Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Peter Heal - Lizard DIY Bents

Location: Canberra Australia

Rando Experience:
Been doing reasonably long rides for last 20 years. Started riding Audax Randonees seriously in 2004 and became addicted. 2004 – Rode 18,000km. Completed 2 x Super Series. Completed the Great Southern Randonee 1,200km in Victoria Australia. 2005 – Rode 16,000km and completed 1 x Super Series. 2006 – Rode 20,000km. Completed 2 x Super Series. Completed the Perth Albany Perth 1,200km event in Western Australia and a 1,000km event. 2007 – Aiming for 18,000km. Complete 1 x Super Series. Last minute decision to do PBP paid off with completion in poor conditions.

Bent Make/Model:
I generally ride my own self-built Lizard steel two wheeler quasi lowracer recumbents. Did almost 20,000km on my white Lizard. I am currently riding a dual 406 bike for most commuting and Audax rides. This bike was a project to make a lightweight steel bike and turned out fairly well at 11kg complete. I have a couple of Velokrafts in the fleet. Wouldn’t think of using the NoCom on an Audax ride. The VK2 is a nice bike and speeds are matched with the dual 406 bike. I haven’t ridden the VK2 more than 200km due to the Hamster Handlebar position resulting in sore elbows. No such pain on the U-bar position for me.
Why did you start riding bents? I have been building bike frames since around 1989 and built my first bent in 1997 or so. I had an injured disc in my back at the time which was part of the reason, but I also had experience with the technical intricacies and speed benefits of tandems. Recumbents gave me the same kick of tandems. I’m up to about 15 recumbent builds and every one has been different and hopefully an improvement over previous versions.

Why did you pick this model? The bent 1.75” main tube was the lightest that could be bent to mimic the lines of Barons and similar. Dual small wheels and tucked in rear end to minimise weight, make airline transport a bit easier and limit spare tyres etc to be carried. This was the first time with a hard shell seat for me as previously I had always used mesh. Seat was hot and uncomfortable until I discovered Ventisit pads – hallelujah!

Modifications from stock: The Orange bike has Capreo rear hub and cassette with a 9-26 spread. This enables me to use a standard size road triple up front and still get low and high enough gears for Randos and touring without extreme chainrings. Lightweight again! Bike has a Velokraft carbon seat and fork – very nice.

Lighting: Have used SON hub and E6 light but found a simpler and much lighter set up by building my own lights using Luxeon 3 watt LED’s and a simple pack of three alkaline c-cells. These run at least 18 hours and have the equivalent beam of the E6 without the weight of the hub. Two 3 watt Luxeons and battery packs weigh half the extra weight of the SON hub.

Fenders: I like these to keep stuff like “giant PBP slugs” and worms off the bike but find that it is the spray from the tyre contact point that gets you wet on a bent. A simple corflute guard zip tied to main tube in front of seat handles most wet day issues and can be removed quickly. My seat bag keep the spray from rear wheel from going down the back of my neck.

Luggage: What else? Self built seat bag and under seat bags custom fit the current bike. The seat bag is probably too big but that doesn’t matter on a bent as you can just be less critical in packing stuff. The seat bag alone would have been enough for PBP. Holds my 2 litre water bladder, pump, tubes, tools, jacket, thermals, space blanket, first aid food etc.

Navigation: Started using a mapping GPS (Garmin Etrex Vista) in 2006 and find it very good for just checking my otherwise pretty good navigation skills. I anguished over whether to buy the pricey French map-set before PBP and my French trip. I was so glad I did. On PBP having the accurate official course loaded enabled me to make sure I was on the correct route and when the normal computer magnet jumped ship it gave me distances and average speeds etc. This was very helpful when the lads turned the signs during the first night of PBP. Would like to upgrade to a colour screen version soon.

Bent specific riding techniques: Depends on the distance involved. On most local rides the number of participants is very low and I’m the only bent, so others usually say goodbye to me at the start. I generally average 22kmh elapsed including stops for rides where there are no sleeps. Spin, ride own pace, coast all downhills.

Riding with other bents & DF bikes: The disparity between different platforms usually means I’m riding by myself. I try to stay with them – honest, but DF’s are just so darn slow on the flats and downhills. Usually well ahead by the time I reach the hills, so they think I am a great climber too. It would be so nice to have a recumbent rider of similar fitness, speed and mental deficit as me to ride along with but that’s not going to happen.

Eating on a bent: Eating is good. I nibble from food in my waist bag or jersey pockets and have big meals at controls. I’m a real food man and don’t really get into liquid food and supplements. Hmmm pasta….. Carrying more food than I really need has always paid off.

If you were to start again what bent/setup would you get? What’s the perfect recumbent for Randonees? That’s hard. I think the 406/700c rear drive setup is ideal. Visibility is important. The big rear wheel seems to add some speed at the top end. Dual 406 wheels are a compromise. The bike doesn’t need to be extremely low. The VK2 has too high a bottom bracket I feel and the hamster bars don’t suit me. A functional tailbox is very useful. Main reasons being increasing rearwards visibility and for carrying all the junk. A tailbox adds a viable speed advantage in my experience over a long distance ride. Even if it doesn’t mean you are going faster, you will be using less energy. Curved corflute tailboxes have been successful for me although purists turn up their noses at the unrefined appearance. I’ll be building a hybrid foam and fibreglass “curved and beautiful” tailbox soon that will hopefully meet all the criteria.


jeremy said...

Why is a NoCom a no no for Audax? One can hypothecate why but it would be useful to hear your views

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