News and Events

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

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Reunion

My wife Christine with Ange and Hilary

L to R we have Mick, Mick, Jane, Geoff, Evelyn, Eff, Jic, Ali, Ange, Simon, Lou


Maybe in the last post I mentioned a few friends of mine were having a combined 50th birthday party. Well it's all done and dusted now. My friends Geoff, Jic and Simon are now officially 50 now despite "actually" turning 50 earlier in the year. And it was quite a gathering of the clan.

"We met / When we were at school / Never took no shit from no-one / we weren't fools"
(From Cheapskates, the Clash)

Well in about 1977, me, Jic, Mick, Geoff, Joel, George and Simon and Wal were all in year 12 at Melbourne Grammar together. Most of us were much more interested in various combinations of Rock'n'Roll Music, smoking, drinking, girls and surfing than what we were at school for. What were we meant to be at school for? Oh yeah, we were meant to be getting a good education, meeting the right people and becoming gentlemen. Anyway the bonds formed between us at school through music and surfing were strong enough to last many years, evidenced by the fact that 33 years later we are all at the same party together.

Some of the girls at the party I'd known since school as well (Debbie, Ange, Jayne, Jane, Effie, Evelyn, Hilary, Ali, Lou) and some who I'd lived in houses with I hadn't seen for 25 years, give or take a day or two. So there was quite a bit of recounting of marriages, children, boyfriends, divorces, water under the bridges, waters not yet under the bridges, and highly exaggerated stories of surfing and sailing and conquests, and remembering some of our gang who hadn't made it this far (George, Mandy and Sue) and other stuff.

"Back to the days of the 4 and 7 friends and the all night rock'n'roll. / Hey 'Chelle, we were wild then" (Michelle Shocked, Anchorage)

Anyway, many thanks to Geoff, Simon and Jic and their families for hosting the party. Early in the new year I will be catching up with Jic as his family heads to Bell's Beach for a junior surfing competition. Will post more about that later.

Well why not leave you with another almost quote.
"Well I'm goin' back to Newhaven on a journey through the past / and I won't be back till Sunday morning comes"
(Neil Young, Journey Through the past. I think the lyrics actually involve things like Canada and February but they don't fit in with my story)

Christine's comment: Terrific catching up with people after 20 or so years and there was lovely food and atmosphere. I learnt a few techniques on how to shimmy from a lovely young lady. (Ange, you know this means you)

PS I have unceremoniously dumped my photos of the night onto the web folder

PPS Many thanks to Kevin who put Christine & I up for the weekend.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fed Square this Saturday


This Saturday (December 11) I will be at Federation Square selling my bike books and cycling boardgame from 11 - 5. Last chance before Christmas to buy them, after Saturday I hang up my booksellers hat and start doing things appropriate for the season - finishing off the year at work and going surfing! A few of my friends are having a 50th birthday bash at Phillip Island and my family will be down there with bells on.

Anki Toner has listed my cycling boardgame on his cycling boardgames website, see

He likes the chance card "Schoolkids yell get a real bike, move back 1" but what about the shopping tokens "Kamahl's Greatest Hits, $0" or "The Adventures of Barry Mckenzie Movie on VHS Cassette, 50c." C'mon Anki, lift your game.

Ok, might see you Saturday

Best Wishes

Steve Nurse

Saturday, December 4, 2010

An Inner Trailer


For a while now I've been mucking around with bike trailers and recently built one for carrying a large amount of shopping behind a folding bike. Unfortunately this trailer didn't fit on my recumbent and I wanted a trailer for my recumbent so you guessed it, the shopping trailer was due for the chop or rather "annihilation by jigsaw". And rather than building an ordinary trailer, how about one that trails from the front wheel of my bike? (My bike is well-qualified for this type of trailer, being long wheelbase, front wheel drive and having a really big space between the 2 wheels, more about it here:

So I began work. The trailer has a height limit - it will bang into the bike frame if its too high. Keeping this in mind, I mounted the trailer wheels on the back of the trailer box so the bottom of the trailer could be kept low allowing for reasonable depth. The box is made from unbraced plywood and is therefore a bit wonky and I will see about improvements at a later stage. The drawbar is a 28mm garden stake and it's attached diagonally on the base of the trailer.

