Street Racer 2 Recumbent Bicycle Build
Street Racer 2
In 2008 I modified my old Barracuda street racer to retrofit a 500 watt Cyclone electric motor to it. I hadn't been riding it much and hoped that with this motor it would be a good commuter bike. Fitting the motor to it went fine, but the motor was too anemic so I took it back off and sold it. I had hacked up the seat and idler mounts and added new brackets for the motor and battery, so changing it back to the way it was would have been a lot of work. When contemplating rebuilding it, I decided it was time for something new to fill the streetracer niche. This bike will have a 45 degree seat angle and a high bottom bracket to match the riding position of my Cuda-W streamliner

Even after selling a bunch of my miscellaneous parts, I had more than enough to build another bike. I decided to use:

  • The 20" rear end that I hacked off of the Barracuda streamliner when I converted it to 700C.
  • 2"x.035" chrome moly tubing.
  • Fiberglass Turner seat.
  • 20" wheels, gears, shifters, and brakes from the old Street Cuda.
This is a fairly compact (43 inch wheelbase) short wheelbase (SWB) dual 20" recumbent with front suspension. Trail will be around 3". Chain line will be fairly simple with one idler under the seat and a short chunk of tubing to control the return chain. Seat height is around 18", and the BB height is around 28".
I used my frame jig to line the frame parts up while I brazed the 3 sections of frame together. I sleeved the butt joint between the rear section and the middle section. The middle to boom tube joint is also a butt joint, but I will be be putting the head tube through that joint which will make it very strong.
After much eyeballing and use of a level to make sure I had the alignment right, I cut the head tube hole using a tubing notcher in the drill press.
Test fit of the head tube. The hole saw was a bit larger than the head tube, so there is a little slop. That's ok because that gives me another chance to ensure everything is lined up right.
I used the frame jig again to ensure the the head tube was in straight. With the front and back wheels in place, and a spacer tube between the head tube and steerer tube to ensure proper alignment, I tacked-brazed the head tube into place. I then removed the steerer tube and spacer and brazed it in. Here's the bike after I installed the headset. The boom tube really won't be that long, but I don't want to cut it off until after I know where the seat will be mounted.
Built brackets to hold the seat on. Used aluminum "L" brackets on the back of the seat, attached to thin 1/2" steel tubing. The tubing is clamped to the rear stays with aluminum tube clamps to allow seat angle and positioning adjustment.  Good seat adjustment will be important because the boom tube will not be adjustable length on this bike.
I built an under-seat tube clamp and seat bracket. The concentric tubing in this design allows the seat angle to be easily modified. I re-used tubing clamps from other projects for both the seat and the idler clamp.
Here's another look at the idler clamp. I just brazed a big bolt to the clamp to support the idler.

The fiberglass Turner seat is a bit flexy, so I may need to reinforce it with some CF down the central spine later.

I stripped most of the donor parts off of the old Street Racer, then sold the frame for a bargain $50.

I hacked the excess off the boom tube and cut the BB shell hole. I also cleaned up the frame. It looks better now. The BB shell, braze-on bits, and brakes should arrive next week. The frame weighs 6 lbs, that's under half the weight of the old rear suspended Street Racer frame.

The front fork is a cheesy suspension fork that I bought from AirWolf Don a few years ago. It was made a 16" wheel, but a a 20" (406mm) wheel fits fine and allows use of a caliper brake.

Before the Indy races I brazed in the BB shell and mounted the rear caliper brake. The front caliper brake is snug against the 1.5" wide Greenspeed Scorcher tires that are on the bike now, so I need to elongate the hole a bit. Also I now have the spiffy TerraCycle handlbar. Once I get the cranks and handlebar mounted it will start to look like a bike!

Saturday I drank too much coffee so I stayed up late working on the bike and got a lot done. The work started out badly when I sat on the bike and it broke in two at the sleeved butt weld under the seat. Apparently the braze did not penetrate well. So I took some time to patch the frame together with an external sleeve that will be much stronger.

I added some cable braze ons too and discovered that a hose clamp works well to hold them in place while brazing. The Terracycle risers turned out well. I made my own handlebars out of 5/8" x .058 wall aluminum tubing, and bent them with a conduit bender. I added chain keepers and return idler and it was ready for the basement test ride. It felt good, this should be a nice bike.

It weighs about average for a steel bike, as shown it is 30 lbs.  Now I need to add the front derailleur post, a couple more braze ons, close the front of the tube off, yada yada yada.

Today I hack-sawed and filed an aero shape into the front end of the frame tube and cut out a chunk of sheet metal to fill the hole. After some brazing, angle grinding, and brushing, it looks pretty nice. I also attached the derailleur  post and a couple shifter cable braze ons.

After re-assembling the bike and adjusting all the fiddly bits, it was time for a ride!

The 20 mile ride went well, but I am not used to the extremely closed position of this bike.

That closed position (high BB and upright seat angle) is why I haven't felt comfortable on the Cuda-W streamliner.  I'm used to riding the NoCom, which has a very open position (laid back seat and relatively low BB). Now that this bike is rideable, I will be training in the streamliner position, so it should feel just like home when I race the streamliner.

I had another ride this weekend. I still don't feel at home on this bike, but by the middle of July I should be right at home!

Just to be sure, I photoshopped myself onto the Cuda-W. Yup, that's the position that fits in the 'liner!
I took the bike all apart, painted the frame and the brackets gloss black and re-assembled it.

I am beginning to get used to this position, today's ride went well, and I felt like I had some power. I was able to crank up some hills. I had some doubts about the functionality of the front suspension fork as it didn't compress very easily (or sometimes at all!) but it seems to be loosening up a bit. It's still pretty sticky but at least it's doing something.

I discovered that I don't like the Turner seat. It was not comfortable for me, and was flexy, so I put my old streetracer mesh seat on it.

This of course meant  that I had to make new brackets to hold the seat on.

As I was taking a picture of the bike I noticed the old streetracer tailbox. Because this bike has such an upright position, the tailbox will do a lot of good. The tailbox attaches easily to the seat with plastic coated copper wire intended for house wiring.
I have not been riding this bike. Apparently my body doesn't like the relatively closed riding position for long periods of time. In addition the bike does not handle as well as it could. Why? I think it's because the rear wheel is too far forward. This year I rebuilt two of my other bikes to move the rear axle behind my head, and it really improved their handling.. As you can see here, the rear axle is right at my head. Moving the rear wheel back 6" would make a big difference.
Rather than hack the bike up again, I decided to use the Bacchetta bars that I bought for the Stickbike project on this bike. Many riders on Bacchetta's stick bikes also end up with their head behind the hear axle, which is why they use wide handbars to compensate for the handling issues. The Bacchetta bars look nice and lower my hands, which should solve the numb hand issue I was experiencing with the high bars I was using. The wide bars will make it handle better too.
Three years later.
This picture shows the brazons around the headtube.
These are the Terracycle riser bars with Bacchetta handlebars
Here's the front suspension fork and brake.
Here's the rear wheel.

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