News and Events

Keep up to date with the latest news and events of Modular Bikes.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Flower of the Month, February

Crepe Myrtle, Next door, photo taken Feb 19

3 Doors down

3 Doors down


Yes, you may be slightly confused by the title of this post.  It's March, in fact almost all of the way through March, and here I am posting stuff from February.  But just think, what if I had posted it in April.  Even worser, and even more of my credibility would have been thrown out the window.

But enough of crapping on.  The crepe myrtle flowers in summer, and there are quite a few of them in our street, so getting a few photos was very easy.  Before photographing it, I didn't know its name, but now I do thanks to my wife Christine who identified it for me.


Steve Nurse

Monday, March 13, 2017

A trip to Aki's place

Aki's Flevobike remained unconquered

The smaller of the 2 penny farthings Aki brought out was a "Roy Cooper" from England

Small Unicycle and stilts

Very small bicycle.  Sitting on the seat caused an immediate wheelie.

On the "Roy Cooper" Penny

Heading off from the barbecue to Aki's place to get more bikes

Buddy Tandem

Aki on his big Penny

Aki And George

Fraser Rowbike, I got to try one for the first time.  It was lots of fun and not too hard to ride.

Workcycles Tandem, the front bit folds backwards

Aki's Recumbent trike

A few years ago, I sold a recumbent bike to Aki Kubota and I kept in touch with him and he visited the OzHpv challenge in 2014.  Hadn't heard from him in a while, but a few days ago, I received an SMS from him asking me and other cycle enthusiasts over to a barbecue at his place.  Today was the day, and I headed over to Camberwell via my Mum and Dad's place in Kew.

Aki lives in a unit just near a park, and when I arrived he was bringing bikes from his place to the barbecue area in the park.  And what a lot of bikes and variety of bikes!  He had bought most of them cheaply second hand (for example the trike was $100).  Aki works at a hostel for international students and he has held this barbecue for three years, bringing students and coworkers from his work together in a park to ride his bikes.  For all of them, these sorts of bikes were completely new to them, but they had a great time trying them out.

The Fraser rowbike was fun to ride.  Its quirky but once you get moving, not too hard.  I don't know about setting off round the world on one but its good for a pootle in the park and has a nice luggage rack.  This post links to a video I made of one several years ago.

One of Aki's bikes is a classic Flevobike.  I couldn't ride it, and Aki has never mastered it himself, although he is a past master at the Penny Farthing.  Maybe I will have another crack at the Flevo next year.


Steve Nurse

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Visit to the Monash HPV Team

Trying the bike for size

Piyath and the Monash HPV

Outside, checking out my trike and discussing HPVs in general, me in white shirt.

Monash HPV Team

For about 2 years now, I have been researching Human Powered Vehicles at Monash University, and, more or less in a parallel universe, the Monash HPV team (their Facebook page is here) have been patiently working away, trying to build and ride the fastest Human Powered Vehicle in the world.

Finally, last Tuesday I caught up with the team, and in typical fashion, I rode my trike there and arrived in good time to speak to Piyath and his team.

Streamliners are quite hard taskmasters.  There only purpose is to go fast and to do this, the rider is cocooned in an aerodynamic, possibly claustrophobic shell, and then the rider is meant to pedal their guts out.  Breaking records is one of the main goals of the streamliner team and its quite hard!  Team Monash is really just starting out and their next outing is at Easter under the auspices of OzHpv.  Good luck guys!

PS Team Aerovelo are the current HPV 200m record holders with a speed of 144kph, and amongst student teams, Team Delft are very highly considered.  Locally, Trisled do well, breaking some records and using their experience to help build roadgoing human powered vehicles and velomobiles.


Steve Nurse

Monday, February 27, 2017

Rock'n'Roll Call

Fungus Brains "Metal Box" Cassette and Paraphenalia photographed for posterity.  I was friends with the guys in the band at school and for years afterwards. Hi Mick, Simon S., Simon A, Andrew, Pete, Geoff  and Jim.

