Rotovelo – The setup

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I ordered and get my Rotovelo delivered direct from Trisled in Australia and made the setup myself. Here is how:

The body is laid into the big box…I did not expect such a “rocket shaped” body. The wheels are inside the body along with the hard top on top of it. The blue is exactly the tone I expected, had hesitation between the blue and the green but the latest was not available at the time of the order. The bubble wrap is everywhere around the body, the care taken for the packaging and the protection of the content is obvious, no savings made here. The box is sealed by zip ties and the velomobile is put down on a expanded polystyrene panel for more protection of the lower part and the chassis.

The list of what I found into the body of the velomobile:
  1. Hatch
  2. Hard top
  3. A plastic bag with: “a guide to your vehicle”, the power charger for the battery, the owner certificate and the mirrors
  4. Front and rear wheels
Setup procedure I followed :
  1. bolt on the front wheels
  2. set the derailleur hanger in place (the derailleur itself is already on the hanger)
  3. set the rear wheel and the chain
  4. set the mirrors in place
  5. (try to put hatch or the hard top to see how cool the Rotovelo looks with these)
  6. inflate tires
  7. jump in to go for a ride around the block*
  8. adjust the boom and chain length*

*Repeat 7 and 8 until the ride is good and fine tuning is completed.

Access to the transmission and the rear wheels is not easy on a velomobile. Use the large amount of bubble wrap available and lay the velomobile on its side, the plastic body of the Rotovelo is not fragile and there will be no issue doing this way.

I had issues with point number 8 above, here is why:

I provided Ben with my standing height and did not think about giving my x-seam which is usually the main measurement you take into account with recumbents bikes fitting. The boom was too long. I adjust it to the length that I thought was good but after a couple of short rides I realized that it was still too long, resulting in more adjustments and fitting work. When the boom was eventually set to its final length, it was the chain that was too long this time, needing adjustment.

The chain length and gearing ratio:

A velomobile is not a classic tricycle, it is a completely different vehicle for me. Indeed it has three wheels but that’s about it. Even if the Rotovelo looks like a classic tricycle chassis with a plastic body on top, it is not. The constraints are not the same. The firsts are the weight and the speed, resulting in completely different gearing ratios. Here the advices of Ben were more than welcomed and key. I would clearly have made mistake doing the calculation of the best gearing ratio based on my experience with my Catrike Speed.

My Rotovelo comes with a 38-50-61 and a 11-34 (11-32 standard) cassette (the Catrike Speed with same rear wheel size is 30-42-52 and a 9-32 cassette). I did no think about this when shortening the chain and the outcome of this was the chain made too short. Although the longer length of the recumbent chains allows you with more margin to cross between the big and small front and rear chainrings than on a classic upright bike, the gearing ratio with huge difference has to be taken into account here to end with the perfect chain length. I tried to fix the chain issue but I eventually decided to order a new one, too many chains connector and pins are not good, this gave me the opportunity to make a work on the transmission related into a next post.

The information I missed during the setup:

The torque to tight the bolts, especially for the derailleur hanger that I was afraid to make to tight and broke the thread (I know it is steel and not alloy but..), Ben provided me with the information: “should be firm, but not too tight”.

The remainder of the procedure is pretty straightforward, the front wheels are bolted on using an allen key, inflate the tires and you are done. I did not have to fine tune the derailleurs and brakes, all was fine and demonstrated the care taken in Australia to set up the velomobile at the Trisled workshop.

For more quality pictures of the procedure and the Rotovelo click the Flickr gallery of Spin Cyclz, the USA importer of Trisled. A lot of the pictures are related with the setup process related into this post.

Next: Dealing with ergonomics


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  1. #1 by Riggsbie on 04/09/2012 - 01:36

    Good effort…..

    I am just awaiting the delivery of a Mango Sport Red Edition from Holland to Australia…….the roads are so bad in Oz that without suspension my back would be killed – I had back surgery 18 months ago……

    Keep us posted on your RotoVelo experiences !

  2. #2 by PoiterH on 04/09/2012 - 12:53

    II really think you would be surprised by the RV’s passive suspension if you tried one…

  1. Rotovelo – Dealing with ergonomics « Frederic's Blog
  2. Rotovelo – Terra Cycle inside! « Frederic's Blog

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