Confessions of recumbent virgin or ....first ride on my Iowa Linear

OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
6/8/20
Out with the lad this evening. A little nervous starting off, as usual. All downhill then along the banks of the Weaver to the Salt Works, TR on to Meadowbank Swing Bridge then on to a crushed stone surfaced track under the West Coast main railway line. This is a reasonable surface and there is a climb which is well within the gear range on a tarmac road. I settled back into the seat to twiddle away to the top but for some reason the front end had a mind of its own. I trundled steadily up the track but as the slope steepened the front wheel wandered first to one side then the other. It wasn’t that steep, and the track was fairly smooth. What was causing the problem? Maybe need lower front tyre pressure on this surface. My tourer copes with this with no problems, so the Linear should too. After stopping short of the 3' ditch I came to a halt. I started pushing it uphill, hoping to get going again on the next less steep pitch. Twiddler the Younger came back, flamboyantly did a stoppie, pirouetted round on the front wheel and did a wheelie. His chain unexpectedly snapped and he came to a halt. No chain tool between us! (it's in the saddlebag on my tourer). I suggested calling Mrs Twiddler to give him a lift back but it seems he shares my inclinations to deal with things himself rather than involve others.

We started for home, freewheeling back down the hill, across the bridge and up to the steps to the road. I went the long way round and caught him up shortly. He alternately pushed and freewheeled home, followed by me. I rather perversely enjoyed the slow bicycle race aspect of the trip home, and am finding myself much more comfortable with the Linear at lower speeds now. Next I need to get more practice climbing gravelly slopes or I need to try different tyre pressures. I am determined to learn to ride this anywhere I can reasonably ride my tourer, except obviously where the length stops it going through barriers. When I mentioned this to the lad (lad! He's 27!) he said "it's not an off roader"! but that track is actually a road used by motor vehicles. Where the petrol fumes, there fume I.

7 miles, 7 mph average, surprisingly. Highest speed definitely less than 24mph, though at one point where the road undulated I managed to maintain 18-20mph for about a mile on the way out according to the computer.

Next time, I must stretch out the distance a bit.
 

Edward Kim

New Member
(Ooer, missus)
I bought this Iowa Linear not having had a test ride of any type of recumbent. I live miles from anywhere that could give me a trial. I got this bike for a good price and thought I would just give it a go.
After ten days or so of fettling, I had been waiting for a calm dry day for a test flight. Just wearing ordinary clothes, bike clips, track mitts and battered baseball cap
Overcast, rain earlier. Roads are dry, no wind. Took a photo of the Linear in front of my trusty NTV. It is actually longer than the Honda.
View attachment 534792

Once outside, while I was locking the gate a bloke on a mobility scooter came past and said, “That’s a long bike!”. It certainly is. 88" long in fact.

There is a gradual downhill to the left outside my back gate, and I thought this would be a good place to relearn my bicycling skills. It is usually quiet at this time of day, though there is a minor road junction about 25 yards downhill on the right.

I got the bike on to the road and sat on it. I adjusted the mirror, and checked that I could find the brakes and gears easily, unable to see them as they are under the seat. I tried each foot separately for reach to the pedals. Everything seemed OK. I felt hypersensitive to everything going on. I was not going to risk takeoff while there was a car within a quarter mile. Random pedestrians seemed to appear from nowhere, crossed the road and disappeared. My wallet was digging into my right buttock, so I removed it. The wallet, not the buttock. OK then. How hard can it be? It’s just a bike.

All clear. I got my right foot on the pedal just before 12 O’clock and pushed off as prescribed. Wobble wobble Aaargh! Both feet down. Tried again. This time heading for the other side of the road. Crammed on the brakes, pushed back to the kerb. This was not going to be as easy as I thought. Looked around furtively. Nobody about to witness my embarrassment, thank goodness.

Tried once more, had to jam on the brakes and stick my left foot out to avoid colliding with the kerb.

At this stage a bunch of teenagers appeared and crossed the road in front of me so I theatrically whipped out my phone and pretended to be answering a call. Oh yes, I meant to stop here. I always ride like this, at least on this bike. Nobody actually said anything, but I had my excuses ready.

