News and Events

Keep up to date with the latest news and events of Modular Bikes.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Big Al Ride Prologue

Route of the Big Al Ride, 117 k, mostly bikepaths. I know most of it but might do some reconnoitring of it during the week so I'm sure.  The near vertical part of the route on the left is what I know least.  
This was the first part of my bike prep.  The sewing on this panel wasn't very good so I removed the corner where a sewing join was and replaced it with a neater couple of pieces including a reflective strip.  Initial work making these is shown in the first photo here.

Cause of my latest seat issues.  12kg of cask wine.  These 4 litre casks cost $9-10.00 each and some bread that I buy is $6.00 a loaf. Anyway, I rolled (pushing not riding) the bike off a 200mm kerb with this lot on board and something went clunk.
This was the damage revealed next morning.  Pieces of timber parted ways top left and bottom right.
Part of the repair, a splint glued and screwed inside the tailbox.


I've signed up for another Audax, Big Al's Ride on April 28 which is about a week away.  Anyway its only about 120k, and I'll record all my training and bike fettling leading up to the ride here.  Sofar it has been a bit of one step forward, one step back, one step forward.  After fixing up and reattaching one of the side panels, my first trip was down to a discount wine seller for several weeks worth of wine.  The local shop (200m away) charges $15 for what is under $10 about 2k away, so the trip is worth it.  But the tailbox wouldn't hack some accidental abuse, so I spent some of today fixing (screwing and gluing) it up.  I'll report an any more rides as the official Audax ride gets closer.  Regards

Steve Nurse.

21 April 2018, Back on the Horse.

Carrying 10 bike racks.....

to the Wecycle shed in Northcote.

Hi.  After leaving the glue to dry on my trike for most of yesterday, it was back on the horse this morning.  I have been trying to tidy up my shed and so had picked up 10 unwanted (and obsolete technology!) bike racks for delivery to the Wecycle cycle shed.  The trike carried the racks just fine, and I spent a few pleasant hours repairing an MTB for Wecycle.  Might try some of the ride route for next week's Audax tomorrow.


Steve Nurse

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Changing the Fred Design

My trike (Fred) as it is now was used to estimate the weight supported by the front wheel of some variations. Measured weight on front wheel is 38.5 kg. 

This one has the bottom bracket placed in front of the fork inside the frame and the seat moved to maintain seat to pedal distance, but no other frame changes. Moving the bottom bracket might mean a V-brake would no longer fit behind the front fork.  A disk brake would make a good alternative. Calculated weight on front wheel is 44.7kg.

This version is the same as 2 but the rear frame is foreshortened. Calculated weight on front wheel is 38kg.

Changing the trike to a bike by swapping the 2 back wheels for 1 back wheel which increases the effective wheelbase.  The dotted (lower) back wheel is in a folded position which reduces the length. I based the rear wheel frame sketch on the recent, nicely built Python bike by Ingo Kollibay shown here. Calculated weight on front wheel is 42.9kg

A version of 4 with the bottom bracket and seat moved forward. Calculated weight on front wheel is 49.2kg, the highest weight recorded here.  If the rear wheel could fold, the stored bike becomes could become smaller than the trike versions. 

Forks reversed on current trike. Calculated weight on front wheel is 38.4 kg.

Spreadsheet used for calculation.


Its been a few weeks now since I attempted the Green Wedge Hills Audax ride which seriously challenged the hill climbing abilities of my trike because the front wheel slips on very steep hills.  So I got to thinking, what would improve the hill climbing of the Fred Trikes?  A chat with Simon Watt at the OzHPV Ford Proving Ground Records weekend spurred me on, he discussed moving the bottom bracket forward of the steering fork on the frame, something I hadn't contemplated recently but was in some early direct drive fwd bikes I made.

So what would help the trike climb hills? More weight on the front wheel would help, but thinking about it doesn't really solve anything, a little bit of research and calculation and putting things down on paper might shed a bit more light.

To start with, I weighed myself, then weighed myself and my trike, then weighed the front wheel when I was sitting on the trike with my feet on the pedals. Then the trike was drawn to scale and potential changes put into drawings. Its fairly easy to draw the changes as most of them involve sliding one or other feature up and down the frame - which only consists of Aluminium RHS - so implementing the changes would not be out of reach either. And my earliest working Fred trikes like this one used 2 x 4 timber as the frame, so altering or experimenting with that wouldn't be super-hard either.

