Monday, September 30, 2013

Custom Graphite-Black Street Machine Gte

About one-third of the HP Velotechniks I order are in custom colors.  Here's one of the recent ones, in graphite-black.  Fitted with a black Rohloff speed hub 500/14 and DT Swiss Air Shock.  Nice bike, as the kids say.

In the bright sun. You get a good view in this photo of the efficient chain line on a SMGte

Many people wonder how the SMGte looks without the front derailer post. Shown here. The small black tube near the front is HPV's computer mount. This mount isn't strong enough to support a typical smart phone, but it's good for a Cateye-like odometer.

The Rohloff Speedhub, shown here, is a superb and sophisticated piece of equipment. Designed for trouble-free operation and strongly recommended for long distance touring, it comes with a fairly extensive manual. You wouldn't think you'd need to, but do read the manual before your first ride so you understand the finer points of operating the hub.

Have fun and stay healthy,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cruzbike Silvio 2.0: spooth and 20 MPIB overall.

Smooth speed.  That'd be the two-word description of the ride quality of the 2013 Silvio 2.0.  The one-word description would be, I guess, spooth.

I have a Silvio 2.0 in the shop as a demo and I took time at lunch to ride 4 loops (16 miles) in a continuing effort to understand the current model a bit better.  This ride: avg. apx. 21 mph., high: 32 mph, low: 12 mph, 16 mpib, 1 drdh (drafting roadie dropped on hill).

The bike isn't set up with an odometer*, but, given I know the distance of the course, I can say with some accuracy that I've put in about 40 miles on this version so far and, though I can handle it better now than I did at first, it's not yet second nature.  Just for context, people should realize than when I say second nature I mean really truly second nature -- riding without having to think at all about coordination.  I ride a Cruzbike (Sofrider) every day for commuting, shopping, etc. so, as a general thing, the Cruzbike handling is pretty much second nature to me.  The Silvio 2.0 is forcing me to develop higher level skills.  But that's always been true of the Silvios; you must have higher level Cruz skills before you can safely handle any of their bikes at high speed. The Silvio, like any highly aero bent, is inherently fast when energy is input.  (*I rode with the Bike Brain app turned on so I'd know my speeds.)

The first time I rode the S 2.0, several weeks ago, I was focused on understanding the handling, otherwise known as "just trying to hold on" and figuring out the boom length and where to put my hands.  It is so much more reclined than the 1.0/1.5 model, that it's really a new bike.  It deserves a new name, not simply a new numeral.  The Goldio; the I-don't-know-ee-oh.  Yes, it's a lot more aero, and significantly faster on the flats and downs due to that, but also, due to my head angle (I mean skull, not head tube), I need to develop new techniques for watching the road, looking for obstacles and people, broken pavement and trash, looking behind me, etc.  At this point, my technique is to lift my head whenever I'm in an unpredictable area due to a rough road or crazy kids or murderous texting drivers.  Around unpredictable traffic, I'll pedal sitting fully up.

While riding, I also get more wind up my sunglasses so I've had to start wearing shades that are closer to my cheeks (facial).  Hmm.  I realize as I write this that I also seem to get a drier throat on the S 2.0 compared to the S 1.5 and other less aero bikes. I think the wind is hitting the roof of my mouth in a way that dries out my mouth; I don't think I'm getting more wind up my nose, but who knows.  Maybe my mouth is more open as a ride, maybe due to the highly aero position when using the headrest.  Maybe because the headrest supports me in that sweet spot on my neck, like someone is using the head-tilt method to open my throat for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

I've breathed in two bugs, that I can remember, over the 40 miles.  Now there's a stat that should be mentioned in bent reviews: miles per ingested bug.  The Silvio has a MPIB of 20 overall, for me.  The HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte has a MPIB of about 325.  I don't know which is better.  It depends on the bug.

