The nuts and bolts man

Kiran Karkera, an IT professional, has built himself a recumbent bicycle  pic/ Shreelesh Kumar

He knows that fellow cyclists will sneer at him for the candid confession. But hang on. Have they checked out his ride? Once they do, he knows it will stop the snicker: Kiran built himself a recumbent bicycle, working on the nuts and bolts in his living room with lots of blueprints and elbow grease. His recumbent is one of the most challenging rides in town. It’s like a majestic cruiser, the Harley Davidson of bicycles.

Wherever he goes people stare at the strange bicycle with a front wheel drive and pedals ahead rather than below the seat. And reclining on it, snugly in a foam mesh seat, is the rider. “Kharaab aagide cycle,” someone remarks. “It’s a convoluted way of paying a compliment,” says Kiran. And if you know the local language, it is. When you ride the bike, you realise the skill it takes to remain on the seat. But the sheer comfort it offers makes it well worth the challenge.

Kiran decided to build the recumbent bike after doing a couple of painful rides between Mysore and Ooty. “Necessity became the mother of invention,” says Kiran. “I wanted to be comfortable. So I built this bike with a reclining seat.” Now Kiran can ride for hours without a sore bottom or a stiff neck -- problems that recreational cyclists dread.

Kiran began by hacking away the unnecessary parts of a “donor” bike - a Hercules Wow! – but it was a disaster. So he chopped another bike, prying out a variety of parts: technically a bottom bracket is what he was scavenging, if you are into bicycles. This also failed. So he got a bottom bracket fabricated. “Three more months of fiddling, chopping, changing and the bike was ready,” he says. Kiran distributed sweets to his friends in office, moved the furniture back into his living room and discovered the hardest part of riding his cruiser: the attention he gets on the road!

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