Taming handlebar cables

I have not yet found a way to completely tame the weird squiggles that brake and shifter cables make on a recumbent, but these TerraCycle clamp-on cable guides help quite a lot:

Yeah, these are an indulgence, because you can hold your cables in place with a handful of zipties if you position them right. But these guides really do clean up that problem area on the steering mast, and I’m sure they’ll last longer than any other component…

(If you’re getting these for a Giro 20 recumbent steering riser, get the 1 1/4 kind, not the 1 1/8 kind.)

A larger mirror for recumbent riding

When you’re riding a recumbent, a rearview mirror is essential, whether it’s mounted on your handlebars or on your helmet. You can’t turn around in your seat for a quick glance behind you.

I prefer a handlebar mirror, because I can view it with two eyeballs instead of one, and my eyes don’t have to adjust as much when I switch between looking at it and looking at the road ahead. So I bought a Busch & Muller “Cycle Star Mirror”. I’ve never been satisfied with it though, because it’s too small and the support rod hits against my hand when I’m resting my arms on the handlebars. Then I upgraded to a Busch & Muller “Cycle Star 80” and solved both those problems:

Now I can see a huge chunk of the road, and there’s room for my hands. The mirror is heavier so it tends to vibrate more, but it’s still way more useful. I put some plastic epoxy in the adjustable base to cut the vibration down to almost nothing, and now I’m pretty confident that I’ve found the best recumbent mirror there is.

Wiring up a tail light: How to keep it out of the way?

If you’re riding at night, you need a tail light. If you’re riding a lot, you want one that’s wired in, so you never leave it at home by accident and never need to worry about powering it. But how do you wire the thing up?

In the past, my solution has been to ziptie the wire to the frame and the rack, but more than once I’ve accidentally broken the wire while moving the bike around or arranging heavy gear. So now I’m trying something else: Plastic adhesive!

I taped the wire down over the fender, leaving most of it exposed, and then I busted out the JB-Weld.

Using some rubber gloves and a paper towel, I applied enough adhesive to cover the wire, then cleaned up around it to make a smooth ridge running almost the entire length of the fender. When that was set, I peeled off the tape and covered the remaining gaps.

The result: A wire that is as out of the way as possible, safe from corrosion, and won’t get snagged by rack equipment.

Improvised strap holders for Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus bags

The long carrying straps for these Ortlieb bags are really handy…

Until you want them out of the way. For example, when you’ve placed the bags on your bike and you don’t want the straps getting tangled in your wheels.

What’s a busy bike tourist supposed to do with these dang things? Unclip them and stow them inside the bag, every time? Leave them clipped, but drop them inside the bag, where they’ll get wrapped around bits of luggage?

Here’s a solution. It works so well it should probably be part of the original bag design. First, get ahold of a bag of extra Ortlieb doodads.

Then get ahold of two velcro straps. These are pretty common; you can find a dozen different kinds on Amazon. Using the same brass punching tool that Ortlieb supplies for mounting pockets and water bottles, poke a hole near the lip of each bag, on the side where the lid is connected. Then poke a hole through each of your velcro straps, near the buckle.

Use a nut, a screw, and a couple of washers from the spare parts collection to attach each velcro strap to one of the bags. You can now fold up the carrying straps, and secure them neatly to the lip of each bag, using the velcro straps like so:

It’s very tidy, on and off the bicycle. Now you can keep the straps attached and available all the time, but totally out of the way then you don’t need them.

Valoria II: Seats and fitting

I ride my recumbent a lot, and I ride it wrong.

When I’m not doing tight maneuvers, I rest my arms way up on the handlebars. That means I position the handlebars way closer than normal.

To get the same setup on my new bike, I had to get a longer steering riser tube. After much discussion with Zach, we concluded that the easiest thing to do was ask Bacchetta to send us a riser tube meant for their Bella long-wheelbase bike. That worked beautifully except it was too long. So, it was time for another crude do-it-yourself adventure:

Marking how much I need to saw off.

This is a pipe cutting tool. You stick it on a pipe and spin it around. Pretty smart design!

Bacchetta’s handlebars are now really wide, like most other recumbent designs. It’s like steering a plow. Does this mean I have to get used to them?

Nah. I can just swap handlebars.

New bike in front, old bike in back. The alignment is almost the same. Now to swap the handlebars...

New bike, old handlebars. To keep the new shifters and brakes I had to swap them between bars, which meant removing the bar grips. They are very sticky. I'm still struggling with the one on the right!

Bacchetta’s seats no longer include the eyelets for directly attaching an under-seat rack. Does this mean I have to give mine up?

Nah. I can just swap seats and keep using my old one.

New version of recurve seat on the left, old seat on the right. Note the attachment point on the old seat for an under-seat rack.

Look at that crusty old thing! But it’s so comfortable…

The bolts connecting the support struts to the seat of a Bacchetta recumbent, after 20 years of use.

Top set: 20 years old. Bottom set: brand-new.

While I’m moving parts around, I might as well replace that worn out seat clamp on the old bike with a nice new one…

20-year-old seat clamp on the left, brand new seat clamp on the right. The design has evolved!

I can’t transfer the stickers from my old frame, but I can put equivalents on the new one:

Chococat in the lead!

Doin’ a lot of work on this bike… Things are starting to get messy!

You know what? I’m putting my arms on the same bars, and putting my butt on the same seat, so I’m basically riding the same bike. This bike isn’t “Valoria II”, it’s still just “Valoria”, but fancier.

That’s cool.