Fiberglass Frame and Fairing
I just joined this forum.
I have some pictures to show. It's the Fiberglass Ladies Bicycle, designed by my Daughter Mellisa. Officially known as NFA Vehicles Type 9. The fairing is based on the streamlined styling of the Kenworth Truck's spoiler. The fiberglass is a quarter inch thick , so it is hollow enough to float, yet strong enough to put a dent in the trunk of any car that cuts it off. Anyone ever open a car-door in front of you? Try knocking the door off it's hinges:
What?*I get no replies. I guess the look of my bike left you all speachless.
Here's a picture of the NFA Vehicles Type 6:
There are six foot aluminum poles strapped to the top tube with hose clamps, which hold the front and rear fairings, and the roof is rivetted to the fairings.
If you want to try it yourself, steel pipe might be better than aluminum. To avoid breakage/ metal fatigue.
My old brochure from 1989 has a cutaway view of the steel pipes, a.k.a."Frame Rails":
The method described above won't work on a ladies bike. Mellisa suggested that a fiberglass beam of lumber dimensions could be cast with 45 degree angles in it, for the step-thru.
Impressive work but do you have problems in crosswinds with the hood up? A friend with a similar German weather covering quit using it because of problems resulting from overtaking vehicles.
If anything, the bike was propelled forward.
I confess, I do hold a pilots liscence, so it may be natural for me to steer into the wind.
After putting 8000 miles on it and recieving many offers in the range of $700 to $750, I finally sold it for the Best Offer, of twelve hundred dollars ($1,200.00).
The Type 9 ladies bike has a body made of fiberglass.
The Type 6 velomobile used quarter inch plywood for the internal bulkheads, which unfortunately rotted.
The hard shell of the type 6 was Kevlar, which is many times more expensive than fiberglass.
The money people offered for the kevlar bike was not enough to pay for the raw kevlar, so I decided to scrap it back in 1998.
Not enough had been written about building velomobiles in the late 1980's when the type 6 was built.
The frame rails also were a problem. I used inch and 1/4 aluminum tube , and it cracked after 6000 miles. I replaced the tubes, and the new tubes cracked after 6000 miles. I replaced the tubes again with aluminum, and put 5800 miles on it , which is where the odometer was at when I scrapped it. I was afraid to let anyone else ride it, fearing I could get sued if the front fairing dropped against the front wheel.
I should mention the Type 7, before telling about type 9.
Let me see here, do I have some pictures of the Type 7 ...
The black type 7 got stolen.
The blue type 7 sold for one hundred fifteen dollars ($115.00).
The type 7 was intended to be a modern bicycle basket. I have a frame mounted type 7 on my recumbent, but I don't have a picture. Type 7 is a design intended to be sculpted in fiberglass. I will never use kevlar again. In part because it is so expensive, and also because the Dupont company refused to give out any free samples. ( 3M company , on the other hand, gladly donated three yards of their high temperature borosilicate fiberglass.)
Mellisa and the other girl (in the photo) designed the type 7. Mellisa designed the type 9 by herself. She did NOT want an enclosed velomobile, and she did a couple of things that would make putting a roof on the type 9 impossible. The ridges on the sides of the fairing will not match up with any sheet of flat acrylic plastic. Those are supposed to be the fenders, she based the design on the Kenworth truck with the slanted hood and spoiler. Although, she left the windshield out and the spoiler is a polystyrene foam piece on the rear edge of the hood. It's supposed to look like a windowless truck, like it has it's eyes closed, or in other words a "Street Sleeper".
I currently have two faired bikes in use. Like I said , the recumbent has a type 7 fairing.
I also have a BMX with a fiberglass banana seat, but the fairing on that bike is a 1982 Suzuki aftermarket product.
I would like to get around to building another velomobile. I will not make the mistakes I made in the type 6. The type 6 was only twenty inches wide. The next one will be twenty six inches wide. I will use the 4"x6" cast fiberglass frame rail of Mellisa's design.
I will NOT do what the European velomobile producers are doing.
Their designs are to low to be seen by drivers of cars.
ok, since you asked for replies, I gotta ask- why? I can see a fairing on a recumbent or a gravity bike (pure straight line speed where weight isn't really a concern), but does it really serve a purpose on a standard bike like the ones pictured?
Or maybe I missed the point and you guys built the fairings just because you thought they looked neat- that's cool, and I can certainly respect the work that went into them. Either way, thanks for sharing your unique vision.
Fairings do more than reduce wind resistance (which increases speed).
Fairings also provide weather protection.
I saw motorcycle fairings before, and I had to ask "why don't these things have a storage compartment inside? Like a glove compartment?"
So my creations bring forth two innovations;
1) Putting a motorcycle windshield on a pedal-bike. (Everyone said it was impossible, I said 'why not?' The pictures proove it can be done).
2) Providing internal storage space inside the fairings, thus creating a prototype for a modern plastic handlebar basket. The fiberglass keeps things in the basket dry if the bike is left out and it rains. No one can see through the fiberglass, I can conceal things.
And there is a profit motive, the type 9 sold for twelve hundred with an investment of two hundred seventy in materials, thus a nine hundred thirty dollar profit was made.
I hope other bike builders can glean an idea or two from my work. Yes, I built the fairings partly because they look neat, but that's what sells the bike. They look neat to other people, who offer cash.
I started this project as an Engineering student. I prooved that it would make money to produce a Human Powered Vehicle/cargo bike.
I don't have enough manufacturing space , or enough distribution (trucks), or enough money to advertize.
I'm waiting for other bike builders to copy some of my/her ideas. I haven't shown you anything newer than 1991, so it would be at the end of it's 17 year patent, this year.
Schwinn named it's motorcycle styled bike the "Spoiler", and now I'm kicking myself. Mellisa wanted to name the bike "Mini-Kenworth". but I told her we'd get sued by the Truck Maker for using their name. I don't know if I can sue Schwinn. I don't want to sue Schwinn, but we called our product "Spoiler" first.
I realize there is more to custom bike building than making money. There is an art to bike building. Good artists rarely see the money their art is worth in their lifetime.
I'd like to note that the Type 9 and the Type 7 were designed by volunteers from Florida. They tried the Type 5 in Florida and they said they got too hot. So they designed smaller fairings. I live on Long Island, it gets cold here in the winter. Fairings are more for protection from the cold than for making the bike go faster.
The negative side of what I've done is that I've crammed ten pounds of sugar into a five pound bag.
A bicycle manufacturer only needs to improve one thing to sell a new bike, for example shock-absorbers. If a customer isn't happy with the ride of the $119.00 basic model, there is a $179.00 bike with shock absorbers. Borrowing motorcycle technology is slowly changing bicycles for the better.
But you can't add rear shocks to a bicycle that doesn't have them. Neither can you turn your existing bike into a velomobile by adding aftermarket parts.
And although I'm happy that I made some money selling my work, I am getting started on another project to build a bike for myself, which I have no intent to market. I value weather protection, and cargo carrying ability and looking neat, in that order.
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