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13 Dec 2012

My Pioneer

I don't write about him often. And there you have it. My Pioneer is my only bike that has no female name. The name 'Lobbes' just came to me when I was on my way to collect it from it previous owner. Lobbes. A big and friendly pal, like a large dog.

Three years after I'd rebuilt it from a horrible state, the odometer reads 10.450km. A 'bent with two big wheels had been on my list for quite some time. Just as an extra bike, I thought. To wander about on small paths.

I removed rust and gave it 6 layers of quality paint, with a brush. Most components where replaced too. Years of abuse and neglect had taken their toll. The frame however still was intact. I poured alcohol in the frame and set fire to that. That cleaned it up very well. The blue flame also made a cool sound.

The first 2000km or so I used a Nexus 8 hub. When I replaced that with an AW3, I gained 10% in cruising speed. Not much later I mounted a very common 3x8 derailler system. Now it was ready for some serious distances. That was 20 months ago. Since than I rode close to 7000km. (and more on my other 'bents of course)

More than just local rides without a destination is what we ride together. To work, to a wedding, 2 vacations, at night, alone, with a group. Werther I was stressed, happy, tired, confident, in doubt, slow, fast, weak or strong, for nearly every occasion and for every mood, Lobbes is ready. There are only 2 things that are not in my Pio's abilities. That are racing and snow riding. For the latter, spiked tires help. For racing, he's just not fast enough.

On the photo, that I took today: it's current set-up, pretty much exactly as it should be.

Though a Pioneer can be quite fast. When the city is asleep, and the roads are empty, you can ram a Pioneer forward at, relative, scary speeds. Why? Handling and stability. It doesn't care about how the road it. And despite mine being of an older, heavier generation, it corners brilliantly. It's like dancing. After some corners I wonder how I took them.

My cruising speed is about 28kph. Up a hill, 8. Down a hill, 76. Flat, no wind, 52. Flat with wind, 62.

So what is he now? Mostly a stock Pioneer, like one could have been bought nearly 11 years ago. I've placed the seat under a lower angle, narrowed down the handlebars, and mounted a Fuego rack, to replace to large steel one. I might even change that rack again, back to stock. It's tyres are common too. 40mm Marathons. Mud guards, a large bell, a very bright home made head light are key ingredients to the success too.

There are only 2 'sexy' components on it. A Shutter Precision dynamo and a TC Sports idler. Both are more smooth and efficient than the competition.

Now my 10k is peanuts. Pioneers are quite often used by true Globetrotters. Except for Antarctica, every continent has been visited several times. A friend of mine used his for the same things as I do, only more. That odo approaches 70k.

Yes my K is much, much faster. And my Fuego is just faster and more exciting. But without my Pioneer, I'd be nowhere. 

More photos

8 Dec 2012

Winter 'bent

Snow and ice on the roads are things a lot of recumbentriders have a problem with. Spike tires provide the necessary grip, and with a trike it can even become fun. I have a spike tire and also a velomobile. (not combined) But the Evo-K is a bit overdone for most short rides. And it's to precious too.... I do use the K in the snow, but for touring and commuting only.

A bike that good for 99.8% of the rides, my Pioneer, comes with a bruise guarantee in low/no grip conditions. Is that just me or not? Is that a problem? Not really. Snow is quite rare where I live. And the true winters only is a few weeks per year.

During the past 2 winters I came to the conclusion that a compact long wheelbase recumbent does work when winter has really arrived. My Oké-ja could keep me going at moderate pace. I also used it do deliver mail back then. And because of the heavy load, the spike tire was an excellent addition to it's rear wheel. What made it so good? It can only be the combination of low feet and up-right seat. And in case you would loose balance? No worries, it's still a recumbent. The Oké-ja had one flaw, it's 305 size front wheel. That sometimes had difficulty with deep snow.

Last summer I saw one lot of old rental bikes for sale. They looked like a far relative of the Oké-ja, but could take a 406 front wheel. And it would give me the chance to build up a 'bent in a classic style. So, I bought one of those, a bargain, and sold the Oké-ja. To Germany of course.

It was stripped and painted mat black. I gave it some old mudguards and a bottle dynamo. The hubs, shifter and headlight came from my dad's old post bike. These Sturmey Archer hubs have drumbrakes, 3 gears and are about 30 years old. Those got the same color as my Pioneer. That meant I could use the same good quality paint and save money. From my Mango time, I had a pair of 40mm Marathons with 6600km experience left over. So that became it's new tires. And some years ago, Anton had given me rim he didn't use anymore.

The few new parts I needed, grips, cables, tail light, dynamo bracket and rear rack are from Dutch Bike Bits.

Building it up again was an easy job. Except for the wheels. Those short spokes and old large diameter hubs made for a good lesson in truing them. So I got everything working and rolling but, the cranks tounched the front wheels. Aha! So that's why it had such a funny small 305mm front wheel. Luckily 140mm cranks are available on-line too. That solved the problem.

After some rides in the summer, I put this black bike away in the shed. Until last Friday. It had snowed! Now I could see if I'd made the right decision. Thankfully I had. It's not fast, no. Easy to ride it is. Perhaps even better than the Oké-ja. Where others slowly crawled to their destination, I hit a whopping 20kph, even on the slippery patches. The seat is hard, it needs a cushion, I'll figure something out for that. At least I can keep on riding to do my errands and to go swimming.

Why not an MTB you say? Don you know high those are? Way to dangerous. The only useful upright for me is a Brompton.