The Mods

I am now within 2 weeks of the Cycle NC Tour. Since my return from the Fayetteville, NC to Key West, FL tour, I have made several modifications to the RANS Stratus.

The modifications begin with the items in this post. My plan is to ride the Stratus on days 5 & 6 of the tour and to benefit from these enhancements. Further, should I do brevets next year or tour for that matter, the Stratus will be ready to go. The two photographs below give an overview of the changes. Gone is the RANS Chopper Bar Fairing Bag–giving better road visibility. I replaced the Pletscher Kickstand with a Greenfield Kickstand from Bentup Cycles of Van Nuys, CA [the dealer from whom I purchased the Stratus]. I’ve elected to use the Angletech Aerotrunk versus the smaller RANS Streamline Tailpack. As I see it, these are not significant modification, just choices of convenience or durability, in the case of the kickstand. I also replaced the RANS Idler with a TerraCycle Idler for the Stratus. The tires are Specialized Fatboys for better puncture protection, with low rolling resistance. I am now using silver SKS Fenders (scroll down the page to see them ~ purchased from Peter White) rather than the Planet Bike Fenders (see other photographs in this blog). The Planet Bike hardware did not hold up. I modified the SKS Fenders by putting the Planet Bike Mud Flaps on them. The mud flaps are attached with silicon. Replaced the original handlebar grips (which continued to slip toward the ends of the bar) with Ergon MP1 Men’s Grips from Performance Bicycle. I had to shorten them to fit my handlebars. They tighten onto the handlebar, and therefore do not slip. I moved the AirZound Air Bottle from the seat-back to the left rear pannier, which also houses my sports drink bottle. The right rear pannier has an Nalgene insulated quick-release bottle from FastBack System. Insulated CamelBak Drink Tubes are within easy reach, attached to the seat-back frame and along side the seat, sport drink–left and water–right.

Modified RANS Stratus XP

The most significant change is the lighting system, which I changed for greater redundancy.

During the Florida tour, I had one night that I rode with only the LightSpin Dynamo. If it had failed, I would have been in the dark. I had used up the NiteRider Flight Li-Ion battery earlier in the day. The LightSpin wheel cover also wore out on the 1,062 mile trip. I now have spare wheel covers.

I have a 3-tier, plus [side lights using EL-wire, hand-cranked light & aerotrunk light] system.

  1. Tier One: The new primary system is a Schmidt SON28S Disc 36-Hole Hub powered DIWA Lighting System (scroll down) from Peter White Cycles [both head (Lumotec Oval DIWA Plus) & tail (Dtoplight) lights are stand]. The new Distance Warning, or DIWA System from Busch&Müller senses when the bike slows down. When riding at night with your lights on, the taillight will glow brighter. In the daytime, with the lights off, the taillight will come on just as a car’s brake lights would. Mr. White built the two Velocity Wheels you see photographed above.
  2. Tier Two: NiteRider Flight with dual 16-led taillights [not a current NiteRider product, 04/09] that operate on a dedicated Li-Ion battery. For some reason, with the taillights wired in parallel, they no longer flash. I do not see this as a problem because the North Carolina Bicycle Club rules state: at a minimum, a steady burning front and rear lights and reflective gear are required for the 300k through the 600k brevet. Vista tail lights must be steady burning and a spare bulb and batteries are required for all lights. When I want or need extreme brightness, I can turn on the HID, in addition to the SON DIWA Lighting System. For more light, I can also turn on the LightSpin System described above. I’ll certainly be able to see all before me–and be seen. One note: My NiteRider Flight light had to be returned to NiteRider for repair. Apparently, water got into the case. There was no charge for the repair.
  3. Tier Three:
    A LightSpin Dynamo powers twin headlights & a stand taillight [emergency backup system] I have toggle switches for both lights to control dynamo load. If I ever want more lighting, then this system can also be used.

Why all the lights and batteries–for my safety as I stated above. On a recent tour [with a 2-tier system], I found myself down to the LightSpin. If something had happened to it, I’d been in total darkness. I’m setting the bike to travel with 12+ hours of darkness. The NiteRider Taillight remained lit for over 7 days on their Li-Ion Battery. The NiteRider site has the following description for the Flight System: Want HID power without the weight of Nickel Metal Hydride batteries? Then look no further than the NiteRider Flight system. Using Lithium Ion powered cells, the Flight lighting system offers the greatest power to weight ratio of any lighting system available, with burn times ranging from 2:15 up to 3:30. Want to extend burn times? Switch over to the power saving LEDs. [They show 100 hrs. in LED mode.] Never before has so much power come in so small of a package. Mounting options are virtually limitless with a battery pack no larger than a cell phone and weighing only 227g/8oz.

Control Panel/Dashboard
Other CP/DB Shots

You may wonder why there are two Garmin Edge 305s. Here’s why–I have a Cateye Wireless (purchased for my Velokraft VK2) that I had working on the Stratus. I had planned to use it to report kilometers to aid in brevets. For some reason, it stopped working properly as a wireless device. I replaced the batteries; but, I still had the problem. I would like the Edge to be able to report statute and metric measurement simultaneously (statute on one the bike pages/screens and metric on the other, or share fields on the same screen. It will only give one or the other, not a combination of the two. I spoke with Garmin technical support on this and they think the concept is worth consideration. Having this capability is a software as opposed to a hardware solution. In the meantime, I had the option of buying a wired bicycle computer or using my second Edge (with no additional cost) thus the two 305s. Both record my heart rate and cadence. One reports statute, and the other metric measurements. Another benefit of the Garmin Edge is that its backlight can remain on for lowlight/night visibility. Had I used the Cateye, I would not have been able to read its display without a light shinning on the display. The silver device on the right is a digital voice recorder. I’ve used it on several bikes, as well as my Florida tour. It allows me to take verbal notes as I ride. You also see a RAM mount for a camera. I find it easier to leave it in place than to position it each time I’m ready to use the camera. I may remove it at some point.

