The First Recumbents

Jan Heine has discovered recumbents.

“While the racing world outlawed recumbents soon after Francis Faure set an hour record on a recumbent in 1933, cyclotourists and randonneurs couldn’t have cared less about what the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) thought: That recumbents weren’t “real” bicycles.

Recumbents appealed to “real-world” riders because they seemed to offer speed and comfort, in addition to novelty. “

He tried a mid 1930s Velocar but found it difficult to ride because he is too tall for the  machine  but has been offered another go when it has been adjusted to suit him..

As with all bikes, they must be fitted to the rider.

As he says, “recumbent seats have come a long way since 1933″ and I would certainly agree with that statement.

My current machine is superbly comfortable.

Read his post in full

Ride Far

Whilst this page is written for  self-supported bikepacking and long-distance cycling in general, the advice and information may be useful for randonneurs.


Nazca Gaucho HiRacer 28

I visited SPEZI in 2018 and enjoyed the spectacle of the place.

I am still looking for a simple, lightweight machine that will easily pack into a suitcase for travelling.

The Zox caught my eye and I was impressed by a short ride around the test track. They are not the most elegant of designs, being made from rectangular tubing which gives them a rather agrucultural look.
Next day I returned for another ride and realised that the seat is more upright than I am used to and is not easily adjustable.

Then I noticed the Nazca stand had their Highracer 28 available for a test ride. I was encouraged to take it for a long ride to get a feel for it.
The seat is noticeably higher than my Rosetta and the 700c wheels could fit only 28-700 tyres with no room for mudguards so I was prepared to dismiss it from my wishlist.

However the frame looked as though it could be fairly easily dismantled and fitted into a smallish box.

I had been walking around most of the day and the prospect of a ride was appealing so off I went.

I immediately felt at home on the bike and started thinking about the possibility of perhaps fitting smaller wheels to lower the seat a bit. The Gaucho is made for rim brakes only so it would need longer brake arms for smaller rims.

My suggestion of using disk brakes was dismissed as detracting from the design philosophy and degrading its performance.

After mulling it over for some weeks and emailing Nazca about what I wanted I placed an order for a frameset with disk brake mount on the rear end.  They did not want to make a disk brake fork but I had carbon fork in my shed that I decided to use.

It took some months for the frame to arrive and was a bit fiddly to assemble some parts.

I have been riding FWD bikes for many years and was really not sure I would be smitten with this one but it has grown on me.

It is a very relaxing bike to ride and I am enjoying the lack of wheel slip on the very steep climb up to our house.

Why Not a Recumbent?

I have been reading a book by Robert Penn called “It’s All About the Bike” which a friend gave me last week. Penn has been a life-long cyclist and rode around the world in his late twenties.

The book is the story of his love affair with cycling and the journey to build his dream bike.
He goes into great detail about the invention and development of the bicycle but never once mentions anything beyond the traditional diamond frame design.
It would appear that he had never heard of recumbents, which have been around since at least the early 1930’s (Francis Faure captured the world hour record in July 1933).

Interestingly, he describes one of the factors that lead me to recumbents:

“I’ve suffered from numb hands over the years. It’s a common cyclists’ complaint, often dubbed ‘cyclists’ palsy’.”

and, describing a particular long descent he says:

“First my hands went numb – something I was used to – but the alarm bells really started ringing when I realized I couldn’t feel anything beneath my elbows, nor could I pull the brake to stop the bike.”

Coincidentally I read a thread on the [Randon] email list today about handlebars wherein Jake says:

“I should say I’m still looking for the magic bullet for hand and shoulder pain which has only gotten worse in my ~12 years  of long rides.
I’d like to not switch to a recumbent. (I’m not making a dig at recumbent riders. You guys rock!)”

Another commenter says:

“I have nerve damage and carpal tunnel.”

One of my memories of the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200km randonnee is from after the event when a number of us were reliving our ride in St Quentin.
The discussion revolved around saddle sores, neck and shoulder pain, numb fingers and other ailments.

I could not think of anything to complain about, having not suffered any of those problems since switching to a recumbent.
The only issue I occasionally suffer from is “hot-foot” – a burning feeling on the soles of my feet on long hot rides which happens on uprights as well.

I wonder what it is that stops people from trying something different, even when it is recognised as potentially solving a problem they are having?

Drivetrain efficiency is all about lube

From a VeloLab article “DRIPPING WITH SPEED

Lube isn’t all that sexy, at least not this kind.
But it is unquestionably the cheapest way to make your bike measurably quicker.

The most efficient lubes in perfect conditions are likely not the fastest when the going gets rough, with the exception of paraffin.

The only real argument against paraffin wax is its more intensive application process.
It’s the fastest in ideal conditions, and even in nasty conditions it is still an exceptional single-day lube.
On our test bikes, it has sloshed through hours of snow-covered roads without a squeak or squeal, remaining clean enough to touch the whole time;
it will live through just about anything you can throw at it in a single day.

In real-world testing, we’ve been getting up-wards of 650 miles out of an application (shortened by about half if riding in wet weather) before the chain begins to dry out.
When the wax hits the end of its life, it does so quickly and dramatically: your drivetrain will go from quiet to raucous in the space of a few minutes.
So, it is best to re-apply relatively frequently.
Whether it’s simply too much effort to bust out the crock-pot every half dozen rides or so is, of course, up to you.

The fastest heavy oil, and therefore perhaps the best choice for consistently bad conditions, is White Lightning’s Wet Ride.

The drip waxes don’t last long, and are only effective if the quantity of wax is very high

The lubes that contain large amounts of slick additive, like PTFE or wax, relative to their concentration of carrier, are almost always faster.
The fantastic Rock-n-Roll Gold has huge amounts of PTFE, a bit of oil, and some carrier, all distinctly visible through the side of its clear bottle.
Rock-n-Roll Absolute Dry drops the oil and ups the carrier, but also ups the PTFE even further, keeping it near the top of the list.

Going for a lube with as much PTFE as possible is the best bet for pure efficiency.
For consistently wet weather, go with heavy oil.
And for the meticulous mechanic, happy to pull a chain off and re-wax it every few weeks, cheap hardware store paraffin is unbeatable.

Read the full article here

Many years ago I used a product called Linklyfe to lubricate motorcycle chains. It was a wax-based that came in a round flat tin. The cleaned chain was placed on top of the wax and the pan gently heated on the stove.
It worked well.
Recently I got hold of some paraffin wax and tried it on my bicycle chain.
After hanging it up to let the hot wax drain off it was as stiff as a board and difficult to bend. After fitting it to the bike it was very stiff and seemed to jump teeth for the first km or so.
I did not notice any improvement and the hassle involved did not seem worth it.
Perhaps I will try the  Rock-n-Roll Gold and see if I get a better experience.