News and Events

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

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Testing the Hollow Beam Bike

A few of the build details...

Of the new bike...

including cable-through handlebars with small stoppers on the ends.
Here is the whole thing after finishing a blocky.

As discussed yesterday, my newest wooden bike was almost finished.  Today is a hot Saturday and this morning I worked on the bike (find, fit and adjust brakes, gearchange lever and derailleur) for a while till I was hot, knackered and hungry.  Then I came in, regathered my strength and have just finished the bike off (found bolts to secure the seat, bolt on the seat) and been around the block, multitool and shifter in hand.  The steerer is still a little bit loose but otherwise I have a bike which is a goer.  It weighs about 16kg but there are a few things still to add, ie corflute box on the back, and seat varnish and padding.

Yesterday, when riding my other wooden recumbent, I was singing and reflecting on the benefits of lightening and hollowing out bicycle beams, (with apologies to Little Feat  )
"Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made,
and ridden the backstreets, so I wooden get weighed"

All for now

Steve Nurse

All for now

Hollow Beam-Bike

Light, hollow timber components for bike: "rear triangle".  This is an engineered version of a completely handmade rear triangle shown here.
Rotary Laser cut Handlebar parts, brazed in and as supplied.
Some extra routing I did, recesses for the bottom bracket plate.  Note the plates under the wood used to set the milling height.
Back of frame with rear pivot (black square) and plates used to hold the back wheel. 
Bike taking shape, I am borrowing a few bits from the bike shown in the background.
Some solar lights bought today and now adorning the back yard.
Edith Lynch with Christine - dinner out the front of our place.
Front of the frame assembly.  There are 2 plywood plates and one steel plate each side of the frame and these help distribute the load (mainly from braking) evenly into the frame.  Without these plates, the main beam timber splits pretty quickly. 

Its summer holidays here and I've been spending some time working on a hollow beam bike.  As mentioned way back here , I've been gathering parts for a while and some of the NC routed timber parts for the bike been hanging round the house for months.  More recently, I've bought custom made laser-cut flats and tubes (lugs, dropouts and handlebars) and various bronze bushes and shoulder bolts (suspension pivot).  So this week there has been some fairly patient drilling, filing, painting, varnishing and gluing.  In some places where the wood looks weak, I've put a fibreglass - and - epoxy skin in place to improve strength.  The timber frame and rear triangle bits are routed on one side only.  The routing is to remove material for weight saving and to get most of the functional holes ( for bottom bracket, rear triangle pivot etc.) in place and  accurately cut.

It may be rideable tommorrow, will see how it goes.

Best Wishes and compliments of the Season!

Steve Nurse

PS - My article about iLean trikes was published this week, thanks to Vi Voung and Theo Schmidt at Hupi.  Here is the link -  your comments most welcome.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ewan Graduating

Exhibition Building, Melbourne, my son Ewan in gown graduating......
from Biomedical Engineering.
Ewan, Phoebe, Christine waiting outside for the start.
Afterwards, on the way to the Pub

Last Saturday my wife Christine and I took a taxi in to the Royal Exhibition Building to watch my son Ewan graduating with a Masters Degree in Biomedical Engineering.  We were just on time arriving but as we pulled up near the building, we got a phone call from Ewan saying there was a fire evacuation and not to hurry.  We met Ewan and his girlfriend Phoebe out the front and sauntered in when the (smallish) fire was all put out and sorted.

Well a greaduation ceremony is quite an affair and its not at all like receiving exam results by SMS or other abbreviated form of communication.  Oh no.  Upstanding and proper universities have long and formal ceremonies where various University people who have degrees and Masters degrees and even doctorate thingies gather on the stage and confer bits of paper on Graduands and then the Graduands have degrees and Masters degrees and even doctorate thingies.  This involves much wearing of gowns and funny hats, photography, bowing and shaking hands.  Ewan was part of it all.  My photography was a bit remiss, I didn't get up in time to get a good photo of Ewan on the stage.

After the ceromony we went to a pub for lunch.  Congratulations Ewan!


Stephen Nurse

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ozhpv gathering, Corowa NSW, December 2013

Near Chiltern, a horse having a cool off....

and a drink in a swamp.

Ross's Zockra High Racer: note the cranks!

