Cuda-W Final Construction

Cuda-W Concept

Final Construction & Racing

Cuda-W 2006
By Warren Beauchamp
This page shows the final construction of the Cuda-W. This streamliner has been in the making since 2000, when I first started the fairing design process. The links below detail the design and construction work that has led to this point.
Cuda-W design
Cuda-W Body construction
Cuda-W drivetrain design & construction  (2005)
Cuda-W drivetrain II (2006)
Cuda-W drivetrain III (2008)
I picked up the fairing at Reg Rodaro's house in Canada on the weekend of the 19th. It's very cool.

Here it is with the canopy liner sitting on top of the fairing. It looks like the canopy will integrate with the fairing with a minimum of hassle. 

From the front you can see what a nice job Reg did in rounding the sides of the vehicle. This rounding reduces the effects of side winds.

It's still unknown just how fast this bike will be, or how well it will handle cross winds.

There's still a lot of work to do, as only one side of the bulkheads have been attached to the inside of the body. It's still too cold out to do epoxy work, but very soon it will be warm enough to allow the epoxy to set up properly in a foam enclosure heated by a small space heater.

Reg is building a mold of the top half (or bottom depending how you look at it, the fairing is symmetrical) of the fairing, that he'll use to build the wheel fairings and canopy mounts. 

Here's the fairing with the canopy removed. The front sub frame will be installed through this opening, and I'll have to climb in through it as well. It will be a bit of a acrobatic feat until I get the landing gear installed.
A couple weekends ago I build a set of fairing stands, to allow me to work on the fairing with fear of it falling over. They turned out to be heavy duty, so I decided to see if I could climb in a do a test fit of the engine (me!). I gingerly stepped into the bike, listening for any creaks or cracks, but it was quiet, so I climbed in. Woo-Hoo! I fit! There is plenty of length between the seat bike and front bulkhead, so I don't have to worry about my toes hitting the bulkhead. 

Also the fairing is plenty deep, so deep that I had to sit up straighter just to see out. I did notice that the bottom of the fairing is a bit narrow for my butt, that means I'll need to build a seat bottom into the fairing. This is actually ok, as I was planning to do that anyway. It's best to have the seat tilt up in front a bit so you don't slide off. 

I tested out the canopy too. Looks like that should work out fine. I had about 3 fingers between my head and the inside of the canopy, which should be enough space for my helmet without too much cramming.

I now have to work on the drivetrain to complete it and integrate it with the new fairing.

The drivetrain has now been completed enough to take the bike on it's maiden voyage. That was a trip across the parking lot, but was enough to tell me that it starts, stops and handles well at low speeds. I met my goal of "rolling by the Northbrook races", but it still needs some tweaking before I can race it. As I feared, the frame lacks some lateral rigidity, so the front wheel has too much side to side play in the wheel hole. 
I have a couple things to try to stiffen it up. I'm using a thin wall 7/8" aluminum tube for the subframe's "T" bracket, which may be flexing. I'll try to find a steel tube to use. Dana Barlow has recommended a suspension linkage design for the back of the frame to stiffen it up back there. 

Also, the canopy needs to be mounted and I need to mount a rear brake. The list goes on. I have a couple more days to work on it before the Northbrook races, but it looks like I may be racing the old Barracuda. 

I raced the old Barracuda at Northbrook, but whether due to the vehicle or the engine, I was beaten by Rick Gritters, and even lapped. I'm hoping the new bike is enough faster to close that gap...
It's been too hot to work out in the barn for the last few weeks, but it's looks like this weekend should be cool enough. I verified that the frame does still twist and move side to side a bit (though not as much side to side movement of the front wheel after I tightened the steer tube!). I will be building the rear frame mount reinforcement this weekend, but I need to get my torch bottles refilled. Arg! I added the brake cable guides for the rear brakes, and have confirmed that the shock does not deflect at all when I get into the bike (!). Now I just need to confirm that the bike sits level and I can mount the rear wheel at the right height and then epoxy the brake bridge into place. Whew! Once I get all that stuff done, I think it will be ready to race next weekend at the North Indiana HPV races, with the Cuda-W configured just like the picture above, no canopy. I have not added any chain keepers to the drivetrain yet either. Hopefully I'll have time to do that. I don't want any lost chains in the middle of the race!

The rear brake bridge is now installed, and I added some spiffy CF tube chunks to use a cable guides, which worked out nicely. 

I decided to add a single tube between the frame at the bottom of the suspension shock, and the side of the fairing to triangulate the rear of the front sub-frame. This should prevent the side to side movement back there, but still allow the up-down. I think that the side to side movement was causing the worst part of the lateral wheel movement. If after the test ride it's still bad, I'll need to build a whole rear frame mount reinforcement assembly.

I also reinforced the inside of the seam between the right and left halves of the fairing. Now I just have to put it all back together and take it for a test ride. It's much tougher getting in and out of this bike than the old Cuda, which makes going on self-supported test rides difficult. That's mostly because there is no landing gear, but partly because it's a tight fit! 

I added a chain-keeper to the top of the fork portion of the drivetrain. My "shake and pedal" testing showed that this was the only place that the chain would drop off. 
Did some "machining" (hack saw and files) of the rear dropouts that Reg made to cut down the weight and adjust for slight bulkhead misalignment. Heavy duty!
I raced the Cuda-W at the Northern Indiana HPRA races, and learned quite a bit about what I still need to do before Battle Mountain, as well as some things not to do on a bike that's supposed to be able to go around corners. 

The bike now has some scrapes that will need to be fixed up before Battle Mountain, but other than that is fine. 



