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17 Dec 2011

Een goed doel (2)

Gisteravond was het zo ver, 1 uur zwemmen voor het schooltje in Rwanda. Elke vrijdagavond zwem ik ongeveer 45 minuten, wat neerkomt op 40-50 baantjes. Als het water een beetje warmer is, kan dat 60 zijn.

Gisteravond hadden we een uur om te zwemmen en het water had de juiste temperatuur. Tel daar bij op dat er toch iets van een wedstrijdelement in zat, en de omstandigheden zijn perfect om veel te zwemmen. Want alleen al het idee dat het ergens om gaat, is 10% snelheidswinst.

Ik had gedacht 60 baantjes te zwemmen, dat werden er meer. En ik denk dat dit voor elke zwemmer gold, ik zwom veel meer dan gedacht.  Wie mij sponsort is misschien minder verheugd met mijn gezwem. Honderenzes baantjes, achtentwintighonderd meter. De sponsoren ontvangen bericht van mij over hoe ze het geld kunnen overmaken.

part1/deel 1

Yesterday evening was the evening of swimming 1 hour for a school in Rwanda. I swim every Friday, for about 45 minutes. Most often that's 40-50 lenghts. When the water is a little warmer, 60 lenghts is possible too.

Yesterday we had one hour and the water was warmer too. Add the element of competition, and the circumstances are perfect. Apart from the fact that I had to overtake a lot of slower swimmers. But just the idea that it's about something, adds 10% speed.

I'd expected to swim 60 lengths, I did more. And I think every swimmer did a lot more than he/she expected. Those who sponsored me might be less enthusiastic. One hundred and six lengths, twenty eight hundred meters. I'll send my sponsors a message about how to transfer the money.



16 Dec 2011

My K, after the 1st 1000km

It took me 3 weeks to reach the 1000km mark. A classic moment to sum up my experiences thus far.

Ground clearance is sufficient. Only some utterly steep or prolapsed speed bumps require attention. The right angle of approach helps. I'd say 98% of the 'drempels' I encounter don't cause any scraping. (The thing on the right is a horrible obstacle, but my K manages it. Anything steeper or higher should have an escape route for cyclists)

Suspesion is good. The front suspension is hard, but that also makes it handle so good. The occasional pothole like obstacle (we don't have real potholes here) isn't pleasant at all. But that's not the K's fault, and the ride stays stable. Roads should not have such ridges. It's best to swerve around them. As I'm also a volunteer for the Fietsersbond (cyclist federation) a new goal of me is to get rid of every ridge I can find in the roads around Assen. Luckily though, the roads and cycle paths around here are very good. But there are still a few annoying bumps on my routes. All that said, the air suspension at the back is fabulous. It has plenty of damping is a big advantage at high speeds.

Speaking of which, it's fast. Even with the slow, but puncture resistant, Conti Sportcontacts, I'm 25% faster in a straight line that I was with my Mango. On an average ride, with a mix of rural and town (3:1), the difference is close to 15%. 

It took some fiddling, but the Philips headlight is fine now too. I've shielded a small part of the beam that reflected on the nose, and blinded me. The rest of the lights is combined in the box on top of the K. High, easy to install and work on, with good visibility.

At this moment, Beyss only offers a full head fairing and no simple rain cover. So I've made one from foam and Cordura which I bought from Radical Design. I tested it, and it works, hail and rain proof.

Handling is sublime, outstanding, yes even lovely, at any speed. A year or so ago I rode a Catrike for a few KM and wondered why velomobiles don't have such fun handling. There always felt slow, lacked responsiveness and where unstable compared to a bare tadpole trike. Now the handling of the K feels totally different from the Catrike, because it's a different vehicle, obviously, but it is fun. This marvellous handling also is a big safety factor.

Gearing is almost the way I want it. A 61 and a 39 chainring are waiting for a 32-12 cassette to arrive. That's just a bit easier to get going than the current 28-12, and also the spacing of this particular cassette is better.

A tiny problem are the holes in the floor that are there to remove the rear wheel. When the road is wet, water comes in, floor gets wet. The currently used Coroplast sheets don't seal enough. I'll work on it. Removing the rear wheel is pretty easy. Practice makes perfect.

The seat, 625 gram of carbon beauty, (and 15gr foam) is way more comfortable than you'd think. I've cut 2 holes in it, that fit my spine. I like it the way it is now. Adding a Ventisit would double the total seat's weight. (and make the seat to pedal distance to short....)

Two 90mm drum brakes are more than enough for this velonaut. I'd did upgrade the brake cables, the stock cables where the cheapest sort imaginable. There is a bit of brake steer, but even above 50kph, it's nothing to worry about.

The drive train is perhaps a masterpiece. I don't know the physics involved, but this utterly stiff set up I've got is great. The carbon boom, carbon sandwich floor, immense oversized rear swing arm, the chain line and the 23t TC idler make viaducts (and hills) feel less steep. Also on the 39t chain ring, this drive train is a long way ahead on the competition. You've got to experience it to fully understand it. (and when you ask, almost any kind of drive train is possible, like gearing needed on 20% grades)

Last week I tried out the luggage capacity. With some creativity, I can fit in my usual camping gear. Only thing left to figure out is a 'thing' to hold my sleeping bag in front of the crank set.Something with Coroplast and tiny brackets held in place with epoxy. The space in front of the wheel wells also is tempting to use. The thing is that there's enough room inside this small sports velomobile to carry almost the same amount of stuff as I could get in my Mango. It does ask for more creativity.

The chain needs some kind of cover between the idler and the rear swing arm. And again, a small piece of Coroplast does the job. Now my Radical Design velomobile bag finds a stable and clean spot under my right elbow.

Summation: I like it, a lot. And with a tiny bit of creativity with Coroplast and a sewing machine, the every practicality is there too. Yes you sacrifice things like a 'Flintstone reverse' and a few centimetres of ground clearance. But my wish never was to reverse and have 14cm of air under my vm. Speed and handling are worth more to me.

More photo's

11 Dec 2011

Ride to Dronten (XS & K)

I bought my K with a 70t chainring. 70 is a big number, so big, that I even at 65kph, my cadence would be only just over 90rpm. Indeed, that makes no sense. With 61t, starting is easier, and the whole range would be more 'close ratio'. Velomobiel.nl had a 61 in stock and I rode there to get it.

I left at a quarter past 10, and grabbed a banana after 45km, that I ate whilst riding. A short pause after 58km for the pond across a water. 42 km later I was at my destination.

There was quite a crowd at vm.nl. Velonauts for parts, advice, technical problems, new vm's or just out as a group. Nina had brought something tasty to share. Marjolein's Strada had a small technical issue with an own will. I quickly received my 61. When asked how I'd install the new part, I simply replied: 'just crawl in'. And once I was in, swapping the parts was easy. Most important, I didn't get stuck on my way out. Than there was more time for eating and some velo talk. Clement found out he fit's in my K. Others studied it, up close.

What had caught my eye was the new Quest XS. And hurrah, I was offered a ride. Now, I'd just bought myself a very fine vm, but it's always good to know how such an eagerly awaited machines is in real life. I didn't ride for long, perhaps 10 minutes or so. Talking about how it's build and what specs it has is not that interesting. It's a Quest, so it's it good in just about every aspect. Build with a huge amount of every day experience.

What really makes it different is that the body is lower. Because of that, small people can sit just as low, and have their seat just as reclined as large people can in the big Q. And whereas I (short featherweight velonaut) always found the big Q very unstable, the XS is alright, a bit like a Mango perhaps. Compared to my K it's very comfortable, but it weights more and isn't such a dream when it comes down to handling and raw speed. But it's a good vm, absolutely. And, when you stand next to it, it looks better than on a photo. Even the rather large head fairing is well proportioned. The XS was designed with a rider up to 1.75m tall. I'm right on the limit, particularly with my 110cm ex-seam. And shoe size 43 felt like a maximum with 155mm cranks.

Back in my Ksynonica J. for  the ride home, I felt at home again. The 9t less on the chain ring make it a lot better to ride, much easier and smoother to accelerate. The evening before, I'd swapped the hard chain tube for a softer one, with flared ends. That lowered the sound level a lot. Velomobiles and hard chain tubes are not a good combination.

I rode the final 55km in the dark. A clear sky, a long smooth cycle path ahead and 36kph on the cyclometer. The Philips head light (tweaked to work on the onboard battery) gives a nice beam, wide and far. And when 20Lux isn't enough because of dirt on the road, the high mode of 80Lux certainly will give enough light. Day's total was 180km.

