Recumbent Homebuilders Create Art That Just Happens To Look Like A Recumbent
Now we’re on to my very favorite topic, recumbent homebuilders. Why? Because I am one. With no claims of being an expert, I have one frame that I ride and two in various stages of completion. I can’t say that I am a complete homebuilder on frames until I weld one completely on my own, and it stays together. But on to homebuilders.
Homebuilders could be called “do-it yourselfers,” mavericks, rebels, or anything that might go against the norm. It took “out of the box” thinking long before it became a popular buzzword, to make recumbent bikes. Commercial builders and homebuilders alike are still discovering new geometry for frames, lighter materials, and better components. The one element that doesn’t change is the comfort.
Having said that, it should be pointed out, whenever frames are stiffened for racing, comfort is not as great as it might be on a Long Wheel Base (LWB) bike. Even though the original Gold Rush that was first to break the 65 mph speed record used a LWB frame, today all the record holders use lowracer frames.
The lowracer is Short Wheel Base (SWB) frame that is 2-3” off the ground, and usually will have 20” wheels. A Titanium frame reportedly made for the World Human Powered Speed Challenge, may in fact use a 700c wheel for the 2003 competition. The lowracer frames even though stiff, are still more comfortable than any Diamond Frame bike.
Homebuilders constantly push the envelope on design. One of the more notable is Matrt Weaver from California. On his own and without any company sponsorship, Matt is the fastest American streamliner racer with a top speed just over 78 mph.
Matt is notable also for first attempting closed circuit video for viewing the track to avoid a canopy in this competition. It was just such a vehicle that passed 78 mph. However, due to problems with consistent power supply during record runs, loosing video has caused some hazardous moments.
The HPV Video Cam has not yet been banned from competition for now.
The streamliner shells are sleek and classy looking, like some futuristic space age design. Made from various different materials such as Russian Kevlar, Carbon Fiber, foam cores and other exotic materials that are stiff yet durable and lightweight.
In the 2002 competition, Rob English and the Mango crashed going 70 mph. The Mango slid for quite some distance before going off the track and wedging itself under a vehicle closer to the track than was allowed. A stick punctured the canopy and Rob did have a cut, but other than that he was fine.
The shell was far from destroyed, and protected Rob from some really serious injury! Not bad for that kind of speed.
Charles Mochet was a homebuilder, and we can thank him for having introduced the world to recumbents. Out of the garages and basements all over the world, there are examples of the efforts of homebuilders.
It was two bicycle mechanics we have to thank for modern day aviation. Homebuilders have created specialized ovens to make “blown” nosecones and canopies for recumbents. Coroplast fairings, tailboxes of composite materials, seat back bags, and frames. What’s next? Take a look at a homebuiltStreamliner.