The time finally arrived, they had been hand built to our specification and were waiting to be picked up from the shop, who were also wanting the final payment to be made. I had invested all of my traveling money that I had been saving, which could have flown me to numerous destinations worldwide, so this bike was going to have to work very well to justify this.
Once the initial 'getting used to it' was over which involved a very embarrassing start from the shop, we arrived there early in the morning, stayed all day talking about how it all worked and setting things up, to set off at a sensible time of 7.30pm, dark, heavy traffic, cold with about 50 km to make. Like professional travelers we mounted our bikes, took photos because this was where it all starts, clipped our new shoes into the pedals and…….crash…..fell sideways with my feet still securely clipped in, yes the bikes and these clips do require a bit of getting used to, but a few more wobbly moments and cars giving us a wide berth, we were off.
Yes they take a bit of practice and at first and I was not too sure if I had made a mistake or not, but now with a new set of recumbent leg muscles, which have quickly grown now after 600 km of testing, I have no doubt it will prove to be a great way to travel. I can easily cycle 120km with more weight than before, with an average speed of 19 – 22kmh.
Initially I loved it, but the more I rode it a few things began to stand out as not such a good idea.
Without pointing too much blame in anyone direction, it quickly become clear that I was advised badly for my choice of `bike No.2` and of the options that were available and advised to us. The Azub Ibex, although a great bike in itself was in fact not ideal for the journey I want to make.
Finally we contacted Azub to let them know about our experiences and alterations that we felt was needed for our journey, they were at first a little confused about our modifications, our needs and our overall disappointment with our bikes, as we expressed ourselves that we felt they were not the perfect bikes that we had expected for such an investment.
They immediately informed us that in no way would they have advised us on such a choice of bike and components for such a journey that we were hoping to do, we should have contacted them at the start. Azub were genuinely upset for our delay and extra cost to our plans, so they invited us to visit them in the Czech Republic, whereby they would help us to put together a strong bike exactly suitable for our needs.
Already impressed with this helpful attitude it was further elevated after arriving at their factory to be welcomed by what I would describe as a family run business, passionate and dedicated to the product and its customers, their statement from their web site really does reflect this attitude.
I am humble and eternally grateful for this experience and now with their help I do indeed have the best bike for my adventure.
Azub 5 (modified expedition carriers)
Underseat or above?
|BikeNo.2 with underseat steering|
These hydraulic lines cannot be joined if broken; the metal fittings were of unusual thread; special bleeding tools needed to be carried, all making this system very difficult to repair.
Keep it simple, cable operated, easy to repair and easy to replace brake blocks anywhere in the world.
Small front wheel, which is stronger, but a dissadvantage over very rough ground, which I would avoid anyway for my kind of touring, also it lowers peddling height which is much more comfortable.
I opted for front and rear lockable suspension, so when in locked position it reduces component wear and energy loss through the suspension geometry. Great versatility and works very well.
The Original expedition carriers are designed to carry four bags which are positioned at the rear and quite high up, in my case I am taking a lot of equiptment, so luggage would best be situated as low and as central to the geometry as possible, having less impact on the stability and handling, the space between the wheels looked to be an obvious place for this, providing you have above the seat steering.
|modified expedition carriers|
|extra pulley for chain return|
|close up of pulley|
I am using a SON hub dynamo producing 6v AC, which power my lights and charging small devices through E werks
Less is more?
I was debating wether to take electronics or not, as once you start taking this and that, then you need this adapter, that adapter, a bundle of cables and chargers, but being passionate about taking photos and recording the journey as much as possible, and great expedition carriers. I decided this time more is more.
I took my big Nikon SLR, portable phone, small asus Eeepc, rechargeable petzl, but now I wanted just one way to charge everything.
I opted for buying an E werks and a Tekkeon my power all battery pack, hoping that the E Werks would use the power from my hub dynamo to charge the Tekkeon battery pack, then with all the cables and adapters supplied with these products I could then charge any of my small devices.
E Werks states that it is compatable with all types of dynamos. I have contacted them since and they confirm this, also to confirm that the E Werks does convert AC into DC.
I connected my dynamo to the E Werks and then to the 12v input to the Tekkeon, which states this input requires at least 12v and 1.5a before it will start to charge.
Idle output of the E Werks is listed as 0.03w @ 15kmh, with a possibility of 16w max, but they did not specify at what speed, maybe 80kmh? as volatge and ampage will increase the faster you go, hence the neccessity for the two dials that limit this output, do not be confused like I was that these were settings that you could select and expect the E Werks to produce that amount.
I rode with it connected for about three days 8 hours a day averaging about 17kmh, although the LED charge light on the battery pack was on and looked like it was charging, but after three days it had not taken any charge and now the battery has developed a fault whereby even plugged into the mains it will not charge more than half full, being worried I had done something wrong I have contacted both Tekkeon and E Werks, with their information I cannot see that there is any problem with the E Werks system, it seems to be working as it should and as long as you set the maximum voltage limit for your connected devices to protect from overcharging, then there should be no problems.
Tekkeon are replacing my battery now, hoping I was just unlucky with this, but I suspect that maybe it was not a good idea to connect to the 12v input as they specify it is designed for a stable voltage, so I will try to connect it using the solar input on the battery pack, specifically designed for taking smaller, fluctuating voltages from small solar devices, which is designed to take 12-30V and 10mA. I am guessing I will not be able to charge the battery well this way but hope to be able to at least keep it connected and trickle charge it, and have my other devices connected to this battery at the same time, more testing to be done.......if anyone has a similar set up I would love to know how they are getting on with it all.
The perfect bike
Thank you especially to Honza who had the task of taking care of our needs, putting up with us, inviting us into their homes and listening to all our crazy ideas and finally for advising us correctly.
A big thank you to all the team at Azub for their patience whilst we were there using all their tools, equipment, parts, the bad smells, as fish and guests do after three days…!
Just a perfect bike now and a pleasure to have met you all, memories that will carry me far.
|Left to right..Myself, Melanie, Fabien|
|My wheel being built|
|Talking with Honza about our needs|
|Azub 5 taking shape|