29 Nov 2011

Een goed doel

For kind English speaking readers, please use Google translate and read the comments.

Mark is mijn grote broer en Esther is zijn vrouw. Zij gaan wat bijzonders doen.

Mark en Esther gaan naar Rwanda. Wel drie maanden lang en ze vertrekken op twee januari 2012. Wat ze gaan doen kun je hier lezen. En als je wilt doneren kijk dan hier.

Dit ondernemende duo is ook lid van zwemvereniging de Watervrienden Assen, net als mijn moeder Tiny en ik. Iemand had het idee om een sponsorzwemactie te organiseren, en o.a. mij en Tiny is gevraagd baantjes te gaan zwemmen in het 25-meterbad van de Bonte Wever Assen op 16 december a.s.. We hopen op ongeveer 15 zwemmers.

Het idee is verder natuurlijk heel simpel. We zwemmen in een uur zoveel mogelijk baantjes en per baantje maken de sponsoren een x-bedrag over. Let op! Ik zwem niet zo goed als ik fiets. En al helemaal niet als het water koud is. En de laatste maanden is het water vaak koud. Bah! Je kunt ook een vast bedrag overmaken, maar ik vind dat nogal saai.

Vind je dit een goed initiatief? Zo ja, mail/twitter/comment me dan je naam, en het bedrag dat je mij of Tiny per baantje sponsort. De aantallen baantjes worden geteld door mensen van onze zwemvereniging. Op zaterdag de 17e  december maak ik hier bekend hoeveel baantjes ik en Tiny gezwommen hebben. Ik bericht je dan welk bedrag je kunt overmaken op de rekening van Mark en Esther. (zie hier) Eigenlijk ben je slim genoeg om dat zelf uit te rekenen, maar goed.

28 Nov 2011

My new Evo K (2)

So, I was on my way to Apeldoorn for my first stop to eat something. Until now I'd followed the Fietsersbond (cycling union) route. A good route, but now I was in an area that I knew. On a small road next to the A50, there was a small descent. I shifted up, until the gears started to make noise. The derailleur wasn't in order yet and I made the mistake to fiddle with the cable length. Not a clever thing to do at 55kph or so. The K rapidly shot from right to left, and then back again. Obviously a driver error. It scared me, but I realized what had happened and that, despite my clumsiness, the K remained stable and controllable.


In Apeldoorn I ate, drank, and ate some more, next to do Canada monument. It was getting dark now. I had approximately 145km behind me, and still 110km to go. I attached lights to my helmet and rolled the K back to the cycle path. That's when I noticed my 3th puncture. The tiny leak was found by licking the tube, but I the patch fell of. And yes, I'd dried the tube before using the solution. To make things worse, I'd ran out of tubes. There was a hotel on the other side of the road.... I tested my luck at the trainstation's bike shop. There remained enough air in my left tire to get there. To my surprise, they had tubes in my funny size! I bought two and enough solution and patches for months. (I hope)

The friendly guys that ran the place offered me a spot inside to fix my bike. They where somewhat surprised by what came rolling in. There I sat, warm, dry and with plenty of light to make work easy. Commuters walked by, they'd arrived by train and now collected there bikes to ride home. People respond funny when you tell them that you came from Venlo, still got 110km to go, and it's 18:30 in the evening. Quickly I was on my way again.

As I left the lights of Apeldoorn behind me, I saw the shortcoming of my helmet mounted light, it was pointing the wrong direction. I took it from my helmet and held it in my hand for the final 105km. That works pretty good, as you can aim your light. Problem is that I had no hand left to eat, so I had to stop for that every hour. But when I was riding, the K felt like wanting to go faster and faster. With over 200km in the legs, in a new to me VM, I took it easy and stopped again to eat just before Meppel.

With in my right hand a Mars and my light, I was now cruising along the Drenthse Hoofdvaart, my commute route. When I'd finished eating the candy bar, my hands could swap tasks again. Now right was steering, and left was aiming the light. Left is better at steering, and right better at aiming, but right had gotten cold from the time it took to eat the Mars.

Finally, after 260km I was home, just before 11. It had been an eventful ride. The K had proven itself. But naturally, I found things to improve. I parked the K inside the house, so I could start personalizing it the next day. My legs where not happy.

27 Nov 2011

My new Evo K (1)

Well, this must be my most anticipated blog post ever. Last Monday I received an e-mail that it was ready, and on Wednesday, around 2 in the afternoon, I walked in to the Beyss factory.


I changed clothing and had a go. The seat needed to be a bit more upright and the shifting wasn't what it should be. It quickly turned out that an expert was needed, so the help was Daniel was called in. In the following hours, the seat bracket was adjusted, the rear wheel was changed (better fit and 500gram or so lighter!), the cassette fixed, the chain shortened and I the tires where swapped for something faster.

After that we did series of coast down tests with 2 different K's, mine and Daniel's. Apart from about 7kg, there also light years apart in components. So by swapping wheels, and putting the optional head fairing on these 2 K's, we discovered interesting things. We tested on a tiny slope with smooth asphalt. We concluded that a 23-571 Vittoria rolls much better than a 35-559 Kojak. We tested that with both K's, and swapped riders too. I could see my brand new K seriously lifting a wheel in a corner, and I smiled. That didn't happen by accident ;-) Obviously, there was nothing wrong with the steering and handling of the heaviest K ever made. (25kg)

Serious again, more testing followed. To my surprise, even at a speed below 5kph, the head fairing has a noticeable, even significant advantage. Even below walking pace, you can feel an airflow coming in through the small inlet under the visor. So, if you want the fastest VM, a really racey 571 wheel is a step forward. And the K 'Kopfhaube' has an advantage at every speed. Of course, as it is with aerodynamics, the higher the speed, the bigger the differences.

Afterwards, it was past 11 in by now, we had a beer. Now the legend goes that legendary riders drink beer the night before a race and big ride. On Thursday, this legend was confirmed for me.

The next day started at 8:30. Breakfast, check out from the hotel, walk to Beyss and buy food in the Supermarket I walked by. I rolled my K outside and loaded my stuff in the luggage spaces. There's enough space, but I'm yet to learn how to use it best.

First part of the ride was easy. But strangly, as soon I crossed the border, the cyclepaths disappeared or got worse. The region around Venlo is not blessed with the usual 'Dutch cycle path' quality. To make things worse there where construction works everywhere and I had 2 punctures within 33km. The ride continued, still over 200km to go. And the more north I got, the better the roads became.

The K is agile and doesn't get stuck on drempels, but it's more at home on 'fast' roads. More a semi lowracer than a swb tourer. Steering is fantastic, stability outstanding and I got to test the higher speed stability later this day. The suspension does a fine job, though you wont fly over a cobblestone road. However, those roads are a small minority.

Through Nijmegen and Arnhem, nothing mentionable happened, except lots of 'thumbs up' from teenagers. Specifically, more from the girls than from the boys. By now I'd ridden over 100km and I'd planned to stop to eat something in Apeldoorn, still 35km to go. The ride had only just begun....

22 Nov 2011

Ameland

Last weekend I stayed at Ameland. That is an island in the north of the Netherlands, one of the Wadden islands. I stayed there with family, who went there by car. Since it only was 90km to our vacation house, I cycled there. The route from the Fietsersbond website was very good. My little Q451 was my 'bent for this weekend. It did get very dirty, there was so much mud and clay on the roads. One thing is for sure, the Quest will get mudguards!

Travelling to an island includes a ferry. During the short ride from the haven to the village Hollum I spotted several bird species I hadn't seen before. My bike got a spot in the shed and I took my Radical Backbone inside to set up my 'camp Pjotr' for the two nights to come.

The next day, Saturday, the weather was surprisingly good. Very little fog and even sunshine. Right after breakfast I rode to the nearest beach to get the system going and to take advantage of the supreme photo making conditions. Half an hour later it was time for coffee with the family.

In the afternoon I went for a longer ride, circling the western half of the island. Riding through the dunes is fun! When I was back after 40km or so, I decided to remove most of the dirt from the Q451. Yes, it would get dirty again when I'd ride home, but it's was just to muddy to handle. The chain does stay pretty clean, another benefit that comes with fwd. When a splash of water hit the rear wheel, I heard bubbles. My first ever puncture with my Cruzbike was a fact. Caused by a small stone and the end of nearly 2300km of puncture free riding. I actually think that my most recent puncture, with any bike, must have been in May or so. And that's easily over 5500km ago.

