Somebody needs to start this thread: My Quest mods

Discussion in 'Adventure Series (Q451, Q559, QX100)' started by randyspann, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. billyk

    billyk Well-Known Member

    Well, someone needs to get this thread started ... Here's pics of my Quest mods.

    I am a daily, year-round commuter in Seattle, which means rain and darkness are a given. Also potholes and hills. Speed is a secondary consideration.

    My mods are all beta versions (like everything else in my life). All are constantly being remodified and reremodified. Working on bicycles is almost as much fun as riding them.

    Photos in the link show the mods described below:

    1) Fenders (No mount points for the front wheel; Note the funky homemade ones. Need braze-ons!)
    2) 26x1.5 slick tires (Barely fit under the front fork crown. Fender needed to be cut out at that point and it still catches leaves and road grit there.)
    3) Fairing. This is a 15-year-old Zzipper fairing that I've used on several different recumbents. It's not easy to find one this long (54-inches over the top). Polycarbonate is very tough but it shows the signs of the odd crashes over the years. The fairing does add speed above about 15mph (say 10% or more), but the main reason I have it is for raingear. It's not complete protection but with our drizzly little rains and my 20-25 minute commute I am pretty dry (and warm). Feet are dry. Hands are dry. It makes winter riding a pleasure. It also keeps the drivetrain clean.
    The upper mounts were made from cutoff bar-ends (There's another post from last March showing the fairing mounts in detail.) With stiffeners (the red tubes on the sides), the fairing is perfectly stable, even in high winds from any direction.
    4) Not visible in the pictures is the ordinary round 36T chainring that I substituted for the elegant elliptical. Sad to do this but I needed lower gears to get up our hills (I climb a 15% grade every day, and the only way to keep the front wheel from slipping is to maintain a high cadence).
    5) I raised the seat 3/4-inch (about 2cm) with wooden shims. It feels better that way.
    6) The steering damper is a new addition I'm testing. It does nothing when riding (there is no effect until the wheel is turned more than about 20 degrees), but makes it much easier to maneuver the bike on foot, fit it into bike racks, etc. The spring is extremely strong (I can barely stretch it at all by hand) and it means I can wheel the bike holding the seat like a normal rider. But it also means the kickstand doesn't hold up the bike - I need a solution for that.
    7) Minor things: spinner thing for visibility, rack trunk (unsuspended), orange pedals (with Powergrips), monkey lights on the rear wheel (check out the videos at; these are extremely cool).

    No comments about the holes in my knees, please! These are my working-on-bike clothes. I earned those knee-holes honestly, kneeling by the bike. I didn't dress up for the photos. And yes, I built that copper arch fence in the background.

  2. randyspann

    randyspann Well-Known Member


    Hi Billy - You didn't mention what you are using for lights! Fill us in. I envy your ability to commute year round.
  3. billyk

    billyk Well-Known Member


    I have a Planet Bike taillight flasher, backed up by another on my helmet. I have a helmet-mounted front flasher. My main front light is a Niterider that usually mounts on the mirror stalk (not in the photos while I was tweaking the fairing). It usually lasts 5 weekday evening commutes home (i.e., 2.5 hours) between charges. A disadvantage of a fairing is that it reflects light - especially when wet, so it would not work to have the Niterider behind or even shining on the fairing. All I'd see would be the fairing glowing back at me. So I have a long stalk mount for that.

    And of course the monkey-lights on the rear wheel ... definitely check out the video at
    (It looks like took the video links off their page).
    These are super-bright LEDs (16 each side). They flash very rapidly (too rapidly to see) and make patterns as you ride, and they're programmable for color and pattern. A must-have for anyone who rides on city streets at night and wants a bit of flash. But they weigh as much as 3 AA batteries, so you either need 2 sets (US$65 each for the larger model I have), or tape 3 dead AA batteries on the opposite spoke for balance.

  4. WOB

    WOB Member

    Greetings Billy,
    Thanks for

    Greetings Billy,

    Thanks for initiating the Q Brag Board - surprised it hasn't generated more activity - but perhaps we will be able to change that going forward !

    Referencing your original post, allow me to offer the following:

    1) & 2) I'm wondering if fenders would fit without the cutout if you went to a 35-559 (or 32-559) tire? Since you mentioned that speed is a secondary consideration, a number of offerings from Schwalbe come to mind. Here's the link to their recumbent bike tire page:

    [Note that clicking on the ratings box brings up the legend. Also, if you drill down to an individual tire's page and then click on its icon, you'll get an enlarged view of the tread.]

