VK2 Setup

Hello Fellow Cyclist,

I am James [Jim] Artis. I really enjoy cycling.

I currently have 4 bikes:

3 Treks:

  1. a 5200 OCLV Carbon Fiber—now my trainer;
  2. a Project One—my DF;
  3. a Y-22 OCLV Carbon MTB [joy is MTB’ing with my adult son];


now a Velokraft VK2.

I purchased the VK2 as my 60th birthday gift. Dana of Bent Up Cycles is my sales consultant. Dana, thank you for your time and patience in assisting me in getting bent. I appreciate it!

Here is the VK2 Dana designed for me:

I intend to put more miles on my DF than the recumbent and use the VK2 for fun and cross-training. My VK2 is my toy, my tricked-out TOY [cycling is my only vice]. I have a 10-year cycle purchasing plan.Three years ago I bought the Project One; but, 10 years before that, I bought the 5200; now the VK2, and for my 70th birthday, James gets a “trike.” What will my 80th bring?I purchased the VK2 early November 2005. After the decision to buy the VK2, I decided I would customize it [somewhat]. Time has not necessarily been my friend—too much time to think of something else to add to the bike. The result—more money and more weight added to the bike. Thank you Kamil [of Velokraft] for your responses to my questions as I sought to customize your creation.
Taken a few weeks before completion of the VK2 painting
First, safety related accessories are a must, regardless of the weight they add to the bike. I have been fortunate to have ridden several DFs without an accident with a motor vehicle. I want to continue that experience with this recumbent. So, it has lights, mirrors , and horn [a Delta AirZound].I have tried to keep the weight down by using titanium components where possible. I replaced the original skewers with M2 Racer Ti Racing Wheel Skewers and the SRAM, 12-26 Cassette with a Shimano, XTR, CS-M960, 11-34,9sp, Ti Cassette. Although the four largest sprockets are titanium for reduced weight without sacrificing strength, this cassette is about 10 grams heavier than the SRAM Cassette because of larger cogs. Ten grams is not significant, given the gearing’s mechanical advantage. Since bicycle weight changes are many times insignificant, I’ll always try to keep the engine fit and trim. I rode the DF last year at 160lbs and plan to ride the DF and bent at approximately 155lbs this year. Regrettably, I’m now at 170lbs [the winter has not been good to me] and have a bit of work to do. I’ll be there though.

The basic VK2 colors are changed from the carbon clear-coat to red, white, and blue, the colors of my cycling club, Cross Creek Cycling Club [C4] of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Thanks Robert for permission to use C4 related colors and graphics on my VK2. Tom of Pro Sports Graphics, also in Fayetteville, did the graphics. Tom is also a C4 member. Jack Kane, my painter, of Jack Kane Custom Racing Bicycles, Jacksonville, North Carolina, has taken my concepts, Tom’s graphics, and Kamil’s VK2 to create a very special and different recumbent for me.

I picked up my bike from Jack March 18, 2006. Jack, your rendering of the colors and the display of the carbon fiber is BEAUTIFUL. I mean the BOMB! If I may, to quote Jack, “It really pops…” Thanks for a truly professional job. Enjoy these pictures folk.
Jack’s Work

To honor Kamil and identify the bike as a Velokraft VK2, I designed this graphic for a metal nameplate for the derailleur post. I had difficulty finding a company to make the plate. After several weeks of looking, today, February 21, 2006, persistence paid off. I found a company, Vivid Manufacturing, to do the plate. I am impressed with their deep etched zinc samples. They completed the artwork and provided proofs in 2 days. The nameplate shipped 3/22/2006 and arrived 3/24.

In November 2005, I found a company in Houston, Texas—Roberti Customs to design a special leather seat for the VK2. I will take the bike to Houston for the seat work. Johnny R. will do the work. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my VK2 with the redesigned seat pad I received from Dana early March 2006. I placed the foam pad [that came with my VK2 back in November] inside the redesigned seat pad. It gives additional comfort. The added thickness also looks good—now to get matching fabric for the head rest. This setup is so good, I can delay the purchase of a custom seat.
As I ordered my VK2, Dana recommended the Fastback Design LS Hydration System. On receipt, I noted the straps were to pass over the VK frame and thereby be exposed more than I desired for my VK2. I modified the frame to allow me to pass the straps from beneath the frame to the top of the seat and back down. Yes, this meant drilling holes in my carbon fiber and using my Dremel to drill holes and cut slots. I accepted the risk and did so. I also checked with Dana to get a somewhat better “feel-good feeling” about my endeavors.

