View Full Version : and he's off...

james folkes
01-19-2010, 07:49 PM
right-oh, started welding today. you can only spend so long accumulating components before you have to start doing actual construction after all. i nearly got brave and used the oxy acetylene, but had a quick test and discovered that i haven't magically got better at it since i last tried, so mr mig it is.

rear wheel alignment... blinking flip that gave me a head-ache. i am expecting to come back to it tomorrow and discover that the wheel is still wonky in some way. i did have to employ some fairly unusual clamping and forcing methods to get it all in the right place, for a start i was convinced that the dishing on the rear wheel was way off, but after fashioning a simple jig to check it discovered that no, it was all just user error...

so yeah. nothing really much to report (i can't get the pics off my phone as bluetooth has conked out) and no actual questions as such at the moment, but i thought you'd kind of be interested.

more later.


ps. anyone used a high roller to tow a trailer?

01-19-2010, 11:23 PM
ps. anyone used a high roller to tow a trailer?

I built a Cycle Bully trailer without power, so it's just a pull trailer at the moment, and hitched it to my High Roller. I built the hitch to attach to the triangle where the seat stays join the small square tubing that supports the back of the seat. I haven't loaded it with any weight yet, because I haven't quite finished the center stand I designed for it. I'll post pics when I finish the stand. Anyway, it's certainly possible, and seems to work fine.

01-20-2010, 01:44 PM
Looking forward to the pics James and you too BC. I'm putting a trailer in the plan early, I have an idea for the hitch, lets see what you both think.
I'm welding a pin on either side of the rear dropouts pointing outward. The hitch will be a U shaped piece reaching from side to side going around the rear tire with a support coming down from the rear rack I'm thinking shock cord with pvc tube to limit upward travel. I'm hoping this will allow the vertical movement required. The trailer will be a one wheeler that I'm envisioning and will pivot on a pin welded on the U.
Looking forward to see your solutions, I'm not too proud to copy if either of you comes up with something better!

james folkes
01-20-2010, 02:20 PM
very interesting...

most of my ideas on hitches are based on the experiences of the editor of velo-vision magazine, one peter eland. his website shows details of his trailer hitches, that being www.eland.org.uk, interestingly he did make a hitch that worked off a 'u' section enclosing the rear wheel, but abandoned it as by putting the pivot point behind the rear wheel, every time the trailer swung from side to side it displaced the back wheel of the bike, doom!

i am building a 12 volt, bike trailer sound system for use at critical mass style events, plus a bit of stealth partying in my surrounding countryside (i wrote off my panel van at new year and owing to a poor financial situation will be unable to replace it for the foreseeable, 9k of martin audio's finest is probably going to stay in the lock-up this year, hence the focus on more portable pa). the beast weighs in at over 80kg, a not insignificant amount, especially given my home city's challenging topography. we need a very strong hitch and we need a very safe hitch... at the moment, plan is to weld nuts onto the frame for locating a towing bracket like peter's.

anyway, i came back to my rear wheel today and eyed it up it in every way i thought of, conclusion? it's probably straight enough. i finished the weld and cut the fish mouths for the head tube today, little steps... i'm doing it at work during break and lunch time, plus a bit after hours as there is more space and tooling there, but it is frustratingly hard to find the time to make real progress.


01-20-2010, 03:30 PM
I'm welding a pin on either side of the rear dropouts pointing outward. The hitch will be a U shaped piece reaching from side to side going around the rear tire with a support coming down from the rear rack I'm thinking shock cord with pvc tube to limit upward travel. I'm hoping this will allow the vertical movement required. The trailer will be a one wheeler that I'm envisioning and will pivot on a pin welded on the U.

likebikes, remember a 4 months back at our MNHPVA bike meeting(i know its hard, were getting older) There was a guy that had a quick release set up on his recumbent with the air hose connection ends. It was extremely flexable and he was pulling 90lbs. You may remember.... but it just popped into my head reading this.

01-20-2010, 07:37 PM
have a read through all the threads on making trailer mounts as BC has one version & i have several other variants on the theme as well


John Lewis
01-21-2010, 03:22 AM
I have tried a number of hitches. The first used a quick release rod end type joint from a boat. It worked on the upright bike with the hitch at the back of the seat. That location is not so good on a bent. The hitches work better on the low chainstay close to the rear wheel.

My next one on the power trailer used the air fittings mentioned above as the joiner. The trailer end had a coil spring partly in a tube with a piece of hose up the middle. I never had any trouble with that despite the weight. I think I posted a pic on this site but can't recall which thread. Probably one of sir joeys.

I am now using the coil spring and hose section as the swivel as before but have given up on the expensive air fittings. Instead I use two pieces of tubing. In fact one is a piece of handlebar. The spring slides inside and is held with a bolt. I leave about 6 coils visible before it bolts into the hitch. The larger tube is mounted to the bike at the chainstay on a two wheeler and bolted on the centre bearing mounting tube on the wolf. The thinner tube goes inside about 1.5" and a spring pin goes through to keep it together. I also have a safety strap.

I can post an image if you wish.

John Lewis

james folkes
01-22-2010, 02:34 PM
well, at the end of my first week cutting steel i am slightly disappointed with progress, but lunch break is over so quickly, and students keep wanting me to help them with their projects... i shouldn't complain, it is my job after all. besides which, there are perks. did i mention the tct cold cut chop saw? accurate to within half a degree, and it really is too.

annoyingly i seem not to have transferred the picture of the rolling chassis, or the one of my particularly mingin' welding, but anyway, the story so far...

http://img64.imageshack.us/img64/9095/img0330q.jpg (http://img64.imageshack.us/i/img0330q.jpg/)

http://img714.imageshack.us/img714/7849/img0324c.jpg (http://img714.imageshack.us/i/img0324c.jpg/)

lots of fun, lots and lots of fun.

i am quite surprised by the low height of the boom (don't know why, it's pretty obvious really in that it is going to start at just over 13" from the ground and slope up at around 17 degrees from horizontal). it's kind of good and bad, mostly good though. one of the reasons i chose the high roller design was a wish to be a bit higher off the ground than many comparable recumbents (car drivers tend to be a bit dozy in uk, not very cycle aware), stradling the chassis i discovered there is plenty of room for me to jack the seat up a few inches, which has the added bonus of reducing the height of my feet relative to my torso, reducing the risk of circulation related numbness.

i have bought some phifertex fabric to make some barnett williams style slung seats, as per the destructions on www.recycledrecumbent.com, one for this and one for the tourmaster. i think the stock zombie seat probably looks the part more, but i think i'm convinced on the virtues of the fabric seat for now. i can always change it...

i'd wanted to have it done in time for a friday night ride (http://www.sheffieldfridaynightride.org.uk/), but they set off in five minutes, so i think i've missed it for this month. deadline extended!

more next week.


james folkes
01-22-2010, 04:15 PM
annoyingly i seem not to have transferred the picture of the rolling chassis, or the one of my particularly mingin' welding...

errant muppetry, they were right under my nose all along.

http://img402.imageshack.us/img402/2074/img0337l.jpg (http://img402.imageshack.us/i/img0337l.jpg/)

aforementioned mingin' welding. some of it is ok to be fair, but i think i need to re-visit power settings and feed speed as i did make a teeny hole in the tube once. i'm still pretty convinced it's better than it would have been if i'd have used oxy.

http://img690.imageshack.us/img690/7066/img0336e.jpg (http://img690.imageshack.us/i/img0336e.jpg/)

and, joy of joys, a rolling chassis. of sorts. i'm fairly certain it's in the close enough for government work category of alignment. i was pretty convinced it was all going pear shaped on more than one occasion, but it seems to be bob-on? i think those oversize fork legs from the lardy raleigh max look pretty cool, i remember when they came out, how i craved one over my lack-lustre mustang sis.

i shall locate the rear drop-out tabs before cutting them off their seat stays. i've gone off the idea of keeping them attached to the stays, despite the fact that it solves the brake post problem and saves you loads of time. i just prefer the lines of brad's bike to those that have a more conventional rear triangle, although the winner might be the greater stability and efficacy fork mounted brakes will provide.

the bottom bracket assembly is coming on nicely and will be done soon, but i must push on with the seat and bars as they will determine all the next welding priorities... damn it, this is all taking too long... i want to ride it NOW!


01-23-2010, 12:38 AM
It's looking cool! You'll be riding in no time.


james folkes
01-25-2010, 03:31 PM
today's mission of bottom bracket assembly has been more or less fulfilled.

http://img246.imageshack.us/img246/1245/p1220048.jpg (http://img246.imageshack.us/i/p1220048.jpg/)

the only steel i could find was 6mm plate, a good 1/3rd more beefy than the spec stock. i considered grinding it down a bit, but figured it would just end up looking messy. the plates also ended up a weener bit too short, i've had to go for m8 bolts over m10, the closest metric size to 3/8", there just wasn't quite enough steel to house the larger bolt. not quite sure why i'm bothered, m8 are totally nails, i've trusted my life on one many times...

tomorrow i start the seat frame, pipe benders at the ready! drop-out tabs might be squeezed in at some point too. i think i shall entrust one of my keen helpers to dremel off the brake posts from the donor seat stays, in preparation for fixing to the rear fork; there's a whole gaggle of kids that lurk in my workshop during lunch, they are keen as mustard engineers and want to help with everything. i just need to remember they function best with simple tasks, explained and demonstrated well...

progress is steady, i wonder if i can ride it home end of next week?..