In the evening we ate in a pancake restaurant and played a board game. The next day was expected to be extremely foggy. I decided to head home early in the afternoon instead of after dinner. It turned out to be a very wise decisison.

That the sight was less than 50 metres wasn't just because I was on an island. Visibility stayed very bad for the entire ride. An extra tail light helps, and the Spok on my helmets is small, but bright and high. Now as long as there was daylight, riding was easy. But when darkness comes, and the roads become more rural, the situation changes.

Most difficult section was when there was no cyclepath and the only thing I could see where the lines on the side of the road. Quickly after that, there was a cyclepath again. Being away from cars is one mayor worry less, even when you're a 'young fit adult male'. Under normal circumstances I would have continued to follow the route from the Fietsersbond. But from Roden on I used the route I know very well. Nice paths, good lights next to them.

Ten km from home, the only route was via a back road again. No lights and no lines. Also almost no other traffic. I quickly learned the best way to deal with this situation. Hold your headlight low to the ground and aim at the side of the road. I could see about 4 metres ahead, I was slow, but felt sure and save.

When I got home, at a quarter to eight, I wasn't really tired. The 90km had demanded a lot of concentration, but physically, it was no big deal. I cleaned the Q451 the next day and I took my Backbone with me to the shower. The backpack now is ready for the 23th of November, for the trip to Straelen.

More photos on Picasa.

1 Nov 2011

Record day Apeldoorn 2011

This event wasn't only nice to look around, there also was a criterium in which I took part. After having watched the Indian Grand Prix, I took the train to Apeldoorn. The tailfairing on my my Fuego Yivalte is compact enough to stay on the bike when I travel by train. Very important because I use the train about 5 times per year to take part in a race.

Omnisport is a bit of a maze. There is a shortcut to the midfield of the velodrome, but that's only opened on request. I went via 2 elevators, 2 stairs, a restaurant and past the twirl girls dressing rooms.

The atmosphere is always buzzing at an event like this. New bikes, new ideas, much to talk about. The young woman who I called a 'fast rookie'  at the beginning of this year, now proudly showed me 'her' new Tyrfing. A very special machine, nicely built by Elan. The seat angle is about 9 degrees, but thanks to the top of the seat and the neck rest, it doesn't feel that extreme.

Also present, Bram Moens with the most time trialistic 'bent I've ever seen. Daniel was there too, with his Evo K. And even though mine will be ready really soon, I could not resist to try the seat. And even without padding, it fits like a glove.

Suddenly, as I return from the toilet, the criterium is about to start. I quickly stick on the thing that opens my nostrils a bit more and smell some eucalyptus to make sure I can breath as freely as possible. Than a few laps to make sure everything works and to find out that my fairing doesn't rub.

My criterium is far from a steady race. Speeds vary every few minutes. 48, 50, 47, 44, 43, 50 and so on. Mainwhile the Evo K is going around at 57kph higher up the track, constantly overtaking. Eight 2-wheeled 'bents circle the track a few metres lower.

There is power coming from my legs when I need it though. There's only some pain right above my knees. My right ankle appears to be enjoying taking part in racing again. So, we'll work on fixing the problem with the muscle in my upper legs, and than I could be pretty fast again. (well, back to my best possible level again, and than further up)

I finish with an average of 45.1kph and ride 5 laps to cool down. Next on the track is Janneke. She rode a successful attempt to break the 1 hour record. The new record is 46.5kph.

I head home again just before 8 in the evening. Front and tail light back on the Fuego, rear shock in the high ride position again. That's all I changed to my bike. The pizza tasted good at 11 in the eveing.

photo with my Fuego, probably the world's fastest bike and the fastest velomobile

All the photos I made on Picasa.

And the video I made from Daniel's 1000 metre.



26 Oct 2011

Coroplast for my Fuego

How can you make your favourite 'bent better? Make it faster! I have good experiences with the TF on the Pioneer, so I thought I could make something similar for my Fuego. This time more aimed at speed than at practicality. And because the rack of the Fuego sits quite high, the luggage compartment will be tiny. It turned out to be big enough for long 1 day rides.

The TF on the Pioneer is effective, but I used a lot of tape. That works, but doesn't look slick. I decided to use more pop rivets for this TF. That method worked. The finishing is much better.

I started with the same cardboard template I used for the Pio, only made the back part (part that rests on the seat) a bit narrower. The Fuego is my fair weather and race bike, so not often will I wear thick clothing when I ride it. The result is a widest point of no more than 46 centimetres. And those who paid attention at their aerodynamic lessons will know that a narrow TF can be shorter than the wide TF. That's the reason this fairing is relatively short, keeping the bike easy to manoeuvre and store.

After I'd cut the back plate to size, I strapped it to the seat of the Fuego and then bent the connection flaps with the use of a hot air gun. I then roughly cut the side parts to size and started pop riveting them in place. One by one and carefully heating the material when bending was needed. In practice, you'll quickly get the hang of it. Good household scissors work well for cutting.

30 or so rivets (and 60 m3 washers!) later I could cut it to size in more precisely. Just a matter of look, fit, try, and cut. Small steps, as you can't cut part back on.

First ride was my 42km commute to work. It held and didn't cause any problems. Coroplast dampens sound good and keeps it's flexibility for a long time. This afternoon I tried to do some roll test. Coast from 40 to 30kph and measure how that takes. Do that in 2 directions and repeat the test without the fairing. The differences you see in coasting time give an idea of what the TF does.

However, the wind was changing all the time. The times I measured weren't really clear. But, based on what I saw on my cyclometer and felt, Id say it ads about 7%. And, as it often is for aero ad-ons, the faster you go or the more headwind you have,the more effect it is. I certainly won't be riding without it often.

My address for Coroplast is http://kunststofshop.nl/

23 Oct 2011

Suspension (2)

In part 1 I wrote about how suspension can be an advantage on a fast bike. And in the end I mentioned the added comfort. Now especially American riders often seem mighty concerned about rear suspension. They (excuse me for the generalization, but this is the impressions I get from following the forums )say it soaks up energy when they climb. And they are worried about the extra kilogram it ads to a bike. Don't they know that extra kilo makes your bike more comfortable and faster? And keeping your wheels on the ground also is a mayor safety feature.

Anyway, the climbing thing. If you want a bike with rear suspension and rear wheeldrive, you need the right chain line. The 'right' chain line is more than just a line trough the pivot point of the rear swing arm. That's what many people think. I can't do the calculations, but this website is a good tool for those who are not an experienced ' bent designer.

You can control the chain with an idler. When that idler is placed at the right place, all the power you put in at the front, is transferred to your rear wheel. If you do it wrong, energy is wasted in making your bike bounce. Now some say that the solution is a stiffer spring. Wrong! Very, very wrong. A stiffer spring only makes the problem less noticeable. There's less movement, but just as much loss.

Especially when climbing that is a big problem. When you climb, you often pedal less ' round' and you put in more power. Now let's look at a Nazca Gaucho Highracer. That has comfy, safe and fast rear suspension, but also allows you to climb like a mountain goat. I haven't done any serious climbing, apart from my Spezi adventure, but others have. I have ridden it, and now matter how hard and I stamp on the pedals, I can't sense any movement in the rear swing arm.

Now if you're a racer, you're looking for what is absolutely the fastest. Than you might worry about a tiny little bit of loss. But for the 98% of the riders, the advantages of proper rear suspension can not be ignored.

My old Cruiser did not have a chain idler when it left the factory. Cruisers didn't get an idler until 2009 or so. I added on with help of the website I mentioned earlier. On my way to the Easter meeting earlier this year I got to climb a bit. And even when I really tried to get the suspension to pogo, it didn't.

Conclusion. Not having suspension only is an advantage for a small group of people. They race on super smooth roads. Everyone else who commutes, travels or tours will be happier with good suspension.

17 Oct 2011

LEL 2011,

Assen, train, Kampen, ride 40km, Lelystad. And 4.5 hours later, back home in the same way. Inbetween was the annual 51km TT over the dyke between Lelystad and Enkhuizen.

51km in a very open landscape, with only 4 corners, means that this is a velomobile event. And I'd been taking part with a VM here since 2007. I didn't feel strong then, and neither did I yesterday. The difference between 4 years ago and now? Two seconds. It's an apples and eggs comparison, I know.

