Friday, August 21, 2009

Sail for Recumbent Bike (High Wind)

I made this by taking the basic sail design and adding wings made from lawn chair tubing, vinyl and duct tape, attached to the backpack frame with baling wire. The crossbar was made from an old ski pole and the fairing comes courtesy of Windwrap and worth every penny. I tested it through the Salinas Valley with tailwinds averaging between 15 and 20 mph and for the most part, it rocked.

In general, a sail will be helpful up to windspeed but no faster, but really helped compensate for the weight of the bike, which was fully loaded with pack, camping gear etc. On uphills and in high winds it felt like magic.

Probably the most noticeable effect was in cities, where people of all ages and demographics would stop to stare, chat, give a thumbs-up or say "Cool Bike!" And let's face it, when a 12 year old says you've got a cool bike, you do.
(Wings folded back)
Despite the aesthetics, the design and materials are much heavier and more unwieldy than necessary - nice and strong for high winds, but fairly impractical otherwise - so I'll probably try working with nylon and tent materials next. Awfully tempting though to take this up to the high desert and see what it does in a really big wind.