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Touring on a shrouded recumbent?

Old 04-01-20, 11:30 AM
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Touring on a shrouded recumbent?

Has anyone toured on a shrouded recumbent?

I was looking up some ideas to see what kinds of ideas are out there. On a short tour last Fall I was passed by a rider in a shrouded recumbent. It didn't appear the rider was touring, just out for a ride.

Here is one example, perhaps on the extreme end of performance (human powered distance record over 24hr period) - but it does illustrate the concept.
http://www.adventuresofgreg.com/24/index.html

I know people tour on recumbents all the time. I've thought of getting one in the past - HP Veloteknik Grasshopper. Building one of those up would be quite an investment, however.

The shrouded idea for touring, to me, has two huge benefits (not really in any order):
1. Possibility of being a weather enclosure = stay dry = less adverse weather impacts slowing down miles
2. Less wind resistance = more efficient.

The downsides I see are as follows - in no particular order:
- Bulky
- More complicated
- Heavier

The bike in the link above has a really neat concept for starting off and stopping - it has a retractable "landing gear" to where the bike is self-supported when going slow. Then when up to speed the landing gear is retracted to run on the main 2 wheels like a regular recumbent or bicycle.

That same "landing gear" idea could be expanded to bigger caster wheels (like the casters on wheel chairs, for example) - and both sides - to keep the bike upright for starts, stops, and slow speed movement - such as cranking up hills, navigating crowded trails, or navigating trails with obstacles or high water. By having the wheels retractable the efficiency of 2 wheels/less wind resistance could still be there for higher speed or down-hill runs.
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Old 04-01-20, 04:04 PM
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You're describing a velomobile. Typically velomobiles are trikes, so there's no stability issues. I have a friend with one. It is very fast on flat ground and downhills, and for the small hills here in the midwest, it takes a long, steeper-than-average hill to erase the speed advantage as it carries its speed right up most hills. Taken on a multi-day organized tour, he's typically the last rider out of camp in the morning and one of the first ones into the next camp in the afternoon. He has done self-supported tours and routinely does 130 miles per day while carrying all his gear. The disadvantage? Cost. His was over $10K.
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Old 04-01-20, 05:52 PM
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Yep, a velomobile.

BTW, the term is "faired", not "shrouded".
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Old 04-02-20, 08:41 AM
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Lowracer1's Quest velomobile passes me on a downhill, at 1:23. I was doing 45 mph at the time.
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Old 04-02-20, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Lowracer1's Quest velomobile passes me on a downhill, at 1:23. I was doing 45 mph at the time.
That's crazy.

I browsed the internet last night and found some good info - once I knew what the things were called (velomobiles). Then I did some searching on streamliners also.

It looks like the 3 wheel versions are the most popular. I found there are also 4 wheel versions. One of the themes that I came across with regards to the 3 vs 4 wheel debate is that they have "storage space" behind the seat and since the 3 wheel versions have the rear wheel in the center this greatly reduces the space available. Whereas a 4 wheel version has the rear wheels on the outside of the body leaving a more roomy middle between the wheels.

Are there any comments from the crowd here on handling/stability between 3 wheels and 4 wheels?

What about wheelbase? Other than reduced turning radius with a longer wheelbase?

I found several build threads online of people making the fairings (getting my terminology straight here..) out of styrofoam forms and fiberglass. That looks really interesting and doable. As to the weight - fiberglass is obviously heavier than carbon fiber, however if the contraption is in the 70-100lb range already plus gear is the difference really that much? Empty that is like pedaling a fully loaded upright bike on tour up a hill - with no gear.

A chromoly frame with a foam-formed fiberglass fairing body seems like a do-able project down the road. I'll have to work on my metal fabrication abilities. Right now I can weld with FCAW or braze with acetylene, no TIG here. Maybe in the future and maybe before trying to tackle that kind of project I can get a TIG machine....
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Old 04-02-20, 02:29 PM
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One major problem for 3-wheelers is the instability if they lose traction in the rear. For instance, a blowout or hitting severe rumble strips at speed, can cause the rear to pass the front. Someone had a video of their friend's velo behind them hitting a rumble strip, going up on 2 wheels, and almost going into the oncoming lane in front of a truck. Lowracer1 has replaced his stock rear shock with a better one, which made it much less apt do to that.