Initially I thought I could just drill a hole in the drawbar and hang the trailer on a pin mounted on the front fork. I made the bracket on the bike, but when the trailer was hitched up it was too high and I couldn't pedal. Back to the drawing board.

Next step was to cut a small extra piece of garden stake and sandwich part of an old bike tyre between the drawbar and the new piece of wood. Apart from anything else, the extra bit of wood helps push the drawbar away from the wheel so the wheel doesn't bang into the drawbar during turns. The tyre was looped at the top and the loop was secured with a few screws, nuts and washers.

Then it was time for a few blockies to sort out any problems. The low ground clearance led to, you guessed it, scraping of the trailer base on the ground and I did a bit of work to fix that. My son Ewan took the main photo the next day when I was on my way to sell books at a book market. Trailer still way too low and lots of scraping, so en route I stopped and twisted the tyre which the front of the trailer hangs from to bring the drawbar up a bit. And this worked, I arrived, bike, self and cargo and trailer intact at the book market.

While at the bookmarket, I readjusted the loop at the front of the trailer and the whole thing worked very well on the way home.

Well what I have here is certainly exotic - an exotic trailer on an exotic bike. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the design.

* Wheels on the trailer are at the back. When compare to a 2 wheel trailer with wheels in the centre, the trailer hitch bears weight and the drawbar must stand more bending force. The bike is front wheel drive so weight on the front wheel is a good thing - there was no wheel slippage when climbing hills.
* This bike plus trailer is much shorter than the standard trailer arrangement. As well, the trailer following behind is very low and would probably need a flag for it to be seen by drivers peering over car bonnets. With the trailer in the centre, a flag is not needed.
* Having the trailer in the middle restricts the height and length of the trailer. Extra volume can be achieved by having a wide trailer, but this starts to make getting on and off the bike difficult.
* Once in motion, the bike and trailer handled ok. But starting was a bit harder than normal, I had to sit on the bike and start pedalling from a standstill. Normally I can start walking or running, then leap onto the bike side saddle and get going that way.

* The current trailer hitch allows the trailer front to "pendulum" about the hitch on the front. There is little resistance to motion from the trailer wheels at the back, so the whole trailer can move back and forth relative to the bike during acceleration / braking creating a not unpleasant "trailer surge" phenomenon.

* Not for the shy and retiring!

* Here is the video

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A few new Links


Over the last few months, Jim Wilson from bikerodnkustom has been interviewing me by
email. It was a bit of a stop-start process and we rambled over a range of
topics. So here it is, the interview is sticking out like bits of a dogs
anatomy amidst all the chopper bikes. .

As well as this I have 2 entries in the Melbourne bikefest design competition
which will be judged shortly. The Rotovelo from Trisled is one of the other
entries. Another designer (Mark Watson who designed the Tote trailer) has
already been in touch with me.


Steve Nurse

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Game Over


After about six weeks of after hours work I'm close to finishing the cycling boardgame I started talking about in this post:

The game has taken a radical departure from the original (series of races) idea. Hopefully that departure is all for the better. The game is not quite finished but is still very playable. The unfinished bit is that the player pieces are not fully coloured in. (I have almost finished doing 1 and even that took a long time!) But you can do the colouring in. To date I have played the game with my wife, my son and with my friend Tony and his 2 young kids. The game cards are based very loosely on items I have purchased or events that have happened while riding a bike. Hope you enjoy it. Hope you can understand the rules!


Steve Nurse


Today I updated the game, all the players are fully colored in now and I did some minor changes to the "shopping cards".

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Big Swell!


Although I've only written about bicycling - related stuff in this blog in the past, I have another
hobby - surfing - which I've been doing since I was about 15. As a Melbourne resident, going
surfing involves travelling at least 100k and often spending time away from my family: so I
don't do it that often. But occasionally I get motivated enough or sick of things enough to run away and go surfing for a day or two. Very fortunately I have access to a place to stay at Airey's
Inlet which is on the coast west of Melbourne. Even more more fortunately, some of the challenging surf breaks around Airey's are not overpopulated by surfers so as a not - very - competitive or aggressive older surfer, I can still go out surfing and enjoy myself.

