Rock The Bike

Passenger eye level, a little known subtlety of social biking

After helping Myles install the Xtracycle FreeRadical on his Cruz Bike recumbent, it got me thinking once again about the passenger experience. On most long bikes such as the Xtracycle and the Mundo, the passenger’s eyes line up roughly with the middle of the back of the rider. This limits the front visibility of the passenger and leaves them to simply trust that the rider knows what they’re doing.

By serendipity, Myles’ Xtracycle build offered a much different passenger experience. As you can see in the picture, my eyes as a passenger lined up with the top of Myles’ head, allowing me a nearly complete view of the road as we cruised. Another subtlety of the passenger experience on the Cruz Bike / Xtracycle combo is how close the rider’s and passenger’s heads are to eachother. This makes conversation so much more easy going. You don’t lose nearly as many words to the wind, and you can talk to each other the same voice you’d use in a room.

The Cruz Bike isn’t for everyone, so before you run out and buy one, you should know that, like other recumbents, it’s going to make it more difficult for you to climb hills. There’s no way to climb ‘out of the saddle’ like you do when you need a burst of power on an upright bicycle.

When I designed the Soul Cycle Convertible Chopper, my goal was to provide both the powerful leg extension of an upright bicycle with the attitude, comfort, and passenger experience of a chopper / semi-recumbent bike.

Passenger and rider on the Soul Cycle Convertible Chopper
Above: Lisa can see over my shoulders while cruising on the Choprical Fish, based on the Soul Cycle Convertible Chopper frameset. Photo: Paul McKensie

Riding the Soul Cycle Convertible Chopper in the upright position.
Above: When it’s time to climb a hill on the Soul Cycle Convertible Chopper, the seat comes into upright position, allowing full leg extension for maximum power. Photo: Fast Boy.

Fossil Fool hits the road. In Santa Monica / Venice Beach this weekend.

photo: Paul McKenzie

I’ve had some serious wanderlust recently and decided to head to Southern California. I’ve been wanting to stuff a few things in my bag and travel as a street performer with the Choprical Fish.

The night before my train, I had a photoshoot for the upcoming Clif Bar 2 Mile challenge, along with Gabe from SHAKE YOUR PEACE! and his friends from Utah. The 2 Mile Challenge is an upcoming college campus tour to promote bicycling. After the shoot, I packed my messenger bag with clothes and we all rode to Embarcadero BART so I could sleep in the workshop. What an amazing send off. We cruised by the ball park, where a game was letting out. We sang a call-and-response song as we were threading our way through the crowd. Epic!

It was my first time really traveling with the Choprical fish, so I put in a long night getting the bike road worthy. I never got around to sleeping.

The next morning at 6 I rode to the Amtrak in Emeryville from the workshop. I don’t have many occasions to ride the Choprical Fish without music, so that morning was very sweet. I swear the birds were responding to the squeak of my disc brakes.

The Amtrak people were friendly and did non make me put my bike in a box. I dismantled the audio components and stowed them as luggage. In Bakersfield I transferred to an Amtrak bus, and the bus driver gave me my own storage bay.

The hardest part of the journey was figuring out how to get from downtown Los Angeles to the beach. I rolled the Purple line to Wilshire Western and rode from there — about 16 miles. It took about two hours. I ain’t built for speed!

Once I got to the beach, it wasn’t long before I found the 3rd Street Promenade and set up as a street performer. Put the bike into human power mode and pulled up people to pedal. A few guest rappers of diverse ethnic backgrounds rapped in a Spanish, English, and Japanese. Pretty sweet welcome.