I started enthusiastically with just over 40 and still had an average of over 38 at the half way point. But then the headwind took it's toll. At higher speeds, the aerodynamics could be better. I did benefit from the excellent climbing capabilities on the 6 times I had to climb the dyke. That always used to slow me down more than I found acceptable. With 10km to go, I had the brilliant idea to push the head rest way backwards. A feature this protype Vendetta has. Immediatly I gained more than 1kph and was now doing 36 or so. I finished with an average of 36.5kph.

It's time to put my cleats back to the position I always had them, about 1.5cm closer to my toes than now. I'd moved them towards my heel because of my ankle injury. Not being able to ' ankle' a bit is costing to much power. I'll start with 7mm.

What is good news is that an Evo K rider won with an average of 60.9kph, a track record improvement of 3kph. Within two weeks, according to the contract, I too own a K. Heavier than the one that won, and without the head fairing, but even then, a really fast VM.

Despite the fact that my upper legs had a tough time in the TT, the ride back to Kampen went surprisingly well. It's a shame though that the only elevation we have here are viaducts. Because when it comes to climbing and long distance riding, the V is an fine addition to the 'bent market. My daily total was 140km.

12 Oct 2011

Suspension (1)

Suspension is an important factor on a bike. The most common form is using the right tyre pressure. A tyre that is at a not too high pressure will absorb small road imperfections. The fatter and/or more supple a tyre is, the smoother your ride can be. A light rider deforms his tyres less, so he/she can do with a lower pressure than a heavy person.

The same goes for a shock absorber. A light person needs a different spring, or air pressure in the air shock, than a heavier person. Spring load and damping must be set up correct to keep the wheels on the ground. A wheel that's not on the ground, does not steer or brake. Proper damping is so that 1 bump, translates in to 2 movements of your shock. 1 in and 1 out. Yes, good suspension can very much improve the handling of your bike.

When you take a turn right on a bumpy road, and your rear suspension is not what it should be, the rear end could bounce to the left. A brick road I often follow has a sharp right hand corner. When I take it on my Fuego, with the 28mm rear tyre at 8 bar, at 30kph, the rear suspension keeps the wheel on the ground. On unsuspended wheel could loose grip and bounce of, resulting in serious road rash.

Many velomobiles have a really basic kind of rear shock. They can sort of make up for that with a fat rear tyre. However, it's better to have a proper mtb-style shock. And in my new Evo K, there will be a fully adjustable air shock. Air shocks have something steel springs don't have, progressive suspension. The deeper you push it, the firmer it gets. That means that small imperfections get filtered out nicely, while it won't be too soft to soak up big bumps. Velomobiles most often have 1 rear wheel. When that looses contact, there's no back up. When a front wheel get airborne, there's always a second wheel to keep you in a straight line.

On a two wheeled 'bent, front suspension can be nice too. It's often said that you don't need front suspension with a big front wheel. But I surely felt a difference between my Cruiser (406mm + suspension) and my Pioneer. (559mm no suspension) Even though the Cruiser had 35mm Kojaks and the Pioneer a set of 50mm Kojaks, the C felt more comfortable.
Now the route of a chain can make it difficult to install a front fork with suspension. It varies per model, but it's not easy on an old Pioneer. I did get it to work, and I love it. When you buy the more modern Nazca Gaucho, there is the option to get it with front suspension. (not with USS) It's a version with the suspension built in the head tube that gives slender look and does not conflict with your chain. The travel it has is enough to soak up most bumps. If I where to buy a new Gaucho 26, I'd opt for the most comfortable version. Not that an un-suspended front is harsh, but I really like it plush on my big tourer.

Part 2 about suspension will be about potential power losses and suspension. Yes, you can have rear suspension and ride up a mountain!

9 Oct 2011

Vendetta

Today was cold and windy. I have a bit of a cold and spit out stuff when I ride. It drizzled on the 2nd half of my ride. Conditions and excuses enough to complain about a lack of speed. But today's ride of 32km, went in just over an hour and I my max was 57kph.

I'm used to riding 'bents with suspension. And my opinion is that a touring and commuter bikes need some short of shock absorption. (rack and fender advised too) You can even benefit from suspension on a less than perfect race track. It's one of the things that makes my Fuego so good. But when you're out for the simple reason to go fast, you know where the smoother roads are. You can often skip most of the brick roads.

The Vendetta has no suspension. It's light en very stiff. With the 23mm tires at 8 bar and a 62kg rider, going much faster than 30kph on a brick road is not pleasant. But hey, that's only to get out of town. Because when there is room and a road/cycle path to gallop, this 'bent is a joy to ride. At cruising speed, the combination me&Vendetta is only a tiny little bit slower than I was with my Mango. Yes, a VM adds a lot of practicality, but this is only about speed now.

Last Tuesday I had 60km ride on my borrowed prototype. It's perhaps a kilogram heavier than the production version. The wheelbase is quite some shorter too. That might explain why it can feel a bit jumpy on short bumps. The rider position as much more aero than what my Q451 offers, handling however, is quite easy. A dry winter is very welcome. That will ensure I can make many more fast rides on this fine machine.

3 Oct 2011

Autumn meeting 2011

In the week before this Autumn meeting I had to decide with which bike I'd go. Cruiser or Cruzbike? I choose the latter. Thus far my longest ride on it was just over 80km and I was curious how it would be to ride way over a hundred, a 140km. All luggage (sleeping bag, liner, toiletries, clothing and food) fitted in my 25 litre Radical Backbone, that fit's nicely to the seat tube rack of the Q451. I did recently ad 2 small hooks to the seat that hold the seat straps of the Backbone. Electronics and alike fitted in my fanny pack. (also brilliant for using your camera while riding)

So, Friday morning, 7:25h, of to work. Plenty of things to do after the usual 42km commute. I had macaroni for lunch and was offered some left over couscous after work. With that extra little meal I had enough fuel to ride untill Dronten. There, 50km from work, I ate some sandwiches and turned on my lights. There was at least another 2 hours of riding left. At 28kph, the good ol' Nordlight bottle dynamo buzzed happily.

Farmers kept working way past sundown, taking maximum advantage of the summer weather.  Heavy machines, with lots of lights, everywhere you looked, something was being harvested. It was dry, but not dusty, the sky was clear and I only had 20km left to go. The Vogelweg is well known under Dutch riders, perhaps it's our own 'Route 66'. It starts and ends with traffic lights. And after that, it only was a few km to the Stichtse Brug. Quickly ascending, and steadily descending, due to roadworks, I reached Blaricum. 15 minutes later, I arrived at my destination.

The problem with arriving at 10 in the evening can be that you spend time finding a bed in one of the 7 huts. However, I was smart enough, and someone else kind enough, to reserve a spot for me. There also was tea and there where many familiar faces to say hello to. It was past 1 in the night when I crawled in to my bed.

The next day started with breakfast and explaining a dozen or so times what sort of bike I had brought. And also during the 50km group ride my little orange 'bent was quite a head turner. I swerved a bit through the field of about 50 riders. Halfway we stopped at a pancake restaurant. I had a big vegie pancake that actually was complete meal. But with a weekend like this, it's good to have calories to burn. The pear ice creams Maarten bought at the end of the trip do not provide a lot of calories. But, they are delicious and very refreshing, which is a good thing with the temperatures we had.

Traditionally, the time between the ride and the evening meal is spend on talking about and looking at each others rides. In the evening it quickly get's to dark look at them. Maaike did a successful attempt at riding the Q451. Harry arrived in his ROAM Mango after having made a special delivery. And I took a shower.

Gerold gave another great explanation about what we where about to eat, more specifically, how. He has the right to do so, the food is excellent each year, including the salad and the dessert. I went for sliced banana with whipped cream, twice. And when the big bowl of cream was 'empty', I made sure it was really empty.

The campfire was hotter and better than the night before. Another thing I was often asked about was my Evo-K. And, since where sort of a big family, we talk about more just bikes. The night that followed wasn't quite long enough. But by the time I woke up, it was almost 9. I managed to get everything back in to the Backbone again after breakfast. Wilfred was waiting to get going on his Thys 209. Together with him and Harry I rode back home, via almost exactly the same route I used on Friday.

Harry's right wheel went wonky and needed a roadside repair near Dronten. It had done well during the 5000km of ROAM, but now, suddenly having 5 broken spokes, something needed to be done. That caused some delay, which didn't matter, since I had all day to get home. The 3 of us didn't carry a lot of food. So we had a meal in Dronten. And with our belly's filled up, we maintained a good pace for the rest of the day.

