Getting Bent

by Ben N on June 2, 2015

So, I MAY have just started tearing apart the Vectrix again… To get bent. Make a recumbent that is…

After my first taste of long-distance riding, I want MORE! So far, the furthest I’ve gone on one charge is 91 miles. But that’s so close to 100, that it’s just BEGGING to be broken! However, that was at “around town” speeds, and I’m fresh out of additional Nissan LEAF batteries. So, the next most logical change is AERODYNAMICS!

Aerodynamics is really about the BACK end of things, so I got started on the back of the cycle, first by removing the rear body panels.

To get the trunk off, I had to remove the plug from the charging cord, pull it through, and then wire it back on again. The wire harness for the tail light and turn signals is all zip-tied to the steel framework of the trunk. A side-cutters made quick work of getting the wire harness off. Without the trunk, there’s no place for the seat to bolt on. That’s fine, I’ll go without for now, but removing the seat also lowers ME by at least four inches! Leaning backwards, instead of sitting up, also gets my shoulders lower, more out of the wind.

Once I got the trunk off, I used the two bolts that held it on to instead hold on a 1×2″ board.

With one on either side, I could then add a cross piece and build a ladder-back chair.

If I wanted to do a real, full-blown stream-liner, one concern that I have is swapping out lighting. The headlamp is a standard 12v bulb, but the rest is dedicated 4V LED lighting. I wouldn’t easily be able to replace the tail and turn signals with more typical 12V LED lights. (The DC/DC output on the bike is pretty minimal, and it switches 4v power for the brake light and turn signals.)

One thing that I thought might be possible is to keep the stock tail and turn signals, but have them mounted at about my shoulder height.

For right now, I remounted them on a piece of wood, lower. That way, the plastic piece that I don’t want to cut off (at least for now) doesn’t poke me, and the wire harness easily reaches without modification.
As far as I can tell, this seems street legal for testing around my neighborhood. I screwed the license plate to the back of the upper cross-member.

side view first recumbent_DSC_4391

Sitting in a recumbent position, the backrest is actually really comfortable. The handlebars are a little too far away though.

After monkeying around a bit, I WAS able to figure out how to get all the trim off the handlebars and see what’s actually under there. It looks like pretty normal handlebar stuff. I think I should be able to loosen the four middle screws and tilt the handles towards me. I’m not sure if that will be enough or not. If not, replacing it with a different shape/length handlebar shouldn’t be too tough.

The wood framing is taller than it needs to be right now. However, it’s also a nice point to begin experimentally attaching tail material.

On the Craig Vetter streamliners, he bases the angle of the tail on being a right angle from this “backrest” bulkhead. I’m not sure if that will be too steep or not, but it’s something to start from.

Anyone have a bunch of political signs for aero-experimenting?

I also took it out for a ride at night. I just installed an LED headlamp. It was $34 from and features a 30 watt CREE lamp. While really bright, the low beam was either angled too low (misadjusted?) or just in the wrong place inside the reflector. The high-beam is great. It really lights up reflective street signs (and animal eyes) at a distance. I also LOVE the color. The cooler blue matches the existing front LED marker light.

IMG_3861‘Til next time, stay charged up!


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ian June 8, 2015 at 3:42 am

Hi Ben. I sent your blog post to Royce Creasey, designer of some fabulous FF (feet first – recumbent) motorcycles. He says –

“Aerodynamics, at road speeds, is about Frontal Area. Frontal Area. That’s the great thing about FFs. If you want to handle better, you need FF. If you want more safety, you need FF. If it’s comfort, you need FF. Efficiency? FF – see recent MIRA, world class, result.

Fitting a tail is what you do when you’ve got good enough aerodynamics in the basic package for the airflow to notice there is something beyond the nose!”

You can read more –
Followed by the more detailed information –

Hope that is of interest, I think an electric FF would be the ideal way to move single humans about the place – electric cars simply replacing the motive power and do nothing to solve congestion (or material consumption) issues and take a massive amount of energy to do so, when a single track vehicle uses much less.

2 admin June 8, 2015 at 10:30 am

Thanks Ian.
I’m working on getting a nosecone from Craig Vetter. Once I have that, I’ll keep building from there! I’ll be able to change up the windshield too.

3 Lancaster July 11, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Side question to Iran, would a longer body, due to buddies height be some thing to consider, and is there cross winds over there, I have an aero modded bike, the days when the head wind is going isn’t bad at all, but when it’s changing direction you notice.

4 Andyj July 13, 2015 at 7:02 am

You’re all on the right line guys.

Ben, you get that seating right then somehow extend the steering back. So you can get that front end sorted. Look how good Charlie Perethian performed.

All that required junk in the front end I`d strive to get it out of the way for your new front end at least for the time being. Not sure a roundish nose cone will serve you . The region that will be least affected by the steering/streamling is by the forks. A simple curve in. If required (a half?) cone shape could be extended forward above the wheel? Leave the front half of the wheel to carry its own slipstreaming/mudguard.

One lad with a well rough styrene and correx front end performs exemplary. Even for such a simple shape! You will enjoy slapping up some mock up`s and I`ll love following you.

All the best!

Your backrest looks like making a roof would be amazing.

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