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Friday, January 31, 2014

Some Philosophy of Bike Building

Suspension Block and Packer for Aluminium Bike

From right to left we have * Existing suspension block from old pedal rubbers, cable ties and a plastic bike tyre lever, * Raw material for new block is an engineered Mackay multicushion industrial damper * which was cut up and combined with a small piece of "Unimold" and some cable ties to make the new block.

The block in place.  Not tested yet!  The extra width of the cable ties keep the block in place.
This blog post is just a bit about replacing a suspension block in my aluminium recumbent with something (hopefully) a bit better.  But really it illustrates some of my bike building philosophy as well.  If you are trying to build something new, you don't have to solve all the issues concerning it at the start.  Once you build it, you will probably find an answer to the issues, and if that fails, and you scratch your head a bit, you will eventually find a better answer.

So at the start of the project to build my aluminium recumbent, I winged it to make the suspension block, and this blog is old enough and nerdy enough to have this process documented.  Since then I have used bits of bike pedals put together to make suspension blocks for the aluminium bike.  This works fine except when it gets hot, say 30 plus degrees like it has been lately here.  A lot.

Then the rubber gets mushy.  For goodness sake, what would you expect?  It was designed as a Chekoslovakian bike pedal, and when being used as an Australian bike suspension system, it just says "Bugger Off" and starts to crumble.  Then it has to be replaced or rearranged so the pressure's on a less crumbled bit.  Which is not really good!

So the new solution was a happy coincidence,
* my (slightly worse performing but still cool) wooden recumbent is heaps good enough for riding around town, so I can use that, and rest and repair my aluminium bike. 

* the build of the wooden bike involved a (fully designed in, woo-hoo) Mackay suspension block, and I bought a few of same dimensions but different spring rates (ie kg/mm deflection) to try on the new bike.  It turned out the softest of these was good on the wooden bike.  The Mackay block handles hot weather fine.

So with 2 harder blocks left, I finally had some material for a long lasting suspension block for the aluminium bike, and a week or so ago when I had some time I set about making it to the template of the pedal suspension block.  This involved hacking off about 2cm of width to make it fit in the pocket in the frame, and bolstering it by 15mm or so with plastic to make it the right height.  You can see the results.  Now I hope the damn thing works!  Will report later.


Steve Nurse

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday VicHpv Ride

Bike Fettling.  These are some bike Ankle reflectors from Daiso, added to my bike as pedal reflectors.
Graham tries Robert Cook's bike

Bike Path, Ivanhoe.  Most of this mob were in our group of 20 or so.

Bike Path, Ivanhoe

With Struan Little, Darebin Path, Graham Signiorini photo

Graham and his mean, evil chopper machine.  Under the t-shirt and shorts and socks, ever square cm of Graham is covered in tattoos.  Honest.
Robert Cook and the mob.


This week I didn't make any mistakes about the start of the bike ride, which went from Ivanhoe out to Eltham and then back along the Darebin Creek Bike Path.  I joined up with Robert Cook and his homemade machine on the way to the start of the ride, which included electric bikes, recumbent bikes, recumbent trikes , upright bikes and Graham Signiorini's chopper bike.  Near the end of the ride we were overtaken by some kids who had motorised  / engined a pushbike and were testing it without a rear tyre, just cruising along on the rim.  Needless to say within a k or so of them passing us, we passed them, busily scratching their heads, the tyreless wheel was no more, just a mess of mangled spoke and rim.  All for now.  Nice to see everyone on the ride.


Steve Nurse

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Sunday Ride

Cheap!  An oversize front wheelset for a Billy Cart at the Reservoir Tip Shop.

Not So Cheap!  $100 for a swingbike at the Reservoir Tip Shop

Darryl checks out my bike at Savers in Sydney Road.

All this stuff fits in the back of the bike.

Last Sunday I intended to join a few others from the VicHpv group on a ride but stuffed things up by not reading the email properly and thinking  the start of the ride was at Malvern (near) and not the actual start point,  Carrum (far).  On getting up on Sunday, looking at and finally confirming the ride start point, I was too late to get to the start point by bike in time.  So I opted for a fairly familiar shopping trip and bike ride through Fairfied, Preston, Thornbury, Reservoir, Carlton, Fitzroy and finally home to Clifton Hill.  Sometimes I see George or Chris or Chook on this ride and often pick up books, videos and shopping along the way. 