The pond between Genemuiden and Zwartsluis had a small suprise. Imagine someone with the words 'blue jean hotpants', blond, 'floppy white shirt', and... well, you get the idea. Daisy Duke. Anyway, I had another 60km to go. My companions just under a hundred or so. We had a second stop for food near Havelte. 4km from my place, Harry and Wilfred took a turn left. I got home, took a shower and had pizza.

Weekend total: 335km, avg speed around 25.5kph, cruising at 28.

My photos: here.

29 Sep 2011

Race Groningen 2011

I know people. And those people now other people. Most often we've all got something to do with recumbents. And that's why I was riding a Vendetta through Vries, 10km from home, at 11:30 in the morning, when I saw Q89 appear in my mirror. At that moment, I had 30km experience with this bike I get to borrow for a while.

The Q89 velonaut and me where on our way to Groningen to take part in a race, part of the Dutch Recumbent Competition. Besides us two, there where 23 others to race with/against. Rob was also there, together with Lee. It was good to hear that Rob also ordered an Evo-K. Now I know that I'm not the only one who thinks it's a fine VM. Even better is that he can compare it with his Q and Glyde experience. His will be ready in May 2012, mine within a few weeks. (next week would be very much appreciated)

The 1 mile long track is pretty smooth, except for the 2nd corner. Tree roots have damaged the asphalt in that corner and that's very unpleasant on a stiff and fast 'bent. It even slowed me down. But, even with this slower section in the track, I did quite well in the 45 minute criterium. With each lap I felt quicker. And together with Piet on his Rowing Bike, I had a fun race. Your faster when you've got someone to ride with. And that obviously contributed to a nice average of 41.8kph. In a field filled with velomobiles and tail faired low racers, I finished 16th. If you saw us finish, you'd say I'd classified as 17th. But my transponder was on my front fork, and Piet's transponder was on his rear fork...

The time trial over one lap started promising. Despite the lack of experience with the V, I started the lap with 55kph and took the first corner at 47. The rest of the lap felt alright too, but again, the bumpy 2nd corner cost time. That said, the bike is very nice when the road surface is smooth and the perfect drive train is very much noticeable. One lap of 1610 metre was ridden by me with an avg of just over 45kph.

The day in Groningen always ends with a relay race. Our team of 4 'youngsters' became 3th. Since I was the 1st to start, I had a chance to film some of the relay action.

The podium of the competition that consist out of this race and the one in Rütenbrock had a surprise for me, I was on it, in 3th position. At the end of the day, a group of 4 riders rode back to Assen. A Strada, a Quest, a Mango and me on the Vendetta. The Q still had another 45km or so to go after Assen. The weather was excellent all day and I had a good 1st ride on the V.

Robert made good photos.  Better than mine.


20 Sep 2011

Airforce days

Most of my blog post require quite some time to write. This one doesn't. Instead of writing down what I saw at this event, I simple post some visual content.
More photos can be found in a Picasa album.

Perhaps not very interesting for my international readers, but Dutch readers might be interested. I'm selling some parts that have been laying around un-used here. Check the ad here.


6 Sep 2011

Terra Cycle Sports idler

The drive train of me Pioneer: 3x8 dérailleur with Taxc pulleys and straight chain tubes. The best compromise between costs, efficiency and practicality on a RWD 'bent. Until about 700km ago, the idler was not what it should have been. I was unsure if I wanted a TC idler, and I hesitated about buying one. The plastic idler worked and, even the more affordable Sport idler would still cost me €50,- But having a decision hanging in the air for so long doesn't do me any good, so I ordered one from Icletta.

15 tooth aluminum cog on 8mm bearings, packed with local newspapers and an invoice hidden somewhere in the box too. Naturally, installing it was easy. The first ride revealed that it's not as quiet as a cheap plastic stock idler. But the soft sound it makes is a sound of quality. Like the Elite idlers, that I use on several other bikes, the Sport idler too gives a more direct feeling. The Elite is quieter, but costs 50% more. For a velomobile or a high end bike, it's the one to go with. For my good ol' Pioneer, the cheaper model is good enough.

It'll likely last really long, survive multiple chain and sprocket replacements. It'll just be there, doing it's job as a idler should. Hardly wearing out, not sucking up power or make my chain run awkward when plastic slowly wears out. I like, I recommend.

31 Aug 2011

Ordinary ride with my Q451

I replaced the stock derailleur pulleys with a set from Tacx and I felt like going for a ride anyway. The be honest, I always almost feel like going for a ride. So, in the right bottle holder .6 litre of sports drink, and in the right bottle holder my Cage Rocket with important stuff and a mini chocolate bar.

Past the canal, via the cycle road, past the graveyard, on to the brick road (suspension :-) and then a 2nd traffic light and I'm out of Assen via the Southern route in 5km. A 10km straight follows and the speedo reads 32 or so. Depending on the wind, my speed varies between 29 and 35kph in this 2 hour ride. I cross the rail roads and follow a nice cycle path until I start riding past another canal for the next 20km. Half way, I have a wee. The upper body thing Cruzbike mentions makes for a higher heart rate and a better performing engine. Good for building up my stamina and it's why this little orange 'bent is faster than you'd except from such an up-right seat angle. It often gives me a happy grin on my face when I accelerate out of a corner.

About 40km on the cyclometer now and I'm on a section past a pine forest. It had just rained and it smells like pine and forest, which is nice. I remember I have my camera with me today and I decide to shoot some photos of horses behind a small village named Grolloo. A few with, and view without the Quest. The clouds are most helpful now. They move aside precisely on time. Horse number 1 doesn't like cameras. Number 2 isn't scared of my humble Casio, so that's the one that you see on the left.

Still 14km to go. There now is quite a headwind. Still, I'm enjoying it and I try to set a nice average. Just over 29 is what I read when I come to a stop beside my place.

28 Aug 2011

To a wedding with my Pioneer

Friday morning, bike and rider are ready for what should be a day with about 240km. There's clean clothing in the coroplast tailfairing, that rests on the sturdy rear rack. The hub dynamo will make for a save ride back home at night, and the fenders are very welcome with the weather and paths I expect to encounter. Once again, my big tourer will prove to be the right choice for long distant riding. Under the seat hangs a 2 litre bag with fluids for the day.

I head south, via Zwolle, a route I've followed so many times. The first 72km glide by effortless, almost boring. My ankle does let me know it's not yet completely happy. But there's no further comment from it for the rest of the day. I ate some bread close to the IJssel river and put on my coat before continuing my journey. Dark clouds have gathered now and within a few minutes the sky bursts open. Despite the viaducts that could give shelter, I keep on riding. I feel good, have a goal, and the coat keeps me dry and warm.

The GPS does a good job, as long as you choose the right settings. I didn't. With only 6km or so to go I strand somewhere in a forest. Even walking gets difficult here. It turned out that I'd set it to guidance for pedestrians, not cyclists. That cost my 20 minutes I did not have. Now it's time to unleash the rally rider within. The sandy/gritty paths are wet, long puddles across them. But, there's nothing/nobody to crash into and my bike is up to the job. Going as fast as I dare, splashing, honking at a couple of pedestrians, the rear suspension handling the bumps. I was in a hurry, running late, but also enjoying the ride.

With no time left I swap clothes behind the church and lock-up the Pioneer. I enter the church seconds before the groom. Than follows the ceremony, dinner with close family, and a ride to the party a few hours later. The groom had the biggest smile on his face everywhere you saw him, and the bride was just utterly             . Nice party, a bit loud perhaps. But like being there, watching it all happen.

Bad weather was expected for the night. And when I checked the weather radar I saw that it could get close between me and the rain clouds. If I where to leave soon, I might stay just ahead of the rain and we would head north side by side, the rain a bit more to the East than I.

So, I got changed again and said goodbye. I slid my Cage Rocket back onto the tiller. It contained my phone and cookies to grab whilst riding. Very convenient and very weatherproof. The first part was to Zwolle, again. The GPS lead me through forests. The only thing I heard was my soft high tech sound of my TC idler. A sound I like. And owls of course. Owls everywhere, ore maybe just one following me.

Someone recently had the marvellous idea the build new cycle paths near Heerde. Good concrete, but not always on my digital maps. The Garmin's compas then comes in handy. I carried a battery light in my pocket to look around when I stood still. Hub dynamo's don't do much when stationary. When I was riding, like 97% of the time, my home made twin Seoul P4 headlight gave a great beam. There was no other traffic to blind. I had it aimed a little higher than usual.

