A Quest

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
User avatar
meic
Posts: 18284
Joined: 1 Feb 2007, 9:37pm
Location: Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)

A Quest

Postby meic » 15 Jul 2017, 10:12pm

I dont want this in the "dark forum" as it is being written by a recumbent novice for recumbent novices.
I have been given the loan of an old Quest Velomobile, a racing banana or a liquorice torpedo on wheels type machine.
Today I went up to Martin's house the present keeper of the Quest (but not owner) and we start trying to see if I can get into it. At first no chance, I am pretty tall (but not as tall as many Dutch people who ride them), so we have to move the pedals forward, on this bike the bottom bracket is clamped to a boom, so slacken the clamps and wiggle it forward. To do that you have to roll it on its side. This velomobile gets laid on its side quite a few times today.
We find a place where I can at last get both feet on the pedals and actually turn them without putting my knees through the machine's skin. While tightening the clamps a bit to see about finer adjustment, we notice it is out of chain tension adjustment, so insert at the quicklink with another quicklink an extra 10 links or so of chain, which happens surprisingly easily, no chains dropped into its depths. The ten links seemed about the same length (doubled over) as we had moved the BB forward.
Backpedaling it I now have toe strike, heel strike and knee strike. So as Martin tightens things up a bit further forward to eliminate the knee strike I prepare a new pair of shoes with new cleats which I fit as far forward as possible and as far outside as possible. I had been warned about this, it brings the shoe into the middle where the bike is taller and lowers the shoe.
Now I can set off up the lane to give it a try, because things are different pedaling forwards, the force pushes you back in the seat, getting your knees that little bit lower. I can at last pedal the thing!

Now I discover the "Top Dead Centre Effect" You get your legs in exactly the TDC and you just dont have enough power to move the thing, experienced bent riders will not even know this effect, they will just overcome it naturally but as a novice, especially one having trouble fitting their feet in, it can stop you dead. The answer is pretty simple, just backpedal a quarter turn, doing it wasnt.
This isnt an issue on an upright because you dont ever try starting to ride with both feet already on the pedals in the TDC position.
Between that, a lack of familiarity with the turning circle and other things I take a rather long time turning it around in order to glide effortlessly back.

Meanwhile Martin is in some domestic strife because we have spent far too long doing all of this, so ready or not I have to hit the road, with or without the Quest. I chose with.

I have been told the answer to how you signal, you stick your right arm out of the left side and vice versa, because your shoulder is too low and close to the side.
To be continued.
Yma o Hyd

User avatar
NATURAL ANKLING
Posts: 7557
Joined: 24 Oct 2012, 10:43pm
Location: English Riviera

Re: A Quest

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 15 Jul 2017, 10:18pm

Hi,
Well I can share with TDC, as I bought a trike (toy) and had the same problem............................no brakes of course............ever trusted just a coaster.........crikes.....I had to put me feet down :(
Priority Is Still 500K In 24......Just Dreaming..............Stay Focused Guys And Keep Sharp.....
You'll Find Me At The Top Of a Hill...............Somewhere

User avatar
meic
Posts: 18284
Joined: 1 Feb 2007, 9:37pm
Location: Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)

Re: A Quest

Postby meic » 15 Jul 2017, 11:10pm

Riding it.
Getting in was familiar to anybody who has used a kayak or a glider. Even more reminiscent of a glider is the "tiller steerer" which flops around in front of you like a joystick. Unlike a joystick you twist it rather than tilt it. Like a glider joystick you can hold it with fingertips and steer with a feather touch.
You can also let go of it, move it to the side, lift it up, push it down, only twisting it has any effect.
It would be hard to say you even twist it except while maneuvering, you just put a little twisting pressure on it.
Even more reminiscent of a glider was a ball on a string which is used to release the winching wire, even if it was on the wrong side. I asked what it was for and was told to try it. No cables released from the nose but the sound of a bike bell was released from there instead. :lol:

I am only mildly anxious about the 30 mile ride home, I have ridden a lot of miles with a motorbike and sidecar, so I am used to three wheel peculiarities and the Quest is not as unstable as them. I have to do some dual carriageway and it is far from empty but I know other recumbent riders do it regularly without getting killed. I have however decided to take the hills instead of the dual carriageway for most of the way.
The ride can be described as mostly up and down, so I start of up the first hill at the grand speed of 3 mph. Something is clearly wrong but I dont know what. There is a lot of intermittent banging from the transmission and the cranks are lurching like an old fashioned bike with the cotterpins falling out.
I pull in and inspect it, I cant find anything wrong. Though the cassette is hidden under a cover and it could be jumping between sprockets. So I carry on, my legs are already starting to comment, I may be over-extending and the lower legs feel over worked, this is till the first climb.
I eventually reach the top and the fun begins very slowly (because I am giving the legs a rest) it starts to build up speed. I cross the main road at a roundabout, no cars to contend with and easy enough to steer, then down a decent hill. Pretty quickly up to 30mph, the steering is very light and I am easily wondering a metre either way, so I try the brakes and pull to one side, not too bad, but happy to be forewarned and I give it a few more goes until I get the hang of compensating, at least that doesnt bother me for the rest of the ride.
When the hill ends, too soon, it carries on up the next hill quite well, much further than the upright would and then it is back to crawling up in the gutter.
I now realise with the pedaling that it is reasonably smooth if I am pushing hard, if I pedal like a tourer the cranks jump up and down like it has loose cotter pins. As the ride progresses I decided this is because I am not used to horizontal legs and the weight of my feet working 90 degrees to where it normally does. It may also be another bit of the TDC effect. I guess this is what people mean by "getting your recumbent legs". I also realise I cant keep up pedaling that hard the whole way home. Every time I change down a gear, or the bike speeds up my knees start hitting the bonnet as the cranks bounce.
A car pulls alongside and the passenger leans out to say "you have lost your wings", that made me laugh. Then comes another descent on it another cyclist is waiting to pull out, I know her so I call out her name and enjoy the surprised look. Going too fast to stop and chat.
About ten miles done and I am getting the hang of it, I have broken the 30mph car limit a few times already. :mrgreen: My legs are now screaming at me, the back is starting to ache, my knees are getting rubbed sore, as is my left shoulder from the lip of the opening digging in to it. My calf is black from rubbing on the chain. Moving average speed is 10mph.
I have also worked out that the chain is too long, I can see the tensioner folding back on itself and have learned how to do a little backpedal to free it when it snags. I have also realised the middle ring is much smoother than the inner ring and lessens "the bounce".
to be continued.
Yma o Hyd

User avatar
meic
Posts: 18284
Joined: 1 Feb 2007, 9:37pm
Location: Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)

Re: A Quest

Postby meic » 15 Jul 2017, 11:43pm

Tricky bits.
I had eyed up this crossing on the drive out. The cycle track crosses the A40 and has chicane barriers close to the road. It is a pain on a solo. Martin told me to take the grass after using the drop kerb and I had already worked out to avoid the nearside one by joining the A40 on the road 30 metres before it.
I was lucky with a quiet spell and could enter from the wrong side of the road, I wouldnt have thought it would go over the grass hump but it did.

I arrive at St Clears and feel like a celebrity, everybody is looking at you and smiling or laughing. Phones are coming out for snapshots, a drunken lady in fancy dress (Olivia Newton John's grease!) asks if she can fit in with me. I stop for fish and chips two hours late for lunch, "Sandy" arrives and asks if she can take a photo of it, OK. Then I realise she means her in it and starts getting in. I am panicking about her high heels going through the floor or other wise holing it. Fortunately she doesnt fall over until she is back out of it.

I now have my flat section of the ride and it is very disappointing because I just cant pedal properly, it is OK while I accelerate but as soon as I reach speed the pedaling goes to pot, bouncing and tiring me out. I would have been just as fast on the upright. At least you go a long way when you stop pedaling, so that is what I do, accelerate and coast, accelerate and coast.
Next challenge is another barrier chicane. As it is a bit uphill it is quite easy, you just pedal forward a bit, roll back a bit steering as you do so until you can wiggle through. Then the hill gets steep, very steep. So steep that I cant carry on. Apply the brakes, rest, put the crank in best position, release brake, quarter turn of crank, reapply brake. Crawl up hill in this way, sometimes the rear wheel span, after a few goes I changed legs. I was so engrossed with this that I reached the lane without having considered my line. The turn was too tight and I hadnt started on it soon enough. So I inched onto the grass bank, then further and I was at quite an angle. Martin had said "You will not roll it, it takes a lot to make it go over" I guess he meant while not on the side of a slope. :lol:
Next thing I am going over, nice and slow putting out my hand to stop the fall. Now lying on my side like an overturned turtle with my left cleat still fully engaged and not willing to release. I eventually got out without anybody seeing me either.
Yma o Hyd