Things I learned:

  • One of my feet hits the front "T" bracket, so I have to move the clamp there.
  • My leg hits the rear shock brace that I just added on the backstroke, so I need to move that back further.
  • My left leg bounces off the remote steering rod, causing it to graze the inside of the fairing. I need to make a new one out of something stiff with a bend in it to accommodate my leg.
  • My right leg grazes the drivetrain gears, but I think that's because of the other stuff it's hitting...
  • Because the Q is so narrow, and I have about 1" of crank to tire overlap, if I turn the bike when my inside foot is in the down position, the tire hits the crank, which caused some crashes.
  • The Cuda-W bounces over 6" high concrete curbs nicely while sliding backwards on it's side at a high rate of speed. Kids, don't try this at home... This is OK for Battle Mountain as it's a straight line run, but I'll need to build a different drivetrain or use really short cranks if I want to race this bike in the HPRA races.
  • If I hold my inside foot in the up position, the bike corners nicely, and feels very stable at speed, but if I start pedaling too soon out of the corner, my heels strike the fork and sometimes kick the chain off.
I had a slight digression to build an HPB and race it. With that out of my system, it's back to working on the Cuda-W. 3 weeks 'till BM, yikes! I have cut the hole in the canopy and determined that my head and helmet really will fit under the bubble. I also obtained some 140mm cranks from Larry Z. (Thanks Larry!), which have fixed the most of the issues listed above. They have a bit wider Q than the black widow 155mm cranks I was using previously, but hopefully they will not be too wide. 

More digression: 
I have a surplus silk drogue that's about 6 feet in diameter that I am planning to utilize as an emergency chute on the Cuda-W (Not this year!). Through a series of extensive calculations and rigorous testing I have determined that this chute will work well to stop a high speed HPV in a safe manner. OK, so really I'm just guessing, but the chute can't be much bigger than 6 feet or it either wouldn't open, or it would tear the back of the bike off when it pops open. Smaller than 3 feet may not slow the bike down fast enough. Remember the chute will be released when the bike has crashed and is sliding along the ground on it's side, so would need to pop open while being dragged at approximately ground level. Also it will need to deploy very quickly, since the bike begins to spin as soon as it hits the ground. If it pops out when you are going backwards, it won't deploy too well. NASCAR uses pop out spoilers which deploy when the car is sliding backwards to prevent the vehicle from going airborne. Something like that would help prevent the sliding backwards issue, but that's probably too complex and lossy for HPVs. Also what determines when the chute pops out? An automatic system would be nice, but you don't want it deploying during a starting mishap. A manual release is probably the best idea for now, but the pilot would need to pop the chute quickly!

I noticed I still had to modify the drivetrain to gear it up for 70MPH+ capability. I need to add a 32 tooth cog to the intermediary gear to get to 70MPH at 100RPM. I found a suitable gear and tried to drill some mounting holes in it, but could not. I ruined 3 or 4 drill bits before giving up. After asking on the web I decided to use the heat to un-harden method. I torched it until it was red hot in the areas I was attempting to drill holes. It warped the cog nicely, AND when it cooled it was still too hard to drill. Arg! I found a 28 tooth cog that drilled out just fine, but that one will only get me to 70MPH at 120 RPM (the same RPM that I was going when I went 58 MPH in the Barracuda a couple years ago). Later I tried a titanium coated drill bit, which dulled as fast as the normal bit, then found a carbide drill bit, which cut through the cog fine. Now I know to use carbide bits when drilling cogs!

On a positive note, over the past weekend I built a base for the back half of the head bubble, and glassed the Kevlar bubble Reg had made earlier to the canopy. It faired in pretty well but I will still have a bunch of filling and sanding to do to make it pretty.
The rear wheel fairing that Reg had been working on also arrived over the weekend. It looks great and fits well too. I bonded it onto the rear wheel fairing last night. Now I have a ton of body work to do to get rid of the seams and scratches in the fairing and it's associated bits. 
Here's the back view. Hmm, apparently I need to trim the canopy flange so it looks more symmetric, and yes, I'm taking the numbers off for the BM event.. 
Also I made a sandwich of 3 layers of super thick Chinese carbon cloth, which I will cut into strips to use for canopy alignment tabs. I laid the carbon on a sheet of plastic wrap, wetted out the carbon, placed another layer of plastic wrap over the top, then sandwiched it all between two sheets of 1/2" plywood and put a couple 10 lb weights on top. It's no vacuum bag, but it should all be integrated together pretty well, and the excess resin gets squished out the sides.
4 more days to work on the bike before I have to take the bike to meet Thom Ollinger, who is graciously driving a bunch of 'liners to Nevada. Actually 4 evenings. Time to put this mess in high gear!

Here are the tabs made from the carbon fiber sandwich above. I attached them to the fairing with epoxy/cotton flox.

I use epoxy in 3 basic types of composite. To wet out fabric, with cotton flox for structural joins, and with micro ballons for body work (home made body putty. Versatile stuff...

The tabs were clamped in the canopy area to keep the canopy positioned correctly. Putting half of the tabs on the main body, and the other half on the canopy itself, keeps the canopy from falling into the bike, or sliding off the outside.
After applying a layer of micro ballons to the seams, and then belt sanding it back off, I sprayed the fairing with white sandable primer. That made it easier to see the worst of the spots that needed more body filler.

I doubt the body will be completely done by Friday, but I'll take some sandpaper and cans of yellow paint to make it the proper color at the races next week.