01-25-2010, 10:52 PM
Don't be in too much a hurry, it's coming along very nicely. You'll be riding before I will by the look of it, stay the course and make it as perfect as you can.

james folkes
01-26-2010, 02:35 PM
Don't be in too much a hurry, it's coming along very nicely. You'll be riding before I will by the look of it, stay the course and make it as perfect as you can.

wise words indeed, oh that i possessed the clarity of judgement to heed them...

i had a bit of a one step forward, two steps back kind of day. we had enough 3/4" steel tube in stock to make the seat, twice over in fact. we now have a pile of bits of wonky pipe with creases and kinks (some of which migrated the length of the workshop between metalworking area and far wall at significant velocity), and i'm suddenly rather short of material. i'm going to have a ferret in the garden for some 20mm conduit (i used to br a sparky, surely i have some knocking about?), but if i can't find anything suitable i'm scuppered for now.

moral of the story? when you're of stern temperament, don't build push-bikes.


ps. oh yeah, whilst i'm here, my cranks seem to be biased toward the right hand side of the bike, a side effect being the front chainset is now way out of range of the mech, indicating that something, somewhere is awfully wrong. have i just put the bottom bracket axle in back to front?

01-26-2010, 11:02 PM
Turn the axle around & check! No difference, then you have welded the BB stays to far to the right!

If welds are wrong, grind & start again!


John Lewis
01-27-2010, 08:46 AM
AS Peter says. Chances are you have put the axle in back to front. On occasion I have used that to advantage and put it in deliberately backward to solve a problem. Measure from the inside of the pedal crank to the boom on both sides to see how far you are out. If that distance is the same both sides then the problem may be elswhere.

John Lewis

01-27-2010, 11:40 AM
some bb axles area fair bit longer one side than the other so definitely check that out first.
Otherwise --- yep, gotta re do the brackets.

james folkes
01-27-2010, 12:52 PM
schoolboy error...

thanks for your help and suggestions guys, turns out that not only did i have the bottom bracket axle in the wrong way round, but also the lovely set of ally cranks with shiny chainset that feature in earlier photographs are, in fact, designed to fit onto a significantly shorter axle. after flipping it round and fitting the stock steel cranks and chainset from the donor vehicle, all was well again. pretty glad i don't have to start chopping anything up.

we didn't have any bolts long enough for the bottom bracket assembly so i did a cut and shut job on a pair of shorter bolts. it's dirty, but it works. that's definitely another item to be rectified when time permits though!

so nothing built today, but i did rectify the earlier blunder so i can claim some progress.


james folkes
02-02-2010, 04:40 PM
trials and tribulations concerning the rear brake posts are detailed elsewhere, meanwhile...

drop-out tabs. hmm...

http://img524.imageshack.us/img524/4823/img0019rc.jpg (http://img524.imageshack.us/i/img0019rc.jpg/)

i made a bit of an educated guess for the angle of the tabs, guided partly by the shape of the mating parts. they're pitched a bit funny (not as extremely as in the picture, the main boom is in a bench vice so everything is on the skew) but that's not an issue really. as you can see i have had to hack back a good bit of the original fork tab on the drivetrain side, to try and make space for the derailleur hanger. i've lost the little captive nuts that go in the tabs and secure the hanger too, this is most exasperating.

more tube for the seat should arrive tomorrow, bearing pulleys soon after. i'd really like it for half term, so i've got a bit of an impending deadline. just gotta make sure i keep my cool and do it right...


james folkes
02-04-2010, 07:35 PM
today saw the resolution of the rear brake post situation (hurrah), again detailed elsewhere, and arrival of both the steel stock for the seat and the bearing pulleys. i had a good session with the bender; it's a cracking bit of kit actually, i just needed to take a little bit of time to get to know it properly.

http://img36.imageshack.us/img36/9960/img0476zg.jpg (http://img36.imageshack.us/i/img0476zg.jpg/)

http://img98.imageshack.us/img98/7120/img0478u.jpg (http://img98.imageshack.us/i/img0478u.jpg/)

and there we have it! a complete pile of components for seat frame construction. i need to have a fish-mouthing and end-capping bonanza tomorrow, but i expect to be taking home a completed seat frame for stitching the phifertex cradle to this weekend. the seat really is the key to all the next operations, determining bottom bracket location and steering component construction as it does. i have a feeling things will really take off when that's done.

another job on the to-do list is the rear triangle. as the seat will be an independent entity i might just as well sling some 1" square tube on following the build guide angles and distances, i'll leave it long and let the seat stays meet it where they feel and look happy.

the bearing pulleys are pretty sweet, although the 4" is definitely nicer. they ride nicely on the 10mm shaft which i cut a thread on the end of (couldn't find a bolt and i forgot how much fun taps and dies are) and i'm sure a mounting tab is a ten minute exercise. i tried to re-shape the groove on the pulleys but it didn't really work out, i'll crack them apart and stick them on the lathe, should come out quite nicely.

i'm feeling back on schedule. a pair of brand spankers drive trains, a nice kevlar belted slick, a classy front wheel and equally swish rear with six speed cassette and a pair of brake blocks for the back end have all come out of a pal's garage to be donated to the cause, momentum for the project is gaining... i just need to get in some cables ready for when the rest is done so i'm not left with a single speed unstoppable mount.


02-04-2010, 08:44 PM
It's coming along well. I'm especially looking forward to seeing your seat construction. There have been other web/sling type seats built on this forum but I haven't quite had the confidence to start one yet. Every bit helps to be sure, maybe I'll be ready to build one for my trike project next year,

02-04-2010, 09:38 PM
we didn't have any bolts long enough for the bottom bracket assembly so i did a cut and shut job on a pair of shorter bolts. it's dirty, but it works. that's definitely another item to be rectified when time permits though!


Meant to mention this before.
I use cut sections of "All thread" for bolts if I dont have any long enough. Use a nut and washer at each end. Always the correct length then.
On the cheap shelves in the hardware nut and bolt section you can often find acorn "dome" nuts to suit the all thread. A neat alternative.

james folkes
02-05-2010, 04:50 PM
another productive day indeed... i managed to cap the seat frame tubes and get them fish-mouthed and welded together. it really does look remarkably like a seat, i'm quite shocked at how not that difficult it actually was. likebikes, they're a cinch. not got as far as covering it and sitting in it to actually see if it's any good, but the construction is certainly far less of a headache than i first envisaged, so i think you should definitely have a crack at it for your trike.

http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/2407/img0483u.jpg (http://img23.imageshack.us/i/img0483u.jpg/)

now then, that really is starting to look like a bike. ok, i know i already said that, but you know how it goes... as you can see i also got stuck in to the rear triangle concept, although i ran out of time before i could get to grips with the seat stays, which need some work before they'll be ready to go on.

something i am particularly keen to avoid is any possibility of my bum hitting the newly installed seat support tube. it looks perilously close as is, but i do plan to raise the seat height by a good couple of inches in order to both improve my field of view in traffic, and pretty much eliminate the rise from hip to feet that might cause blood flow problems on really long rides. i think the trick here is going to be the fabrication of some really fab seat mounts, outriggers from the main boom that support the seat stretcher bar, some 3/4" pipe clamps would be pretty handy at this point too.

i'm also totally convinced that there is at least one tin of black hammerite metal paint lurking somewhere amongst my worldly goods, that too, would be exceedingly useful. i need to turn the seat around this weekend in order that i might get all the related bits and bats underway next week. so near, yet so far...


02-05-2010, 11:07 PM
that seat looks as if it will be so comfy.
A tip from John Lewis that I found to be a brilliant idea is to use that wide brown plastic parcel tape as a temporary seat material.
It really works well.

02-07-2010, 05:39 PM
Those are nice bends you've done there, I agree, it looks nice. Is the single tube going across the bottom supporting the whole seat going to be enough? I don't know what you weigh, but I have a sinking feeling that I'd be enough to bend it.

