Alan B wrote:How is it coming, James?
I've never ridden a recumbent. Was doing some reading on it, I like the idea of better comfort for long rides and better efficiency. Is it controllable enough to deal with traffic with confidence?
I wouldn't say it's going "great". Hitting a few snags that are adding up to really stop my efforts. (more about that later)Recumbents
The SWB (Short WheelBase) Recumbent is a mixed bag when it comes to stability. Straight line and shallow curves are great. Turning an acute curve is more difficult than with an upright diamond bike. If you turn the front wheel too far, your foot can hit the front wheel and you can lose balance. The wheelbase of the bike is so incredibly short that I would not say it "helps" stability on where it's placed. If the front forks and steering had been placed another couple inches forward, I think that would have been better. Problem with that is, your feet on the pedals would not have cleared the front wheel at all. It's not so bad that I am worried for my safety - you ride the bike enough, you learn what to do and what not to do.
If you ride in shorts (lycra or otherwise) in sunny weather, sunscreen is a requirement - your legs are stretched out perpendicular to the sun's rays for maximum exposure. First time I ever rode the SWB, I got a bad sunburn.
Mirrors are an absolute must on a recumbent. It's impossible to turn your head and look back without stopping.
There is some transmission of vibration through the rear wheel into the back of the recumbent seat, but it's not terrible. The time I noticed this, i was running 100psi in the rear on a dirt road. Otherwise, no problems and the heavy padding of the seat is superb for cushioning road shocks even though I lack any suspension at all.
If I were buying a new recumbent to convert, I'd go with an LWB: Long WheelBase machine. Although many recumbents have the "feet hitting the front tire" problem, you can find LWB models that don't, so they are more stable. Caveat is that I can't comment with authority, as I've never ridden one. Notable names in that field are Sun http://www.sunbicycles.com/index.php
and RANS http://www.rans.com/products/bicycles
(Side note: IMHO I do not believe the "crank forward" semi-recumbent designs offer any efficiency advantage compared to a typical upright diamond bike. That's just my opinion on efficiency - I have looked at the Townie bikes with great lust - I think a crank-forward with disc brakes would make a great conversion. The retro "Juicer 48" http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=34845
essentially became a crank-forward recumbent with the seat post mods done by the builder. But the builder didn't have any impressive comments to make about the range and efficiency of the bike.)
Having said these things I must point out that the ride comfort is superior to an upright bike. You can hop on this bike after months of not riding and go for miles without suffering any lower back pain. There's no "butt or crotch problem" with this bike like there is with the saddles on upright bikes. I took the bike out a couple more times before working on it and traveled some of my well-known and well-timed ride routes. Even though the recumbent isn't quite as good going uphill, the bike kicked the crap out of my upright bikes for ride speed and time to complete the course. Without even trying, I bested my previous-best upright diamond bike ride on my 10 mile loop by almost 2 minutes. On a loop that short, a 2 minute improvement is normally near-impossible for me. All I can figure is that I didn't lose much time going uphill and I must have gained immense time on the 3 miles of downhill over the 10 mile loop. I've just added a speedo to the bike so I may be able to better confirm that theory.
Installation of the motor and battery may improve stability. Putting that big, heavy motor down on the axle and mounting the battery pack low will move a lot of weight down on the axles. The Build
The stock torque arms don't match up to any bolt holes on the bike, so I've got to either modify them or make new. Everyone is out of stock on the freewheel tools, so I can't transfer the one from the bike to the motor, which was the original plan (the one from the bike will fit without modifications - the one you buy with the motors is a couple mm wider, necessitating the spacer washer. This part was said to come with the gear cluster, but it doesn't, actually) I can show the motor wheel on the bike (it's massive!) but it's not really road-ready yet.
No one has the rear freewheel tool - it's out of stock everywhere. I plan to go to the local bike shop today and get a stock shimano freewheel tool. I'll have to drill it out to get it to fit over the motor shaft.
Bullet connectors ordered from China have taken a painful amount of time to arrive. Tracking indicates they are in the state, could be here this week. LiPo charger has left Hong Kong but tracking gives me no better or newer information than that.
I have some things to tell, so I plan to post a couple new pics shortly - parts unboxing and the usual added stuff to the bike - fenders, rack, lights and speedo. I'm suffering some delays waiting on parts and I'm planning the wiring harness builds, but I haven't gotten any parts in yet, trying to be patient, but I'm starting to worry. Any shipping time over two weeks gets me nervous.