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4 Nov 2014

The end

I haven't posted anything for months. Things have changed the past few years. I still ride and dream, but writing here doesn't give me any satisfaction anymore. That's why I'll stop blogging. Everything will stay online. You can always ask my opinion about some recumbent related topic. A frequent reader will know how to reach me.

Thanks for reading my writings.

22 Jul 2014

Rutenbrock, my K

This weekend the races in Rütenbrock took place. And I'd decided to take part in 2 of the 3 races, skipping the longest. That would be fun. Though an old man on a bike, who suddenly turned left, knocked me of my Gazelle, and that broke my arm. Well, broke, a small fracture in the radius head of my left elbow. That is healing up nicely, and wearing the casting 8 days was long enough. The arm now rests in a supporting belt. But riding on the limits isn't possible in this condition. I still ride, a little slower, and on my Fuego or in my K. Both low and safe.

A small arm fracture and panzer lenkung combine quite well. And I can climb in and single handed pretty easy. On the open roads I could unleash the pedaling fury and take advantage of the supreme handling. The route to Rutenbrock is pretty fast.

Rütenbrock is my recumbent weekend of the year. Though the easter meeting is an important one too. Germany comes with the joy of meeting other Evo riders. People with whom one can share the magic of riding in this upper league of velomobiles.

I got to try out the best looking Evo S. And to my surprise, it feels like a completely different vehicle. That's not strange at all. My K is half a prototype that I slowly personalized to my wishes. The S is a better developed VM for riding in Germany. A firmer ride, a 75 instead of a 61t chain ring, a different sound, and finished so nicely. Naturally, my K is better for me. Her S is better for her. But making these comparisons is a good way of learning more about what makes a good VM. My K does steer lighter, caused by my heavy metal steering joints, versus the S's light plastic ones.

The genius behind both Evo's still approves the #7, despite it's weight of 25kg. The drive train still is outstanding, with the huge carbon mast, sandwich floor and seriously over sized rear swing arm. And it was quite affordable.

This autumn I'll make a couple of small changes, to further improve the ride and usability. Up to now, every part Daniel built has been outstanding. And every part Beyss built or mounted needed work. And the bits I added need even more work. In the end, the tinkerer and rider that I am, I'm still very pleased with my Evo K.

The actual event was a highlight, like every year. Too hot for many and I also wouldn't have lasted an hour in that heat. I did next to nothing and drank 4 liters that day. The barbecue, the campsite, the people, everything was as it should be. And there even was a dog.

One thing did bug me, the K's idler. Yesterday I took apart, re-assembled it and moved it 3mm to the left. That small change made a surprisingly big differences in sound :-) Next thing to do is remove and replace my rattling dashboard and electronics and sound dampen the floor under my heels.

This morning's ride was a blast, again. At 50kph, the ride is supreme!

7 Feb 2014

An upright...

I recently bought a diamond frame bicycle. It's duty is to do what df's do best, blend in and transport me to the shopping centre. It's also easier to talk with friends when you're at the same level. So it has a social function too. I'm quite sure that's the main reason I bought it.

Uprights generally come with 2 problems. Discomfort and lack of speed. For in and around town, this bike is quick enough. As long as I'm not in a hurry that is. And the discomfort was solved with the same 'trick' that I use on my Brompton, a Rido saddle. (old saddle shown on the photo) Those are like magic. Sure it is by far not as good as a Nazca seat, but for up to an hour, I felt no discomfort at all. On any other saddle, pain is there within a few minutes!

What I bought, for very little money, is a brown 1977 Gazelle Cheetah. It has drum brakes, a Sturmey Archer AB3 and a metal chaincase. And those parts come with serious benefits.

The brakes need almost zero maintenance, just as the chain and the gears. Literally a drop of oil every 100km is enough. And the drivetrain is very direct. Almost just as good as my Evo K. That where you really notice that many recumbents need improvement. This simplicity is actually what makes it quite fun to ride.

