This year our velomobile (VM) project has taken a great leap forward-- we now have a prototype we believe should be ready for production next year! Research & development activities on the Pedal Prix racers (see below) have helped in the development of our velomobile, which we have named the Glyde.
This prototype has a similar space-frame chassis, rather than the cruciform frame used for most recumbent trikes; yet it also has suspension on all three wheels to cope with the much higher speeds that the VM can achieve, as compared to bare trikes. The fairing/body is made by composite experts Reflex, and is a high- quality moulding. This body is available in either fibreglass or carbon.
Unlike a number of other velomobiles, our vehicle has disc brakes as standard equipment. It features a wide range of gears, using the SRAM DualDrive as well as a triple crankset, like our gto Touring Trikes. To facilitate rider change-overs, its seat is on rails for quick leg-length adjustment, like our CTD Pedal Prix racers. On top of that, the crank position is adjustable to further fine-tune the riding position. This makes the Glyde a natural boon to families!
The prototype has just won wide acclaim at the recent 2008 Interbike trade show in Las Vegas. It is now undergoing road tests for a number of North American magazines, after which it will go to one of our U.S. dealers for road trials. Here are some 'spy' photos taken during its assembly at our Knoxfield factory in Melbourne, and one at the Interbike show.
Demand from schools for Pedal Prix race trikes continues to push the envelope on what is possible, what with new records being set every year and competition increasing between the participants. Last year I redesigned the Front Wheel Drive (FWD) racer, which originally had been used with great success by Tyabb Primary School, for three successive years from 1998 to 2000.
This FWD design is a unique one: the front wheels are fixed, the left front wheel is the one driven, and the rear wheel does the steering. This design enables the front wheels to be faired easily, and the whole trike to be built narrower than if the front wheels could turn for steering. This, in turn, both reduces air resistance and enables the trike to move more easily through the race traffic. Created for Sommers Primary School, this elegant design features a lower-angle seat to further reduce frontal area, and special nose cones blown in clear plastic to make it as aerodynamic as possible. Without the chain going under the rider, it was possible to further lower the seat and to use a perimeter frame instead of the standard cruciform frame. A five-speed hub gear was then used, in place of derailleur gears, to allow the trike to hug the ground for better cornering, and to provide a simplified drive train. This trike was so fast that Sommers Primary School won in its category at the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV's) Energy Breakthrough (EB) races in 2007 even though the students had very little practice in the machine before the event.
For this year's RACV-EB we are further honing the design of the race trike, this time for the Peninsula School. The current design will sport increases to the track-and-wheel base to boost speed through corners. We will also be using a SRAM 9-speed geared hub, with a wider speed range, to increase top speed and acceleration out of the pits. As well as the capacity to be changed when stationary, the new hub can also be changed under load.
With rider safety being of paramount concern to the RACV, the sponsoring organisation has each year added more and more safety requirements to the race rules. As well as a four-point safety harness and foot restraints, the 'vehicles' are now required to have TWO rollover bars and 'side intrusion' bars. All these extras increase the weight of the trike, making it harder for smaller children to pedal and steer it. With this in mind, we have reinvented the conventional rear-wheel-drive trike. For the new race trike, the rollover bars and side-intrusion bars form part of a space-frame structure (fondly nicknamed 'NACA' in the GreenSpeed factories), making the trike lighter than it would be were the bars merely added to the standard cruciform-type trike frame. In these NACAs, the frame is further fashioned to assist in the attaching of the fairing, and the seat slides on rails for quick leg-length adjustment to facilitate rider change-overs during pit stops. These race trikes are sold to schools in frame-kit form, for which the schools build their own fairings. For more info, please contact Rachael at parts@GreenSpeed.com.au
The derailleur gearing systems used on most bikes work somewhat crudely, rather like pushing a running chain off one sprocket and onto another with a stick! The sprockets have to run out of line, and the sticks ('de-raillers') wear out, as do the cogs and chains, much more quickly than if everything were in line. Thus, such systems require a lot of maintenance to keep them running properly.
Now most cyclists would rather ride than fiddle with the workings of a trike, or have to take it to a shop regularly for adjustment. This has been made fairly obvious to us by the number of customers who have paid the extra $1,200 USD for the German Rohloff geared hub. This hub features 14 speeds and the same gear range as a 27-speed mountain bike, and yet it has smaller and more even gaps between the gears, as these gears do not overlap.
