Thursday, December 16, 2010

Riding in the winter. Here's what you need.

To ride in the winter, here's what you need: studded tires, windproof coat and pants, merino wool baselayer, warm gloves, hat and socks. Easy.

Winter tires. Carbide steel studded Marathon Winter tires. Manufactured by Schwalbe.  Great tires.  They grip icy, snowy slippery streets.  Keep you riding safely all year around.  Don't yield the streets and the bike lanes back to the cars.  Worth every penny.  They fit most mountain, touring and hybrid bikes.

Get them.  Contact me.  I've got them.  And I'll give you the best price simply so you can keep riding all year around.

If it's cold fingers, toes and nose that's getting you down, you need:

- Warm hat: North Face or Outdoor Research micro-fleece polar-tech, windproof hat.
- Icebreaker merino wool balaklava -- get the 200 weight.

Warm gloves: Outdoor Research windproof, insulated gloves.

Warm socks: Icebreaker or Smartwool socks made for winter trekking or climbing.  A thick wool sock is a good sock.

Do you need an easy way to stay warm while wearing your normal office clothes?  Get a good Gortex rain/wind jacket and rain/wind pants to wear as an outer layer (and keep your office clothes clean).  Since it's often the windchill that makes you cold on a bike, a windproof outer layer does miracles.

If you're still not warm enough, get Icebreaker merino wool 150-weight tops and bottoms (base layer) to wear under your clothes.  Merino is an amazing fabric.  It's comfortable and won't cause you to boil while sitting around your office, but it'll keep you warm on the bike, esp. when you put on your windproof outer layer.

For all these things, contact Tents and Trails (NYC), Moosejaw (Mich.) or Eastern Mountain Sports (NYC)

P.S. Icebreaker is expensive, but worth every penny.  It has saved my life -- no joke -- and it'll certainly save your bumm from freezing.

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

If we're not able to kick the oil habit, we can always learn to survive a nuclear blast.

The Obama administration doesn't want to seem alarmist, so I'll help spread the word.

From today's New York Times:

U.S. Rethinks Strategy for the Unthinkable
Published: December 15, 2010
"The Obama administration wants to convey how to react to a nuclear attack but is worried about seeming alarmist."

"Suppose the unthinkable happened, and terrorists struck New York or another big city with an atom bomb. What should people there do? The government has a surprising new message: Do not flee. Get inside any stable building and don’t come out till officials say it’s safe.

"The advice is based on recent scientific analyses showing that a nuclear attack is much more survivable if you immediately shield yourself from the lethal radiation that follows a blast, a simple tactic seen as saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Even staying in a car, the studies show, would reduce casualties by more than 50 percent; hunkering down in a basement would be better by far."

Read more about how to protect ourselves from those who hate us -- and sell us oil -- by reading the original article at:

Next, we need to learn how to protect ourselves from those who hate us and loan us money.

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting onto something a little more comfortable: bents versus standard frames

I'm no fan of the silly debate about which bike is better: a bent or a diamond frame ("DF") "standard" bike.  As far as I'm concerned, people should sit on whatever they like, as long as it's not a car seat.

Still, from time to time, I find myself lured into an annoying conversation where I feel compelled to defend the performance of bents, usually to male standard frame riders of a certain age.  They don't buy the comfort angle; they want to know how fast they are on the hills.

The results from the 2010 Race Across America, in which bents are permitted to race alongside diamond frames (over mountains and hills), illustrate how bents perform against DFs.  All things being equal -- and they never are -- they're pretty much equal.  However, in RAAM 2010, there were very few bent riders overall, so it's noteworthy that bents placed in the top of several categories.

Meanwhile, sadly, I find no mention of drug testing on the race's website (maybe it's there, but not anywhere obvious).  Doping can decide a race and, without drug testing, ultimately, race results are meaningless.  If there is no drug testing at RAAM, then I personally would assume that some athletes are doping.