What spawn of the devil was this contraption? A lifetime of riding bikes and suddenly I am 4 years old again! Do I need stabilisers at my age? I’m going to master this thing! After pondering for a bit I decided to paddle downhill without pedalling and take it from there. After a couple of false starts I got rolling and after a couple of zig zags got it under control. That was better. 75 yards later the fear and loathing had subsided and I managed to stop in a straight line without falling over.
Time for the legs now. Same procedure as before. Right pedal just before 12 O’clock, a touch of back brake, a good look round, all clear, push and release brake simultaneously, sweep left foot up to meet rising pedal, push and continue smoothly. Steering still a bit erratic, like my folder you need to point it where you want to go. Rode for several miles like this, experimenting with the gears and finding things easier as I relaxed back into the seat and slackened my death grip on the bars.
As I passed a family group on the pavement I heard a little girl shout, “Mummy, Mummy! Look at that funny bike!” I suppose I will have to get used to this now.

Some interesting points. You can pedal while cornering. My perception is that it tends to fall into corners so you need to pedal while cornering to maintain a smooth line. Also, while trying to make a tight turn you need to pedal, and gently apply the rear brake to make control easier. These are motorcycling techniques, which seem to work with this bike.

The steering is not like a bike with a large front wheel. It doesn’t flow into corners, you have to actively control it with the bars. There is no play in the linkages, although the bars themselves have a few mm of up and down movement -if one side rocks downwards, the other rocks upwards and vice versa. I need to experiment with different thickness of washers on the pivot bolt. The steering is very sensitive to input, and I have to adapt to that – more like fingertip control. I have made some hand signals and the steering even responds to taking a hand off the bars so I need to learn to compensate for that too.

Having your knees flying around before your very eyes like the business end of some Edwardian traction engine will take some getting used to. Despite doing quite a bit of cycling this year I’ve not really got my legs out so I will definitely need to put my shades on to avoid being dazzled if it ever gets warm enough to wear shorts.

Starting and stopping are the new skills I have to learn, a matter of gaining confidence and developing muscle memory. It is easier to do than think about. Stopping is probably the easier part, knowing how slow you can go before putting your feet down to make an elegant stop.

I was expecting to have a lot of squeaking and creaking from this aluminium frame but it is pretty quiet. The previous owner advised me to keep the folding joints well greased and tightly done up and for the purposes of my 5 mile test ride at least, it is effective. The noisiest thing on the bike is the bell, which rattles. Will have to do something about that.

How would I sum up this test ride? Pretty scary to start with, but as my reactions became more attuned to the bike’s feedback it got better. It is certainly comfortable. It really is analagous to flying, with the takeoffs and landings being the stressful part. Got to practice starting off, getting going at junctions quickly and then once I am OK with that, starting on a hill. Probably will just happen with practice.

Looking forward to longer rides.
It seems like when I rode my recumbent for the first time. I was exactly the same as you did. Now, I'm sure that you will be able to ride all day long without any worry soon.
 
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
It seems like when I rode my recumbent for the first time. I was exactly the same as you did. Now, I'm sure that you will be able to ride all day long without any worry soon.
After a few longer rides it feels as if my reactions have become more in tune with the bike. As well as short trips I have done a couple of longer rides, 27 and 28 miles with a max speed so far of 28mph, best average speed for a trip of 9.6mph which may seem low but it has included some mild off road cycle and old railway trails as part of the distances. Every ride has included a new recumbent "first" for me so far. I found myself wobbling to a stop initially if I tried to climb poorly surfaced uphills but now I can manage them. I have managed to start in bottom gear on a steep tarmac uphill after being forced to stop (had to have couple of goes). I am getting across busy road junctions more easily. I am able to cycle virtually to a standstill then get going again at junctions without putting a foot down. When I do stop I can get going again more easily. I was really anxious about traffic in situations which would not have bothered me on my tourer. Now, I think I worry more vehicle drivers when they see me because they certainly give me loads of room. Still got a long way to go before I can do things without thinking about it. The best thing is that people just smile when they see this bike. I was trundling down our local disused railway path one day last week when a middle aged couple came out from a footpath ahead of me so I dinged my bell. They stepped aside and waited so I said "thank you". They gave me a beaming smile and said,"the pleasure's all ours!"

I have experimented a lot with handlebar and bar end positioning. I note that on the "classic" Iowa design Linears the USS has all the controls on the bars under the seat which is a just little bit of a stretch for me. Not only are my legs on the short side, so are my arms. I fitted a spare pair of short bar ends when I first had the bike, and found on some surfaces they made the steering feel more positive, though of course all the controls were still on the main part of the bars. I have seen in photos that the post 2001 "modernised" models have their controls on long bar end extensions. It seemed to me that the bar ends being ahead of the bars and its pivot might be giving the same effect as having your hands on a stem on a conventional bike, and giving a more familiar self centring feel to it.

