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

Dia-Compe ‘Big Dog’, beloved of the old skool BMX fraternity was the standard fit for a while. Can’t tell from memory, and the pic, but it was a dual pivot side-pull.
 
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
Dia-Compe ‘Big Dog’, beloved of the old skool BMX fraternity was the standard fit for a while. Can’t tell from memory, and the pic, but it was a dual pivot side-pull.
The one on there now is a single pivot caliper which is as flexy as a flexy thing. I wonder if a dual pivot caliper would make any noticeable difference? The reach is just about at the limit of its adjustment on this one. I suspect that a longer reach brake, with the blocks in the middle range of its adjustment, might feel stiffer due to the more effective leverages involved. I will see how things go with with my recent modifications first, before making any further changes, based on the principle of just changing one parameter at a time and evaluating the result. I still have some Clarks blocks to put on once I have got the current set up as good as I can get it.
 
I converted my Linear to v-brakes fore and aft. If you decide you’d like to give the Big Dog a try, pm me as it’s going spare and you’re welcome to it!
 
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
The first test ride I've managed to do since fitting the longer bar ends and modifying the back brake cable. I was considering posting this on "Your Ride Today" but as It's got a lot of recumbent specific content I've posted it here. Also, no photos!
I had high hopes that my mods would be an improvement.

Oh dear. I had difficulty just starting off as the feel of the steering was so different. As I wobbled down the road getting the hang of it I had similar feelings to the day of my first ride. To make it worse, as I had moved the gear levers from their previous position, I struggled to find them to change gear in time when needed. One of the drawbacks of under seat steering -you can’t see stuff if you’ve moved it. I came to an uphill junction with traffic lights and had managed to find a low gear expecting to stop at red. I have been getting through this junction OK up to now. The lights changed to green just as I rolled up to the line and I kept going, frantically pedalling.

My feet were a blur, and my hands were like a pair of manic spiders trying to find a lever, any lever, to be able to change up. Bridge to engine room -”More revolutions, Chief!” Engine room to bridge -”she’s giving all she can, Cap’n, she cannae take much more!” Still, I crossed the junction, the traffic passed me, and I eventually clunked into an appropriate gear.

As I got going on the road to Sandiway I found that the steering was more positive if I held the bar ends close to where they were attached to the bars, which gave me some ideas on how to improve things. A slight amount of distance ahead of the handlebar pivot seems to be ok, but too much and your hands swing round rather than move back and forth with the ends of the bars. An extremely light grip also helps.

I turned off towards Whitegate village where there is a decent long hill, as I wanted to see if there was any improvement in the brakes. The road steepened, and I pulled on the back brake, with a little assistance from its distant companion at the front. Previously the back brake would have some effect if you gave it lots of advance warning. With my improvements it had been transformed. Its performance had improved to the extent that if you heaved on the lever until all the veins stood out on your forehead, it would stop. Eventually. An emergency stop is a matter for debate. More work needed. I got up to 32mph on the bike computer before thinking it was advisable to start braking, so that I could turn right at the bottom of the hill.

Then the Search For Gears began, as the road steepened soon afterwards. I turned sharp left into an estate road, which was less steep and was able to stop and find some lower gears before turning back and grinding up the hill. Once over the top things were easier and I found another gear in which I remained for the next few miles. There was a gradual downhill then a sharp bend and a steep drop before a sharp right over a narrow concrete bridge. I passed a couple with bicycles just beyond this point, one cycling very slowly uphill, the other pushing. I found myself passing the deep rock salt mine, then turned off the road on to the cycle trail to Whitegate, passing a family group with several small children on bikes. I am going to have to do something about the gear changers. You need fingers like Nosferatu the Vampyre to change gear easily at the moment, not the stubby items bequeathed to me by my forefathers.

Nevertheless I found myself making good progress, passing groups of walkers and dog walkers. I reached the site of an old level crossing where normally I would have weaved through the barriers without difficulty but today with the different bar arrangements my balance was off and I had to stop and Fred Flintstone it, much to my embarrassment.