The only production 4-wheeled velo that I'm aware of is the Quattrovelo. Due to airflow constraints, its two rear wheels are closer together than the front ones, meaning it has 4 wheel tracks. That's not ideal, either - 4 chances to run over a pot hole or a nail instead of 1 or 3.
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Old 04-03-20, 07:47 AM
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Putting a front fairing and a body sock on a Tour-Easy type recumbent is a popular way to have a 'poor man's' streamliner.

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Old 04-03-20, 08:30 AM
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In certain types of topography*, a socked and faired Easy Racer can potentially be faster than a velomobile, just due to the weight. A Lightning F-40 (or F-90) being another similar option.

I get the impression that a socked and faired ER is better in windy conditions than a Lightning. But that's just and impression from reading reports from others. I have little direct experience.

* Hilly, with downhills that don't generally allow for lettin' 'er rip.

Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Putting a front fairing and a body sock on a Tour-Easy type recumbent is a popular way to have a 'poor man's' streamliner.

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Old 04-03-20, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
I have a friend with one. It is very fast on flat ground and downhills, and for the small hills here in the midwest, .
Haven't heard much from that guy lately. Last time I saw him was at the Velodrome late last year. Is he still riding much?
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Old 04-03-20, 09:04 AM
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Since this thread is also about touring, I'm curious about how luggage fits into this scheme. When I had my trike last year I could see the appeal for touring, and there was a ton of room under and behind the seat for luggage. Indeed Terra Trike sold a luggage set. But hard to see how you could do anything ahead of the seat. In DF bikes they spill a lot of electronic ink on low rider or handlebar bags, low-trail steering, etc. I've seen the round bags that go behind the seat. What else is there? On that Tour-Easy there's a ton of room for a large backpacking style frame bag or two. But I don't see how a normal rear rack and pannier fits in the fairing

https://www.terratrike.com/terratrik...orage-options/
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Old 04-03-20, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Putting a front fairing and a body sock on a Tour-Easy type recumbent is a popular way to have a 'poor man's' streamliner.
Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
In certain types of topography*, a socked and faired Easy Racer can potentially be faster than a velomobile, just due to the weight. A Lightning F-40 (or F-90) being another similar option.

I get the impression that a socked and faired ER is better in windy conditions than a Lightning. But that's just and impression from reading reports from others. I have little direct experience.

* Hilly, with downhills that don't generally allow for lettin' 'er rip.
Thanks for the information. That is a really interesting concept.

When I am heavy and have to go up big hills I may end up walking them unless they are short. I ride an upright, Surly Disk Trucker. I added a Mountain Tamer Triple set up as a quad. I went from a 17t ring to a 20t ring the other day. I rarely ever used it, but out it on back in 2015 I think. It does come in handy every once in a while. When I am light and just have a short steep hill it is pretty easy to drop down low and climb, however when I'm heavy and have a longer hill once I'm in that real low gear I don't last long. I would have to check the numbers to get you the facts, but what happens is I am cranking at a ridiculously high rate only going 4mph. The ease of the cranking is great, but going so slow balance is tough. The harder part - if I have to stop I'm done. It is impossible to start off on a hill that is steep enough that I would use that low gear to begin with. The way I've tried it is to go across or down the hill then turn around, but I can't make the 90deg plus turn. Hard to describe... it comes down to slow speed balancing with fast cranking on 2 wheels, doesn't work too well unless I am fairly straight.

In any event, the additional wheels to stay upright while moving slow or stopped was something that intrigued me. The more I think about it and research the more 3-4 wheels makes more sense. Being in traffic in the wind and climbing hills are two scenarios that come to mind. I've heard now a couple times that handling at speed can get hairy fast and keeping tires contacting the ground for traction can be a challenge. I'd be curious how any of the velomobiles handle in the wind. If the wind is blowing 40-50mph sideways can they move? Or are they going to roll? (the questions are in reference to stopped or very slow moving, not cruising at 20mph).