I have now got hold of a set NOS long bar ends and spent a few days wrestling with cable lengths and positioning of gear and brake cables to make it all work without over straining them or causing them to snag on anything while turning. It feels more like it is the way I want it now. I am waiting for a rain free day so that I can try it for size for a couple of hours, and fine tune it.

542491
 

404 Not Found Anywhere

Well-Known Member
You will find that the recumbent riding reflexes get quite ingrained once you’ve acquired them. I went out for a spin on my Fuego at the beginning of the week... I was aware I hadn’t ridden it for a bit so took it easy. It turned out to be one of the quickest rides I’d done on it though i wasn’t aware of working hard, and it felt quite natural. When I checked back it was nearly a year since I‘d last been out on it (everything else had been on a trike). I had been thinking of selling it, but fortunately have come to my senses!
 
My recumbent experiences pretty much mirror yours. About 10 years ago I bought a Radius Peer Gynt with USS and a similar to yours non-indexed hub gear. I never got to the stage when I could start on some of the steeper gradients at the junctions near to my home, and that ultimately signed its death warrant. I did have some great rides on it though and it was so comfortable. On one occasion I was riding through the town centre when a man shouted, "How do you steer that thing?" I called back, "I don't know!"

I replaced it with a tadpole trike that was excellent in many ways, but it took up a lot of garage space. I also found the three tracks to be a pain on our poorly-surfaced roads; you are virtually guaranteed to hit a pothole when you have that number of tracks. I replaced that with a home-made SWB 'bent that was fun to refine, but it was really heavy and I concluded that I was trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

I was without a 'bent for a few years, but my replaced shoulders have now deteriorated to the extent that anything more than a couple of miles on a DF are quite painful. Therefore, a week ago I bought a beautiful Vision R30 that has proved very easy to ride. I am still sorting it out and making sure it is fettled to my size and requirements, but I have very high hopes for it. It is equipped with a Shimano Nexus 7 speed hub gear that is simplicity itself to use. The bottom bracket is low, and that makes starting more simple. The foot numbness that I experienced on the trike will hopefully not arise again with better blood flow to the extremities. The Vision's ASS is, for me, easier to cope with than USS and its minimum balance speed is significantly lower than either the Radius, or the home build.

I must say that I have enjoyed reading your account of the Linear and I compliment you on your ability to write an amusing, informative tale.
 

steveindenmark

Legendary Member
I had to check to see if it was a trike. :rolleyes: I can understand riding a trike without a helmet, but not a 2 wheeled recumbent. You must be barking. I had a Bachetta Giro for a couple of years and enjoyed it. But was always ready for it to turn round and bite me. ^_^
 
Interesting opinion steveindenmark. I’m going to try to reply without veering into the issues of helmet efficacy, because there are recumbent specific matters here that are perhaps worth airing, but which mostly don’t involve that debate.

I ride both a fairly ‘upright’ long wheelbase Linear like the OPs, (think kitchen chair, eye-level same as most large saloon car drivers’) and a short wheelbase ‘semi-low rider’ (eye level similar to or a little higher than Lotus Elise, Mazda MRX etc.). On neither bike do I normally wear a helmet, but what I do always wear is elbow pads. Elbows are expensive, tender and vulnerable in a recumbent capsize. The head never came anywhere near danger in the five or so offs I have had. Interestingly all my offs but one have been at very low speeds, most when actually stationary on the SWB, owing to me putting my foot down too late or in the wrong place. The one capsize when moving was on the SWB and involved black ice. I was travelling at a moderate speed, but no injuries, other than to dignity, were sustained.

Because of the nature of how one ‘falls off’ or, more usually, ‘falls with’ a bent the only threat to the head likely comes from motor vehicles colliding, at which point the ‘helmet thread’ becomes the only relevant set of arguments.

So no, I am not barking. A Bachetta Giro is a fairly ‘high’ bike with a high B.B., a relatively high seat and a fairly upright seat back. I can understand choosing to wear a helmet on one of those. It is a quite ‘racy’ bike that puts the head almost as high as an ‘upright’ rider’s.

Some other observations on bents and helmets that may be of use to others:

Aside from protection, the helmet can be the highest point to which lights can be attached on a bent. For that reason I sometimes wear one at night and in traffic.

Many helmet designs can interfere with neck rests or even the top edge of the seat on some bents. For that reason, the choice of helmet needs to be carefully considered. Similarly, most helmet visors are not designed for the head angle of the more laid back bikes, and may need modification or substitution.
 

