Tag Archives: Leitra

Posts about my Leitra velomobile.

What’s underneath?

People ask me what the Leitra velomobile I ride is like under the fairing. Here are two pictures of the frame that I took last time I was doing maintenance on the bike and had all the fairing pieces and seat removed.

Leitra frame front

Leitra Frame front

From the front, you can see the two piece, carbon fiber leaf springs for the front two wheels. The “Y” shaped bit at the very front is where the front fairing attaches and pivots for entry and exit. The seat snaps into the frame just ahead of the rear wheel. In the center of the back of the bike is the rear wheel which sits inside a wraparound fender that keeps water, snow and dirt out of the seating area.

Leitra frame rear 3/4

Leitra frame rear 3/4

From the rear, you can see the Bionx electric motor assist. It consists of the linear motor hub in the middle of the rear wheel and the battery mounted under the left arm rest. The cargo area of the fairing sits above the rear wheel on the rack-like extension. The “V” shaped parts in the middle of the rack and two small strips on either side of the rear wheel are carbon fiber leaf springs for the rear wheel.

The frame is hard to pickup and put on a work stand, so I usually just hang it from my work stand with a loop of rope as shown. This lets me turn the rear wheel and adjust the derailer and lube the chain.

Another snowy ride home

Seems like this winter has a pattern of snowfalls during the day. Makes it tricky to judge if the snowfall will be too deep for me to ride home. I’m not exactly sure what my limit is, in part because the difficulty varies with the consistency of the snow, but more than an inch gets worrisome.

Here’s my Leitra tucked in to the garage after this evening’s ride home from work.

Leitra in garage

Leitra in garage

The Rest of the Fall Leitra Maintenance

I’m cleaning up my electronic files and realized I had a few pictures from my other fall Leitra maintenance that I had not posted, along with some notes on fixing a shifting problem with my SRAM DualDrive 3 speed hub plus de-railer.

To start with, it’s easiest to strip the fairing off of the Leitra to work on the drive train. It’s buried inside all that fiberglass to help protect it from the weather and keep it clean. The fairing is four parts. The nose and window section that tilts up for access, the upper tail box and side curtains and a two part lower tail box that provides some storage that is accessible from inside while you are riding. Here are pictures of the Leitra with the nose and tail box removed.

Leitra w/o nose & tailbox

Leitra w/o nose & tailbox

Leitra w/o nose & tailbox, another angle

Leitra w/o nose & tailbox, another angle

The major item on my repair list was to figure out why the 3 speed hub portion of the DualDrive was “stuck” in under-drive and would not shift into pass-thru or over-drive. The DualDrive has a “click box” that handles the 90 degree turn from the shifting mechanism inside the hub to the cable that runs to the hand grip shifter. Here’s a picture of it mounted on the Leitra. You can see that rear wheel sits inside a full coverage fender that extends down to a lip that protects the chain and de-railer arm from spray coming off the rear tire. The “click box” is circled in red.

DualDrive on Leitra

DualDrive on Leitra

The “click box” can be removed by setting the shifter in “low” or “under-drive” and pushing the black button on the box. This reveals the long bolt that goes into the shifter mechanism. This was surprisingly loose, which made me think I had found the problem.

A little Google searching later, I found that, indeed, that bolt needed to be firmly tightened for the hub to shift properly. I tightened the bolt up and then adjusted the shifter. The “click box” makes this easy with a little alignment window and a yellow indicator. The arrow in this next picture points out the alignment window. The yellow indicator should be in the yellow outlined box when set correctly.

Clickbox window

Clickbox alignment window

Once I had the shifter aligned, I had all my gears back!

I use the SRAM DualDrive in two ways when I ride.

On longer rides, I use the 3 speed hub like you would use the pedal chain rings, for large adjustments in the gear range. I use the de-railer for smaller adjustments.

But in traffic on my work commute, the 3 speed hub’s ability to shift while not in motion is a big asset. I tend to simply shift the 3 speed hub, ignoring the de-railer when going stoplight to stoplight because I can quickly drop down to low gear when stopped.

