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So You Want To Build A Recumbent Fairing?

Updated on October 11, 2015

The Beginning!

Fairings are what you call just about anything that will deflect wind. Windshields, tail fins, vehicle bodies, could all come under the class of fairings. The basic idea is to create protection from elements like rain or mud, and a more streamlined or aerodynamic form. In turn, the same amount of energy can produce more speed inside a shell that can reduce the friction of the air.

Now, that’s the serious side of what a fairing is supposed to be. As for me, they looked different, cool, original, and….they could help me go faster! This is all good. Others just wanted to keep the bugs from flying in their mouth, or rain, and take advantage of the “cool” factor. This is good! Whatever the reason, fairings are a good thing.

Fairings offer an opportunity to express creativeness. Some have literally gone around town after an election and scavenged up all the Coroplast signs left by the various candidates. With these, tailboxes as well as full fairings have been fashioned.

Others, like me, have found distributors for full sheets of Coroplast at very reasonable prices. Full sheets from a distributor can run from $6.50 for 4mm and up, usually depending on quantity. From a sign shop, you may pay three times as much.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes. I’m going to put that to a good test on this article. Ahead you will have the opportunity to see the various stages of fairing construction and development for a Streetliner fairing.

The first picture is the homebuilt frame I have used for all the fairings so far. This is the Tour Easy Clone patented by Gardner Martin of Easy Racers Inc, back in the late 70’s. About 5000 sets of plans were sold to those who would attempt to build their own.

I don’t know if there are any records, but chances are there may not be another recumbent that has been made by homebuilders more than the TE Clone. These plans have been copied and passed along for years.

Ready to ride!

The first fairing!

This is the fairing that started it all. This was from a picture in November 1999. After several hard drive crashes and virus attacks, this is the only picture I have left. I named it the Scam-Bent. A “scam” will usually take you for a financial ride you don’t want to go on. A ‘bent or recumbent does just the opposite. So Scam-Bent loosely translated means, it will take you for a ride (you want to go on)!

Original Scambent Recumbent Fairing!

Streetliner #1

Streetliner #1 with tiller steering, using Ed Gin’s Fairing Seminar info. While this design was very “boxy” and seemingly not that aerodynamic, I went downhill at over 49 mph! I haven’t gone down that same hill with any of the other designs…. yet!

Streetliner #2

Streetliner #2

Streetliner #2 adapting my own design. I don’t really know what the top speed was on this design, as I was certain I could do better and promptly made #3.

Streetliner #3

Streetliner #3

Streetliner #3 with the panels cut to accommodate the curved nose section. This wasn’t a bad design, but it led to design #4 which was better. Again, this was not a bad design, and I learned more about heating and forming Coroplast to get the desired curves.

Streetliner #4

Streetliner #4

Streetliner #4 using a two part bottom/top concept. This has been the fastest design so far. The tiller steering was the downfall on this design, and because of a couple of low-speed layovers on a main street in town, my focus changed to trikes….but not for long. Top speed on this design was 37 mph on a short downhill, and could cruise around 23-25 mph.

In the 2002 Mt. Dora Bike Festival, Mt. Dora, Florida, this design completed 70 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes! I was severely out of shape, and the last 10 miles were pure agony where the legs were concerned. Even so, had it not been for this design that time would never have been possible. Total weight for bike and fairing is around 50 lbs. Great for downhill, but murder on an uphill with a flat approach!

Streetliner #5

Streetliner #5

Streetliner #5 with remote steering, landing gear, internal mount taillight, using the hollow flute concept for the nose piece. This design does not appear to be quite as fast as #4.

This was completed on October 19, 2003. So far cruising speeds range between 22-25 mph. Fastest speed on flats has been 27-28 mph. On a few minor downhills speeds have been up to 32 mph. Transportation has kept me from really getting to a good downhill to check out the speed potential.

While the remote steering has made an incredible difference in design possibilities, the landing gear has made a tremendous difference in stability at stops! I am still going through a learning curve with the landing gear as it relates to road crowns and how it can throw off the steering.