  The drawings estimated the position of the centre of gravity (CG) from the front wheel centre by assuming the CG remains 850mm behind the pedals as per my initial weigh-in and calcs.  This treats the bike and rider CG as being in the same spot which is an approximation, but a reasonable one as I weigh 5 times as much as the trike. And yes, I know, all the forces on the bike wheels should be written down in Newton, not kg, but most of us understand kg, and by putting things in Newton would be more correct but less comprehensible.

And the results? Converting the trike to a bike by using a rear wheel suspension frame like this one built by Ingo Kollibay, and moving the bottom bracket forward would put the most weight on the front wheel (Pic5) .  If the rear wheel frame could be folded, then the size of the cycle would be reduced.  There would be some secondary effects I haven't mentioned here.  For example moving the BB forward of the fork would shorten the steerer, making for more turning for a given sideways tiller handlebar movement.

Regards Steve Nurse

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Aki's Barbecue 2018

Hi, A few weeks ago, my wife Christine and I went over to the park near Aki's place for a barbecue.  I had been there same place, same time, different year, last year when he had students from the hostel where he works over.  This year it was a bit quieter, and Aki didn't bring out quite so many of his bikes, but he did drag out some of his skatebikes recently purchased for $10.00 each. Anyway, George and Graham came along, and we all brought our own bikes to try, and Aki had his "previously unrideable" Flevobike which he is now coming to terms with.  Anyway, things went well but at one stage I fell off the Flevo in a fairly undignified way, bending my leg backwards and banging my head.

After lunch (sausages on sticks, barbecued sliced pumpkin, cheese and biscuits) we all went to the nearby basketball courts, had a few races on the skatebikes and tried out George's vintage Linear and Graham's Xtreme, as well as demonstrating the nifty 2 speed automatic gearbox on my Peugeot.  Aki tried on my helmet and was impressed by the mirror function. 

I still had one of the original mirror helmets I'd made at home, I am the world's worst salesman for my own inventions, but the helmet mirror has now reached some sort of tipping point as I donated the original helmet and a few spare mirrors to Aki and there are now 2 users on the planet. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Just didn't see you, mate!

Abbotsford Cycles logo from t-shirt on panelling

Both panels

Setting up to cut by draping the cloth over the corflute base.

Finished bike, leftt hand side with Abbotsford Cycle graphic. The panels are quite a good colour match for the 3d printed light mount and plug which are at each end of the frame. 

Right Hand Side.

Reflective armband which used to be part of the t-shirt sleeve was slipped over the corflute panel.  Here is the part which is inside the tailbox. 

Last step, sewing on the armbands


In the last week, I have been finishing off my repaired tailbox by making a set of sidepanels for it.  For several months I had some t-shirts earmarked for use as highly visible panels as I had never used either of them.  Both of them are bright orange and one of them is at least 20 years old (it has an old 7 digit # and all Melbourne #'s have been 8 digit since 1996) and from the old location of Abbotsford Cycles. (299 Johnson St is  only a k or so away from our house).  This was a high vis shirt with reflective tape on the arms from a bike market like this one.  Basically in making the panels I'm repeating this process but there were a few changes for these particular t-shirts. One corner of the panel had to be patched as the initial cut of the cloth didn't cover it, and I installed the reflective strips as rings at the front.  Later I sewed these rings.  All pretty good. Although my 2nd sewing attempt was better than my first, I can redo the corner patch a bit later as I have plenty of left over material. 

This bike aims to tackle drivers who yell at me "can't see you mate, get a flag" when its obvious that they have seen me in order to get upset and yell at me. It is (possibly) visible from outer space.


Steve Nurse

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Frame Spacers

Plan of bike showing spacers

Old spacers were falling apart a bit.

Didn't fully understand this printing software screen before, but I now understand it a bit better.  Bottom right of the 8 print settings is 99% fill which is the one I wanted. 

Pair of prints from the machine.
Full Printer Setup.

Spacers fitted to back of bike.


After a few months, the trike frame spacers I printed and glued together at home have been falling apart, and while I really don't mind that, its not something I would want to inflict on anyone else in terms of calling it a finished design.  For almost a year, I didn't think my Cetus printer could print solid parts, ie I thought there would always be some sort of hollowing out to save material and printing material.  It was bugging me a bit and when I got around to it, I asked the Cetus 3d printer Facebook Group what may have been a dumb question.

And I got some good answers quite quickly, yes, you can print solids, and I was just being a bit of a dumb-ass and not understaning the user interface.  So the new parts with the new higher density and from new material came off the printer very quickly.   I fitted them, and they were a bit oversize and the 2 trike halves were hard to fit together, but after attacking them with a file, the fit became much better. Adn hopefully they will last.


