Last month I was invited to judge trikes at the Australian International Pedal Prix at Murray Bridge, near Adelaide in South Australia. This is the oldest Pedal Prix in Australia and has been going for many years - see :- http://www.pedalprix.com.au/
The criteria used for design and construction points were :- Design Process, Safety, Drive Train, Ergonomics, Equipment, Aerodynamics, & Innovation. Unlike the Maryborough event which is only open to schools, the SA Pedal Prix has a community or open class, which I was judging. Most of these trikes were built by young men who had left school, but had continued with their passion of HPV racing.
I found that some had put an enormous amount of time and effort into their machines, and there were some quite interesting designs, which could be used as commuters. It was also interesting to see that the carbon fibre designs were not the lightest, proving that you do not need a big budget to produce a winning machine. I rather liked the wing section trike (top), as visibility was good and it avoided the need for compound curves.
This year we took a larger stand (booth) than in previous years so we could display most of our large range of trikes. These were divided into four categories :- Recreation & Commuting, Touring, Sports, and Racing. Our USA Distributor, Jerome Hediger (bending in the photo) and his wife Nancy helped in the booth, and were introduced to our dealers.
Recumbent Cyclist News, Bent Rider On Line, Recumbent & Tandem Rider, and Velo Vision took photographs and notes of our new 2005 models, which will not be available until sometime next year, due to production lead times and parts availability. So please look for them in these publications.
The most interesting thing I found at Interbike was a puncture proofing system, which gives LOWER rolling resistance instead of higher rolling resistance as with all other systems I've tested. How does it do this? Simple! It just removes the inner tube! I discovered that using a thornproof tube DOUBLES the rolling resistance of a good tyre, thus removing the tube completely ought to make a significant difference to the rolling resistance. The system uses a wide rim strip to seal the tyre from the rim, so that an ordinary tyre will work like a tubeless tyre, without the need for a special rim. Add some puncture sealant, and any punctures seal as soon as they are made.
The only catch is the kits are only presently made for 26" tyres. However, I bought one and found that the sealing strip was not really needed, and I got a tyre to seal O.K. on an ordinary 20" rim, without the sealing strip. Initial rolling tests confirmed the reduction in rolling resistance. More tests will need to be done to check to see how this system stands up to everyday use, and to see if we can get the system to work with the narrower 16" rims.
Ultimately it might work best with special rims and disc wheels, like used on our race trikes, so that there are no spoke holes in the rim, and no need for any sealing strips. For more info., please see:- www.notubes.com
We have just sent Stan "notubes" a number of rim and tyre samples in both 20" and 16", so he will be working to produce rim strips and kits to suit GreenSpeed trikes. More info. when these are available and have been tested.
This year the Bicycling Australia Bike Show was in Melbourne, at the Royal Exhibition Buildings. IMO this magnificent building makes it the best venue in Australia. Unfortunately I didn't take my camera, and I can't find any web sites that really do it justice - this link might give some idea of the buildings :- http://www.deh.gov.au/heritage/worldheritage/sites/exhibition/
Taking a lead from Interbike, this year we had a Demo Day down near the river, the day before the show, which gave shops the opportunity to test ride bikes and trikes before the show opened. Friday was trade day, and the Show was open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. Both public days were quite busy, and there was a test track at the show for the public. We had both the Brompton folding bikes, and the Sun recumbent bikes on show for the 1st time.
Mick had put a lot of work into a new GreenSpeed catalogue, and when I saw it for the 1st time at Interbike, I was suitably impressed, as were our booth visitors :-) At 28 pages and in full colour we now finally have a brochure that matches the quality of our trikes. So if you have a friend who does not have access to the web, and who would you like to introduce to GreenSpeed, let me know and I'll send you one. It explains the different categories of trikes that we make, has full page colours photos of each model with a short description, and a full specification comparison. And, on the last page..... photos of all the crew!
The new SLR race trike was shown at Interbike and is now available to special order. It uses advanced steering geometry that tilts the wheels into the corner as it turns, so that both the rolling resistance through the corners is reduced, and tyre grip is increased. The wheels also use negative camber, to increase the track for stability within a narrow overall width. This has the added benefit of making the trike less critical to wheel alignment. The wheelbase is also extended to increase stability on corners. Here is one owner's comments:-
"I told my wife that it is like a magic carpet ride. Mark's and Rob's descriptions of its handling are on target. Though I have never driven a Le Mans racing car, my sense is that the SLR's ride and steer through corners must be comparable. It hugs the road.
I have not ridden with the lumbar support seats before and I find that the seat perhaps enhances pedalling by stabilising movement.
I have driven seven different brands of trikes and the SLR is clearly the finest performance trike I have pedalled."
We are getting some new tyres made which we have designed especially for our trikes. These will be in a new size of 40-349 or 16" x 1 1/2" to give a better ride than the current 16" x 1 3/8" tyres. The 1st samples of the new tyres have been received, and were shown at Interbike. Testing on our rolling resistance machine indicates a better rolling resistance at 100 psi than any commercial tyre. We will be doing more testing as we receive more samples in different versions of this tyre. The tyre will be known as the "Scorcher", and will be available by the end of the year.
We are also looking at a tubeless version of this tyre which should have even lower rolling resistance, and will be more puncture resistant than belted tyres.
The Arkel RT 60 Recumbent Panniers have been redesigned with a new frame so that they hold their shape better and don't sag when fully loaded. We now have new stocks of these bags for sale. Price $375 AUD per pair. More info at :- www.panniers.com
Due to the increasing interest in both folding bikes and recumbents, we have become the Australian Agent for both Sun and Brompton bikes. So Australian shops may now buy both Sun recumbent bikes, and Brompton folding bikes from us. Sun recumbents provide entry level recumbent bikes. So for people who would like some of the comfort of a trike, but are unsure if they want to invest in the price of a trike, this may be the answer.
Bromptons on the other hand are the most compact folding bikes available IMO, and are ideal for train commuting, where they are very fast to fold, and take up very little space. Plus they have rear suspension.