Before the advent of the internet, knowing what sort of swell would occur on a given day in the future was a black art. You could make some educated guesses and work out what the wind direction would be from the weather maps but what sort of waves would arrive was unknown. Now, various websites predict the surf size around Australia and the world. The one I use most is backed up by the venerable bureau of meteorology,
Type "wave" into the bom website and you are a few clicks away from a map like the one shownsomewhere on this blog page. The red and purple bits of the map are areas of the ocean are areas of big waves and when they get somewhere near your bit of coastline there will be big waves. Simple huh? The fact that predictive maps (a few days in advance of now) are available means keen surfers can go to where the big waves will be, virtually anywhere in the world.

But just big waves ain't enough, to get good waves, other things like local winds need to be right.

So anyway, I'll cut the surf lesson short here. Early last week it looked like a ripper swell was developing so I put in for leave on Friday and headed off on Thursday night to see what surf I could find.

Well it was a big swell and on Friday I only surfed at the very sheltered Lorne Point. I didn't see anyone out at open ocean beaches although one guy had been out at Cathedral Rock. Today (Saturday) I went out at a local Airey's beach. 3 waves only, I was out by myself and respectful of the size of the surf. Hope you enjoy the photos.

Note on surfboard: It was a windsurfer in a previous life. It is a long (8"5" in the old currency), sleek, thick and well worn single fin. Very caveman. I love it. Shaped by Howard Hughes, see Now retired, Howard has been a friend for years and for ages I have ridden on his boards.

Friday, August 13, 2010

OzHpv Challenge: The Board Game


Well I won't start on the topic, rather just write a bit of a catch-up and then launch into it.

First of all I've been a bit busy! My wife Christine is recovering from an operation and I've been to and from dentists and endodontists this week dealing with an abcess on the gum. That doesn't mean I haven't done things related to bikes, its just I haven't written about them yet.

For a while I've been helping my workmate Brad Jarvis build a trike (donating materials and advice). He's finished now and posted a bit about it on his web blog at . Brad has helped me a lot, dragging this website from a small collection of stuff that I've written to something a bit more focussed and impressive. Thanks again Brad!

Well, back to the board game. I read a few Human Powered Vehicle websites quite regularly, among them
Bentrideronline: and more recently
The Recumbent Journal:

Velovision posted a link to this wonderful site about Cycling Board Games. . It's not a type of game that's known about let alone used in Australia but this website lists hundreds of them, mainly European I think.

I stumbled across one Australian game on the site:

There is a page about making your own board game, and more trivia than you would care to imagine.

Anyway, this got me to thinking: how about a boardgame based on the Ozhpv Challenge? This set of races has been held over about 10 years at Canberra, Broadford, Werribee and more recently Albury. The website for the Challenge is here

Anyway I've started a small spreadsheet which sets up a premise for a game based on the challenge. It's here

Basically the game would have 6 races and six different vehicles, all familiar to Challenge Entrants
Road Race
Off Road
Shopping Race
Hill Climb
Time Trial

Road Bike
Mountain Bike
Lowracer Recumbent
Recumbent Trike
LWB Recumbent

Riders would progress a token across a board based on a roll of the dice. There might be 40 squares to progress through in a race.

There's a table in the spreadsheet with something like the most likely outcomes for the races given riders of equal ability, and the idea of the game is to simulate that likely outcome in each race using a set of "rigged dice" (see The "average" roll of dice will lead to the expected result. Each vehicle has its good and bad races and it all averages out even in the end.

Of course nothing like this happens in the real version of the Challenge. The actual result in recent years has been:

* Someone comes along with a mountain bike and wins the Off Road (Tim Marquardt in recent years)

* Jamie Friday wins everything else and is once again crowned OzHpv Champion!


Steve Nurse

Monday, June 14, 2010

Some Reviews of "The Cycle Zoo"


This is a gathering of reviews of "The Cycle Zoo". Thanks to Sue Archer & Peter Eland (Velovision), Adrienne (Vichpv Site), Jeff Potter (Out Your Backdoor) , Chris and Steve (3CR)

Out Your Backdoor review

Pdfs of Velovision review and articles

A brief mention in the middle of a general discussion on recumbents (search for modular)

Vichpv ad

3CR radio interview


Steve Nurse

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Some Folding Bikes

After a brief absence, we have a couple of folding bikes in the yard again. Two bikes came up in one lot on ebay, I put in a bid and there you go, a couple of days later I am driving down the Eastlink freeway after work to pick up the bikes in Carrum Downs. I didn't really know what I was getting but they were cheap enough and these types of bikes are easy enough to fix.

