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Spollen V-Bee Streamliner, Part 2

Click here for Part 1.

A couple of weeks passed as we followed John’s notes posted on the MARS website, and piece by piece, the shapes started to come together. John thinks the construction went fast, but we were simply following someone else's footprints - the thinking part was already done, therefore the assembly went faster, and there were two of us.

Forming the internal braces (see John Tetz's foam stiffeners write-up).

Both halves finished, with all internal supports glued in.

Tom blessing the result.

Adding middle section.

Taking shape.

Space is limited.

Checking eye level and windshield prototype.

We did have a problem creating a series of clips, but again, my neighbor listened to our situation, took a piece of strap steel recycled from an old hose clamp, and in about four minutes he bent and produced a working clip prototype. He has what we call "the touch". Not everybody has it. By the next afternoon we had made five of them, and they are working great. They are light and hold the deck down under speed with no shock absorption.

Finished clips.

The project took a little under two months in total, from picking up the molds to the first test ride. Every morning that I slipped into the garage was a joy. The summer heat and the smell of curing contact cement could not dampen the excitement as this streamliner began to take its form. I missed a few social events and a club ride or two, but it was all worth it when designing with such passion.

You have to understand with all this stuff that a very important aspect is the sheer enjoyment of being in the shop, captivated with the process of tinkering. Very little in life or so-called adult activities comes close to this level of bliss. It’s very similar to the flow one gets into when doing artwork.

Yet the pleasure of this work pales in comparison with the bliss of hitting 31 mph and tearing down the block on my first run. This machine, as well as John's, is designed for street use. She passed buses and telephone poles like they were standing still. What joy!

I am often asked to explain my passion and somewhat of an obsession for building recumbents and HPV's. It’s very simple, as one who loves airplanes but will never fly a plane, or one who fantasizes about racing a finely-tuned sports car but will never own one, that a streamliner can offer both of these levels of excitement. From the moment you climb into it or the first banked turn, it’s pure heart-pounding adrenaline. You bank, swoop, and can simply punch and accelerate. You’re tucked down, looking through a small windshield, sitting inside what can be best described as a cockpit.

On the practical side, all my riding is done on city streets in real-time traffic conditions. Like passing a bus, only to find another bus in front of it, and they are both pulling out, this requires a bit of boost and pure rush. There is literally no expense, and you can take your machine out for a spin anytime, no need for reservations, no traveling to get somewhere, no set-up time.

It’s kind of like popular science, but as John says, it’s not that popular. On the practical side, it make a lot of sense for hops around town as a gasless non-polluting means of transportation, and it makes you fit and feel wonderful as well.

I am also asked if I race any of these bikes. Well, I raced once and found the experience exhausting, and I was spotted coasting on the back stretch. My killer instinct could not override the fact that it was very, very hot and I was getting tired.

But come time to go to the dentist, by car it will take me 38 minutes to travel five towns, whereas in the streamliner I can make it in about 28 minutes. I simply pass lines of cars waiting at each light and gain considerable time.

Yet somehow with all this wonderful development, the development of human power still is viewed as fringe and not currently embraced by the masses. It sure does not make any sense to me.

In closing, I would like to state that I have never been much of a team player, but the knowledge, friendships, and fun that both my brother and I have enjoyed over the past six years as members of MARS have expanded and enriched our lives. What a wonderful group!

Chris Spollen
Staten Island, NY
August 2003

Click here for Part 1.