Brad Teubner's ORANGE Varna Streamlliner project

Brad Teubner's "Orange" Varna Clone Streamliner

“Orange”, my Varna trike streamliner project, started after I helped at Battle Mountain in 2003.  My goal was to build a fast touring tricycle; a bike to take on a 20 mile ride to an adjoining town in comfort at speed.  BM streamliner riders often mentioned the loss of effort caused by a side-wind gust, so I decided to try to build a minimal-frontal-area tricycle with reasonable track width.  I also reasoned that suspension would help the inefficiencies of small wheels.  I don’t have the time, knowledge, or resources to design my own shell, so I decided to start with a horse from a good stable.

It was about 1½ years from first contacting people about shell availability to actually riding the complete unit.  At this point, some aero detailing still needs to be developed, but that is a slow process.  FYI, it was snowing this morning (April 30,  2005) in northern Minnesota when we took most of these pictures.

The tub and shell were made of carbon fiber by Garrie Hill from his Varna molds.  The carbon fiber drivetrain loop and seat were fabricated and installed by Ray Brick. Ray also did most of the driveline design.  I did a lot of fabrication of parts in the mid-drive, rear axle, and shell joining mechanisms.

Starting at the front of the bike, there is the hood latch mechanism mounted in the tub.  This is cable operated by a shifter at the handlebars, and latches into a loop at the nose of the shell.  Note that “hard point” attachments that I made to the shell are by aluminum plates and Velcro.  There is a 7/8 inch plastic ball secured to the plate by a stainless steel screw that allows the 1 inch square aluminum to pivot freely.
The cranks are standard 110/74 bcd, shortened to 150mm, and reversed in the driveline.  The pedal holes were tapped so the threads are correct for the side of the bike.  Sprockets are 52/48/30.  Bottom bracket is a Shimano 68x107, square.
I spent many an evening at the machine shop to get the mid-drive the way I wanted it.  I assumed that someone would put 500 pounds of push on a pedal at a stop in low gear, and engineered the cross-shaft for that load.  A Shimano spline was shortened and adapted, and the input to the mid-drive will accept any 3 gears from a Shimano cluster sprocket that are 13 tooth or larger.  The present 34 input has a guard riveted to it, the 23 is a nice all-around range, and the 13 feels high.  
One screw (with thread-locker) and it all comes apart.

The mid-drive output is a 36 tooth sprocket with a 110 BCD and guide plates on both sides.  The front fork is Barcroft aluminum, and the bottom cluster is a Shimano 9-speed 11-34.  The front 48/52 is a perfect splitter for the rear gears.  The front wheel is an Aerospoke with Shimano mechanical disc for the primary brake, and a Magura hydraulic rim for the emergency brake (I don’t want to wear that rim if I can help it).

There is an incredible gear range in the bike.  With a 19.5 OD tire, it is capable of  6-76 mph at 100 rpm, and 8-76 mph without going below 90 rpm or over 100 rpm.
At the rear of the bike is a fiberglass leaf spring with a pair of snowmobile 7¼ inch idler wheels.  These are the wheels that run inside the track on snowmobiles, and endure much punishment at high speeds.  They normally use a single bearing per wheel, but I machined carriers for two bearings that insert into the wheel to improve alignment.

Seat is carbon fiber by Ray Brick, with angle adjust.  The 2 quart water jug drops in the box and fits in all of my bikes.

I also have some machine shop time into the wheel mounts.

Unassisted entrance and exit from a streamliner is always an issue if you don’t want to cut holes in the shell.  This is my solution to the problem.  
Note the vertical gold A-frame that pivots much like the hood latch, and will guide the front of the nose into position as it pivots forward.

Tip the handlebars up and get into the bike.
Tilt the handlebars back down.

Fold the Velcro side tie-downs in, get the water hose under control, and grab the shell.
Holding it to the rear, bring it into position above your head.

(Yes, that's snow. This is Northern Minnesota.)

Keeping it parallel to the ground, bring it down to the tub.
When it is correctly in place (a slow operation), latch the hood latch and press the side Velcro into place.  Not visible in this picture.


Ready to go


The person inside the shell.

Various notes:
Controls are numerous.  My left wrist has limited mobility, so most controls are set up for right hand operation.  In the event of a crash, the handlebars are designed to fold in two locations, to V down at the front of the aluminum section, black section folding down.

  • All wear items on the bike are easily available parts.
  • As of 4-24-2005, I have about 150 miles on the tub, and shifting and handling are fine.  First (only) ride with the top on, I averaged nearly 22 mph into a 15 mph headwind for 8 miles at 140 bpm (I normally TT at 19 mph on a bare SWB with calm winds at 155 bpm).  Turning radius with the top on was good.  I haven’t had a chance to run it since I partly closed up the head and wheel holes (snowing and 20+ mph gusts).  Some detailing of the aero will be necessary to optimize speeds, but I think the drive is mechanically complete, and the aero is 90% there.  FYI, I am 5’10” at 160 lb.  With my fingers interlaced and elbows touching, my shoulders are about 17” wide.
  • The vehicle does not meet the design goals for reasons that I did not predict.  It is cramped and noisy.  This is tolerable in a race vehicle, but not a weekend fun machine.  I would rather be slower.
11/13/07 update
Pictures of the bike before loading for the trip to Battle Mountain 2005. Eric Ware pushed this trike to over 50 mph on two different nights.

Tom Nowak purchased the trike in early 2006, converted it into a bicycle, and went over 61 mph in 2006 and 2007.


Tom racing Orange at dusk during WHPSC 2007 - Picture by Jeff Wills

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