Anyway after unloading the bikes at home I got a chance to look at the bikes: I've got a 16 inch National folding bike with rusty wheels and a 3 speed hub and back pedal brake, and a 20 inch "Another Rob's bike from Blackburn" that was probably made in Eastern Europe.

Well I quite like old folding bikes! There is a great German website devoted to them, which has the philosophy (even if they don't say it!) "These bikes might be old, they might be simple, they might be crappy. But we love them!"

Klapprad is a German term for folding bikes which describes the sort of bikes I like. The German Wikepedia entry mentions the term as follows:

"The need for the term "folding bike" instead of Klapprad came from the need for sellers of high value bikes to distance themselves from the 1960’s and 1970’s Klapprad bikes which were often bad to ride and unmanageable. In contrast, modern folding bikes can ride like full size touring- and sport- bikes."

So, back to my bikes. I did some work on them in the kitchen on Friday night and took the photos, then on Saturday morning worked on the 20" Rob's. This bike has alloy wheels, front brake and coaster brake, worn whitewall tyres.

Try pumping tyres (woods valves) 1 ok, the other has problems.
2nd tyre remove valve, clean valve, replace rubber tube around valve, pump up tyre, ok now.
Remove chain, replace with new one from shed, oil wheel bearings.
Tilt handlebars forward.
Replace front brake cable, oil front brake.
Bike is still rusty. The paint that's left is very faded.
Take bike to front of house, ride to op shop.

Old, possibly homeless guy outside op-shop says that the bike is very old, possibly an antique.
"Yeah, like me", I say, riding off.

Then I started on the 16" National. The wheel nuts are really rusty and I have to work hard to get the wheels off. The bike has a nice, 2 pronged stand and the aluminium mudguards and chainguard and frame are generally in good nick. Despite near frozenness due to lack of oil and rust, the rear hub is a 3 speed planetary gearbox and back pedal brake. Jamie Friday used one of these on his load trike, so its worth using on another bike if not on this one.

1 tyre holds air, the valve and tube is stuffed on the other one.
Removed wheels with difficulty.
Dug out a set of 16" wheels and a tube. These wheels are in reasonable condition, rear wheel has back pedal brake.
Move tyres and tubes to "new" wheels.
That's all sofar, I'll try to get it on the road tomorrow.

Sunday morning was spent getting the orange bike on the road.
Front forks bolt slots too narrow for new wheel. Used electric drill to make extra width.
Seat too low even with the seat post at the top, reverse clamp under seat to raise it slightly, might need to make a new seatpost.
Swap cog on new wheel, I put on a smaller one from the shed which raises the gear inches a bit, also swapping the side the dishing the cog was on made the chain allignment a bit better.

Ok, time for a blocky! Had to fight off my wife Christine and our 98 year old neighbour Edith, they were just itching to have a go on it as you can see from the photo.

The seat is still a bit low but it goes ok. The gear inches are a little bit low and I am pedalling quite fast to get a reasonable speed on a flat road. There is a nice, small organised ride tomorrow, I plan to take this orange bike and see how I go.
Late last night I brazed a couple of seatposts together to make one long seatpost and fitted it to the orange bike.
This morning I headed off on the bike and met Alan & Diane Ball and George Durbridge for the start of the "Bonus VicHpv ride". The little bike performed well all day but the very long seatpost puts my weight right to the back of the bike and there is a tendency for the bike to do wheelies when you don't really want it to. That can be countered: you just need to lean forward when going over small rises or up hills.
The ride itself was billed as follows:
"We will be touring most art on the "Docklands Art Journey" leaflet but in a better riding order, omitting some, and seeing some interesting extras. For some info, click on the Docklands Art Journey link on: Lunch at Docklands. After lunch we start back along the Yarra diverting briefly to view the controversial Yellow Peril now in a more appropriate setting."
The day went very well with Alan wearing his tour leader hat and reading from a printout of a website to describe the varoius artworks we visited. Doing this tour is well worth the effort if you get a chance. Seeing the "Vault" statue next to the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art was a highlight: a controversial statue and Melbourne icon next to a truly ugly building! Thanks Alan!
All for now and for this post
Steve Nurse

