If you are looking for a racing bike around my place, you probably won’t find one. But there is an array of folding and separating bikes including a Bickerton, a German Victoria, and a rare Peugeot DA40 , as well as wheels and many, many bike parts in a small, well equipped shed. But my everyday transport are his home-built recumbents.

Wind the clock bag to 1987, and I spent six months as an engineering intern in Germany with printing machine companies.  There I saw a picture of a home-made recumbent in a local paper and resolved to build one. That started a fascination with recumbents and all sorts of Human Powered Vehicles.  It wasn’t till back in Australia that I made a rideable recumbent and it took until 1997 to make a rear wheel drive machine ridden on Melbourne’s 200k Round the Bay in a Day. 

Soon after, I took part in OzHpv recumbent races for the first time and saw and learnt from a variety of homemade and commercial recumbent bikes and trikes and met their enthusiastic owners.  My bikes have been improving since then, and commuting to his engineering work have been my training for long distance day rides. Simplicity, load carrying and aerodynamics are emphasised.

By 2014 I had completed a 1200k, 4 day Audax ride on a front wheel drive aluminium frame bike. Trikemaker Michael Rogan fabricated its frame to my design and I completed the build. The bike was foldable and included a combined seat and aerodynamic tailbox which doubled as storage. The tailbox clamps to the rectangular beam frame, and this basic design has been refined ever since then.

Also in 2014, I adapted this bike design to become a leaning trike using a rear wheel setup designed by Vi Vuong for a different style of recumbent.  The first trike using the Vuong wheels was made using a solid beam of timber as a frame: perhaps the ultimate stick bike!

With help from some keen supervisors, and his engineering career as technical backup, Steve started an industrial design masters degree developing the trike in 2015.  Six separate trike designs came out of this study at Monash University which concluded in 2017.  Most of the trikes feature a timber seat which can be customised by swapping between DIY cloth, corflute or timber sidepanels. Steve has made a timber frame trike but his current everyday shopping and touring trikes use an aluminium beam as a frame. Development is ongoing, and includes working on a lighter seat module, and 3d printing of critical components.  Rather than make the trikes myself, I am working toward putting the plans online and supporting DIY manufacture.

What’s in a name? 

I decided to call my bikes (trikes / leaning trikes / whatever) “Freds”. Oh, but why?  This quote comes from Jun Nogami's blog, Biking in a Big City where he mentions and links to the cycling term Fred .  Now I have never used the cycling term Fred but have felt such it should exist.  I have a homemade daggy-looking bike helmet with built in rear view mirror, so  completely independent of the bikes I ride I can be identified as some sort of "other cyclist" or "Fred". Here is the third definition of Fred from the Bis Key Chronicles Blog:

"a Fred is a cyclist who has a ton of cycling gear, especially of the utilitarian “uncool” kind, like mirrors, powerful lights, fenders, bells/horns, heavy leather seats, racks, reflective gear, bags, baskets, etc. The gear and bike may be put together by kludgey homemade solutions, like duct-taped flashlights to the handlebar. This type of Fred is a bike geek who likes/needs lots of gear (even if it is modified stuff not intended for bikes) that a racer would never use, no matter what roadie cyclists or others think. Sacrificing some, or ignoring completely, concerns of speed or traditional roadie/sport cyclist style, these type of Freds are more concerned with practical concerns like comfort, safety, versatility, maintenance, being able to quickly transition to time and culture on/off the bicycle, etc. Freds of this type can be well aware of their fredness, once they are aware of the concept, and often embrace it wholeheartedly."