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My New Bacchetta Recumbent Bicycle, Part 2

By Cindy of Stone Marmot

April 18, 2019

The first part of this article series discussed the changes I made to the seat of my new Bacchetta Giro 20 to make it more like my old RANS V-Rex. This part will discuss the remaining changes I made.

I frequently run errands with my bike. So I need cargo carrying capacity. Figure 1 shows the cargo carriers on the back of my Giro 20. The rear metal frame cargo rack and the top of the seat backrest bag are sold by Bacchetta for their bikes and may be found on their website. But I also wanted a bag that would fit in that big space between my rear wheel, the frame, the backrest, and the backrest support poles. This bag would carry all the stuff I normally bring on rides, such as bike tools, spare inner tubes, maps, security cable and lock, tie down material, tire pump, etc., leaving the metal frame cargo rack and the top of the seat backrest bag for varying trip specific cargo. It turns out that a spare laptop computer carrying case I had fit perfectly in this space.

Figure 1 - Cargo carriers on my new Bacchetta Giro 20 recumbent bike.

Figure 1 - Cargo carriers on my new Bacchetta Giro 20 recumbent bike.

Figure 2 shows how the top of the laptop carrying case was mounted to the bike. The handle of the case was cut off while still retaining all the stuff that attached the handle to the case. I used a pair of cable clamps to attach the plastic rings that the handle was attached to to the bolts which attached the seat backrest to the backrest support poles. The cable clamps were stainless steel covered with plastic which I originally got from a boating supply store.

Figure 2 - How top of laptop carrying case attaches to bike.

Figure 2 - How top of laptop carrying case attaches to bike.

The seat backrest has attachment points on both sides to attach water bottle holders. I decided to use them instead for supporting the bottom of the laptop carrying case. I punched holes in the laptop carrying case that lined up with these water bottle holder attachment points. I drilled holes in two scrap pieces of 0.75 x 6 inch aluminum 1/16 inch thick that matched these water bottle holder attachment points. Figure 3 shows that these pieces of scrap aluminum were used as large washers for the screws that attached the bottom of the laptop carrying case to the water bottle holder attachment points. Locktite was used on the screws to keep them from eventually backing out.

Figure 3 -Laptop carrying case screwed into water bottle holder brackets.

Figure 3 - Laptop carrying case screwed into water bottle holder brackets.

I cut the shoulder pad off the shoulder strap. I lengthened the shoulder strap to its maximum length and then wrapped it around the seat back before reattaching it to the carrying case, as shown in Figure 4. You could remove any excess length at this point with the length adjustment buckle on the strap, though I didn't find this necessary. So far, I am not bothered by the strap running across the backrest. You could probably remove the strap completely if it does bother you. The strap runs across the backrest at the point where the backrest mesh on my V-rexes usually first started to tear, so this may provide extra support so that the mesh lasts longer before tearing.

Figure 4 - Laptop carrying case shoulder strap wrapped around the backrest.

Figure 4 - Laptop carrying case shoulder strap wrapped around the backrest.

The screw that sets the angle of the handlebars never stays at the set height but always eventually works its way all the way in so that the handlebars end up in my lap. So after setting the screw to the preferred handlebar angle, I measured the distance between the screw head and the handlebar vertical post. I then filled in this space with an assortment of stainless steel washers and plastic spacers to keep this screw at its set point, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5 - Handlebar angle set screw with spacers under head.

Figure 5 - Handlebar angle set screw with spacers under head.

Incidentally, I don't consider having handlebars that swing forward out of the way a feature but a serious safety defect. If you have to suddenly and quickly move your bicycle out of the path of something, the automatic reflex is to push it out of the way with the handlebars, which both hands are probably on anyway. But that is difficult when the handlebars flop forward and the bike falls over whenever you push on the handlebars. Figure 6 shows the handlebar travel limiter I made for my last V-Rex (My first V-Rex didn't have this swinging handlebar "feature."). You can also see the the spacers in Figure 6 behind the head of the handlebar angle set screw for my V-Rex. So far the bolt at the pivot point for attaching the handlebars to the front fork is tight enough that the handlebars don't swing forward easily. But this bolt will eventually loosen and I'll probably have to work out a handlebar travel limiter for this bike, also.

Figure 6 - Handlebar travel limiter on my last V-Rex.

Figure 6 - Handlebar travel limiter on my last V-Rex.

Having handlebars that swing forward also makes it difficult to lift the bike. I have to lift the bike every time I take it in and out of my house and most of the time I lock and unlock it to something. The logical way to lift it is with one hand on the handlebars and the other hand on the backrest or backrest support posts. This is difficult to do when the handlebars keep trying to flop forward. The bike is too top heavy and the frame is too low to try lifting it by the frame.

The frame is made to accept either rim or disk brakes. I have disk brakes, so Bacchetta covered the unused rear rim brake posts with loose plastic caps to protect them. The problem is that these posts are located at the ideal stop for passing a security cable through the rear wheel and frame when locking up the bike. I lost one of these caps the first time I used my bike. I've since replaced the caps with bolts that thread into these rim brake posts, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7 - Rear rim brake post with screw threaded in.

Figure 7 -Rear rim brake post with screw threaded in.

I also prefer much wider tires on my bike. There are always patches of sand on the road here in Florida and often patches of oak leaves, both of which are slippery and cause traction difficulties with skinny tires. I also get considerably less flats with fatter tires, especially if I use thicker than normal inner tubes that have Slime or its equivalent sealant in them, which are easier to get with wider tires. These fatter tires (1.75 to 2.25 inches) don't usually fit easily or stay on (beads pop off rim when inflated) the skinny rims that come with most of these bikes. This is actually a major deterrent to buying a new bike, as I not only have the cost of the new bike, but an additional 25 to 35% of the bike's cost for wider wheels and tires to replace the skinny ones that come with the bike, plus the time and effort replacing this stuff. It is a lot cheaper and often not much more effort to keep replacing parts and nursing my old bike along.

I replaced the Alexrims DA16s that came with the bike with Velocity Cliffhangers. This allowed me to easily use wider tires. The tires I use have Kevlar belts in them and inner tubes are about 5 to 10 times thicker than normal with Slime or equivalent sealant in them. When I changed from the skinny tires that came with my V-Rex to these fatter tires and inner tubes, I went from averaging a flat every other week (about every 250 miles) to one road hazard flat in 10 years (over 50,000 miles).

These are the changes I have presently made to my new Bacchetta Giro 20. These were based on over 18 years and 100,000 miles of experience with previous similar recumbents. I'll probably have to make a few more changes in the future as I get more experience with this new bicycle.

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