Eventually I came to the place where an old railway bridge once spanned Grange Lane. Long since demolished, the path sloped steeply to the road, through a narrow barrier, then through another barrier and up the other side. There was a family group with young kids contemplating pushing up the slope to the path. One small boy said, “what sort of bike is that, Daddy?” His father said, “It’s a recumbent bike, where you can lie back and pedal”. I was impressed, most people you meet are totally perplexed by it. He asked me if it was new, and I told him it was at least 20 years old. The little boy said to me, “my bike hasn’t got a chain, look, it’s got a belt.” And so it did. My turn to be impressed again. I got going up the slope but was not in the right gear and wobbled to a halt. I had to push. Not my day today. I stopped to organise myself and heard someone coming up behind. I waved them on. A voice said, “I’m the same boy, I’m waiting for my dad. My name’s ******”. He was just a small boy, but he spoke so well. Seemed sharp as a tack. Cute kid. I pressed on, and got through the next barrier ok. Into the old station car park, crowds of adults and kids, I heard one little girl say, “Daddy, look at that cool bike!” Too much attention now, I got onto Clay Lane, turned left and dawdled down the slight downhill towards the A54 and Oulton Park. Up a short stiff climb (right gear this time) then over the A54. On to Park Road. This road has a bit of downhill then becomes narrow with passing places on the uphill bit. There was a bit of traffic but with a bit of give and take we managed fine. However, as I was spinning uphill between passing places an immense tractor and trailer came the other way. I pressed myself into the hedgebank and he went past OK. I was in the right gear and got going uphill without difficulty.

There was an event on, I could hear the racing from miles away, and from time to time a vintage British sports car went past me. Some of them were so low, they were actually looking up at me. A sunny day, with the top down, they were enjoying themselves. Most were in gleaming condition. Straight past Oulton Park, down a dip then another short stiff climb, left into Brownhills Lane, right into Dogmore Lane, left into Kings Lane then a lazy ride with lots of freewheeling to turn left at Hickhurst Lane. I reached the junction with Hall Lane and turned left for home.

Just under 20 miles. Average despite all the dawdling, fits and starts, and the bit of off road 9.4mph. Max speed despite dubious brakes and dodgy gear changing, 32mph. In spite of the various issues, I made decent progress and felt that I had done it without a lot of effort. Must definitely do something about the bar ends and gear changers. The back brake is going to get another severe looking at.
 
Last edited:
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
Some thoughts on my most recent ride.
Yesterday I broke through the 40 mile barrier (see My Ride Today) and with the adjustments since my last post here all went well. On my upright tourer I am slow, and on this recumbent I am slow, but it is a different kind of slow. There is less pressure to go faster, this is definitely a touring recumbent but it does get up speed quickly on any kind of downhill. I still tend to freewheel at the slightest excuse but on some downhills there is a reward in increased speed for very little pedalling effort which helps to get up the next incline. This is very noticeable on a gently undulating route.
On uphills I have been pleasantly surprised that although slow, once in the right gear it gets up them without too much drama. Much better than I was led to believe. On downhills there is definitely the wheeee! factor though on a couple of occasions it has bordered on the aaaargh! factor as I have overestimated its stopping ability. Still, it must be good enough as I haven't had a capsize or collided with the scenery yet. But if I could stop more reliably then I could go faster downhill... that way, madness lies.

Normally over that sort of distance on my upright I would have experienced numb or tingling hands at some stage, and possibly some foot discomfort, definitely some neck twinges. Still, the upright has advantages in manoevrability, ability to recover if in the wrong gear by standing on the pedals, ability to avoid the worst of potholes by taking weight on the pedals, and anonymity when parked in town. It is still a very comfortable bike by DF standards. It's a nice bike.

On the Linear I have had none of the above aches and pains and up to yesterday not even the above knee muscle pains. Although a bit tired, I felt OK after I got home and in a few hours the leg aches had gone too. I did wonder if I would find it difficult to rise from my bed the next day as I might do after a strenuous day on the upright, but actually I felt fine. If I didn't have other stuff planned I felt as if I could go out and do it again today. I feel more confident now about the prospect of a 50 or even 60 mile day.

Another thing which I was concerned about was the issue of my feet dropping from the pedals without toeclips or something similar to hold them in place. It has been a non issue, and has not happened in the time that I have had it, to the point that I only remembered about it when I looked back over my previous posts.