The main thing I appreciate about the S 2.0, from the first ride, is how much softer and smoother the ride is.  The new suspension design is fantastic.  (Just FYI, on Cruzbikes there is essentially no power loss from suspension.)  The bike here is set-up with Schwalbe Ultermo tires at 130 psi, which on the Silvio 1.5 could be jarring on rough roads.  The S 2.0 though is smooth, especially considering this is an aluminum frame.  Another context: when I say bad roads, I mean I rode it on cobble stones and paving stones for about 2 miles and then there are some areas with broken asphalt in Prospect Park right now that I'd take at about 20 mph.  You may not have roads like this.

It strikes me that the seats of most the bents I ride on a regular basis are fairly vertical.  I can't be bothered to measure them, but the seat angles are about 35 degrees or so.  Less than that and I need a head rest and I prefer to ride without one.  My beater Sofrider has an apx. 45 deg. seat angle.  My Street Machine touring bike is about 35.  With the Silvio 2.0, I feel so reclined (and comfortable) when I lean my head back on the non-optional headrest that I honestly sort of want to go to the same time I'm the most aero and fast.  Resist the call of the nap!  (At least till you're off the road.)

On the speed front, the S 2.0 is extremely aero, so I'll simply say it's very fast.  I don't want to encourage people to ride like they are racing when they could be riding for pleasure.

Gotta go.  I have some bikes to build.

Have fun and stay healthy, and stop measuring your fun,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Q: On a Cruzbike Quest, the black seat tube wiggles. A customer asks how to identify and fix the problem.

A customer writes:

On Tue, September 10, 2013 8:19 pm, Michael A______ wrote:
Hi Robert,
I am having trouble getting the seat-back to be held securely by the tube arrangement.  The black tube wiggles in the frame tube.  I have tightened the clasp as much as I think I can, but it still wiggles, with the net being the back is lower than I would prefer.
Any ideas?
Mike A____

Hi Mike,

The seat tube.  Indeed, this should not be loose.

Please check:

- Ring/quick release (QR) clamp is around the lower (frame section) of the seat tube, as opposed to being loose and floating on the upper (black) part of the seat tube.

- The ring/QR clamp is tight.

- Bolt in QR clamp is NOT broken.  (Excessive tightening force could have caused this to break.)

- Clamp has nothing interfering with its closing and tightening.  Check both ends: the clamp and the "end screw."  The water bottle cages might interfere with this in some positions, but it need not. There's a sweet spot where the clamp closes securely but there's no interference from the bottle cages.

- No looseness in the bolts at the top of the seat, which hold the seat and racks.

- Clamp is right side up (there is a ridge on the top side of the clamp).

- Clamp is oriented so that the closing part of the circular clamp is oriented with the cut-out in the frame, where the seat tube is inserted into the frame.

- Remove and reset the ring/clamp around the frame to make sure it's properly seated.

- Make sure the upper (black) part of the seat tube is securely inserted into the frame.

- The seat braces are properly oriented.  The seat braces connect the seat tube to the seat.  Generally, the braces should be somewhere between 180 degrees (vertical, running from the top of the seat tube up to the seat) to 90 degrees (with the seat braces running horizontally from the seat tube to the seat).  As you get to know the attachments here, you can experiment with this, even going so far as to turn the seat tube backwards in order to gain an extreme recline.  The main thing though is to ensure the seat tube is adequately seated into the frame to provide a secure connection there.

All best,

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A shout-out to Bike Box. A helpful German bike shop.

This looks to me like the arm of a Burley trailer,
attached to a mountain bike via Weber's hitch.

A shout-out to Bike Box, in Frittlingen, Germany for their help.  I'm trying to get a Weber hitch for a customer with a Scorpion fs 26 and a Burley Child Trailer.  They're being immensely helpful.  Burley doesn't (yet) sell this part in the USA.