old_windbag
Posts: 1627
Joined: 19 Feb 2015, 3:55pm

Re: A Quest

Postby old_windbag » 16 Jul 2017, 1:28am

Thanks for the quest reporting, theres some good reading. Its good it draws attention too and it seems positive rather than negative. The hills sound a bugger, what range of gears does it have and how many. From your initial setup they seem very awkward fit wise, or do you order by height range.

User avatar
squeaker
Posts: 3125
Joined: 12 Jan 2007, 11:43pm
Location: Bramber, West Sussex

Re: A Quest

Postby squeaker » 16 Jul 2017, 8:08am

Will it become an Obsession :?:

Any option on moving the seat back? (Be careful with the BB clamps - have been known to fracture if you overdo the bolt tension.) Shorter cranks would help (both with fit and spinning) but make sure that they are low Q-factor ;)

Welcome to the (very) dark side, and thanks for the write up :)
"42"

User avatar
gaz
Posts: 12273
Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 12:09pm
Location: Kent

Re: A Quest

Postby gaz » 16 Jul 2017, 11:53am

Please keep posting your adventures with the Quest.

I read them with an accompanying mental soundtrack of Yakety Sax, brightens my day.
It's got nothing to do with vorsprung durch technic you know ...

User avatar
Si
Moderator
Posts: 14468
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 7:37pm

Re: A Quest

Postby Si » 16 Jul 2017, 12:16pm

There's nothing like gently dipping your toe in the water and breaking it in easily is there :lol: :lol:

Btw, on a 'bent shouldn't TDC be SDC?

reohn2
Posts: 27705
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: A Quest

Postby reohn2 » 16 Jul 2017, 1:07pm

There are certain things that I think "now that's kuhl"..... .......then the practical side of my brain kicks in :mrgreen:
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.

User avatar
hondated
Posts: 1824
Joined: 27 Mar 2008, 7:59am
Location: Eastbourne

Re: A Quest

Postby hondated » 17 Jul 2017, 11:44am

meic wrote:I dont want this in the "dark forum" as it is being written by a recumbent novice for recumbent novices.
I have been given the loan of an old Quest Velomobile, a racing banana or a liquorice torpedo on wheels type machine.
Today I went up to Martin's house the present keeper of the Quest (but not owner) and we start trying to see if I can get into it. At first no chance, I am pretty tall (but not as tall as many Dutch people who ride them), so we have to move the pedals forward, on this bike the bottom bracket is clamped to a boom, so slacken the clamps and wiggle it forward. To do that you have to roll it on its side. This velomobile gets laid on its side quite a few times today.
We find a place where I can at last get both feet on the pedals and actually turn them without putting my knees through the machine's skin. While tightening the clamps a bit to see about finer adjustment, we notice it is out of chain tension adjustment, so insert at the quicklink with another quicklink an extra 10 links or so of chain, which happens surprisingly easily, no chains dropped into its depths. The ten links seemed about the same length (doubled over) as we had moved the BB forward.
Backpedaling it I now have toe strike, heel strike and knee strike. So as Martin tightens things up a bit further forward to eliminate the knee strike I prepare a new pair of shoes with new cleats which I fit as far forward as possible and as far outside as possible. I had been warned about this, it brings the shoe into the middle where the bike is taller and lowers the shoe.
Now I can set off up the lane to give it a try, because things are different pedaling forwards, the force pushes you back in the seat, getting your knees that little bit lower. I can at last pedal the thing!

Now I discover the "Top Dead Centre Effect" You get your legs in exactly the TDC and you just dont have enough power to move the thing, experienced bent riders will not even know this effect, they will just overcome it naturally but as a novice, especially one having trouble fitting their feet in, it can stop you dead. The answer is pretty simple, just backpedal a quarter turn, doing it wasnt.
This isnt an issue on an upright because you dont ever try starting to ride with both feet already on the pedals in the TDC position.
Between that, a lack of familiarity with the turning circle and other things I take a rather long time turning it around in order to glide effortlessly back.