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Some Photos from a Sunday Ride

One of Robert W's regular Sunday rides was held today and I went along to the start of it and rode several kilometres with friends who ride recumbents. It was a very nice day, ranging from fresh and crisp in the morning to mild in the early afternoon. Mainly pictures taken from a moving bike today.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Rickshaw Trike: Part 3

Today was Saturday and I had a chance to work on the Cyclo cycle-rickshaw. The aim was to get the trike going with a retro-direct 2 -speed drive. (see I'd already mounted an extra clutch on the rear sprocket and the cycle already had a place to mount the pulley and I had a ball bearing mounted pulley in the shed. So it didn't take all that long to put it together.
Christine was ready for a ride in the trike by the time I'd fitted up the chain and pulley, so the first ride wasn't a blockey but a "real ride" up to a cafe / nursery and bike shop. The gears worked quite well and it was relatively easy to get used to pedalling backwards to go forwards. The trike has an inbuilt park-brake: just park it pointed up a hill and it won't go anywhere as it can't roll backwards.
I made a short, fairly crap video of the mechanism. The sound effects include the guy next door putting out the rubbish bins and I am decapitated for much of the video. See . That's Showbiz or at least my version of it!
Before I put this drive on our rickshaw I searched the internet for "retro-direct rickshaw" and came up with this site which links to a video of a delta trike rickshaw in Bangladesh with retro-direct drive . I had a brief internet conversation with the site's author.
Well I'll go on improving this trike. The bracket holding the pulley needs to be a bit more secure and be constrained from moving sideways but major improvements will only come when I increase the number of teeth on the chainwheel and clutches (reducing the forces in the chain) and get the driving ratios a bit better. For this I need to remove the several screw on clutches from bike wheels which is "difficult", so I'll see how it goes.
Steve Nurse

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Rickshaw Trike: Part 2


You might like to read part 1 of this story before reading this post

Tony finished the trike and delivered it down to us on the back of a very large trailer. He is a pathological bike collector and had several old bikes he had gathered in Melbourne to bring back home to Castlemaine. He was interested in my Moulton 2-speed and we rode around the block a few times (me on the rickshaw, Tony on the Moulton) a few times before going in for dinner.

Several more modifications were done before Christine was happy with the trike.

* We put an extra cushion under the original rickshaw cushion and this helped greatly. Before we "got it right" we'd had a wooden bolster which got the seat to the right height but was too harsh on Christine.

* The footrest was cut down: originally it had slats between the 2 prongs but these were removed which allows Chris to come right up next to the chair before sitting down.

* Armrests were added.

(Thanks to David Downing who donated the sculptred armrests, they do the job very well. Dave was dropping off the armrests which the op shop gave him when a friend of mine, Don who is blind came around to the front fence. Don was having trouble with the exercise bike I had fixed for him. Without having met Don before, Dave went around to help Don with the bike. A few days later Dave had delivered a 2nd hand exercise bike to our house for Don)

Christine and I have now been on several successful excursions on the trike. Our "easy range" is about 2 or 3k on flat ground but we are usually able to find a few pubs, Garage Sales and Cafes within that distance.

There is still much work to be done on the trike. At the very least we can add decorations, artwork and some storage areas. Maybe I will make myself a fake rickshaw licence!

I think that "reverse pedalling" gears would work well on the trike and I've done some work on this already. (Of course derailleur gearing would be possible as well. But boring) A few years ago I saw Ross Harrup's bike which has this gearing. More reports later.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Around Oz