The situation:
To attach a trailer to an HP Velotechnik trike, you need to use a special mounting bracket for the trike.  It is made by HP Velo.  From there, you need the hitch made by Weber.  (Weber also makes trailers, by the way.)  There are two parts to the Weber hitch: the bicycle (male) end, which attaches to the mounting bracket on the trike/bike, and the trailer (female) end, which attaches to the trailer arm.  HP Velotechnik makes the bracket and sells it with the bicycle (male) end.  For the end that attaches to the trailer arm, we're dependent on the trailer company (Burley).

As I write, Bike Box is helping us figure out which part, exactly, we need.  And you too can reap the benefit through the info. here.  In the future, maybe we can convince Burley USA to carry the part.  Maybe?

Montage Umrüstung Weber E + B  002
The part on the right attaches to the trailer.

You need the 23.5 mm version of this.

Here is the part (for as long as this link works):
"Weber Deichselanschluss ohne Kupplung für Kinderanhänger"
and "Umrüstset, 23.5 4-Kant für Burley"
Their article number is: 510

Under the product, where you see the text "Auswahl," this is a drop-down list box.  Click it to select the correct size.

- If the arm of the trailer is square, as for the Burley, you need a 23.5 changing set (Umrüstset)
Select: "23.5 4-Kant für Burley"

- If the arm is round you need a 27.5 (Umrüstset)

When you use the site, if you don't speak German, use Google's translate feature and it'll all make more sense.

Have fun and stay well,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Saturday, September 14, 2013

To the Mayor of Toronto from Taylor Flook.

To the Mayor of Toronto from Taylor Flook.  But this could have been written to many other mayors.

My Letter To Rob Ford
Taylor Flook

My Letter To Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto

Dear Mayor Ford,

As the mayor of this city, you are charged with the safety and concern of all its people, not just the ones you like or identify with. I am a cyclist who has suffered an accident because there was no bike lane for me to ride in. Right after the accident, good people got out of their cars and helped me to the side of the road and stayed with me while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. I was quite shaken up and these perfect strangers showed me a world of compassion. The police that appeared on the scene deemed that neither they, nor myself were at fault for the incident, but that a bike lane would have avoided the whole thing....

Read the rest of it here.

Ride and advocate for safer cycling,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fairing on a Cruzbike. No, for the front; yes, for the rear. But wouldn't you rather have an aero helmet?

From a customer:
On Thu, September 12, 2013 10:10 am, James L______ wrote:
Robert and Maria
The ADEM headrest has been wonderful.
I am riding almost 100 miles a week to and from work
I want to go the next step and get a fairing to improve efficiency.
Any recommendations

Hi James,

Your weekly mileage is fantastic!  Great job!

Fairing on a Cruzbike.

Fairing: front

I advise NOT using a front fairing on a Cruzbike.  (Front fairings work better on traditional, non-Cruzbike recumbents and trikes.)

Although I've read a few posts and have seen one photo on-line of people using front fairings on their Cruzbikes, I believe a front fairing is dangerous on a Cruzbike for two reasons: 1) front fairings are heavy and that weight is likely to negatively effect steering; and 2) front fairing are sail-like and they catch wind from your back, therefore wind gusts will cause the front wheel to turn in unexpected ways on a Cruzbike.

I'd also mention that, generally speaking, small front fairings -- which would impact steering less -- give very little aerodynamic benefit (a customer and I once did a series of tests to measure it).  The main benefit of the small front fairing is to keep your feet warm during the winter.  (And they do this well.)

Large front fairings (like the one from HP Velotechnik) -- which would impact steering more -- help keep you drier in the rain and warm in the winter (and for this, they are GREAT), and will give more aerodynamic benefit than a small fairing, but I haven't measured this.  At any rate, it's hardly worth the downside (on a Cruzbike).

So, I don't recommend a front fairing on a Cruzbike.  However, you may be able to find posts on the Cruzbike forums of riders using a front fairing on a CB with success.  Also, while there have been rumors that John Tolhurst, the Cruzbike designer, once toyed with designs for a front fairing, it hasn't been introduced.

