Dan rants: 4 wheels good?

Those of you who know me personally or have followed Flutterby very closely have heard me ramble about the recumbent tandem quadricycle I'm building for Burning Man . Well, this morning I finished one side of it (I figure I'll have the one side repaired and the other built in an hour or two), slapped a throw pillow on the wooden seat, and pedaled it into San Anselmo.

So, a few more notes about bicycle building:

Recumbent pedaled vehicles are way cool! Tooling along laid back is a completely different experience from being hunched over the handlebars. Center of gravity is a bit of an issue (as I thought it would be), but with two people on the vehicle it should be stable, and at that point I'm going to need some cup holders for those rum based iced drinks.

I had some doubts about the joint quality that I expressed in my notes about brazing . Everything held just fine for the three and a half miles I've pedaled it so far. I didn't push it real hard, but I didn't baby it either. The flex I thought was in the frame appears to be in a fork bearing that's not tightened enough. So this is good news.

Drive trains are hard to get right. Chains twist and do things they shouldn't. On the way home my chain came apart and I had to "flintstone" the vehicle home. I need to arrange my idler pulleys better. Also, BMX chains don't respond well to small chain tools. I'm probably going to have to pay my local bike shop to split a chain for the longer run I need on the other side.

I tried without a derailleur in the back, and that was okay, but even on the short drive train side I need a longer chain so I may as well install a derailleur and be done with it. Don't know where I'm going to put the shifter on the side without the steering.

I was very concerned about alignment of the steering wheels. While there's some chatter at extreme turning angles, the wheelbase is short enough that I never get that far over and the steering linkage I built out of cheap angle iron seems to work just fine, and it seems like my eyeballed alignment worked as well. Now I've only had one side of this thing weighted, it may be a completely different deal once both wheels have weight on them, but on the playa this shouldn't matter that much.

So, now I'm off to fix the idler pulleys and install the other drive train and another seat.

I don't know if I'd build another vehicle, but I'm definitely going to keep my eyes open for a recumbent bicycle.

Saturday, July 17th, 1999 danlyke@flutterby.com