I built the first wheelcover for the front wheel using Alan A's wheel disk mold. I made it with 1 layer of carbon fiber that was pressed between 2 layers of plastic wrap, and then mashed together with some weighted foam. It needs a little sanding, but otherwise turned out well. Yeah, vacuum bagging it would have made it lighter, but with just 1 layer of CF, the extra epoxy gives it a bit more strength. I had to cut a slice out of the disk to make it fit the dish of the Rohlhoff wheel. I put it back together with more CF and epoxy, which is that messy area you see toward the bottom of the photo.
Finished making and mounting the front wheel disks. I mounted them with zip ties. There is no hole for the valve stem, but I can bend the disk back to access it.  They came out pretty nicely, but need to be sanded and painted eventually. I glued some magnets to the inside of the CF disk to use for the speedometer. The magnetic lines of flux seem to get through the single layer of CF just fine. I used JB-Weld to glue them, and apparently JB-Weld has a bunch of iron oxide in it, as when I stuck the magnets into the epoxy, the epoxy got sucked up onto the sides of the magnet. It was weird looking.

I stuck the frame back into the body. Clearances are much better with the shorter cranks, but now my feet rub a little on the sides of the fairing. Arg! Upon closer inspection, they were rubbing on the end of the main rib, so I took the frame back out and spent too much time cutting away about 2" of rib on each side. Much better. Now I can flail away inside the fairing and crank up the drivetrain to a virtual 70 MPH. Hmm. There is quite a bit of vibration from the front wheel at that speed. It will need to be balanced. Hopefully that's something I can do at BM. 

I cut the hole in the front of the head bubble, put on my helmet and sealed myself in. It's very tight. My head touches the top of the canopy. I discovered I will need to "assume the position" of head tilted back to be able to see out of the bike properly (see pictures of Sam in the Varna). I'm crammed into this thing like a big lanky sardine. It should be fast! 

I bought the Econo-Kote (AeroKote) film to that I will use to make a wheel disk out out the 700C tri-spoke CF wheel I have. It should be pretty cool. 

Battle Mountain 2005
Sean Costin and I flew out to Reno, and Garrie Hill graciously gave us a ride to Battle Mountain. Sunday we got settled in the hotel, had the first racers meeting, and got our speedbike support crews worked out. 

I spent most of the first 3 days at the World Human Powered Speed Championships in Battle Mountain, NV out in the parking lot, tweaking and fixing the Cuda-W.
I have to give a big thanks to Rob Hitchcock for helping me out all week by carting me (and my bike!) around and acting as my crew chief, and to Mike Sovo for being my 2nd crew member. 

At the qualification runs on Monday I couldn't keep the bike above 20MPH. My knees hit the inside of the fairing, and my head was crammed into the canopy. Not good. 

Rob and I took the subframe back out of the fairing and discovered that the front wheel was rubbing on the frame. You can see here that it looks like it's rubbing already, but it had about 1/3" of clearance. Unfortunately, when weight was applied, it rubbed bad enough to leave a thick layer of rubber on the frame tube. We used a donated large crescent wrench to pound a tire shaped dent in the tube and took it back out to Muleshoe road for some testing. Much better! Then it was time to spray on some yellow. On Monday's run I did 57.06 MPH in bad winds and cold temps. 1
That was almost as fast as my previous personal best. Not bad for the first time down the road in a new bike. My head and knees were still cramped, so Tuesday I modified the seat to lower it, and worked on the body some. Tuesday night was a little better, but winds and cold temps kept me down to 58.231 MPH. Wednesday I added some Lycra around the front wheel hole, and sealed up the rear wheel hole in the rear bulkhead. During my 58.4 MPH run I noticed some burnt rubber smell, and remembered that I smelled the same thing the previous day.

Thursday I pulled the subframe out again. Rubber on the frame showed that I did not beat a big enough dent in the frame last time. I borrowed an actual ball peen hammer and made the dent bigger (and more nicely shaped...). 

Picture by Mike Mowett
Thursday's run was much better, warm temps and very low winds. Something went "clunk rattle rattle" in the middle of the run. I kept pedaling... 64.178 MPH! 

Friday I found that a bolt on my front subframe had sheared off due to my over-tightening it. I spent all morning walking around Battle Mountain looking for the right hardware to replace it. 

I replaced the canopy with my "good" canopy that had no dents, filled more holes and irregularities in the body and repainted it. All week I had been running in the first position of the first group, which has the windiest runs. Friday I was switched with Damjan and his Eivie speedbike to allow him to run when it was not so dark. I got another nice run with warm temps and low winds, and cranked it up to 64.428 MPH. (video by Mike Mowett here)

Saturday was cold and windy. 

Picture by Jerome

Most speedbikes need to be launched by hand, then caught at the end of the run. This year my bike was no exception, as I had not built a landing gear. The first picture below shows Al Krause and Larry Lem running out to catch me. The next picture shows (L to R) Alice Krause, ?, Andrea Blaseckie, and Larry Lem, busily un-taping the canopy while holding me up, while I was practicing fogging up the windscreen.

Picture by Alex Berthet

Picture by Alex Berthet
Saturday I let Charlie Ollinger take my cushy last position in the last group spot to see if he could break the junior record, and ran in the worst wind of the week. I was too scared to crank it above 60, so I took it easy and only went 54.6MPH. 

Thanks to Thom Ollinger for carting my bike out to Battle Mountain and back. It's now back in the barn, awaiting the next modifications.


Stuff I need to do for 2006:

  • Build new front subframe with no crank to tire overlap to allow me to race the bike in HPRA races.
  • Make a new Aerokote rear wheel disk, this time use rubber cement to attach it to the rim. The one I made for this years races began to pull away from the rim and I trashed it. 
  • Build Landing gear
  • Build front wheel fairing
  • Cut down the rear wheel fairing a bit. 
  • Paint spiffy stripe and Cuda-W on side.          
Maybe something like this? 
I took the front subframe out of the Cuda-W earlier this week, and am taking the components off of it in preparation for building a new subframe with no crank to tire interference. When spinning the drivetrain it felt very draggy. I'm not sure why, but can only blame the drivetrain as everything else feels smooth. Because of this and the fact that I can't go around corners with the current drivetrain, the new version of the drivetrain will utilize a more simplified drive system. 

I'll post the updates on the Cuda-W drivetrain II  page. 

The new front subframe and drivetrain has been completed, and I'm very happy with it. As the front of the bike now sits 1.5" lower, I modified the rear wheel mounts so they are 1.5" lower too. I had to hack a couple inches off the rear wheel fairing to allow the bike to sit on the tires, and then did the obligatory lean test. The bike still can lean wayyy over. Probably farther than I'll have the cajones to bank it in an actual race... 

I now need to clean up the rear wheel fairing, and fill in the large hole in front of the front wheel caused by the now shorter wheelbase. I laid up some carbon fiber between layers of plastic wrap on the top of the fairing, to make a plug for the hole in the bottom.
Lots of work to do before the Michigan HPRA HPV races next weekend, if I want to race the Cuda-W. Today I removed the entire original rear wheel fairing because after removing a couple inches of height, what was left was too wide and would have scraped when leaning way over in the corners.
Fortunately it came off virtually intact after attacking it with a putty knife for about 10 minutes.

Hopefully I'll be able to use parts from the removed wheel fairing to build a new one.

I also moved the rear brake to make it work with the repositioned rear wheel, finished the front subframe lateral support arm, and glassed in the carbon fiber bits I made earlier in the week to fill in the holes around the front wheel.  

Shown here is the lateral support arm. It's a stainless steel tube compliments of Dana Barlow.

Because I am planning on racing in the 50 mile race next weekend, I will need some air in the fairing to keep me from melting down. I made a mold for a NACA duct out of 1/8" foam, and applied a couple coats of mold release. This will be installed in front of the bubble in the canopy. This NACA duct is smaller than the one in the old Barracuda, I hope it's big enough to keep me cool.
I took the Cuda-W for it's maiden voyage with the new front subframe. As it's now a bit lower, I can now climb into the bike un-aided. It's not easy, but I can do it. The drivetrain feels good, nothing hits, and I had it up to 35 or so, but there is a problem with the frame in that it's not stiff enough torsionally, so if I torque the steering sharply it sets up a "Death Wobble" oscillation which is extremely scary. If I slow way down and hold the steering tight it eventually goes away. Arg.

I added more frame braces but I'm not sure it helped much.
Dana Barlow says I need a tube-in-channel stabilizer to prevent the twisting of the frame. He mentioned something about that last year but I didn't have this issue with the old drivetrain. I think if I insert a tube into the steer tube and capture it with a u-channel attached to the top of the fairing that should do it. I don't think I have time before Michigan for that.

I'll put it all back together, make sure everything is very tight and try it on the road again.

Also I made the NACA duct. Still need to install it.

I put it all back together and went for a 5 mile or so ride. The bike is very smooth and seems to handle the cross winds wonderfully. I had it up to about 35MPH but to go faster I'll need to add the canopy so I don't have the parachute effect...

I can induce a little wobble but it corrects itself quickly. No more "Death Wobble"! It still needs to be stiffer though before I race it, so I won't take it to the Waterford races.

I installed the NACA duct. It should work well. 

Unless I position my legs just right, they graze the inside of the fairing. That makes things difficult when I am trying to *go fast*, which will be potentially painful during a long race. I'll need to lower my seat a bit to fix it. The air shock works very nicely, I can see it moving up and down when I go over bumps, and while pedaling. It currently has 0 pressure in it, so it looks like I need to add a little air to reduce the pedaling induced deflection.

I took the Cuda-W to the Waterford event anyway, just for show and tell, and rode it around the track a couple times. Stability and handling were fine, though I didn't hit any corners at high speeds, or try it with the canopy. After returning from the races I added foam and CF in some of the frame spaces to stiffen it up. I can still get it to wiggle in a test ride, but a least it's self correcting. Each time I tweak the bike and take it for another test ride it feels better. It's probably race-able now, but it still needs more work before I will feel safe throwing the bike into a fast corner. I also lowered the seat, and that appears to have fixed the knee clearance issue, but I need to move the rear stabilizer arm back further to prevent contact with my thigh. Nothing's ever easy.

Did a little more work on the body. Time for more work on the subframe.

I have decided to not use wheel fairings for now.

I've been thinking for a while how to attach the canopy, while still allowing me to get in and out of the bike.  I originally thought about hinging it from the back, but that didn't work out. This way seems pretty simple, and it will allow the canopy to be locked into a partially opened position like this:
Or into a fully opened position like this. This will keep the cockpit area open enough for me to get in and out, and allow me to lower, raise and fasten the canopy from within. Also I'll be able to ride with the canopy partially opened and still be able to see in conditions where more ventilation may be needed.
I completed the Canopy mount as in these mockups.
The front wheel hole is now filled in, and the bottom of the body is painted for the first time. There seems to be plenty of room to steer.
The Back wheel hole has been closed in a little too, the mess from removing the wheel fairing has been cleaned up, and the obligatory yellow paint has been sprayed.
The bike now has a fresh coat of spray paint. Not perfect, but there is always the possibility of crashing, especially on the first run. This weekend will be the first time I will have raced this bike at high speeds in an HPRA event, and the first race with this front subframe, period.
The 100 lap race was the first HPRA event for the Cuda-W. I quickly made it up to 40 MPH laps, and was able to catch Rick Gritters, then pass him and hang behind him 1 lap ahead of him. The bike felt great. At 48 laps Rick tried to re-pass me on the inside in a corner and we collided, causing us to crash. I slid on my left side, slammed into the wall at the top of the banked curve, and slid back down the curve on my right side into the infield. I hit a pole with my back tire and the tire/rim were trashed.  I slid 50 meters. That was a lot of sliding...
Before I crashed, I was cruising between 38 and 40 MPH on the small track, without working hard. This bike is fast, and seems to handle crosswinds well, as Rick said he was getting pushed around by the side winds, and I didn't notice them. The body is scraped up, and the carbon fiber Hed3 wheel was damaged badly. I will attempt to fix the wheel by patching the carbon and unbending the rim, and do more bodywork. Fortunately none of the scrapes on the body are deep so it should not be too hard. I'm also doing more work on the subframe to stiffen it more. The hinged canopy worked nicely, but still needs a way to lock them in place. I need a landing gear!!
The latest frame upgrade has been completed, and the work on the body is progressing nicely. I slathered on a layer of epoxy/micro balloons over the abrasions on the body, then sanded it smooth with course grit sandpaper. I then sprayed a heavy layer of primer and sanded again with the medium sandpaper. While doing this I found a large crack in the bottom of the fairing between the seat base and the wheel mounts, which was caused by the crash. Arg. I'll need to lay a couple layers of CF inside the fairing to repair it. Also I was able to repair the Hed 3 wheel be unbending the aluminum rim, and placing a layer of CF and epoxy of the cracked CF area of the wheel. It's not perfectly straight any more, but not too bad...
Time passes, scratches are filled, paint is applied. Now it's time to add the graphics. I taped, masked and cut out the stripes and lettering for the side of the bike in preparation for the black spray paint.

I still haven't started the landing gear...

One side of the lettering is done. In retrospect I should have just purchased the stick on letters. Oh well... Now for the hard part, making the other side match. I'll need to do a bunch of measuring...
I raced the Cuda-W on the weekend of 9/16/06 at the Haweye Downs 1/2 mile speedway, in Cedar Rapids Iowa. 

Saturday's 50 lap race was tough. The winds were gusting between 10 and 30 MPH. I was very impressed with how the Cuda-W handled the side winds. I don't think they slowed me down at all, and I averaged 38MPH and won the event. Dennis Grelk raced my old Barracuda, and came in second. Dennis had purchased the Barracuda in the summer of '06 when I decided that the Cuda-W was going to actually work for me.

Picture by Dave Balfour

Picture by Dave Balfour
I also came in first place in class in the 3/4 mile sprint (2nd overall). I did get a hole shot after a great hand start by Sean Costin, which helped a bunch, but I think the great time was largely because Dennis Grelk and Rick Gritters were knocked around by the wind.
The 1 Hr faired race on Sunday really cooked me in the Cuda-W. The wind wasn't as bad on Sunday as on Saturday, so I thought it would be a piece of cake, but my shoe came loose from the pedal when I was launched, and by the time I got up to speed I was over 1/2 lap behind Dennis, Rick, and Rich. Oddly, my speeds didn't seem to be any higher in the lower wind conditions than in the higher winds the previous day. 
Picture by Dave Balfour

Picture by Dave Balfour
It took many laps to catch Rick, who was traveling much faster than the previous day, and then many more to catch Dennis. I passed him and then kept the pedal to the metal. We were going about 40MPH on the back side of the track and about 36MPH on the front side. As time wore on I couldn't keep up the pace and started slowing down, then with 15 minutes left, Dennis rocketed by me and proceeded to lap me before the finish. Dennis raced my old Barracuda streamliner, and really made it fly.
I'm finally starting the landing gear. I had taken some time off the Cuda-W project to build the e-bent commuter bike, but now it's time to get moving on it again. Pictured to the right is a mockup of the landing gear mounting assembly. It has wide flanges to distribute the forces to a large area of the bike's shell. The wheel slides completely up inside the box. A spring loaded door will close over the wheel when it goes up. I'll be making the individual pieces of the assembly shown here in pink foam out of multiple layers of carbon fiber (assuming that I have enough left!), then epoxying them together and reinforcing with more cf. Once it's all built, I'll glue it into the body, and do more reinforcing.
I laid up a couple of CF panels out of the rest of my heavy Chinese CF. I sandwiched it between some plastic wrap and then mashed it between a couple flat, smooth boards. Weights placed on the boards made sure the layup was well integrated, and smashed out any excess epoxy. Each panel was 3 layers of CF, which made it a bit under 1/8" thick. After it cured I traced the mockup template onto the panel and started cutting with the jigsaw.

Here's the landing gear in the "up" position. The wheel fits entirely in the wheel box. The wide flange will spread the wheel load along a wide area of the monocoque body. If you look closely you can see the outside tube of the concentric tubes. The inner tubes slides through this tube as the gear goes up and down. The outer tube will be epoxied to the load spreader, and reinforced. 
Here's the gear in the "down position.
Here's the gear with the second load spreading flange and the cap to the box.

I suppose I should take this assembly out to the cold, dark barn now and see how well it fits inside the fairing. It will be hard to mount this into the bike, as I'll need to work through the narrow slot in the seat back to do all the epoxying.

I took the assembly out to the cold barn and worried it through the narrow wheel slot. Looks like it fits in the intended spot, and doesn't interfere with anything else back there. 