The under-50 solo women's category winner, Barbara Buatois, was on a recumbent. Out of the five starters, 2nd and 3rd place were on standard frames.  Among the DNFs (did not finish) were one standard frame and one bent.  (This result is particularly interesting to me because women are a minority among bent riders, but the few I've worked with are among my most enthusiastic customers.)
Times, from 1st to 3rd were:
1:  11 days  19 hours  48 minutes  Avg. speed: 10.59  (Barbara Buatois)
2:  12d  16h  36m  Avg. speed: 9.87  (Sabrina Bianchi)
3:  12d  18h  31m  Avg. speed: 9.8  (Michele Santilhano)

The age 50-59 solo male category was won by Timothy M. Woudenberg, a recumbent rider, who was the only finisher out of six starters.  (This is additionally interesting to me because the "over 50 market" is a demographic I commonly see for bent riders.)
10 days  23 hours  14 min.  Avg. speed: 11.42  (T. M. Woudenberg)

In the four-person male under-50 (years old) category, a bent team holds their own in a field of 11 teams, taking 3rd place, with standard frames taking 1st and 2nd place.
Times, from 1st to 3rd were:
1:  6 days 2 hours 39 minutes   Avg. speed: 20.49 mph  (Team: Inc.)
2:  6d  6h  59m   Avg. speed: 19.9 mph  (Team: Team doc2doc)
3:  6d  9h  35m.  Avg. speed: 19.57 mph  (Team: Bent Up Cycles)

Does that tell us anything meaningful?  Maybe the idea that bents aren't inherently slower (or faster) will help convince a few pain-ridden standard frame riders to get onto something a little more comfortable.

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Monday, December 13, 2010

Get involved in local politics to improve street safety.

Bicyclists must get involved in local politics if we want roads that are safer for everyone and for cyclists in particular.  That means attending meetings of your Community Board.  It also means attending City Council hearings on topics that concern cyclists.

Last Thursday, the New York City Council's Transportation Oversight Committee held a hearing (read: charade) on whether new bike lanes are being installed too quickly and without enough oversight from City Council and Community Boards.  Some Councilmembers seemed blissfully -- even gleefully -- ignorant of the fact that the City Council and the Community Boards already weighed in on the topic many years ago and approved a master plan of bicycle paths.  The current Department of Transportation is implementing this plan, which the previous DOT commissioner failed to implement (Failed due to Incompetence? Political machinations? Too much oversight? Too much candy and donuts? You decide.).

The result of these failures to install bike lanes, along with other failures to take strong measures to improve safety on New York City streets, has resulted in the deaths of thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers who have been killed in motor vehicle accidents.

James Vacca, Chairman of the Transportation Oversight Committee, began the hearing with a diatribe against the rapidity of the DOT's work and the evils of cycling.  Then DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan presented, and was grilled.

Then came the testimony. Some 72 New Yorkers signed up to speak for two minutes each.  The first six speaking slots were given to those who object to bike lanes, particularly on Prospect Park West, and apparently prefer streets where motorists drive with murderous intent.  (Fortunately, most Park Slope residents like the bike lanes. See  And in a true lesson of City democracy, they were allowed to exceed their two minute time limit allowed for delivering testimony.

I showed up at 8:30am for the 10am hearing.  And at about 3:15pm I delivered the following two-minute testimony.  At the time, only one councilmember was still present (friend of a livable Brooklyn, Councilmember Letitia James), Chairman Vacca being on break.  By this time, and for the last hour and a half or so, the testimonies and audience members consisted only of those who support bike lanes and the DOT's aggressive approach to creating livable streets.  Little surprise.  Ultimately, bike lanes are better for the city.  We can hope that good sense will prevail.


Dear Honorable Councilmen and Councilwomen of the City of New York:

In the five boroughs of New York City, 266 people were killed in traffic fatalities in 2009. This is according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.(1)  Are those 266 deaths in 2009 too few?  Or are they too many?

In the 15 years from 1994 up through 2009, 5,746 people were killed in the five boroughs of New York City in motor vehicle accidents.  Are 5,746 fatalities in 15 years too few?  Or too many?  How many more people need to be killed in traffic accidents before we take aggressive steps to make our streets safe?

Personally, I believe these fatalities were needless and are entirely unacceptable.  For this reason, I support New York City’s Department of Transportation for making changes to city streets that decrease injuries and save lives.  Projects that result in safer streets -- like the creation of pedestrian areas in Times and Harold squares, the redesign of Park Circle and Prospect Park West in Brooklyn, the installation of bicycle lanes city wide, and the wide use of modern traffic engineering to protect citizens' lives, health and well-being -- are an unambiguous benefit to New York City, when measured in irreplaceable lives.

