It’s not a TitanFlex, but it is a new creation by the inventor of TitanFlex, Tom Piszkin. It is a pretty unusual looking vehicle, so I couldn’t help but ask Tom a few questions about it to share with everyone.
Q1: It looks pretty unusual for a bike, what is it and where did it come from?
It’s a human powered vehicle designed to improve on the 100+ year old “double-diamond” design. Contemplating how other designs have failed to unseat the “safety bike” as the dominant species has been a fun exercise. Its not dissimilar to how I conceived of the original TitanFlex; I love working outside the box and innovating engineering solutions rather than fitting the mold but making incremental improvements. I can’t help but question the status quo: Is there no combination of new technology that could improve the state of the “human-powered” art? This LEAN-R is just another of my answers to that question.
Q2: How long of you been thinking about building this sort of bike?
In the early 1990’s when the TitanFlex was being used in the Race Across America I started thinking about a design that would provide the ultimate comfort and efficiency for this event.
Q3: Why did you make it? What are the potential benefits of this bike?
To pursue a what-if scenario: What if you had a bike that was more comfortable and more aerodynamic than a double-diamond, but not as heavy or cumbersome as a recumbent...a design that allowed you to use your body weight in climbing, offered a cruise position that distributed your body weight over more contact area, and enabled you to produce more power?
Q4: What is the most difficult part about engineering/building this bike?
The availability of a rear hub assembly that doubles as an input shaft. This feature is critical in keeping the wheelbase close to a double-diamond’s--so you can stand over the pedals. Something of this nature just became available. Although it is a single speed 3:1 gear ratio, it is sufficient for proof-of-concept. To be practical, the rear hub assembly needs to be multi-speed.
Q5: How was the process of creating this bike similar/different from designing the original TitanFlex?
This creative process followed the same template as the TitanFlex: What if I could have one bike that was as light as my carbon racing bike (Kestrel KM40), durable as my steel trainer (Schwinn Circuit), could be easily set up for either pack riding or time trialing, and isolated my freshly-repaired back from the abuses rough roads? Image the lack of clutter in my garage!
Q6: What are your plans for this bike this design in the future?
To use this prototype to experiment with the positioning and control parameters while keeping tabs on the development of a multi-speed hub, which would be incorporated in the second generation.
What do you think about the LEAN-R? If you have any other questions for Tom, post them in the comments section. I think we'll have it out at the 6-12-24hr TT World Championships, so maybe Tom will let you take it for a spin if you're out there!