02-07-2010, 07:06 PM
Personally I would add another at the main bottom bend (back of the butt) and another close to the top but then again I do have a habit of over engineering at times

james folkes
02-08-2010, 08:24 PM
hmm, now that you mention it... i suppose some extra bracing wouldn't have gone amiss, however the seat is built as per the design on recycledrecumbent.com (www.recycledrecumbent.com) and as you can see from the gallery there, there are a hell of a lot of this style of home built seat knocking around. if they did suffer from a catastrophic flaw i would have suspected someone would have pointed it out by now. touch wood?

so, not too much done today, i painted the seat frame over the weekend (good old xylene based paint too, i think i'm still dizzy now) and even though it's a bit blobby i really don't care, you won't be able to see when the cover is on. i managed to track down a darning needle, so hopefully i'll get sewing in a bit. progress at work was limited to bending some little clamp bolts out of threaded rod for anchoring the seat, and adding the seat stays to make the rear triangle deserving of the title.

http://img407.imageshack.us/img407/3642/img0092x.jpg (http://img407.imageshack.us/i/img0092x.jpg/)

if i'm entirely honest, my building has been leaning in the direction of the slightly slap-dash; not sloppy as such, but i am probably not being quite as careful about alignment on these later components as i possibly might be. maybe that's not it, maybe i'm just getting better at it? stuff is going on straight and true with the minimum of fuss and effort, hopefully this trend will continue.

the rear triangle has had a profound effect on the feel of the chassis, and that is just pushing it around the workshop. i feel much more confident in my creation as a result, i had faith before sure, but the blind faith of the optimistic constructor, this has now been superseded by very physical sensations.

darn... just checked and the paint hasn't gone off enough yet to stitch the seat, so i shall turn my hand to handlebar fabrication tomorrow after going as far as i can with the seat mounting outriggers. i plan to weld some more tube onto some existing bars in order that they will be long enough to fit in the pipe bender and be shaped to my desired profile. i'm thinking granny bars in format, but a slightly harder turn on the wrist, slightly further apart. i'll see what feels comfy...


james folkes
02-09-2010, 08:17 PM
maybe i'm just getting better at it? stuff is going on straight and true with the minimum of fuss and effort...


so you just know that i shouldn't have said that... the physics technician at school used to build welding machines for a living, he occasionally casts his eyes on my work and sucks air through his teeth. today, he informed me that the seat support bit of the rear triangle is twisted. after close inspection it turns out he is right, thing is it is bob-on with the rest of the chassis; structurally it will do pretty much the same job as it would do if it were rotationally correct, i mean it might be biased to flex more one way than another but really, i don't think you'd notice that...

so you know what? i don't care. i mean obviously i do care, but i am cultivating just the right amount of acceptance of minor imperfections that will allow me to finish the build in good time and with a clear conscience. i've never built a bike before, i've never really made anything like this adventurous, a situation i am sure many of you can empathise with, and i always though of the high roller as a test bed for the building skills that i would be using to build the next, more important series of machines... in my mind it's all about the tourmaster, although the more i look at my high roller, the more i realise what a capable and versatile tool it could turn out to be.

today i built seat brackets and fitted a rack, reflectors and a front mudguard, not much to see. turns out the final coat of paint on the seat frame, done in a solvent fuelled haze at the end of a long day, wasn't particularly good. there are drips that are all squishy still, lumps on the all downward surfaces, i've really done a terrible job... this too, frees my burden with the rest of the build. i've done it badly but i'm not going to do it again, it looks a bit funny but it'll work essentially as the maker intended. being the maker in this case uniquely qualifies me for this outlook. the next one can be nicer, it's a learning curve after all...


02-09-2010, 09:51 PM
Both of my bikes are off a small amount here and there. My 9 foot long LWB is not perfect but rode quite nice. As for the seat having only one bottom brace, I followed the link and you were of course correct. I wonder if they didn't use something heavier like a piece of ChroMo frame material to make the bottom brace. Not trying to take you down a notch, I want your ride to be a winner. I have a problem myself which I didn't anticipate that might set my project back.

John Lewis
02-10-2010, 11:26 PM
James, I'm chiming in late here about your seat. It will be plenty strong enough just as you have built it. I have built six seats like that with only the two supports. I used 16mm X 1.6 mm tube. Thats about 5/8" X1/16" mild steel tube. Mine has over 8000 km on it. some went to big guys and no problems.

Chris was here this morning so I snapped a couple of shot of his seat and mount for you. This is my most recently built recycled recumbent. Chris has now ridden 1500 km on this bike.

The only thing we are seeing is the seat material stretching at the seams and that may need reinforcing later. The steel is rock solid.
The Seat - Note only two supports

The mount


John Lewis

02-11-2010, 02:17 PM
Nice pics John! I'm usually cautious so I'm glad my concerns were unnecessary. I'd like to see more of that clamp, it looks very well engineered. The screw clamps are obvious but there is a black component, probably metal cut from tubing as best I can see being used.

james folkes
02-11-2010, 02:42 PM
yup, just like that!

thanks john, nice pictures. i take it you find them to be a decent seat design if you've made that many of them. the mount is verging on subtle, very nice solution. mine will be heavier and possibly less pleasing, but i'm half way through so i'm not going to change it now, the next one however...

having realised i'm not going to have it done for friday i have eased off the pace quite a bit, i'm still fiddling around with rack brackets and mudguard mounts. i will return to school after the holidays with a finished seat though, that will pick things up again i'm pretty confident.


John Lewis
02-12-2010, 08:09 AM
Yes. That black metal piece is some tube I had that was just the right size to fit the seat tube. I split it into halves. I also found some tube that fit the main tube. It came from a BMX, and did likewise.
I took a piece of each about 6 -8 inches long. Not critical. I drilled a hole in the centres and pop riveted them at right angles. I then welded them together. Actually on this bike it is a fillet braze. Afterwards I drilled out the pop rivet.

Hope thats clear. If not I'll take mine off the bike and photograph it.

John Lewis

james folkes
03-08-2010, 05:27 PM
all quiet on the eastern front, what?

so then, quite a few weeks have elapsed since the last update, several dates when i expected to be showing a completed bicycle have come and gone in a now familiar pattern; you'd think i'd get out of this arbitrary deadline habit, but it somehow persists...

one of the main reasons for this procrastination is definitely the seat. the build guide reckons you can stitch a seat cover on during the course of a football game. now, whilst i'm sure that is a slightly more drawn out affair than our 90 minutes plus extra time of soccer, my endeavour was closer to - continuing the sporting metaphor - test match cricket. this curious event can go on for five days and result in a draw, much like my seat. i am through the worst of it now, but i am not overly thrilled with the end result. future seats will undoubtedly involve a different method of attaching fabric to frame. anyway, whilst the top and bottom are yet to be hemmed and the flaps around the sides are not yet trimmed, i did get the first opportunity to plonk the seat on the frame and actually sit on my new bike.

this is some kind of landmark event, and definitely the epiphany i had rather hoped it would be. i kept having to remind myself i was sat on a bicycle! i tell you, i could have nodded off... but yeah, this is what it's all about, eradicating the pain of the diamond frame upright and transforming the already marvellous experience of cycling into something altogether more sublime. this is going to be a very comfortable bicycle...

it was an awesome feeling, work is spurned on and the project finds momentum increasing again. the end is in sight, whilst there's a load of fiddling to be done, i'm pretty sure the installation of the seat will make everything else fall into place now.

there will be of course be pictures, and with any joy, i'll be riding home at the end of the week...


03-08-2010, 09:59 PM
I know the feeling James, I'm a big time procrastinator. It's hard to believe I started at the same time Bad Cheese began the bannana boat and he not only finished, he probably has a thousand miles on it by now, if not more. I just cleared the garage! It's great when you take the first ride, it's worth all the trouble.

John Lewis
03-09-2010, 08:23 AM
Good to see you have made some progress James despite procrastinating. It's a great feeling to finally sit on that bike you've built. :scooter:

If you look at the photo of the seat I did you'll see it is not stitched to the frame. What I've done is stitch two pockets. Its a doubled layer. Down the pockets is threaded some brake cable outer. Then cable ties are threaded through the mesh as you can see. You need to leave a few inches for the stretch. On others where I had more material I took the fabric round the seat rails about 3 or 4 inches each side and then laced with elastic cord across the back. I like that better than the cable tie method actually.
savarin has mentioned on the forum that it is possible to make the pockets without stitching. He uses silicon baking paper between the fabric and a hot iron and melts the fabric together. Perhaps he will chime in and fill in the details again.

John Lewis

03-09-2010, 05:31 PM
Sorry John,
I use the hot iron and silicon paper just to put the folds in place so its easier to stitch.
It does weld the mesh in places but not sufficient to be used without stitching.
The one I just welded used eye rivets and needed no stitching.
The rivets held up with no problems using the shock cord method of lacing

03-09-2010, 08:49 PM
When I tried this on a piece of scrap screen, it held up fairly well. I was able to get it to pull apart with much difficulty but it was only a 2" piece. I was thinking of trying it for my seat.

savarin, have you tried to use this method without stitching?

03-10-2010, 02:57 AM
When I tried this on a piece of scrap screen, it held up fairly well. I was able to get it to pull apart with much difficulty but it was only a 2" piece. I was thinking of trying it for my seat.

savarin, have you tried to use this method without stitching?

only where I used the eyelets. Its so simple to stitch as well I decided it was stronger to do so.
My last attempt at welding didnt work.
I thinking that the mesh was older and had a slight mould problem and this may have prevented the welding action.

james folkes
03-11-2010, 08:12 PM
ahh... today was... interesting!

some progress and some discoveries. let's start with progress.

http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/7792/img0687u.jpg (http://img687.imageshack.us/i/img0687u.jpg/)

so as you can see, it's almost there. i finished my seat brackets, cut down my U shaped bits of all-thread, made a tab for the chain management pulleys, joined no less than three (yikes!) chains together and attached all of the above to the rolling chassis. i also cut down and capped the boom, the cap has two m6 nuts welded on the inside for mounting a light bracket on. this should avoid your feet catching the in the beam and irritatingly flashing as you pedal, which i have a feeling would happen if i mounted on the derailleur tube. it would look slightly more trick in the pictures if the drive side chain was actually sat in its pulley, but yeah, badass.

http://img690.imageshack.us/img690/1825/img0688d.jpg (http://img690.imageshack.us/i/img0688d.jpg/)

more of that un-seated chain, and a detail of my rather over-engineered seat brackets. you also begin to get an idea of just what a pig's ear i made of upholstering the seat, although from some other angles it looks quite a bit worse. but... it's all cool you know? i mean, this is kind of like a prototype anyway...

