Friday, March 23, 2007

Monty and Formula 1

I stumbled across these offbeat bicycle designs while looking for something else, of course. I like the simple, clean design of the Monty, and it's especially appealing in that it's a hands-free design.

The first Formula 1 photo, on the other hand, is a kludge. There aren't many bikes I'd describe as butt-ugly, however, this is definitely one of them. The frame and fork in the second shot are more appealing. It looks much like a dedicated TT bike, but with a shorter wheelbase and smaller wheels, obviously. Something like this would make for a compact commuter bike, sort of in between a full-size machine and a folder like a Brompton or Dahon.

Small & simple

This is a small, simple recumbent bicycle. With its 16" wheels Monty is a portable vehicle which easily can be dismantled. I wanted a bike that I can bring on trains, buses and other means of public transport. Since there are hardly any small foldable recumbent bikes on the market I decided to build one myself.

Centre steered

I have chosen centre steering because this design makes the bike simpler to build. There is no need for a handle bar or steering column. Once the riding technique is mastered it is a relaxing way of biking. The rider sits in a comfortable, recumbent position and does not only pedal with his feet but also steers with them. Hands can rest in one's lap or you may comb your hair or even operate a camera while riding. As steering pivot an ordinary bottom bracket of cassette type is used. The quadratic shaped axle fits into slots in the pivot fork where it is locked by crank bolts.

Simple design

I wanted as few components as possible so I chose a 3-gear hub with back pedal brake. The only lever or shifter I have on Monty is the gear shifter below the seat. With the coaster brake I am able to brake without using my hands and this enhances the freedom of the centre steered bike even more. The simple design also makes for lesser items on the bike that can hook on to things during transport. I did not want suspension because it would have made the bike heavier and also more complicated to build. To give myself best possible comfort the bike is equipped with cushy 2,0" Schwalbe Big Apple tyres.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Formula One Bicycle Madness

Most people I talk to have no idea what a Formula One bicycle is. I know that they never caught on, but it seems to me that anyone who walked into a bike shop in the late 1980's had to see them. I guess, though, if you were homing in on the new-fangled MTB's on the showroom floor, you might have missed the bastard-child-of-BMX section in the far corner.

F1 was an offshoot of BMX, which combined that sport and autocross racing. The bikes were essentially 7-speed BMX frames, with high bottom brackets and flat bars, and they were raced around a course outlined by cones in a parking lot. In retrospect, it looks like a lot of fun, to me, but it went over like a lead balloon at the time.
It's almost impossible to find any info on F1 racing on the interweb. If you have any that you would like to share, please do so.

The bikes are relatively rare on the used market. I have had one come to me, in the past 15 years, and it was missing its fork. I ended up building it with a Manitou suspension fork, PitBull brakes (the front modified to run on the 26" wheel fork while reaching a 20" wheel), old-school Dura-Ace cranks and Shimano bar-end shifters on a drop bar.

My friend Shawn ended up with this one.
I have looked for another F1 since then, with no luck. Then, I happened across this site: Willie Nichols is a bike builder in Virginia who produces new F1 frames and sells either framesets or full bikes. I contacted him, and he was cool enough to sell me an unfinished frame, with no braze-ons or paint, along with a rigid fork. And, he gave me a very decent price on it.

Here is the frame, as received, with some random parts stuck on to make it look like a bike.

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Blogger Fritz said...

F1 bikes -- Bike Friday with its small wheels is reminiscent of this design.

That bent is a sweet looking machine!

11:01 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

The webpage for the Monty said that it's possible to shoot photos while riding because of the hands-free design. I like that idea. Too bad it's a one-off, for now.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

Hey, let's skool kids to design artbikes. Not every kid wants to race.

1:03 PM  
Blogger thomas said...

I have the vector file for the Rockfish logo if you're interested. I'm building myself one right now.

7:14 AM  

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