Steve Nurse

Seat Repair

Time to fix the seat I think, so.....

from this pile of proto-seats and almost good enoughs, 

I grabbed some timber, cut it up and 

started on the seat repair surgery.

Here the dark brown replacement timber presses up against the broken seat and acts as a splint......

and this is the repair of the seat section, glued and screwed and drying while its held in place.

Hi, As I mentioned last time, one of my seat / tailbox combinations broke, possibly while carrying a bike frame in the back of it.  So last week I had a bit of time and put some effort into repairing the bike seat properly.  As the photos above show, I put some care and attention into it, selecting and cutting some strong plywood as a replacement strut and patching the split seat area from behind.  Went out for a ride on it today, its all good.

There is a vast difference between the seat on one of my Freds and the seat of a standard bike. Repairing the wooden seat of the bikes is enjoyable and a way of coming to "own" and become involved in the trike whereas damage to a standard bike seat as shown below is not repairable.  In most Western countries, the bike seat shown below would be discarded without recycling.

Standard Bike Seat


Steve Nurse

Friday, March 9, 2018

Green Wedge Hills Audax

Garmin Edge 520 on my bike
Dummy route to test GPS, here is the link to the "blocky" ride with gps map 

The GPS wakes up and glows when it nears corners and then ....

reverts to an unlighted screen a bit later.

Some damage to the tailbox revealed ..........

after my training rides and before a planned new makeover.

Riding the Green Wedge Hills with the 

GPS succumbing to a bout of confusion.  After a long stretch of reading this crap you start imagining the thing is being very smug and saying "Of Course"..

I've been getting my trike out on the road a bit and purchased a GPS so I could have a crack at a few more Audax rides including navigation.  For me, buying a GPS is not like buying a book as using one started as a complete mystery.  It doesn't come with an instruction manual and you need to get one from the internet here or read it off the internet here.

To demystify the  GPS, I made a blocky GPS route using ride with GPS on my computer. Then I loaded the route into the GPS (only the Garmin-supplied cable seemed to work transferring data), took it outside and had a crack. And everything worked fine, it told me how many k or metres to the next turn, and I did the route a couple of times.

After that, I booked into the 100k Audax Green Wedge Hills ride and 2 days before the ride did about 70k of riding of hills on the Kew Boulevard without stopping. This was just what I needed, as the ride itself was quite hard. When I got back from the training, I'd intended to do another bike makeover and put some lurid orange cut up t-shirts on the side, but this plan was cut short as I discovered some breaks in the wood of the tailbox.  I'm not sure how this happened (as I was explaining to my wife's podiatrist today) however it might have been when I banged into a tree while carrying a bike frame, or while carrying beer or something else. Anyway, after thinking about it, I didn't immediately fix the tailbox but instead just swapped it over for the other one I have, adding Ventisit seat padding to the swapped over tailbox. Bit of a test ride to my Mum and Dad's place, and the front bottom bracket was coming loose.  Out come the BB tool, the big shifter and a length of pipe to tighten the BB.  By this time I am a bit cautious and end up taking the 1 kg shifter and the BB tool with me on the ride.

The night before the ride I tried downloading the latest ride map as recommended by Audax email but really didn't check enough that the new route was in the gps.

Up early the next day and I got to the Eltham ride start in time but the new ride route wouldn't load, so I ended up loading the old route.  Things went well (except for the enormous number of hills which I couldn't ride up because the front wheel drive was slipping and losing my Brevet card) until a long way into the ride when the GPS chucked a wobbly.  I couldn't navigate after that and went about 10 k too far on the road before stopping and asking a farmer for the way back to the nearest big town, Hurstbridge.  After asking a bike rider for directions a bit later, I headed off on the right road for "Hurstie" and got back on track.  Slightly slow going from Hurstbridge, (there were still some hills) and I didn't have much oompf left having hardly stopped for the whole 100 or so k but got in to Eltham near the cutoff time of 2pm.

I emailed the ride organiser when I got home and registered a Thank You and Did Not Finish due to the lost Brevet Card.

So a few lessons.

* Get familiar with what happens to your GPS when you wander off track.

* Delete redundant routes before attempting to load up new ones and check that new ones are properly loaded before leaving your mapping computer session.

* Carrying maps as backup is a good idea.  I didn't find any maps of suitable scale in my Melways or Vicroads books, so maybe screen dumps and a full set of ride directions from ridewithgps would help. 

* Training is good and 3 or 4 or 5 laps of the hilly Boulevarde track are all doable and worth it.

All for now, Regards

Steve Nurse