Instead of using a front fairing, I suggest you experiment with a steeper recline of the seat.  This will give a significant and comparatively safe aerodynamic advantage.

Fairing: rear

A REAR fairing (a.k.a., tail box, tail sock, etc.) gives significant aerodynamic advantage without as much effect on steering.  (My customer and I measured this as well.)  TerraCycle sells a "Tail Sok" but you're on your own in terms of figuring out how to attach it to a Quest (or any other Cruzbike).  If you figure it out, please tell me, because I like the TC Tail Sok!

An inexpensive and practical alternative to the rear fairing is an aerodynamic bag on the seat back or rack, such as those from Radical Design or Ortlieb.  This doesn't give as much benefit as a rear fairing, but I've measured a benefit.

The easiest and cheapest way to improve your aerodynamics is with a time trial aerodynamic helmet which you've bought on sale.

In a conversation, Maria Parker recommended using more aerodynamic clothing, such as a lycra race kit (a.k.a., roadie clothing, spandex, etc.).

I believe an aerodynamic wheelset helps a lot, but these can be expensive.

On that note, another inexpensive option is to look at the tires you're using.  Schwalbe makes excellent race tires, that are also durable, and are available in 26" sizes.  This isn't to improve aerodynamics but to decrease rolling resistance.

If there's a reader out there who has had a different experience, or would like to share a solution they have tested with great success, please post a note.

All best,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Monday, September 9, 2013

Where NY mayoral candidates stand regarding bicycling

This just in from Noah Budnick, Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives.  I'm just going to cut and paste it because I can add no value other than to re-publish it.

Wait.  Before I get there, this blog endorses di Blasio for mayor, as the candidate who speaks the most pleasing words in favor of bicycling in New York City.

Dear [me/you],

Loud and clear, your message hit candidates' ears: You bike.  You walk.  You vote.

And boy did those candidates respond.

You and 4,000 New Yorkers demanded an on-the-record response from New York City's candidates for mayor and City Council.  Check out the candidates' responses before tomorrow's Primary Election with
Transporation Alternatives' Voter FAQ. On this page, you'll also find everything you need to know to be ready to vote.

Tomorrow is your chance to vote in New York City's most important election in more than a decade -- it's even more important than the General Election.

After tomorrow, most City Council elections are practically over. There are 51 New York City Council seats up for election. In two-thirds of the races, only Democrats are running. The remaining third of contests are expected to see clear winners after the Primary Election tomorrow, dictating the General Election outcome as well. Do you know everything you need to vote tomorrow?

Check out how the candidates for mayor and City Council responded to questions about bicycling and walking.  Learn if you're registered to vote.  Find your polling place.  And find out how to register to vote. Everything you need is right here.

See you at the polls tomorrow!


Noah Budnick
Deputy Director
Transportation Alternatives
Your advocate for Biking, Walking and Public Transit

Have fun and stay healthy,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cyclists getting attacked and robbed, once again. (Sept. 2013)

Cyclists are being clothes-lined and robbed in Riverside Park this week
(from New York Magazine)

Bicyclists: Watch Out for Riverside Park Tripwires

By Adam Martin (New York Magazine)
In a rather startling series of robberies in Riverside Park, thieves have apparently used a tripwire to knock down bicyclists and rob them. But the tripwire trap has a tell: A rope lying across the bike path that thieves pull taught in order to clothesline the rider. Police think the same gang also robbed a bicyclist by simply ambushing him from behind some bushes. So if you see any misplaced bits of rope, or suspicious shrubbery, probably best to avoid them.