    Marathon, Marathon Plus, Durano & Durano Plus are available as 559s [my wife runs the Durano on her diamond frame; and I the Marathon Racer on my RANS Rocket - very pleased with both choices; and their inner tubes are individually tested and lose very little air over time. Even in the dead of winter, they often only drop a few pounds in a week's time!

    4) I presume it was not possible to fit a smaller Q-ring in place of the 42T elliptical?

    Taking a closer look at the gain ratios this weekend suggests why the 2nd generation model may not climb as well as Gen 1. Ironically, I think my ideal solution for a 559-Q2 would be almost identical to how I ultimately configured the Rocket: It came with an 8-speed 11-28 cassette & 42T granny gear; which I replaced with a (SunRace, non-megrange!) 11-34 cassette & 38T granny [smallest possible for its crank]. So my thoughts for the Q2 would be to go with an 11-34 cassette and/or smaller front ring as you've done. The cassette swap alone should effect a gain ratio range of 1.8-10.6 according to my figures (leaving the top end intact while retaining the elliptical).

    7) Powergrips do it for me as well - I find them an excellent compromise between plain pedals and clipins, and like the ability to just step off the bike without special shoes. Where did you find the orange pedals? Very cool !

    Don't intentionally ride at night, so I have few comments about lighting, but also have a helmet flasher (Blackburn Mars 4) and another as low as possible on the frame (Planet Bike Super Flash) for maximum visual separation.

    Finally, I'm wondering if the lack of a quick release on the front wheel has been a disadvantage for you? Looks like seat and rear wheel can be removed quickly for folding/stowing in a car, nonetheless, so maybe only an issue for - Heaven forbid - flats and the need to carry an extra tool?

    Thanks again and happy commuting! Bill B.
  5. billyk

    billyk Well-Known Member

    Re the fender and tires and ...

    Re the fender and tires:
    There really isn't much clearance between the wheel and the fork crown, but I am certainly pushing things by getting the biggest tire I could. I like rubber on the road, especially in the rain. It's hard for me to judge whether these other tires you mention would fit, but it's really not that big of a deal to cut a gap in the fender so it fits higher into the fork. (These are polycarbonite fenders, the same stuff the fairing is made of - like that clear plastic blister packaging that is impossible to open without a knife. It's tough stuff). I cut it with a hacksaw, carefully leaving about 1/4-inch of fender on each side to keep its integrity. After 2 crosswise hacksaw cuts, I connected them with a utility knife to extract a roughly square piece. The edges are the strongest part of a fender, and there isn't any problem with the front end wobbling. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the fender cutout, but it's pretty straightforward. And I have the advantage of a second-hand bike store nearby that always has a pile of cheap fenders.

    I haven't seen a q-ring smaller than 42T, and they're pretty expensive. I would like to get one, because a steady cadence is the only way to get a Cruzbike up a steep hill (see some earlier posts of mine on this topic, such as "Some thoughts about my new Quest, after 3 weeks of daily commuting" last December). When going uphill (I mean a greater-than-10% grade), the front wheel becomes unweighted and it's very easy to spin it by pushing too hard, at which point you are done. I climb a 15% grade every day on my way home from work, and after a year of practice I *usually* make it (in dry weather only). The problem is that a series of hard pushes at the strongest part of the pedal stroke is a recipe for losing traction, so a high cadence is the only solution, and a Q-ring would help steady the pushing. So yes, I want one, but I haven't found one. I haven't thought about replacing the cassette, $$$.

    I saw those orange pedals in a bike shop and bought them immediately!!!

    Unfortunately a disadvantage of fenders is that you get much less benefit from taking the wheels off. I generally don't. We have a hanging rack on the back of the car and I use that. My other bike is a Dahon folder (non-recumbent). It folds up very easily, so if I'm needing to put it inside a car I'll take that bike.
  6. WOB

    WOB Member

    Hi Billy,
    Thanks for your

    Hi Billy,

    Thanks for your insights!

    Understand what you mean about large tires - hadn't thought about the fact that there's more weight upfront on CZs than I'm accustomed to. Was actually thinking of your comment about stuff getting caught in the fender cut out - and wondered if you had smoothed out/sealed the opening e.g. with silicon sealant? [Excellent point about fender impact on folded size, by the way - hadn't occurred to me!]

    I paid less than $25 for that non-speed cassette on my Rocket [11-13-15-18-21-24-28-34] which averages around 17-20% change between gears. Would really like to know if Shimano's 9-speed 12-36 HG61 cassette could go on the Q2 - SRAM technical brochure indicate a maximum sprocket of 34 teeth, but without the total capacity considerations sans chain rings, it might work and bring the gain ratio on your bike down to 1.5 - and I've seen it listed for under 50 bucks.

    Let us know if you see a brand name on those colorful pedals !

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