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Posts Tagged ‘mike burrows’

Windcheetah’s on the move…

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 by Mick Allan

The Windcheetah has an enviable reputation in Human Powered Vehicle Racing circles. Designed by Mike Burrows in the early eighties it was the first high performance recumbent trike in the world. There had been other high speed machines, streamliners such as the Vector, but none before the ‘Speedy’ had such an enthusiasm for going around corners. Ballantine had one, and famously claimed that a Speedy could out-corner anything. And it could. Smaller and lighter than anything else on the road, a Speedy can make short work of a Porsche in a switchback. The only downside of the machine’s joi-de-vivre is a high bill for front tyre replacement! The ‘Speedy’ has won races and broken records all over the world, including a LEJoG for a faired machine which still stands. (As per usual – right click and ‘view image’ to see full size)

Andy Pegg - Window cleaner, recumbentist.

Demand for the Windcheetah, first from friends, then other BHPVC members and then the wider world meant that Mike was devoting more and more time to making Speedies, but Burrows never wanted to be a bicycle manufacturer, and so he licensed production to good friend and Speedy fan Bob Dixon. Burrows went on to design bikes for Giant in Taiwan, his own long-tail cargo bike the 8 Freight, and a whole bunch of racing bikes. Bob meanwhile manufactured and sold Speedies to customers all over the world, did a bunch of development work and evolved the design, but now, after being located in Cheshire for almost 20 years Windcheetah production has moved north to new premises in Lancashire. It’s entering a new phase.

New AVD Windcheetah

Karl Sparenberg and his company Advanced Velo Design Ltd. based in Darwen, have recently taken over responsibility of producing the iconic recumbent tricycle on behalf of designer Mike Burrows and has outlined his plans for the future.

“The Windcheetah has always been regarded as the most uncompromising high performance trike on the market and in pure performance terms it would be hard to improve on Mike’s classic design. However, the workshop relocation offers an opportunity to overhaul and improve the Windcheetah manufacturing methods, which in turn will bring improvement in engineering quality. With this in mind we have invested in new jigs and production tooling to improve the consistency and quality of the product. The Windcheetah will remain a hand built product , manufactured in the UK to very high engineering standards.”

Sparenberg’s commitment to continue manufacturing in the UK is unusual at a time when many specialist cycle manufacturers are outsourcing production of frames to Taiwan and China .

New AVD Speedy

“A major part of the appeal of a Windcheetah is the superbly engineered chassis built by artisan engineers. Our customers know that when they order a Windcheetah it will be a hand built machine, manufactured up to a specification and not down to a price. An increasing number of customers also appreciate our policy of sourcing as much as we can locally. From an environmental viewpoint it would be hard to justify having our frames made in Asia, importing them to the UK for assembly and then shipping them back to our markets in America, Europe and Australia. It isn’t possible to source every component in the UK but where possible we do. The chassis is such a fundamental element to the character of the Windcheetah it would be unthinkable to outsource its production. We’re very proud to be a UK company manufacturing a UK product ”

We’re big fans of the Speedy around here. I’ve owned three of them (including, separately, numbers 002 and 003) and Jim still owns 007. Although it’s changed in detail over the years, (the chain doesn’t run down the left hand side these days). it’s a testament to the soundness of the original design that it has remained fundamentally unchanged since it first hit the road.

Windcheetahs are very special. They are iconic, legendary, revered even, and they are held in such high esteem for good reason. Riding a Speedy – flat out, hanging out of the seat to keep the inside wheel down whilst clipping the apex of a curve – should be on every cyclists ‘101 things do to before you die’ list. Nothing else comes close.

Saddle Height

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 by George Goodwin

Something that particularly upsets me is people riding with saddles that are far too low.  Now, I’m a non-tech savvy cyclist by any means, but even I can tell that something’s wrong with some riders.  I’ve seen some saddles so low that the riders are virtually on the ground.  To illustrate, enter Bob.  He’s normally a pretty happy, emotionally balanced guy:

Meet Bob.  He's a happy kinda guy.

Here’s what happens though when you put him on a maladjusted bike whose saddle is too low:

Poor Bob.  If only someone had told him the saddle was too low.

Look at his right leg!  It’s way up in the sky – it’s not comfortable to scrunch up like that.  He also can’t ride at a sensible speed – every stroke of his legs is a struggle, and he has to use far more energy to propel himself than if he was riding a properly fitted bike.

Every day on my rides around York, I see people who have this problem.  They’re invariably travelling much more slowly than me; in some cases, they’d be faster on foot.  I finally mustered up the courage to tell one such person that his saddle was too low, and he seemed happy to be told; whether or not he’ll do something about it remains to be seen.  Really, it’s a shame that more people haven’t read Bicycle Design by Mike Burrows:

“The most critical dimension for the rider of a safety bike is the pedal-to-saddle distance.  There are several formulas for calculating this distance.  None of which you need to bother with, as they can only generalise.  All you need to do is set the saddle so that your leg is fully stretched with your instep on the pedal.  Your normal foot position, with the ball of the foot on the pedal, then gives a slight bend in the knee with the foot in the lowest position.  The system (if you take into account shoe plates, sole thickness etc.) will get you as close to your correct height as can be done by formula.”

I can think of several causes for maladjusted saddles, but most of them boil down to riders not visiting a bike shop.  A real bike shop, that is – not a supermarket selling flat-pack cycles[1].  Good bike shop staff will be able to measure up a rider and adjust the bike accordingly, and it makes all the difference to whether or not the rider enjoys cycling.  Happy riders are likely to keep riding a long time; uncomfortable and unhappy riders won’t, and will ditch their bikes for alternative forms of transport.

The “bike shop” principle holds regardless of where you acquired your bike too, by the way; especially if you bought your bike on t’interwebs or flatpacked (not things we recommend, by the way) or secondhand, it’s a good idea to get someone who knows what they’re doing to adjust things like saddle and handlebar height for you.  It could make riding infinitely easier and more enjoyable.

I fixed Bob up in the end, by the way.  He’s much happier now, look:

Bob on a properly adjusted bike :D

I’m curious to know if this a problem this world over, or if it’s limited solely to York – have you seen people riding ill-fitting/ill-fitted bikes? Anyone ever sorted out the problem on the spot? Feel free to leave a comment :)

[1]Of course, here we come back to the eternal problem: bike shops (for those who are casual cyclists) can often seem scary, intimidating places.  All of the shops on Cyclorama feature lovely, helpful people though – we promise! Don’t be afraid!

There’s more on this subject in Bike Culture if you want to read on: The Fundamentals of Fit, by Mick Allan