Velokraft NoCom
The Velokraft NoCom

The No Compromise land luge from the fine craftsmen in Poland has arrived in Chicago. 3 of these bikes (now 4!) are currently being piloted by Chicago area riders. Kamil of Velokraft has used the feedback from these riders to tweak the design even further. 

This bike was conceptualized in 2003 by a host of individuals as a breakaway from the current crop of recumbent bikes which were all compromised in some way or another to provide added comfort or perceived safety. This is truly a racing recumbent, using the latest in splitter plate design philosophy, and constructed from carbon fiber and Kevlar using a bladder in female mold process. This bike does not suffer the same issue with flex that the M5 carbon lowracer has, it's incredibly stiff. The NoCom weighs about 24lbs as shown, which is incredibly light considering the use of heavier components like a disk wheel and disk brakes.

NoCom - Click on the picture for a larger image.

In 2004, Ed Gin related the following:

The NoCom has arrived, it's one incredibly beautiful bike! This project has only taken a little more than a year from concept to production. Here is a little history of how this bike came to be. We're fortunate here in Chicago to have so many low racer riders and owners covering nearly every production model made. Some are even limited models, i.e. the Razz Fazz, Extra low Baron, and Cobrabikes carbon ultra low splitter bike. In conceptualizing the NoCom, Larry Z and I sat down and brainstormed about what would be the ultimate land luge. We came up with following criteria:

1) Carbon in material, for it's strength, ability to be formed into aerodynamic shape, and light weight.
2) A 700 C rear wheel for it's intrinsic ability to create a splitter plate, benefit from lower rolling resistance, and maximum selection of tires and wheels.
3) Splitter technology applied to the front wheel AND rear wheels. 
4) Integrated seat to frame to maximize torsional strength and weight savings (no brackets required).
5) A extremely laid back seat angle minimizing frontal area. 
6) Rigidity in the front triangle area is the most difficult to design in a ultra lowracer. This single parameter is critical for efficiency.
7) Adjustable boom.

We have had a good working relationship with Velokraft's owner Kamil for the past few years, and realized he was the ideal builder for this project. His production bikes, the VK1 and VK2 were fine examples of what carbon can do when utilized competently. 

After a year of correspondence and a flurry of emails / jpegs like Warren's 2002 Carbon Cuda concept drawing shown here, we were rewarded with finished product. It fulfilled the design criteria perfectly and exceeded it in many respects!

Kamil has managed to fair in the front wheel intelligently with a minimal width frame and extended this to the rear wheel. The Cobrabike has a front splitter but it is only at the rear of the wheel.

The integrated seat is just gorgeous with the lumbar area supported nicely and the shoulder region raked up for better sprint and hill climbing stints. Look closely at the seat pan, it is NOT flat like many other hard shell seats, rather a cradle to fit the butt comfortably. Also at the shoulder blade area, the seat is shaped naturally with indentations. Both these custom features can be seen by looking carefully at the foam strip alignment. A little about my foam strips, these are adhesive backed 1/4 inch thick cut from 12 X 10 sheets. I used two pieces for the seat and headrest which weighed just over 200 grams. You don't feel the ridges. The gaps vary from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches, a weight saving method which was borrowed from Rob English's Low Baron a few years ago.

The rear splitter fits perfectly with the tire and the rear stays are shaped like a tail fairing, extending the full width of the seat. In conjunction with the flat carbon disc wheel, the aft of this bike will test the limits of the definition of a "Stock" bike. Extreme seat angles are not that difficult to acclimate to. With the shoulder support and neck rest, the position is comfortable.

Other noteworthy points to observe:

The idler is cut from Delrin, 3 1/2 inches in diameter and drilled out to minimize weight. The cool carbon chain keeper doubles as support for the return chain tube, which is held in place by a properly spaced mounting bracket. These small touches demonstrates Kamil's attention to detail.

The design of the front carbon fork was borrowed from the best of today's designs, ultimately culminating in an offset, narrowed product to minimize chain line rub on the drive side. The use of a narrowed Shimano disk brake hub was required. 

The original 80 mm width front hub was cut, sectioned out, and then remolded with a carbon center hub body. Because you are pedaling so low on this bike, feet interference would have been an issue with a standard width hub assembly. The Cobrabike also utilizes this narrow design.

The zero stack hidden headset was tediously specified for this wonder bike. Installation was a breeze thanks to Kamil's careful machining of the bearing seat area. With a seat height so low, this allows a lower handlebar height. The stem resides in a "valley" with two walls of carbon to maintain the structural integrity of the front triangle.

Utilization of a front disk brake is mandatory as ones knees are brushing closely to the upper fork area. This is the only super low bike I do not feel compromises my pedal stroke, even though I'm using a road Dura Ace double bottom bracket which is quite narrow.
The frame width section is only 2.5 inches, which is the narrowest of all my lowracers. This allows maximum pedal forces.

The carbon stem and handlebar are fully adjustable for height (with spacers), and length (via slider). Mine only has about 1.5 inches inserted in the stem section but is safely supported. That's good as I 
would have cut off any excess...

The boom design needs special mention. It is a rectangular cross section preventing rotation. Residing inside a boom tube is normal but this is further supported by the external front fairing structure! Cinching is accomplished via two internal carbon clamps tightened with pinch bolts. Yes, I've cranked very hard and there is no slippage or twisting of the boom.

Though a picture is worth a thousand words, seeing this in person is well worth it.
The 700 C rear wheel is a true flat carbon honeycomb sandwiched wheel disc from Renn. Because it is designed for rim brakes, we had to custom machine the disc brake mounting adapter. This was a 12 hour labor intensive project. There are 12 bolts that run through the wheel holding it in place. Total additional weight is in the 250 gram area.

