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  1. #1
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    FWD FWS home-built ghetto bender - how do I drive this thing?

    Greetings! I would like to say that no innocent bikes were harmed in the creation of this monstrosity but it would be a lie. I came home from the dump full of energy and two old bikes on my rack. I was surprised I had something sort of ridable with only a couple hours time invested, mostly because it took a grand total of maybe 2 minutes to saw a Huffy in two. I have a total of zero dollars invested so I can live with the ugliness but functionality either needs improvement or I need to learn how to ride a bike. It is fun to coast downhill and I am actually able to pedal a little bit, but pedalling uphill cars beep at me and run me over and everything. Any tips (other than stay off the road) would be welcome. I have read that there is a trick to riding the cruzbike style bents but I have not really seen anything that explains those tricks in such a way an old dog can learn them.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member LWB_guy's Avatar
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    I built a recumbent bike from scrapped mountain bike parts. My strategem was to used recycled bike parts, test ride the bike, and then replace whatever parts needed to be replaced to make my recycled bent reliable for cross-country touring.

    I also live in the rust belt of the Northeast.

    So far, the only new parts I have bought for it are:
    (1) new Bulldog caliper brakes, front and rear
    (2) new rear derailler teflon cable & cable housing
    (3) one new chain
    (4) tires & tubes
    (5) fiberglass & epoxy
    (6) new handgrips
    (7) wheel bearings
    (8) lots of hardware store fittings - nuts, washers, etc.

    Mine is a CLWB, meaning the crank is approximately the same height as the bottom of my seat - 24 inches above pavement.

    The biggest improvement to my hill-climbing ability was to replace the front wheel (was 24in. MTB wheel) with a 20in. wheel. Now I am climbing the same hllls I was walking up last year. My rear wheel is a 27x1.125 standard wheel recycled from a 10-speed DF.

    I've ridden this bike 888 miles in the past two months. Now, I am rebuilding the seatback because the one on it because the existing bike becomes uncomfortable after about three hours of continuous pedalling.

    I hope this helps you develop your Cruzbike. I have never ridden a Cruzbike. The human interface -- seat, seatback, handgrips, seat-bottom-to-crank-distance, shift levers, pedals -- are critically important as far as riding comfort. So if you plan to ride your bike a lot, pay attention to these factors as much as you do to the factors of transmission efficiency, structural integrity, and mechanical reliability. Not to mention weight!

    I hope that you will chronicle your adjustments to this new type of 'bent here. I am anxious to here your experiences with the Cruzbike, both pleasant ones and unpleasant ones.

    Ride on!
    Last edited by LWB_guy; 05-04-09 at 09:57 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member defjack's Avatar
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    Spend your money on a real Cruzbike kit thay work and you wont end up in the ER. I have over 4000 miles on Cruzbikes and ride in heavy Los Angeles traffic. You can check out my bikes on the Cruzbike kit forum. My latest build is a 50$ hardtail frame had it up to 20mph for the first ride.Im sold 100%on fwd. Jack
    Cruzbike Vendetta ,Silvio,Quest Santa Monica -San Diego

  4. #4
    Senior Member PaPa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by defjack View Post
    Spend your money on a real Cruzbike kit..
    You forgot to mention that the Cruzbike 'kits' are $395 + shipping. Or about the same price as a complete, ready-to-ride but used EZ-1.

  5. #5
    shaken, not stirred. gnome's Avatar
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    Having ridden a homebuilt Moving Bottom Bracket (MBB) FWD bent similar to yours I have a few tip/pointers. It wasn't my bike but one a friend had made.

    1. You have to use your arms to hold/push the handlebars against the push of your legs. That apply pressure with your right arm when your left leg is on the power part of your pedal stroke. Once you have got used to riding it you will need to do this less, see point 2.

    2. Spin faster in an easier gear. I found that a MBB FWD bent requires a very smooth pedal stroke not to get the pedal steer. It is easier to pedal smoothly when you are not trying to mash a big gear.

    3. I notice that the joint between the two halves is just a twisted bracket. Is this bracket flexing or twisting when you are pedaling, causing the difficulties with control? Maybe make a more secure fitting for holding the two halves together.
    Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. ~Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnome View Post
    Having ridden a homebuilt Moving Bottom Bracket (MBB) FWD bent similar to yours I have a few tip/pointers. It wasn't my bike but one a friend had made.

    1. You have to use your arms to hold/push the handlebars against the push of your legs. That apply pressure with your right arm when your left leg is on the power part of your pedal stroke. Once you have got used to riding it you will need to do this less, see point 2.

    2. Spin faster in an easier gear. I found that a MBB FWD bent requires a very smooth pedal stroke not to get the pedal steer. It is easier to pedal smoothly when you are not trying to mash a big gear.