From an environmental vs. mileage perspective a velomobile is an obvious choice to keep moving when conditions otherwise wouldn't be conducive to moving. Adding the ability to stay up on its wheels when stopped and moving real slow does the same - allows being fully enclosed (no feet down to stay upright).
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Old 04-03-20, 10:16 AM
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I saw Marcel Graber's velomobile (Trans Am winner) had a setup with which he could urinate without stopping. Could be very handy on a tour.
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Old 04-03-20, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
Thanks for the information. That is a really interesting concept.

When I am heavy and have to go up big hills I may end up walking them unless they are short. I ride an upright, Surly Disk Trucker. I added a Mountain Tamer Triple set up as a quad. I went from a 17t ring to a 20t ring the other day. I rarely ever used it, but out it on back in 2015 I think. It does come in handy every once in a while. When I am light and just have a short steep hill it is pretty easy to drop down low and climb, however when I'm heavy and have a longer hill once I'm in that real low gear I don't last long. I would have to check the numbers to get you the facts, but what happens is I am cranking at a ridiculously high rate only going 4mph. The ease of the cranking is great, but going so slow balance is tough. The harder part - if I have to stop I'm done. It is impossible to start off on a hill that is steep enough that I would use that low gear to begin with. The way I've tried it is to go across or down the hill then turn around, but I can't make the 90deg plus turn. Hard to describe... it comes down to slow speed balancing with fast cranking on 2 wheels, doesn't work too well unless I am fairly straight.

In any event, the additional wheels to stay upright while moving slow or stopped was something that intrigued me. The more I think about it and research the more 3-4 wheels makes more sense. Being in traffic in the wind and climbing hills are two scenarios that come to mind. I've heard now a couple times that handling at speed can get hairy fast and keeping tires contacting the ground for traction can be a challenge. I'd be curious how any of the velomobiles handle in the wind. If the wind is blowing 40-50mph sideways can they move? Or are they going to roll? (the questions are in reference to stopped or very slow moving, not cruising at 20mph).

From an environmental vs. mileage perspective a velomobile is an obvious choice to keep moving when conditions otherwise wouldn't be conducive to moving. Adding the ability to stay up on its wheels when stopped and moving real slow does the same - allows being fully enclosed (no feet down to stay upright).

Based on all of this, I don't think you want a 2 wheeled recumbent. 3 (or 4) is the way to go.
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Old 04-03-20, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I saw Marcel Graber's velomobile (Trans Am winner) had a setup with which he could urinate without stopping. Could be very handy on a tour.
Might have been an external urinary catheter piped down to a foot hole or another opening in bottom of the fairing.

I know of other bent riders who have done this. Pedaling in a recumbent position stimulates urine production. From bent rider Dr. Bob VanValks, "your body senses a relative fluid overload as the blood that normally sits pooled in your legs gets returned to the general circulation by both the position and the contracting muscles in your legs. In response, you secrete less of a hormone called ADH, which signals your body to make more urine to decrease the overload. Your body responds over a matter of an hour or so, your bladder fills, and you pee."
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Old 04-03-20, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Since this thread is also about touring, I'm curious about how luggage fits into this scheme. When I had my trike last year I could see the appeal for touring, and there was a ton of room under and behind the seat for luggage. Indeed Terra Trike sold a luggage set. But hard to see how you could do anything ahead of the seat. In DF bikes they spill a lot of electronic ink on low rider or handlebar bags, low-trail steering, etc. I've seen the round bags that go behind the seat. What else is there? On that Tour-Easy there's a ton of room for a large backpacking style frame bag or two. But I don't see how a normal rear rack and pannier fits in the fairing

https://www.terratrike.com/terratrik...orage-options/
Can't really discuss luggage much unless we know what specific machine we are talking about. What is feasible and good varies with the type of bent.
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Old 04-03-20, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Since this thread is also about touring, I'm curious about how luggage fits into this scheme. When I had my trike last year I could see the appeal for touring, and there was a ton of room under and behind the seat for luggage. Indeed Terra Trike sold a luggage set. But hard to see how you could do anything ahead of the seat. In DF bikes they spill a lot of electronic ink on low rider or handlebar bags, low-trail steering, etc. I've seen the round bags that go behind the seat. What else is there? On that Tour-Easy there's a ton of room for a large backpacking style frame bag or two. But I don't see how a normal rear rack and pannier fits in the fairing
There are racks that some manufacturers make for their recumbents. They are relatively custom (custom to the model/manufacturer, but purchasable as a "product" = not something you make custom, but made for the model recumnent custom and not a "fits all" type).

