gets very securely clamped
                                     to red frame.


Here is a another design proposed for a SWB bent with shaft drive: Susex bent

Ice-T trike:

ICE-T trike
My nephew, Brian has
recently gotten a
recumbent trike - a
"tadpole" (two wheels in
front), the ICE-T"

Trikes make up a
relatively high
proportion of
recumbents.  Their
stability and ease of
riding and comfort makes
them very attractive and
they are fun to ride.


But trikes completely fail my criteria of being able to be carried on fairly standard bike
racks. Note: the Ice-T website shows foldable or disassembled ICE-T - see animation on their
web site.  This would make it more easily transported but I don't think this is practical for
the length trips I make.

To get some of the stability of a trike, I would be interested in trying something having
sprung small ( 8"-12") wheels on outriggers mounted near the seat.  Sort of adult training
wheels. So far I've gotten skepticism from hpva builders but I continue to think it is worth
investigating. It would be helpful if they were foldable to some extent, maybe easily mounted /
removed and rideable in a stowed position.

I'm currently (3/06) thinking of having the main support for them be the top of the triangle of
the seat subframe with a second support near the lower rear of that triangle and pivot along
the side of the triangle.  Thus pulling them forward would bring them down into use and
pivoting them back would raise them and narrow the width. (no sketch currently available)

Some recumbents, especially trikes have a full fairing (enclosure) that makes them so much more
aerodynamic that they are much easier to propel. The fairing also makes them more suitable for
inclement weather.

Especially if the outriggers prove practical, I'd consider a full fairing.

Leitra trike
 The Leitra is a full faired
 tadpole trike made in Denmark,
 a "velomobile".

 Our friend Bruce, shown here
 went to Denmark to get his.
 He commutes in it here in
 Minnesota. His web page:
 Leitras in the New World

 The front wheels are 90cm apart.



Update 2012

The above was written in 2006.  Since then my interest in recumbents has continued.
In October 2009 I bought a used Sun EZ Speedster CX Recumbent Bike   Higher resolution    Fred on the Sun bent Nov 2009
which I learned of from the craigs list.

In June 2010 we bought a Terra Trike Rover recumbent tadpole trike.
This trike has a newer, simpler cheaper design than most tadpoles (about $1000).
The seat is higher about 15 inches, has disk front brakes (only) and a seven speed internal rear hub.

In April 2012 I got a Vision recumbent bike Vision Vision from front
The Vision weighs about 25 pounds, considerably less than the Sun. I like the under seat steering a lot tho that combined
with the small (16") front wheel does seem to make it prone to serious control problems at speed over very uneven road.

The Vision achieves many of my goals for a recumbent (see my design sketch above).  It does not
have an enclosed chain (or shaft drive). Note that our Rover Trike (unlike one pictured) has both long runs of chain in
silicone tubes.  If the gears were enclosed the could be completely protected from the weather.
This would considerably simplified by the lack of a derailleur

My friend who had the shaft drive bike found it to be too heavy and sluggish and
found that he seldom rode it.  The web site for the company that made it seems
to be a cybersquatting site now so they may have gone out of business.

This page maintained by Fred H. Olson   fholson at  March, 2006
Fred's Link page