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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why I bought a recumbent bike part 2.

Well, we are actually venturing into other topic areas here, but having named the first part of my story "why I bought a recumbent bike part 1", I seem somewhat obliged to continue with a title in that series, although really this post is more about "what I did with my Performer recumbent bike once I bought it". "Stop rabbitting on about nothing, I hear you say, start telling us something, we don't care what the #*&^%( title of the #(57@^%$ blog post is." Well I hear you. Yes. Stop rabbitting on. Yes. Now.

The recumbent bike I bought is a disc brake high racer. The original spec for the bike is on the net at I believe the bike would be very good value bought new and has nice things like a hollow, lightweight crankset, neat cable runs, boots on the brake cables to stop water entry, twist grip shifters, light wheelset with aero spokes and high end disc brakes. Overall, it's quite light.

Unfortunately a few things needed fixing on the bike before I could consider it to be good to ride on the road. The fixing took place over several months but I'm writing this a few weeks after I'd finally fixed things so will compress it all a bit.

The Seat

As supplied by the bloke I bought the bike from, the seat on the bike was propped up quite high on a set of metal stilts. Nicely done but a bit heavy. I removed all the existing seat propping and put the seat back on. It seemed a bit low at the back, so I used a couple of sawn up pieces of nylon and long bolts to prop up the back. Alex Mcnee who sells Performer bikes from Canberra recommended something similar and told me he has some "custom" bits to help do the same job. His contact details are on the Performer website,

The Steering

As supplied the steering was a foreshortened version of the original Performer steering which had a "Boomerang" type handlebar and the steerer leaning out over the belly. This makes the bike a bit harder to get on and off and harder to relax when you're sitting on it. So I jumped in and started to replace the handlebars to be a bit more like those on Barchettas or Pete Heal's Lizard cycles. The bars are powdercoated black alloy and came from Abbotsford Cycles, . This process needed all the cables to be changed and some rerouted. I needed a tandem brake cable (again from Abbotsford Cycles) to reach the back brake and added a bell and mirror. For now the seat and steering combination are quite comfortable.

Visibility and Storage

For a long time I have ridden my home-made recumbent bikes and usually I have a white tailbox fitted at the back. The tailbox makes the bike more visible, especially from behind. As supplied the bike was all black and I had a feeling that car drivers would just not see it, especially at night. Just to make the bike "roadworthy", and before I'd intalled the tailbox, I slung an old safety vest over seat.

The need to carry stuff can hardly ever be divorced from bikeriding. I know that people get away with riding with just a cycling shirt with a pocket on the back and a bottle carrier on the frame. But this is all very la-de-dah and impractical and I like to be able to carry at least as much as I need for a commute to work, that is, a change of clothes and a small briefcase. The recumbent bike allows this to be done in a storage space that makes the bike go faster, not slower. The aerodynamics of this tailbox make the top part of the body less bluff and able to slip through the air easier. Lower down, the seat is already quite reclined and does a good job of aerodynamics anyway.

To construct the tailbox, I used plastic fluteboard / coreflute, which is available without too much fuss and in a variety of thicknesses from Bunnings. At the top of the box (actually built into the lid) and mounted on to the seat, I have made a small wooden frame. The tailbox is about 30 cm (or hip-width) wide which is wider than the seat itself. When there is a load in the tailbox, the fluteboard stretches. Without the wooden frame at the top, it would distort where it meets the seat and possibly sag onto the back wheel. And oh no, that would never do. Apart from fluteboard all you will need to make a tailbox are cable ties and a few household tools.

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