News and Events

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

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Big Al Rides 100

Hi, A few photos from yesterday's 114 k Audax ride along bike paths.  A day well spent.  Thanks to ride organiser Robert Wilkinson, ride companions Ross, Leigh and Sarah,  and to Melbourne for turning on some beautiful late-Autumn riding weather.  Will add a few captions and more of a story later.


Steve Nurse.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Fancy Pants Recumbent Bike Pedal Hack

Parts removed from pedals for reflectors about 70g .......

And new parts added about 50g

Pedal on trike, note the red dot of bling at the top of the pedal which was.....

drawn as a sketch on paper, then on Solidworks, then.....

3d printed and pressed into the pedal.  The part goes into the hole previously occupied by cleat adjustment screw.  Bottom left is a few of the parts as they came off the 3d printer, complete with raft.


After making some pedal reflectors for my trike yesterday, I decided to have another go at making some today. As I said previously, making them using timber seemed possible.

The timber I've used for each pedal is a 140mm length of 12mm x 30mm Pawlonia, which is very light, even for timber.  I found some clipless pedals to modify in the shed, removed the clips from one side and put a timber-mounted reflector back on.  There was a small hole left by part of the previous mechanism and I decided to fill it with a custom 3d printed part.  The pedals (timber and aluminium with red plastic highlights) now match with the trike materials.  And their is no gramage damage (weight penalty) as the parts being replaced weigh more than the new parts.

I'm selling this trike on ebay and I will be visiting the Handmade Bike Show on Sunday and hopefully get it (and the blingy pedals) seen by a few discerning punters then.

Regards, Steve Nurse

Update April 29

Today I went in to a custom bike show and saw a pair of anti-reflective wooden pedals, some wood pieces serving as a platform where a reflector might have been. Mind you these are on super-looking plywood bikes by David Murphy so all is forgiven!

And I also attached some loop-reflective-velcro-strip to my clip-in cycling shoes, which I basically wear all the time.  They happen to have an exposed black loop velcro patch in a good spot. That's because I got rid of the strap that normally uses the patch after a few problems.  Anyway, the reflective velcro attaches easily and is hidden away under my trouser cuff when I'm walking which is a bit of a bonus.

Pics Below, Regards

Steve Nurse

Anti-reflective pedal by David Murphy........

ok, they're on this bike so its probably ok!  With a friend from Monash Uni, Derek Gurban who does some work for David Murphy Plycycles.

Reflective Velcro on MTB Shoes.....

Close Up.....

and (warning, boring photo alert) hidden away under trouser cuffs.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Recumbent Bike Pedal Hack

A simple reflective pedal setup from a few years ago.  I recently sold the trike shown.

Material for some reflective recumbent pedals: Audax reflective ankle straps which arrived in the post, ......

.... a plastic milk bottle and parts from the shed.........
..... washers from old v-brake blocks and an M5 screw......
......... some timber used to make nuts for wood screws to secure the reflectors.

Removing cleats from one side of Shimano SPD cleats reveals 3 m5 threaded holes ......
....... And weighing the removed parts .....  about 80g .....
Then storing the pedal parts for later use.
Reflective straps about 40g.

Finished and on the trike, front view.
View from behind showing the timber nut in place.


A few weeks ago, a surprise came in the mail, a pair of reflective ankle bands for bike riding from Audax, Australia's long distance cycling club.  Thanks Audax!  If you're a racy sort of bike rider, you might not have reflectors on your pedals, but they are such effective (constantly moving up and down) visible reflectors that they are worth having. Dave Maccraw pays attention to such things - and reflective ankle bands which do the same sort of job.  This product converts 2 sided clip in SPD pedals to 1 side clip-in, 1 side platform and includes reflectors in the add-on part.  But what if your bike is a recumbent?  You will definitely want to clip in but conventional pedals have the reflectors staring into space and facing the ground on recumbents.  A few years ago, I used a simple solution, attaching a narrow velcro reflective band to the plain shaft section of the pedal and this worked fine, but a limitation is that the pedals are obscured from behind.