John interviewed me while Dave filmed and took photos.

My Trike from Town Hall

Town Hall from my Trike

On Friday I answered an email call for people with Rock'n'Roll memorabilia to come in to the Melbourne Town Hall to show it off, and chat about music, and the influence its had on our lives.  Etc.

So I did just that.  I have quite a few singles (45 rpm records) going back to the early 1960's.  This is the result of buying records new and from op shops in the late 70's and early 80's.  Yes, the flat black round things with the hole on the middle.  I picked out a few of my favourites and rode in to talk about them.

At 10 o'clock, I was the first punter to arrive and chatted to a few researchers about music and bands and stuff.  Bruce Milne was there, he ran Au-Go-Go records and seemed to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Australian punk bands.

So, I hope the project goes well, guys.


Steve Nurse

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Short Tour

Trike split for train trip

Tailbox interior
Blackberry Season

Stopped on Great Ocean Road for Blackberries
Bell-Selfie on great Ocean Road

Airey's Inlet Trike and Surf

Rifle Butts Road

Near Beeac
At Pax Hill Scout Camp
Pax Hill Milk Bar and Take-Away
and its Gourmet Menu and Fax Powered Communication System
Rob Leviston on Mid Racer

Rob Leviston
Near Cressy
Start of 100k race

Start of Lake Relay
Flower Festival Promotion in Ballarat

Rob and the Levomobile,

Warm and dry when I was freezing my bum off.
Suspension on the levomobile, 2 recycled snow-skis.
Hi, I have been back for a few days from a 4 day, 300k tour on the leaning trike.  I will add a few more words later, but for now, here are the photos, most of them taken on a made-ezy m270 flip phone.  This phone is a technological leap for me, my previous John's Phone, which stopped communicating when the 2g network closed down only took phone calls.  So now I can SMS and take photos and calculate.  And stuff.

As I said, will write more later.


So hear we go with a bit more detail....

For a few weeks before starting this ride, I had advertised it as an OzHpv event and teed up with rob Leviston for him to lead a ride on the Saturday.  I had no interest from others until late in the piece when an acquaintence from Robert W's B Spon rides, Gary H. emailed me and said he wanted to come.  Then at the last  minute Gary pulled out, he had been on a training and tour and drank some bore water which upset his stomach, and he was flat out for the next few days, so it was to be a solo trip for me.

The trip from home in Clifton Hill to Southern Cross Station wasn't the doddle it should have been!  I went over a few cobblestones and the bumps loosened some of the side-panels on my home made trike to the extent that in one section of Spencer Street, things started falling out of the side of the boot and one of the bag straps tangled itself in the back wheel.  A few passers-by were helpful in retrieving my stuff, and nothing was permanently damaged.  The problem was easy to work out thankfully.  The fold-back clips holding the panels to the rest of the trike were too small and weak, and there weren't enough of them.  Anyway, a temporary fix in Spencer St. (helps not to be embarrassed too easily when riding this trike) got me through to the station and on to the train to Geelong, and dissassembling the trike into 2 bits made it fit into the space allocated for bikes and surfboards and kept the conductor happy.

At the new Waurn Ponds station I checked the sidepanels for strength, rearranged a few clips, worked out I could get bigger clips at the Anglesea newsagent, and then headed off.  A few weeks earlier I had plotted a ride with gps route which avoided the Prines Freeway and a large unfriendly hill, but I had forgotten all about that and got onto the Anglesea road via a considerable detour.  But only a problem in hindsight, the rest of the trip was uneventful and the Anglesea newsagent had a sufficient and cheap supply of the fold back clips I needed.

A couple of spotss I'd found difficult on previous Great Ocean road rides were conquered without too much trouble using the new Sunrace 40 tooth sprocket   , and that included the hills in Bellbrae and Anglesea.  The only real stop was to gather some roadside Blackberries.

At Airey's Inlet where I stayed overnight I repaired the sidepanels and replacing clips.  This was the only unexpected problem with the trike.

