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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 ;-)

4 Apr 2013

Busy! 1st vacation ideas

I thought about it for a long time, and have decided not to ride to Spezi this year. I've been there 3 times now and I'd like to spend my vacation(budget) somewhere else for a change. 2 of such valuable weeks should be spend as good as possible!

Spezi is a wonderful event, but I must dare to change a habit every know and then. This years vacation will be a ride around Denmark, on my Fuego. When that'll happen depends on the vacation schedule at work.

There are new parts orderded to make my precious white 'bent more of a tourer. The close ration 1x9 will be exchanged for a 2x10, 39/52-32/12, SRAM shifted setup. The stock shock will be replaced by a more reliable Fox Float. I expect that one to keep it's pressure longer than one week. And for racing, the lock-out function will be a nice addition.

With the experience of last years vacation, this trip will have better planned routes. The Fuego is much faster, but does ask for a better road quality. Another step forward will be the better positioned Radical Banana bags, to reduce aerodynamic drag. With improvements such as these, riding 150km per day should be quite easy.

9 Feb 2013

A Thijs 222 Revolver

I've been riding recumbents for about 12 years now. And for 7-8 years now, that's been good for about 14.000km per year. That had a noticeable effect on my legs and stamina. My arms however....

Through all those years I knew about Thijs Rowingbikes. They always intrigued me. I had the luck of getting to try 2 of them. The 1st time was Harry's  222 CVT, and 3 years ago I rode for 2 hours or so on Jos' Revolver. The main difference between those 2 is the shifting system. Those rides sparked my enthusiasm.

A little more than a week ago, 4 Revolvers where offered for sale on All for a fair price, and 2 of them in my region. Of course, I tried to resist. And I sought support on Twitter. Most response I got was from row addicts. Buying one bike would mean having to sell something else. This to control the number of bikes around the house. But I found a solution for that, namely that I will sell a bike, realy. That was the 1st hurdle to cross. Than there was the argument to save money. But Marloes said to me that money doesn't make you happy and a rowingbike does. Right after I read that, I made a phone call and send an e-mail. Something to nominate for 'best decision  of 2013'.

Last Sunday I walked to the train station, travelled to Wolvega, and walked another 6km to the right address. The wind was fierce and cold and made me hide under my blue jacket's hood and behind my Buff. The purchase went quickly, between the doors of a van.
The bike sure is worth the effort. Within little time I was back at the train station. Though to make the weather a bit worse, it had started to rain. Thankfully, the train offered warmth and space for me and my 2.25 metre long bike.
And since than, I row. That same evening I rowed to work. The ride back home wasn't 4km, but 9. And it was almost 2am....
The 40km I rowed on Monday was a bit too much. But the weather was much better than expected. On Tuesday,  that ride around Zijen was just what was needed to loosen up the muscles after the lunacy of the day before.

Apart from replacing a brake cable and adjusting a clutch cable, the 222 didn't need much work. I did tidy things up a bit, naturally. Conclusion was, that for a 2nd hand bike, this was a good one. It was money well spend. Apart from the pedals, those where awful. So worn out that their only right place was the bin. A pair of trimmed down (cut of cages) A520's do hold my feet in position. Now nearly a week later, I am fine tuning and improving small things. Frame number 508 began live as a CVT, and was converted, at some point in time, to Revolver and Dyneema cable.

The high number of muscles involved, combined with the joy of riding a bike make these Thijs bikes highly addictive. Even with the tiny bit of experience that I have, and the poor rowing technique I must obviously have, taking the short way home is difficult. The odometer now reads 125km.

I didn't have to think for a name. Naming her Saga, after Saga Noren, was almost plain logic to me.

More info about rowingbikes can be found on this website.