Bev and Alex in Chiltern
Rick Willoughby  (in stripy shorts) and his pedal powered boat on the Murray

Bev and Alex, just West of Chiltern

"The fast Mob"

Just about everyone in Rutherglen

Lloyd Charter
Me! Riding to the RSL club.  Carrying everything with you in the bike precludes carrying a suit for such occasions.  (Graeme S. Photo)

Bustling Springhurst on a Saturday morning, the post office and
Hotel, now a private residence.
The fast mob in Howlong
On the way to the RSL


Last Saturday I travelled up to Corowa by train to visit the ozHpv gathering in Corowa.  The weekend included the Annual General Meeting for ozHpv but  mostly it's for getting together and riding with other recumbents.

So I got on the early train from Melbourne to one of the nearest towns on the railway line, Springhurst.  Springhurst has seen busier days, it used to be the terminus for a train line heading north to Corowa and Wahgunyah, but since that line  shut a lot of the town's activity shut too.  On last Saturday morning the only shop, (the post office) was closed and there were copies of the "Border Mail" labelled with their owner's names lying under a rock.  On the train I had been surveying the map I'd photocopied and Pete Heal's email concerning weekend activities and on getting to Springhurst rang Pete and confirmed I could head toward Chiltern and probably catch up with some other recumbent cyclists / fellow lunatics*.  (*Pick one depending on your attitude)

Nice riding between Springhurst and Chiltern with virtually no traffic.  And Alex from Natural Speed Engine and Bev were in Chiltern and I joined up with them for lunch and the occasional rummage in second hand shops.  The main group were still a fair way away and Bev, Alex and I headed off on a backroad toward Rutherglen.  We split up at Rutherglen and I visited Tapsell's books which is vast and I picked up a very good vintage surfboard plan for not very much.

After that it was a short trip on the bike track to Wahgunyah and a longish climb through Corowa and beyond to the Bindaree caravan park and motel - Ozhpv headquarters for the weekend.  I set up my tent and met up with a few old bike riding mates, Graeme Signiorini, Peter Moller from Adelaide, Willem Reid, Struan Little and many more, as well as "The Canberra Mob" and "The Audax Mob" and "The Geelong Mob".

Soon after arrival, Rick Willoughby gave a demonstration of his pedal powered boats and invited any and everyone to have a go.  The boats appeared quite fast and there were certainly no awkard motions (rowing).  The AGM followed and then an evening and dinner at the massive Corowa RSL.  The venue had not one but 2 bands playing, the Abba tribute band "Babba" and a Country and Western dude.  After dinner a napkin got passed round with the agenda for the next day's ride.  Very impromptu but it worked.

The morning's ride was "all roads lead to Rutherglen", with the fast mob riding 50k over 2 hours via Howlong to get there.  I must admit I struggled to keep up with everyone, speeds were about 24kph  into the wind and 30kph in cross winds.  In the end I rode into Rutherglen with Duncan Cleland from Canberra.  There was really a fine smattering of fast recumbents, Carnon fibre Velokrafts, Zockras, m5s and Perfomer lowracers amongst them.  After morning tea at the Rutherglen Bakery we rode back to Corowa and I packed up ready to head back to Melbourne.  I had already arranged a lift back with George and it was a pretty quick trip back.  Knackered when I got home and I slept for a few hours when I got there.  One of the highlights of the weekend was having very little to unpack!  There was the sleeping bag,  the tent and that was about it.  Anything else would have been too bulky to carry.  

Coincidentally, the RACV magazine has a current article about riding round Corowa, Rutherglen and Wahgunyah.  Here is the link

Ok, All for now.  Lots of bike bits await me in the shed and I'll spend some time in the next few weeks putting a hollow frame timber machine together.  As well, Simon Watt who was on the Corowa weekend (and also my "Oppy" team) is running a flat "easy" 1200k Audax ride in April 2014.  Not sure if I will do it but Alex was talking about going along.  This gives me some training to think about!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wooden Bike 200k ride

On the latest "round the bay" ride, the first and hardest bit was wet, windy and rural.....

and the last bit was all sunshine and seaside.

As mentioned in my last post, I enrolled for an Audax 200k ride a week or so ago and this was to fulfil one of my bucket list items for 2013, to ride 200k on one of my wooden bikes.  I'd had a previous attempt, in the Audax "Winter Surf Ride".  On that occasion, a conspiracy of bad weather and buggered up bicycle forced me to ride another machine.

On this occasion, no such stuffing up occurred and I got ready to ride my homemade iLean trike on "Buckley's Ride" ( Audax parlance), or "Round the Bay in a Day" (Bike Vic parlance).