...not least of all because of a rather interesting development. if you look at the first picture and superimpose in your mind's eye a lanky pilot at the controls, you might concur that they are going to have a few problems touching the floor. it's all about the seat you see, the tapering panel in the original design allows the rider to drop a leg easily, the cosy slung bucket permits no such antics!

i kind of went about the whole seat/rear triangle interaction in the wrong way. i welded in the seat tube following the guideline dimensions in the build plan, figuring the slung seat would effectively place you in more or less the same place as a foam covered ply affair. seemingly not, i think i have ended up marginally higher, but quite a bit further forward than i might have planned to. the crank is now miles up the front boom. no hard interference for this boy, although my centre of mass will be moved a bit, plus i've made it awfully difficult to even get on in terms of the limited clearance between the head tube and the front lip of the seat.

i'm quite near to a working machine, if i can get the stem knocked together tomorrow i can push it home and do the cycle parts at my leisure in the evening. at this point it is pretty much unthinkable to consider changing the whole seat construction and installation. i intend to use a seat of this kind on my tourmaster (need it in time for summer too, but that's another story) so actually i really don't mind the idea of taking that slung seat off and replacing it with a more conventional one, or perhaps a more esoteric solution. whatever, i am thinking that i might well find the whole leg-swinging and dedicated topples that not being able to put a foot down too easily will entail, a bit too much to put up with, so the above picture might very well change before too long.

all said though, the excitement more than makes up for the problems. it's a bike. a recumbent at that. i made it myself. it's not perfect. who cares? i made it myself. ha. good.


03-12-2010, 02:35 PM
Like the seat, I'm going to have to try to make one of those. Yours looks nicer than mine, but I have a saying, I can't see it while I'm riding and neither can anyone else!
Steering components next? keep the pics coming.

james folkes
03-12-2010, 09:18 PM
thank you likebikes, and you are quite right of course, cosmetic appearances really only count for so much. i am worried that there might be some structural issues with the way i have done bits of the stitching, but i refer to the word prototype, earlier alluded to as the master get-out clause.

so anyway. i did indeed knock together some steering components today, i also loaded the beast up with about 35 kg of tat i needed to take home from work and pushed it the 6-and-a-bit miles home. being only short of one v-brake noodle i was able (with the help and guidance of my dear friend and cycle guru ed) to get the thing geared up and ready for a test run on front brake only.

during this process we discovered several interesting things. for one, the rear drop-out tabs are indeed at too steep a rake, meaning the rear mech is not moving correctly. the chain is pretty damn long and some slack could be taken out of it, were it not for the fact that it pulls the idler pulley frame into the cassette... not good! it still happens when in big front ring and big back ring, an unusual combination that you wouldn't do on a normal bike, but which i figured the long chain of the bent would probably render possible. this can probably be rectified a bit by modifying the rear mech to sit at a different angle, presumably by making a new hole for the m4 screw that goes at the top of the tab. that should allow me to take up some of the slack in the chain, which would be good as currently the drive side chain can jump out of its pulley at a moments notice. i will have to make a little keeper bar that stops the chain from making a break for freedom.

up at the front end, the bottom bracket bolts foul the chain when in granny ring. i shall probably dispense with the bolts and replace them with a U bolt made of bar welded to a backing plate. this could be kept nice and low profile, should work fine.

you need really long cables on these machines... my rear shifter is on the stem just below the bars, that's as far up as i could get it. the bars themselves have worked out quite nicely. after butchering a lovely set of alloy mountain bike bars in the pipe bender (not sure that will have done them any good, they certainly put up one hell of a fight) and then tweaking them in the vice with a length of heavy guage steel pipe as an extension, they have ended being really rather comfy!

so we took it out for a test. after nearly destroying some rather nice cars on my very steep street (and receiving a crippling blow between the legs) i returned to the house to tape some padding over the head tube, then set off for the local all-weather sports pitch. kind of like a big sandpit, it is large, flat (although far from smooth) and most importantly of all, a soft landing. which is lucky really, as i fell off a lot. so did ed.

after a while things settled down a bit and we managed to stay on for a fairly long while at a time, although owing to the seat issues which i detailed in the previous post, starting and stopping are both extremely hazardous enterprises, only one of which is guaranteed to be successful. we have not yet found a way of dismounting with a great deal of dignity, and if - sorry when - you fall off, it is quite a job to extricate yourself from the cockpit.

but when you're up and running, it all starts to make a bit more sense. ultimately it's all got to change, the seat is wonderfully comfortable but utterly dangerous. the handlebars rest in a natural and pleasing position but the steering is, once again, pretty dangerous. shame i haven't got a picture, but you'd probably question it if you saw it as it looks pretty suspect to start with. as the seat was so close to the stem i sent it forwards from the steering tube and the the gooseneck snaked back over top to meet the bars. i thought that this wouldn't be any different to a riser that came off the rear of the steering tube to the same point, although i'm no longer so sure. the set of bars i made the riser from are pretty thin walled tube it seems, and are certainly flexing more than one could have thought healthy. i mean really, you can bend the bars about quite a bit. it may well absorb road buzz, but it adds to the general steering unease.

so in some ways, i'm feeling pretty good, as i have managed to ride my creation. it goes and it stops, and it's very comfortable doing it. on the other hand it is fundamentally flawed and i need to rip loads of it to pieces and start again, plus spend a while sorting out a goodly number of niggles and construction shortcomings. i was kind of expecting to have a perfect device first time out, looking back i realise how naive this was. i've deviated from the plans and in some ways am paying the price, but at the same time i'm also enjoying a different learning curve, one that i hope will help me as i continue to try and personalise and tailor my projects.

anyway, i'm rambling now, but i'm pretty excited, so that's fair enough i think.

i rode it. it works and it's really comfortable too. it is also an absolute deathtrap and i'm really not sure it's going to get taken on the public highway in present incarnation, but that doesn't matter. it works, let's just concentrate on that bit.


james folkes
03-12-2010, 11:45 PM
right. i've decided to take it to bits, it clearly isn't right and whilst i might relish the thought of a few more wobbles round the park, that time would be better spent putting it right. that being the case, i thought you'd like a picture of the working machine immediately proir to re-fit.

note the improvised groin protector, in turn covering up the odd backwards geometry of my stem gooseneck. sorry about the crummy picture, a very old camera phone is all i could lay my mitts on.

http://img94.imageshack.us/img94/7466/1303100325.jpg (http://img94.imageshack.us/i/1303100325.jpg/)


John Lewis
03-13-2010, 10:37 AM
James, my SWB has a seat similar to yours and the steerer tube is also close. Very similar clearances to yours. I do have a flip stem though which makes it easier to mount. The bike is rather high and I can barely touch the ground with a toe. I learned to unclip one foot as I come to a stop (actually I unclip both to be on the safe side sometimes) then I lean the bike to that side and turn the steering a little opposite. Apply and hold the brake on and then allow the bike to lean over as I slide as far as I can on the seat. I fell a couple of times while learning but soon became pretty adept at managing the bike.

I intend to make a new seat like the one I put on the Wolf which is a Euromesh clone and quite narrow 10" with a rounded front. I'm also going to lower the seat cross members to get me a couple inches closer to the ground. I've even considered going to a 20" rear wheel. It already has a 20" front. I am a shorty. This is my bike for comparison.

Oh something else to mention. When you extend your arms the bars where you grip should be about the middle of your wrist. This gives a spring like effect that helps the steering. That was a hint I found helpful when first learning.

