November last year saw the 14th running of the RACV Energy Breakthrough, at Maryborough, Victoria, Australia. This is probably the largest trike race meeting in the world with 200 teams, 1,600 riders, and about 15,000 spectators. It has grown in size each year, and they recently had to add a second track at the venue, to cope with the ever increasing numbers.
I believe the success is due to the fact it is a schools' event which encourages teams of students, teachers and parents to work together to build and race HPVs. Schools who enter the event have been SO impressed with the team building, and other skills that the project delivers, that many who participated in the 1st event 14 years ago, are still competing in the event today. As one teacher said "This is the greatest educational experience for students I have ever had the privilege to participate in".
I have seen teams lead by teachers, parents, or students, and I think the fact that you have parents involved as well as students and teachers, enhances the learning experience. There is also more opportunities for the less academic students to be involved. A couple of years ago I helped a teacher from a school for intellectually disabled students scrounge enough discarded and 2nd hand parts to build a low budget HPV to allow them to compete for the 1st time. After the event, a girl in the team gave a presentation to the school on her experience, and the principal was so moved that he funded a full budget for TWO teams the next year!
GreenSpeed has been involved since the start in supplying schools with what ever they need to compete. Depending on the expertise and facilities within the school, and the school community, we supply parts, plans, tube kits, and/or frame kits as required. Usually the schools will design and build their own fairings, which can more than double the efficiency of the bare machine, thus most of the machines competing will be fully faired. Some schools design and build the whole machine themselves, with a number using carbon fibre. They need to be strong enough to survive a few rollovers, and as the Victorian motoring organization is the main sponsor, all vehicles have to be fitted with rollover bars, a four point safety harness, and protection from side impact!
Points are scored from presentation and design, as well as the race. Race car timing technology is used to time every lap of every vehicle to 1/1000 of a second, and this information is available to everyone on their web site at www.racetime.com.au Last year's overall winner was Berwick Secondary College, with "Firestorm", and 96.10 points. They did 607 laps (789 kms), and got the full 50 points for the race, with 21.60 points for design, and 24.50 points for display. While larger than most vehicles, their fairing design was almost a pure teardrop shape, which completely enclosed the wheels, and was very aerodynamically efficient.
Full results available in MS Excel format here.
We have now finished testing the 4 lots of samples of the "Scorcher" - the new GreenSpeed designed slick tyre.
The Scorcher has been especially designed for GreenSpeed Trikes, and is the result of over 12 years of tyre testing. This 1st Scorcher is a new tyre size, of 16" x 1-1/2" or 40 - 349, making it the widest tyre available for the 349 mm bead seat diameter rims. This width, together with the special construction, gives it BOTH more comfort AND lower rolling resistance than any other tyre for the 349 - 16" rims. The wide pressure range of 40 to 100 psi enables the air pressure to be adjusted to a wide range of road conditions from rough to dead smooth.
We have had independent tests done by A to B Magazine in the U.K., who do roll down tests with tyres, on real roads. These tests have confirmed our laboratory rolling resistance tests, and have also found that the "Scorcher" gives the best ride, as well as the lowest rolling resistance. After testing the Schwalbe Stelvio, the Primo Comet and the Greenspeed Scorcher, the editor of A to B magazine, David Henshaw, made these comments :-
"These three tyres have very different characteristics - the Stelvio rolls least well and is very harsh (suspension improves both counts as you might expect), the Primo comes somewhere in the middle, and the GreenSpeed gives a comfortable ride with the lowest rolling resistance."
The actual overall diameter at 100 psi is 17.0" or 432 mm. Width at this pressure on a 19 mm rim is 41 mm. Recommended pressure rating is 40 to 100 psi.
The 1st production run of 1,000 tyres has now been finished, and dispatched from the tyre factory. Of these, 400 are destined for new GT3s and GT5s, 250 are going to our USA Distributor for GreenSpeed dealers, 300 will come here, and 50 will go to our UK Agent, Westcountry Recumbents. Thus the Scorchers should be available from our dealers sometime this month (February), and are available now in Oz from the GreenSpeed factory.
Now we are satisfied with the testing of the 349 samples, I have commissioned the mould for the 406 tyres. The 406 tyres will have the same section size as the 349s, and will be 20" x 1.5" or 40 - 406. These should have comparable or better rolling resistance and comfort to the Tioga Comp Pool, yet be lighter, and have less wind drag. Samples are expected for testing in June, production in July, and deliveries hopefully in August.