A short rest in Zwolle with a banana and a cookie. Past Meppel and a 2nd stop with 36km to go. Next to the canal it did become less entertaining to ride. Just a long wide road with a good cycle path next to it. I rode on both, because I could and because the road is a little bit faster too. Other traffic? 3 cars in hour time. I grabbed my radio and listened to an interview with the legendary Ramses Shaffy. There was a tailwind and I was cruising happily at 32kph. Time was 02:45. Riding like this, home came close quite quick. After a days total of 245km I turned of the GPS and parked my Pioneer in the shed. At 4 in the night, I turned of the light beside my bed and slept 'till 9.

24 Aug 2011

Rütenbrock 2011

Friday, right after tea, time to ride to Germany. Not 600km like in April, just under 60 this time. The Radical Cyclone trailer behind my Fuego carries my camping gear, except for the kitchen stuff. Food is supplied by the excellent temporary mini campsite of the Bentlage family. For the 5th year, they host/organize/arrange the races in Rütenbrock. An quick ride, shaking of a roadie included, of only 2:17 hour was enough to get me there. Tailwind still helps. (and on the way back too)

I pitched my tent, said hello and spoke German (well, tried) for the rest of the day. We had the usual recumbent conversations and had a drink. And Daniel had brought his K along :-) It was after 12 when I crawled into my sleeping bag.

Saturday morning started with, what else, breakfast. Brotchen with Nutella and coffee. That followed by some lingering and admiring the K. Well on time I rode to the start/finish area. The track looked the same as last year. I saved my energy for the 1 lap time trial. That came with a downside. Now, that one fast lap was the 1st time I tried to do the corners at speed. And because I had a different front tire, it felt different. But, at 7.5bar the Minits Lite felt sharp enough. At 6.5, there's some sideways roll noticeable. Anyway, I managed to set an acceptable average, 41.2. However, 2 year ago I did 43kp/h.


Through the hour, the corners went better. And on the rougher parts, it all went nicely too. The first straight was fun at 40kph, than the bikes dances over the characteristic road surface. With a very loos grip on the handlebars, the bike kept a perfect straight line. The section through the housing estate was fun every time I passed through. The long back straight was becoming a bit boring though, just too long at 40kph. Pedal harder perhaps? I did that a couple of times, it's more fun that way. But judging by how I felt after I finished, I did try that more than enough. Near the end I got company from a WAW. Excellent, now I had some extra motivation. Nice, because since I'd let Heinz go on his RazzFazz, it all had been a bit lonely on the track. So, I looked around and waved at people I knew when I overtook them. Not in the twisty bits, those demand full attention. And that's what makes this track so good. Everybody who tries to go fast here must of had on of those 'that was close' moments. David had one too. Read his story here.

I finished 9th, with a 37.9kph average. When the fastest group lapped me, I made a big jump from the WAW. After the race, there was a bit of a gap to the podium ceremonies. The waiting, the weather and the race had taken the best of me. I didn't do much for the rest of the day.

That evening I did decide to go for the 70mm brakes on my new VM instead of the 90mm. A featherweight velonaut doesn't need bigger and heavier brakes. And thanks to the short cables and housings, the 70mm are already quite powerful. We talked about the German forum too, and I even made a joke. Tired from the whole day, I went to bed early. The next day, I felt a whole lot better. Still, I took it easy and left just before noon, as one of the latest to leave. The end of yet another weekend devoted to riding and racing. I was lucky to get home a few minutes before rain and thunder started.


17 Aug 2011

Thoughts on tires, part 3, examples

After a long summation, here are examples from what's used in practice. Notice that, like Maarten mentioned in his excellent comment on part 1, that intended use and thus also road surface, plays a big role in selecting tires.

Regarding my own preferences: I'm a light weight reasonably trained rider who likes cornering. When the pressure in my tires has dropped a bar or so in pressure, I may very well notice that and find the steering slightly vague.

My Pioneer Lobbes, 50mm Kojaks. 4.5-5 bar
A big comfortable tourer. Year round use, urban too, on just about any sort of road. Where I did the rode to Spezi with.

My Fuego Yivalté, Minits Lite and Durano, 7-8 bar
Fast, 99% on smooth roads, corner happy, good weather only, racing.

My Cruiser, 35mm Kojaks, 6 bar
Quick classic 'bent for visiting meetings. No heavy use. Full suspension, so no fat tires needed. Happy 'bent.

My Oké-ja Yoska, 47mm M or M-Winter, 4.5 bar
For delivering and winter riding. No speed intended, urban use mainly.

Future Evo-K, Minit's and 35mm Kojak, 6.5-7 bar
And a Supreme for the Winter season. Utterly fast velomobile, limited tire width. Good roads only.

Mom's 24" Gaucho, 47mm Marathons, 4.5 bar
Daily commuter and touring, including urban use, rider not that agile.

Dad's Cruiser, Marathon Racers, 5.5 bar
Fair weather touring. Reasonably quick for a 65yo.

Dad's FAW, 47mm Moirees, 4.5bar
All weather use, and comfort is important.

14 Aug 2011

Thoughts on tires, part 2

Schwalbe Durano
Hard rubber, not that supple. Easy on and of. Gives enough grip for the back of my Fuego. Should last long. Came with my Mango too, at the by Sinner advised pressure of 9.5bar, which is stupid. Such a high pressure turns a velomobile with not large 'not that stiff surfaces' into a noisy wheely bin. Lowered to 8 bar, it was better. Cornered excellent, until you met brick roads, than it would bounce of in understeer. Good for going fast on a smooth surface.
rated: good for specific use

Vredestein S-slick
Out of production, which is good. Might sometimes be fitted without bumps. Needed 12bar+ to pop in place. Exploded at 16 bar. Close to impossible to get on or of.
rated: tire production/development failure

Kenda Kwest
1100km experience with this tire that is standard on a 2010 Q451. Cheap, but tough. Easy on and of. Not that supple, but suspension masks that. Every day tire in the odd 451mm. Profile picks up small stones. Funny pressure range: 2.5 to 7 bar. No side wall reflection. (American market?)
rated: probably a good choice in this size.

KHE park 40mm (or so)
I had these on the front of the Alleweder. A bit like the M-Racer, but should withstand 8 bar. Extremely grippy, light and easy to change. It's a BMX tire, so there's no anti puncture layer. It lasted 13000km on the back of the Mango in the 54mm version, at less than 4 bar! I did at a liner for the desired puncture protection. Not very fast. Too expensive.
rated: I liked them, but you can get better for less money.

Schwalbe Marathon Winter
Slow, heavy, noisy, expensive. But very good to have when in icy/snowy conditions. Spikes keep you up-right. I keep on of these for the back of my Oké-Ja, my 'bent for Winter riding. Perhaps a few hundred km per year.  DutchBikeBits has them. Why wait with ordering 'till you need them?
rated: must have

Vredestein HPV
Short lasting and cheap. Would be a bad weather tire, if it wouldn't become very sluggish under 7 degrees C. I did use them with my Dahon. Soft rubber results in plenty of grip.
rated: for anything that rides a few km per year.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus
I've never used this tire. It's not slow and is almost bomb proof. A fellow 'bentrider made one last 40.000km the back of his Mango, without a single puncture. A pain the get on or of, especially in the 35mm version. Heavy but extremely reliable. A worry free commuter tire. Available in many sizes!
rated: recommended for some.

Schwalbe Marathon Surpreme
No personal experience with this one. The more comfortable (supple) competitor of the M+. Costs more, lasts a lot shorter. Is much lighter and has excellent grip, even in the wet. So much grip even, that it slows you down. I might use it on the back of the Evo-K in the winter months because it's supple, light and puncture proof. It's considerably less slow with light weight inner tubes. Has 'triple nano compound' and comes in a folding version too!
rated: I don't look forward to changing a tire on a  2 side mounted rear wheel, with cold hands, in the rain. This is probably the best for this job.


10 Aug 2011

Thoughts on tires, part 1

It's always a hot topic on every 'bent forum. At what rim, which tire rolls the best at what pressure. Everything focused on one thing: rolling resistance. I like reading these tests, but hardly use the outcome. Finding the tire which is best for your personal circumstances involves so much more than the lowest rolling resistance on one type of road surface.

I can come up with quite a list of relevant factors
  1. weight
  2. suppleness
  3. grip when dry
  4. grip when wet
  5. grip on sand
  6. sideways stiffness, for proper cornering
  7. width, it should fit, often with fenders or wheel wells
  8. height, same reasons as width
  9. comfort
  10. pressure range
  11. maximum load
  12. price
  13. durability (can be relative to price)
  14. puncture resistance
  15. reflective side walls or not?
  16. how easy is it to change the tire? (with cold hands)
  17. noise
  18. availability
  19. rolling resistance (varies with weight of rider)
  20. air resistance (less important for a velomobile)
I can't possibly explain everything and mention tires with everyone of these 20 factors. What I can do is sum up my own experiences with tires I've ridden with. Hopefully this will help people understand how complex this subject can be.

