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The bicycle paraglider project

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Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2009
Barcelona, Spain.
Hi, first aero build!

I am currently modifying one of my recumbents to adapt a paraglider. The idea is to carry a paraglider on the bike, so that take off sites can be reached by pedal, without depending on cars. This potentially could allow for a wonderful cross country journey, mixing road and air.

The recumbent is quite a conventional design. The idea, is to add two auxilar wheels on the sides, so that you can pedal at low speed for climbing slopes, or take off without worrying about losing your balance. Apart from the auxiliary wheels I will need to add a mounting for attaching the sail to the structure.

This too can be accomplished with a recumbent tricycle. However a conventional tricycle, is too low for my taste, to ride on the road safe with cars. I have a giant off road tricycle that would be perfect for that mission, but I want to make some improvements first. The good thing about the two wheel recumbent is that it might fit on a train.

The bicycle is rigid but the auxiliary wheels will be mounted on swing arms. The arms are somehow similar to quad tubular rear arms.

The bicycle I am about to modify, is the first one on the picture below. The yellow bike on the back, was my very first recumbent bicycle build. There is a world apart between both bicycles. The first one, was stick weld, the second one is Tig. For the first bicycle, except for the frame, most of the components were recycled from a cheap bicycle. For the second one, all the parts were custom made. The ergonomy on the second one is much improved. It is very hard to get a good ergonomy on the very first bike, If you have only seen recumbents on internet. It is very different to be seated on a recumbent chair, compared to a bicycle with your legs moving etc.

I have most of the components required to build the swing arms. I will add a structure below the frame of the bicycle to attach the side wheels. I hope it would not look too awkward. It has taken me a lot, to figure out all the nuts and bolts.

The second picture, shows most of the parts required for the side wheels swing arms. The 5083 aluminum cubes will house the axle wheels, I can save a bit of weight by removing some material, by cutting a couple of the corners with the mill, but it is Ok to do that later, after the first test.

I will use custom made 15mm axles on MTB hubs. The sleeves in front are to be weld together, to house the ball joints. The cutted tubes in the front, will be the swing arms. By mistake I cut and filed twice the small tubes needed! It is Ok though, I can spare those parts for a later improved version, with adjustable seat, if the concept works.

I have build a simple wood jig, third picture, to cut the small tubes and adjust them. But I will have to build a metal jig, to assemble the swing arms properly. The swing arms have four arms, two attaching points to the frame, and two attaching points to the cubes each, since the side wheels do not spin. The shock absorber will be attached to the structure on top.

The fourth image, shows a very simple jig using random metal spare bits, to weld the sleeves that will house the ball bearings. The sleeves are already weld with three points. Since the sleeeves are very small, I will finish to weld the full circle, once the sleeves are weld with three points to the swing arms, to gain some clearance during the welding process.

This last weeks have been quite crazy on the shop. It seemed that we were to be evicted, for non compliance with the regulations. Its is possible to find other alternatives on the city for me. But it will be a great loss, that the few existing artist/craftsmen coworkings in BCN, do not survive gentrification. I am fighting for this noble cause, it is a bit time consuming to deal with the authorities et al, but I hope it will be worth it in the end; if the local artist comunity survives its founders.

My vise got broken too, I have spend a few days trying to fix it, and then having to replace it; and modifying the table to the new size. In short, a lot of time has gone in non bicycle work. The next week, even if there is a tsunami, I will try to build the definitive jig for the swing arms. It has been good too, to be unable to be on the shop, to improve the jig design for the swing arms. Welding is the easy part, the complex part is always preparing the parts, figuring out the little details, and being patient to do a decent job.



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