John Lewis


03-13-2010, 12:25 PM
John is the bar position true(at the wrist when arms extended)for LWB bents also? Still playin around with positions on my EZracer clone.

james folkes
03-13-2010, 10:22 PM
nice machine john, that dropped boom and low front wheel look superb, just the ticket for finding a more natural position without fear of blood flow issues, and it makes the chain routing much smarter too. any mkII may owe much to your design.

today i made a plywood seat and bolted it on to the old mounts. after trying your outstretched arm thing i also bent the stem forwards, the grips are still nowhere near the middle of my wrists but immediately the bike felt natural and predictable. that, coupled with the fact that i can now safely and easily get both feet flat on terra firma, mean i'm thinking tomorrow morning's test ride (following the rectification of a few of the aforementioned niggles) should be a very different affair.

i have a good feeling about this.


james folkes
03-14-2010, 07:28 PM

it works! (mostly).

it's by no means a finished project, but after working my way through a goodly chunk of the long list of tweaks and adjustments, today's visit to the playing field was much more successful. i sat astride, cranked back and pushed off... perfect! i was quickly swooping around the pitch, checking my shifters, stopping and starting, the open road beckoned... i live on the side of a ruddy great hill so it was in at the deep end in terms of rapid descent and then the inevitable climb that followed. both were tackled with minimum terror and without wandering into the path of oncoming traffic.

i have tightened up the bottom bracket axle a touch, attached some pannier bags and strapped on a multitude of scatter cushions to the unforgiving plywood seat. i've not managed to cure the problem of the derailleur hanger, but i shall sort that out tomorrow at work, it only denies me two gears at present anyway. i've forgotten how wonderfully 5 speed sis thumb shifters work, quick and accurate and as i remember, extremely reliable.

if i can track down some decent foam then i'm sure that this plywood seat will be fine. the key will be getting a decent hump in the lumbar area and then just the right curl up, to support my shoulders and bring my head up to a natural and comfortable position, easing fatigue on my neck.

i'll say one thing for it, it's a very springy bike. there is quite a lot of flex along the main boom, the rear forks, stem gooseneck, even the front fork. should make for a bit of suspension for sheffield's infamous pot-holes. these by the way, are in a league of their own. i forget just how bad they are until i visit other cities. but yeah, steel is real man!

into the cut and thrust of rush-hour traffic tomorrow morning for the commute to work. wish me luck!


John Lewis
03-15-2010, 10:22 AM
John is the bar position true(at the wrist when arms extended)for LWB bents also? Still playin around with positions on my EZracer clone.

Yes, I believe so. Have a read through this. There is some useful information here. I thought the wrist position info was here but I must have found it elswhere or perhaps someone told me. I can't really recall. I know it works though. Mark Stonich implies it when talking of the "springer" action in the article below.


03-19-2010, 10:39 AM
John, it's amazing how much effect people can with the world wide web. Graucho and I enjoy Marks creative abilities every month at the Minnesota HPVA meetings. he's a very interesting guy to say the least and a wealth of information.

james folkes
03-19-2010, 02:51 PM
right then, a bit of an update is due i think.

i have been riding to work every day this week on my high roller, getting used to it and working out a few of the little foibles that are bound to come up; and then i took it all to bits to start again... annoyingly, i didn't take any pictures of the bleeding thing first! this is a shame as it was quite pretty, still is quite pretty in fact, but details such as the chain management, cable stops, stem gooseneck and the like, are likely to remain shrouded in mystery as i think the machine is about to change big style.

i don't like it. i mean, i do, kind of, but not enough. it doesn't tick all the boxes that my purpose built bike needs to do, thus it is unacceptable in current form. i debated long and hard over the virtues of starting from fresh, but decided that as the current design is basically useless to me i might just as well hack it up and warp it into the right thing.

what's this all about then? well for starters, the crank is too high in relation to the seat and i'm getting numbness in my feet after only fairly short rides. this also means that i am bringing my knees too close to my chest for comfortable riding, i'm not even sure i can develop the power through the pedals that i ought to because of this. on the subject of cranks, i managed to weld the bottom bracket in back to front, the bearing shells undo themselves with pedalling, d'oh!

the laid back seat angle is good in many ways, nearly spot on in fact, but the way that i slide down the seat when i go over bumps and can't push myself back up with my feet does annoy me, i have to put a hand on the seat and give myself a shove. i crave a slightly more upright position, not by much, but enough to make a difference there. it would be nice if i could find some way of using my lovely mesh seat, it is much more comfy than a bit of plywood with a cushion on!

the steering too, is wrong. not really wrong, but wrong enough to feel skittish and twitchy at some speeds, and not possessing the rock solid tracking that inspires confidence when tanking it down exceedingly steep hills. the trail is 2 1/4", about 2" more than it wants to be, conversely tiller length is roughly 2", about 6" less than it wants to be, all these things contribute. thing is, i can't quite work out how i am going to put the bars somewhere where they will give me the required distances and angles, unless i make the transition to under seat steering, no small task.

i converted to a sealed cartridge bearing bottom bracket (nice!) in the hope that it would be short enough to allow me to fit a chainset with a 22 tooth granny ring. it has, but now means i can't get into big ring, my legs are also slightly splayed in a way which they weren't on the other crank set, this seems to affect comfort and power delivery more than the tiny distance would suggest. no massive chore as it's a trade off i can live with for now, but i must source a shorter bottom bracket axle, currently it is 120mm long.

but, all of those things can kind of be tweaked, fiddled with or simply accepted, the real problem is how the forces are realised when you hit a pot hole. i mentioned there are lots of pot holes in sheffield yeah? i really wasn't joking. on my first big ride to work, on the first bit of downhill even, i hit a fairly small hole in the road and the shock to my right foot made me scream out loud in pain. i did hurt it a while back, running up some stairs and landing on the front half of my foot with the muscles only slightly tensed, resulting in giving them a ruddy great yank that left me limping for a fortnight...

anyway, it's happened a few times now this week, the only way to avoid it is to see all bumps before you hit them and either make sure your heel is on the pedal or that your legs are suitably soft and floppy for you not be able to get such a jolt. the three problems with this are that you want to be on your toes not your heels to develop a decent stroke, you can't always see things coming, plus even when you can, you want to be in full control of the machine, not trying to distance yourself from it. this really is a big problem, it was enough to push my hand and make me decommission the bike, at least until such time as a sprung front end is sourced.

so i'm a bit gutted really, but it is a learning curve isn't it, so i guess it's ok to write the first one off to experience.

the high roller is dead.

long live the high roller.


03-19-2010, 07:20 PM

Well done on your discover tour!

For your first bike build you have done very well.

What you have learned during the entire building process will make it sooooomuch easier to make the next one, and the next one, and the next one :jester:


03-19-2010, 09:44 PM
Best of luck James. Its hard to dump a creation that has a lot of blood sweat and tears in it but sometimes its the only way.
Have you decided upon a replacement style?

james folkes
03-20-2010, 08:05 AM
thanks peter, i'm very aware of the exponential increase in skills and knowledge that constructing this machine has brought about, of course that's half the reason i do it - but yeah - it has already put me in great stead and i don't fear the rebuild, rather i relish it.

savarin, some small part of my heart has indeed been broken, i shall miss her now she's gone... but hopefully not for long? regarding the replacement, i've already got the sketchbook out. i intent to re-use much of what i've done already, but certain design choices are forcing my hand. i've also got to the annoying point where i need to spend money on the beast...

having decided on front suspension i am doing my best to track down some decent forks, my general experience of suspension components being that only expensive kit tends to work effectively and be able to justify the weight penalty. however, the head tube diameter and type is all wrong, that's not even getting into the head tube angle or the trail length with a taller fork, an effect possibly eradicated or possibly compounded by the fact that i want to make like likebikes and stick a 20" front on. as i can't weld brake posts to alloy fork tubes that 20" will have to be on a disc brake, limiting my choice of front wheel a bit, although £25 will buy me a nice alloy rimmed 48 spoke 20" wheel with a disc hub. i am delighted by the choice of tyres for 20" wheels too, what with all the bmx riders out there you can get everything from insanely sticky slicks to the nobbliest of nobblies.

that's not all though, i intend to drop the boom as far as i can get away with to free up room for the slung seat, possibly by making a cut and bend up to the head tube, then a similar cut and drop to the front boom in order to lower the cranks. i want to use the super comfy mesh and frame seat i made, failing that i wish to make a slightly different version of it that works on this bike frame - the key issue of course being that i couldn't touch the floor before.

bars and steering ergonomics need to change too, although i'd have to use a different stem and that anyway as the existing ones won't fit into a suspension fork steering tube. with the current format i can't seem to find a location that puts the bars in the right place for my wrists whilst keeping them away from my knees and creating a useable tiller length (too little and it's too twitchy, too much and it handles like a narrow boat). i have begrudgingly concluded that the only way around this problem on a short wheelbase 'bent is under seat steering. so err, that's what i've decided to do. how hard can it be? i've been looking at the commercial solutions to under seat steer bikes (with a good eye on the phenomenally comfy looking hase tagun) and it doesn't look too difficult. i think i've even come up with a way of making it adjustable for tiller, although that does necessitate getting the pivot point in just the right place in the first instance. brad's tutorial on the uss mod also gives me some great ideas.

in my minds eye at the moment, my bike is starting to look less and less like a high roller, although spiritually that is what it shall always remain. i have started making a 1:1 scale mock up of my anatomy using bits of wood pinned together at the joints. the idea is to be able to do a 2d layout of all the components in life size to help calculate angles, clearances, distances and such like. this should help prevent some of the unexpected "discoveries" of the last build...

if i hadn't just said my housemate could use the rear end of an aluminium suspension frame i had knocking around, i'd probably be going full suss. that said hopefully a slung seat will just about make up for the lack of a bouncy back end.

watch this space, as they say.