However, if you do not have steep hills to scale, eight gears can be enough. This number is already a lot more than what's available in a 3-speed beach cruiser or in most cars! So GreenSpeed's new gt1 has an 8-speed geared hub with a chain tensioner, instead of a rear derailleur. The chain runs in line with the single rear cog and the tensioner allows for some leg adjustment without the chain having to be lengthened or shortened. Having tested a large number of geared hubs, we have chosen the Shimano Nexus as it performed the best in terms of reliability and ease of gear changing.
One of the great benefits of geared hubs is that, as with a car, the gears can be changed while you are stationary. Thus, if you have to stop quickly in traffic, you can easily change down to a lower gear in order to take off again with ease. Unlike the older geared hubs, these new hubs also allow you to change under load, giving you the best of both worlds.
I've saved the best part for last. With a lower number of gears, we have managed to reduce the price: the gt1 is $400 LESS than the 27-speed gt3, at $2,350 USD ($2,490 AUD)!
More info at: http://www.greenspeed.com.au/gt1.html
In October 2007 we tested the 2nd Sunstar system I'd mentioned in the last newsletter (see N/L No.10, May 2007). We found it had a number of problems. For example, unlike with the previous prototype, we could not adjust the speed (which was mainly too slow); and, during testing, the gears in the motor stripped. After some consultation with the manufacturer, we gave up working on the Sunstar.
In January 2008 I fitted a Cyclone 500-watt gear motor to my personal gts trike. Like the Sunstar unit, this motor works through the trike's gearing system, making it more efficient than most hub motors, which have a fixed single speed only. The Cyclone unit came with a 16-tooth (t) fixed cog and a 16-t freewheel. So I ran a chain from a single 53-t chainring on the cranks, to the freewheel on the motor, and another chain from the 16-t cog to another 16-t cog on a Rohloff rear hub. This gave me a gear range from 18 to 95 inches, and maximum speeds in the 14 gears from 10 kph in 1st gear to 40 kph at the top-- without pedalling! More importantly it enabled me to ride straight up a very steep hill, which I'd been unable to do before without stopping about three times to let my legs recover...
The big disappointment, however, was that I got only 4 amp- hours from the 10 amp-hour Cyclone lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack, and one pack failed after only a week of use. So I put two packs together to make a 20 amp-hour pack. This was a lot better, providing 14 amp-hours. On the other hand, it became rather large and heavy (6 kg) that way. I then decided to try a Battery Space 21 amp-hour lithium polymer battery pack, much smaller and lighter at 2.8 kg. As well, it gave out 16 amp-hours, which means I only need to charge it up once a week. The only downside of this this battery pack is, it was not supplied with a box or a bag to protect the battery. We will need to find one to fit it before we can market this as an option. The motors are available in 180, 200, 250, 360, and 500 watts.
Some of you may remember the dynamos of many years ago which ran on the side of the tyre. These old dynamos had a lot of drag, as they were only about 15 per cent efficient. In recent years Busch & Muller have been making high-tech dynamos like the S6, with an efficiency of 55 per cent. These have been a revolution in dynamos-- they produce light at low speeds and their output is electronically regulated such that the bulbs do not burn out at high speed. Moreover, the drag is so low that it is not noticeable. There is, however, some whine from the roller on the tyre, and the roller can slip in wet weather. The noise and slippage can be reduced by using a wire brush-type roller, although this can sometimes damage the tyre, especially if the dynamo is not properly aligned with it. We have also had a few problems with the reliability of the dynamos themselves.
For a number of years, bike riders have had the luxury of being able to use dynamo hubs, which have about the same high efficiency, have a much more positive drive, and are generally more reliable than 'side-bottle' dynamos. The best of these is the German SON dynamo hub-- see the following link: http://www.nabendynamo.de/
Some years ago I asked SON to make one which would fit our trikes, but they said it was too difficult! Then last year they finally managed to do it! So last year I fitted one to my gts for testing. There was so little drag from it, I left the light on all the time I was riding. I'm pleased to say that over a year's usage, that dynamo hub has been 100 per cent reliable, regardless of whether it was being dunked in floods or being roasted in the Aussie sun.