Then there are custom options. If you know how to make things maybe you could tackle it. If not - if you get in touch with a local fabrication shop they may be willing to consult with you on a design and to make it. I guarantee it won't be cheap but it is possible.

Using racks you can then use conventional panniers. Big bonus.

There are a lot of variables to styles of bikes and recumbents, however, so it is impossible to guide to any specifics.
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Old 04-03-20, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
Has anyone toured on a shrouded recumbent?
Several friends rode across the U.S. on faired-and-body-socked Easy Racer bikes about 15 years ago: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/ER2005 . With Easy Racers comatose I'd seriously consider a RANS Phoenix with a body sock for a grand tourer.
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Old 04-04-20, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by friday1970 View Post
Haven't heard much from that guy lately. Last time I saw him was at the Velodrome late last year. Is he still riding much?
It sounds like he went to Florida earlier this year, before the lock-down, and did some miles there, but nothing since.
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Old 04-04-20, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
Several friends rode across the U.S. on faired-and-body-socked Easy Racer bikes about 15 years ago: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/ER2005 . With Easy Racers comatose I'd seriously consider a RANS Phoenix with a body sock for a grand tourer.
Oddly enough, I did a day trip today and ran in to a fellow rider on an Easy Racer. They are hard to miss with their long wheelbase, big rear wheel, and small front wheel.

I assume the long wheelbase slows the responsiveness of handling down and improves ride quality. However, with full suspension I would assume the ride quality would be even better - regardless of wheelbase? Or does it all depend on the rig? I can see where a shorter wheelbase would be more responsive, maybe that combined with suspension could be a bad mix.
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Old 04-04-20, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
Oddly enough, I did a day trip today and ran in to a fellow rider on an Easy Racer. They are hard to miss with their long wheelbase, big rear wheel, and small front wheel.

I assume the long wheelbase slows the responsiveness of handling down and improves ride quality. However, with full suspension I would assume the ride quality would be even better - regardless of wheelbase? Or does it all depend on the rig? I can see where a shorter wheelbase would be more responsive, maybe that combined with suspension could be a bad mix.
My Easy Racer Gold Rush handled reasonably well for such a long wheelbase. Its limits exceeded my courage... I never felt that I was being held back by the bike in any riding situation. I also never thought it needed suspension even when riding on unpaved roads.

My RANS Phoenix is another matter. Its wheelbase is 8 inches longer than the Gold Rush. (700C wheels front and rear.) That means you're a lot further from the wheels when they hit a bump. When I first test rode mine I thought the tires were underinflated! I'm getting used to it- at first it felt awkward but putting the tires alongside paint lines is second nature now. I think it would make a great touring bike except when you schlep the bike into a motel to escape a rain storm. It's a long, long bike.
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Old 04-05-20, 02:44 PM
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In the upright world, suspension seems to be a fix for comfort. But in the recumbent world, 3 inches of upholstery foam under your butt and having no weight on your hands tends to make suspension redundant.

Suspension on bents tends to be for control purposes, not for comfort.
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Old 04-06-20, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Putting a front fairing and a body sock on a Tour-Easy type recumbent is a popular way to have a 'poor man's' streamliner.

I wish I knew the guy's name, but there was a local bent rider in Seattle that did the Seattle - Portland round trip in one day! Most rider take 2, or even 3 days to do that ride. He rode a fully socked P-38.

Also, I've hit 65 mph in my Strada. It's all gravity after about 48 mph, where I spin out. For comparison, my motorcycle and recumbent bike, coasting on the same hill, top out at 54 mph. That's how much better the aero is in the Strada.

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