Furthermore, I believe there are some services which city government should be expected to provide, such as saving lives, without micro-management.  It should be self-evident that a deadly street is a bad street.  And a safe street is a good street.

There are those who might argue we are moving too quickly with safety improvements.  But, if we consider the death toll, the question is not “are we moving too fast” but rather “what is taking so long?”

5,746 deaths over 15 years is too many.  We do not need more people to die on the streets.  We need fewer dead.  We need safer streets.  And we need them fast.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Matson

2009 and 2008 Traffic Fatalities in New York City, by borough(1).

2009 traffic fatalities
2008 traffic fatalities
New York

(1)   The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's “Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia” at


If you attend a community meeting about bike lanes and street safety and you aren't sure what to say. Use the testimonial above. Our political leaders must take responsibility for the daily fatalities on our streets. Hundreds dead every year, in New York alone, is not an acceptable price to pay for motorists to drive badly and illegally.

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Greenspeed Scorcher Tires

This'll be short.....

Greenspeed Scorcher Tires...great tires!
Greenspeed has a series of 16" and 20" Scorcher tires with smooth, fast, puncture resistant Kevlar treads and wire beads.  There is also a tire with a non-Kevlar tread and a folding bead which makes a nice lightweight tire that is perfect as a spare.  The Kevlar 20" has reflective sidewalls.  Prices are comparable to equivalent grade Schwalbe's, at apx. $41 or so per tire.  Not bad.

Naturally, these are great for any recumbent trike or bike.  But they're also a nice choice for a fast Bike Friday or Swift folder.  Contact me for prices and availability.

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Monday, December 6, 2010

HP Velotechnik, Grasshopper fx, redux

On the left, Robert on an HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx. On the right, a Volae Tour ready to roll. In the background, the Copake Falls campground in the Taconic State Park -- about 100 miles north of New York City and you can get there by bike.

Today, I posted a review for "Bent Rider On-Line" of HP Velotechnik's Grasshopper fx.

I'm reposting it here because there has been a lot of interest in my more emotional review that I wrote about a year ago when I brought in the first 'Hopper.  Long and short, I still love it.  The review, below.

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail "collaborating" with Robert and an HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx.

# # #

Positive aspects: Folds quickly and easily, aerodynamic and fast, full suspension, great high-speed handling, accessories look great

Negative aspects: Optional under-seat steering upgrade requires a skilled rider.

First, I should reveal that I'm in the industry -- I’m an HP Velotechnik dealer in New York City.  However, I'm also a happy owner of a Grasshopper fx (“GH fx” or just “GH”), which serves as my “luxury” urban ride.  Like everyone in New York, I don't have any extra space; I store my Grasshopper in my home office.  If I want to take a bent with me on the train or bus, the GH fx’s fast fold and carrying bag are ideal.  Also, to grab my space on the street, I like a fast ride with nimble, positive handling.  And since I have to lift and carry the bike any time I go out -- down/up the stairs of my apartment building, down the stairs to train platforms, wedge it into elevators, etc. -- a light and compact bent is a good bent, too. Lastly, I ride in all weather, year-round, and need to carry cargo, so strong, well-designed racks, fenders and light systems are a must.

The Fold: quick and easy.
Another reviewer on "Bentrider Online" has criticized the folding mechanism, but I can't imagine what the gripe could be.  I like it.  And I know more than just a little about folding bikes -- I also own a Brompton folding upright, possibly the world's most successful folding bike, and a Montague folding MTB, which, in my hands, is possibly the world’s most abused folding bike.  The Grasshopper (in my hands) folds as well as any of them -- easily, quickly, smoothly and intuitively.  The frame is stiff and straight with a strong hinge design.  Ride quality is that of a top-end fold-less bent.  And because it fits into a bag, I can carry it onto trains or buses as luggage.  In other words, it’s a true folding bike in every way (though not as small as a Brompton).

Aerodynamic: Fast on the flats and downs, slightly slower uphill.
People are often surprised to learn that the seat height on a GH fx is 5" lower than the bottom bracket which, with the dual 20” wheels, provides a moderately low center of gravity.  In spite of this fairly aggressive design, the seat height of 21” and the appropriate front-end geometry make this a full-fledged touring and commuting bent.  The GH fx is fast on the flats and stable at speed, even when fully loaded.  My machine has the optional under-seat steering, but the standard GH fx comes with aerodynamic above-seat steering.  Sometimes I wish I had the speed and turning advantage of above seat steering, but I like the relaxed comfort of USS.  It’s a toss up.