    3. I notice that the joint between the two halves is just a twisted bracket. Is this bracket flexing or twisting when you are pedaling, causing the difficulties with control? Maybe make a more secure fitting for holding the two halves together.
    I came home, read this post, then went back outside and tried that arm technique. For about 30 seconds it worked! It was kind of counter-intuitive so i could not keep it up but with practice it will get better. Now that I know there is a way, I will spend a little time making the bike fit better with more robust fabricating. The twisted bracket was handy to test the concept but I do need to come up with a more solid attachment. My next dump run I will have a more specific list of parts to look for. Using 'MBB' in my googling gets more relevant hits also.

    Spending my money on a real cruzbike as another suggested is a moot point as my total recreational budget is -0-. I did not know there was such a thing until after i built this and started googling around to see what other people had done along these lines but reading the Cruzbike forum I do not see what difference it would really make for the question at hand. It would be nice to have something more solid with less tinkering but from what I am reading the learning curve can be steep and wobbly on this type of ride no matter how well it is built.

  7. #7
    Senior Member LWB_guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mralaska View Post
    . . .The twisted bracket was handy to test the concept but I do need to come up with a more solid attachment. . . .
    .
    If you get this bike to work well and you decide to name it, I would suggest, "Twisted Britches". Maybe you can think of a better name.

  8. #8
    Bent builder purplepeople's Avatar
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    Or you can build a twist chain front wheel drive and not have to worry about re-learning to ride a bike...

    :)ensen.
    Those who claim to be making history are usually just repeating it.

    My tilting trike: Video and Images

  9. #9
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWB_guy View Post
    Mine is a CLWB, meaning the crank is approximately the same height as the bottom of my seat - 24 inches above pavement.
    CLWB was a term coined by Bob Bryant at RCN, because he felt he needed a separate class to describe what were essentially low-end LWBs. In short, a CLWB was a LWB with small wheels, and the rear wheel tucked up under the seat, to give a shorter overall package. In practice, they were taller, with lower performance; so I can see why he wanted to separate them from the lighter, faster, better-made REAL LWBs. I just didn't happen to agree that they needed to be classed separately. They're all LWB to me, due to the configuration of having the front wheel ahead of the pedals. But it has nothing to do with the bottom bracket height.

    I don't know if it can be done on mralaska's bike without major frame modifications, but that seat really needs to be reclined more!

  10. #10
    Senior Member LWB_guy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
    CLWB was a term coined by Bob Bryant at RCN, because he felt he needed a separate class to describe what were essentially low-end LWBs. In short, a CLWB was a LWB with small wheels, and the rear wheel tucked up under the seat, to give a shorter overall package. In practice, they were taller, with lower performance; so I can see why he wanted to separate them from the lighter, faster, better-made REAL LWBs.
    Well, if that be the case, then mine with 27in./20in. wheels is a LWB. Thanks for the explanation. That's the first time I've heard it. This is my first recumbent. I have only been riding a year or so.
    Last edited by LWB_guy; 05-04-09 at 09:58 AM.

  11. #11
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    I am not sure if I want to name my creations, it makes it too personal when I have to destroy them. I was compensating for my poorly designed seat by sitting way forward but I have now moved it. I am retro-fitting the old seat frame to replace the reflector bracket for holding the thing together. Without a welder and short on material I hesitate to do any radical modifications to the basic bicycle design unless I find some more interesting parts at the dump but I will not have time to go to the dump until maybe this weekend.

    A couple years ago I saw a guy on a home-built recumbent with the seat mounted on top the original seat post of a full size road bike and the pedals above the handlebars with levers coming back to work the steering. He had a big grin and seemed to be cruising right along. I have no idea how he got it to start without toppling over. My goal is something comfortable that I can actually ride once in a while.

  12. #12
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Yours is a good first attempt. I have a feeling you will be modifying the design and producing, um... more 'refined' versions in the future. If you find the moving bottom bracket is too hard to ride, you can always build a standard SWB from a mixte frame, like my junk bike.


    Last edited by BlazingPedals; 05-04-09 at 11:39 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Onus's Avatar
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    Is a bike significantly less stable if the front wheel is much larger than the rear, say a typical 26" in front and a 16" in the rear?

  14. #14
    Bent builder purplepeople's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onus View Post
    Is a bike significantly less stable if the front wheel is much larger than the rear, say a typical 26" in front and a 16" in the rear?
    No.

    Most of the stability is created by the design of the steering - the combination of head angle, wheelbase, and trail. If you take a bike designed for 26" rear wheel and put a 16" rear wheel, your head angle will become less vertical and the trail will increase, changing the handling. If you take the same bike and lower the rear dropouts 5" before mounting the 16" rear wheel, the bike should handle the same.

    :)ensen.
    Those who claim to be making history are usually just repeating it.