Vredestein Monte Carlo
These where on my FAW when I bought it. Hard to change, little grip, not comfortable, didn't roll well, heavy for it's size. Availability was good back then. Garden hose with innertube.
rated: not good

Tioga Compool
Replacement of the MC. Very comfortable, fast, and easy to change. No puncture resistance, that improved with tire liners. Durability was good enough for a 62kg rider. Relatively cheap, bought via friends and webshops. Some had carcass problems and didn't last long. A classic, modern stuff better.
Rated: I liked them

Schwalbe Big Apple
Heavy but reliable. Cheap and last very long. Grippy enough, also works on sand. Turns bricks into asphalt at lower pressure, though needs at least 4 bar to roll good. Liked it on the back of the FAW and under the Pioneer. Easy to change too.
Rated: liked and recommended.

Schwalbe Stelvio
A long time friend of mine. Was the choice for all my fast Nazca's. It's now called the Durano S, but not yet available in 406. With that name it carries my Thivasca. It corners so nicely at 8 bar, with it's grip and sideways stiffness. Reliable enough for fair weather riding. Could last up to 4500km. Easy to change. Comfortable enough under a good steel bike. Rolls good and being only 28mm width, doesn't come with an aero penalty.
rated: I like

Schwalbe Marathon
Had it on the front of the Mango for over 6000km. Not fast, not supple. Easy on and of, puncture proof and grippy. Last long, corners well. Probably the most alround/middle of the road/average tire. If you don't know what to buy, get these. Won't disappoint you. Good for up-right town bikes too.
Rated: I recommend

Avocet Fasgrip
Wide and fast fast, just like the Compool, but last longer. Hard to get when it was still made. Has no grip at all on even a slightly moist road. Possibly dangerous with catastrophic under/oversteer. Really fast on a track though. I survived 7000km with them on the front wheels of the Mango. Puncture fairy magnet when it's wet.
Rated: if you dare

Schwalbe Marathon Racer
Faster more supple cousin of the Marathon. Rides much nicer, rolls way better. Last long enough on a 2-wheeler. Too expensive if you're a corner happy velonaut. Puncture proof enough before, let's say 2/3 of their life span. My mom commuted 6500km on them, with 1 puncture. Easy on and off, but often needs 'easy fit'.
rated: recommended fast tourer

Schwalbe Kojak, 35mm
I first had these for my red Fuego. More supple and faster than the Racers. Lower pressure meant cornering was not as good as the Stelvio's. They have enough grip, as long as you stay far away from sand and alike. Last pretty long too and are easy to change. Puncture resistant enough. Great fast and comfortable tourer, but has no sidewall reflection. I wouldn't put a high load on these. In a roll-out test I did on rough asphalt, they where quicker than Duranos. They also last longer, and give a more pleasant ride. My 1st pair of 35mm Kojaks now is on my Classic Cruiser. I had them on the front of the Mango for almost 5000km.
rated: recommended and liked (more people should use these instead of Marathons)

Vredestein Perfect Moiree, 47mm
Supposed to be fast on 6 bar. 1.5 bar over their recommended and comfortable pressure of 4.5. I tried them on my Mango, and really didn't like them. Felt slow, sluggish, noisy and cornered vague. Was nice as a rear tire though. At 4.5 bar, they are comfortable, as long as you're not in a hurry. Last long, affordable. Good for heavy trikes, or on the rear of a VM. Makes funny noise, that could become annoying, especially in the wet.
rated: the Schwalbe Tryker probably is better.

Panaracer Minits Lite
Recommended to me by Fards, used now on the front of 'mi bella Fuego'. Very supple, comfortable at 7 bar. Stelvio corners better. Expensive, but easy to buy via Chainreactioncycles and Gingko. Nicest tire for the front of the Fuego. Rolls nicely. Extremely light, easy on and of. Highly recommended for fast bikes. Great on brick roads, feels like 40mm, so comfortable. No more than 300km experience.
rated: loved and recommended

Schwalbe Kojak, 50mm
A big fat slick! The tire for an urban cyclepath SUV like my Pioneer. Knows how to deal with German cycle paths. Doesn't care for potholes, saves your rims. Puncture resistant due it thick surface. Supple in it's sidewalls. Last long, corners good at 4.5 bar. Narrower than a Big Apple and a lot lighter. Cheap too, what not to like? That is has zero grip on sand. Grip enough on anything else. Side wall reflection is not there, so I use spoke reflectors, the little grey thingies. More people should use this tire. They don't need profile! You can't use in on snow either, but you can buy another tire for that. Aero penalty at higher speeds.
rated: liked and recommended

That was enough for one post. Remember, this is not science, it's my well based opinion. You can disagree with me, that's alright.

5 Aug 2011

1st Cruzbike video

Yesterday I went out to shoot my 1st video with the Q451. I rode to one of my favourite spots, the army training grounds. Most of the time, nothing happens there. Perfect to ride whilst fooling around with a camera. All went according to plan and I extended my ride with a little loop in Northern direction. Just past a tiny village called Eleveld, I took a wrong turn. First part of the road was asphalt. After a few hundred metres I discovered my navigation error, but decided to see where this road would take me.

First some sand, than a mixture of sand and grass. More bumps, mud, puddles followed. It had rained really hard the night before. I'd been doomed on any other dual 20" bike with 28mm tires, but the little fellow just pulled me through! Front wheel drive at it's best, and the suspension did a welcome job too. Here and there I was in it up to the rims, but at no point, it got too hard to ride. After 1km or so, the mud and sand road reached 'civilization' again.  That is, there was a little old asphalt road, that led to some old farm houses. So close to home, and I'd never been there before.

It was fun, not fast, but it get's you there. I'll film it the next time I encounter the un-paved. Below is the video.

After dinner I washed of the mud. I think that with a pair of fat 406mm wheels, a bike like this will do just about every little path you can find. And with nobby 24" wheels, even more.

1 Aug 2011

Time trial Nijeveen 2011

Saturday the 28th edition of this TT was held and for the ??th time there was a recumbent categorie. The start is less than 3km from the Nazca hq. Relatively speaking, this race is just around the corner. And so I rode there in a relaxed pace of just under 30kph. First stop was Nazca where I left my luggage rack and had lunch. Several fellow 'bentriders where already there. Most of them had camped the night before on a nearby campsite.

With plenty of time left, we went to the clubhouse of the local sport clubs. We received our shirt numbers and transponders. I got number 1. More riders arrived, some with a van, others with a 60km warm-up. Two Quests received the duct tape wheel fairing treatment. Others where lightened by throwing out huge amounts of luggage, like 5 tires. The only thing I did was use a the quick release lever to lower my Fuego, a 2 seconds job.

Having number 1 on your shirt, means being the first to start. As usual, I revved the legs and reached the first corner in little time. There I felt that a Minit's lite steers less accurate than a Stelvio. That said, it does roll very nicely. Even at 7 bar, it's quite comfortable. Without any drama I sped up again. A few cars overtook me. One kept riding 20 metres or so in front of me for 6km, with his warning lights on. That might have given me a small aero advantage, or not. It obviously had something to do with the organization.

After 9km I asked myself when Jos would zoom by. He started 2 minutes after me in his Quest. Right after that, he appeared in my mirror. That was lap 1. I started lap 2 with a little wiggle on the straight, just because I felt like. The previous 11km hadn't gone by unnoticed by the legs. Two more Quests came by and I overtook one. In the end, it's the engine that counts. The long back straight was fun, there I reached 48 or so. In the headwind, I struggled to keep it above 37.

Fuego felt good around the track, fitting me like a glove. And, I was 14 seconds faster than in 2009. Now I needed 31:49 to complete the time trial and averaged 40.94kph over 21.73km. My blood needed some re-distribution, so I stayed on my comfy seat to prevent me from feeling too light headed.

I'd given it all I got, but had energy left to ride home at a reasonable pace. It's was another nice day with fellow riders and a days total of 112km.

Here are 11 photo's on my picasa page.
A link to the results will be here within a few days.

25 Jul 2011

Coroplast 'shorty' TF

My Pioneer is a great 'bent. It does just about everything. That's the reason I choose it to ride to Spezi with. For longer distances and headwinds there is a problem though, it's not that fast. Compared to what I'm used to, what my 'standard' is, it's slow into a 4Bft. headwind.