So these reflective bands from Audax were sitting there and eventually today I got them out, wheeled my trike to the back yard and got to work.  From in front these reflectors should do a great job.

To fit them, I removed the pedal clips from one side of each of the pedals.  This saves about 80g in weight, and leaves the pedals hanging the right way for an easy clip-in. It comes at the cost of some reliablity though, breaking a pedal clip will mean no clipping in on one side as there is no spare available.

  My reflective pedal assembly weighs less than the 80g of the removed pedal parts and its possible it makes the pedals and cycling shoes more aero as well as making the trike more visible.

The reflectors are mounted on strips cut from a plastic milk carton, so should be quite robust, but really don't look that flashy-pants.  I think I could make a much better looking version using lightweight pawlonia timber (still have some supplies in the shed), but would they survive a trip to Geelong on a train or a ride in the back of a Kia hatchback?  Will test how these one go first and think about making the wooden ones.

The design could be changed considerably.  Using half a large round plastic coke bottle instead of the milk bottle material might make the whole shoe area more aerodynamic. As well, attaching the reflectors to the curved bottle could let the reflective strip be seen from the side as well as from the front.

Regards Steve Nurse

Update, April 30, 2018.

The story continues here, I made the pedals with a timber mount for a reflector.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Big Al Ride Prologue

Route of the Big Al Ride, 117 k, mostly bikepaths. I know most of it but might do some reconnoitring of it during the week so I'm sure.  The near vertical part of the route on the left is what I know least.  
This was the first part of my bike prep.  The sewing on this panel wasn't very good so I removed the corner where a sewing join was and replaced it with a neater couple of pieces including a reflective strip.  Initial work making these is shown in the first photo here.

Cause of my latest seat issues.  12kg of cask wine.  These 4 litre casks cost $9-10.00 each and some bread that I buy is $6.00 a loaf. Anyway, I rolled (pushing not riding) the bike off a 200mm kerb with this lot on board and something went clunk.
This was the damage revealed next morning.  Pieces of timber parted ways top left and bottom right.
Part of the repair, a splint glued and screwed inside the tailbox.


I've signed up for another Audax, Big Al's Ride on April 28 which is about a week away.  Anyway its only about 120k, and I'll record all my training and bike fettling leading up to the ride here.  Sofar it has been a bit of one step forward, one step back, one step forward.  After fixing up and reattaching one of the side panels, my first trip was down to a discount wine seller for several weeks worth of wine.  The local shop (200m away) charges $15 for what is under $10 about 2k away, so the trip is worth it.  But the tailbox wouldn't hack some accidental abuse, so I spent some of today fixing (screwing and gluing) it up.  I'll report an any more rides as the official Audax ride gets closer.  Regards

Steve Nurse.

21 April 2018, Back on the Horse.

Carrying 10 bike racks.....

to the Wecycle shed in Northcote.

Hi.  After leaving the glue to dry on my trike for most of yesterday, it was back on the horse this morning.  I have been trying to tidy up my shed and so had picked up 10 unwanted (and obsolete technology!) bike racks for delivery to the Wecycle cycle shed.  The trike carried the racks just fine, and I spent a few pleasant hours repairing an MTB for Wecycle.  Might try some of the ride route for next week's Audax tomorrow.


Steve Nurse

Update, April 25


Its the Wednesday before the ride now, and I've been on the net, downloaded the route files to my GPS and ridden all of the route to the North and West of where I live so am fairly well prepared now. 

On Sunday I rode along the Capital City trail to the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail, up to the Broadmeadows shops in Fawkner St. , then wound my way back to the turnoff for the second branch of the ride.  Got a bit lost there, but it was time to head back anyway, so I did.  There were a few detours off the bike path due to drainage work and rebuilding, and I let the Audax ride organiser know about them. 