Nigelnightmare

Über Member
Interesting opinion steveindenmark. I’m going to try to reply without veering into the issues of helmet efficacy, because there are recumbent specific matters here that are perhaps worth airing, but which mostly don’t involve that debate.

I ride both a fairly ‘upright’ long wheelbase Linear like the OPs, (think kitchen chair, eye-level same as most large saloon car drivers’) and a short wheelbase ‘semi-low rider’ (eye level similar to or a little higher than Lotus Elise, Mazda MRX etc.). On neither bike do I normally wear a helmet, but what I do always wear is elbow pads. Elbows are expensive, tender and vulnerable in a recumbent capsize. The head never came anywhere near danger in the five or so offs I have had. Interestingly all my offs but one have been at very low speeds, most when actually stationary on the SWB, owing to me putting my foot down too late or in the wrong place. The one capsize when moving was on the SWB and involved black ice. I was travelling at a moderate speed, but no injuries, other than to dignity, were sustained.

Because of the nature of how one ‘falls off’ or, more usually, ‘falls with’ a bent the only threat to the head likely comes from motor vehicles colliding, at which point the ‘helmet thread’ becomes the only relevant set of arguments.

So no, I am not barking. A Bachetta Giro is a fairly ‘high’ bike with a high B.B., a relatively high seat and a fairly upright seat back. I can understand choosing to wear a helmet on one of those. It is a quite ‘racy’ bike that puts the head almost as high as an ‘upright’ rider’s.

Some other observations on bents and helmets that may be of use to others:

Aside from protection, the helmet can be the highest point to which lights can be attached on a bent. For that reason I sometimes wear one at night and in traffic.

Many helmet designs can interfere with neck rests or even the top edge of the seat on some bents. For that reason, the choice of helmet needs to be carefully considered. Similarly, most helmet visors are not designed for the head angle of the more laid back bikes, and may need modification or substitution.
Was going to reply but you said it much better than I could.:becool:
 
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
Was going to reply but you said it much better than I could.:becool:
Me too! Surely this discussion ought to be in the Accessories and Clothing section. Assuming that I am the one alleged to be barking, well that's a matter of opinion. The same applies to helmet wearing, of which there is still no conclusive scientific evidence of the benefits one way or the other. Plenty of anecdotes of course.
 
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
My recumbent experiences pretty much mirror yours. About 10 years ago I bought a Radius Peer Gynt with USS and a similar to yours non-indexed hub gear. I never got to the stage when I could start on some of the steeper gradients at the junctions near to my home, and that ultimately signed its death warrant. I did have some great rides on it though and it was so comfortable. On one occasion I was riding through the town centre when a man shouted, "How do you steer that thing?" I called back, "I don't know!"

I replaced it with a tadpole trike that was excellent in many ways, but it took up a lot of garage space. I also found the three tracks to be a pain on our poorly-surfaced roads; you are virtually guaranteed to hit a pothole when you have that number of tracks. I replaced that with a home-made SWB 'bent that was fun to refine, but it was really heavy and I concluded that I was trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

I was without a 'bent for a few years, but my replaced shoulders have now deteriorated to the extent that anything more than a couple of miles on a DF are quite painful. Therefore, a week ago I bought a beautiful Vision R30 that has proved very easy to ride. I am still sorting it out and making sure it is fettled to my size and requirements, but I have very high hopes for it. It is equipped with a Shimano Nexus 7 speed hub gear that is simplicity itself to use. The bottom bracket is low, and that makes starting more simple. The foot numbness that I experienced on the trike will hopefully not arise again with better blood flow to the extremities. The Vision's ASS is, for me, easier to cope with than USS and its minimum balance speed is significantly lower than either the Radius, or the home build.

I must say that I have enjoyed reading your account of the Linear and I compliment you on your ability to write an amusing, informative tale.
I think that applying years of motorcycle experience has helped with adapting to recumbent riding, particularly a LWB with small front wheel where there is not much feedback to the steering. You have to apply some propulsive effort to steer positively through bends and to straighten up. A motor bike is most stable while accelerating and the same seems to apply at least to my Linear, certainly while getting used to its ways.

I had an uncle who owned a Reliant Regal and I get your point about a 3 tracked vehicle finding all the potholes. It was sometimes a teeth rattling experience going for a drive with him. I can see why many tadpole trikes have suspension.

The Vision R30 looks like a style that was popular in the late 90's early 2000's like the BikeE and some others, a shorter type of LWB with a low bottom bracket and smallish wheels with an upright seat. Certainly less intimidating to riders than the average recumbent. Possibly easier to manage on tracks or bad surfaces than other recumbents too. I hope you get on well with it and and manage to do some enjoyable trips on it.