So this time I bought some water bottles, books and videos at the tip shop and continued on to Savers in Brunswick,   one of the few op shops I know of that are open on Sunday.  Darryl was there , I reintroduced myself and started a chat with him, he had been at some of the Vichpv rides a few years ago.  Then it was home via Aldi and the Capital City Bike Trail.  The photo at the bottom shows the junk I collected along the way.

I am writing this on a Friday.  There is another Vichpv ride scheduled for Sunday.  I will try not to stuff up getting to the start this time.  But if I do, the Tip Shop / Savers bike ride is always an option for the way home.


Steve Nurse

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Bit of a Summary of 2013

Aluminium Bike in Cobram.  Blurry but I'm having fun.  Graham Signiorini Photo.
Wooden Bike, Early 2014

Wooden Trike near Lara, Buckley's ride 2013

Wooden bike components, from Bottom, plywood plate, hollow timber 90 x 35 pine and their assembly to make a chainstay.

 A few weeks ago, after seeing my blog entry about my trike, Trevor Gosbell and Chris Rogers from Audax asked me about writing an article for the Audax newsletter, "Checkpoint".  So I had a go, and present to you my draft version.  It makes a reasonable summary of the bike development work I did last year and makes some sort of sense of all the various blog posts.  Here we go.

"Since 1986, I have been building recumbent bikes but for a long time the activity was a sporadic, hit and miss affair.  It took challenges in the form of the Bike Vic "Round the Bay in a Day" and OzHpv races to step up my bike quality and make machines capable of longer (200k) rides.  Now, many years later, I've been active in OzHpv and done "Round the Bay in a Day" about 15 times, and the last 2 times were on wooden homebuilt recumbents.  This is the story of the wooden bike circumnavigations.

The bikes I've made for the last few years have been front wheel drive recumbents with a big wheel at the front and a small one at the back, and a large tailbox (storage box / helps make you visible / aerodynamic aid) behind the seat.  The front wheel drive setup has the bottom bracket fixed to the frame and the front wheel steers as usual.  It works!  There has been steady progress over several versions with a few sideways steps along the way. Usually I'm not ashamed to have a go at something a bit unusual, or that might not even work and its often more fun cobbling something together in the shed than planning meticulously for a highly polished result - I get to do that enough in my work as an engineer!  At the other end of the scale I don't mind spending money on good bike components either.

I've been through round tube steel frame with cast lugs, lasercut round tube steel frame, separable steel frame, rectangular aluminium frame and trike versions of my big at the front bike before arriving at the most recent timber frame bike I now have.

The aluminium frame recumbent bike which I still count as my daily ride has been very reliable for commuting, beer fetching, Audax riding and light touring since mid 2012.  It has an NC routed timber seat assembly which slides up and down the main boom of the bike to adjust for leg length.  After a while an "itch I wanted to scratch" was to make a version of this bike with a wooden frame and so in late 2012 I ordered some NC routed timber for the seat and also put "doing a 200k ride on a wooden bike" on my 2013 to do-list.

By May last year I had a wooden bike on the road and targeted in Phil Gidding's winter surf ride for the "wooden bike 200".  When the time for the ride arrived, the weather didn't look good, I was undertrained and parts of my wooden bike were falling apart, so the trip was done on my aluminium bike instead.  Just as well, the Winter Surf Ride weather was shocking with a huge storm front coming through late afternoon, making riding impossible for a while.

In mid last year another itch I had to scratch worked its way into my mind and that is a recumbent trike of the "iLean" family.  This is a clever method of making a leaning trike invented by Mr Vi Vuong from California in the US.  Who said everything the is to do with cycles has already been designed?  Most of the bits I needed were already on my falling apart wooden bike, a friend did the necessary timber routing in exchange for a bottle of wine and I unscrupulously swapped pedal axles for wheel axles on a pair of 20" wheels.  Voila, a new trike was born, and it worked quite well.

Time was running out for me to finish a wooden bike 200 in the calendar year and there didn't seem to be a flat 200 coming up so I chose a date and opted for a Buckley's (Round the Bay in a Day Equivalent) permanent to try my trike.  The day I chose was unfortunately raining and I had a headwind for 70k straight at the start.  It was a long day in the saddle but I got there in the end - a 5am start and 8pm finish. I was very glad to get home and tick one item off the bucket list.