Well another couple of bike books arrived in our house last week and one of them (bought through ebay from a seller in Tasmania) is "Two Wheels to Adventure" by Shirley Duncan. Although it was published in 1957, the book describes a 3-year long bike journey that took place immediately after World War 2. The book is interesting and simply written and makes me ache for the simplicity of life on the open road. Shirley travelled with her friend, Wendy and they acquired a dog en route. They were not averse to the occasional lift in a truck and also walked up hills and travelled by boat, plane, train, jallopy (old car) and camel during their trip. They worked as housemaids, fruit packers, sandwich makers, mannequins and stayed in CWA, school and church halls and in tents. Their trip left a few ripples and a bit of searching on the internet will find further information about the trip. It's amazing how rich the internet material Various sites related to the trip include:
Wendy's book about the trip is called "With Bags and Swags"
It can be obtained through
A 2008 reunion of Wendy and Shirley
A contemporary Article from the Canberra times
The legendary u-tube video
A 1980 Article
Anyway, it happens that as I write, Mister Peter Heal from Canberra is taking off on an entirely different trip round Australia. He is riding alone and unsupported and hopes to break the record (about 50 days) for the fastest unsupported Round Australia trip. There are vast differences between Wendy and Shirley's ride and Pete's. There have been tremendous advances in bikes, roads and communications in 60 years. Some of Pete's equipment would be unimaginable to the average cyclist of 1946.
But both rides share a great spirit of freedom and endeavour and I urge anyone who can to go bike touring for as long as you can. Any way you like, it's all good.
You can follow Pete's progress at the yahoo group
There are links from that site to the technical wizardry and statisticians dream of I'm not sure if Pete will stop long enough (4 hours) to acquire the little tent symbols but we shall find out.
Bon Voyage Pete! And thanks for the memories Wendy and Shirley!
Steve Nurse
Stop Press (30/5/10): Have just received Wendy Suart's book about the trip and will write more on this later. SN
Pete Heal is rapidly approaching Perth and from there its only 10 days or so home! Go Pete.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Live from Meeniyan Motel Part 2


Today was the second day of the Anzac Day Long Weekend and Anzac Day (April 25) itself. Anzac day is a war memorial day, and Anzac itself stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Today's ride was due to go from Meeniyan to Foster along the Great Southern Rail Trail. The distance is about 30k each way but the more mountainous road route is only 20k! The train route the rail trail is based on was chosen for its flatness, don't mind the distance!

Anyway about 20 of us headed out and it was a fair old hike for 1 day. At 11 am we had a minute's silence for Anzac day and Ken said a few appropriate words. Thanks Ken!

On the way back, Eric Ball and I swapped vehicles and so I was riding one of Alan Ball's hand made folding trikes for a while. This trike is quite low compared to a standard bike and so most cyclists tower above you. The ride on the trike is interesting, it doesn't need much steering so you get to look at the scenery more. As well, the trike stability is great. There were some chicanes near road crossings on the trail and several cyclists had (embarrassing rather than harmful) falls attempting to negotiate them. But the trike handled fine and was fun to ride through the chicanes.

The ride had lovely views, good company, and we didn't get rained on too much, what more can you ask for?

Of all the riders we had 4 trikes, 1 standard tandem, 1 recumbent tandem and 1 recumbent bike.

Best Wishes, Steve Nurse
(Google Earth Image and Spelling Corrections courtesy of Ken S. , thanks Ken)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Live from the Meeniyan Motel Part 1


Well my wife Christine and I are away for the Anzac Day Long weekend (April 26 is a holiday here) and spending some time in Gippsland on a ride organised by Robert Waryszak and broadcast on the Vichpv Yahoo group

The trip from Melbourne was good and on the way I was admiring some of the Leongatha to Meeniyan rail trail meandering below us. We arrived about 3pm and a short while after assembling my bike a bloke named Ken rolled up on a Greenspeed trike and we started to have a chat. He was going on Robert's ride on Sunday and he had come from Leongatha on the rail trail. So I joined him for for a ride on the way back. I got about halfway to Leongatha (Koonwarra) before heading back. My trip was uneventful except for buying a bottle of wine at a Koonwarra store. But Ken, well Ken had a cup of coffee at Koonwarra and he had a puncture as well. Anyway, there he is in the photo fixing his puncture. Nice things, one sided hubs, none of that horrible icky process of removing wheels before replacing the tube.

Till tomorrow


Steve Nurse

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Bike lights never really act in isolation. You need a minimum of one front light and one rear light on a bike to be seen and immediately you have a bike lighting system instead of just bike lights.