In the past, I've done this ride on homemade and commercial vehicles, single and tandem recumbent bikes, a tandem recumbent trike,  clockwise and anticlockwise, in organised Bike Vic Rides, and solo unsupported.  Gosh one time right at the start (1993 or so)  I even did it on one of those upright bike things. (Yes, I was wild and crazy back in the day....) And now add wooden HPV and solo recumbent trike to the list. Here is video from a few years ago.

Anyway, the latest ride, although chosen for its flattness and general mild manners was not a pushover.  You still can't choose the weather!  There was rain and a south-west headwind just about all the way to Geelong and it was a struggle to keep up 15-20k.  The route I took to Geelong was the Audax  / Buckley's Ride and Winter Surf Ride route which doesn't go along the Geelong Road,  (major highway) provides great scenery but adds distance and wandering to the direct Geelong Road Bike Vic route.  So after a 5 am start, I was at the ferry at 1pm, and about 120k into the ride.  The Queenscliffe Music Festival was on and I hooned down the packed main street in the last few k's.

I had a big lunch on the ferry and kept going on the other side.  By this time the sun was shining and the wind was behind me but the damage had been done on the other side of the bay, I was knackered and couldn't take much advantage of the good conditions.  One of the highlights was riding the meandering,  hilly, ocean hugging road around the coast near Mornington. (The Bike Vic Route avoids this road because there are a lot of people on that ride, and the road is just too narrow to cope)  Eventually I pulled in at home at about 8pm, 235 k on the speedo.  A cup of tea, a shower then bed.  That was my Sunday!

Although I did this ride almost completely according to the ride guide from Audax, the 200k Audax permanent rules are actually not that strict.  You can ride "round the bay" either way and as long as you get your brevet card signed after the 200k point and within time limits the spirit of the ride conditions are met.  Of course I read about this "laissez faire" set of rules after I had finished the ride and did it far tougher than I needed to.  You live and learn: RTFI! (Read the Instructions)


Steve Nurse.

You self-check the paperwork the send it off and get it approved by Audax

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ride to work 3 days a week.

Starting my new bike, with the hollow beam timber frame

Some of the suspension components, (Rubber Block, bronze bushings, shoulder screws, mild steel tube.  Quite a lot of work!
A dismembered rear cluster remade as a mobile / noise making machine....

which was a byproduct of replacing the front wheel.

Cup day gathering with Saskia, Alison, Christine and Jeremy.  Note betting slips in foreground.

It's been a bit busy at work lately  - a motor I've been working on for 2 years is coming into production and it's been fairly nose-to-the grindstone every day with a bit of extra stress.  And to cope - last week I decided to try to ride to work 3 days a week instead of my standard 2 days.  Well it seemed like a good plan at the time!  Last Friday I was riding to work for the 3rd time in the week and got about 1/3 of the way there when the pedals started rotating without driving the bike.  The clutch on the front wheel was knackered and the only thing to do was to scoot / velocipede my way home, have some breakfast and head to work in the car.

During the weekend I fixed the bike by replacing the front wheel and moving the cluster from the old wheel to the new one.  The cluster needed a new spacer to hold all the cogs tight and I managed to find a good supply by taking apart another cluster.  A bit later all the left over cogs were transformed into a mobile which has been clanging away in the windy, wainy weather we've had all week.

The other weekend project was working on a hollow beam wooden bike.  I've had the NC routed wood frame parts around the house for a few months and am finally getting round to assembling them.  There are some photos up above.   Today I finally ordered the laser cut lugs I need to finish the bike.

This week the 3 days a week riding thing has been foiled by today's persistant rain.  Will try again next week and up till the time work eases off a bit.

I've registered for an Audax "permanent" Buckley's Ride which is the 210k+ ride "Round the Bay in a Day", Audax style.  The plan is to do it on a wooden bike on November 24.  Wish me luck!


Steve nurse

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Speed Demons / Evolve Trikes

On our recent be-spon ride through Ivanhoe to Warrandyte along bike paths, Graham Signiorini & I......

Shot ahead of the bunch and waited for several minutes........

for everyone else to catch up, despite me being on my highly improbable trike.

Lunch stop near Beasley's nursery, Alan Ball front right with sunglasses, Robert Waryszak on right in red.

I have been continuing to ride my Vi Vuong inspired ilean Delta trike and I like it a lot.  Last week I went for a ride with the Vichpv group and for the most part kept up with the fast Mr. Graham Signiorini.  The day before yesterday I installed a speedo on it and yesterday rode to work on it for the first time.  Speeds were pretty good,  my more refined and similar recumbent bike has a long term average of 20.7 kph and on my trip to work and back on the trike I managed 19.7 kph.  Longer term I want to do a 200k ride on the bike and a speedo's the only way to work out if the trike is up to the task.