03-20-2010, 10:09 AM
<snip> although £25 will buy me a nice alloy rimmed 48 spoke 20" wheel with a disc hub. <snip>

James, Where can you get such a wheel. That would be about $50 U.S. It's costing me that much just for the parts and I still have to assemble it.

james folkes
03-20-2010, 11:58 AM
hi pete, the wheel is an ebay listing (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/NEW-20-FRONT-DISC-ALLOY-BIKE-WHEEL-48-spoke-10mm-axel_W0QQitemZ280477738841QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_sp ortsleisure_cycling_bikeparts_SR?hash=item414dc6a7 59#ht_500wt_1059), although in retrospect i don't know if it's actually any good. i have asked the vendor for details as to the make and model of hub and rim components. it's funny you should mention building one, i was chatting to my guru about it; he has plenty of posh disc hubs knocking around and suggested i should buy a rim and spokes for about £30 and learn the art of wheel building. he reckons he's never bought a wheel as good as even the first one he made and it's definitely a skill i'd like to acquire.

there is also a this (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=220570963151&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT#ht_500wt_1059), but i'm not going to get involved this far from pay day. damn nice though...


03-20-2010, 05:02 PM
James, Thanx for the info. That wheel, with the 10 mm axle, wouldn't work on a trike which is what I would want to use it for.

james folkes
03-20-2010, 09:53 PM
darn. browser just ate my post.

right. quick precis: aluminium suspension frame now mine again, rear triangle going on my high roller, therefore not my high roller any more as it has entirely new components, thus building second frame, pilfering only cycle components from original. sad in a way, but progress.

my new high roller will now have 20" disc front wheel, hopefully rock shox sid forks (1998 model, not 2008 ones!), under seat steer, rear suspension and a new adjustable mesh seat. possibly not that much of a high roller any more, but definitely sticking to that basic format.

with saddle bags as well as a rear rack it could go head to head with a tourmaster in terms of pure pack horse ability, plus the notion of that mass being fully suspended too puts this bike as a potential touring secret weapon.

all previous disappointment has evaporated and now i am running on pure excitement again.


03-21-2010, 12:37 AM
all previous disappointment has evaporated and now i am running on pure excitement again.


It is this attitude which makes a bike builder great. Try, get beat up a little by "self", accept it, put it behind you, try again with a different game plan. Glad to see your standing tall and up and running again. :rockon:

03-21-2010, 02:44 AM
If it is any encouragement to you james, I have rebuilt most of my Streetfighter, F-RQ, 3 times, different parts at different times and for different reasons, and I haven't really been able to pedal it once yet, and I have been building it for over a year now!


james folkes
03-21-2010, 10:48 AM
three builds and you've still not ridden it peter? wow man, that's devotion to the cause. i'm totally buzzing though, my brain is running overtime in working out different layouts, component options, steering and suspension geometry concepts and such like, there's just so much to take in all at once!

anyway... whilst reading the forum's archive and dabbling for some info about suspension i found a link to an hpv design and build write up called chalky (http://www.autospeed.com/cms/A_111091/article.html?popularArticle). the bit about suspension comes up later on in part two or three i think, you have to search for the other parts as there is no sensible link. anyway, this guy really knows his stuff and has built some very clever machines, however it's the little notes and design criteria that punctuate the articles, plus the real world numbers that contextualise the information, that make it an essential read.

what i read there made me think that there is no point in mucking around with a cheapy "girder with a spring" mountain bike coil over damper assembly, they don't actually perform all the tasks that suspension needs to do. the way to go is an adjustable airbag spring and adjustable damper assembly, both relatively compact and lightweight. like the builder of chalky, i would favour a motorcycle steering damper as they are cheap, readily available and familiar, but i haven't yet located an airbag spring supplier.

as i'm looking at high end, long travel forks (they're cheap as there is a blown seal and they need a complete and tiresomely time consuming service), i'm hoping that they will have the requisite preload and rebound adjustment necessary to set the initial take-up and over travel.

suspension is clearly quite complicated and i'm not sure i should expect to get it right first time...


03-21-2010, 07:48 PM
If you get the suspension right first time, you will be the first one to do so!


james folkes
03-22-2010, 05:19 PM
i've been doing some thinking...

looking at my high roller today at work, i felt more than a slight pang at the thought of canibalising it. well, i actually already have stripped it down to a rolling chassis, but i think i'm going to revive it. it's really not that bad you know, and there's something about it being my first bike and all that makes me want to keep it around.

seeing as i can get away with using all different parts for the replacement and only have to source a 110mm bottom bracket, chains and some cables again, there is no real benefit to getting rid of what is essentially quite a nice bicycle. this being the case i am going to finish the build proper and continue to tweak it. i imagine it'll come in handy before too long, in fact as the new one definitely won't be built in time, i need to have version 1 ready for touring over the coming easter holiday.

there isn't that much to do; reverse the bottom bracket (grr), new seat, new stem, welded rear rack, jobs a good 'un.

it's a beautiful bike and i am justly proud of it, it would be such a shame to waste it.


ps. development of the replacement to my high roller will find a new home in a thread i am about to start, which i think i shall rather unimaginatively title version 2.0.

03-22-2010, 05:40 PM
version 2.0. Great plan james. Hopefully each version will become less painful. :sunny:

james folkes
03-23-2010, 08:40 PM
update on version 1.0...

today i had a go at using my ergonome, as i was informed my anatomical model is called, to re-hash the layout of my high roller and see if i couldn't find a way of incorporating the original mesh seat.

hacksaw and grinder right in there, the rear triangle was lopped off and i laid out the stripped chassis with a few measuring aids and key components and began to try and build the frame up, incorporating as many of the rules of thumb i have picked up on the subject recently as possible. this included going for about 8" of tiller (the head tube and fork combo give about 2 1/4" of trail, which is a bit more than i would like perhaps, but i'm not going to change that yet, if at all), bringing the crank much closer to the front wheel, which will dictate some fancy footwork at times to reduce heel scrub, but which allows me to get my mesh seat back into play, simulated by this cast-off from the construction process, brought right back to the rear wheel. this also positioned my arms at a pretty nice distance from the bars to get a good spring effect in the steering. in theory.

http://img96.imageshack.us/img96/7997/img0345oa.jpg (http://img96.imageshack.us/i/img0345oa.jpg/)

i used little stubs of the original seat mount bars, tack welded level onto the boom just shy of the chain pulley. the gooseneck tube was bent into position and i am using a bit of wood at the back to test seating angles.

http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/9091/img0348dt.jpg (http://img13.imageshack.us/i/img0348dt.jpg/)

i'm pretty pleased with the result thus far, in as much as i can sit on it and just about get both feet on the ground - although far from firmly planted - and i think the slung seat will offer a vital bit of spring in what is quite an unyielding ride. initial perches on the steed are kind of promising, although i think the way to go is to build some kind of adjustability into the rear mount. i have some winding mechanisms from old work benches knocking around, but they are probably a bit too cumbersome. the new rear triangle will incorporate an integral pannier rack, i am trying to think of a terribly cunning way of using it as a structural member and skimping on a bit of weight.

the seat was gratuitously bent into a new profile by putting it upside down on a table and bashing it with a mallet until it looked more appropriate. the phifertex got a bit scuffed and abraded on the corners where it had rubbed, but i'm not particularly fond of that seat as it has been the prime and pretty much sole source of woe in this entire enterprise, hence the rather barbaric treatment...

anyway, this rebuild is flying along, i should be back on the road in no time... famous last words.


03-24-2010, 03:00 AM
Hi James,
have a look at this
It may be of help.
I found having my hands closer to my chest helped more than the superman stretch.
The way the Tailwind solved this was to use huge hoop handlebars dropping to each side so your knees could rise up through them.
I hated that bike. (it bit me real bad)

03-24-2010, 05:06 AM
if you were to move your seat closer to the rear wheel, almost onto the rear axle main boom joint, you would find that you could reach the ground easily with both feet.


03-24-2010, 09:18 AM
if you were to move your seat closer to the rear wheel, almost onto the rear axle main boom joint, you would find that you could reach the ground easily with both feet.


The only problem I see with that is that he is pretty close to crank arm to wheel interference as it is. Moving the seat back would mean moving the BB back which would exacerbate (my $0.25 word of the day) the problem.

