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Friday, November 13, 2009

Conversation with Buck Cendejas of Easy Racers

Easy Racers makes the recumbent bicycles that we are using on our ride.  I wanted to learn a bit about their history, what they are up to now and where they see the electric bicycle market going.
Buck is a wealth of information so I'll try to distill our conversation down to a reasonable length.
In 1979 Gardner Martin designed a recumbent for his wife who couldn't ride a regular bike.  (That design is still being produced!)  Gardner soon figured out that recumbents have advantages other than comfort and got into building recumbents with full fairings to get as much speed out of the bicycles as possible.  The company has continued to grow since the early days but unfortunately, Gardner passed away a few years ago.
In the mid -90's a decision was made to offshore the production of some of the bicycle designs developed by Gardner and the Easy Racers team.  The Sun Bicycles are produced in Taiwan and sold exclusively in this country.  The Tour Easy line is still produced here at the facility in Watsonville, CA.
We talked about adding electric drive trains to the recumbents and Easy Racers does do some of that.  Buck is not excited about the extra weight that the electric drive train adds but agrees that for commuter and cargo applications, the electric drive is a big help.  As with most electric bicycle conversions, the battery issue looms large.  Easy Racers tries to stay away from becoming a supplier of batteries and leaves that up to the customer.  They do work closely with the Eco-Speed folks in Portland who we are using for our drive trains.
We also talked about recumbents and touring and because of the comfort, aerodynamics and relative efficiency of the Tour Easy line, most people who buy recumbents do go on tours.  It seems to be where the market for these bicycles is the strongest.
I mentioned that I get numb feet after riding for a while and Buck thinks it's related to the position of the feet relative to the rider's butt.  With the feet higher, the blood tends to drain out of the feet and then they can go numb. It's not nearly as bad with this bicycle as it was when I had my three wheeler when my feet were a lot higher than my butt.
Buck is excited about our ride and looking forward to watching our progress.  We are glad to have the support of the folks at Easy Racers as we move forward with our project.

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