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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.


  1. I really enjoy your blog and have been following it for a while. I have been riding a SWB recumbent in the winter and agree it's good to be close to the ground. I just picked up my Quest XS on Monday in a crate. The same day as I got it we had rain on top of our snow and then freezing rain. Now that I put on a snow stud tire on the back, we got more snow on the ice. The snow is so deep today it's coming in the foot holes. Back to the SWB recumbent until they clear the streets. But that is sort of normal in our part of Canada.

  2. Hi Peter,
    It's always nice to shuffle around with bike parts. But I think 140mm cranks are really too short for you!
    In between of the cranks there is 13-15cm space (my alligt's 155mm 15cm). That is enough for passing the upper part of a suspension-fork. In such a fork the wheel of course is placed lower..
    That would be my choice.
    CU, Mick