Needless to say, I’m glad to have the hub back in working order!

New Taillight

I’ve started preparing the Leitra for this coming winter. One thing I’ve wanted to do for a while was replace the low-powered taillight. The original light had 2 LEDs and wasn’t as bring as I would like. After a bit of searching around, I found a 5 LED light that uses higher brightness LEDs and offers several blinking patterns. Most importantly, it came with a mounting bracket that fit in the narrow space in the tail box lid. Here’s what it looks like from inside and outside.

Taillight from inside the tail box.

Taillight from inside the tail box.


New taillight from the outside.

New taillight from the outside.


New taillight from outside and above.

New taillight from outside and above.

Spring Parts

Magura Rim Brake Pad
Much as I have enjoyed riding the Leitra all winter, I’m really looking forward to switching to by fair weather ride, a Rans V-Rex. Looking over the V-Rex last weekend, I think I’m in pretty good shape. The drive train is in need of a good lube job, but is otherwise ready to go. I need new brake pads for the Magura rim brakes which can be hard to locate, but Cambria had them which made that part easy. Now all I need is some warmer weather…

Repairing a Broken Fender Mount

If you’ve been reading my blogs you know how much trouble I’ve had with the wheel pants and fenders on my Leitra. I had hoped that after switching to fenders, my troubles would be over, but the damage caused by multiple issues with the wheel pants caught up with me.
The section of the wheel / brake / steering bracket to which the fender or wheel pants bolts had developed a crack that went through the bolt hole and onto the other side. I noticed the free play in the fender and found the crack on disassembly.
I don’t know how to weld (at least not yet…), so my repair plan was to fabricate an ‘L’ shaped metal plate. The plate bolts to the disk brake mounting bolts (far right in the picture above) and extends back along the fender mounting bracket. A trip to the local hardware store and a couple of hours of measuring, cutting and drilling and I had this:
The cracked section is between the new metal plate and the vertical metal section of the fender mount I built earlier this winter. Test riding this morning, it seems to be sufficiently rigid.

Six Degrees

What a great way to start the day!

This was the coldest ride of the season this morning at 6F. It is cold earlier than usual this winter. I would normally expect a ride like this sometime in early to mid January.
With the Leitra’s fairing to keep the wind off and some of my body heat in, I rode with lined tights, booties over my cycling shoes, silk turtleneck and a sweatshirt. I had a wool hat on for the first part of the ride until I warmed up. I pulled it off and put it in the interior storage bay for the remainder of the ride.

Recumbent TV

I just found out about an all recumbent bicycle video site, recumbent TV. There are numerous videos of rides on recumbents and video reviews of specific bikes. Very nice. If you are thinking about moving to a recumbent or a velomobile or just want to see what they look like in motion it’s worth a visit. I particularly like this video of a Leitra. My Leitra is very similar to the one in the video.

I gave up

I am taking a few days off to run the show at home while my wife attends a Veterinary conference. During the day, while the kids are in school, I’m working on catching up on long deferred maintenance on my Leitra. Today’s item: pull off the wheel pants and replace them with fenders. It’s a sad day for aerodynamics and style.

Leitra

You see the Leitra looks much cooler with the full wheel pants on the front wheels.
But after having them fail three times, I’m finally ready to give up.
The main thing I did wrong was attempt to use them in the snow. The wheel pants are really a go-fast item and to be frank, the Leitra is my daily driver, commute to work bike; it rarely goes fast save for an occasional down hill. Carl Georg warned me about the wheel pants and how they would not work well in snow, but the cool looks got the better of me. So, I ordered a pair of fenders this past spring. The fenders have sat in a box while I rode the V-Rex during the summer, but now I need to get them into play before the weather turns.

Aluminum stock

So, I got some aluminum stock, cut it, drilled it and made the needed mounting brackets. The fenders look pretty good. But I will miss the wheel pants.

Mounting bracket