Friday, July 03, 2009

Making a Sail for Recumbent Bicycles (Easy)

What You’ll Need:
1 Backpack Frame
2 2” Spring Clamps
Duct Tape/Scissors
Some vinyl or plastic sheeting

1. Cut vinyl to fit inside backpack frame, attach with duct tape.
2. Attach sail behind backrest with spring clamps like so:

A standard 2" spring clamp costs about a dollar and fits perfectly around the seat strut and sail frame. (Use duct tape to reinforce the seat so as not to tear up the webbing.) You can use tape or a bungee cord to make a third anchorpoint on the crossbars, but the springclamps hold so well it's not necessary.

I used a standard Bike E recumbent extended with a 2” x 3” hammered directly into the frame (the fit is so perfect it’s hard to imagine it wasn’t designed that way). My son and I road-tested this along with a touring bike from Monterey to San Luis Obispo through the Salinas Valley, approximately 200 miles of relatively flat, straight backcountry roads paralleling the 101. Winds are generally light or non-existent in the mornings, but as the valley floor begins to heat up the air rises and starts pulling in the cooler air from the coast, so by 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon the entire valley turns into a wind tunnel heading south.

With its lower profile and center of gravity, the recumbent was able to keep up fairly well in low wind conditions, but once the wind kicked in and we put the sail up, the recumbent was definitely faster. Particularly going uphill, which is something recumbents aren't supposed to be.

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