Coroplast is a nice material, but almost completely unknown in the Dutch recumbent world. In the English speaking world, it's used quite often. On the CV2011 campsite, my tent was pitched near Fards' tent. And, one we the things we talked about, was the 'magic' material. I'd already found a Dutch website selling it, but during CV the decision was made that I'd do something with Coroplast. You could say that Fards ignited this project.

First I thought making something for the Q451. However, that already is a quick little bike. The Pioneer is the bike that could use less drag. I ordered several sheets, and tried to think not too long about the high shipping costs of the large sheets. I know had them in black, which looks cool.

First I made a cardboard template for the back panel and the floor. The floor would rest on the luggage rack. The back panel would have a widest point of 46cm, matching my shoulder width. I cut the panels and bent flaps under a 90 degrees angle, using a hot air gun. Pop rivets with little washers kept it together. Than I could add the sides and cut those to size. I lowered the stress on the joints by heating the curved surfaces. The edges where sealed with Tesa Power Tape. You can also use hot glue to join it.

It looks alright, not a pretty one, but stalwart. It held in place with only 2 bolts, near the bottom of the seat. I kept it relatively short in order to make it easy to store in the shed. Normal sized TF's are sort of bulky.

The first thing I noticed during ride number one was how silent it is.The first ride was to the hairdresser, so I didn't do any tests regarding the aerodynamic qualities. It did give a hint of an advantage.

That evening, I went out for a ride. Curious about how good it would be and just to ride. After 15 minutes or so the idea came to do a simple roll out test. Here's what I did on my test location.

  • accelerate to 40kph
  • coast down to 30kph
  • measure how long that takes in seconds
  • 2 times, return run, that's 4 runs
  • repeat without TF.

The method is not very precise, not at all. But, the results, which I had to memorize, where clear and consistent enough to conclude that the TF really works. Without the box, it takes about 11.5 seconds to get from 40 to 30. With box, it takes about 13 seconds. If I than hustle the results a bit, trying to be as negative towards my own design as possible, the TF gives at least a 7-8% advantage. And for such a short TF, I find that's very good.

When I rode to work last Friday, the advantage was very welcome. A strong head/side wind, and still I could keep going at 29kph or so. For less than €30,- and a short day of work, I'd made my big practical Nazca significantly faster.

19 Jul 2011

Group ride at night

Last Friday I travelled down to IJsselstein. After work I rode to Meppel, took the train to Utrecht, and cycled the remaining 12km on my Pioneer. My Garmin Dakota knew how to get there. It turned out my destination is marked quite well. It's close to a 300 metre high radio tower. Speaking of radio towers, on of the first things I heard when I arrived at Maarten's place, was that 'my' radio tower had lost 200 metres.

The tower of Hoogersmilde. I ride past it so often. It's still there, but the top has collapsed. A fire caused the metal antenna to melt, snap and collapse down in to a field. That tower has been my source for FM signals all my live. Now, it's future is uncertain. The 100 metre concrete part is still there. With a little luck, that part is good enough to mount a new antenna on. We now miss a land mark and an icon. Listening to radio 1 and 2 can be problematic. And those are about the only stations I listen to. I dedicate this song to the tower of Hoogersmilde: Radio Gaga.

Back to the ride. Plan was to ride near the Lek river. Not before the sun had set, and we had something the eat. Maarten and Maaike had prepared ingredients to mix your own pasta salad, jummy. We left around 22:20h.

Since the invention of the high power LED, riding at night has become a relaxing experience. Navigation was easy, just follow the Gaucho. To my surprise, the headlights gave enough light for my camera to film some of the ride. We enjoyed the scenery and chatted a bit. There was a full moon, and every now and then, the clouds would move aside to show it. The temperature was right, the wind hardly there. Only downside was the length of the ride, just under 50km. Not really a problem of course, I just felt good enough to do more.



Afterwards there where waffles and hot chocolate. Both with whipped cream :-) And tea too, so plenty of fluids after a day total of 108km. The result of all this hospitality was a bedtime of 3 o'clock in the night. I slept 'till 9.

Breakfast was followed by a bit of music. Songs about tea and silver machines, subjects well known to many 'bentriders. I also did a little work on a Fuego and a Pioneer. By now it was almost noon. And I still had quite a ride to go. So I loaded my stuff in to my Radical Backbone, and said goodbye.

There was a 180km ride ahead of me. But the short night and my right ankle limited me in my performance. On Sunday I did some measuring and concluded that a reason for my ankle problems is that my feet are a bit to far away from each other on the Pioneer. You have time to think when you ride 185km in 2 days time, and I used some of that time to think about my right ankle. Now, if you paid attention, you now found out that I only rode 77km on Saturday. That's because I took the train from Putten to Assen. It had started to rain and I didn't feel like draining myself empty on 180km. That did cost me some money for a train ticket, but I arrived home feeling fit. The last 3km from the station in Assen to home where fun again.

A bike like the Pioneer is excellent for riding through town, on not so good roads, with quite some speed. The fat tires and rear suspensions soak up the bumps. And even though it rained, those 3km where fun.

10 Jul 2011

Das K, Probefahrt

Yesterday I took the 6:55am train to Venlo. I'd made an appointment with Beyss, the manufacturer of the Evo K in Straelen. The public transport did it's job well and I arrived in Venlo without any delay. From there, it was a short ride with my Cruzbike to cross the border with Germany and arrive at the Zeppelinstrasse.

I was very much on time. After 20 minutes or so, Daniel Fenn arrived in a K. After he had a close look at my Q451, we set up a K for me. Kojaks on the front and some foam to lift the seat a bit. I used the seat covers from my Cruzbike in the K for some extra comfort, and to be able to see the road in front of me.

As soon as I'd left the Beyss factory I tried to find some bumps in the road. Those bumps aren't much softened by the suspension. The good thing is that the K keeps on going in a straight line, not affected by the bumps. The seat covers made it all comfortable enough. Because of the supreme build quality, the body does not rattle at all. The noisiest thing is the rattling freewheel. A 23t TC idler under the front tip op the seat guides the chain to the rear wheel.

Getting used to the side stick steering would probably take a few hundred kilometre. But even so, I felt quite confident at 50kph, with a strong wind from the side. Achieving that same speed with a headwind was as easy as pie. Slowing down with the independent front brakes felt secure. That said, the high speed potential of the K does make me advice 90mm drums, instead of the standard 70mm.

To test it's usability on roads of lesser quality, I used some German urban cycle paths. It manoeuvres nicely, though something narrower than 35mm Kojaks on the front is wise. Minit's Tough could be perfect. There almost as wide, but significantly lower, giving you a smaller turning radius, which is a good thing.

I even found a tiny elevation. With it's super stiff construction and weight of only 18kg, this must be the best climbing velomobile on the market. You would need more than the 1x10 gearing that this K carried. A 38 and a 63 on the front, combined with a 12-27 on the back would make it more pleasant in every day life. A long cage derailleur could do that. A 63 combined with a 559 rear wheel, may sound odd, but with that combination, I'd often be cruising in 6th gear.

So, it's actually pretty good for normal use. Are there downsides? Yes, some. The rear wheel is not single side mounted. That makes the construction a lot stronger, but fixing a flat would take more time. Extras, like lights, indicators and rear suspension cost a lot. Luckily, vm electronics are not that complicated. The openings on the left photo can easily be closed with fibreglass sheets and magnets.

It's not perfect, but nothing is. The ride is divine, the quality outstanding. The K is wickedly fast and looks fantastic. With a few easy and small changes, this could be the best VM for a velonaut like me. In the more affordable 23kg version that is.

After the ride, we had some coffee, discussed my experiences and wishes with the K, and I got a factory tour. Daniel showed me the differences between materials and we put a few items on the scale. I saw rear forks, weighing around 400 grams. A set of rear drop-outs, weighing 30. And, very interesting, we testes a Milan entry hatch. This one had some cosmetic damage, making it good for a smash test. It was hit with a steel pipe, the size of your arm.  You can find more photos in this Picasa album.

After 4 interesting, fun and possibly, in the near future turning out to be expensive hours, I rode back to Venlo. Again, my little Quest surprised me. A small hill was easily climbed and descended without any hesitation. Manoeuvring  through an unknown city with several diversions, while looking at a GPS, was no problem. I believe I dreamed about the K in the night that followed.

Two days later, I took time to create a short video.