My first rides

What i experienced on first rides

Testing

Before i started doing my own rides i asked Paul Blezard to test my Ecomobile during the Cleanweek event at Zolder, Belgium in may 2011.

 

Day 1:

Finally able to ride the Ecomobile.

Location:parking lot next to circuit of Zolder in Belgium.

Normally first rides are done with the aid of trainingwheels. They give you only 20° angle to the most. In Zolder i didn't have them. So we decided to do it without them, just as a Englishman did before. Paul stayed nearby to help me lift the Ecomobile up if i would fall.

At first Paul Blezard told me to ride with wheels down and feel when i thought the bike was leveled. He was during those rides a passenger. Each time i said "level" he said "good" or "not level enough". Mostly it was good ... and the area was really not that super flat. So it was sometimes a bit tricky to feel it right.

Steering with wheels down is really hard work. You need to really pull the handles a lot at low speed. Once you are riding faster than walking you feel the needed forces reducing. But man, parking will be a hand full, i fear now.

At last the moment comes. Time for my first "wheels up".

Paul gave me the following advise:

  • don't put the wheels up below 25 km/h
  • make sure you are level before putting the wheels up
  • don't take a passenger with you on the first rides
  • only train in wide, open areas.

Paul left the cabin. I tried to speed up. Having uncommon feelings with the speed controls at first, but once i reached about 30 km/h and i thought to be leveled, i touched the button and ... WHEEEEEP ... i heard the wheels go up and hit their upper position. A nice feeling! But ...now i had to steer the motorbike differently.

At first i tried to steer like i was used to on my Harley V-Rod. I was able to make turns, but could only make "tight" turns at low speed. Really low speed. Then i tried what was told me by all Ecomobile-users. They control it with counter steering! So ...steer left to go to right. And ...it worked. Once you start pushing the left handlebar, you feel the Ecomobile incline towards the left. And you start to make a left turn. Weird ... but it turns more smooth than when i was tried to do it the conventional way.

Now you start wondering "How did you steer at first? Did you go to the left when you steered to the right?" Well, strangely ...no. But i guess it was that the Ecomobile was already inclined before i started steering the conventional way. Don't ask me yet how i got it inclined. I cannot recall. I hope later videos will explain the difference. All i can say now it that those conventional tight turns could only be done at really slow speeds. I saw the green light of "wheels can go down" light up. So it must have been really slow.

I drove for half a hour and stopped then. I already was having a active day at the Cleanweek-event in Zolder. Getting too tired would not be good on first rides.

The last ting i did was leaving the open carpark and ride along a smaller road towards the place i was having my stand at the event. All went well and Paul said i was doing fine.

 

 

Day 2:

Yep, i got too confident about my riding and made several mistakes in that single ride.

First mistake: i started the ride in that smaller road where i stopped yesterday.

Secondly ...i took my son with me as passenger.

Thirdly ... i fear i wasn't fully leveled when i got my wheels up. So ... i deviated to the right. I tried to correct using conventional steering. I was fully busy doing the right stuff, but ...i missed a meter of place so i slided along a flexible fence. When i thought i was standing still and still rather upright against the fence, i must have balanced my body to the other side and ...that made the Ecomobile loose balance against the fence and we started falling to the other side. SMACK!

Ok, now we had the total attention of everybody around. Euh ...at that point the Ecomobile was really a crowd-puller. I undid my safety belt. Opened the door and crowled out the Ecomobile. My son did the same. I started to put my shoulder under the hinge of the door to try to get the bike up again. My son (age 11) started lifting the rearside and we both were able to get it right. Some people wanted to help at the last moment, but they nearly made the mistake to start pushing onto the plexi. I warned them not to do that. They helped me to balance it upright, so i was able to push the button and get the wheels down again.

Damage was only the dismounted mirror on the right side due to hitting the fence. Falling on the other side did no damage at all. The Ecomobile fell and was touching the ground with the three wheels. I love this design! But i wonder what would have happened if the side wheel tire would have been deflated. I guess the door was no longer able to open in that situation.

I returned to my stand on four wheels and a less confident feeling. Ok, this Ecomobile is really hard at first. And ...next time i will follow the guidelines of my tutor.

Day 3:

I went back to the parking area of the first day. Doing the road towards that place on four wheels. Once there i started riding with wheels up to get my confidence back again. And ...it returned really quick. After some riding i offered my son a ride as passenger. He was very pleased. We were doing some normal riding and some nice inclined tighter turns using countersteering. He was pretty impressed with that inclining. I hope he was kind of pride about his father having control over this monster that seemed impossible to control at first. Well ...we ended the ride with the feeling that nestofdragons was having this Ecomobile dragon stallion halfly tamed.  :)

Sadly i noticed that the gearbox was giving a problem when we started to return to the stand. I could no longer get out of reverse. So ...we had to push the Ecomobile back to the stand.

This problem seemed to be something known. A rod inside the gearbox seemed to have a slightly too narrow fitting and once heated and expanded it did hardly slide anymore. A bit of work on the gearbox (making the diameter of that rod a tiny bit less) would solve this problem once and for all.

I am looking forward to more testing days. I got from a friend the oportunity to get access to a HUGE testing area. I plan to let him have some rides in my Ecomobile as well. He is a ultra experienced recumbent bike user. i wonder if that knowledge is indeed a good beginning point for Ecomobile driving. I guess that my experience with recumbent bikes helped me too.