Rob English doubles up Down Under

Bicycles come, bicycles go. (So do websites, which will eventually break a couple of the links in this article.)

Two Bike Friday machines departed the production world in 2007: the SatRDay recumbent (a used one was listed on Green Gear’s website in early March 2011) and the DoubleDay recumbent tandem.

Recumbents are tricky machines to make and sell. Recumbents designed to travel in suitcases are even trickier. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a small manufacturer in Eugene, Oregon, or a much bigger outfit.

For proof, remember that Trek tried a recumbent and then just as quickly exited the business.

But when you’re an individual custom builder, you can sometimes afford to try your hand at a different kind of bike. Rob English, co-designer of the Bike Friday tikit, has a reputation for innovative, super-lightweight machines.

He doesn’t stop at traditional designs. One of his more recent creations was, you guessed it, his very own recumbent tandem, which he packed in two suitcases and took to New Zealand in December 2010.

Sub 40-pound tandem recumbent designed and built by Rob English. Says Rob: "The adjustable stem in the picture has since been replaced with a custom-built fixed one."

Two rear derailleurs handle shifting duties. Pannier racks are visible below the stoker's seat.

Here’s Rob: “The design goals with this one were light weight (under 40 pounds), as compact as possible (seating the riders as close together as possible and tucking the rear wheel underneath the stoker), very wide gear range and simple chain management (both of which are achieved with the intermediate drive), a laid back seat for the captain and more upright for the stoker, luggage-carrying ability (custom pannier rack underneath the stoker’s seat), comfortable ride (titanium tubes in the mainframe provide a degree of ‘give’ to the ride) and of course being able to pack into airline-checkable cases.

One of the full suitcases. Both wheels go in this one. The black plastic discs are part of the crush-protection system.

Both seats are visible within this suitcase. But what's even more impressive is what you don't see in either full suitcase: everything else, from the rear triangle and front frame to the handlebars, fork and components. It's all in there, somewhere.

“The bike did great in New Zealand; we didn’t have a car, so it was our transport for getting around, and we also did a few days bike camping. Very comfortable, even on the mostly chip-seal surfaces. With the low weight and low gears we had no fear of hills! Very happy to have the disc brakes going down too; if we do more bike camping I will increase the rotor sizes for a bit more power. Now back home, we hitch up a trailer every weekend to do our grocery shopping.”

Rob’s built a bit of everything. Here are three of my favorites:

First, the winter bike, featuring a belt drive and integrated, wheel-hugging rear rack.

Second, the 16-pound bike he pedaled 40 kilometers in 51:13 to win the 2009 Oregon State Time Trials.

He even put together an 18.2-pound Speeding tikit for a 2008 Philadelphia hill climb and time trial competition.

You’ll find more about Rob, here.

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
This entry was posted in Bike Friday tikit, Other bicycles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rob English doubles up Down Under

  1. Pingback: Smallest Bantam Bike Friday sports 90-millimeter cranks | 16incheswestofpeoria

  2. Pingback: A conversation with Rob English about his 10.8-pound road bike, single-sided hubs and getting his weekends back | 16incheswestofpeoria

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