We have now received the 1st batch of sample rim strips from Stan for the NoTubes system, and have been testing the system. Rim strips made for the standard 20" GTR, GTO and GTT wheels, using the Jalco DD32 rims and Tioga Comp Pool tyres seem to work fine. One of our disabled customers, David Bryce in Queensland, Australia, has been testing the system on his GTO. He found a significant improvement in his average speed over using thornproof tubes, and has found complete protection from thorns and broken glass. You can read his reports here.
Rims strips supplied for the 16" x 1 3/8" Jalco rims as used on the GT3, also worked fine with the Primo Comets, Schwalbe Marathons and the GreenSpeed Scorchers. We were not able to get the tyre strips made for the Sims rims with Presta valves to work, as our floor pump would not inflate the tyres, and we had no Presta connection for the airline.
However, using our slit tube method, we have been able to run most tyres tubeless on the Velocity Sims (AKA Velocity Velodisc) rim and other rims, except for the Schwalbe Stelvio, which seemed too narrow to seal against the 19 mm rim. It may be possible to get this tyre to seal with a narrower rim, and a Presta valve if one could get enough air through it fast enough. On the other hand, the Schwalbe Marathon Slicks sealed fine on the Sims rims in the 406 size on a slit tube, with just a floor pump. These tyres, like the Stelvios, are a dual compound tyre. After running them on Paul's trike for about a month, the rear one developed a bulge in the tread, which slowly blew up into a little balloon and burst, exposing some of the cords. Due to the sealant, the tyre did not go down, and was still serviceable.
One of our USA customers, Laurie Force, has been testing the Scorcher tyres with the slit tubes, the Sims rims, and the NoTube sealant on her GreenSpeed GTC Compact Trike. Read her report here.
We used 1" and 2" nails to test the NoTubes system with a range of tyres. All tyres sealed immediately after penetration and withdrawal of the 1" nail at pressures up to 100 psi. With the 2" nail there was some loss of fluid and air at 100 psi, but little at 60 psi. The best tyre was the Primo Comet with the Kevlar belt, which required more force to both penetrate and withdraw the nail from the tyre. Thus it seems to me that Stan's tyre sealant should give complete protection from thorns in any tyre.
We also tested some self-sealing tubes. These sealed when punctured with the 1" and 2" nails at 60, 80 and 100 psi, although some sealant was lost, and performance was not quite as good as Stan's NoTubes sealant in the tyres.
We now have supplies of the NoTubes sealant in quart bottles, the small 2 oz. bottles for measuring it into the tyres though the valve, and the more convenient Injector syringe with valve connection. Plus the tyre sealing rim strips for our standard 20" wheels. In the USA please contact www.notubes.com for supply.
Due to the usual delays in parts supply, esp. Shimano, the introduction of the new GreenSpeed GT5 folding trike will be a little later than we had planned. The GT5 is an upgraded GT3 with disc brakes, Shimano 105 equipment, and the new GreenSpeed Scorcher tyres. The disc brakes are the new Gator 4 piston disc brake, which unlike many disc brakes made for bikes, are made in left and right hand versions. This means that the calipers can be mounted symmetrically the right way up, so that the rotor is rotating the right way in each caliper. The best news it that even with these upgrades, the price is still under $3,000 USD at $2,950 US in the USA. Price in Oz is $3,550 AUD. Specifications are as follows :-
GT5 16/16 FOLDING TRIKE
Wheelbase 39" (98 cm)
Track 29.5" (75 cm)
Width 32.7" (83 cm)
Length 69" (175 cm)
Height 27" (68 cm)
Wheels 16" alloy rims
Tyres "Scorcher" 16" x 1-1/2"
Brakes "Gator" four piston disc brakes
Gears 27 speed Shimano
Cranks Shimano 105, 52/42/30
Rear Cluster Shimano Capreo 9,10,11,13,15,17,20,23,26.