03-24-2010, 01:31 PM
I especially like the bearded ergonome!!

james folkes
03-24-2010, 04:16 PM
The only problem I see with that is that he is pretty close to crank arm to wheel interference as it is. Moving the seat back would mean moving the BB back which would exacerbate (my $0.25 word of the day) the problem.

and there's the rub, aye... good word too, i'm still dining out on the occasion i got to justifiably employ the word lexicon in conversation back in january 07.

so yes, i can't really go back any further than i have as the cranks will end up inside the front wheel, they're a bit close for my liking as it is, i'd also totally run out of space for luggage on the rack! at the end of today the bike looks remarkably similar, but i have not been entirely idle. i have had a lot of fiddles with the shape of the seat, curving up the shoulder support a bit more, decreasing the seat to back angle a touch, adjusting the height by just a weeny bit, all made far more difference than i can comfortable conceive, adjustable seats start to look like a very good idea!

have i found the best compromise for now? it's hard to say, but i do need to bite the bullet and finish the job off. i think the key will be in keeping the rear triangle/rack and the seat as two distinctly separate entities in order to keep my options open for the future.

i think the main difficulty i have in getting into the right position is the high cranks. they kind of lift my bum up and help me slide down the seat, this happened really badly when the rear wheel hit a bump on the ply and cushion seat. i have tried to keep as much of a lip on the front of the seat as possible, any more and you can't get your toes down, less and you can't stabilise your backside. interestingly it works out as having the flat parts of the seat bottom pretty much parallel to the main boom. but yeah, it's tricky. these are the inherent ergonomics of the high roller, i'll admit to that being something i hadn't really considered or understood fully when undertaking the build, but as is now well documented, the learning exercise thus far will furnish me bounteously for future enterprise.

the new seat and steering layout does feel pretty nice though, even though i'm very sceptical about the general format. in one way the mesh seat is a step backwards as it doesn't allow me to get the same height in traffic i had before, i did feel kind of obliged to use it though, especially after all the time it's cost me on the rest of the build, plus i need that tiny bit of compliance it offers for the rough roads of my daily hack. i will definitely need a flag now, or at the very least a high visibilty jacket on a stick. i was rather liking the idea of one of those spinning rainbow wind sock things; although the drag coefficient might be a bit high, the combination of movement and colour would surely be very eye-catching.

i haven't really got anything quite suitable for building the rack, it is in serious danger of becoming rather agricultural. 1\2" square tube and 1/2" round are probably the smallest thing in the stockpile, guess i'll just have to be a bit more minimal in deployment.


james folkes
03-24-2010, 04:19 PM
I especially like the bearded ergonome!!

ah well, i was striving for anatomical accuracy...

that said we stopped short of doing my yard of matted hair!


John Lewis
03-25-2010, 09:36 AM
I'm not sure James, but looking at the seat, it would seem you could crib a couple of inches more if you lower the height of the cross bar. Also if you can turn the front in to make it curved like I did on my Euromesh style seat you might find it easier to get a leg down.

John Lewis

james folkes
03-26-2010, 07:59 PM
i think i'll give that a try with the next seat frame for this machine john, particularly the inward curve at the front as i can see that making a huge difference.

today was actually quite productive, i stayed late and got about three hours of quality time with the bike, enough to make a big push on the rear triangle and seat mounts. it's very pretty, or at least i think it is; instead of the 1" square going up the middle there are now two 1/2" square tubes which splay out slightly to meet a rack built from the same material. the seat stays are also made from 1/2" square and cut through the rack, extending up to some adjustable slotted brackets for the seat which give about 3" of travel, hopefully more than enough. i'm just crazy for the appearance of that lattice of thin square tubes, they look so architectural, so bespoke.

it also got me thinking about space frames, a concept that excites me significantly, but definitely a conversation for another day.

i did some creative, or rather destructive grinding on the bits of seat bracket that i have re-used. the new rear rack and triangle are slightly heavier than before, so i am shaving bits off some of the more over-built fixtures and fittings on the frame. the tab for the chain management pulley is going to benefit from some streamlining, and i'm definitely contemplating drilling some holes in the panels of 1/4" plate that make up the bottom bracket assembly too. there's a lot of steel in this bike, it doesn't all need to be there and i'm sure i'll appreciate trimming it down a bit it in the long run, or indeed on a long run.

whilst a picture paints a thousand words, you'll have to wait until monday as i didn't have time to go through the whole camera rigamarole. this also means i must suffer the frustration of not being able to do owt on the bike till monday, just as i was starting to really pick up speed too...


james folkes
03-29-2010, 05:02 PM
whilst a picture paints a thousand words, you'll have to wait until monday as i didn't have time to go through the whole camera rigamarole.

wow, that came around quick...

http://img69.imageshack.us/img69/3999/img0494es.jpg (http://img69.imageshack.us/i/img0494es.jpg/)

...and as promised, a picture of the nearly completed rear end. i shall add a tab for a rear reflector and some hangers for the mudguard, plus the minimal amount of research i have done on the subject suggests i will need to add small rails for the clips of my intended ortlieb luggage system. i haven't actually ordered them yet but as i understand it they are a genuine "buy once" product for life, so the sooner i bite the bullet and cough up the better really. i'm going to take the flap disc to some of the larger welds and just smooth it all down a touch, although i have no intention of taking them all flush.

probably one of the heaviest rear racks i've seen of late, but totally nails. even before the diagonal braces were in you could happily put all your weight on it without it bending, in my case about 12 1/2 stones. i have built it this way partly to support the seat and partly to make sure the racks will take anything i throw at them, even giving fat chicks a ride home! not that i make a habit of that...

quite a bit to do still: reverse the bottom bracket, cut down and re-cap the front boom, mudguards, reflectors, lights, i should do a new stem too, but i'd like to try it in the new position before i commit to building a more substantial one. i haven't ruled out under seat steering as a later mod, but as version 2.0 will have that from inception i suppose it'd be quite nice to keep this one a bit more conventional. a flag pole is on its way from a teacher at school, something to attach to it is in the post, a practically spankers six speed rear wheel and indexed thumb shifter came out of the blue from a friend at the weekend, a 110mm sealed cartridge bottom bracket came from my guru, who also provided a broken reflective sam brown style bandolier thingy, which i intend to stick to the sides of my set rails for mega side-on visibility.

on the subject of flags...

controversial matter on these pages, i've read the thread in the safety forum, but my machine is still getting a wee mast of its own in spite of dire predictions of false senses of security. not least of all because flags can be fun, think jolly roger, or jolly roger with crossed spanners even, made of scotchlite stitched onto black polyester. flags can be good advertising for your particular interest or group, but i'm not totally ignoring the visibility thing.

my commute has a stunning descent (on the way home), which is punctuated after a long straight by an exceedingly tight 90 degree left hander. there are fields on either side and a thick hedgerow. when i'm on the upright bike, cars usually see me coming and don't cut across by carriageway on the corner, so far when i've been on the 'bent they haven't, so i've met them head on with only a small gap remaining through which to slot myself to avoid disaster. if my flag helps reduce eventualities of even that one situation, by it being seen over the hedgerow, i will be a happier bunny.

anyway, back to the bike. so yeah, high roller is approaching completion of build 1.2, i wonder how long it will remain in this incarnation...


03-29-2010, 09:29 PM
James, the frame is coming along nicely. That panier rack is very strong looking, are you planning to mount a jump seat on it take along friends? :jester:

03-30-2010, 09:37 AM
I really like the integral (another $0.25 word) rack. Iím going to have to try that if I get around to building a touring bike.

03-30-2010, 10:44 AM
Pete, you're using all you big words this month! Between here and BROL you'll be broke soon!

Nice build James!! I'm looking at integration for my rack also!! LOL!

03-30-2010, 01:31 PM
I used 3/8 inch round steel tubing and a Harbor freight bender to construct mine. I would definately say James rack is much stronger than mine and I don't know how much he intends to pack along, but depending on your plans, you could save some weight over his very nice, symetrical but incredibly robust design. I totally agree about integrating the rack into the bike, as long as you're welding, why bolt an aftermarket rack to the back?

james folkes
03-31-2010, 06:17 PM
looking back at the pictures of your elegant rack likebikes, then comparing with my - for want of a better word - behemoth, i couldn't help shake the feeling i'd got a little carried away. as it happens though, we don't have anything more suitable at work, 16g 1/2" round or square were my only options, i plumbed for square for ease of construction and aesthetics, the rear fork legs look a bit odd now though. i am confident that should the need arise, i could offer someone a lift on the back!

my ortlieb back roller classic panniers arrived today, it became immediately apparent why they cost twice as much as the rest of the bike! they dropped onto the rack and locked in place with a satisfying click, i was worried they might not like square tube, but they seem to be fine. the design of the catches and release mechanism pleases me greatly, plus i just know that with care, they will keep my stuff clean and dry for a good many years to come.

nearly there. training day at work tomorrow, so no kids and an unadulterated bit of quality time to be had with the push-bike. it'll be on the road by close of play.


james folkes
04-02-2010, 10:09 AM
build 1.2 is fully assembled and ready for a blast... just as soon as it stops raining. it's not for my sake you understand, it's just the untreated steel and fresh weld will go brown and furry in the course of an afternoon's ride. well, that and i really don't feel like getting wet through today.

how long will it remain in this format? i give it days...

thing is you see, i can't quite seem to get my arms comfy; it's good, but still far from optimal. as an inherently lazy person (it's just another kind of efficiency), i'm not sure i feel like holding my arms up in front of me for any prolonged period, that's not even starting on the funny interactions between stem gooseneck and legs whilst turning. i'm getting the bits together to convert the bike to under seat steering, thinking it'll probably be quite good practice for version 2.0 anyway.

it's not an entirely straightforward exercise, other stuff kind of gets in the way, but as i figured i'm kind of committed to taking this one machine as far as i can before starting the next, the effort is probably justified.

i'd love to show you a picture of the current build, it's pretty smart, but the cameras are at school and i'm on holiday now for a fortnight. i'll have to see if i can get someone to take some pictures as it would be a shame to fail to document it.


