News and Events

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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Weekend at home

Christine at Home

Front Wheel Drive Fork Mod.

Fork Broke about 1 street away from home.

Lots of this sort of bike available!

iLean Trike
New iLean trike rear wheels

This 3-day weekend I have been at home working on the house and a few bikes, some of the results can be seen in the photos.

The simplest machine to fix with the new parts I received recently should have been the iLean trike, a simple rear wheel swap was required.   At the same time as fixing the back, I overhauled the front, and this included renewing the disc brake cable.  Unfortunately as I went for a test ride, (and trip to the dumpster) my foot got caught in the brake cable and the brake was duly applied by accident.  The front fork broke as a result!  Its quite possible it was cracked already, and breaking only 1 street away from home was really not such a bad result.  But its back to the drawing board a bit for an extended test for the new iLean trike parts.

As well as starting on a new wooden bike, I have been around the neighbourhood gathering parts for future bike projects.  The 10 year old, 26" mountain bike has now past its used by date in inner Melbourne and on Saturday I saw several on offer at Garage Sales.  Today there were several on hard rubbish piles and at the dumpster and I've gathered up wheels, chains, bar ends, Aheadset bits, brake levers and other parts from the corpses.  Most of the bikes have suspension front forks, but aside from that It's all good!

All for now.  Back to work tomorrow.


Steve Nurse

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New Parts!

Shafts for iLean trikes

Reinforcing brace for rear Monostay on wooden bike.

In the last few days, I've picked up a few custom made bike bits I've ordered.  This will keep me busy at home on the weekends for a while.

iLean trike shafts: Vi Vuong designed a series of Python style trikes and has a series of videos about them.  I've made my own version but something bugged me about the design.  The assembly of the wheels onto the shafts was a bit of a hit and miss affair and (for me at least) involved abducting perfectly innocent pedals and 20" bike wheels, torturing, and forcing them into an unholy marriage.  Well, maybe not quite that bad but "a bit messy" from an engineering point of view.  So to sort it out, I ordered some hubs from Bitex, and had them built into wheels by Abbotsford Cycles.  Lastly, I designed and ordered some NC machined shafts from a local supplier, and I picked these up a few days ago.  Not much left to do to install them now, although I might have to reinstate some parts stolen from the trike.  Will report more later.

My Hollow Beam Bike has been great fun to build and ride but the design of the "rear triangle" could be improved.  How about a monostay as championed by Mr. Mike Burrows? There's no brake on the back wheel to complicate things and it can be as aerodynamic as all hell.  Here is an example from Toxy in Germany using a very solid hinge.  My approach will be a bit different, I'm using a laser cut steel plate to go on the side of the hinge  and reiforce the monostay.  The monostay can be from the same material as the main frame, slightly larger than the stays I have used previously.  Finishing a bike with this monostay is slightly longer term, It involves building a whole bike first!


Steve Nurse

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Murray 1200, The Poem

Simon Watt with Christine Nurse
 Murray 1200 the Poem

When Simon from East Geelong, climbed Wicheproof (all 30 metres high),
he surveyed the Western Plain. Get on a recumbent, or bicycle here, he thought with a wicked sigh,
and you could roll for many a mile, through Robinvale, Moulamien, Jerilderie
 and Beulah, Hopetoun, Durham Ox (though there's not much there to see)
and Dingee, Mitiamo, Rochester and Boort.
And so Murray 1200 was born.  Simon plotted fiendishly away
until several years later (to the very day)
The bravest Audax riders from all across the land lined up to ride
the plotted route with Garmin, GPS, cue cards and the odd map or two.
4 days later, it was all done and we crept exhausted to bed
and thought it the best and flattest garden path up which we'd all been led.

Note: Vinnie from Seattle finished the Audax Murray 1200 volunteer's ride and also writes poetry .

