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Two weeks and counting, time to go riding.....

Well, it's been two weeks and a day since I brought home a pre-owned red XL P-38. While the bike was in sound shape, she needed a bit of attention to the details before she would be ready to go further than the subdivision boundaries.

If you can't shift gears, you can't ride the bike. First order of business, new chain and re-cable and adjust the derailleurs. While installing new cables, the left bar end shifter was replaced and the right bar end while functional was missing the rubber cover. I replaced the cover with a spare removed from a bad shift lever that was taken out of service. Since I was playing with the shifters, the handlebar tape that was unraveling was driving me nuts. My first idea was to slip on a band of heat shrink tubing and while the idea is sound, it would look like a fix. So, I decided on a slow set cyanoacrylate glue from Loctite. Visually the repair is a winner, riding will tell if it's permanent or if I will need to re-wrap the bars.

Second order, extend the boom and dial in for fit. While playing around with the boom one of the boom retention bolts broke. The bolts were not rusted and this happened while using a torque wrench. Yikes! Needless to say, both bolts were replaced after the stud was extracted. While at it, the other bolts on the bike were removed and re-greased.

Second order of business, now that you can ride, you need to be able to stop. Actually, the brakes worked, but, one needed to push out on the handles to bring them back to the ready position. New cables front and rear, plus, the handles were not only gunked up, but they were binding due to the mirrors being improperly mounted on the handle adapter. So, those needed to come off and be reinstalled. Brakes now work fine and the mirrors while functional, are still looking like a Rube Goldberg addition to an otherwise beautifully styled bike.

Today, the clip in pedals go on and it's time to take her out for a shake down ride. Down the road, new tires, re-lace the seat, I've added a few zip ties temporarily to keep her taut, replace the functional but uninspiring rear rack with a nicer model. But, for today, it's now to go for the real first ride.......


Well, two short for real rides under belt. Both on a levee trail and as I was not 100% comfortable on the second ride, I ducked off of the levee and went down to street level to continue my acclimation to riding the Red Rider. Wind was a factor, I have almost been blown off of this trail before and I am beginning to think that this trail is not bent friendly, except for when I have those extra "tracks" that I have been missing. Just getting on and off the trail, as well as negotiating multiple road crossings with double bollards is a speed reducing PIA.

I was not very happy with the brake performance. Maybe I am just too accustomed to disks, but, when slowing down from 18 MPH or going downhill to get under the bridges, I was hoping for more. Plus, there are plenty of real hills beckoning! So, while the bike was idle during the week, I replaced the cartridge pads with "Kool Stops" which I hope will provide a bit better feel and authority during slow downs. There was no need to replace the existing pads, they had plenty of wear left, but, "feel" while slowing is important to me.

Still tweaking, time to take the boom out a bit more. Pedaling at speeds above 18 MPH induces some oscillations mostly from poor pedaling technique but in reality, I am still bending too much at the knee and my leg naturally goes to the side to provide more clearance under the bars.

The Mirror mounting continues to be a real issue, I know how I wish the mirrors to be positioned but, tightening the retaining knob affects the brake handle and presses against it preventing free operation. Has anyone else encountered this? If so, how did you address it?


Hello George,

1) What kind of brakes does your bike have? Calipers? V-brakes? Sometimes what seem like very small changes in cable routing can have a big effect for good or ill, both with brakes and shifting too. Good quality cables and housings are worth spending money on, and getting all the little details just right will help. There is a huge amount of helpful information on the website of the late (and missed) Sheldon Brown.

2) I wear eye protection when I ride, and use a Take-A-Look eyeglass-mounted mirror. It costs $15, and although it looks flimsy it is actually very well constructed and can last for years. I used to have a Mirrycle mirror on one of my Lightning bikes, and liked it well enough, but think the Take-A-Look is much better. As I rotate my head I can look around behind me more fully now.

I do not remember exactly how the Mirrycle mirror was mounted to the left Lightning brake lever. Too many years in the past. A phone call to Lightning should clear it up, if you can get Tim Brummer on the phone.