Gear Range 19 to 95 inches
Frame Cro Mo 4130 tubing
Seat Angle 40 degrees
Seat Height 10" (25 cm)
Leg length adjust. Telescopic boom
Steering centre point Ackermann with inclined handle bars
Turning circle 12 feet (3.7 metre)
Ground clearance 2.6" (7 cm)
Weight 17kg (38 lbs)
Standard fittings rear mudguard, mirror, safety flag
Base Price $2,950 USD
Specifications subject to change without notice
It should be noted while the GT3 and GT5 are smaller and more compact than the GTO and GTR tourers, they are still full size trikes, with the same wheelbase as the tourers. Thus the handling is fully on a par, with the larger GTO and GTR trikes. X-seam range for the GT3/5 is from 41 to 49 inches, and rider capacity is 265 lbs.
The first 25 trikes will be build here in Oz, and should be available in the USA about the end of March. First batch of TW built GT5s should arrive in the USA about July.
We have been using the German Heinzmann hub motor for some time for customers who require power assistance on the hills. While this has been an excellent system, it is a little noisier than I would like, with its internal gears, and there is no way of providing any re-generation when going down hill, due to the freewheel in the motor drive. So for some time I have been looking for a direct drive hub motor, but many which have promised so much, have usually turned out to be "Vapourware", or "not in production".
So when A to B tested the BionX system on the Miele Tivoli bike, it seemed like a dream come true. I immediately contacted BionX and requested a sample. It arrived this week, and on Thursday afternoon I fitted it to my GTS for testing. The 1st test was going up the steepest part of Mountain Gate Drive. On this first journey I was quite disappointed, as it felt rather sluggish and I was only getting 7 kph - only 2 kph above my normal 5 kph up this steep hill. Then after I got to the top, I discovered that in my haste, I'd left the hand brake on! So I went around the block and tried the hill again. This time I achieved 15 kph up the hill - much better! The other thing I noticed was that on the gentle down hill, with the re-generation on the 1st setting, my speed seemed no slower than normal, yet I was charging the battery up :-)
In many ways it is simpler to operate, and quite seamless in its operation compared to the Heinzmann. There is no twist grip control. Instead, there is a small control panel which gives you the choice of 4 assist settings and 4 re-generation settings. The amount of assist depends both on the setting and the effort that you put into the pedals. So it is like having Bionic legs ;-) and you can choose from 25%, 50%, 100%, and 200% improvement on your own effort. Of course this is only approximate, and the maximum power is 450 watts. The re-generation settings are 50, 100, 150, and 200 watts. To activate the re-generation, the brake lever can be wired into the system, so that the initial movement of the lever will activate the re-generation, and further movement will operate the brakes themselves. Thus it is quite easy to use re-generation for most of your braking. Our engineer, Paul, also tested the trike and here are his initial comments to a customer :-
Went for a test ride today on Ian's trike that was fitted with electric assist. I thought of you straight away when you mentioned you were looking into something for yourself.
I'd have to say it is the most impressive electric assist I have tried to date. It is very intuitive to use, especially as there is no accelerator to twist! It is activated by pedalling, so as the name implies, it assists like a bionic limb would.
The other big bonus is that it has regenerative braking so it tops up your battery on the downhills or even just with application of your normal brake lever. It has four levels of assist and four levels of braking, awesome for those long downhills where you don't want to ride the brakes :-)
Check out the website and/or organise a ride from the GreenSpeed office, I assume you can do when you drop the next piece of tubing off for your new bike on Monday.
We will continue further testing, but at this stage it looks like a winner for the people who find that they need assistance on the hills. The battery unit may fit under the seat on some GS models. Price is yet to be determined. Please contact me if you are interested in one of these units.
Our trikes are so comfortable that they are often used for long distance touring, like around Oz, or across Asia and Europe. Thus carrying enough water can be a problem. One company, Fastback Designs, have now started making hydration systems especially for recumbents after they switched to riding recumbents themselves. We have now tested the system, and given it the "thumbs up". For more info., please see www.fastbacksystem.com
Spezi is a show for recumbents, load carrying bikes, folding bikes, velomobiles, and many other special bikes. 2005 is the tenth anniversary, and each year has been larger than the year before. Last year we were rather cramped, so this year we have taken the whole stage, together with Cab-Bike, who have sublet some of their half to other velomobiles. I believe this is the best show in the world for special bikes, so if you are able to go, you will not regret it. The dates are April 23 rd & 24th, place - Germersheim, Germany. People living in Europe are also able to buy our display trikes without freight or duty, so if you would like to do this, please let me know as soon as possible, as there is only a limited number. More info at :- www.spezialradmesse.de