Recumbent ruminations

Discussion in 'General Bike Discussion' started by IanHighfield, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

    Further recumbent facts and stories as told to me by the older members of my riding circle and fellow employees here at the shop.

    According to the earlier mentioned English cycling history book circa 1903-53. Two other attempts were made to stabilize recumbent sway. The most successful being the gyroscope as mentioned earlier. The second and third were not so vital.

    This included the addition of a large stiff fin that was mounted lengthwise to the craft and above the rider's head. This gave the appearance of a sailfish and the design was dubbed the "Marlin Fin". Its job was to lend resistance to quick lateral movement by pressing on the air along side the bike. Needless to say it failed horribly in any kind of side breeze. Plus is looked hideous and frightened the woman and livestock.

    The other effort took its inspiration from commercial fishermen. Ever see those outrigger devices that are projected from the sides of fishing boats in heavy weather? Their job is to dig into the water and give the vessel something to resist against and stop its rolling motion. These gadgets are foils and ride in the water on chain lengths. Some fishermen call them "Fish". As in, "lower the fish, mates, it's starting to blow."

    Well, a couple of English geniuses put stiff outrigger rods on their early bents and attached movable foil surfaces as per an airplane. They sought to get just the right amount of bite on the air to slightly force the rods down toward the earth and thus (done equally on both sides) stabilize the recumbent. These rods were up to 6 feet long. You can guess how this would limit a fellow as to where he could go. Again, needless to say, that effort failed too.

    All to show you can't keep a good Englishman down. At least not for long.

    End of WW2. Clive Alexander of Manchester returns from his job at the Hawker plant where he helped build Hurricane fighter planes. The early Hurricanes had a good deal of wood and cloth construction in their fuselage and Clive was a master woodworker with big ideas.

    He was a recumbent man and is credited with the first of what we now call short wheel low riders. Earlier someone said that was a new development. Not quite. There is nothing new in cycling but carbon fibre.

    Clive Alexander using balsa wood and fibreglass with polyester resin shaped some of the loveliest unibody lowriders ever seen. They had seats just 2.5" off the deck and looked like modern art sculpture with flowing lines that seemed to compliment the pilot's own human shape. (his term, pilot)

    His frame pieces were essentially hollow for they were of balsa with a tough outer shell of glass. Just like carbon fibre today. He also was the first man on record to incorporate solid disc wheels of laminated ashe, balsa and glass.

    His bikes were fast. But not fast enough. He later turned his efforts to upright bikes and modern jet aircraft design.

    All this to say there really is nothing new in cycling at all. It's all been done before. We just come along in our own little time period and think we invented the world and all that is in it.....

    Hope this was of interest.
  2. lowracer1

    lowracer1 New Member

    not really ...... old news and the English aren't well known for building fast recumbents either....

  3. BlazingPedals

    BlazingPedals Member

    That's a 20 year old for you. Listens to an old-timer and becomes an expert, then proves through superior logic that, instead of being 5 mph faster, we're actually 5 mph slower than we used to be on uprights. Time to turn him off. I think there's a junk filter around here somewhere...
  4. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

    Sir, you are the same age as my old timers.

    There are some who might find this history quaint. It is to those I appeal.
  5. TxCyclist

    TxCyclist Administrator Staff Member Admin Staff

    I always fine History interesting. Good post!
  6. IanHighfield

    IanHighfield New Member

    Wright Brothers

    Thank you, Dean. It is for those like you I effort such old lore. I happen to think it's great old history. Rather like the first efforts with aeroplanes before your yankee bike-builders got the world's ducks in row and showed us all how to do it.