Hope the new to you used bike works out well for you, and glad I helped you snag the local deal. Keep us posted on your acclimation process.

Two wheels good, three wheels good also.

Safe riding,

Joel, the bike has Shimano Cantilever "V" brakes. I had already re-cabled and replaced the housings with Jagwire housing and low friction cables which I use on all of my bikes. The routing is pretty straight forward. I just was not happy with the feedback I was getting from the Shimano pads that came with the bike. I'll get an idea of how the new pads feel tomorrow morning.

The mirror mounts on a bracket just like up on the Lightning accessory page, so I imagine I will just need to find the right combination of "shim" material so that you can tighten the bracket down without putting too much pressure on the brake handle housing.
I haven't resorted to a helmet mounted mirror. I've been using handlebar mounted mirrors for so many years that I would probably feel naked without one.


I've never had any luck with Shimano brakes on any bike,I like Avids. I always use a soft brake pad ,makes no noise and stops very well.

Ben, thank you for that advice. The brakes are much better but still need tweaking, I simply am not getting enough riding time in with all the other things going on. Now that you mention it, I sure don't even give a second thought to braking on my Avid V brake equipped bikes. They stop on a dime with all the road feedback and feel one could wish for on much heavier frames at greater speeds. It sure is something to think about, at this point, this bike is not ready for comfortable steep descents and I have been limiting myself to the river valleys until I get more mileage under my belt.


The small front fairing uses a special brake lever bolt ,which is the regular bolt with another one brazed on top of it to make a double bolt. That way you can tighten down the fairing mount with out affecting the bolt passing through the brake lever.
I believe the mirror uses the same mounting bolt. If you removed stock lever bolt and put the mirror bracket under it and then tightened I can see why the lever is hanging up.
I make mine from an accessary mounting post ,can't remember the name,but it's a mount that fastens to handle bar and has a piece of tubing mounted to it for accs. I removed the handlebar clamp mount and marry up a Mountain Mirror to it. I can send you a pic if you email me at

I mount my mirror on the frame of my glasses, FWIW.

Well, I finally had the chance to put in a 26 mile ride on the Red Rider this week, the longest ride to date. This was only the sixth opportunity I have had to play with her, and I will be extending the boom a bit before the next outing. I believe I will take Ben's advice and give Avid brakes a try. I had her out on some very steep hills over Memorial day (steep enough to stop riding and start walking or give up and fall over) and when riding downhill, the brakes as they are (new pads and all) just don't inspire any confidence. I've been forced to limit my speed to 23 MPH or less, that makes for no fun when trying to keep up speed for the next climb. Speed bumps and needing to thread a 2' space between them and the edge of the pavement don't really help much either!

This weeks ride was on a level MUP and I can not be happier with how quickly the comfort level is building and how at ease I feel with the feel and handling of the P-38. This is truly a riders bike, nimble, well behaved, and very responsive to input. I am now comfortable shifting gears and in the early miles, even this action demanded a bit of caution while getting accustomed to the light touch this bike requests of the pilot. We all know that not every recumbent design is for every rider, but this foray into the world of Lightning Riders is sure proving to be a fun ride for me. I fear I will never live up to the speed reputation of the P-38 but I have been hitting some very nice numbers on level ground and this bike is sure a lot of fun to ride.


26 miles right off the bat? Sounds as if you're doing great. Don't understand the comment about limiting your speed, though. If the bike is sound, it should be stable at least up to 46 mph (the max I've hit with my Phantom), and you gotta figure a bike designed to have a fairing is a bike designed to go fast. However, I remember that I was white-knuckling it on my first few descents, so maybe this is just about your current comfort level.

I changed to the Phantom from a high racer with twin discs. At first, I thought maybe the brakes weren't in contact with the rims. Now, I'm used to it, and haven't run out of brakes yet. Of course, I know the roads I'm on, so I know how much room I have when I crank up the speed. In unfamiliar settings, it would be a different matter.

Congratulations on getting that bike back on the road!


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