There is a school of thought that a 700C rear wheel when added to a lowracer acts like a splitter plate or fairing. On this bike with the full frame splitters in three locations, it is testing this theory to the fullest. Also note the large rear stay, fairing in nicely with the rear wheel.

Look carefully at the front hub, it is a custom narrowed Shimano disk brake unit cut down to 80 mm width and reassembled with carbon. This is to insure a cleaner chain-line minimizing deflection as this bike is designed to have the chain down alongside the fork blade. Also note the fork is a offset design with the pictured blade S shaped and the drive side straight.

Regarding the exterior cable routing for the brake, It is quite easy to route it inside the frame, however it would require cutting into the seat area for a access port. The bike is too nice to butcher up at this time. 

The view pictured is pretty much what I see riding the bike. I intentionally routed the cables at the handlebar in the most aerodynamic fashion, within the bike window and out of the slipstream as much as possible. - Ed Gin

Warren bought Ed's NoCom in Sping 2005. Here's the NoCom in spring 2006. Rear brake and both front and rear shifter cables enter the frame through 3 small holes an inch or two behind the headset.
NoComs seem to accumulate holes in the frame. Here's how you can fill in all those holes while keeping the bike looking nice. If you can get behind the hole, first lay up a small piece of fiberglass on the inside of the hole as a backing. You can wet the fiberglass out on some plastic wrap and use that to mash the fiberglass into the inside of the bike without having it stick to your hand. This still leaves you with a shallow hole. To fill that you need to make some "NoCom putty", which is a mixture of epoxy, microballoons or cotton flox, and graphite. The graphite makes it black. A little goes a long way. A little sanding and some clear coat and good as new...

Warren's NoCom review:
January, 2007
This bike is the fastest unfaired bike I have owned. It's faster than my fully faired "practical" bike based on the Vision R-40, and is also faster than my Barracuda steel framed bike. Why? Part of the reason is it's weight. At 24 lbs, it's over 10 lbs lighter than my other bikes, which allows me to go faster up the hills. This is where most of the time is lost during a ride (or race!). Part of the reason is stiffness, the frame and boom are very stiff, which allows more power to be transmitted to the drive wheel, rather than being lost bending the frame. 
Part of the reason is aerodynamics. The extremely low body height of the rider allows a rear disk wheel disk to act as a rudimentary tailcone to help clean up the turbulence behind the rider. The smoothly flowing curves, integrated wheel fairings, and lack of under-seat protuberances,  combined with the extremely laid back seat, splitter plates and low BB, make this a package that's hard to improve upon. 

This picture shows a 6 feet 6 inch person (me!) racing the NoCom in 2006.

Averaging 24 MPH on my slightly rolling 20 mile country road training course is something that I thought I would never be able to do, but I have now done it many times. On the hillier 30 mile training rides with stops and bike trails, average speeds are closer to 21 MPH, which is still remarkable. Due to the stiff frame and light weight, this bikes climbs hills extremely well. 

Because of the ultra low design, the low clearances and the stiffness, it's not a bike for everyone. The ride is quite harsh on rough roads, and can cause my eyeballs to vibrate to the point of making it hard to see. Lifting my body up a bit on the really bumpy roads helps this issue considerably. The low ground clearance means that care must be taken when going up and down driveways with steep transitions. The close chain to tire clearances cause the tire to rub on the chain and increases the turning radius. This also reduces the life of the tire as the sidewalls become frayed. The low height means it's hard to be seen in traffic. I have added an extremely bright yet aerodynamic Serfas T-1000 tail light, and an LED flasher front light for riding on the roads as a safety precaution. 

My NoCom was the first or second produced. Since then Kamil has made changes to this model. He has made the bike lighter, changed the rear brake to a caliper road brake, integrated a hole in the seat back for storage, modified the boom to be more integrated into the frame, and made the opening for the front wheel a bit larger to reduce the issue with the wheel rubbing on the frame during bumps. These changes have all combined to make the new models lighter and more road friendly than the version I'm riding.

In addition, Kamil has created the "UltraCom". This version has a more laid back upper portion of the seat to improve the areodynamics of the rider. It also has a narrower opening between the stays on the rear wheel and is designed for a 19cm wide rim and tire.

The UltraCom version requires significant modifications to make it street friendly. The opening between the seat stays needs to be cut out and re-carboned to allow space for a 23cm width tire. The seat back is so reclined that any helmet would be rubbing on the tire, so a headrest modification is required. 

Part of the reason for the high cost for a built-up version of this bike, is that it requires a considerable amount of work to make the bike ready to ride. Examples of the type of work required include modification of the front fork to provide clearance for a Schwalbe Stelvio tire, reinforcement of the BB mounting plates to reinforce their attachment to the frame, drilling holes to run cables inside the frame, cutting larger holes in the frame to allow storage of items, and then reinforcing the area around the hole, as well as making the seat pad, etc. 

While this bike is a bit challenging to acquire and to set up initially, it has been bulletproof during all of the long road and racing miles I have put on it over the past two years. I would not ride any other bike for a fast ride with friends, hassling roadies (in a friendly way!), or racing. I believe this is currently the fastest bike in the world for racing under recumbent friendly conditions. In conditions that are not recumbent friendly such as large hills, mountains, heavy traffic, or in roadie pace lines, a lightweight highracer would be a good choice.

Some specs:

  • 406 front wheel with narrowed hub.
  • 700C rear wheel
  • Disk brakes front and rear
  • Wheelbase - 57"
  • Weight - 25 lbs with RotorCranks (newer bikes are lighter)
  • Integrated seat

Also see the NoCom Modification & Stuff page


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