Larry Lem builds the Beluga Speedbike
Larry Lem builds the Beluga Speedbike
A project by Larry Lem
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I bought paint via the web, from paintforcars.com. Arctic White. The epoxy polyurethane paint is supposed to be flexible. I also bought Interlux Epoxy Primecoat, marine primer, also white. I learned that primers and paints need to be different colors so you can see what you're doing when applying paint. Primer Thu., paint Fri., load up on Sat. Photo by Tom Amick.
Photo by Jason Erickson at BM. 
WHPSC 2007 @ Battle Mountain, Nevada, USA

Loading up at Tom's house, heading to Battle Mountain. The truck rack is a 4x8 sheet of 3/4" plywood with various mounts for attaching streamliner and two lowracers.

Truck packed 2.
Practice on the frontage road east of town, north of I-80 to see what qualifying would be like the next day. The road was rough chipseal, too big for the small diameter skateboard wheel. The wheel got torn up; I failed to bring spare wheels. We ran to the Winnemucca WalMart (missing the official Sunday night meeting), but no skateboards or wheels were to be found. We got Nick K to bring us some on Wed, but we never used the landing gear again.
During the Sunday tests, we fell onto the crash panels at low speed 3 times.

Preparing for qualifying Monday morning. Photo by Tom Amick

Monday morning qualifying was extremely windy, and it started to rain at the end. During the heavy winds at the beginning, no one ran with their tops. My time wasn't recorded due to a timing equipment glitch. As the wind decreased, UC Davis ran with their top on, and Tom Amick ran with the top on the Beluga. Photo by John Jackson.
Monday run - medium front/left side wind. We went with the landing gear up and the hole taped up. I fell during the first launch attempt "breaking in" the the pristine paint. I managed 52 mph per my computer, but again no time was recorded through the traps.
Tuesday daytime at the Battle Mountain Civic Center. It was show & tell day for the local school kids. Photo by Jeff Wills. 
BM show and tell 2.
For all practice, qualifying runs, and for Monday night's 405 run, I used a 62 tooth Vuelta chainring. For Tuesday, we switched to a 75 tooth Greenspeed chainring. Prior to coming to Battle Mountain, just in case "things went really well", Tom made 80 and 85 tooth chainrings drilled for both 110 and 130 mm bolt circles. Photo by Tom Amick.
Tuesday run - Switching to the 75 tooth chainring made starting a little bit more difficult. Winds were medium from the left side. Tom had some trouble at launch, but once underway, hit 54.38 mph. Photo by Jeff Wills.
BM bare frame bike 1. Photo by Jeff Wills.
BM bare frame bike 2. Photo by Jeff Wills. 
We trimmed the front wheel leading and trailing edge fairings, and attached them with rivets, silicone, and tape. Photo by Jeff Wills
Wednesday run - medium rear/left side wind. Having witnessed the success of UMR launches with Craig George on Rollerblades, we borrowed Craig for the rest of the week. Craig became "the man" for launching. I kept the power way down, countering the sidewind, and sailed along, accelerating much faster than Mon night. With each side gust, the bike would dip its nose into the wind. I held back my power, thinking I'd have a lot left at the end. But it was not the case. I only had a little bit extra left. I found that you have to follow "the plan", increasing power to keep the bike accelerating for the entire run. I recorded 58.60 mph, but might have gone over 60 with Monday night's power vs. time profile. I learned that the PowerTap does not work as you approach 60 mph (confirmed later with the Saris Company - CycleOps). Photo by Teresa Spencer.
Thursday run - big side winds. The bike reacted the same as on Wed, dipping into the gusts. But with the stronger wind, when Tom would hit the bumps, the bike would skip to the side preventing Tom from taking full advantage of "sailing" conditions. 55.95 mph. Storm moving in. Photo by Jeff Wills.

Friday night runs were cancelled due to rain, cold, icy road conditions. Many people packed up Thu night and headed home.

Saturday run - Storm passed. With some of the competitors having left, there were open spots allowing Tom and I to make runs in the separate sessions. There were less winds in the later session when I ran. I was still frustrated with my myself over my Wed effort, having blown a chance to go "really fast" regardless of legality. So I pushed extremely hard on Sat. not holding anything back. Tom had a little headwind and posted 55.28 mph, while I hit 56.22 mph. My wind conditions were deemed "legal".
Graph of speed and power from my Sat run. This was my biggest effort for the week. Tom Amick's power profiles look curiously similar. In terms of power, I hope I can put out the same effort (or better) next year. If we double this power level in a tandem, a multirider world record at 70 mph looks possible. And if we got two "real" bike racers in an optimized tandem, 80+ would not be out of the question.
Graph of cadence from my Sat run. This plots better vs. time rather than distance. I used 8 of my 9 gears. I don't know if I would have been better off shifting one more time, from the 12 to the 11t cog. This would have dropped my peak cadence from 118 to 108. If I had shifted, it would have been with about 1000 meters to go, and I was pretty busy by then. I was running 150 mm crankarms.
Comparison of Tom Nowak's Orange Varna clone and the Beluga. Photo by Tom Amick.
The Orange started life as a Brad Teubner's commuter trike, but was too cramped being a Varna race fairing. Brad sold it to Tom, who converted it to a bike. Photo by Tom Amick.
The Orange is smaller mainly due to its monocoque construction, front wheel drive, and it was built for smaller riders with shorter legs. Photo by Tom Amick.
Orange vs Beluga, photo by Tom Amick. 
If I were to build more streamliners, for a direct view (canopy) bike, I'd use FWD to allow for a shorter (less tall) design. Ultimately, I'd like to lay back and look between my legs through the nose of the bike (no canopy). Photo by Tom Amick.
Battle Mountain Group Picture. 
Partially-faired
The bike sat for 5 months until March 2008, when I ran the tub, partial nose and partial tail at the Piru 20k TT. It was very windy and the weight of the bike was a big drag on the uphills.

The next weekend was the Fiesta Island 20k TT, for which the bike was originally built. I could not figure out how to attach Lycra cloth betweent the front and rear sections, so I attached the top crash panels. I drilled some holes in the front top to mount the panels like bug wings. The rear corners of the panels could rest on the ground allowing ingress/egress. Starting, stopping with landing gear, and lifting the panels into place would still be tricky.


During race morning practice, forgetting how to actuate the landing gear, I started to fall, pushed my leg out the left side and tore the crash panel from its mounting bolt (just thin fiberglass there). So I ran the race without the left-side panel. I held power around 190 W throughout the race, and managed a 27 mph average. Either missing the side panel and canopy had a huge effect on vehicle drag, or the bike was just slow (for the given power input). I'll need to run with the full top someday to verify this. Photo by David Strom.
 

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