Gallery: Pamela’s 2004 HP Velo Grasshopper

I’m a retiree, now 5 years plus, so ride mostly for pleasure and exercise, but also for almost all of my errand runs. Biking is my primary transportation. Earlier this summer Reno had weeks of very smoky air from the California wild fires, almost eliminating my riding. But its cleared up the past couple weeks, and I’m again usually getting in 40 to 60 miles per week on evening rides of 10 to 15 miles.

My 2004 HP Velotechnik Grasshopper, acquired used in late 2005, is my 2nd recumbent, replacing my BikeE RX, which served me well from 2001 to 2006. I would like to have kept both bikes, but don’t have the luxury of a private garage, and limited storage space in my apartment, so sold the RX to a friend as her first recumbent.

When I acquired the Grasshopper it had a 60/40 crankset and a 12-32 cassette, which I found geared too high for the hills around Reno. I replaced the 60/40 with a 52/42/30, which improved the situation somewhat, but I wanted a still lower granny gear for touring, so swapped the 30 for a 26. And I swapped the 12-32 cassette for a 14-34 “Cyclotouriste 14″ from Harris Cyclery. Thus equipped, I did a Spring 2006 tour from Reno to Death Valley to Palm Springs to Santa Barbara and back to Reno.


On the 2nd leg of this tour, Death Valley to Palm Springs, the 26 tooth chainring caused me grief, as using it caused a bend in the drive-side chainline, which caused the chain to eat a hole through the chaintube and then also through the support bracket for the return-side chaintube, discovered when all of a sudden while riding through Barstow I found the return chain chewing up my front fork! I was able to kludge a temporary fix with duct tape that got me to Palm Springs, and while visiting my friend Ted there, we devised a crude chain idler from hardware store parts that enabled me to complete the tour.

Back home, I restored the 30 tooth chainring, replaced the drive-side chaintube, and also decided to have a new rear wheel built with a SRAM Dual Drive, giving me a gear-inch range of 12 to 94. I use the 42 chainring for probably over 99% of my riding, reserving the 30 for steep hills, and the 52 for long downhills or strong tailwinds.

The Grasshopper has been my primary transportation since I acquired it. The four Jandd panniers (two Mini-Mountains and left and right Commuters) plus the Jandd Duffel Rack Pack give me ample cargo storage for shopping runs and cycle touring.

I acquired the Commuter panniers for use on the BikeE underseat rack, and added the Mini-Moutains for the Grasshopper mid-ship rack. I bought the Jandd duffel because it was the only rack pack I could find that was long enough to store my Topeak Mountain Morph tire pump. It turned out to be a bit too long, i.e. longer than my rack top, and the rear end drooped down a bit obscuring the rear tail light. So I devised the wood support platform to extend the rack a bit. The platform sits on top of the commuter pannier rack hooks, and with the duffel clinched in place, makes it virtually impossible for the panniers to pop off the rack.

With minimum cargo (empty panniers other than spare tube, basic tools, cable and lock, plus a water bottle) the bike weighs about 60 pounds. My cyclocomputer is currently not connected, but I think I cruise around 14 to 15 mph on the flats, when unhampered by winds.

The front wheel has a SON dynamo hub that powers a Lumotec Oval Senso Plus headlight and the rear tail light. For additional rear lighting I added the Planet Bike Superflash blinky and an ancient orange flasher (at least 25 years old) from my DF [diamond frame —ed.] biking days, plus Planet Bike’s helmet flasher.

My BicycleR Evolution trailer was acquired in 2003 for use on a 2004 tour on the BikeE RX (journal at crazyguyonabike.com). I modified the trailer box top by adding the D-rings on webbing to enable bungeeing stuff on top of the trailer. On tour it carries my tent, Therm-A-Rest pad, bulky synthetic sleeping bag, extra 2-liter water bottles, etc. It doesn’t get much use at home, as I seldom need the extra carrying capacity, but it will readily accomodate a couple 40-pound boxes of cat litter plus a bag or two of dry cat food. That size load will keep my speed in the 9 to 10 mph range on the flats, and in my granny gear on uphill grades!

If I had the storage space, I’d probably add a faster “fun” recumbent (such as a Rans V-Rex or Rocket) to my stable, but the HP Velotechnik Grasshopper is a great commuter and touring bike, definitely a keeper!

—Pamela

P.S. I’m *not* car-free, but my 1993 Mercury Tracer wagon typically only gets used a few times per month. It’s been nice ignoring the gas price increases this year.

3 Responses to “Gallery: Pamela’s 2004 HP Velo Grasshopper”

  • Andy Goetz says:

    Pam,

    If you put a 22-33-44 triple crankset on the front of your bike, you will find that hills are no longer a problem and your chain will be under less stress also.

  • Pamela says:

    Andy,

    I have considered a “trekking” crankset (48/38/28), whidh *might* work OK. But since the 26 caused me grief on my Spring 2006 tour, there’s no way I could get away with a 22 without installing a decent chain idler over the front fork. So far I’ve found the 12-to-94 gear-inch range I currently have to be adequate, and so far no new drive side chainline problems.

    Pamela

  • Andy Goetz says:

    Pam,

    You just take a few links out of your chain to take the excess length out of your chain once you change to a 22-33-44 triple front sprocket set. I just did a 412 mile, 10 day ride carrying 60 pounds on the back all day every day and the 22 tooth small front sprocket let me go right up the steepest hills I encountered in Germany along the Danube river trail, the Donau Radweg and Rhein Main trail. A 28 tooth front sprocket is too tall to pull 60 pounds up steep hills for most people. Your top end isn’t as important as the ability to go up the hills without getting your legs blown out. Before I changed out my 30 tooth small front sprocket, I would cramp up after about 45 minutes to an hour. After, I had no problems. If you use too big a front sprocket, you have to push much harder on your pedals to go up a hill, causing more chain stretch over a period of time, not to mention overstressing your front sprocket, as you found out when yours bent.

    Here are some pictures and text about my wife and my trip to Germany and Austria in
    April and May of this year on the Flickr website with some text: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28027272@N02/

 
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