I use epoxy and cotton flox to initially attach the parts together, then added some carbon cloth. I still need to add some carbon cloth reinforcement to the end caps. I wrapped the end of the high stress slider tube with some Kevlar roving to make sure it doesn't go anywhere (yellow string).

I filled the bottom of the aluminum landing gear leg, which I had cut at a 45 degree angle, with a mixture of chopped carbon fiber, cotton flox, and epoxy. This provided a sturdy mount for the long nut that the landing gear wheel screws into. Before epoxying the long nut in place, I roughed it up and cut some notches into it to give the epoxy plenty of surface area to grip.

The spring was mounted inside the leg. The aircraft cable to pull the landing gear down is attached to the leg with a T-nut to provide clearance for the spring. 

I'm working on a new way to allow me to open and close the top unaided. The method from last June worked OK, but would not stay open by itself which was a pain. This new method will also allow me to ride the bike with the canopy open.
I completed the single rod mechanism as above and tried it on the bike. It seems too floppy, so I will need to add two more folding supports more forward on the canopy. This will provide a solid triangulated mechanism and will hold the canopy open higher. Higher is good because testing revealed that when the canopy was folded completely open, I could not get my butt in through the opening.  It's still too cold out to do any epoxy work in the barn!

I spent some time out in the barn playing with the canopy to try to figure out how I can attach the canopy to the bike, to let me to open and close the fairing unaided while still allowing me to get in and out of the bike without performing feats of tantric contortionism. I have tried folding the lid forward, but could not think of a good way to keep the lid open. Hinging it to the rear did not allow enough clearance for me to get in and out. I have two options left. I will first try to use fiberglass rods as springs to hold the top open in folding forward mode. If that fails I will try to add hinges to have it open to the side opposite the landing gear.
I found some nice little bungee cords at the dollar store and did some experiments to see if they would provide enough force to hold the canopy open.  They do. It was then very easy to make some hooks to attach the cords to. I am kicking myself now that I did not think of this earlier.
Here's the landing gear mount in it's intended position inside the fairing. I marked the corners of the wheel box so I could cut the hole in the fairing. On the next warm day I'll glass it in place. I will need to do some testing to determine if the body will need reinforcement around the mounting flanges to prevent it from deforming while under load. You can see the rear wheel hole in the bottom left corner of the picture.
Here's the landing gear sticking through the hole I cut in the body. I'm happy so far as it appears that it is in the proper location, and that it extends far enough to put me at a good lean angle.
I CFed the landing gear into the body, and reinforced the surrounding area. I also removed the front sub frame and epoxied the remote steering arm into the shaft collar holding it to the steer tube as it was rotating and causing some play in the steering. While I had the subframe out I added a layer of soft foam to the idler wheel that was eating my leg during the Hawkeye Downs races. I still have to wire the landing gear in place and test it to see it it's really strong enough and positioned properly, then build the mechanism to allow me to raise and lower the gear.
Time passes and tweaks to the bike happen slowly. I made a handle to raise/lower the landing gear, and it works adequately. I tested the system and so far it seems plenty strong. If I have to rebuild it I will not use aluminum next time though as the inner tube gets notches in it from where the outer tube digs in. I ditched the old mirrors made with flat mirrored plastic, as they were practically useless, and got some small convex mirrors at the auto supply store.

As I have had very little time this year to work on the bike or train in it, I took it to the Michigan races with the thought that I'd try to race it and if I had problems I'd just race the NoCom. Turns out that's what happened. The landing gear worked fine to launch the bike, but after 3 laps of the hour race, the bike developed an uncontrollable wobble of the front wheel at slow speeds and high power at the top of the hill. I bailed into the grass with no damage other than my pride. It was disappointing but the bike ran and cornered well, and was ergonomically good. Besides the wobble issue, the canopy was not fastened down and the rattle was incredibly loud, and the Rohloff hub has developed a mysterious squeak at speed. The next day I discovered a lose bolt in the remote steering system which allowing excess play in the system. Arg.

This weekend I had a day to work on the bike, and I affixed the new mirrors, built a bungee system to hold the canopy in place, added a rear wheel fairing, and tweaked things. Next weekend is the Tucker 100! Just for grins I weighed the bike. It now weighs 60 lbs, which is 10 lbs more than in 2005 when I raced it in Battle Mountain.

Picture by Tony Levland/Dave Balfour
At the Northbrook races I did OK in the sprints, then was doing well in the 100 lap race by managing to keep Dennis in my old Barracuda from putting me a lap down after I had a lousy start. I kept this kept up for 79 laps in the sweltering heat, running between 36 and 39 MPH, then managed to kick my chain keeper while sprinting after getting stuck in traffic. The kick bent the chain keeper and allowed the chain to derail. I coasted for 3 laps then bailed out onto the grass and collapsed. It didn't occur to me that I should have put the chain back on and finished the race for hours. My brain was cooked...
You can (barely) see the rear wheel fairing in the photo above. It's attached with duct tape for now, but I'll 'glass it in place and paint it soon. The Cuda-W is now basically finished and all the bits are working as intended. Everything from this point on is "tweaking".
Over the winter I worked on a new drivetrain, but ran into some difficulties, so I just painted the old one and put it back together.

The rear wheel fairing is now glassed into place, and mostly faired in.


I have one more pass of filler and sanding to do before I declare it "good enough"

Also I have built the landing gear door. It needs some filler and sanding too, but at least now the hole is filled. Here's a video of the landing gear door in action.

Battle Mountain preparations.
I am using the 85T chain ring that Dennis to go Battle Mountain speeds.

