Bike builders news – Pedal Positive!

Think Positive…Pedal Positive! In this issue, Joe Crennen, the creative genius behind Pedal Positive, reveals what drives his creativity, the birth of Pedalpalooza and pedal tractor pull competitions. Folks in Colorado love bikes. Read about some of the unique human powered projects Joe works on.

Also in this issue, Builders Gallery: recumbents, trikes, choppers, tandems, kids’ bikes, tallbikes, electric and motor cycles, cargo bicycles, and more. More than 2 million views!

We need your help. Find out how you can get involved.

This and archived newsletters can be found here: http://atomiczombie.com/NewsLetters.aspx

Apples, Sparks and Skitters

Summer is definitely a lot better than winter! Let’s face it, when it’s -30C out or even -10C, you cannot work in an unheated space. I have tried this in the past, and even if you can keep your hands warm somehow, the welder won’t run right, causing sticking and burn-throughs nonstop.

There are good and bad things about summer as well, but for the most part summer beats winter any day. Along the pathway down the hill to my building shack are several apple trees and Saskatoon bushes, and I find myself living on the fruit for days on end when I work on a new project. A few gallons of ice water and the apples are usually enough fuel to keep me going for eight hours or more.

Thanks to a lot of rainfall lately, the Saskatoon berries are almost ready to pick, the raspberries are coming along and the apples are about half way there. I look forward to “living off the land” once the berries are ripe, but will probably have to deal with that bear again. Oh well, I have a plan this year, and it involves some “MacGyver-like” contraptions.

Of course, summer does bring it’s annoyances as well and yesterday they almost drove me completely mad. Yeah, you already know what I am going to say…black flies, ticks and mosquitoes! It was raining yesterday afternoon and then the temperature went right up to 30C, so I took the opportunity to head down the hill and see if I could get the Transporter Cargo Bike together for this morning’s blog, but the mosquitoes were so bad that I had to run like a coward back into the house.

Since there is a 60 foot difference in height between the old shack I work in and our house, the climate is completely different down there much of the time. Up on the hill, it is always dry and breezy, but down the hill, it can seem twice as hot, muggy and often no breeze at all. Add to that the fact that my shack has no doors and you have mosquito hell sometimes.

I did manage to get the wheels and chain on the bike, but after dropping the bike twice to swat humming bird sized mosquitoes off my neck, I gave up in frustration. The grass was too long, the place was humid like the rain forest and water was leaking through the roof, so it just wasn’t a productive afternoon. I am really looking forward to getting the new bike out for a test run, so I will see what the weather has in store for me today.

So far, the Transporter Cargo Bike came together very well and only needs to have the brake and shifter cables installed to be usable. I also have to come up with some kind of latch to hold the kickstand up, but have a plan on the drawing board for that. The other tricky bits will be the rear shifter and brake cables, since they need to be more than twice as long as those on a regular bike. I do have some long throttle cable that was purchased off a roll from a motorcycle shop, so I think that will do the trick.

Well, that’s it for this morning; not too much to report on the new bike. If it dries out a bit today, I may get the chance to add the cables and get a few action photos of the completed bike for tomorrow’s blog. Hey, I wonder if I could weld and grind with a mosquito net over my face.

~ Brad

Painting under the stars

Yesterday I managed to get a full day in on the latest project “the Transporter Cargo Bike”. It was a hot one, but now that I have power running down to the old shack, I was able to stay somewhat cool by aiming a huge fan at myself as I welded and grinded away on the almost completed frame. My goal was to complete all of the welding and have the frame painted before the end of the day, but with all of those round tube trusses to weld and the fact that I had not yet figured out the kickstand, I knew it would be a late one tonight.

Since the Transporter was really turning out nicely, I decided to go all the way and add a front disc brake. Actually, this worked out well for the plan because I could now show the steps needed to remove the brake studs from the front fork and install them at the rear and then show how to make a disc brake mount for a front fork that had none. Since most of the stopping power is needed at the front of a bike, the disc option was a good one for a cargo bike that may see loads topping the few hundred pounds mark.

The cardboard template method of making a front disc brake mount went well, and was easy to do thanks to the “weld it in place” method of aligning the brake hardware. I will probably make this into a separate mini tutorial for the main page, since disc brake hardware is becoming very common and inexpensive these days, and is fairly easy to install.

Now, I was faced with how to design the kickstand. A good kickstand is a key feature on a cargo bike; it has to hold the bike stable while the heavy loads are moved on and off the platform. Obviously, a flimsy side kickstand would be pretty useless, so I worked out a stand that would raise the front end slightly off the ground and level the bike on both sides for maximum stability. This type of kickstand is called a “center stand”, and turns the bike into a trike, with three points hitting the ground (two stand legs and the rear wheel). After some testing, the stand proved to work very well and was made out of nothing more than some tubing and bits of flat bar.

When I finally finished all the welding and did a little sanding on the rough spots, the sun was already setting. I decided to paint the bike under the moonlight and brave the mosquitoes that were now coming at me in large waves.

I decided to use brush on paint this time since this bike would be taking a beating and living outdoors mostly. Instead of a perfect paint finish, I opted for a slathered on thick coat that would be easy to retouch as the bike was used like a piece of farm equipment. Under the dim light of the moon, I slopped on the paint as thick as peanut butter, painting the bugs right in as they landed on the tacky paint! I could barely see what I was doing, so I figured the paintjob would be less than pretty in the morning, but yellow is somewhat forgiving and the goal was durable paint, not a showroom finish.

Next morning, I took the frame out for inspectio, and wadda-ya-now, the yellow paintjob wasn’t all that bad! There were a few spots needing a bit of retouching and some runs near the joints, but at a distance of 6 feet away, it looked as good as a spray on paintjob. I may use brush on paint a lot more in the future since it requires no primer, and costs only $10for a can that would paint 3 bikes.