The first 20 k of the next day's ride were challenging.  The drive wheel of my trike is at the front and doesn't have much weight on it so any combination of uphill and gravel makes the wheel slip and you need to get off and push.  Just getting on with it is the best thing to do.  Beyond Bambra the road got much better.  There were huge and massively expensive road works near the Princes Highway but otherwise things went fairly smoothly.  For the most park I just kept going and only stopped for lunch in Rokewood.

About 6 I got in to the Pax hill scout camp and stayed in one of the cabins there for the next few nights.  Not stopping much certainly helped progress.  There's a milk bar with take-away food about a k from the scout camp, and I got take away food from there both nights to avoid hillclimbs and general exhaustion.

Next day I met Rob Leviston quite early and we rode about 60k.  Rob had his lowracer and was a bit quicker than me.  There was a bit of rain coming in to Ballarat and it was quite cold.  We had a bit of lunch, Rob headed off, and I spent some time looking for Ballarat op shops before heading back to the camp for a quiet night passed innocently watching the TV and reading "The Martian".

On Sunday, the rain from the previous day threatened again, and I packed up my (not much) stuff and paid the scout camp (again not much) and headed off to the start of the Race Relay which is a 2 hour ride around the lake as an individual or with a team of up to 12 people.  This was a pretty damp affair, and cold for me because I was a dumb ass and didn't pack wet weather gear.  Drizzle turned to rain about halfway through, but the flat course around the lake was quite a lot of fun.  I was able to line up the corners created by the multiple roundabouts and fang it through with considerable speed, and pass most riders on the course who were, after all sometimes small children accompanied by their parents.

After the ride, I caught up with Rob Leviston and his "Levomobile" velomobile, which was the perfect vehicle for the day.  He stayed warm and dry inside, and was able to listen to MP3 tunes on his stereo as he pedalled.  This trike is a wonderful creation, and the front wheel suspension is made from discarded snow skis.  Unfortunately for the organisers not many people hung around for post-ride celebrations despite the live music, beer on tap and bike displays.

There was still more rain, so I didn't hang round much either and headed to the station for some food to warm me up and the train trip home.  On this trip the conductors weren't overly fussy and I left my trike intact for the trip.  This was fortunate, in my wet and cold state I wasn't much in the mood for bike wrangling.

Overall it was a good trip, and it was nice to have the trike prove itself over some interesting terrain.  


Steve Nurse

Friday, February 3, 2017

40 is the new 34

Bike with Cassette fitted

Front wheel setup

On the largest cassette cog

Sunrace 11-40 cassette

I've always been a fan of fairly simple things and my latest purchase makes a bicycle simple.  For a while now, mountain bikes have been available with wide range gear systems which rely on a single cassette for their gear range and the current king of the heap is the Sram Eagle 10-50T cassette and gear system, and this is reviewed here .  Its good to have simple controls on mountain bikes too!  The primary focus in mountain biking is not smashing into a tree, and thinking about what front cog you want to select can be a bit difficult at times!

The Eagle is an expensive 12 speed system, it needs lots of fancy pants parts and a narrow chain.  But there has been a trickle down effect, and now wide range cassettes are available as standard parts.  The one I bought is an 8 speed 11-40t cassette from Sunrace, and this comes from the range of Sunrace cassettes listed on their website.  (If you go up to 11 speed, you can get a 46t largest chainring in the same product range, and the largest 10 speed is 42T) A google search on the Sunrace CSM680 part number came up with a few suppliers, and Alibaba looked the best one for me .  Cost was $US 15 plus postage of US 20 or so - quite cheap I thought.  There are now ebay suppliers as well.

