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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.