Chris Jones-adaptive trike DH racer
Chris Jones races his adaptive trike at Tavi woods near Gawton.
Words and Photos: Ace Woodley (Dirt blogger and hardtail rider)
Where to begin on this one! A rumour a few months back was that a trike was going to race the Gawton DH race. Chris Jones had a press release on dirt a while back for his hand-cranked trike marathon over Dartmoor, if he pulled that off he wanted to do a DH race, not just a day out playing like we all do, but race, lay down a time. And maybe make some history. We are quite sure this is the first time a timed run at a mainstream DH event has happened, maybe the world? Has this happened any where else?
The chaps down at Woodland riders are quite laid back and open to ideas, and they got together with Chris for some testing. Would the trike even get down? Over rocks, roots, through trees, some sections of the track are too narrow. The Super-Tavi track was out as Chris was sure it would end badly, fair play the track scares most people more able with a full on 8" travel DH bike, so 20" wheels and rigid...yeah bit lairy.
The HSD track was tried, no one knew what to expect, and they where unsure if Chris would get down, then he drifted round the berms roosting off the back tyres, no major issues. He can do it then!
So if Chris was up to it, things where set in motion and he hoped to do the last round of the Woodland riders winter series.
Chris still has some use of his legs, but can't ride a normal bike, he likes a bit of adventure as well. The trike is a 15 year old creation that has been modified to suit the end use, there are four wheel gravity bikes/quads on the market, serious cash and only go down, no form of self propulsion.
They are also large, wide, more weight, so limited in the UK as to where you can go. The trike on the other hand was old second hand, and narrow track, fairly light, lack of suspension made it cheap.
Chris is starting up Lynx Bikes, on face book only at the moment no website yet, so a more defined purpose built trike is in the future.
Ok, some things to think about. Hand cranked, the cranks also act as handle bars. Gear shifter is low on the main frame stem, an indexed lever. Brake is front wheel only, the lever is mounted above the gear shifter on the main frame stem, currently using a Magura HS33 hydraulic rim brake, so to change gear or brake you have to take one hand off the steering or cranking.
Bmx wheels are tough but limited tyre choice, Maxxis Max Daddys on the back and maybe a Kenda up front.
Pre-race try outs this week went a bit wrong, Chris went up to Tavi woods for a quiet practice of the top section, one sheared bolt and things halted, Andy Boyle from Dartmoor cycles whipped up the track (the shop is about 5 mins away) not a trackside fix, so a few phone calls, Ash Mullane (local DH racer) works down the road in a local garage. Takes the trike down there, Ash fixes the bolt problem, back up the track and try again.
The trike is set up and off Chris goes and gets no where fast as the brake hose has split, and pissed the fluid out. This is now a problem as we all found out, Magura still make HS33 brakes, they aren't that popular these days so not many shops carry parts. They have an odd standard hose size. A Facebook appeal for help on Thursday night got some of us to have a hunt for spares.
Max Suttie turned up an old HS33 in his shed, I found a shop with some spares and several metres of hose buried in the back of the stockroom. Between us we got enough parts to ensure Chris got to race, and there was enough hose left on Max's HS33 to get Chris's working again so no race morning bleeding of brakes in the carpark needed.
I bought a metre of hose down just in case, only requires a 41cm length so enough for two fix ups if things go wrong again. In other words, a lot of us wanted him to race, so we made sure it happened, I suspect when he makes his first prototype trike the fork will be up to date with disc tabs.
The brake setback killed off early practice as parts had to be got and fitted, Chris did a few practice runs on Sunday morning, which he was hoping to avoid so didn't wear himself out too much for a race run, factor in the absolute kicking he must of got from being rigid and you can understand that thinking.
The weather was wet and wild the track was lairy with mud in places and had some flat peadally sections, not so easy on a normal bike.
Some photos from the start ramp, didn't get any action shots of Chris as I was racing as well and waiting to be called to start. I did see him on track in the little practice I did (bike issues as well) he came down the rock steps on the top section, fast line many went round and wide, and I saw him drift round the corkscrew spewing roost off the back wheels, steering one handed while trying to control his speed, the flatter lower woods must have been hard, tight really rooty and hard to carry speed on two bigger wheels, first run saw a crash and a bent trike, but still got a time. He thought it was over. But a bit of clever thinking rather than a big hammer, the bent foot peg was sort of fixed, not ideal, but workable, so rolling for run two as well, first run saw a 3.53.
Chris getting the hammer down then binning on the fast left hander.
Finish line with the hardtailers, run 2 much better, and a first for the UK check the timesheet 28seconds better than run 1.
So first race done, what next...some work to the trike, maybe a Lynx prototype? There is a good chance of racing over on HSD track at Gawton if a summer series goes ahead.
Best place to find out more is Facebook "Lynx Bikes" or find Chris himself, some more action shots should crop up there over the next week.
It's fair to say Chris has now done a race so he's a downhill racer now!