Anyway, I fitted the cassette without the 13T, 2nd smallest cog because there was not enough space for it on the spline. A few teething problems involving the chain derailing from the chainring were fixed by replacing the chainring for a sturdier model with aluminium trouser guards / chainplates.  It now runs well on my FWD recumbent leaning trike.  This trike has a custom, large derailleur hanger, which might be part of the reason it actually works. This page details a derailleur extender which might make the equivalent on other bikes.  I am keen to take the trike with the new setup on a few long distance Audax rides involving moderate hills.  Here is the video I made of the trike with the new drivetrain.

The previous "solution" I had for low gears on this trike was a Schlumpf mountain drive.  This is expensive, but on this particular trike (for demo see here) it didn't work that well. It allowed for very low gears, but those gears were too low and produced too high a cadence on steep hills.  And slightly higher gears produced ok cadences but also a stressful pedal steer affect which made it hard to balance.


Steve Nurse

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Buckley's Ride 2017

Graham S. at the start

My trike at the start.

On the ferry

The 215k Audax Buckley's ride was a few days ago now and I am just about back to normal with sleep and sore muscles.

Last Sunday started off quite warm and even though I got up for the "Round the Bay in a Day" ride quite early it was hot enough to be riding in a short sleeved shirt.  I arrived in plenty of time at the Albert Park start point, and Graham Signiorini came up from Williamstown to see me off.  We had a chat, he will soon be heading down to Tasmania for the wooden boat show in the boat which he crews.  Nice work if you can get it!

There was a bit of a diversion off the standard route due to bridge works but otherwise riding was pretty good until near a right hand turn a few k out of Williamstown when a few of the tightly packed riders came down.  There were no serious injuries but the group split up a bit.  A few ks further on, there was another accident, this time Heather came down and broke a collar bone on a new section of bike track.  Everything was sorted out quite quickly, an ambulance was called and it was organised through Stephen Rowland's Little River checkpoint for Heather's bike to be picked up.  Most of the rest of the way to Geelong I stayed in touch with Helen Lew-Ton and Stephanie. 

In Geelong I stopped and took on drinks (petrol stations here have Obesity Specials on multiple bottles of sugary soft drinks.  In this case it was 2 1.25 litre bottles of lemonade for $4.00) and kept going.  In Leopold, an Ozhpv acquaintance, Simon Watt flagged me down and we had a chat.  Soon after I had one of the worst incidents of the ride, a combination of sunshine, sweat and sunscreen got in my eyes and I had to squint to see and rub my eyes a bit, take my sunglasses off and wait for it all to go away, which it did eventually. 

 A bit further on I spoke to Dieter who was in the ride and he mentioned the 1pm ferry.  That was about 15k from the Queenscliffe ferry terminal and I used my $2.80 cheapo watch and the road signs giving the distance to Queenscliffe to realise I could make the ferry if I fanged it.  So fang it I did, even on the slightly torturous uphills.  In the end catching the ferry was really up to luck, I arrived at the boat at about 1:05 and was the last one on the boat and Dieter who was about a k behind didn't make it.

There were a few other Audaxers on the ferry, and I was able to relax a bit and consume some of the food and drink I had in the trike during the ferry trip.  On the Sorrento side I did a few bike adjustments, changing the handlebar position and moving the seat up toward the cranks a bit.  That sorted It was off to Melbourne, a lazy 95k or so away.

Progress was pretty good with a tailwind most of the way, and often I was faster than the clogged-up coastal holiday traffic.  I had rests at Dromana, Mornington (refuelled there with Turkish Delights and 2 for $6.00 obesity special 1.25 litre cokes)  and then Mordialloc.

Eventually I got in close to 7pm, not too bad all things considered.  Dieter came in 15 minutes later, "very knackered" or words to that effect. The last time I did the ride I got in at 6pm but there were slightly fewer delays that time.   Once again next year?  Not sure!

A few lessons learnt.

Training helps.
Sunburn can be a problem, its worth having cream and arm and leg covers available to use.  With a combination of these, I avoided sunburn this time.
Fizzy, sweet, salty drinks seem to agree with my digestion and they don't force me to pee too often.  This all helps when long distance cycling.

All for now, regards

Steve Nurse