Friday, May 30, 2008

The "Flea Bike"

Now that my recovery is nearly complete, my thoughts turn to riding my favorite tandem, The Flevo back to back or, as Z-Man calls it, the Flea Bike. It's the only bike in my stable I haven't ridden since I broke my femur almost 5 months ago. That's partly because I didn't think I could handle the very high bottom bracket until now and also because I felt the bike needed some minor adjustments.

It wasn't long after I got the bike that I decided it needed headrests. That was an easy fix and improved riding comfort considerably. After getting a few miles under my belt, I noticed a couple of other issues. First, the handlebars got in my way when I stopped the bike and tried to stand. I could get my feet from the pedals to the ground quickly enough, but standing up meant wriggling out from under the handlebars first, and that's not a good feeling. It's even more of an issue since my accident. I wouldn't say I'm jittery now after the fall, but when I want to stand up on the tandem I WANT TO STAND UP. So, my first priority was getting a flip-it handlebar I can push up and out of the way quickly when stopping the bike. Enter Danny Savitsky at Cycle Genius. He installed the flip-it attachment and then had me try out several different handlebars. I wanted something low and sleek that wouldn't hit my knees in turns. I settled on the arrangement below. Problem solved.

Next we faced an issue that seemed unsolvable: a kick stand. The Flevo is long and unwieldy when it isn't moving. On long rides, particularly when the bike is stopped out in the open where there is nothing to lean it against, the bike must be held up by the stoker or captain. That can be very inconvenient, especially during repairs. Mounting a conventional kickstand presented some problems. First there is nowhere on this elegant but unconventional frame to attach a mount. We considered several attachment points but each one involved drilling through the aluminum skin of the frame plywood interior. Danny felt that those materials would not stand up to the weight and leverage the bike would put on it. Finally, Danny had an idea. He found a piece of steel rod that fit tightly into the end of one of the female pieces on the bottom joint of the bike. Then he took the aluminum handle bar we had just discarded and slipped it onto the rod. Viola!

It may not be the prettiest kickstand around, but it's light and very functional. When it's not in use we'll sling it on the outside of our equipment bag that hangs between the seats. I think this can be refined a bit, but I'm very pleased with this solution since I was convinced that a kickstand just wasn't going to happen on this bike. I told Danny he was a genius. He shrugged modestly and said, "I'm not a genius...just a cycle genius." He is indeed.
I hope to put some miles on the bike this weekend.