Cyclists are one of the more vulnerable crime targets in the city.  In the city, one travels at speeds and distances similar to a car, so it's tempting (and easy) to ride into shady neighborhoods at all times of the day and night where one might normally never walk but might normally drive or bike.  (A great example are the areas around the Brooklyn Navy Yard, including the area east of the Manhattan Bridge's Bklyn anchorage where there's a beautiful bike path on a road in the midst of projects.)  A cyclist is frequently carrying -- riding -- in one's possession, and in plain sight, something of obviously high value -- their bike.  And riders take predictable routes, which makes them predictable prey and an easy target to ambush: it's a bike lane, it's only a matter of time before a mark comes along; a pedestrian might simply stay away from the neighborhood, or change directions or the side of the street they're on if they see bad guys up ahead, but a cyclist may be forced to stay on the road, or on a particular side of the road, or may not be able to turn around so quickly, or may have no other route besides "straight ahead." In a car, you can just drive through, assuming the punks haven't hidden an IED along the road.

Then there's the demographic of cyclists: they're soft, easy, unarmed targets.  They are usually hippies, or yuppies, hard-working ordinary people, practical, just trying to get to work, or the dentist, or home, or the whatever.  And they're unlikely to be armed: what cyclist is going to carry the weight of a weapon, or a crow bar, or a big f*ing stick, or a knife and risk being poked (or shot) by it as you ride?  And what, you're going to get off your bike, your best means of quickly running away, and try and use a weapon?  Drive-by shootings I've heard of; bicycling-by shootings sounds like something only Conan O'Brien could stage.

For decades, and probably centuries, there are stories of punks swinging bats and sticks at cyclists and knocking them off their bikes, throwing rocks (and food and water balloons and bottles and spit), spreading tacks on bike paths, jumping cyclists at red lights, etc.  This week, we have assholes laying down a "trip wire" that they pull up to neck level when the cyclist comes close, injuring the cyclist, and then robbing them, presumably of their bike, but maybe of their clothes as well.  How very 15th century.

So this is pretty fucked up and disheartening.  It's just one more thing we deal with as city cyclists.  If it's not pedestrians walking on bike paths or into the paths of bikes; or debris in bike lanes; or motorists driving distracted, drunk, drugged, disconcerted, half-dead or generally driving dangerously; and if it's not other cyclists ignoring traffic laws and generally riding like idiots; then it's street punks trying to fill the vacuum in their hearts by injuring people, why not a cyclist.  There are days I really get tired of this.  I'm just trying to get where I'm trying to go.

Look out for random ropes and strings along the ground.  Look out when riding by bushes near the side of the path.  Look out for people milling about or who seem like they may be the "look outs" for a gang.

What is city hall and law enforcement doing about this?  Are our city council members interested in or informed about crimes against cyclists and their seriousness?  Do the police have strategies for fighting these crimes?  And where's Batman?  Generally, I've seen nothing to make me believe city government is on the case, but I'd like to be wrong about that.

And I'm rather disappointed that even the New York Mag article makes it sound softer than it really is.  They call it a trip wire.  It's not a trip wire.  It's a "clothes line," a rope pulled up to body or neck level.  Even if it's simply up to the level of the bike wheels, it will result in the cyclist being thrown in an endo, skull first over his/her handlebars.  This can cripple or kill a person, not merely trip them and cause a broken wrist.  What, if NY Mag publishes something alarmist about crimes against cyclists, people will stop looking at the ads on their web site?

(Did I swear here?  If so, I beg your pardon.  But I think swearing may be appropriate when an innocent person's neck is on the line.)

What plans do the mayoral candidates have to decrease crimes against cyclists?  I haven't heard a position on this -- or on bicycling -- from any of them.  No surprise.  As a voting block, we don't have a check book, so, should they care what we think?  I think they should.

So, what can you do to help?  Don't just sit there, don't just ride.  Get involved in the political machinations of our society.  Tell your political representatives what you think.  Write your council members, write those who are running for city council in your district, write those who are running for mayor.  Apply to serve on your community board.  Join Transportation Alternatives and/or Times Up and donate some volunteer hours.  Run for City Council.

How to do it?  Your first step is to click here:

Stay safe and get involved in bicycling advocacy,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson