Poll

Which one should I build?

20-26 Atomic Zombie Spirit
0 (0%)
26-26 Azub Max clone
6 (66.7%)
Buy one first
3 (33.3%)
Build something else
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Author Topic: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build  (Read 1010 times)

Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« on: January 29, 2020, 11:03:20 am »
Now I've finished building my trike, I'm considering building a recumbent bike. 
I've not ridden a recumbent bike, so I would have to learn on this - I think the ultimate aim would be to do some commuting and "gravel" riding on it. I'm aware that the normal advice would be to buy a secondhand recumbent, try it for a bit and then refine my choices from there, but I'd like a project to work on, and I think I could build either of these bikes for under £100 using the content of my garage! Ultimately, (especially because the steel tube I have is pretty heavy) whatever I build is going to be a first iteration, I'm just trying to work out the most suitable direction of travel...

I was originally planning on building a 20-26 stick bike based on the Atomic Zombie Spirit - https://www.atomiczombie.com/spirit-short-wheelbase-recumbent-diy-plan/ but with rear suspension (means I can use an existing rear triangle).  I have many of the parts I need to build it (steel, front wheel, fork and brake, rear triangle) as I've been thinking about this for a while.  However, I have recently become aware of the Azub Max, which has 26" wheels front and back and looks to my mind a lot more like a mountain bike version of a recumbent. https://azub.eu/recumbent-bikes-and-trikes/recumbents/max/ I could build the basic frame and strip my current MTB for bits (and I have a different rear triangle that would suit it), but I don't have plans so would have to make my own and wing it a bit more.

I built the trike because I always wanted a Speedy, but I've realised that I just have no use case for it. I'm hoping that as bikes are much more usable, (and I should be riding more for transport soon) the new project can actually get used on a regular basis, but that will only be true if I build the right one (hence not creating a lowracer!).

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2020, 01:23:17 pm »
IMHO, unless we're talking low-racers, 20:26 is a compromise to allow the rider's feet to reach the ground.  If you've got the legs for it, the larger wheel is going to be a win.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2020, 01:49:18 pm »
I should have said - I'm 6ft tall, so expect to be able to reach the ground with 26-26. The learning curve starts with finding out what information is required. :)

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2020, 03:51:33 pm »
Bigger wheels will be better off road / on gravel, as will being more upright, as will wider bars.   What that leads you to, well that's part of the fun of recumbents.  There's also a much wider selection of suitable tyres for gravel in the 26" range, so your second choice is preferable.
If you don’t make time for exercise now, sooner or later you’ll need to make time for ill health.

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2020, 07:13:18 pm »
I'd try to get to ride a few recumbent bikes so you can understand their advantages and disadvantages.

If I had to choose a bike for commuting and 'Gravel' It wouldn't be a recumbent... (alhough I do sometimes commute on a recumbent)
If it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is...

fd3

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2020, 11:43:23 pm »
one of these http://www.python-lowracer.de
dual 622 lowracer.
[/I could be wrong]

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2020, 06:19:03 am »
I'd try to get to ride a few recumbent bikes so you can understand their advantages and disadvantages.

If I had to choose a bike for commuting and 'Gravel' It wouldn't be a recumbent... (alhough I do sometimes commute on a recumbent)

I have taken my recumbent down the riverside path to Padney, and then the NCN across Wicken fen, in the summer, when dry on 28mm tyres. Wouldn't fancy it in the wet.

If you're 6ft, go 26" wheel, you shouldn't have the feet down or forward visibility issues. On a stick bike, I'm OK with 26" wheels at 1.75m, but very marginal on 700c. It's the being perched on top rather than sitting between wheels of a low racer.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2020, 06:34:00 am »


I have taken my recumbent down the riverside path to Padney, and then the NCN across Wicken fen, in the summer, when dry on 28mm tyres. Wouldn't fancy it in the wet.


I did the 'Beast of the East' - part of the 'Black run' in Thetford forest (apart from the 'staircase' bit) on mine, but it's not my first choice of bike to use off-road...
If it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is...

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2020, 09:02:42 am »
one of these http://www.python-lowracer.de
dual 622 lowracer.
If I love this one, a lowracer might be the next project (with the 20-26 stuff I have lying around). Wouldn't be a Python though - I don't like the design where your legs do steering as well as propulsion.

I'd try to get to ride a few recumbent bikes so you can understand their advantages and disadvantages.

If I had to choose a bike for commuting and 'Gravel' It wouldn't be a recumbent... (alhough I do sometimes commute on a recumbent)

I have other bikes, and if I wanted to do some light off-roading now I'd use my CX bike. I've not been on the MTB since I got the CX bike, so I figured it would be interesting to turn it into a recumbent...
Where would one try a bunch of different recumbents without wasting the time of a specialist shop (nearish Oxford)? I'd feel kinda guilty about spending an afternoon riding demo bikes, when I have no intention of buying one. It feels like trying on stuff in the LBS and then buying online, only much more so.

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2020, 09:55:20 am »
one of these http://www.python-lowracer.de
dual 622 lowracer.
If I love this one, a lowracer might be the next project (with the 20-26 stuff I have lying around). Wouldn't be a Python though - I don't like the design where your legs do steering as well as propulsion.

Look up Cruzbike, I have an S40 - 700C wheels, MBB type as well.  You're not so much steering with your legs (you can to a limted extent) as being able to bring some uppoer body into play.  At start you need a bit of opposite arm pressue counteract the pedal steer effect, but when going uphill, counter pressure from the arms acts almost like honking on an upwrong.  I've been up 14% hills loaded for touring and it was grip that was my undoing, not the gradient.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2020, 10:50:49 am »
one of these http://www.python-lowracer.de
dual 622 lowracer.
If I love this one, a lowracer might be the next project (with the 20-26 stuff I have lying around). Wouldn't be a Python though - I don't like the design where your legs do steering as well as propulsion.

Look up Cruzbike, I have an S40 - 700C wheels, MBB type as well.  You're not so much steering with your legs (you can to a limted extent) as being able to bring some uppoer body into play.  At start you need a bit of opposite arm pressue counteract the pedal steer effect, but when going uphill, counter pressure from the arms acts almost like honking on an upwrong.  I've been up 14% hills loaded for touring and it was grip that was my undoing, not the gradient.
I've seen pictures of Cruzbikes, and there is an Atomic Zombie equivalent, but I think it would take really good engineering to make one stiff enough to use your arms properly. Their pictures make the standard version look  kinda flimsy: https://www.atomiczombie.com/frontrunner-fwd-bike-diy-plan/ If I was going to be buying  abike, then I would consider something like your Cruzbike, but I'd rather something simpler for a homebuild version.
The Python looks nothing like the Cruzbike - it seems to steer entirely from the legs and the only reason it has handlebars is so that you have somewhere to put the brakes etc. Their wiki suggests learning how to ride it is completely different, that it takes 300km to feel safe on it and that you will fall off a lot in the first 10km. Not for me. :)

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2020, 11:03:01 am »
if you are interested in that kind of thing look up cruzbike conversion kit. Before they started producing the whole bike they were designed by an Aussie based on chopping up an old MTB and adding some off the shelf parts.  I'm sure you could probably take a look and work it out. Likely to be much stiffer. There are also a couple of home made versions on the Cruzbike forum
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2020, 11:43:47 am »
Where would one try a bunch of different recumbents without wasting the time of a specialist shop (nearish Oxford)? I'd feel kinda guilty about spending an afternoon riding demo bikes, when I have no intention of buying one. It feels like trying on stuff in the LBS and then buying online, only much more so.
If you can get to Little Thetford near Ely then try and contact Kevin at Dtek.
He has a full range of second hand recumbent bikes that you can book a morning/afternoon session on them.
You start out fairly high and upright and get lower and more reclined as the session goes on until you reach you limit of what you can control or you run out of bikes ...... ;D
You will have to pay for the session but it's worth it just for the range of bikes you can try.
Plus he's a font of knowledge on all things recumbent.

Even if you don't end up buying one, just seeing how things are done and how different recumbent bikes feel may well help you design something that works for you.

Luck ...........  ;D

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2020, 11:51:54 am »
Where would one try a bunch of different recumbents without wasting the time of a specialist shop (nearish Oxford)? I'd feel kinda guilty about spending an afternoon riding demo bikes, when I have no intention of buying one. It feels like trying on stuff in the LBS and then buying online, only much more so.

Come to a BHPC race and make recumbent-curious noises.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2020, 12:01:43 pm »
Where would one try a bunch of different recumbents without wasting the time of a specialist shop (nearish Oxford)? I'd feel kinda guilty about spending an afternoon riding demo bikes, when I have no intention of buying one. It feels like trying on stuff in the LBS and then buying online, only much more so.

Come to a BHPC race and make recumbent-curious noises.
Hillingdon isn't far away in distance, but 12 April is still a ways off... If I can I will be there anyway. :)

Where would one try a bunch of different recumbents without wasting the time of a specialist shop (nearish Oxford)? I'd feel kinda guilty about spending an afternoon riding demo bikes, when I have no intention of buying one. It feels like trying on stuff in the LBS and then buying online, only much more so.
If you can get to Little Thetford near Ely then try and contact Kevin at Dtek.
He has a full range of second hand recumbent bikes that you can book a morning/afternoon session on them.
You start out fairly high and upright and get lower and more reclined as the session goes on until you reach you limit of what you can control or you run out of bikes ...... ;D
You will have to pay for the session but it's worth it just for the range of bikes you can try.

That definitely sounds like a decent plan. ~100 miles away, but we might be visiting friends in Cambridge at some point soon...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2020, 12:12:08 pm »
Where would one try a bunch of different recumbents without wasting the time of a specialist shop (nearish Oxford)? I'd feel kinda guilty about spending an afternoon riding demo bikes, when I have no intention of buying one. It feels like trying on stuff in the LBS and then buying online, only much more so.

Come to a BHPC race and make recumbent-curious noises.
Hillingdon isn't far away in distance, but 12 April is still a ways off... If I can I will be there anyway. :)

Yeah, I think track availability means we're starting the season fairly late this year.  (On the plus side, that's preferable to starting off with Curborough in the freezing rain.)

If you get your trike worked out, do bring it along and join in.  The Hillingdon track's quite fun, and you'll be in good company whatever your speed.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2020, 09:27:49 pm »
Let me know if you're coming to Dtek, and I'll ride over there, if I'm free - it's only about 10 miles from home.
If it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is...

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2020, 09:37:07 pm »
we could make a gathering of it
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2020, 01:34:32 pm »
I will post up here at the point I can make it happen... :)

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2020, 01:06:03 am »
Now I've finished building my trike, I'm considering building a recumbent bike. 

Great! But it's a mindset that [sometimes] has no bounds.

Counting back, I reckon 've built 11 recumbent bikes in my [short by many standards] audax career, and if there's one thing I know to be true about the way I think is that - no sooner have you finished building one bike, you're thinking about the next.
What if I do dual 26? But I don't like high racers? Yeah, but what if I can get the chain line really tight and compact, then I could lower the BB...etc.etc.......it does your head in after a while :-)

The only thing I'd say is that, you just have to get going through the process until you've exhausted all scenarios....just keep building. Empiricism....it's the only way.

It's good to build a bike and put it through it's paces"tHEN BUILDF A BIKE WITH THOSE CONDITIONS IN M,IND. . Put the thing through the challenge. What kind of ridiing you do mainly want to be doing?  Answer: then build a bike with those conditions in mind I'm happy to brag about the fact that two of my homebuilds have got round PBP [althopuigh to be honest...goodness how!!}

Rock on that man!
Garry Broad

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2020, 10:10:08 pm »
So many awesome recumbents on special sale as part of the Bikefix move. You can see them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRQbmKcvK0E
I love the Burrows stuff (and that Bachetta), but funds don't permit it. :(

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2020, 12:35:07 am »
I love the Burrows stuff

Same here...love the MoleRat.
[lifts carpet, opens biscuit tin and counts remaining soon-to-be-defunct dodgy score notes.......big sigh]
Collectors item, not many of those about [handful?]

edit: Another nice little vid of what Stuart is looking to do with BikeFix
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIsSOeNY4GI&t=301s

Garry Broad

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2020, 04:26:28 pm »
The Molerat looks a bit like it wouldn't turn. I did a google and someone on this very forum said it had a slightly smaller turning circle than the earth (in 2009!)! :)
I like the hack Ratcatcher. All the quirky single sidedness and the sensible big tailbox just appeals to me. That one would even fit me.

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2020, 08:21:03 pm »
The Molerat looks a bit like it wouldn't turn. I did a google and someone on this very forum said it had a slightly smaller turning circle than the earth (in 2009!)! :)

Sure. Looks like a straight-line bike, and Stuart did say didn't he that the Molerat is not so suitable for riding round London, but good for going upto Scotland :-)
Mind you, he did a full Audax season on the MR, following up with PBP [and LEL 2 yrs before]. Plenty of corners on those rides!

I like the hack Ratcatcher. All the quirky single sidedness and the sensible big tailbox just appeals to me. That one would even fit me.

I remember Stuart, along with Patrick Fields riding PBP in 2007 on a Ratcatcher. Very sensible Audax bike.
I'm assuming Mike Burrows doesn't make the Ratcatcher these days?

I'd probably go for the Fujin - I've always liked the position of being cradled between a big front wheel and a smaller front one, and the Fujin just looks like Art, but I'm kind of envious of people that like higher dual 26" road bikes, because I'm sure[?] the handling is probably favourable, with a larger front wheel helping matters, however I've never liked the idea [and it is only an idea] of being too high. That's the issue. I think the next bike I'll build might be a dual 26" road bike with the aim of getting that drive side chain as low as it practically possible to the front wheel to minimize being elevated too far from the ground. It's no good having assumptions about these things, just got to go trying.

Anyway...thought you were building not buying :-)
Garry Broad

Re: Choosing what sort of first recumbent bike to build
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2020, 10:43:41 am »
Anyway...thought you were building not buying :-)
I am - can't afford to buy (and building is half the fun). :)
Gonna do some scale drawings of the MTB and the suspension stuff soon. Will probably be on paper as I can't find any free CAD stuff that doesn't have a learning curve like the side of a house.