It goes without saying that it’s hard, slow work pedaling a bent up a long steep hill.  Add to this that the GH fx, like any dual 20" bent, is additionally challenging to balance at slow speeds, like 3 - 5 mph.  Some novice riders might benefit from the stability provided by the gyroscopic action of a big rear wheel (such as on a HPV Street Machine), instead of the GH’s small rear wheel.  However, in my experience, the GH handles better on hill climbs than other small-wheeled bents, and, at any rate, as you become skilled and stronger, hill climbing only gets easier. (For context, when I talk about hills, I’m referring to 7 to 12 degree climbs.)

Handling at speed.
At normal and high speeds, the GH fx handles like any HP Velotechnik -- it’s positively awesome.  With an intuitive and stable ride, and a moderately low center of gravity, it feels secure and responsive on the turns.  It’s an unforgettable riding experience.

At low speeds, it's fine, but the optional under-seat steering (“USS”) upgrade on the GH fx puts a fly in the ointment.  As a result, unless you really must have USS on the GH fx, or are an experienced rider, I’d recommend choosing the standard above-seat steering configuration.

Here’s what you need to know about the under-seat steering configuration on the GH fx.  First, the ointment: everything about the bike is outstanding, just as you’d expect from the minds behind HP Velotechnik.  But, as is normal with USS (but admittedly frustrating), there’s a limit to how sharply you can turn at slow speed before the handlebar (or your hand) hits the seat.  Therefore, when you need to make a particularly sharp turn, you need a little momentum (and good balance) so you can bank into a sharp turn.

For me personally, it rarely creates problems in normal New York City riding, which is full of 90-degree turns at intersections, fast starts and sudden stops. The only time I find it truly irritating is when I need to ride at walking speed around obstacles like bridge stanchions (or tourists) or when stopping at a red light where I also need to make a close right angle turn (in this last case, I simply pick up the bike and pivot).  Mind you, this is a common issue with under-seat steering bents as well as long wheelbase bents, so admittedly I’m nitpicking an otherwise phenomenal bent.

All in all, this means the handling of the Grasshopper fx has a longer learning curve than other HP Velotechnik bents.  The balance issue caused by the two 20” wheels is no big deal and simply requires time in the saddle.  The limitations of the under-seat steering option are easiest resolved by simply ordering the standard above-seat configuration or...putting in time and practicing your handling skills.

Weight-weenies be gone: this is what a high-quality, fully-suspended, folding bike weighs.
I can lift the Grasshopper fx with one hand, so I don’t really consider its 33.75 lbs. to be heavy.  Still, for a fully-suspended, folding bent, rated to carry 275 lbs. and designed for touring and commuting, it would be hard to find the excess weight (maybe a half-pound could be knocked off the drive train and wheels of the stock build).  It is unreasonable to compare this type of machine to a 26-pound non-suspended, non-folding Volae Team, for example.  Good rear suspension adds weight as do front shocks.  Solid, high-quality folding mechanisms add weight.  And touring/commuting bikes, as a rule, are over-built to withstand punishing back roads and still keep rolling.

Comparing the GH fx to my tiny, unsuspended Brompton, which weighs about 31 lbs. (with hub dynamo), or my Surly Cross-Check (diamond frame) which weighs about 30 lbs., I can’t consider the 33.75 lbs. Grasshopper fx to be heavy, especially for a bent.  Does it make me work harder while riding up a hill?  Undoubtedly, but I don’t notice.  And, at any rate, I’m happy to have full suspension and a quality build when I hit bad asphalt while ripping downhill in the Appalachian Mountains.

Options and accessories fit easily and perfectly.
The Grasshopper fx’s accessories attach neatly and elegantly, as you’d expect from HP Velotechnik.  Fenders mount securely and look good.  Racks install quickly, are incredibly strong, and look like they belong.  The kickstand holds the bike firmly, even when fully loaded.  The lights have appropriate mounting points and electrical cables can be run through the frame.  The GH fx always looks stylish and classy and even lycra-clad roadies give it the “cool bike” salute.

Long and short, in skilled hands, whether in the above-seat steering config, or with under-seat steering, it’s an amazing ride that does everything, goes anywhere and folds easily to boot.