I didn't make a decision to go for USS or ASS, it sort of found me as I bought what was affordable and available, but I'm getting the hang of it now. ASS would seem to be a logical control system, with somewhere to put lights, computers, bells etc and you can see everything. However I am finding that despite the drawbacks, USS has its own attractions, giving a sort of nonchalant hands-in-pockets laid back (pardon the pun) appearance which suits a non sporty rider such as I. In fact, after initial misgivings, I find that the Linear suits me very well. I certainly feel less aches and pains that I took for granted after riding my tourer for similar distances. The tourer itself is quite a comfortable DF bike.

I thank you for your kind words regarding my scribblings. You know that it will only encourage me to produce more!

The Linear's unusual appearance has so far mostly generated positive responses from people that I have come across, though I am still waiting for someone to say, "Look at the length of that! He must be compensating for something!"
 

steveindenmark

Legendary Member
Sorry. I had no intention of making this a helmet issue. I use one most of ths time on my df bikes. I wouldnt get on a bent without one. But its a personal choice and I totally accept that.
 
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
Talking of protection, I had been pondering on reducing the length of the rear mudguard after the saga of the rear tyre replacement several posts ago. This was with the intention of a) making it a bit easier to get the rear wheel out if I ever had an unplanned roadside repair to do and b) as I know I can get through A-frame cycleway barriers, I might be able to also get it through the odd swinging gate barrier by standing it on its rear wheel and walking it through. I don't think I will be making a habit of this but it is useful to have the option. Since it was too miserable to go out I decided to get this job done.

The rear mudguard as originally fitted by me covered 180 degrees of the wheel and therefore would have been resting on the ground at the back if the bike was stood on end. The solution was to rotate it forward about 45 degrees so as to be able to still use the original mountings and stays. There is no brake bridge on the Linear. There is a bracket which supports the rear carrier which already had a useful hole drilled in it so I put a nut and bolt inside a bit of spare aluminium tube through it to hold the mudguard, which had a matching hole drilled in it, in place. So it was a case of rotating the mudguard forward, resetting the stays, and drilling a new hole for the mounting bolt in the mudguard. I then had a good length of mudguard protruding in front of the wheel, mostly hanging down unsupported. I left a few inches in place then cut off the excess with tin snips. Being chromoplastic, the mudguard cut cleanly. I filed off some tiny burrs, centralised the mudguard and tightened up the stays and bolt, and the job was done.

Before
542933


After
542918
 

fatjel

Veteran
Location
West Wales
I am in awe of riders of those long uns. Given how twitchy my swb is I always imagined them to be unridable
I have never fallen off my two wheel barchetta but everyone else who tried it has .
 
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
Now that I am getting used to it I am finding it quite stable even on smoothish unmade surfaces though it is no off roader. I have not been able to get out on it this week for various reasons so I have been pondering ways to sharpen up the back brake.

If you look at the second photo in my last post you can see that the rear brake cable takes a convoluted route and operates the brake from below. Sheldon Brown states that "some older caliper brakes can have their cable pull reversed by swapping round the cable stop and clamp bolt" so I got the spanners out and had a go. This worked! It shortened the cable route by quite a bit and I thought I might shorten it further if I could get one of my spare V brake noodles from the dreaded bits box to fit snugly, and do away with a long loop of cable. Less cable = less friction.

The bits box failed to produce a suitable adapter but I did find some brass presta valve caps. I drilled out the inside thread to get the end of the noodle fitting tightly, drilled a hole in the closed end of the cap and then filed it flat with a slight taper towards the outside edge and this end fitted a treat into the cable adjuster on the brake. I measured up carefully and was able to cut about 30 cm from the cable outer. I managed to tease the original cable back through, and didn't need to put a ferrule on the end of the outer as it slipped easily into the end of the noodle.

Once everything was adjusted up and tightened the brake lever felt much more direct and it felt as if more of my braking effort was getting to the rim. One regret is that I was hoping to squeeze in a quick release but I didn't have anything that fitted. Still, it's no worse than before and the brake now feels more effective. A test run is needed, tomorrow if the rain holds off. Here is a pic of the changes for comparison.

544115


I've coiled up the excess cable with a couple of cable ties until I can get hold of some cable end crimps. The raised part on the middle of the brake caliper looks as if it had a logo stuck to it at some time but it has long gone. Can anyone identify it?
 
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