Using a 406mm Schwalbe Stelvio driven tire (18.5" OD), an 85T chainring, a Rolhoff hub with 1.462 top gear ratio, and a 13T cog on the hub, gives me 52mph at 100RPM, or 68MPH at 130RPM. I need to pedal 134RPM to go 70MPH.

Battle Mountain 2008 came and went. It was fun but I did not reach my goal of 70MPH. My top speed of 62.93 MPH was over 1 MPH  slower than my 2005 speed run.

The Cuda-W goes through the timing traps on Monday night at Battle Mountain 2008. Picture by Bill Gaines

After my first run I realize that I was grossly under-geared. Monday's 57MPH run was at a very high cadence and I coasted for about half of the run. I had tried earlier in the day to install Thom's 90T chainring, but it was too big, and it overlapped with my wheel.

I was resigned to just go slow this year, until at dinner Monday night when George Georgiev said, "we will fix it". Tuesday after looking at it for a while, Georgi pulled out an 11T cog to replace the 13T cog on the Rohloff. After looking at it for a while more, we determined that he would have to braze it to the existing cog. Fortunately, the wheel and fork did have room for him to do that. Georgi and Steve Nash spent a couple hours with me at the Battle Mountain machine shop, and hey! Now I had more gearing! The gear calculator now said 65 MPH at 100 RPM, perfect! Here, I work on the drivetrain at Battle Mountain. Picture by Jim Iwaskow.

At the Civic center show and tell, the local grade and middle school got to see the bikes for a field trip. The kids all wanted our autographs. They had a list of questions about HPV speed records that they all wanted answered. We all had to consult to get our story straight. I had to sign my name what seemed like 100 times. I let a couple of them get into the bike to see what it felt like. They couldn't see out of the canopy, much less reach the pedals. Picture by Jun Nogami.
Warren with the Cuda-W at the Battle Mountain Civic Center. Picture by Tom Amick.
Jim Iwaskow and Rich Myers made a heroic effort and drove the bikes out to Battle Mountain. I took a plane. They also crewed for me during the races for which I am thankful. Jim and I crewed for Rich, so we all kept pretty busy.

Warren prepares to make a speed run at Battle Mountain 2008. Picture by Jim Iwaskow.

Warren cranks the Cuda-W up to speed, and passes by Ranch Road. Picture by Brad Teubner.

Throughout the event I smelled burning rubber, so I'm pretty sure the wheel was rubbing on the frame, which slowed me down. I need to fix that, and return to 155mm cranks to prevent the crank arms from striking the tire when turning. I went almost 65MPH with 135mm cranks, so 155s should be ok.

Since Battle Mountain I removed a section of the frame where the tire was rubbing, and reinforced it with carbon fiber. Also I will be adding 155 cranks before the start of the 2009 racing season. This should allow me to run the HPRA races with fear of crank strike induced crashing.

While the Cuda-W is fast, I have never really felt comfortable in it. I think this is mostly because of the very closed riding position.

My training bike, the NoCom, has a very open riding position. To be fast on a particular bike, you have to train on it. Unfortunately that is not practical on the Cuda-W. Because of that, I have built the Streetracer 2, a stock bike that mimics the riding position of the Cuda-W.  Here's a photochop of me on the streetracer 2, overlaid on the Cuda-W to confirm that the riding position is the same.
I have obtained some DaVinci 160mm cranks which will allow me to steer without worry of the cranks striking the tire. Now that I have proper tire clearance, I can pump up the front tire higher for reduced rolling resistance. Also I am looking for a 700C tire to fit the disk wheel that Georgi sent me a couple years ago. The addition of those items should allow me to go fast safely during the Michigan Human Powered Speed Challenge.
I did not run the Cuda-W at the Michigan Ford 1 hour event due to feet rubbing on the inside of the fairing caused by the wider DaVinci cranks. The super narrow BB plus tight clearances in the Cuda-W have been a thorn in my side since day one. So far, I have used the following cranks in this bike:

155mm Odyssey black widow - BB too close to front bulkhead, feet hit mounts (sold cranks).
135mm Dotek - Fastest speed in Cuda-W at BM, felt like circus bike
*Rebuilt entire front subframe to allow clearance for 165 mm cranks*
165mm Primo - Length feels good, cranks hit tire
155mm ?? - 165mm long cranks drilled for 155mm, cranks hit tire
160mm DaVinci - Nice cranks, clears tires, too wide!
160mm Odyssey black widow - clears tire, no foot rubs!

Hmm. 6 pairs of cranks.

Now I just need to do some chain management work to make sure the chain stays on, as well as some other tweaks, and I may actually have a 'liner that I don't hate running for the Iowa HPRA races.
I had more tire rubbing at the September 2009 Iowa HPRA races, so I did some work on the Cuda-W drivetrain over the winter, installing shorter 155mm Odyssey black widow cranks (yes that's crankset #7) and a smaller chain ring to prevent the front tire from rubbing when I cornered.

This rubbing has been an ongoing issue for too many years, and I was am very frustrated after having brought the Cuda-W to many races without being able to race it.

Today I did another clearance test under load, and the 155mm cranks now rubbed the tire too, plus the tire got very close the the area that I cut out of the frame that had loads of clearance. WTF??? The only thing I could think of is that the fork was bending.

I took the front subframe all apart and inspected the fork. Lo and behold, I found that the braze holding the steerer tube to the crown was broken, and that I could just pull it the steerer right out of the fork. No wonder I was having problems! It must have been cracked and getting worse for years.

So I brazed the steerer tube back into the fork (better this time) and put it all back together. Now there is lots of clearance. I can now probably put the 165mm cranks and bigger chain-ring back on it but maybe I should ride it like this for a while to make sure...