The only criticisms I have are that there is a slight vibration from it, and like most dynamos, it gives out only three watts' output. However, these issues are not insurmountable. The slight vibration, if noticed, soon fades from consciousness. As for the low output, please see how we resolved it in the section following ('Brilliant LED Lights'). So, we are now offering the SON dynamos as an option on our trikes. However, SON do not make the trike hubs with drum brakes; they are available only on trikes with disc brakes.
The standard 6-volt/2.5-watt filament bulbs used with the old dynamos gave out very little light, although the amount was enough to make a bike 'legal' at night. The event of the quartz-iodine (halogen) bulb improved lighting performance by about 30 per cent, and we have been using this for many years, in the shape of the Busch & Muller Lumotec Oval headlights. While I find these okay for being 'legal' and for seeing at low speeds in the dark, I consider them inadequate at high speeds on unlit roads. On one of my trikes I tried the B&M S-12 dynamo system with the 12- volt/5-watt halogen headlight. This proved much better, and was fine at speed in the dark. However, when our customers reported experiencing a few failures with the S-12 dynamos, I fitted the SON dynamo hub to my trike, thinking that IF I could get a suitable LED (Light Emitting Diode) headlight made for the dynamo hub, it might solve the light output problem. I tested a 3-watt battery LED headlight, but it was no better than the halogen one. I also asked a couple of different light makers if they would make a dynamo LED headlight for GreenSpeed-- but they never got back to us, and I resigned myself to the 3-watt halogen B&M headlight. Now while some battery-powered units will put out much more light, I'm the sort of person that can never remember to charge the d--- things up... I believe cycle lights need to be foolproof, just like car headlights or preferably even better!
Then a month ago a customer asked me about a new LED headlight from SON, called the Edelux. On the SON website this light looked very promising, so I requested a sample and fitted it as soon as it came. I found the Edelux to be another revolution in lighting! It fired up, just by me wheeling the trike by hand along a short driveway! On the road it put out about THREE times the amount of light that the halogen light did! Furthermore, the Edelux came programmed with a three-position switch: permanently on; auto-on whenever it got dark; and permanently off. I selected the auto-on option, and every time the daylight started to fade, the headlight automatically came on without fail. In this way it was even better than most car lighting. This LED light is so bright that one cannot look directly at it without it hurting one's eyes. In fact, I had a number of cars flash their high beams at me in protest!
At last I have found a great source of lighting that is (more than) adequate for normal riding, without having to bother at all about batteries!
There are only two catches regarding this new light: 1) it is pricey at $260, and 2) even at that price, there is a six-month wait on deliveries! However, B&M appear to have a similar headlight, the LUMOTEC IQ Fly, which uses the same LED and reflector, and costs half the price at $130.
Given that some hoons stole my trike early this month and crashed it badly-- obliterating the precious SON headlight, among other things, I guess I'll be testing the IQ Fly headlight next....
For more information: http://www.bumm.de/docu/174q-e.htm
The Burley trailers for children, for luggage and for pets are, in our opinion, the best available, in view of their lightweight design and quality construction. As well, the towing hitch is on the centre line of the trailer so that when it is towed, there is no side thrust. This enables freer running (than if the hitch were offset).
Please see: http://www.burley.com/support/faq.cfm#adventure6
However, when the trailer is hitched the end of the axle on a bike or trike, there is a four- to five-inch offset of the trailer from the bike or trike which can pose a hazard or nuisance when the entire vehicle is going through gates or heavy traffic.
We have addressed this problem with the Anura. For this delta trike we have fashioned a new hitch which connects the Burley trailer/s on the centre point of the Anura to attain in-line towing. This has been achieved with a special bolt, which has a 12mm shank and a 10.5mm thread. The bolt goes through the hole on the Anura frame, (which is used also for the tandem coupling), and fixes to the Burley Alternative Hitch for Nutted Axle.
See pictures and check out this link: http://www.burley.com/products/accessories/index.cfm
Unfortunately, the present Burley drawbars foul the left-hand rear wheel on left-hand turns (see picture). I have written to Burley, asking for an alternative drawbar (or 'tongue', as they call it) that would be suitable for delta trikes, but so far have had no reply... All I believe it would need is a drawbar with a double bend, like the arms for their jogger kits.