There's an Axa bottle dynamo to power the lights. My lights have a normal appearance. Though what's inside are high power l.e.d.'s. Aside from being really bright, these have an important advantage over bulbs with 1977 technology, they last.

In 5 weeks time I rode about 180km on my oldest bike. Top speed thus far is 48kph. I'll take care of the small bits of rust this spring and make sure that rust won't cause any further damage. All bearings have no play at all and the wheels are true. Not bad for something almost 37 years old!

Better and more photo's are soon to come.

31 Jan 2014

Conti Winter 2

I almost always ride on slick tires. Except during about 3 months each year with the Pioneer. During the winter season he stands on soft 'rubber' with a special thread. The soft 'rubber' of the Conti, the topic of this post, gives so much more grip than, for instance, a Kojak, or a Marathon, that I prefer the CWC2 over the latter 2, despite how slow the CWC2 is. Most of the distance the Pioneer covers is within Assen. And that comes with a lot of cornering. Those 2kph of cruising speed are not really a problem.... And I get that wonderful 'I'm so fast again sensation' every spring.

My Fuego doesn't accept anything over 30mm, and is built for basicly comfortable speed only. And because she's for the longer distances, I can life with a little less grip.

The K has 3 wheels. A lack of grip grip hardly ever is a problem for me in a velomobile. Even on icy roads, slicks do the job, for me. I just brake a bit earlier. And velomobiles don't really work in more than about 4cm of snow anyway.

Back to the Nazca Pioneer and his Continental Winter Contacts II, or CWC2 for short. I bought these tires last year, after I'd read a test at Wim's blog. In snow and slush covered roads always where the situation that I couldn't ride a bike. Well, I've had an Oké-ja, that worked pretty good. Though that's slow and meant owning yet another bike.

Last Sunday my tiny part of the earth was white. Finally an opportunity to see how 'winter' these expensive tires are. To my surprise, I had no problem at all during my 16km ride. I had enough grip and felt save on every kind of snow or slush I encountered. I had lowered the tire pressure from 4 to just under 3 bar to get as much grip as possible from these tires. Again, that is slower, but 20kph is enough when it snows. You also enjoy the scenery more at such a low pace.

24 Jan 2014

The recumbent yet to be developed by someone

This, somewhat unstructured, blogpost started on FB. But I wanted to write more. The last weeks I've done some thinking about what's available these days for those looking for a recumbent bike. It started when I saw a Troytec for sale....

...Those Troytecs are nice built bikes, stiff and with proper handling. Though they forgot to add mudguard eyelets. So even the €5000,- FS HR is a dry conditions bike only.

This problem is the same for most performance 'bents. So you either have a sensible bike that not that fast, or a fast ride that's not easy to life with. One that comes close to the perfect mix is my Fuego. Apart from some frame flex and a 4 metre chain, there's nothing better out there.

The Silvio 2.1 could be really good too. And with good I mean 'Dutch', or practical, allround, easy, whatever you call it. The chain on that is short and stays clean. Trust me, that is nice to have on a bike. But in the hunt for easy manufacturing, you'll have to tinker to mount mudguards or lights. So a €3000,- bike won't work without some d.i.y. It does come with suspension, hurray for that! Though their advice is to check the front shock's pressure before every ride. The Fox shock on my Fuego holds it's pressure for months, perhaps even a year.

Flevobikes Greenmachine is a something really special too. It is as easy to maintain as a traditional town bike. Tiny problem is that it has IHG, with silly evenly spaced gears, and a mushy drive train.

M5? Those steer funny.

The performance orientated bikes generally are used for sport only. And the more practical bike are not fast enough for longer distances. My trusty Pioneer actually is a bit the opposite of me, heavy and large. We do get along.

Small/light riders need efficient bikes. Since the Evo K, S and now Strada DF, that problem is pretty much solved in the range of velomobiles. For those who are slender and seek a fast and practical bike, the best solution still is a tuned and personalized bike like, in my case, my Fuego.