# # #

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Volae Team

I just received this very nice note and photo from a happy customer.

------ Original Message ----------
Subject: Volae Team - Testimonial
From: "Jim L. "
To: "Robert Matson"

JL - Volae Team with tailsock and small front fairing.


I bought the Volae Team for speed, and yes, this is the fastest I have ever gone on a bike -- and far more comfortable than my normal bike with a suspension system. There is no going back.

On a round trip I clocked 1/2 mph faster than I have ever gone on a normal bike on the same route in gentle rolling hills. And there is probably another 1/2 mph to come when I get my recumbent legs (learn to emphasize different muscles). And I am 15-20% faster down gentle hills.

Buy from Robert Matson. Volae makes it easy enough to buy a bicycle and some accessories online, but you will not configure something good. How are you going to mount a water bottle? Which accessories do you really want, not having tried any of them? What seat pack is compatible with a tailsok? Tailsok? The death-wish Volae website does not even mention a tailsok, but without one you will be 1 mph slower on the flats. And if you are between seat sizes like me, Robert will have you try both seats, so you don't get the uncomfortable one.

Robert is both a good talker and a great listener. You will think that configuring a bike just right for you is the most important thing in his life, and in that time and space I think it really is.

Jim L.


Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bicycle advocacy - act today

Nothing lasts forever in New York.  It seems that every generation puts their stamp on the city.

Right now, one of those stamps is the bike lanes.  From the perspective of managing the city's growth and making safe and liveable streets, bike lanes are critical to ensuring the quality of life in the city.

So it is unbelievable, and regrettably true, that there are city residents who are adamantly opposed to bike lanes.  They organize protests.  They coerce spineless elected officials.  The lie, cheat and play dirty to get what they want.  They act like the complete a-holes we know them to be while they're in their cars: parking in the bike lanes, driving while intoxicated and/or talking on their cell phones, and hitting cyclists and running from the scene.  Yes, this is basically road-hogs versus tax payers who want to live nice lives.

It comes down to this.  Cyclists must get involved in cycling advocacy.  Support bicycle advocacy groups.  Write letters to the newspapers.  Get involved in the local political process by actively attending Community Board meetings.  And if you really want to make a difference, get a post on your local community board; it's not as hard as you might imagine.

The easiest, most undemanding way to get involved in cycling advocacy is 1) become a member of Transportation Alternatives and 2) Give them an extra financial gift to help them do their work.  Here's the link.  Act today, because cycling today depends on what we do right now.

The future livability of The City is at stake too.  If we don't continue building safe streets in New York, the quality of life for everyone in the city will deteriorate.

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Struggle to Stay Upright (and Cool) By Sean Patrick Farrell

Now, this is really something to write home about....  You know recumbents have arrived when they make the New York Times.

Read S. Patrick Farrell's Spokes Column here:

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cars that cyclists like. And two that don't look so good.

It has pained me, this past summer, to find myself needing a car to transport bikes hither and yon for shows and exhibits.

As the time drew near, I was frantically searching through the Zip Car options for cars that looked like they'd hold a few bikes.  I ended up Zip-car-renting a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.  Plenty of room for a trike and two bikes, plus all the gear for an exhibit.  And kind of a sweet ride as well, I will admit.

I did a little research on-line and put together this list of cars that cyclists seem to like.  I'd be happy to update it with your favorite, should you care to send it to me.

Toyota Tacoma

Volkswagon Golf GTI

Subaru Forester

Volkswagon Caddy

Mercedes-Benz Vito

Renault Megane

Skoda turbo diesel DSG wagon

Honda Jazz

Ford Territory Ghia

SUV of unknown brand near Manhattan Bridge, Chinatown.

photo by R. Matson copyr. 2010

The "Other Guy." Unknown brand. Across the street. Next to the bike rack.

photo by R. Matson copyr. 2010

Some of these images may or may not be copyrighted. Either way, they contain no notice on the image. If you are a copyright owner of one of these images, please contact me regarding rights purchasing or removal from this site. Please use a descriptive subject line so I don't ignore your e-mail.

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Slipping on gravel and for when you do.

This will be short.


Use the fattest tires possible. In turns, instead of leaning the bike into the turn, lean your head and upper body as much as possible to provide the counterbalance, as you'd do on a trike, and keep the bike as near vertical as possible. Avoid pebbles like the plague. If it looks like you are going to be forced to turn on gravel, you may safely assume you are going to fall. Brake hard and dramatically reduce your speed to a crawl before you reach the gravel patch.  This is your only hope for avoiding a fall, but even then....

