Glowworm
Glowworm
2012 Speedbike project by Larry Lem
In 2009, I experimented with a narrow bottom bracket and narrow nose fairing with a laid-back riding position in the Scimitar streamliner. I could only see my legs, I could not see the windshield.
In 2011, the Flying Cucumber also used a laid-back position but with a 108 mm bottom bracket and 4 inch wider nose. There was plenty of room to see the road and I determined that a two inch-narrower nose would have been fine.

photo by Steve Downs
For 2012, rather than make the next iteration of the Flying Cucumber single rider vehicle, I decided to make a tandem bicycle. Since speed is primarily a function of aerodynamic drag and power, I hoped that power could be doubled without doubling the drag. In 2008, we powered the Goliath 2 tandem streamliner went 67.10 mph. But Golliath 2 was just two Beluga streamliners joined back-to-back (my 2007 streamliner). The 2012 bike would be built with a purposefully-designed fairing.

photo by Brad Teubner
10/19/2011 - I increased the seat angle of the Flying Cucumber to mock up the new seating position for the Glowworm. Since the riders would be back-to-back, I preferred that the streamliner be slightly taller than the Cucumber rather than overly long.
10/26/2011 - I made a top and bottom nose from the Flying Cucumber molds, removed 2" from the width and changed the angle at which they'd be joined to create a narrower, more-blunt nose.
10/29/2011 - Pedaling clearance checked okay. 150 mm Odyssey Black Widow cranks, 108 mm square taper BB.
11/13/2011 - Modifying the Goliath 2 frame. The seats will be more reclined compared to Goliath, the distance between seats has been increased six inches.
1/4/2012 - Beginning of the plug, 14 feet, 6 inches long
1/8/2012 - Plywood bulkheads
1/15/2012 - Plywood plug skeleton. I made the plug a half-inch short "on the radius" to allow for skin material, fiberglass, and Bondo.
1/19/2012 - King Kong syndrome - the wood was too heavy for the size of the plug and wanted to twist and bend. I disassembled it and added some angle iron which stopped the bending, but it was still prone to twisting. If it had an outer skin, it would hold its shape.

1/29/2012 - Skinning the plug in door skin material and hot glue.
2/2/2012 - 3 layers of 10 oz. fiberglass and a gallon of epoxy.
 
2/4/2012 - Plug flipped upside-down, the bottom skinned and fiberglass layer added.
2/20/2012 - Covering the fiberglass in Bondo. This will be the shape of the fairing. I'm adding Bondo to the low spots and sanding down the high spots, halfway into the 9th gallon of Bondo.
3/5/2012 - Before I began shaping the the left side, I made a template of the right side. My first good idea in a while... I layed some plastic wrap over the plug, 4 layers of 10 oz. fiberglass, half a swimming pool noodle, and 4 more layers of fiberglass.
 
3/9/2012 - But the template needed more support so I cut up an old EZ-Up frame, welded it into a truss, and bonded it to the noodle.
 
4/6/2012 - Bottom view of nose. After finishing the sides of the plug, I flipped it to work on the top but was shocked to find the centerline of the top did not intersect the point of the nose. I marked where the nose should have been (drywall screw), flipped the plug to view the bottom and it looked straight but the nose didn't match where the top said it should have been. As I had feared early on, the plug had twisted. Time for plan B.
4/7/2012 - I thought of plan B overnight - make fiberglass parts from the plug, cut them up and use them to make a new plug.
Here, I've taped plastic wrap over the bottom of the plug so I can lay up the fiberglass and not have it stick."
4/22/2012 - Tops and bottoms, to become the new plug.
Besides becoming warped, the old plug also became 1" wider in the middle than planned. The sectioning of the parts for the new plug will remove that extra girth.
4/20/2012 - A new, "straight" plywood frame over which the fiberglass piece will be sectioned and attached.
4/29/2012 - Old plug, new plug
5/28/2012 - May is over so it's time to quit shaping the Bondo. I could spend another month getting it closer to "perfect", but I doubt that it would matter. I didn't bother painting the plug, that would take too much time. Here the plug has been coated with wax. I then sprayed polyvinyl alcohol mold release spray on top of that. We'll see if I used enough.
5/28/2012 - 4 layers of 10 oz. fiberglass and epoxy
5/30/2012 - Swimming pool noodle halves
5/31/2012 - 4 more layers of fiberglass
6/2/2012 - Separating the top female mold from the plug. This turned into a 5 hour task. Praveen to the rescue.
6/24/2012 - Adding pieces to the bottom to house the frame and as wheel fairings. 4" ABS pipe, and parts laid up using the Cyclops mold.
7/7/2012 - Skipping ahead, here I'm removing the bottom female mold from the plug.
Around 30 gallons of Bondo used on the first plug and 25 for the second
6/11/2012 - Laying up the top fairing. 3 layers of 5 oz Kevlar around the shoulder and hips, just in case we lay the bike down on the asphalt at high speed.
7/8/2012 - Laying up the bottom fairing
7/21/2012 - Positioning the steering guide prior to bonding it in place
7/22/2012 - 203 mm brake disc barely clears the guide. The Flying Cucumber used a 160 mm disk up front and clearance was not a concern. But bigger brakes will be required for the tandem.
8/4/2012 - Top and bottom fairings with the bike inside. Test fit day - My helmet just touches the inside top, perfect if you're my size.
8/6/2012 - But because my recently-hired stoker has a 2" longer torso, I now have to add a bubble to the top. Adding polystyrene to the plug.
8/10/2012 - Helmet bubble Bondo complete
8/11/2012 - Helmet bubble female mold - From this I made the bubble that I'd place on top of the fairing.
8/19/2012 - I made a flange in the top fairing to mount the helmet bubble but since the bubble material was not of uniform thickness, parts of the bubble stuck out. To make the bubble flush with the rest of the fairing, I decided to permanently bond the bubble to the top fairing.
At the leading edge of the helmet bubble, I decided to try to make a periscope to avoid having to use a windshield. I could not achieve a satisfactory result. If the mirrors are far from the rider, they have to be very large to provide a decent view. To keep the mirrors small, they have to be very close to the rider's face. But placing something rigid near the rider's face can be dangerous. I unfortunately did not spy on the other bikes that use periscopes. Time was running short so I went back to the nose windshield.
8/11/2012 - Hoop with steel brackets - to become the "clamp" for the launch cart.
8/12/2012 - Launch cart complete. I made this cart in 2008. I just needed to cut and weld the new brackets to fit the frame, so it wasn't too tough. The tricky part was ensuring the bike was perfectly upright. (It wasn't...)
8/23/2012 - TerraCycle Windwrap fairing (windshield) cut to match nose as best as possible with a flange supporting the windshield from below.
8/22/2012 - Crash panels, in case we crash learning to launch or have other teething pains.
8/26/2012 - Bare bike testing, Phil Plath as stoker for the first time, Tom Amick, captain.

