Jonas Lähnemann
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Flevo-Bike recumbent bicycle (Liegerad)

How everything began?
What's so special about the Flevo?

How everything began:
In November 2003 the Flevo addiction got hold of me. A flatmate was about to buy an Ostrad Adagio recumbent cycle and another friend already had a Flevo-Bike, as well as a Flevo-Trike (three wheel version). When I found an offer for a used Flevo on the Internet I could not wait any longer ...
Deterred by reports on the first experiences with this type of bike by other owners I was expecting the worst. However, then it went better than I had feared. On the first day the laps I could drive without a stop were quite short and I managed some curves, but they were not in the direction I wanted: the bike told me where to go. The hydraulic breaks really did a great job right from the start. The next trials were more encouraging and I cruised through Berlin's parks with less and less stops. However, it takes some time till the head gets used to letting the handlebars be, instead of trying to forcefully move it. By now I'm having a hard time to drive normal recumbent bicycles, as I always want to steer with my legs and then loose the balance.
The first outing for my Flevo was the nuclear waste transport to Gorleben and the protests against it, only one week after I bought it. Luckily Joris had brought his three weeled version (the Trike) which I used for the first stretches of road. After I few days I even dared to do this on my Bike. The further we drove, the more secure my riding became. After a few hundred kilometres I even managed to drive eights freehanded and also to start without hands. But too high spirits are not good either: I managed fall very spectacular (so the people around me) several times. Driving a curve to fast on bouldering, wetness or mud should be avoided, slowly I started to learn that as well. Luckily without harm to myself and only a few scratches for my bike. I could have said "my bike fell down" as even with click-ons I mostly was standing while my bike lay below me.
The fun-factor is simply HUGE! I don't want to miss this bike any longer in the city - although I don't sit much above the exhaust fumes. One is easily noticed on the roads (being on the same eye height as the car drivers. One only looses the "over"-view that a normal bike offers).
After three-quarters of a year in Berlin's city traffic and a few day-tours (for example the highly recomendable trip Potsdam to Lutherstadt Wittenberg on the European Bike Route R1 - just above 100km) and more than three thousand kilometres on my tachometer the first tour trial came in July 2004. With several friends I drove the 400 kilometres from Berlin to the source of the river Spree, a very comfortable route going mostly on well made bike lanes or even bike streets and only during the last lap it becomes slightly mountaineous. On this tour the Flevo also gave me a lot of enjoyment. On the hills and mountains recumbent cycling turned out more strenuous than with a normal bike, as expected, because one can't use the body weight. A few times I had to push my bike on steep ascends with a bad surface, when my driven front-wheel lost grip (especially as there was quite some weight on the back). Even this, however, were only short parts and it went better than I had expected.
By the way it's great fun to sit in a park and watch how friends make their first trials with my bike and there are enough volunteers for this.
Just for the time in Kenya I had to practice restraint - in the traffic over there it would simply have been suicide. So I had something to look forward to when I returned, besides good chocolate.
The ultimative tour trial came in 2007 during a 2500 km long trip along the Danube river that took us five weeks. While my girl-friends trekking-bike needed a new rim, the Flevo had only a few punctures and a broken mirror.

What's so special about the Flevo?
The Flevo is a fully suspended recumbent bicycle with a central steering and front-wheel drive. Central stearing? Pretty simple: The bike consists of two halves, which are joined by a flexible link under the seat. The whole front half moves in relation to the back half instead of only the fork. Driving this bike is not that simple, but it's a challenge that can be mastered in my opinion. The steering then allows curves with a smaller radius than with other recumbents and especially ruminant freehand driving. As the steering is done with the legs, the handlebars only give a little additional stability and mainly is needed for mounting the brakes and gear shift. According to us Flevians the fun factor of driving a recumbent is thus increased additionally. At the same time the bike can be easily dissipated into the two halves. This allows one to even take the bake as luggage into the German high-speed trains ICE and also in the InterCity no ticket for the bike is necessary. The central steering also allows for the front-wheel drive, which saves a lot of chain compared to other recumbents, but can be of some disadvantage on a wet, sandy surface and when climbing slopes - some practice also helps with this to a certain extent. The rubber suspension does not need any maintenance and even makes a rough surface to a fun ride (at least a bit more comfortable). The frame is made of rectangular poles and also allows for self building. My bike actually is, though bought used, not an original. If I raised your interest you can find out more from the links below.

Flevo Links:
Flevobike Technology - company of the Flevo's inventor
Tips on how to build a Flevo (German)
Official Website of the Flevo-bike fanclub
Martin Andersecks recumbent pages - Anderseck's build my Flevo (German)

General bike links:
Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad Club (ADFC) (German)
ADFC Berlin (German)
Human Powered Vehicles (HPV) Deutschland e.V. (German)
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