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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.

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