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F-40 as a Rando/Ultra bike.

Hey everyone.. This is my first season back into long distance since 2006. I did a full brevet series in 05 and 06. My 2005 600K was on a Cannondale roadbike, the 2006 was on a Bacchetta Aero. Life got busy, I got fat and now I am back. I am still very low on miles for the year but I have completed my 200 and 300K rides for 2012 and am working on my 400 and 600.
Since I acquired the bike I have added a rear disc brake and laced up a Schmitt dyno hub for the front. I love both upgrades! The new generation of dyno driven, high powered LED's are amazing!

The gps files can be viewed here 200K
and 300K

So, here are my observations and questions.

The bike is very fast on flat ground, scary fast on descents, and slow to climb. In reality I cant blame that on the bike, but it is a factor of my lack of fitness right now.
How fast is it? 47.7mph is my highest so far... Scary fast when the wind is blowing! on my 300K ride my front tire lost pressure down to a spongy feel at 35-38mph. This was extremely scary. The bike was very hard to control. It felt like being hit by strong gusty crosswinds or your front tire washing out from under you in sand or gravel. It lost almost all pressure but never got to the point of rolling on the rim. After I replaced the tube I was very cautious for the next 70 miles or so on descent.
I question the durability of small front tires. (I have the 369--17" with suspension fork) On my lowracer I had similar front tire issues. On that bike I had a catastophic blowout on a descent in the 30-35mph range that left me missing alot of skin. I dont know if I fully trust small front tires. But back to speed.

In the wind... As others have mentioned at lower speeds (<25mph) almost any gusts are a non issue for me. I'm about 210 so there is plenty of ballast to keep me on track. The scary part is when your coming down a hill at 35+ and then the winds hit you. Even with disc brakes on back, hauling me and this bike down from 40+mph to <25mph isnt something that happens fast. Hopefully with more miles on the bike I'll get more comfortable with that. At speed (30+) so far the bike feels stable.

In the rain... My 200K was in hail, thunderstorms, lightning, heavy winds, heavy rain, and more wind. The bad thing about the F-40 in the rain is how much water the fabric can hold... alot.. and its heavy. The GREAT thing was that my feet were generally dry even in the worst of the rain. I was wet, but not nearly as wet as anyone on a DF bike in rain gear. I put the cover in a laundry bag and washed it because it had so much road grit on it then spend 2 days and tore the bike down for a clean and lube.

My questions and problems that I need to solve...
1. Heat. On my 300K on Sat I had a 30 mile stretch with a very mild tailwind. I was riding with the top front zipper open most of the day, and on that long stretch both side zippers open. The heat really took its toll on my power output. Again this could very well go back to my lack of fitness right now. But I'd like to figure out how to get a little airflow inside the so that I can keep the sides zipped up. I thought about removing the cover over the headlight hole, is there any benefit to unzipping the bottom? Also considered making some sort of a scoop on the bottom around the front wheel to direct air in? What are peoples thoughts? Whats worked for others?

2. I'm having issues with dropping my chain off the granny ring and/or getting chain suck between my middle and granny ring. This results in having to come to a complete stop (Usually going up hill) and fix the chain then starting again.. this kill the average speed. I'm running a 28,42,56 front and 11-34 rear. Mainly this is caused by the slack in the chain on the granny ring. The bike is generally geared a little too high. 56x11 is my top gear, but at 120 rpm that 47+mph. Once I get over 35mph I'm coasting! I have found that I can "Work around" this by not dropping to my granny ring until I am on one of the larger gears on back. This keeps the chainline from getting slack in it.
This comes to my next issue which is my rear derailuer interfering with the rear fairing framework. I have a long cage Shimano LX rear derailuer. When I am trying to get to my lower gears on back the cage near the bottom jockey wheel comes in contact with the framework for the rear faring. So I cant get into my lower 3-4 gears on my cassette, unless I shift to a larger chainring which pulls the deraileur cage forward enough to clear the framework (Which goes back to initial problem #2).
So I've got some work to do to get my shifting dialed on when the fairing is on.
Aside from that.. I just need more ride time to adjust.

I keep planning on getting pictures of my bike, but between work, kids and life I havent dont that yet.
Anyway.. so far I've been happy with the bikes performance. Now that the weather is getting warmer though I worry about heat issues.

Thanks for the account of your experiences with the F40 on the long and wet ride. It sounds like you have been doing some impressive mileage. Where do you live to find such cooperative weather?

1) Regarding tires: I do not think small tires are inherently any less durable or dependable than larger diameter tires. You will have to change out smaller front tires more frequently because they wear out faster, being smaller. If you do lots of riding it pays to keep a stash of replacement tires on hand, and to replace sooner rather than later. Better to spend some extra cash on rubber than on medical bills.

The problem is your oddball Moulton-sized ISO 369 17" front rim. Schwalbe only makes one tire in this size, the Kojak. It is a fast tire, but not the most puncture resistant. If you were using the ISO 349 16" size, or the ISO 406 20" front rim, you could use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. Not as speedy as the Kojak, but much safer. I would prefer the peace of mind of puncture resistance to the incremental speed advantage of the Kojak, especially when doing long descents on a Lightning F40.