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Murray 1200

Start of the Murray 1200

Howard Dove and Bec Morton

Pete Carr, Sarah and Cows on the road near Deliliquin

Near Denniliquin after dinner
Sunrise West of Rochester. Video Link

Near Mitiamo

Sarah and Phillip near Mittiamo Video Link

Warracknabeal Cafe

Civic Sculpture in Birchip

Fires in the Paddock near Hopetoun Video Link

Phillip and Peter in Hopetoun
The Murray 1200 Audax ride was the brainchild of Mr. Simon Watt from Geelong.  He has been a long time organiser of Audax rides around Hopetoun in Western Victoria and wanted to run a 1200k ride in the area. "As flat as you can get".  And so the ride came about.  It seemed like the sort of 1200k Audax I could cope with, I was in friendly hands, nothing to stop me training or at least schlepping around Melbourne a bit more than I needed to on a variety of recumbents. And so go, and I did!

Day 1, Robinvale - Jerilderie, 366k
After the trip up from Melbourne, I met Pete, Simon and Dave at the Caravan Park in Robinvale and set up my tent.  Dinner was at the pub and the fish and chip shop as I was starting the long distance cyclist's eating mantra, certified as correct by Peter Heal: "Eat as much as you can without being sick.  If you can't finish it, take it with you." On this occasion the Pizza Pamigiana went uneaten and was used the next day.

Early Saturday and we are off.  I am well prepared and at the start point well before time.  80k to Balranald is ridden in reasonable size packs and passes quite quickly.  I was thinking about people I knew in the area and some tiny brain cell inside my head remembered that Matt Boddinnar came from Balranald.  When I pulled into the town, I crossed to the right hand side of the road thinking that was where the cafe was.  And I started chatting to a guy opening up the hardware store (Boddinnar's Mitre 10) and I asked him and he happenned to be Matt Bodinnar.  Anyway, we had a chat, he asked me where I was off to (oh, ridiculous bike ride, y'know), I declined a cup of tea, mentioned a few old mates I was still in contact with and then I was off.

Bit of a hard pull into Kyalite.  I was on my own and riding into the wind and not keeping up much speed. Hard work.  On the run into Moulamien (1st checkpoint, 175k) a friendly group including Sarah, Bec, Peter and Howard overtook me.  I tagged along behind them into Moulamine and was able to rest a little bit.  Bec grew up in the area and her Mum and Dad had provided all the checkpoint food in exchange for a donation to the primary school.

On to Deniliquin, tough headwind riding again but at least I was with a few others.  Its all pretty barren land and at one point, cows were crossing the road.  Filled up with food at a Deniliquin cafe / Service station.  The toilet rating was 1/2 flush only (very poor)  The food was ok though but almost too much and too much variety and my stomach wasn't totally broken in for Audax riding. So I felt like throwing up for a minute or 2 but was ok.  On to Jerilderie! A lazy 80k or so accomplished nicely in a fairly big pack.

Jerilderie Motel overnight, a good night's sleep much needed, and I'm in the room with Phillip Jang and Peter Carr, ride companions for the next day.  Everything good!

Day2, Jerilderie - Rochester, 336k
Up early the next day and I'm leaving with Sarah and Bec.  Fairly uneventful up till Urana, which is a very nice town.  Urana starts a hard slog into the wind to Corowa where we refuel with food at a Main St. Cafe.  We have cross winds to Yarrawonga and pass Peter Donnan on the way.  I'm fairly shickered when we reach Yarrawonga, but we have a tailwind for the next pull into Katamatite, we have a large group working well together and can go at 30kph at times.  (This section of the ride is familiar to me having done the 2013 Oppy ride on much the same route, Yarrawaonga to Rochester.) This group continues to Shepparton, we stop for noodles and to gather strength for the last 80k into Rochester.  At Shepparton I manage to contact my brother Richard who is visiting Victoria from the UK.  It had been a bit hard to be in touch and it was good to speak to him on the phone.

Pete Carr has us in good formation riding all the way in the dark through Kyabram, where we stop to (ahem) use the facilities.  Most of us are fairly spent but plod on for the 40 odd k's to Rochester.  Near Rochester town I need to stop for a pee and so fall off the back of the pack and am left chasing a dancing array of flashing taillights about a kilometre ahead for a while.  In Rochester a factory worker gives me directions to the Motel, Simon and a few others greet me and I'm home for the night.