The worst thing about the trip yesterday was potholes. Generally I can avoid them but in parts of the route there is more pothole than road, and at times oncoming traffic compels you to ride through them. Despite bracing myself against the pedals I had several teeth rattling, brain bouncing episodes. Oh my poor frontal lobes! After one particular incident when I swooped down from a canal bridge only to find a white BMW in the middle of the road, forcing me to ride through several yards of them, I had a headache which fortunately faded after a few minutes.
Still, mostly they are avoidable.

It is at times like this that a test ride on a SWB with suspension becomes tempting!

However, overall the experience was very positive.

Distance was 40.25 miles. Max speed 27.2 mph. Average speed 10.2 mph.
 
Last edited:

404 Not Found Anywhere

Well-Known Member
If your prop stand is towards the rear of the bike, and strong enough, you can tilt it to be supported on the stand and the front wheel with the rear off the ground... alternate turning the pedals and adjusting the gears and you can change whilst stationary. Works on my Fuego.

I would also observe that I find my Recycled Recumbent easier on the rough roads with a passive suspension effect over that long wheelbase than my Fuego, even with its rear suspension.
 
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
If your prop stand is towards the rear of the bike, and strong enough, you can tilt it to be supported on the stand and the front wheel with the rear off the ground... alternate turning the pedals and adjusting the gears and you can change whilst stationary. Works on my Fuego.

I would also observe that I find my Recycled Recumbent easier on the rough roads with a passive suspension effect over that long wheelbase than my Fuego, even with its rear suspension.
My Linear is decidedly tail heavy, and with a full rack bag has a tendency to flip if the front wheel is lifted with no rider aboard, to turn it in the garage for example. I recently replaced the (temporary) aluminium prop stand leg with a steel one but really need to put the prop stand clamp further back now I am using it in earnest.
With the temporary problem of poorly placed gear levers sorted the situation of stopping in the wrong gear is down to rider error and lack of forward planning if it happens now. Of course I still have the escape route of being able to change down to low gear on the 3 X 7 hub gear while stopped but sometimes it is just easier to push a few yards to a flatter launch point. With more experience, these episodes should become rarer.

Generally the Linear is pretty comfortable so the jarring effect of potholes is all the more surprising. It is fairly uncommon. I will carry on getting the miles in, and experimenting with tyre pressures.
 
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
The Linear now has the Dia Compe Big Dog dual pivot BMX brake fitted.
Before:-

546323


After

546324


I initially tried to fit it so that the brake arms were closer to the rear fork with the cylindrical spacer inside the frame as per the single pivot caliper but there was not enough mudguard clearance so it had to be mounted higher. Fortunately this gave enough clearance. I also fitted some Clarks brake blocks. Initial impressions are that it feels more rigid and the lever movement is more direct. I haven't tried it in earnest yet as I haven't had time to take it to the Test Hill of Doom but will do so in due course.
 
OP
a.twiddler

a.twiddler

Well-Known Member
There are some issues with registering on Bentrider online with warnings from both my Firefox and their own admin on possible hackers and spam problems. A pity, as from previous visits it is an interesting site. However, I think the bike in question may look like this.

547451

I have also seen a picture online of a similar bike with OSS and severely raked forks like a Bike E which stated that it was made by Linear but sold under a major dealer's name -I could not save the image as it was scanned as part of a magazine page full of print, something Velo or Velo something, so it looks like Linear have been busy with partnerships with various recumbent sellers over the years.

Although there is probably no such thing as a "standard" Linear, the post you referred to complains that a standard Linear seat height is a "towering" 23" from the ground. Good grief! mine is 27" though it does have a 700C rear wheel and 500A front which does not really account for the extra inches. It was nearly 28" when I got it but the seat cushion has compressed since I have been using it. It also has a 42" main beam which must make it a Medium frame. I find it quite manageable despite having notoriously short legs.

The bike above looks to have a 20" (406) rear wheel and some variety of 16" front which should go some way to lowering the seat height. Note how the rear brake is mounted under the frame as there would be reach problems with the standard fittings above the frame, and probably the lower fitting would interfere with the fold, hence the welded frame. It would not be a simple DIY conversion. A major contribution to the seat height on a Linear is the need for clearance for the USS beneath the seat.
 
Top Bottom