The tire selection in ISO 369 17" stinks.

I fully agree about descents getting SCARY FAST with a fully faired Lightning bike. Sometimes you feel like the bike will not stop accelerating, and the fun of high speed starts to get mixed with terror!

Unfortunately a new suspended 20" fork from Lightning will cost serious money. Might be worth paying though.

2) My experience riding in high heat is that I need to a) keep extremely well-hydrated by continually sipping on a camelback, preferably with ice in the camelback, b) keep as much air as possible flowing over my head, neck, and upper shoulder area - so remove windshields, and c) unzip the zippers where possible. And I have to SLOW DOWN. In very cold and very hot weather, your body works much harder than it does in moderate temperatures.

3) There are little plastic things that can be mounted on the front derailleur post that will keep the chain from falling off the granny gear onto your bottom bracket shell. I think mountain bike riders use them. Might help you.

If you know someone who is a very experienced and competent bike mechanic, they might help you with the shifting issues.

There is an F40 rider who goes by the handle ncaudio who has a lot of experience with wide range gearing, including using four chainrings in front with a Mountain Tamer device. He posts on BROL and sometimes here too.

Hey ncaudio, if you are reading, please offer some advice about the gearing problems!

Thanks again for the note, and please keep writing back about your experiences doing very long rides.

Safe riding,

I have the mounting brackets for a windshield but dont have one. How much of a perfmornce increase to you get from it? Also, I havent been using the bottom hoop or the side struts. I have a bottom hoop but havent used it. I dont have the side struts. I thin that those might help on crossinds. I think that when a strong gust hits me the the side push inwards and in turn catch more air. I try to do the trick of pressing out my elbows on the windward side.
I'm going to be riding a 213K ride (132 miles) next Sunday. This one is pretty flat with only ~2300 ft of climbing. I'll let you guys know how it goes. As my fitness base increases hopefully the speeds will see some dramatic increases.

Can you post pics of the windshield? I've thought about a low strip of clear lexan or something that would divert some airflow around my gps and maybe even try mount a mirror behind it as well.
Ride safe,

I cannot give you a number, but a windshield will certainly help you go faster. Like everything related to aerodynamics, the faster you go, the more it will contribute to your speed.

It is easy to construct something yourself, if you do not have the Lightning-made windshield. Basically, you just need to roll some plastic into a tube shape and cut a diagonal slice out to act as your windshield. As long as you are able to look ABOVE the top of the windshield, it does not matter if the plastic is opaque. You should not be looking THROUGH the windshield unless you are racing.

Of course, you need to find a way to securely attach the windshield to the bike. You do not want it flying off in your face when descending a hill at speed.

I would also put the hoop tube on the bike, and create some substitute for the missing side pieces. If you go to a signage shop - or sometimes a place like Lowes or Home Depot - you can buy a big sheet of coroplast. It is easy to work with, and can be cut easily with a sharp knife or a scissors.

Safe riding,

About a month ago coming down the local mt. on my P38 at about 35mph my front tire had a instant flat down to the rim in a nano. I lost control and slid , to which I am still avoiding water on the ankle as it is a slow heal. This was totally avoidable as the brake had rotated a small amount ; just enough to wear through the edge of the tire at the rim . I now not only check my tire pressure by hand , but check where the brakes are contacting before rides with any speed coming down. I usually check several times doing a century ride for any pressure issues. The skin will grow back ( hopefully) but sliding at speed under another vehicle in the opposite lane could easily be very serious.
Look forward to a f-40 fairing one day.

Hey Gordon,

Sorry to hear of your intimate encounter with the asphalt. Sooner or later this happens to everyone who puts in a lot of miles, and is more likely to happen to people who ride aggressively. Hope you heal up soon.

For safety at high speed, nothing beats the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire. It is about twice as heavy as an ordinary tire of similar size, so hardcore weight weenies will avoid it. But it almost never goes flat, and this makes riding much safer, particularly when going down hills at high speed. Schwalbe claims that beside the weight penalty, there is not any rolling resistance penalty. Granted, you always need to keep close attention to the way your brake shoes interact with your rims. If the adjustment goes out of whack, you can rub right through the sidewall of any tire at all and quickly find yourself lying on the road.

Regarding the F40: it is a really wondeful machine, and does not get the attention it deserves. Even recumbent riders can be conservative when it comes to going fully faired. The one problem you may encounter is your unusual light weight. If I remember correctly, you wrote in another note that you only weigh 128 pounds. This could cause a problem for you when riding an F40 in gusting side winds.

There is a rider named Tyger Johnson who is of slight stature and rides a Lightning F40 extensively. He even wins races, and must be in his seventies now! He is an inspiration, but is a much stronger and more skilled rider than most of us. I do not know exactly how much Tyger weighs, but suspect that it is more than you.

For heavier riders, the side wind gusting issue is something you learn to live with and adapt to. For a rider like you, it might be a more serious challenge. Just a thought.

Safe riding,


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