You could also start with a Gaucho. That's a bit slower but gives you 2 big wheels and all the benefits that come with that. Using a performance bike as a basis, will have you tinkering for days. And rear suspension is an absolute must have. For comfort and to keep both wheels on the ground.

20 Nov 2013

Head fairings

A common question nowadays seems to be: 'Should I buy a Wim or a Sinner hood?' My answer is: neither of those. Not because they don't fit an Evo K, my VM doesn't need one to beat most of the competion, but because I see some serious drawbacks that are not mentioned enough. Yes, I have a special hood too, the Darth Vader one, but I only use it when I have a lot of room to gallop.

The first hood I used was the original model, with a visor. The protection against cold winds, the aero advantage and snug feeling where nice, that's true. But I lost quite some sense of what was happening around me. And when in the dark, rain or fog your sight becomes really bad. Opening the visor improved my sight, but I was/felt still enclosed in a tight space and not able to move my head as much as I'd wish. What did help was that the Mango wasn't that fast at all, so it wasn't the biggest problem that I couldn't look very far ahead.

So, with good weather and clear roads, it wasn't that bad. Despite the huge difference in built quality, I still see Wim's hoods as something much similar to the original hood.

Just before I sold my Mango I tested the Sinner hood. It's spacious! And thanks to the ear openings you can hear what's happening outside. But it also has two huge blind spots, just like the Beyss Evo hoods. And when it rains or when it's foggy, the visor becomes a hell to look through. You than open it, and the cold and the wet let you know you're not in a car.

Because, in my opinion, a hood should work when the it's raining, when it's foggy, when it's dark or when you have a combination of those. I don't need weather protection when the sun is shining. A velomobile should work in typical velomobile weather!

I have enough technical knowledge to admit that such a hood is not easy to make/design/manufacture. Honoustly, I don't know if it's even possible. My 'Darth Vader' does offer plenty of sight. And it has a hole instead of a visor. But it's still too much of a bubble that excludes the rest of the world a bit too much.

And there's another problem that fast velomobiles ad. A hood makes you so fast, that you run out of routes to ride on. This hugely depends on where you life. But for me up to 50kph is when I still enjoy the ride. Above that, It all becomes a bit too stressful.

I still see the advantages of a hood. But the disadvantages should be known too. I'm absolutely a 'head out velonaut'. Perhaps it's just that I have something that dislikes being fully enclosed. Fact is that without a hood you have better sight, can communicate better with other traffic and move your upper body more for cornering balance and sight. Things that I find very important for a fast velomobile.

I've written about rain protection before. Use the search function to find these posts.

12 Nov 2013

Still here

Yes, I'm still riding! Though the past months where either busy or not worth writing about.

So I still ride, but I stopped racing. That took up too much time, money and energy and I got too little in return. Only a few minutes of happiness. So instead of hammering 'round a track with a heart rate of 180bpm, I stick to riding my own routes. Fast in my Evo K or as a serious workout on the Thys Rowing Bike, a.k.a. Saga.

I quitted in May, but the last race I took part in was in Assen, last September. The K and I where good for just under 50kph during a 45min. crit. on an 800 metre oval.

The K's gearing now is 61/38 - 27/21/19/17/16/15/14/13/12. When This chain and cassette are worn out I'll up-grade to a 65. That'll be near the end of 2014....

Something I'm quite proud of is the Nazca Cruiser I restored. It's my bike to ride with someone else. I only had to buy a few new parts. Most of what I used was had I had 'in stock'. Women really like this colour. Thought I find it a beauty too.

It's not slow, very comfortable, easily adjustable and handles like a Nazca. The gearing is close ratio so that you'll always find the right cadence. The chain idler makes for an efficient chain line.

During the 1st 2 weeks of September I cycled through the Netherlands. First on my Pioneer, and the 2nd week on my Fuego. The weather was good enough. Perhaps a bit to warm in the 1st week. Camping, cooking, chillin', sleeping and nearly 1300km.

Well, that was it for now. I'll be writing more. And that won't take another 7 months ;-)