That settled; I looked for ways to route the tubing and mount a bottle for my sports drink. Looking over the bike, I did not find an aesthetically suitable or functional location for a sports drink bottle. Given the FDLS Hydration System has a tool pouch, I decided I would adapt it to the bladder bag and route the tubing through it so it comes out the same opening as the water bladder tube. I then used two Camelbak Thermal Control Kits to hide the blue tubes [making them black]. The tubes are then attached to the seat at a point where they can lay on my chest for water and sports drink. I also used black split-loom tubing of various sizes to make wiring look neater.

Fastback Design Left-Side Hydration System
The picture on the left, from left to right, shows the lens [with lens cap];
the tool pack that I placed my sports drink bottle in; and the Topeak Pump.
The bag beneath the sports drink bag has the lens battery.
My DF has the NiteRider Flight lighting system, including a 16-LED universal taillight. I purchased the NiteRider Evolution Smart, for the VK2 so that I can use the remote switch to control the headlight. It also has a 16-LED universal taillight. For the most part, I routed the wires within the bent frame.Note, the mounting location I selected for the headlight. I mounted the taillight as high as possible, on the bike’s head rest. The taillight is turned on by depressing the black button behind the light.After modifying my hydration system and determining how I would route my NiteRider wiring, I needed someplace to conceal the NR battery. I chose the Fastback Designs Norback Frame Pack, also from Dana. I modified it by removing the straps and cutting slots for the NR battery strap to go through the frame and bag to secure the battery. In addition, Velcro is used to secure the NorBack to the frame. The bag retains its nylon spline. I had the Velcro sewn to the bag.
The NiteRider Evolution Smart Battery is in
the top-right corner of my Norback Frame Pack The AirZound air bottle is at the front [lower-left corner]
of the Frame Pack. The other space is for storage.

I also purchased a Topeak Pump from Dana. Originally, it was to go into the NorBack. I have now mounted it on the LS hydration system (as shown above–2nd up on the left) to make room for the AirZound air bottle; spare tubes, patch kit, and tools. The AirZound air bottle fits neatly in the NorBack. I placed the bottle cap on the outside of the bag to allow the maximum space inside. There is lots of room for the items I’ve listed above. I am pleased with the configuration I have achieved using the two Fastback Design bags.

My effort in adding most of these items has been to keep the weight as light a possible and to place it low as I can on the bike. I am surprised and pleased with the small size of the Cycle Star Mirrors. From web pictures, I thought they were larger. Although, once you have them in your hand, you see the pictures are indeed images of small mirrors—a pleasing surprise.

Mirror setup shots taken on a straight bar

The horn is also smaller than I expected. From the weight perspective, I’ll have to see how the VK2 rides and make adjustments as needed.

While waiting [“Too much time to think of something else to add to the bike. That meant more money and more weight“.] on the graphics and painting, I continued to surf the net, visiting many recumbent related websites, especially ‘Bentrider Forums. I have essentially been a lurker there waiting to get on my bent so that I can add my $0.02 worth. Now that I’m bent, I ‘ll comment here and there.

OK, while reading various threads at ‘Bentrider Forums, I noted some really cool videos shot from several bents (there are many more–this loads fast). Some apparently helmet mounted and some from handheld cameras. Of course, Larry Varney says take a camera with you. I’ve got that covered.