For protection, since frequent riders may find a gravel skid nearly inevitable, wear body armor such as that used by mountain bikers.  A friend of mine (Neile, Ti-Aero rider and a New York Cycle Club ride leader) wears Six-Six-One armored shorts and roller blade-style elbow pads.  I now own some too.  Why not.  I'd consider some mountain bike body armor with shoulder pads, too.

Lots of MTB armor here, but I don't know much about the shop.

If and when you lose skin from a skidding fall, take the injury seriously.  There is no such thing as "mere road rash."  Anytime you lose skin -- one of your body's main defenses against infection -- and dirt (pebbles, gravel, etc.) gets into the wound, you are at substantial risk of infection, which, if inadequately treated, can lead to death.  No joke.  Immediately scrub the entire road rash wound thoroughly with a medical sponge (or clean gauze pads) and soapy water.  The scrubbing will hurt, but you must clean out every speck of dirt, leaving a clean wound that can heal properly.  Dress the wound with clean bandages to prevent further infection.  If the wound is large, immediately see a doctor.  If you're treating someone else, isolate yourself from their bodily substances (like blood) before touching them.

Those are the basics, but they are not the whole story.  You must get training before you give first aid.  I strongly recommend taking one of the Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder courses offered by SOLO before another day goes by.


Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Escape New York!, First Flight for Ornithopter!, Fall Foliage!

Robert with HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte.

Escape New York and photos of the fun.

We had a great time at Escape New York, one of the jewels in the crown of the New York Cycle Club.  We had a small recumbent display with an HP Velotechnik Street Machine, a Volae Tour, and Rick Horan brought a Flevobike Green Machine. Dan (blue Volae Century) helped too!

I thought you might enjoy some photos showing the "action" from our bent stand at Escape New York.  Thanks to the organizers and all the riders!

We had a great time, met a lot of nice people, and saw some old friends too.

(These are from two riders' Flickr and Smug Mug streams, so links may get broken over time.  If they do, and you notice it, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know.)

This guy looked like he'd be fast regardless of what he rode. (Am I grabbing a screwdriver out of the air with my back turned? I don't think so....)

Robert, eating Siggi's skyr (yogurt). Don't try this while you're riding....on a diamond frame.... (or anything else, really). (I actually got to meet Siggi Hilmarsson himself and fitted him on a Street Machine Gte!! Man, that guy is TALL (like 6'6" or so)!

The Flevobike Green Machine.

Hee hee: could this be a future proud owner of an HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte? (Obviously, this photo may not be published and/or republished without explicit permission.)

More, and more!

There's Peter!

Check out this helmet.

Here's the whole bunch of 'em.  And the other bunch.

First Successful Flight of the Snowbird Human-Powered Ornithopter

Interestingly, but not shockingly, the Snowbird ornithopeter uses Derk Thijs’ Rowingbike mechanism instead of a bicycle mechanism.

Lazily, I shall simply point you to the organization's website:


Successful Flight of the Snowbird!!!!

Wed, 09/22/2010 - 11:22

On July 31st and August 2nd, 2010 the Snowbird succeeded in completing several sustained flights!! On the longest flight the altitude and airspeed were maintained for 19.3 seconds, setting a world first, and achieving the age-old aeronautical dream of self-powered flapping wing flight! The accomplishment of our goal is a success shared by all, and I must thank everyone who was involved for their help, sponsorship, advice, or simply for their interest in our project, which has motivated us when times where hard.

Please check out the media section of our website for pictures and video.

Fall Foliage Map

It's soon to be here, folks.




Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2010 Robert Matson

Monday, September 27, 2010

Packing list - self-contained tour

Packing list for a self-contained tour.
(If you feel I've forgotten something that's important to you, tell me about it.)