Meanwhile Martin is in some domestic strife because we have spent far too long doing all of this, so ready or not I have to hit the road, with or without the Quest. I chose with.

I have been told the answer to how you signal, you stick your right arm out of the left side and vice versa, because your shoulder is too low and close to the side.
To be continued.

meic nearly being lazy asked you to put up a photo but instead Goggled it and found one.
I can now see why you got so much attention and how it took some getting used to.
Great report and as one of our forum colleagues as requested please keep us informed of any other adventures you have in it or should that be on it.

User avatar
meic
Posts: 18284
Joined: 1 Feb 2007, 9:37pm
Location: Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)

Re: A Quest

Postby meic » 17 Jul 2017, 12:07pm

The gears are a standard 3x9. It looks like 30/32t at the rear and a standard 105 on the front possibly 28 39 52. You cant really see things that easily. It is all going through a 20" rear wheel which is driven through an additional drive chain which may have a further reduction ratio. So pretty low gearing from that.
The selection is through a pair of SRAM twist grips which even after 30 miles I kept twisting the wrong way. :oops:

I have looked at the seat again after consulting the manual and I can see that all the adjustment fittings dont exist on this bike, it is one of the earliest ones.
I cant really go swapping the crankset as I have only borrowed it.

I am cursing myself because I threw away a totally knackered pair of Shimano sandals recently, which is unusual I normally keep all old junk, I could have taken the ends (or what remained) off with an angle grinder to make some special short shoes.
Yma o Hyd

User avatar
meic
Posts: 18284
Joined: 1 Feb 2007, 9:37pm
Location: Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)

Re: A Quest

Postby meic » 17 Jul 2017, 1:21pm

Finishing Off.

The final 9 miles after Carmarthen is mostly up, a long slow drag which I am pretty immune to on the upright but I decided to visit friends for a couple of hours rest, not at all to show off the new (merely borrowed) toy.
The house was on a slope (surprise, surprise) so I could do a U-turn in the road and reverse back to park alongside the kerb, very cool! The cranks of course turn with the wheel while in reverse so you can apply some "engine braking".

Shortly after setting off I meet some temporary traffic lights, which totally ignore me. Eventually a bus arrives (with its customary tailback of cars) and activates the lights for me. So I set off at 3mph up hill with my own personal convoy. The bus has the sense to see the futility of this and stops and waits until I am almost at the other end, rather than sitting in first on my tail.
They all pass me after we clear the lights, then there is a dip and another set of lights. I mange to build up speed in the dip and the momentum carries me up the next hill enough that I can get through the next lights on the tail end of my convoy.

I turn off the main road and go down a hill which has a chicane over a train line at the bottom.
I have techniques for this in the car and on the bike which means I can generally go through it fast, unless somebody overtakes me and slams on the brakes in front of me.
As I am new to the Quest, I dont take it anywhere near as fast. This would be a perfect place to roll it.

