Date: Wed, 29 Dec 1999 15:31:35 EST
Subject: Shuttlebike response
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This answers a couple day's worth of questions, so it's ended up being rather
long... I tried to be brief, believe me.
First, please keep in mind that my world is saltwater, or brackish, w/ tidal
currents, canals, estuary shallows or the Intercoastal, and in a place (Tampa
Bay, FL)where we get cranky when it's only 60 degrees (like now) and
downright inhospitable after 3 sunless days. There might be different
considerations for the freshwater lake & river folks- which in FL are in
places I only occasionally visit. Getting people into pedal powered boating
is my passion and now my livelihood.
* I have one page flyers the Shuttlebike company, SBK, sent me. If you
want one, send a SASE to the address below.
* Speed. You can go about 3-3.5 kn, max 5.5, which is what the flyer
states. You can use all your gears. I use a Specialized hybrid wedgie bike
which is of moderate weight. I cruised in a middle gear.
* The pontoons/floats are single bladder which are of very good quality
polyurethane. I thought I had the thickness measurement but will inquire. We
have oysters, barnacles and other nasties around here, (some w/ teeth) and I
feel confident the floats are safe w/in reason having bumped some. (Not yet
w/ the toothed-type hazards and prefer not to put the thought in the
The coolest part of these pontoons is that they have about a half inch
'flange' running the length of the bottom center of the float and ending with
a 4" plastic fin- all of which helps wonderfully for tracking.
* Pressure. The compressor that you inflate the floats with has an
'overflow' vent on it so once you reach the built in capacity, it just vents.
I fondly call this info 'geek food'...~2001/min. at 900rpm, max pressure-250
mBar -quoted from the booklet, Greek to me. Is that what you wanted? The
compressor/pedal inflating system works very quickly, and effectively.
(Note: MicroCat Ultralite comes w/ warnings about potential bursting due to
hot sun effect on floats both in and out of water which is a good warning for
* Roller v. knobbies. Since the center of my tires are more or less
smooth (as a hybrid) I can't give personal input on how it works on knobbies,
but my guess is that it'd be OK. The company uses what they call mountain
bikes referred to all thru their material. The roller has striations and an
adjustable lock down for the pressure you can put on the tire. I've seen
some mega knobby tires out there, so I guess it would depend...
* Price. The company's suggested retail is $800. Without a distributor
yet who might have deep enuf pockets to order a ....load of these, I could
order more in if needed. What I have here I'd offer at $650 which is at my
cost, plus shipping/ins to you. SBK would cherish a distributor.
* Prop protection is made by a shaft skeg. You didn't ask, but -I think-
the ratio is 1:8 rotation, which I must have counted myself since I can't
find it in the lit.
* Prop draft is almost 10". The shaft will pivot out of its locked
position if it's hit hard enuf.
* "Sliding" into the water is by picking it all up and carrying it in
which requires careful steps while between the frame and floats, but it's not
a big problem. Since we have lots of seawalls, I could point it down, front
first, or sideways and 'slide' it in. I tie the prop up with rope to move it
around on land.
* Mounting the bike from standing in the water is accomplished with as few
people as possible watching you the first time you do this...(which for me
wasn't possible, but I would have made you proud...) You can step on the
frame or the pontoon- I think I've used both. For mounting from deep
water,call Cirque du Soleiu... no, just kidding, ...just slide up onto the
float and clamber up (engage balance). From a dock, you can step right on the
pedal. I have a PVC pipe I want to attach to the two cross frame pieces to
provide what I think is a better step and also for attaching the kitchen sink
stuff I always seem to absolutely need...
* Questions you should always ask: Do the PR stats & info hold up?
In the case of most the boats I've tested/shown, 'yes and no' which is the
case here. Don't take the kit to the water the 1st time and expect to set it
up and go. Once the connectors are on, it's great, but it may take some
finagling (sp?) After that, it is easy to ass/dissemble once you get the
hang. The thing weighs more than they say, but it's the thought that counts.
I'd have to check my numbers to be precise. It is a well tooled small
package to take your bike on and off the water easily. The video has a girl,
British I think, that uses hers to get to work after riding to river's edge.
It can also be a raft to have fun with on a 'tubeing trip', or to get to some
really off trail spots. I'd love to rig a bent and tube down a FL springfed
stream, maybe snorkel along the way.
* I have some not very good pictures that SBK sent me of a Scotsman who
put his recumbent on it. I'm sure you could get in contact with him thru the
* Another good test is what I'd call 'The Swamping'. What happens when
the worst happens. I've only seen the SB flip bec. one pontoon was softer
than the other from oversight on my part and the rider leaned and turned the
way you wouldn't want to. He lost his sunglasses, I paid $80 to recondition
my salted bike... BTW, I've given thought to rigging a bit o' plastic to keep
* Operating and assembly manuals are another test. I always have a lot to
say about these on any boat as usually send suggestions/corrections. The
funny part of the Shuttlebike Kit was dealing with the English/Italian
translation/conversion. It's in metric, of course, but it was the "bushes"
one was directed to put between the alum connectors and the bike frame that
was most charming... They're a great group of guys. They have reason to be
proud of their product. It has its niche. It's cool that it packs up nicely
in a well made backpack. And being able to use your gears is VERY cool as is
inflating by pedaling.
This answers most of what was asked, and hopefully it was at least amusing.
It's a lot of work, but I enjoyed writing it. I suspect there are a lot like
me who 'lurk' and don't ever write to the list. Thanks to those who wrote
directly, or via the list. And thanks for reading. I'd be interested to
know, as perhaps would the manufacturers who read and write on this list from
time to time, what else you'd like to know about the manufactured boats in a
sort of 'review' -what are they like, etc.by me or others? Would you go to a
website to read/see it? Or to HPV News? I'm working on
www.pedalpoweredboats.com to perhaps do just that.
Happy New Digits,
4601 Chancellor Cir NE, #247
St. Petersburg, FL 33703
727 525 8842
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