07/01/2014

Recumbent: Design

So I'm going to build a recumbent bike for randonneuring and light weight touring. But what is the best bike for these purposes? Well, opinions differ as I found out. Riding brevets, I saw different types of bikes. On the web, I nearly found any information about it. OK. But what seems logical?

First of all, I thought about a hight racer. I like their big wheels of at least 26". Visibility in traffic is also good. Their designs aren't that complex. Examples of these are found at Bacchetta, Rans and Volae. They seem easy to build. An option would be the Atomic Zombie High Racer.

Picture: Atomic Zombie
Please note that companies like Challenge, M5, Nazca and Optima also produce fast and good quality high racers. However, they lack the straight design from their competitior's bikes.

But let's be honest. I already own an Optima Orca with dual 26"wheels. The differences between my current recumbent and a high racer aren't that big.

Any alternatives? What about a long wheelbase bike like as these are often used in races like RAAM. No, I'm not going that far. ;-) Because of their long wheelbase they're comfortable. Manufacturers like Easy Racers and Rans build these. Recycled Recumbents offers plans for free. They can also be faired as Lonnie Morse showed. Nice in bad wheater!

Picture: Lonnie Morse
But... these are looong! Sharp turns are already difficult with the Orca. And we have many of them in the Netherlands.

Another successful bike in RAAM and Paris-Brest-Paris is the Lightning P38 (unfaired) and F40 (faired).  These proved to be fast and the faired one provides also wheater protection. Another bike in this category is the Zweirad und Zukunft Horizont. Maybe I could built a Atomic Zombie Spirit. OK, I've noticed the differences... I could make a fairing myself: there are many examples around the web.

Picture: Atomic Zombie
So I bought the DIY plan. These are nice and very clear. I started measuring and prototyping with a dummy frame, a seat and a fairing. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a good seating position wherein I could see the road in front of me and pedal comfortabley. This wasn't acceptable for me. So the search went on. No bike with a front fairing for now. Tips are welcome!

What about a Flevo Racer or a Python lowracer? Both have simple designs. I like the steering concept of the Python. As it's very low, it could be fast. It could also be made divideable.

Picture: J├╝rgen
But I hesistated about the front wheel drive. Besides the Python is too low for me: I want to be visible in traffic.

Would there be a compromise between 'high' and 'low'? A concept with rear wheel drive and above steering as I like it? What about a medium (not so low) racer? There are many of them, for example by Challenge and Optima. A feasible solution would be the Atomic Zombie Tomahawk. I choose the 2x4 Lowracer.

Picture: James Robinson
In fact, I like having two identical wheels. James offers these too. However, I choose this design as this bike is lower and different from the Orca.

Next time more about the choice of materials.

PS: When writing about 'simple designs' and the like, I don't mean this projorative. I only wanted to make clear that there are several types of design.

Keep on cycling!

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