Picture by Tom Porter

I raced the Cuda-W at the Northbrook races in July, and everything worked fine. I got a slow start in the 100 lap race, and Dennis Grelk put me two laps down before I got up to speed. I managed to un-lap myself and was right behind him for most of the race, then he sped up a bit and I didn't have the gas to catch him. He finished about 1/2 a lap ahead of me.

The next race is at Hawkeye Downs in Iowa in September.

One issue with the streamliner in that it's very hard to see directly behind you. Assuming I ever get in front of Dennis, it will be good to know if he's right behind me looking for a chance to pass. Dennis solved this problem with a rear view camera, and now I have the parts ready to install in my 'liner too. The camera and monitor came from, and the battery is from my Magicshine tail light. The camera and monitor are designed to run on 12V, but seem to be happy with the 8.4V tail light battery. I'm not sure what kind of run-time I'll get out of it yet. It is color in normal light, but switches to B&W in dark basements.
The bike did well at the Iowa races on Saturday. I won the lap race. Sunday the fork bent again and I had to stop early. The monitor above is hard to see in the bright sun. I'll have to think about that one.

I re-brazed the bane of my existence, and the reason I have had problems with this %*@$%& bike for 9 years, the Cuda-W fork, and added some reinforcement (shown here). I also need to cram some CF down the head tube. Hopefully that will fix it for good.

The fork repair did not work out well. Apparently I brazed it with too much rake, and I was not confident that the reinforcement was going to hold. In the spring of 2011 I started working on the Cuda-W drivetrain III again and got it working with 4 speeds, but it did not fit in the bike well, did not have enough rake, and was a off center. I got disgusted and put the streamliner aside.

5/26/2012 - New Fork!
It's now a year later and I decided to build a new fork for the Cuda-W drivetrain II. This time I used an MTB fork as the donor for rather than a road fork. Here's how I shortened and widened it. That went well and I'm now ready to put the Rohloff drivetrain back in the bike. Pictures would be redundant...

Around the block testing of the bike went well, so I am going to run it at this year's Northbrook velodrome races. I have not raced it since 2010, so it should be interesting.

I'm making a front fairing for the bike to cover the large wheel hole. I laid plastic wrap over the wheel area to get a nice shape and protect the paint, then laid up 2 layers of fiberglass over the plastic. I would have liked the shape to be a bit pointier in the front and back but it should be much better than the big hole.

After I looked at this I saw I should have added some foam to the tire to space it away from the fairing, so I trashed that layup and added foam, more fiberglass and epoxy. Now I wait for it to cure. 

Here's the wheel fairing sitting on top of the fairing, showing the hole for the front wheel. To arrive at that hole shape, I taped it in place then took a couple trips around the block, trimming it so it did not rub the wheel or ground.

I sprayed it with primer, you can see it's not perfect. After a couple spray/sand cycles it will be "good enough". I will tape it in place for the big Northbrook velodrome race next week.


Racing the Cuda-W at the HPRA Northbrook and Cedar Rapids events went well. After an hour of slamming through the large dip near the start finish line at the Hawkeye track, the new fork is still working well. I came in 2nd place each time, behind Dennis. This was partly because I am not comfortable with launching the bike from the landing gear yet. I need more practice. Also I am still about 1 or 2 MPH slower than Dennis in the Barracuda.

Now that I have a working streamliner again, it's time to think about the new drivetrain more.

Cuda-W at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids.

After working on the Cuda-W drivetrain III over the winter and getting disgusted again, I put the old drivetrain back in the 'liner and raced the Cuda-W at the Northbrook velodrome. I did pretty well with another 2nd place finish on both the 200 meter and the 100 lap race. This race was exciting because we had 13 streamliners in the 100 lap race.  

On the positive side, after this winters work I now have a "new" subframe that is straight and matches the geometry of the old one. I just need to puzzle out the narrow drivetrain.

I'm thinking about changing the top to allow the canopy to slide back. This will allow me to start riding and then close the top instead of having to had the top closed before starting. Currently when the top is open it blocks my view.

I'll have to cut the back of the streamliner off and do some bodywork. This will also give me better access to the rear wheel. I think it will be more aero like this too.

Sept 2013
The last venue of 2013 I raced the Cuda-W in was the Hawkeye Downs race in Cedar Rapids Iowa. Brent Steinle took a great shot of the bike at speed. The white things on the back are the transponder for lap timing and my GoPro camera.
Here's the video I recorded during Satuday's lap race. In Saturday's 25 lap race I crashed at the start (as seen on the video) and could not regain the couple laps I lost getting restarted. On Sunday I won the 1 hour race.

The bike has been working well with the new fork I made last year.

Sean Costin's new speedbike is very fast and now Sean, Dennis and I are extremely close in average speeds. Sean may have won the 1 hour race if he had not stopped early due to knee pain issues.

Maybe this will be the winter that I get the new drivetrain working.

2014 wrap-up. The 'liner worked great at the Waterford races until I had a flat and had to dump it in the grass. I got first place in the 1 hour race. At Northbrook I tried the new drivetrain for the first time. It has a couple issues. I put the old Rohloff drivetrain back in and did well at the Iowa races at Hawkeye Downs, winning the 25 lap and hour races.
I only raced the Cuda-W once this year, at Waterford Downs. I didn't change anything since last last year and consequently I did well again, winning the lap and hour races, as well as the 1 lap flying start race. Dennis trounced me in the 1 lap standing start drag race.

Picture by Brent Steinle

Here's another great picture from the same race. The week before the race I fixed the scrapes on this side and touched up the paint. Eventually I will put back on this side. I'll drop the www this time...
More soon...  

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