Why shouldn't some of the lights on your bike share their batteries? You can wire up your bike lights to do this already:

* You can make a light into a power source by running wires from the end positive and negative terminals in the light to outside the light.

* This can be used to power another light, typically a rear light which may have been provided with only a tiny battery to begin with.

* Packages for containing and connecting multiple batteries are available from electronics stores and hub dynamos and solar charged batteries are also available. These all make excellent independant sources of power for bike lights.

It would be nice if all bike light manufacturers provided a simple socket to allow for input voltages for the light or output voltages from the light's battery pack. This would allow simple plug and play arrangements of bike lights. Don't know if this will ever happen.

Anyway the photos show one of my efforts in this area. The tiny 3V battery in this flashing rear light is replaced by a 3V battery pack. The lifetime of the new battery pack is many times that of the original.


Steve Nurse

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shopping for Kitchens

Well my wife Christine needs a new kitchen and she is plotting with my sister-in-law Lynn and carpenter - friend Ray to plan it. And she's doing a good job.
So anyway, a Saturday rolls around and Christine had warned me that I'd need to come along to the shop where they make the kitchens. When the time comes, off we trot in the car. Not much traffic on the way there and the staff at the kitchen shop are very attentive, explaining all the bench options and sinks and gas cookers and stuff. Once you've sorted out everything they do a 3d cad drawing of your kitchen.
Other than just hanging around, I was able to put in my big question about side opening oven doors. Can you swap them over for right or left hand opening? The answer is yes!
On the way to the kitchen shop, Christine had spotted a place where they sell pillows and we need new pillows. According to Christine. But I don't care, the pillows we have now are fine and I don't think about pillows. But according to Brian Nankervis, (rock and obviously allround guru) "Happy Wife, Happy Life". So I shut up. After the kitchen shop we are buying pillows. Ok.
After we've selected the pillows the lady in the shop spies our kitchen shop brochure and says "Oh, you've been shopping for kitchens down the road, that must be fun"
Well, I'd been bottling it up for too long and in answer to a direct question, had to lay it on the line, "Well I think the ladies are enjoying themselves but the blokes are being dragged around not having much fun. The blokes are thinking let me out of here, I'd rather be mucking around in my shed or drinking beer or watching the football." After a bit more banter along these lines (one of the other guys in the shop is laughing) we head home and stop at a sensible place along the way.
We buy some plywood. So I can make boxes for a load carrying bike. That can carry beer. That's right, I'm a bloke.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Rickshaw Trike: Part 1

A new vehicle has entered our lives, a tricycle rickshaw. How we came to have it is a long story but we've got all day so settle down with a cup of tea.
My wife, Christine has scoliosis and has had some trouble walking since a hip operation last November. I am a rusted on bike rider and to help us both get around our suburb we have contemplated getting something of the "duet" ( cycle type.
An email on the ozhpv mailing list from Pete Heal alerted me to the sale of a "duet" style trike in Canberra, it is shown in yellow above. Unfortunately while the price for the trike was ok, getting it down to Melbourne was going to cost as much as the trike itself. While still contemplating the yellow trike, a Rickshaw trike came up for sale on ebay, and the seller was Tony from the bicycle garden ( near Castlemaine. The price seemed much more reasonable at about $360 so we put in a bid which turned out to be the only bid. Tony is a bike builder and after a bit of discussion we put Tony on the case of fixing up the trike.
In the first week he only worked on the transmission, swapping the original, very heavy, fixed back wheel for a lighter 27" wheel with disc brake.
Then, Christine and I visited Tony's Bicycle Garden to look at the trike. The footrests for the trike were way up high and no good for Christine, and the leaf springs weren't doing much good. We asked Tony to remove the springs and replace the seat, then went off for lunch in Castlemaine.
Well Tony couldn't find the right seat, so he fixed the one on the Rickshaw and sent us down some photos (top left)
More in the next installment!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Great Ocean Road Audax Ride on 15/3/2010

This ride takes place along the scenic and popular-with-cyclists Great Ocean Road. The (Bicycle Victoria run) Great Vic Bike ride is extremely popular when it runs along the G.O.R. . In recent times there has been a 1-day, commercial ride on the Great Ocean Road, see

The Audax Ride I went on is non-commercial and is limited in numbers due to the laws requiring traffic control measures for larger groups. Despite being non-commercial it was extremely well organised and my thanks go out to Peter Donnan and his crew for a job well done. They never failed to look relaxed and provided excellent food at the lunch and morning and afternoon tea stops.