Clothes, Day / “Warm Wet”

Bike helmet

Short sleeve base layer, merino wool (1) (spring, fall) or merino wool tank-top base layer (1) (summer, winter)
Long sleeve shirt, merino wool (1)
Vest, merino wool (shoulder season and winter)
Arm warmers (optional)
Sweater - windproof fleece
Elbow pads (fall protection)

Bike shorts/tights/undershorts (merino wool or synthetic) (1)
Bike overshorts/loose (wool or synth) (1)

Thin high viz gloves for daily riding and as base layer for hands.
Gloves - windproof, warm when wet. (1)

Socks - wool (1 pr.) (fall, winter, spring) (Thin wool in summer. Two pr. if long trip.)
Bike shoes (walkable) (1)

Hat - windproof fleece or wool (1)
Shells - mittens, wind- and water-proof (1)
Socks - waterproof
Socks - wool/synth liner for waterproof socks
Rain coat/wind coat - breathable, light, high-viz, synthetic
Rain pants - breathable, ultra light (Dri Ducks)
Tights, long, merino wool, no fly (1)
Windproof pants or knickers if very cold.

Deet (100% concentration, in small container)
Bug net/head net

Clothes In Camp: Evening/Morning
Warm coat with synthetic insulation (warm when wet)
Crocs or sneakers.
Travel towel (micro size)

Clothes at Night / "Dry or Die"
Balaklava - merino wool or synth
Possum fur gloves
Possum fur socks
Underwear (shorts) - base layer, Merino wool
Long underwear bottoms, Merino wool
Long underwear top, Merino wool
Down jacket (stored inside waterproof bag with down sleeping bag)

Sleeping bag (stored inside waterproof bag inside stuff sack)
Vapor Barrier
Tent/Bivvy sack
Ground cover
Sleeping pad, full body length.
Rope, 50', strong, light (strong enough to support body weight).
Lightweight tarp to cover and hide bike.
Camp flashlight (helmet-mounted light)
Extra batteries for camp flashlight

Lighter/flint and steel
Lightweight back-up stove (for long, remote trips)
Pot, for boiling water.
Cup, insulated with lid, for hot drinks
Plate/bowl, insulated with lid, for hot foods (or use a second insulated cup)
Knife or single-edged razor (one or the other)
Odor proof sacks
Food canister - bear and animal resistant (or Pacific Coast Trail - type bear bag)
Trash bag, odor proof

Personal Hygiene and Health
Hand sanitizer
Dental floss
Castile Soap (use as shampoo and dish soap)
Extra toilet paper (keep in a zip-top bag)
Any other personal items.

Pen (Waterproof) / Drawing pen
Sketch book
Entertainment: meditation, yoga, stretching, prayer, what you like.
Bathing suit and goggles

Cell phone in water-proof bag (w/ charger for long trip)
Emergency beacon
Extra batteries for emergency beacon
Whistle - audible in high traffic
First aid kit (and Wilderness First Aid training)
Set of emergency chemical hand/foot warmers
Razor - single-edged (see knife, listed under “Kitchen”)
Extra lights white and red, steady/blinky
Medical information: name, age, pre-existing conditions, list of medications (prescription and otherwise, including herbal supplements). Write with permanent marker on waterproof paper (like tyvek) and tape it to the top tube of your bike or other prominent location. Include emergency contact name and phone number.

Health and Hygiene for the Machine
Before leaving, check:
 - Headlight/Rearlight, dynamo.
 - ALL bolts on bike retightened, reapply thread grease, Loktite(tm) or beeswax
 - Pedals good, spin freely, clean, re-grease mounting threads
 - Chain clean, greased with all-weather lube
 - Check entire frame, fork, wheels, handlebars, etc. for cracks, fatigue and anything unusual.
 - Check wheels for alignment
 - Pannier hangers (tighten) and straps.
 - Gear shifting: limits and indexing.

 - Multi tool w/ chain tool
 - Tire irons (good ones that won't break)
 - Crescent wrench, small
 - Complete patch kit, full, w/ new glue, w/ valve patch.
 - Pump
 - Presta to Schrader adapter
Duct tape
Chain link (SRAM Powerlink(tm)-type, but compatible)
Zip ties (2)
Heavy chain oil/lube (.2 oz bottle) (longer trips)
Spare brake cable (for longer trips)
Spare gear cable (for longer trips)
Rags (to clean greasy hands)
Baby wipes (to clean greasy hands)

Wheel repairs:
 - Extra tubes (2) for front and rear
 - Extra tires (2) front and rear, light, foldable bead
 - Spare spoke, cut to size (1 for the front, 2 for each side of the rear wheel) (especially for longer trips)
 - Note: for touring wheels and tires, you can minimize trouble by using a heavy-duty, touring-quality wheel set with “puncture proof” tires like Schwalbe Marathon Plus rather than mount “fast” tires on a lightweight wheel set and have to carry numerous spares.