Because the possibility of falling to my right side (which has happened when stopped several times) is so great, I have added a landing gear to the right side as well. Since space is so limited inside the fairing, as well as movement, it is very easy to loose your balance, especially on city streets.

Streetliner #5 Floor With Landing Wheels

Landing Wheels

This is looking from the right side. You can see both landing wheels in the down position. The landing wheels are simple skateboard wheels.

Inside Cockpit

Cockpit

This is a good look inside the cockpit with the reconfigured steering. Plenty of room to maneuver here. Complete with brakes, computer, gearshifts, rearview mirror and horn. You can just see the red button for the horn.

Off to the right is the tube for the bladder holding whatever my choice of drink is. This is contained in a box behind the seat that has been designed to put ice in to keep drinks cold.

Dual Landing Gear!

Dual Landing Gear

There is about 1” clearance from left to right. Having both wheels the same length would create additional problems with steering. The main idea is to keep from falling one way or the other at stops.

HPV (Human Powered Vehicle) #1

HPV #1


Now we advance to what is commonly called a Human Powered Vehicle. The name "Human Powered" is obvious but the "vehicle" part may seem a bit over the top. That would be until you know that such a contraption holds the Land Speed Record of over 83 MPH! Really? Really!
Battle Mountain, Utah, is the location that hosts this even in September each year, over a five mile stretch of specially paved asphalt road that is closed to traffic during the early morning and late afternoon hours for the runs.

This year, 2015, a new record was set by another Canadian, Todd Reichert, with an incredible speed of 86.65 MPH! That's breaking the speed limit in almost every state in the U.S.

Beginning in 2001, Canadian Sam Whittingham, was the first to break the 70 MPH barrier with a wind legal run of over 72 MPH. This was the first of many to follow, including just a few years later the 80 MPH mark as well.

Say what you will, these are not run of the mill athletes. Check out the link for the World Human Powered Speed Challenge to see for yourself, and have a look at the photos on they Face Book page of these incredible machines.

Now, back to HPV #1. This was my first attempt at building an HPV fairing using my bike frame and Coroplast. You'll be familiar with Coroplast from all the signs that pop up in yards around election time, garage sales and the like. It is in essence, a corrugated plastic.

This is a homebuilders effort at creating a lightweight covering that will be aerodynamic to see just how much human power can be generated to achieve a top speed in a normal environment outdoors, wind and all!

The first effort at Brian Piccolo Velodrome in Cooper City, Florida, took place in 2002, and a top speed of 36 MPH was the result. It was OK, but as is so often the case, I was sure I could do better.

HPV #2

HPV #2

Here is the last HPV fairing built in 2004 and raced on the Criterion Track at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City, Florida. This was the best fairing complete with a blown canopy the Garrie Hill, who is renown in HPV circles as one of the best innovators for cast fairings and unique products for enthusiasts.

While no contests or races were won with this fairing due to multiple crashes on some curves, it was still one of the best performing.

This is just a short history without all the behind the scenes work and fabrication of some 25 fairings in total over a period of 8 years. While fairly inexpensive to build, a fair amount goes into accumulating the tools necessary to create these fairings. The time is another factor, as no less than 40 hours is involved in each one. An eBook is being contemplated to show some of the many tools and creations used in their construction.

HPV #2

HPV #2

Here is the last HPV fairing built in 2004 and raced on the Criterion Track at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City, Florida. This was the best fairing complete with a blown canopy the Garrie Hill, who is renown in HPV circles as one of the best innovators for cast fairings and unique products for enthusiasts.

While no contests or races were won with this fairing due to multiple crashes on some curves, it was still one of the best performing.

This is just a short history without all the behind the scenes work and fabrication of some 25 fairings in total over a period of 8 years. While fairly inexpensive to build, a fair amount goes into accumulating the tools necessary to create these fairings. The time is another factor, as no less than 40 hours is involved in each one. An eBook is being contemplated to show some of the many tools and creations used in their construction.

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