Another strange phenomenon with the Quest is nothing looks steep when you are sat in it. Some sort of optical illusion that had me questioning if I was where I knew I was, as it didnt look as if it was going up as it normally does.
In between all the up, there is about 150m of descending to do so it wasnt all work and no play.
Because the climbs were not gentle the pedaling was more "stable" and I wasnt wasting energy like I did on the flatter stuff.
Back on the main road, and almost home, there is a hidden dip and the Quest is very low, turns out no need to worry I am doing over 30mph before I am in the dip so nothing is going to be catching up too quickly to react.
About a mile from home the chain comes off while changing to the inner ring. I try the emergency drill of changing back to middle and pedaling but it doesnt catch and I am rolling to a halt. So I have to get out while stuck in the road and lift the bike onto the pavement. Fortunately there is a nice bit of thick mossy lawn to roll it on its side on.
Unknowingly I am about to enter a steep learning curve. I have leaned it on the left side because there is a mirror on the right. I cant get the chain to catch, even winding the changer to outer ring, so I turn the bike on its other side, hoping gravity will help, it doesnt. So I have to actually touch the chain and manhandle it in to place. I have to touch it a lot and get filthy. Moss is a pretty good handcleaner put it upright and ready to go. It wont go, it is jammed solid. I need a pee.
I inspect the front and everything is OK, the cassette is fully enclosed under a cover which I assume is a semi-permanent fitting and I need a pee. It is only a mile or so and that it mostly down hill so I consider just pulling it uphill and coasting home but it will not roll. I really need a pee.
I investigate the cover and accidentally discover it is just held on by velcro, lift it to find the cassette, wrestle the chain back on to it, it had dropped between the cassette and its "pseudo-hub" a bit more swarfega moss and I can set off again. A simple chain off which I probably would have managed while riding an upright, had cost me about half an hour. The learning bit of the learning curve wasnt finished there either.
The last half mile to home is straight, downhill turning to flat, with a vicious speed bump. Just before that all starts you are going uphill and around a bend. After which everybody should overtake who is going to overtake. I have four or five cars behind me as I enter the straight and I am accelerating up from 5mph. They dont overtake so I am whizzing up to about 40mph at which point the car behind starts to overtake as we are approaching the 30 limit and the speed bump. He pulls in infront, just gaining on me with car 2 at my side. I can see what is happening and move to the white line. It doesnt deter car 3 who also pulls alongside hoping to squeeze in along with car two. Car one is now putting on the anchors for the speed bump. I am now having to brake a little so car 4 decides to overtake too into the gap that I am creating by braking. So we do a crazy maneuver where he flies in from my right and brakes and I fly over to his right and pull alongside under his elbow. I can see his girlfriend laughing her head off at how he was so easily overtaken. I momentarily consider overtaking all four but dont know how the Quest would take the speed bump.
I realise this is going to be a feature of riding the Quest, its speed is just so extreme in its variation.
You go from 3 mph uphill to 40mph downhill pretty quickly, unlike a car with an engine you dont hold a constant speed and unlike a cycle you dont remain slow. Though it isnt the first time I have played the speed bump waltz but never with cars that started the straight with me, normally only with ones that arrived after me.
On that particular descent the upright would have topped at under thirty and I would have had to pedal again quite substantially before the speed bump. I would have been doing around 18mph at the bump, under power. The velomobile keeps on gaining speed to 40mph and it doesnt lose it on the flat, it would still be over 30mph at the speedbump, without any pedaling!
Yma o Hyd

old_windbag
Posts: 1627
Joined: 19 Feb 2015, 3:55pm

Re: A Quest

Postby old_windbag » 17 Jul 2017, 1:35pm

Actually gearing on such a vehicle must be awkward in some respects compared to a bicycle in that on hills with the extra 20-30kg you'd want a super low gear. But on the flat perhaps it'd be easy to spin out as with the aero advantage you're more likely to reach 30mph on a more regular basis. The extra mass once at constant speed may not have as great an impact as the rolling resistance won't be affected as much by the extra mass relatively speaking as percentage of total mass. But the aero much improved, it'll be interesting to see if strong crosswinds have much affect or if the vehicle is good aerodynamically from all angles.

I think the top gear on the gears you quote looks like around 87 gear inches if we assume a 12 tooth cog. But as you say there may be other things in there affecting this. I'll check out quests current set up to see what they use at present. Anyway I'd imagine on the latest versions that my procrastination on gearing for hills would go out of the window with the electric assist option. In practical terms in very hilly areas that may be essential if having to integrate with faster traffic.

It sounds like a big learning curve but once past that hopefully the experience will be a positive one. So far beyond the chain and body fit, it's sounds like you're having speedy fun :) .

Vorpal
Moderator
Posts: 13576
Joined: 19 Jan 2009, 3:34pm
Location: Not there ;)

Re: A Quest

Postby Vorpal » 17 Jul 2017, 1:46pm

You make me want to try one. Without the turtle imitation.

:mrgreen:
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

reohn2
Posts: 27705
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: A Quest

Postby reohn2 » 17 Jul 2017, 2:01pm

Meic
I'm tittering(with you) inwardly,and realising why such machines were primarily made for the Netherlands and their execllent cyclepath network and not for Wales :shock: :)
And at €6.5K (according to the website) and their impracticalities they only ever be as common as Ferraris but without the 'pulling' power :mrgreen:

PS,in a world of Brexit threads this one is a refreshing change :)
Last edited by reohn2 on 17 Jul 2017, 4:38pm, edited 1 time in total.
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.