The only drawback to the department store rust paint is the selection of colors: black, white, grey, red, green, blue, orange and yellow. Knowing that I can make any color imaginable by mixing red green and blue, I have a cunning plan for my next brush paint job – mix ’em and see! By using the color picker in Photoshop to get the RGB values, I “should” be able to concoct a similar color by converting the decimal value to a volumetric mixing value.

Well, that completes the first official plan of 2013, so if the weather holds out today I may get the chance to assemble the Transporter Cargo Bike and show it off in tomorrow’s blog entry. I am looking forward to hauling that old freezer out of the bush and then loading a few hundred pounds of firewood onto the cargo bed to make some fun videos of the bike in action. Type y’all tomorrow.

~ Brad

Bike builders news November 23

Feature article by RadicalBrad of AtomicZombie.com: Building a Velomobile – Part 2
In this week’s issue, Brad makes a scale model of the velo body shape and design considerations.
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Hub flanges and axle adapters for your bike projects
Bike builders community chat
Bike builders gallery – new additions: recumbents, trikes, choppers, tall bikes, kids’ bikes, cargo bikes & more

This and archived newsletters are here.

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Thanks for your feedback, and keep those suggestions coming.

See you in the Builders Forum.

Most cost-effective currently available lithium battery source and/or configuration

From the AtomicZombie bike building forum:

“Well, another spell in the repair dock gave me more time to think about possible add-ons (or more correctly build-ins) to the Timberwolf languishing in what I laughingly call my workshop. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to various possible additions to Brad’s basic design, including a geared mid-drive, but mostly about how best to incorporate electric assist right from the get-go.

The logical first idea is to use an electric hub motor on the front. This has the advantage of simplicity, but on the other hand, it puts the motor at the part of the trike where ground contact weight is lightest. I don’t know how much of an issue this will be, but its fair to say that the majority of the weight in any of the Deltas is carried at the rear, and so traction at the front wheel is a question mark.

The second idea is to use one, or two, Currie-style external motors either directly driving one or both rear wheels, or else connected into the chain/derailleur drive train at some point between the pedals and the rear axle.

However, the biggest single consideration is batteries. I have the wreck of an e-scooter that will, I hope, become a tadpole recumbent trike at some point; its all-up weight without passenger is over 200 lbs, and of this probably 2/3 is lead-acid batteries. I just can’t see building a Timberwolf, which with rider will mass somewhere between 135 and 150 kg., and then adding a great whacking load of lead-acid batteries. Even if the tires would stand up to the load, it would be a tremendously heavy vehicle.

So, we then come to the lightest currently available battery technology, the various lithium-based types. These have an astonishing power-to-weight ratio, but they are new technology, and as such there’s a lot of mis-information floating around. There’s also the question of cost: what form of lithium cell offers the best “bang for the buck” in terms of watt-hours stored vs. dollars (not forgetting overall weight).

It’s a basic truism that for a given power rating, using a higher voltage means a lower current draw. Since with most types of batteries the rate of current draw or discharge is a big factor, using a higher voltage would allow the use of cells with less amp draw capability.

The brick wall that I keep coming up to, and banging my head against is this: What form of lithium pack is the lowest cost for a given current draw, and what form of lithium battery is the most flexible in terms of series-connecting the packs to achieve higher output voltages. I have read various “opinions” and “reports” until I’m drowning in hyperbole, and I’m no closer to the answer: what’s the best available form or configuration of lithium battery to start with.

For example, there are a wide variety of lithium cells used in RC model aircraft, robots, etc. There are any number of different lithium cells available for commercial-grade power tools. There are lithium batteries available in various ratings for laptop computers – and the list goes on. The common denominator is that they’re all expensive, and so if one is going to bit the bullet and invest in a lithium battery system as an integral part of the build, it would make sense to try and maximize the power storage capacity and ease of recharging for a given dollar expenditure.

Once upon a time, I had a shingle that said I knew something about electrical engineering, and I suppose I still do know some parts of it. But I’m having tremendous difficulty in separating fact from hype in discussions about lithium technologies, and even more difficulty in finding out how best, and from whom, to source the batteries for the least cost without buying junk.

I’ve considered other options, from lead-acid, NiMH, Nickel Cadmium, etc. – and all are expensive if purchased new. So although lithium technology is expensive, any discussion of cost vs. weight vs. energy storage capacity has to take into account that, unless you stumble across a free or very cheap source, the battery pack is going to be the largest single expense in an electric drive system for a bigg-ish delta trike. Even if motors are purchased new, controllors likewise, the battery is going to be the big expense, according to all the research I’ve done so far.”

More>>

Human Powered Transportation Projects

New in the Atomic Zombie builders gallery

Kyoto cruiser and velo

“Sociable dual velo project. Kyoto Trike rear was modified to fit into a double wide Stormy Weather shell. The Quad is just a fun thing to build in two weeks. One seat has been removed so the drive train can be seen. I have since changed to Sturmey 8 speed internal hubs as a mid drive to reduce my chain handling issues.This version of the Kyoto should fit into the Stormy shell we are building. You can see both the shell and the sociable at the Toronto bike show in March.”

cargo bike

“Seat cover idea made from an old work coat.” Pictures submitted by HPTA.

atomiczombie bike gallery

Show us your workshop!

Take a look at one bike builder’s workshop. “My son Jesse’s black and yellow powder coated 20” bike frame, orange buckets, work bench, air compressor, Clarke 110 wire feed welder.”
Share pictures of your workshop in the AZ builders gallery. More >>