photo by Robin Fain
8/26/2012 - Phil is inside the fairing checking shoulder, knee, foot, and other clearances in the rear of the streamliner

photo by Robin Fain
8/26/2012 - Full fairing test - attaching the top. Phil's 2" taller head can be seen here compared to Tom's head.

photo by Robin Fain
8/26/2012 - Launch cart attached, side stands removed, ready to start

photo by Robin Fain

Testing was arduous. We had a lot of trouble staying upright upon release from the launch cart. Most crashes were on the right side. We managed to get a couple of successful launches, gained valuable experience running with the top attached and called it a day.
9/1/2012 - Adjustable height wheels added to one side of the launch cart, stolen from the Flying Cucumber launch cart. Now maybe we won't fall over on the right-side anymore.
9/4/2012 - Vibrant Lime Green paint
9/8/12 - Loading up at Tom's house. Though the load was very secure, by looks alone, you'd have to be really stupid to follow us on the freeway.

photo by Tom Amick
The Super 8 Motel, World Human Powered Speed Challenge Headquarters in Battle Mountain, Nevada, USA This is a typical scene of the lobby entrance; bikes and parts everywhere "trying not to block the main path".

photo by Mike Mowett
The race course - Hwy 305, 20 miles south of Battle Mountain, Nevada. Mile markers line the course starting at 5 miles, every half mile. With one mile to go, there are 1000 m, 500 m, 200 m and the FINISH signs. The speed traps start at the 200 m sign.

The road is flat from mile 5 to 4, drops at 2/3% from mile 4 to 1.5, levels a bit from 1.5 to 1, then drops again at less than 2/3% to the finish.
The catch area is 5/8 of a mile from there.

Riders are "helpless" once they are taped in at the start until they are caught and released at the finish.

photo by Jonathan Woolrich
Highway 305 start area. After the road is closed, set up is rushed, riders are sealed inside, and vehicles are launched every 30-90 seconds depending on how quickly they cover the course compared to the previously-launched vehicle.
9/11/2012 - Tom Amick/Phil Plath, evening run, 70.39 mph, world record for multi-rider vehicles.....on Tom's birthday!

photo by Jonathan Woolrich
9/12/2012 - Larry Lem/Phil Plath, evening run, 71.61 mph, breaking the world record set one day before.

photo by Jonathan Woolrich
9/12/2012 - To Tom Amick's relief, Larry Lem was piloting the vehicle during "launch failures" scratching the fairing.

photo by Adam Ince
9/12/2012 - Phil Plath out of breath

photo by William Schermer
9/12/2012 - Larry's legs don't work so well and has to be pulled out of the bike.

photo by William Schermer
9/12/2012 - Larry coasted a bit too long before braking, then had to brake fairly hard to bring the bike to a stop. The 160 mm disk in the rear was not happy, shown here on top of a new, flat brake disk
9/13/2012 - Tom Amick/Phil Plath, evening run, 72.26 mph, 3rd record for the week

photo by Jonathan Woolrich
9/14/2012 - Tom Amick/Phil Plath, start of evening run, two pushers and one launch cart attendee, 73.08 mph, 4th and final record for the week

photo by Jonathan Woolrich
9/14/2012 final record data - We used a Garmin 500 computer but were unsuccessful recording heartrate and cadence of the captain. We need to sort this out for next year. Also, we intended to measure and record rider power and were hoping that Garmin Vector pedals would be available. Maybe next year.
Tom Amick warming up
9/15/2012 - Tom Amick/Phil Plath, being caught at the end of their evening run, 69.58 mph

photo by Jonathan Woolrich
Larry Lem wearing a Precision Tandems "wireless" headset

photo by Thomas van Schaik
The sheriff didn't like our speeding on the highways.

photo by Tom Amick
Everyone who was fortunate enough to exceed 70 mph received a ticket.

photo by Jonathan Woolrich
9/15/2012 - Observer's view of the assembly for the Super 8 motel group photo

photo by Mike Mowett
Group photo by Jonathan Woolrich
Team photo - left to right, John Jackson launcher, Tom Amick captain, Robin Fain supercrew, Phil Plath double-duty stoker, Larry Lem captain, Scott Wilson launcher
Robin Fain and Phil Plath at the awards dinner
9/16/12 - Rest stop on the way home. Fun in all things, even if there isn't any snow!

photo by Tom Amick