In the middle of building the trike, I designed a refined, weight reduced version of the my timber bike, then ordered some more NC routed timber and lasercut steel lugs and handlebar bits to make it.  These bits sat in my shed for a few weeks till late in 2013 I got a chance to put all the parts together.

Chris Rogers had asked if I wanted to go in the Buckleys ride proper on January 4 2014 and I agreed.  Coincidentally, my new wooden bike was coming together  very well and I'd had a good 30k or so test ride on it on January 2.  So it was the wooden bike for the Buckley's ride.

This time the ride went very well and I was in at 5:30 pm after a 6am start.  Ian Knox and Kevin Linnett were on recumbents and I knew Rick Harker and a few others from previous rides.  Thanks to Chris Rogers for organising the Buckleys rides and Ian Knox who leant me his mobile phone and support.

Best wishes, Regards

Stephen Nurse


"iLean" trikes on
Article on "iLean" trikes with links to video etc. 
My bikes on
Start of Ilean trike Build (see also following posts)
Start of Hollow Beam Bike Build
Audax Australia

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Buckley's Ride on Hollow Beam Bike

Ian Knox heading out of Werribee

Kevin on his Low Racer, heading out of Werribbee

Coming into Geelong, Ian and Kevin

A slight navigation error - the recumbents got to this point about 200m off the route before turning back.

As detailed in the last few posts, after months of patiently ordering in parts, in the last 2 weeks, I've had time to put my hollow beam wooden bike together. A few weeks ago I booked in for another Round the bay in a day ride, thinking I would do it on my aluminium frame recumbent.  But my latest wooden beam bike had come together quite nicely and I decided to bite the bullet and ride on it instead, and I was glad I did.

So about 20 Audaxians gathered  at the North end of Albert park, and I was pretty busy registering for the ride, paying for parking, saying hello to a few aquaintences and reconstituting my bike from its "folded up inside the car" to its "ride me, I am a bicycle state".  (This involves bolting on the seat and handlebars. )

On the ride I knew Ian Knox (Challenge Hurricane), Rick Harker (Road bike but some-time recumbenteer), Kevin Linnett from Wollongong (home made carbon low racer), and had seen various others on different rides around the joint. We set off as a group and kept together pretty well, making light work of the headwind all the way to Werribbee when we split up a bit and the recumbents ended up on their own all the way to the ferry about 120k in. The winds changed a bit in our favour at Geelong but we got some wind gusts and rain in the mix.  It's meant to be summer here so it wasn't that cold, thankfully.  The ferry ride was a bit rough due to the weather and quite busy due to the time of year.  I ate quite a bit on the ferry and got my Brevet card signed then joined Ian Knox for the ride back.   Quite a bit of cross winds on the way back and we were feeling a bit tired but made it back by 5:30 to Melbourne. So we had an average including stops and the ferry trip of 19kph which was not bad I reckon.  Very pleased with the bike and the way it went.

Left Side with plywood plate on the hollowed out main beam.

Right view, this shows the bottom of the hollowed out main beam.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Finishing the Hollow beam bike

Back of the bike with new tailbox, the white partition is storage for wallet, phone, glasses etc. and there is a mount for a water bottle as well.

Outside the Anglesea surf shop

These are some of the tools for making the tailbox, a VHS video makes a good simple square and a metal garden stake makes a good straight edge for marking out and scoring the corflute.
Bike almost finished.

Today I have been finishing my hollow beam bike by adding a tailbox.  This was started last night while watching Hercule Poirot dvd's on TV.  I've built about 10 of these tailboxes over the years and they've gradually been improving.

Soon after finishing the bike I went for a ride of 30k or so, the only problem seems to be that the brake cables are a bit too short.  When I pedal and steer, they hit my feet, and I can't bunch them up much tighter.  This is a fairly minor thing and I will fix it soon.  I'm enrolled for another "Round the bay in a day" 200k Audax ride on Saturday, (Thursday now) but there are more strong headwinds predicted.  Finishing the beam bike today lets me test it on Saturday, let's see how it goes. 

Meanwhile I am on holidays and have been surfing today with my friend and former neighbour Jamie Callister.  He is down from Queensland with his (slightly) surf crazed family and his son Nick and daughter Lucy will be surfing at Bell's Beach tomorrrow.  To be perfectly honest, I would be just as happy surfing on Saturday!

Ok, will update photos and blog after Saturday, if not before.