Back to lighting. In addition, I will use my EL Wire [powered by a Socket Mobile Power Pack (link below)] for “running lights” in towns [toggle controlled] to ensure I’m seen from the side.

Note the small blue wire the runs along the left and
right side of the bottom tube. It is the EL Wire.

I also have a flashing light on the flag.

In addition to the lights described above, the front of the bike has four reflectors and the rear two.

The DIWA light, which has one of the two rear reflectors,
is shown in its mounting position behind my neck rest.

One final [I hope] light–The Safe Turn Bicycle Indicator. This is a amber flasher that uses a tilt switch to more clearly show the hand position to indicate turns and slowing signals. In this case, where I can, this will supplement the brake light.

I have a small Radio Shack LED Task Light [no longer available, 04/09] to more easily see into the Aerotrunk and panniers at night.

I will use a hand-cranked flashlight [to be purchased] for night-time repair. So far, I’ve been fortunate in that breakdowns [flats] have occurred in daylight.

Of course, TerraCycle has the Firefire Light for its Tailsok</A>. I do not plan to add a tailsock now–maybe at some point in the future. I am considering a Mueller Fairing for cold-weather riding.

Now for the nice to have–or is it a safety item–Tao XM2Go Satellite Radio.

Again, during the Florida tour, I found myself on the road up to 15-hours and no awareness of world events. XM takes care of that. We were almost ambushed by Tropical Storm Alberto. XM to the rescue. In my setup, I have a third Socket Mobile Power Pack to power the radio. The XM2Go Radio plays about 5 hours on its Li-Ion battery. I have not yet timed the radio with the Socket. I expect over 20 hours of play time. I’ll advise later. The radio is played through Radio Shack speakers [unnecessary items removed], also powered by a Socket Li-Ion battery. Since the radio is not water resistant, I have to get a waterproof bag [probably Aquapaq] for it.

I‘m sure you noticed a telephone, actually a Motorol V555. It is my bluetooth fair weather friend. On the Florida tour, its predecessor, a V551, failed due to rain. I plan to replace it with a

Motorola i580 from Nextel. You will note it is bluetooth enabled and rain-resistant certified to Military Standard 810 F for blowing rain, humidity, and salt fog. It is designed to withstand exposure to rain, sleet, and snow. Rubber encasing, interior linings and seals protect the phone.
I’m currently using a Cardo Scala Rider Bluetooth Headset placed on the straps of my bicycle helmet, which replaced the bluetooth headset I lost during a rain storm in Palm Beach, FL. In preliminary testing, the sound quality and volume are excellent. My son reports my volume level is low and I’m difficult to hear. There is, however, no wind noise. This is an improvement over what I used on the Florida tour.

Another reason for this phone is the ability for me to be located while cycling. Nextel offers a Mobile Locator Service which facilitates this with any of its GPS enabled telephones. During the Florida tour, my able assistant, Michael–my son, was always there to support. Support from miles away is very helpful and deeply appreciated. Sometimes, we spent about 10 minutes pinpointing my location. With this setup, he’ll know where I am in an instant. The safety factors are obvious. I plan to place the phone at the same location as my V555.

Weight distribution: As loaded for the Florida tour, I thought that most of the bike’s weight was on the rear wheel. Now, with 2 NiteRider and 2 Socket batteries, the EL wire inverter & the bags to hold these items, plus the SON hub, there is more weight toward the front of the bike. The Socket battery for the XM2Go Radio is beneath the seat.

Additional Cycle Photographs

Author: jalexartis

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

9 thoughts on “The Mods”

  1. Thidwick, thanks for the comment.

    Much of what I’ve done with the bike is based on 1500 miles of touring. The Angletech Aerotrunk meet my current tailbox needs, in terms of space and speed boost. It is suppose to aero. Angletech claims ~3 mph. Terracycle also has a tailbox that is suppose to work well with a fairing. Maybe next year, I’ll consider those. On the computer, I find them useful in pacing myself on longer rides, plus getting telephonic assistance from my son. I find each of us will set up our bikes differently, based on real, or perceived needs. Do you have a tailbox on either one of your recumbents? If so, what speed improvement do you get?

    My road bike is practically stripped. Again, thanks for the visit and your comments. –jim


  2. Heya Jim, nice looking bike! Our philosophies differ quite a bit… I don’t even have a speedo/computer on my bikes and only one set of battery operated lights… but for a techno-intensive bike you seem to have done a great job. I’ve owned several recumbents, and the XP is high on my list of bikes to check out next.

    Have you considered building a tailbox for your bike? Designed properly they’re able to hold enough gear for camping and also act as an aerodynamic aid… meaning faster bike speeds.


  3. In reply to being seen. I think the lights are quite bright. The neon safety lights are more of a glow thna I want. That is why I choose the EL wire. It is brighter than it shows in my night-time photographs.


  4. On kickstand switch, if the question is why did I change manufacturers, In essence, the first kickstand did not stand up to the weight I was carrying on the tour. It failed. I did not want to risk that happening again. The link above has the details.

    I trust I have answered your question.


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