Not content with that bit of exploration, today (Anzac Day public holiday for war remembrance) I went on roads to the end of the other branch, then followed the bike tracks all the way home.  Along the way I spoke to and rode with Graham, at 77 years young he does many km on bike paths and knew the one we were on backwards, putting my knowledge to shame.  In some places there are paths on each side of the path and he knew which side was better and which bridges to use.  He was an ex soil and water engineer and called the Board of Works responsible for some of the cycle path detours the Board of Jerks.  Quite well prepared for the Western part of the ride now, I might do the Eastern bit on Friday.

Steve Nurse

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Changing the Fred Design

My trike (Fred) as it is now was used to estimate the weight supported by the front wheel of some variations. Measured weight on front wheel is 38.5 kg. 

This one has the bottom bracket placed in front of the fork inside the frame and the seat moved to maintain seat to pedal distance, but no other frame changes. Moving the bottom bracket might mean a V-brake would no longer fit behind the front fork.  A disk brake would make a good alternative. Calculated weight on front wheel is 44.7kg.

This version is the same as 2 but the rear frame is foreshortened. Calculated weight on front wheel is 38kg.

Changing the trike to a bike by swapping the 2 back wheels for 1 back wheel which increases the effective wheelbase.  The dotted (lower) back wheel is in a folded position which reduces the length. I based the rear wheel frame sketch on the recent, nicely built Python bike by Ingo Kollibay shown here. Calculated weight on front wheel is 42.9kg

A version of 4 with the bottom bracket and seat moved forward. Calculated weight on front wheel is 49.2kg, the highest weight recorded here.  If the rear wheel could fold, the stored bike becomes could become smaller than the trike versions. 

Forks reversed on current trike. Calculated weight on front wheel is 38.4 kg.

Spreadsheet used for calculation.


Its been a few weeks now since I attempted the Green Wedge Hills Audax ride which seriously challenged the hill climbing abilities of my trike because the front wheel slips on very steep hills.  So I got to thinking, what would improve the hill climbing of the Fred Trikes?  A chat with Simon Watt at the OzHPV Ford Proving Ground Records weekend spurred me on, he discussed moving the bottom bracket forward of the steering fork on the frame, something I hadn't contemplated recently but was in some early direct drive fwd bikes I made.

So what would help the trike climb hills? More weight on the front wheel would help, but thinking about it doesn't really solve anything, a little bit of research and calculation and putting things down on paper might shed a bit more light.

To start with, I weighed myself, then weighed myself and my trike, then weighed the front wheel when I was sitting on the trike with my feet on the pedals. Then the trike was drawn to scale and potential changes put into drawings. Its fairly easy to draw the changes as most of them involve sliding one or other feature up and down the frame - which only consists of Aluminium RHS - so implementing the changes would not be out of reach either. And my earliest working Fred trikes like this one used 2 x 4 timber as the frame, so altering or experimenting with that wouldn't be super-hard either.

  The drawings estimated the position of the centre of gravity (CG) from the front wheel centre by assuming the CG remains 850mm behind the pedals as per my initial weigh-in and calcs.  This treats the bike and rider CG as being in the same spot which is an approximation, but a reasonable one as I weigh 5 times as much as the trike. And yes, I know, all the forces on the bike wheels should be written down in Newton, not kg, but most of us understand kg, and by putting things in Newton would be more correct but less comprehensible.

And the results? Converting the trike to a bike by using a rear wheel suspension frame like this one built by Ingo Kollibay, and moving the bottom bracket forward would put the most weight on the front wheel (Pic5) .  If the rear wheel frame could be folded, then the size of the cycle would be reduced.  There would be some secondary effects I haven't mentioned here.  For example moving the BB forward of the fork would shorten the steerer, making for more turning for a given sideways tiller handlebar movement.

Regards Steve Nurse