Choppered Lightning!

Good thing Joey won't be at the controls. Note the ill-fitting helmet and paws that don't reach the pedals or brakes.

Here’s more on what we’ll ride to Nashville.

The Lightning cockpit

Our bike is a 27 lb (12 kg) Lightning Phantom II. We installed pedals that have a platform side and a “clipless” clip side; wider, Mr. Tuffy-lined Schwalbe tires in place of the stock Primo Comets; a Chopper fairing from Karl Abbe’s Zzip Designs (Karl, who built missiles in the 1960s, customized our Chopper and donated spare parts); a plastic box from Home Depot, bolted onto a rear rack; two bottle cages for water, two for tools etc.; an air horn to warn vehicles; a bell to warn bicyclists and pedestrians; a rear-view mirror; a speedometer/odometer; lights and reflectors to see and be seen; a U.S. flag Jeffrey found on a New Jersey roadside a few days after 9/11/01; and an iPhone mount to keep the screen visible when we need the GPS.  All this pushes the weight over 30 pounds before adding food, clothes, and misc.

The Lightning's cargo end

Weight matters when going uphill.  Overall, air resistance matters more.  On the flats at high speed, the air resistance of a pencil perpendicular to the windstream is said to be like adding a pound of cargo.

The Chopper streamlines the bike and keeps Jeffrey’s legs dry in the rain.  (Rain doesn’t bother me.  I travel in a plastic bag.)

In 1989, a team of riders pedaled a Lightning recumbent bicycle from Los Angeles to New York City in 5 days, 1 hour, and 8 minutes.  (An Easy Racer recumbent was even faster, but the team [Karl was a member] got lost near the end and did not finish.)  The one-hour bicycling distance record is 31 miles on a conventional bike, 56 miles on a recumbent.  We won’t attain those speeds.  But the Lightning should be faster than the last Ride’s recumbent, the BikeE.

We value recumbent comfort.  Many “road” bicyclists get numb hands, numb bottoms, strained necks and backs, and chafed skin.  Some use Bag Balm – cow udder salve – on their nether regions.  A recumbent bicycle spreads the rider’s weight, puts no pressure on hands or arms, and avoids the skin abrasion and musculoskeletal strains that afflict many long-distance bicyclists.  We can wear street clothes.

Still, conventional bikes have advantages, depending on preference and individual physique.  Your experience may vary.

Now you know the machine.  Watch for us tomorrow on the road!

4 thoughts on “Choppered Lightning!

  1. Bon Voyage! Or I should say bike trip! I love the description and photo of your recumbent.I hope you are off the road if and when the showers roll through this evening.Best wishes with road, weather, bike, new friends and fund raising.


  2. It sounds like Jeffrey and Joey are journeying on a home made, high tech wonder. May you zip along in style on your one-of-a-kind, marvelous machine.


  3. Good luck and good works… hoping to see you… weather here very wet today…snowing in West Virginia where one son is in school…


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