Batteries (Energizer ultra lithium) - One set of batteries for each electronic device for each period of battery life.  For essential devices like lights, navigation or medical devices, take an extra set.  Add it up like this: if your light runs for 10 hours on a set of batteries and you predict you'll hit 20 hours of darkness during your trip, take three sets: one to load the device at the start, a second to predictably refill the device at hour 11, and a third in case of reasonably possible night-time mishaps such as a flat tire, losing the route, or navigating rough or busy roads.

Gear on the Bike
Panniers: 2 under seat, 2 rear (and rack top bag if longer trip)
Pitlocks: locking front and rear wheel, fork/Ahead, seat
Bike Lock, folding (Abus) or other good security plan.
Mirrors: left and right
Maps. List: ________________, ________________, ________________, ________________
Map case - clear, waterproof
Cue sheets
Holder for route/cue sheets
Maps and cue sheets prepared as necessary (pre-folded, marked, trimmed, etc.)
GPS in waterproof case (w/ backup battery)
Mace for dogs/bears/people
Bungee cord (for securing bike on the train and securing stuff to the bike rack)
"Bungee netting" (long trips)

Wallet in form of heavy-duty zip-top bag
Cash ($100/week)
Credit cards
Reading glasses
Train tickets
Bike permit for train
Camera w/ extra batteries and memory

Food/Water (on the road)
Water bottles (2 bottles of 1 liter capacity): 1 for nutritional drink, a 2nd for vinegar/water anti-dog mix.)
Water Reservoir (2 liters) in seatback bag or daypack.

Nutritional energy drink:
Ratios, in terms of "serving sizes": 2s Gary Null's Greens and Grains : 2+s Carbo Now : 1/2s Gatorade : 1s Hemp protein : 1s sea salt (in water base).

 - Peanuts, salted roasted
 - Walnuts
 - Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower
 - Ginger, candied
 - Goji berries
 - cocao beans, raw
 - dates, prunes, raisins
 - raw chocolate chunks, carob and greens chunks, vanilla and almond chunks

Lunch (1 per day)
 - Scottish oat crackers
 - Sardines
 - Dried fruit
 - Dessert - low sugar, high fat

Food (in camp)

Dinner (1 per day)
 - Kamut flakes with dried vegetable soup mix, soup bullion, hemp protein, Gary Null's (“GN”) Green Stuff, sea salt and olive oil/coconut oil.
 - Dried fruit
 - Dessert with mostly high count of healthy fat calories.
 - Steak and eggs or hamburger
 - Freeze-dried food

Breakfast (1 per day)
 - Chia seeds, pre-mixed for pudding. With GN red stuff, cinnamon, sea salt, goji berries, dried coconut.
 - Gary Null’s muscle or Spiru-tein protein drink
 - Coffee w/ powdered goats milk or hot chocolate and agave nectar
 - Dried fruit
 - Granola/Muesli with GN red stuff.  Pre-mixed with powdered goat’s milk and/or GN muscle.

One extra day of food (1 per trip or 1 per week)
 - lightweight and small sized, high calorie, nutritionally dense meals, e.g., protein drink mix, beef jerky, dry soup mix.

What I don't take that others might, and the reason.

Arm warmers.  If merino wool, okay. Otherwise too itchy and not warm enough given their bulk and weight compared to a thin merino wool shirt. Synthetic arm warmers don’t keep me warm.
Leg warmers.  Same as above.
Chamois Butter.  I’ve never needed it on a recumbent, but I use good low-friction bike shorts/tights.
Book/E-reader.  Heavy and I’d rather draw than read if there’s any daylight.
Bike gloves.  They don’t help me on a bent.  They’re not warming, or cooling.  Not as useful as basic high-viz “cop gloves.”
Alcohol and mind-altering substances.  Causes dehydration and recklessness.  The dehydration can hurt you.  The recklessness can kill you.  Neither will help you get where you want to ride.
I-pod.  Who needs music when you have the wind?

And I don't take a tiny amount of very light gear for the reason that I wish to be able to handle most typical incidents that may reasonably occur. Perhaps, someday, that will change.

Robert Matson
copyright 2010 Robert Matson