    My tilting trike: Video and Images

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mralaska View Post
    Greetings! I would like to say that no innocent bikes were harmed in the creation of this monstrosity but it would be a lie. I came home from the dump full of energy and two old bikes on my rack. I was surprised I had something sort of ridable with only a couple hours time invested, mostly because it took a grand total of maybe 2 minutes to saw a Huffy in two. I have a total of zero dollars invested so I can live with the ugliness but functionality either needs improvement or I need to learn how to ride a bike. It is fun to coast downhill and I am actually able to pedal a little bit, but pedalling uphill cars beep at me and run me over and everything. Any tips (other than stay off the road) would be welcome. I have read that there is a trick to riding the cruzbike style bents but I have not really seen anything that explains those tricks in such a way an old dog can learn them.
    Cool looking bike, I hope you haven't cut it up. You said yourself you could coast and ride it, just not up-hill. So, practice riding it on the flat and stay away from hills, or walk up them, until you can ride it better. You'll be riding this faster than it took to learn to ride your first bike. Once you learn to ride it, you can also easily ride it with no hands. A handy thing at times. Also, "Cruzbike" is a brand, not a style. Swing booms, or moving bottom brackets have been around for 30 years or more and the original builders did exactly what you have just done, so ignore the ones telling you to buy a kit. As far as I'm concerned, you're the smart one that built a bike in a heartbeat out of what other people decided was junk. I converted a DF into a highracer much the same as what BlazingPedals did, but in that case, a welder/brazing is handy or needed to make it function best.

    A friend of mine made a MBB too and after doing a bunch of frame mods, bolted it all together. It was completely rideable but pretty noodly due to all the bolted joints, so I offered to weld up some of them to stiffen it up. He still rides it and he's fast on it. It's quite enjoyable watching the roadies turn up their nose at him on it, because if they want to do it a second time, they have to catch him first.

  16. #16
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    Hi. Don't know if you still need some info. But, I have an actual Cruzbike, and have read (and experienced) some of the solutions to your initial difficulties.

    First, it takes a while to get used to a new bike. I spent a the first few days riding only in a parking lot, and then spent a terrifying 5 minutes on a real road, realizing I still had no idea how to truly control my new FWD recumbent. So I spent another 2-3 weeks practicing everything a could think of, mostly way away from traffic: very slow speed, tight maneuvers; various down and uphill sensations; starting and stopping on various inclines; holding the edge of a straight line at cadences from pressing to spinning (I did this at a high school track when few others were around); what it would feel like to be off the pavement, etc. It's just hard to mix comfortably with traffic until you don't have to "think" about the bike so much.

    Remember constantly: your feet/legs contribute to your straight line, at all speeds and inclines. I sometimes still have to send the conscious message "steer" to my feet. The arms cannot really do it alone on a bike with so much weight forward of the steering axis. Relatedly, it almost always helps to keep pedaling, certainly when the going gets tough, but even at higher speeds. Somehow the sensation of "feet contact with the pedals and steering" helps build confidence and stability.

    Second: every cyclist has to choose the right roads and routes to be on. I had to really think ahead for the best roads (least trafficked), intersections, hills/not hills, starting/stopping requirements, etc. to lessen the pressure on me to be perfect, and to make sure I would be as safe as possible (and as little nuisance as possible) during my break-in period. Avoid climbs where you will be holding up a lot of traffic.

    Next: I read often that it may take a few to several hundred miles on a recumbent to develop the new muscles needed to climb efficiently. This might be a month to several months of actual riding. Avoid the most challenging hills you might have tackled on your diamond frames until you have complete confidence of your "recumbent legs." Patience--you'll eventually get there, and it will feel very different, and great!

    Finally, the basic technique to climbing with most, maybe all, recumbents, is to "spin" rather than "press." This assumes you have low enough gearing on your "recumbenstein" [great looking build, by the way! It's an inspiration to see the results of other people's creative welding because I am designing a bike myself, and will probably take up welding this year to realize my own creation].

    So, spin spin spin: gear lower than you might normally think you should, and do so before your legs are hopelessly plodding. Aim for a pedal cadence of 80 or even above 80.

    Leaning forward (some describe it as a "boxer's crouch") helps with balance and control at the lower speed, as well as with power. Use your arms and back somewhat (not too much), similar to how you would get your whole body into an out-of-seat climb on a diamond frame. Again, it takes lots of experience to really feel how this should work. Remember "the feet are steering" at all times, too.

    Hope this is of some help, and I hope you continue to enjoy your new ride!

  17. #17
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    Hi there

    Only advice that works ..........stick with it !

    I am in the same position as you :-

    http://www.bentrideronline.com/messa...ad.php?t=51458

    Trying to build a rideable Atombolt , it is getting closer.

    It really is down to getting it in the lowest gear possible and pedalling away, I am trying to do this on a narrow street in a housing estate [ UK ] with parked cars but little traffic.

    Strangley I can ride in a straight line fairly well , but cannot place the line where I want and turning is still hard.

    Advice.

    Sit up to turn , remove legs from wheels if it goes pear shaped , put them back on when you have it under control.

    Practice , practice practice

    I suprised myself as to how much side to side swinging the front wheel can do and I can still cycle in a straigh line.

    Watch this :-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBYUAV9QEws

    I watched it a couple of times before I could ride mine and now realise why he is taking his legs off the pedals , I though mine had really heavy steering , but it was just my legs resisiting turning !

    I do have 1600 miles on a Speed Ross recuumbent so the experience was not totally new to me.

    regards Paul
    Last edited by stormbird; 08-05-09 at 04:40 AM. Reason: duff text

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