My Video Solution
Given my excitement about the video’s, I purchased a Sony Handycam. The handycam mounts on the tiller using a Ram Mount. To complete my video setup, I added a remote lens from Viotac [see both Viosport and Viotac] designed for helmet mount. I selected the Viotac camera versus Viosport because it is black [at the same price]. Rather than be tethered to the bike by the connecting wires of a helmet camera, I mounted the Viotec camera to my hydration system [hiding more wires] using my Garmin eTrex Vista dash [auto] mount that allows the camera to be rotated for low-angle front and rear shots (other pictures above). Having two lenses gives me the ability to choose the lens for the shot. I find bicycle action shots are more exciting when the base object is a part of the frame. In this case, that will be a part of my VK2. In essence, I have a rolling camera platform. I’ll post videos later.
To control the horn, I used a camera cable release mounted on the right side of the tiller to blow the horn. This allows me to mount the horn at a location that does not crowd the tiller. As stated above, I hid the air bottle in the NorBack bag. I have an idea on how to remotely control the db level of the horn. I am considering a friction shifter for the 3 positions. On receipt of the horn, I decided to not worry about controlling the db level. Just tapping the camera release cable [now horn control] gives a toot. Depressing it more, gives a blast. I’m happy I’m able to remotely blow the horn. I did not want to mount the horn on the tiller [as shown in most AirZound pictures] or mount it on the top surface of the VK2.
For the new VK2, I wanted to replace my Garmin eTrex Vista GPS with a new GPS. The debate was between the Magellan Explorist 600 and the Garmin Edge 305. The Edge won. I purchased the 305 with HR and cadence.
I have read several post at ‘BentRider Forums that state the speed sensor cannot be used on a bent at the same time the cadence sensor is being used. To my knowledge, this is true unless you modify the Garmin sensors.
I have done just that. I mounted the cadence sensor on the side of the VK2 boom to sense crank RPM. The speed sensor connect to the base unit by two wires. I extended the length of those wires to allow the speed sensor to be place on the fork and thereby sense wheel rotation and be available for backup when the Edge GPS has no signal—no speed recorded. I also have a second unit, with no modification, that I use on my DF. Using the Edge 305 on both bikes is pure joy. Since the 305 has profiles for 3 bikes, I will also use it on my MTB (which I’m currently riding less than my other bikes).
The Garmin Training Center [installed and run on your computer] and MotionBased web site [upload your ride to MB] add another dimension to cycling. If you are not familiar with ride analysis and are interested, check out these sites. In addition, you can play your ride using Google Earth. Having trouble using your Garmin GPS or related software, use the MB Forum. Answers are likely there.
In terms of the modification, I consider myself a technician who is proficient with a soldering iron, does lots of computer stuff, and enjoys modifying/ reconfiguring things. Meeting challenges is rewarding. This works for me. It may or may not for you.
Along with the GPS, I have the CatEye CCFR7CL listed and pictured above. I intend to upgrade it to the Ciclosport HAC 5 when it becomes available.
Although I have added some weight to my “lite” VK2, I can easily strip it, except for safety essentials. Again, this is my toy. My naked VK2 weighs in at ~ 20 lbs. / 9 kgs. With all the stuff, it weighs 32lbs. / 14.6 kgs., That is with one liter of water [I have a 3-liter bladder] and 1 liter of sports drink. (please see my post).

Kenny Green of Hawley’s Bicycle World of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and fellow C4 cyclist, received the painted, customized VK2 Wednesday, March 22, 2006 [FWIW, I had the pleasure of pre-assembly (mounting components, routing cables, and that kind of stuff)]. Kenny completed assembly and I picked up my VK2 Friday, 3/24/2006 . I have a few more items to complete, and then ride, ride, ride…
Thanks Kenny!

The ride is great! See you on the trail.

Now finish my setup [it actually took 3 more days] , take several more pictures [maybe Monday 3/27] and get links to this blog posted… {mission ACCOMPLISHED!!!}

I wish:

  1. I had a nice light kickstand to keep me from having to lay the bike on the ground or prop it against some object [only to see it fall]. I’m currently using the base of a Topeak FlashStand to support the bike for display; that is, I will not transport this stand on the bike.
  2. For Safety, I’m still wondering if I should add a flag. I do not want to add more weight. At the same time, I do not want some driver to say I did not see you because the vehicle in front of me blocked my view of you.

Again, safety has primacy. I welcome reader comments.


I hope this has been an interesting presentation and that you will be inspired to do some customizing to your bike. Bents are neat and invite creativity.

I‘ve really enjoyed the many pictures of recumbents I have seen of other ‘benters on the web. Your creations are inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

Author: jalexartis

Avid cyclist, who loves photography, technology, blogging & cooking...

4 thoughts on “VK2 Setup”

  1. Thanks for the write up. I am a VK2 rider from Pulaski County, VA. While mine certainly does not look as good as yours, I share an interest in low weight while riding in the mountains. The VK2 is a great bike. I purchased mine about 2 years ago as a frame set and outfitted it with Record components include a 10-speed close ratio cassette (11-23) and four chainrings ranging from 20 to 60 teeth. Shifting is with bar end shifters cabled internally through the handlebars.

    Please e-mail me at phuber@pulaskicounty.org if there is anyting I can do to be of help to you with your new bike.


  2. Hello,

    I just passed up an opportunity to ride my VK2 in the North Carolina mountains, opting for my DF instead. I did ride my VK2 from Kinston to Emerald Isle, NC. It was fun. Please let me see pictures of your setup. I am also interested in weight saving and your cable routing. My gearing seemed to be fine for the flat-land. I was seldom on my large crank. I only have 2 and 11-34 cassette.

    Thanks for the comment! –jim


  3. Hi Lee,

    Thanks for the compliments. The VK2 is an exciting bike to ride. Welcome to the fold. Tell Dana I said hello. I’m ready for your questions. Stay tune for some interesting videos taken from the VK2.



  4. All I can say is WOW! Hats off to ya. I am too a VK2 and I personally know Dana (riding w/him this Sunday). I don’t have a VK2 as of yet but plan on getting one by Christmas and I will certainly have some questions for you.

    Lee, from Los Angeles


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