Day 3, Rochester - Warracknabeal, 261k

Up early again on Monday and I'm heading west with Phil, Sarah and Bec.  The start had a nice tailwind and this continued on and off all day.  There were occasional hard bits when we headed north into the wind. The dawn was spectacular west of Rochester and there was very nice "golden hour" light just after sunrise heading into Mitiamo and I managed to get a few photos.  We stopped at Boort for breakfast, Wycheproof ("World's Smallest Mountain" rising all of 30m above the vast flat plain)  for lunch and Birchip  (home of a well endowed and often vandalised bull sculpture) for afternoon tea.  The night's destination was Warracknabeal and we zoomed in under full tailwind.  After sorting out my room I spoke to Phil and he said we were to leave at 1:30 in the morning with Peter Donnan.  Well - ok!

Day 4, Warracknabeal - Rochester, 237k

Up early and off with Peter and Phil.  By Beulah we worked out a formation that kept us all together and riding a Peter's metronomic 20kph.  That is, Peter out front with one of me or Phil beside him, and the other in "the cheap seat" getting some wind assistance behind.  We stuck with that till after the Sea Lake turn off and we separated a bit after that.  Phil caught up with us at Woomelang (toilets off the track a bit but very clean and new and rate 4 1/2 flushes) and told us Phil had had a puncture.  Peter and I pushed on into Sea Lake for breakfast and only about 110k to go.  After Sea Lake there were still headwinds, and we stuggled into Manangatang.  Needed lots to drink at Manangatang and the locals were very curious about our bikes and the ride as a whole.  We had our photos taken and might even make the Manangatang news (Big Time!) in a week or two.  Managed to pick up some speed coming into Rochester, but I was dog tired and crying hopelessly with pent up relief and vindication that some of my bike ideas are working.  Peter Donnan and I crossed the finish line at the same time and Phil came in a few minutes later.  Pete Heal made my finisher's medal on the spot and I crashed out after that, not to surface (much) until the next morning, because I couldn't walk. (much)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ecological Traps

Ecological traps are a set of circumstances that makes an animal or person do dumb things or "choose falsely attractive habitat".  Until a week or so ago I'd never heard of them, then I read an article about them in "New Scientist", and now the idea is stuck in my head a bit.

Environmental trap for animals: Sea birds will eat plastic debris which kills them.  Dragonflies mistake solar cells for water and  will make a futile attempt to nest there.

Environmental  traps for people: "Fast Food" can be cheap and tasty.  But they can be full of salt and sugar, and not very good for you.  People fall in love with the wrong people and go irrational.  Celine Dion still has a singing career.  The list goes on and on.

As far as this blog is concerned, the overuse of cars seems like something to be considered as an ecological trap. Cars take up space not only where they are, but also demand space where they could be, that is, a workplace, sporting venue, shopping centre, city or freeway "wants" car space enough for a (rarely occuring) busiest period, and the rest of the time the space goes to waste.  Even so, at busy periods, the capacity of some roads has been reached at some times in some areas, and traffic slows down enormously.  At least over shorter distances, bikes would not only get most people to their destination faster, they don't cause pollution and give good physical exercise.

To highlight some of these issues traffic issues (chaos and real unsustainability of  transport times) that exist in the west of Melbourne, a local  council is holding a race to the city using foot, bus, bikes, cars and trains over about 30k.  Here are some links (with a few video links)

If you were going to avoid environmental traps as far as bikes and trikes are concerned, everybody should be choosing a bike "most suitable for purpose" or "attractive habitat".  Not everybody always chooses the best bike for the purpose and this is possibly a bad thing.

People's decision on a bike is based on their knowledge and that of people in bike shops, not to mention cost, advertising, what is seen in books, magazines, on television and in films, what friends think, what friends will think!  All this stuff (some of it unavoidable) creates a "lens" which helps separate a purchase from a best-result purchase.  

It's worth taking a long term view of this though.  Lots of useful bike styles which were cutting edge ten years ago are mainstream and less expensive now.  These include electric bikes, trail-a-bikes, folding bikes, kid's bike without pedals, cargo bikes, cargo trikes, bike trailers.  Other styles like recumbent trikes and recumbent bikes are at least less expensive now, even if that comes at the cost of less Australian manufacture and a loss of local bike culture.

So it is fairly certain we'll see an increase in the use of recumbents over time, goodness knows fashion might even give them a boost.  Fixies are now available very cheap ($100) in supermarkets.  Surely their popularity will wane when their exclusivity is gone and something else might fill their space. 

But nobody hold your breath.   


Steve Nurse