June 13

June 13, 2006

Introducing the Critical Power Streetliner - an everyday driver, 'streetable' streamliner.

I've been feeling kind of apprehensive regarding the likelihood of matching a windless day with my planned attempt at the 24 hour distance record in Eureka California. I've been watching the weather there and haven't found one single 24 hour windless period in weeks. Then I began to wonder if my wind minimums were too high. Perhaps I simply don't have enough experience with the streamliner in the wind.

I mean, plenty of guys take their super stock streamliners out on the roads to commute to work. Thom Olinger does many of his long training rides in the Coslinger special streamliner. In the 2004 Race Across America, team ASL Lightning rode Lightning F90 - body sock streamliner recumbents 3000 miles across America. In 1989, a 4 person HPV Team Lightning/Tim Brummer won, setting the all time RAAM speed record of 24.02 mph. Even more to my point, there were 3 HPV teams competing in RAAM that year, the second team used a recumbent with a soft body sock, but the third team used a hard shelled fairing which was the Dupont/ The Sharper Image/ Gold Rush Easy Racer built by Gardner Martin. Due to some technical problems very near the end, they had to quit. What is most impressive about their attempt, was they travelled over 3000 miles in almost 5 days through every kind of weather condition imaginable and on the shoulder of busy highways.

And here is wimpy me, scared of a little wind on a closed track. I might need to suck it up.

I decided I needed some more experience in a streamliner in everyday average windy conditions. So - I figured that it wouldn't be a big deal to make some mounts for my spare fiberglass CriticalPower fairing shells and put it on the M5.

First, I used a photo I had of my positions on both Critical Power frame and the M5 to calculate exactly where the fairing shells would fit best. Since this is intended to be used in every day street and highway riding, I wanted to make sure that my visibility was as good as it could get, so I was able to lower the body a bit to get a better view over the top

Next, I sketched in where I though the fairing mounts should go, and indicated cut-outs for entry and foot holes. There will be no landing gear on the streetliner, so all stopping and starting will be with my feet. To get in the HPV, I step through the door opening on the left as shown on the illustration and put my foot through the foot hole on the right side of the bike. The foot hole on the right is much longer than it appears in the drawing because I need to stand upright straddling the seat and holding onto the tiller bar. Then I pull my left leg over the door and place it on the ground in the foot hole to the left of the front wheel while I sit down on the seat. When I am seated, I can balance the bike with both feet on the ground on each side of the front wheel. To take-off, I place my left foot onto the left peddle and start cranking.

Using the computer image as a reference, I put the left hand fairing shell into position on blocks of wood. Just to make certain, I spun the peddles around to make sure there wasn't any clearance issues.

Then I fabricated 4 fairing mount brackets. The part of the bracket that mounts to the M5 frame is a muffler pipe U-bolt made to fit around a 1.75" dia tube (the exact dimension of the M5 main tube). The tube is a telescopic shower curtain rod that I picked up at Home Depot for $9. To adjust the length of the rod, you twist it counter-clock-wise and extend or retract it. Then twist it clockwise to lock it in place. As extra security, I welded a nut to the side of the larger dia tube and I can secure the tubes by tightening the bolt. This telescopic rod is welded to the flat bracket of the U-bolt and a metal flange is welded to the other end (where it bolts to the fairing shell). Making mounting brackets out of telescopic rods allow you to make adjustments to the fairing shell position without having to re-fabricate new brackets. This came in handy because when I was all finished, I had a nasty foot rub issue on the right hand side. I had to lift the entire body up about 2 inches!

The nose bracket mounts to the bottom bracket shell with a U-bolt made for the same dimension.

I know - the welding doesn't look very pretty. I don't know why I can't learn this lesson, but I should really take the time to cut out steel flanges rather than use that crap galvanized steel - it's very bad to weld.

I welded nuts to the flanges and the fiber glass fairing shell is fastened to the mounting brackets with small bolts. The left hand shell is fastened first because it is reinforced with stiffening ribs. The right hand fairing shell cups over the left one (they overlap by about 1/2 inch) and is held in place with small bolts also

Then I made cuts for the doors and the foot holes

And finally, I cut up one of my many practice gravity formed PETG canopy bubbles and added a small windshield.

I was surprised to find that it was very easy to get in and out of. I probably cut the foot holes too big in the forward direction, but the long foot hole on the right extends back just far enough that I can stand up and stay balanced while holding the streamliner steady with the steering tiller.

It's a blast to ride! I was on it for an hour zooming around the neighborhood streets. Stopping and starting is fairly easy - you just have to be very careful to make sure that you are in your easy starting gear before you stop! Also starting on an upgrade is more difficult, but I'll get used to it.

The first thing that was evident is that I need more gears! I was in the top gear all the time and just spinning away without much effort. I want to be able to easily remove the fairing shells so I can ride the M5 (naked), and I do not want to make any permanent changes to the M5 gearing. So I'm not really sure what to do. I could put a super large chain ring on the front, but I don't think I would be able to continue to use my rear derailleur with the small chain ring (the gear tooth spread between the largest and smallest would be too big for the rear der cage to handle). The other option is a geared bottom bracket (Speed Drive), but then I would lose my SRM. The last option is to add a geared rear hub - don't know much about those, and I think they are fairly expensive and a bit less efficient than gearing.

Does anyone have an old 80 tooth front chain ring lying around that they would like to sell me?

The next thing I want to do, is to bond some neoprene covers over the foot holes to block air flow (It was pretty windy down there!). I considered making a removable door cover out of fiberglass with a PETG canopy bubble, but the purpose of this streetliner is to do some serious training in it. It has to be ROBUST, comfortable and cool! I think that a neoprene body-sock door covers that can be snapped into place or rolled back is the way to go. With both doors fully open, it gets VERY breezy in there. I would think that with the neoprene covers on, and the floor holes mostly covered up, it will be MUCH faster, but still quite comfortable and cool due to my head being exposed to the air flow.

The other thing that I want to do is to reinforce some of the cracked fiberglass ribs and holes, etc in the shells. A new paint job would be nice, but again, I want this machine to be robust and tough enough to withstand leaning against walls, tipping over, etc, etc. Perhaps just a fresh coat of grey primer because I can do that myself in my garage.

If you are in need of a little motivation today, check out these awesome inspiring photos from RAAM 2006: http://gallery.raceacrossamerica.org/ Man, I could look at those photos all day! Very cool. Check this out: Fred Bothling is 60 years old and he's currently in 6th place in the Enduro division! I'm getting all psyched up for my 12 hour ride tomorrow - the 320 km Highwood Pass Loop is calling my name!!

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