On the ride last week I saw Alan Ball from Evolve trikes. Although nothing was announced last week, it can now be revealed that Alan, Dianne and Eric have licensed their folding trike technology in the United States and production trikes will be on their way soon.  Congratulations !

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Big Spike from the Russians!


This blog has a backroom where I (omnipotent writer / editor / administrator / slave) can see all the statistics associated with page visits this blog.  A recent spike in traffic had me looking for the source.

It was the Russians, and for wholly innocent reasons.  Here is the forum link , already processed into English courtesy google translate.

And there is some quite good advice about working  with timber and fibreglass, things I have found out for myself the hard way, breaking stuff !

"But! Plywood has been quite different characteristics

That's right!
The tree is typically 80/8 MPa at a density of 0.5. (Along / across the grain)
We usually plywood 20/20 MPa at a density of 0.7 (this is for the construction of plywood). And 1 MPa for the layers on the cleavage.
Aviation (sea MARINE) is already up to 50/50 MPa for the Finnish and 30/30 MPa for the Chinese.
For comparison, fiberglass has a density of 1.6 at 250/180 MPa at a density of 1.8 320/220 MPa at a density of 2.0 380/250 MPa.
In the calculations usually take for fiberglass tensile strength of 120 MPa, 230 MPa for the ST3, for a tree up to 10 MPa."

All for now!


Stephen Nurse

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shopping and Family

Christine hears that I had already donated away the books my Dad gave me.
With Mum and Dad (Self-Timer Photo)
Home with a 10kg Vintage Elna Sewing Machine and some books in the back of my trike.
At home, Christine checks out one of the books I bought, Elna sewing machine in the foreground.

Yesterday was a fine warm day and I headed out to visit Mum and Dad on my new trike.  On the way over to Kew (only 2 suburbs away) I bought a speedo from Bikes de Ver and visited an op-shop and bought some videos.

Mum and Dad were fine and showed me a few pictures of my neice Josephine, my brother Richard and sister - in - law Serena.  Richard and Serena were obviously very proud parents at Josephine's graduation.  I realised there weren't enough pictures of people on this blog and hope to remedy that.  

So I helped mum and dad out with a few jobs, had a cup of tea and a catch up and then headed home.  Dad had given me some books (and I never read the books he gives me) so was looking for another op-shop to donate the books to on the way home.

And Lo, I was in luck, there was a fete at a convent on the way home, and I had had luck buying books and plates and stuff (ok, crap) there in the past.  So first stop was the bric-a-brac stall and I bought an Elna sewing machine there ($20), left it with the gentlemen on the stall complete with custom made "Sold Steve" sticker on it and wandered on to the book stall.  At the book stall I bought a few books and one was a biography of a dude my wife Christine knew when she was growing up (Pierre Gorman), there was a vintage and battered Alan Marshall book (1946)  and a Hillaire Belloc paperback.  Also hugely expensive, $2.00 the lot for the books!

Collected the sewing machine on the way back, loaded it in the back of my trike and then wandered back in to the fete to pass my Dad's books on to the convent book stall. And then home on the trike, no dramas, and Christine very happy with the purchases.

So that was my Saturday morning.  Still not sure what we will do with the sewing machine.  But it was a bargain!

(2 days later and our friend Christine Durbridge came and picked up the sewing machine. )

Christine D. happy as the new owner of the Elna Grasshopper.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bike Market at Richmond

A few historical bikes at the market.  The bike in the centre is an "elliptical chainless bicycle" 1896.  A bike of this type is featured in Paul Farren's book.
Detail of the elliptical chainless.

Some of Matt Benn's excess bikes were on sale, a fairly eclectic lot....
including this ladies bike, a bargain at $100.

Part of Adrian Cox's stall.
More market bikes, The green and red Malvern Star Coronation Special had sold for about $1500.

Matt Benn and my trike

Atomic Zombie unicycle on sale

About a week ago I visited a bike market at Abbotsford cycles, which is (slightly confusingly) located under Richmond station.  This market is a semi-regular event and a chance to catch up with a few bike type people (ok, blokes) that I know from years of bike riding and activities around Melbourne and buy bike books ("Early Bicycles" and Paul Farren signed "Bicycling through Time" for me) and various bits of bike junk, (2 pairs of old pedals, potentially more Vi-trike wheels.  So hello to me old mates Ross Harrup, Chook (selling off about 1% of his shed contents), John Harland, Adrian Cox, Michael Kater and Matt Benn.


Steve Nurse