As for the ride itself: well the gods turned on beautiful weather. The week previous (a holiday long weekend) had seen Melbourne hailed upon with "hail the size of lemons" damaging stations and stadiums. The rain slowly cleared and the State Emergency Service slowly mopped up the hail havoc and the insurance companies slowly got busy ironing out the damage from hailed-upon-cars.

So, nice weather. The ride is 150k, Anglesea to Apollo Bay and back. The route hugs the coast and watches the waves roll in for the whole of its distance which suits me as a rider who has no speedo, no GPS or other gizmos on his bike. My recumbent bike (looks a bit like this one

is heavy and slow uphill but very fast downhill . By Audax standards I'm not very fit, so compared to some other riders I'm the hare, going quite fast occasionally and then slowing right down while the tortoises catch up. And overtake. Mostly.

Anyway, despite riding at wildly inconsitant speeds, for me, doing the Great Ocean Road on a recumbent is heaps of fun. And a few other recumbent riders were along for the rides as well. There was a 200k option offered instead of the 150k and Peter W. , Simon W. Rob L., Rick H. all rode one of the distances on recumbent bikes. This makes quite a high proportion of recumbents on the ride and there was respect for us and everyone else on the ride. Thanks again Audax.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Painting The Bike

A fair amount of the weekend of Feb 27 and 28 was spent painting my bike. I rode out to Bunnings in Hawthorn (4wheel drive / toorak tractor city!) and bought a can of Hammertex Grey Spray paint. This paint goes onto just about anything and does a reasonable job of looking good even if you are an amateur painter like me.

On the way home from Bunnings I stopped at a church fete in Richmond and somewhat ambitiously (in terms of transporting the things home)bought several shirts, some grapefruit marmelade, a few books and a signed, framed music poster print from the jazz group Galapagos Duck.

After unloading all that stuff I stripped down the bike. On the Saturday Night (um, we are talking about real excitement here) I painted the forks.
On the Sunday I stripped down the rest of the bike and used an old bike fork to hang it over the lane behind our place. A block of wood with a bolt stuck up through it was used to jig the seat frame and the forks.

Well I was happily painting away, Hammertex Grey when the can ran out, somewhat prematurely and possibly due to a lack of shaking on my part. I mean, the can needs shaking, otherwise not all of the goop that's in it comes out of it in the proscribed manner, ie as nice paint. So what to do? Not panic! I resorted to using some canary yellow paint which was hanging around in the shed. So now we have main frame: canary yellow, forks and bit of seat frame: Hammertax Grey, other bit of seat frame: Canry Yellow. Some photos of the finished results at a later date.

Till next time!


Steve Nurse

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Racing on The New Bike

On March the 20th my wife and I were up at Ballarat for the weekend and I participated on my new bike which includes a body sock. The cover is nicknamed "Carmen Miranda" because of its extremely loud, bright colours. John Reynoldson organised our team.
The night before the ride was very windy and I attempted a couple of laps in the bike with the fairing on. Not much fun, the wind kept blowing part of the corflute fairing into the path of my foot and I spent some time modifying it with the limited tools I had available. After a while I abandoned the body sock and went for a ride on the "nude bicycle". A couple of people who had seen me on the bike with the fairing said "there goes another one" when they saw the uncovered bike - the appearance changes quite radically.
Well I needn't have bothered fret'n about the wind. Sunday Feb 21 dawned cool and still with a blue sky. Hallelujah! The ride went very well for the 'bentriders crew. Most of us reported few standard cycles passing us on the 6k flat circuit.
Lloyd Hassell put together a video, the results are here.

Graham Signiorini is a great bike rider and a master wooden boat builder. He made the bent plywood seat for my bike. The photo show him on his Rans Xtreme for team Bentriders. Note the custom wooden tailbox.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Welcome to the Modularbikes blog. I will be posting stuff about bikes, reactions to my book, people who are building bikes from my plans and may even write some stuff about surfing. Stay tuned.


Steve Nurse