04-02-2010, 01:06 PM
Looking forward to seing this completed James, I'm betting this ones a winner.

james folkes
04-03-2010, 08:18 AM
thanks likebikes, your words of encouragement do help to spur me on you know; damn i love forums...

so yeah, i hacked up a raleigh activator last night (their first budget suspension bike, solid enough to write off cars in a collision, at least, it's so heavy it feels like that's what would happen), and tried positioning bits and pieces around the frame to see if i could make it all fit. it appears i can (with a bit of tweaking of other stuff), although it is crunch time regarding one of the design paradigms.

if i switch to underseat this machine is stuck with a 26" front wheel, dropping to 20" requires a cut and shut job be done on the main boom to alter the head tube angle, similar would be done to the front boom to lower the cranks. the pilot tube needs to be at the same angle as the head tube, hence if i install now at perpendicular i will not be able to alter the front end later without upsetting the linkage dynamics.

tough call, but i think i'm going to stick to my guns and see this through as 26". the oft-discussed version 2.0 will have the 20" front end more conventionally found on swb 'bents, so this machine can keep on being proud to be different.

i'm off on a ride now, better get some miles in on this build before i hack it up again...


james folkes
04-03-2010, 08:30 PM
phewee chaps, i'm absolutely cream crackered!

i managed to put in about 25 miles today, riding out into the peak district and back, then off to a friend's birthday party on the other side of the valley. the words peak and valley do kind of give some indication as to what the lie of the land is, indeed, i did spend most of it in first gear. got some pretty hair-raising speeds up on some of the descents mind, i wouldn't say i felt entirely safe!

living in sheffield i need something that does hills and does them well. not really sure this machine is quite doing what it needs to.

firstly, steering. terribly bad that, the steering geometry is really not working out for me. it is terribly skittish and wobbly at all speeds, seemingly slightly poorer than build 1.1, i am continually bashing my knees on the bars, stem, shifter bracket (ouch), my hands, plus the way things get all tangled up sometimes i find i can't steer myself out of situations and i run out of road. fell off a couple of times today when that happened, always slow speed stuff because it was my need to keep pedalling that was sort of stopping me from steering; it's kind of tricky to get the stroke of your legs correct - particularly if you're also trying to avoid heel scrub - so that they will always miss the steering components.

under seat steering is at least part of the solution to this, so if i had any doubts as to whether or not i was doing that before, they are gone now. whilst mulling it over i seem to have found solutions and in some cases improvements to other things that would otherwise be interfering with the under seat mechanism.

however, what with moving my body back down the bike, my head and shoulders are now at the back of the cone section formed by plotting the arc of steering through the axis of the bike chassis. this is far removed from an upright bicycle where your head is pretty central and probably makes the ride a little less familiar, although as so many 'bents pilot from the back like this it's hard to believe it contributes to dangerous handling. i'm left considering the rake and trail once again. 2 1/4" of trail i reckon, sounds like quite a lot to me, certainly far more than i've read recommended, but what difference does it actually make?...

the seat. damn it, the seat looks so wonderfully comfortable... but it also just doesn't quite work out! the lumbar support feels too high, partly i think because the stitching was a bit lame and the material has a slight tendency to stretch and so the bum has sagged, but also because i keep slipping down the seat and ending up in a terrible slouch. this is really bad, i end up looking up at the sky for one and so crane my neck forwards, i hunch my shoulders to maintain a comfortable steering angle for my hands and forearms and worst of all my back has a terrible time of it. plus... numb bum! there is too much weight on the bony top bit of my backside and none at all on the vaguely fleshy bit beneath.

the issue is partly the seat material (more specifically implementation), but i overwhelmingly concluded that the biggest problem was the height of the bottom bracket. every time i go over a reasonably big bump (so that's every couple of seconds in this city), i feel myself sliding down the seat, out of comfort and support and into bad posture land. i end up curling up, losing the right stroke length and orientation

the other thing about the high bottom bracket is the overwhelmingly confusing concept of feeling like you're kicking yourself backwards down a hill, in order to go up the hill. the force you are applying takes a while to square with the effect it produces, a bit odd for me still.

so then, i'm going to jump on the bike in the morning and head over to ed's where there is one, possibly two complete 20" front ends from an old folding commuter bike and a child's barbie bike. i will experiment with the complete fork and wheel and just the wheel on its own, but i suspect that i will be taking fairly drastic measures and adopting the whole lot. i really don't like having my legs up so high, it might be ok static in a hammock but in a dynamic position like riding a push-bike, it just isn't right for me. i've decided to try and make it so that the bottom bracket is level with or under the height of the seat...

frustrating, in that building my bike up complete again has only made me want to take it to bits again, but i think the end result will be worth the endeavour. then again, at this rate will there ever be an end result?


04-03-2010, 11:33 PM
Oh James.... this is the exact reason for me posting the
DIY... Build-test-fail-modify. Build-test-fail-modify thread.

Its not the fact that things don't work out sometimes, its the
time/hours that were spent that you could have been doing
something "easy" instead.....HaHaHA!
Don't beat yourself up. You do remember that there isn't just anybody
walking around that can do what you do. My current build is constantly
testing my patients. Would it help concentrating only on one problem
at a time instead of thinking about it as a whole. Or maybe walk away
from it for a few days.

04-04-2010, 12:23 AM
I don't read the recommendations for rake and trail... but do remember from motorcycle suspension theory many years ago that the answer to stability was MORE trail not less.

james folkes
04-04-2010, 07:32 AM
graucho, my house is littered with the results of many failed loudspeaker builds, i don't see why any of this should seem new to me... so yes indeed sir, let us raise our glasses to the concept of build, test, fail, modify...

vroom, more trail is akin to more castor action as far as i can determine, which should result in more self centreing action on the steering, hence more stability?... makes sense to me, i wonder why less is recommended by some?

anyway, less chatting, more bike building. i'm just off to scrounge some 20" front ends for the terribly exciting and increasingly imminent build 1.3. this bike is fast becoming unrecognisable from it's first incarnation, progress indeed!


04-04-2010, 08:58 AM
The only time one can truly say that they have failed, is when they walk away , dejected, broken and twisted and never come back to it.

Till then it is prototyping , learning and training :jester:


04-05-2010, 08:51 PM
I didn't increase the trail as I should have (I hope I';m saying that correctly) so when I adapted my bike to the 20 inch front wheel I found I have very quick steering as you have discovered. Grauchos 24" front end helped a lot as it is taller than the 20 inch front end I had originally and it had a bit of built in trail in it's design.
As far as the hills and recumbent rising in general James, don't forget that you need to develop recumbent muscles. You're using a different muscle group now and it takes a little time to get them up to speed for riding these bikes.

james folkes
04-20-2010, 05:47 PM
recumbent muscle building is about to be put on hold again, however this time i managed a few pictures before i started chopping it to bits.

http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/1231/img0008ph.jpg (http://img205.imageshack.us/i/img0008ph.jpg/)

it's quite a nice looking bicycle i think, the stem is a bit messy but otherwise i do find it quite pleasing to the eye, modifications may detract from the quite clean lines, but progress is progress and what needs to be done, needs to be done. i had a rather good haul the other day, included in it was a 20" front end from a kids mountain bike (alongside nine other frames, all fit for project fodder), so the parts hunt is now over. well not quite, i have some track rod ends that i bought for my tourmaster that i am probably going to end up using on this instead; those are currently outside of my sphere of influence.

that said, (the bit about using linkage steering) i have been looking at the possibility of direct under seat steering, as per the hp velotechnik street machine, a short wheelbase 'bent that also uses a 26"/20" combination. this would mean moving the seat (and possibly the rack?!) back up the boom again, which might also itself require lengthening, will almost certainly involve setting the head tube at some new crazy angle, but at the same time whilst i'm at it, might well be worth reducing the mid section and the wheelbase of the machine by a few inches too...

so quite a lot then!

http://img402.imageshack.us/img402/4480/img0005bc.jpg (http://img402.imageshack.us/i/img0005bc.jpg/)

an extra shot detailing the robust (as one more tactful commentator might choose to say) light bracket on the front of the boom. i know i mentioned it conceptually, well this is it in actuality; 1" tube, capped and slotted onto some angle iron, itself trimmed down to a single span where possible. it was actually made for me to my pattern by one of the kids at school, for which i am very grateful.

http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/8641/img0002tl.jpg (http://img687.imageshack.us/i/img0002tl.jpg/)

one last ride round the playground before it goes under the grinder (and that recumbent grin captured with a very fast shutter speed), told you that rack was good for backies!


04-21-2010, 01:17 PM
Glad you're having fun with this, your chances of success are 100%.
I'm certainly not going to make sport of your "robust" construction anymore. I finally weighed my green machine and fully accessorized, she came in at a plump 62 pounds or 28kg for those of you in the rest of the world. I hope you're able to pare your bike down a bit, the hills get higher with every touch of the welder! :jester:
It is a fine looking bike you built there, nice on the details. I was looking at one of the bikes at the last MNHPV meeting and one of the builders used plastic pipe fittings to hold the chain guide tubing in place. That might be a useful idea for you as well as for the headlamp holder you constructed. Your design in that area is really nice but of course, weighty.