zondag 22 mei 2011

Update on Exustar pedals

Last winter I started cycling with the super light Exustar pedals that are compatible with the Shimano SPD system for MTB shoes. This despite the fact that I prefer the Speedplay Frog pedals. It's just more convenient at my work at the Ligfietsgarage Groningen to walk on shoes with an SPD system. I don't have to change shoes when I have to test ride a velomobile or a recumbent that has been serviced. There is nothing like a testride when you want to know if everything is ok with a bike.

Anyway, the pedals seemed to work just fine, but something was very wrong with my Mango. After about 30kms' of riding the velomobile started to squeek louder and louder, up to the point that I dreaded having to push the bike home. That never happened, but the noise was excruciating enough to want to fix it right away. The problem was that despite my years of experience with building Mangos', I couldn't find anything wrong. I started to exchange the Mid-Drive, which was due for a change to test a lighter one anyway. The noise didn't stop..... Every long ride the noise came back. In order not to take the bike apart completely, I started thinking what I changed to the Mango.

Since my Mango is sort of a testing bike, I make lots of changes to it, but the one thing that stuck to my mind were the new pedals. I took them out.... the noise was gone. Put them back in..... the noise was back! How could this be? The pedals were running ever so smoothly when I had them in my hands, yet started to squeek very loud after a bit of cycling.

Then I remembered that the DualDrive, which is optional in the Mango, can give similar squeeking sounds. The rubber dust caps on the bearings are the culprit. Because it's nice and dry inside the Mango, the rubber dries out and starts to squeek. So the first thing I do when I mount a DualDrive in the Mango is remove these rubber dust caps. There is no dirt coming towards the bearings, so the caps serve no purpose but create some drag and above all, very annoying squeeking noises.

With this in mind I took out the pedals one more time and removed the rubber dust caps on the bearings.

Peace at last!

dinsdag 17 mei 2011

Sweat and pain: comfort in the velomobile.

 For ROAM comfort will be very important, Daytrips of 200-300km a day for several weeks in a row is not only exhausting, it can easily cause very annoying pain in joints or a rash because of sweating so much. I'm almost completely comfortable in my Mango, even on long rides, except..... my upper left arm developes a very annoying ghost pain that comes and goes as it pleases. That's why I made elbow pads in the sides of my ROAMango (yes, I am building a special Mango for ROAM). I first tested it in my current Mango Sport and was so happy with the result that I made it in ROAMango as well.
Another comfort aspect is heat. The Mango is not so hot as one might expect, because most of your body is in the shade, there is an airflow coming through the footholes and it is easy to maintain a good speed with a relatively low effort. Still, the deserts in the Mid-West of the USA can be very hot in the daytime and it may become awkward to cycle. As it happens we have customers all over the world riding our Mangos' and they sometimes have surprising strategies to counter extreme weather conditions. One of them is an Australian doctor that rides a Mango Sport Red Editon. BTW: he's made a very nice clip, showing all the features of his favourite ride.
It can become very hot Down Under and Paul uses a Flevobike roof during the hottest hours of the day, because he is in the shade that way. What's good enough for an Aussie, is good enough for me, but.... I think that this roof is much higher than needed and the attachment to the body is not how I'd like to have it. Well there are more Mango riders who feel that way and one of them, Reinhard Fritz, has found a nice solution that he posted on the German Velomobil forum. I made my own version and the result is on the photo above. A more detailed photoserie and annotations how I made it is on Picasa. It was quite a lot of extra work, it usually is when you make something the first time, but I think it will be worth while.