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Known Safety Issues with Old "Iowa Built" Linear Recumbent Bicycles

 

Iowa Built Linear Front folding joint


The front folding joint on all folding Linear bikes is potentially unsafe if it is not completely inserted in the frame before being ridden. When partially assembled hard braking or hitting an obstacle (a curb or speed bump) can cause the front joint to unexpectedly fold. This can cause los of control and a potentially dangerous accident. Always be sure the front of the frame is fully inserted in the frame.

 

Thousands of Linears were built in Iowa before 2002. They were made in Guttenberg Iowa by Kann Mfg then Linear Mfg. from 1984 to 2001. There are lots of them out there; these are the Linears you see from time to time for sale on EBay. They are generally good bikes, but have a few common problems. Here are some of the more common and more severe problems we have seen.

 

Iowa Built Linear Folding model problems


The frame of the 1.0 was well designed to handle the vertical loads it encounters while you coast down a hill. It was not as well designed for the horizontal loads you create pedaling up a hill. By far the most common frame problem with the Iowa built Linears is the bending and potential failure of the rear of the folding frames.

 

The Iowa built folding Linears flexed sideways, to the right during hard pedaling (up-hills & sprints.) This sometimes caused "creaking" at the rear-folding joint. This is especially true for larger, stronger riders. Some Iowa built folding Linears have had problems with cracks in the rear of the frame. We have seen or heard about several that cracked and became un-ride able. All Linears that we have seen with cracks in the rear of the frame were permanently deformed to the right. None suddenly failed and caused an accident that we know of though this possibility does exist. If you own one of these bikes you should inspect it regularly for alignment and cracks in the rear of the frame, a few inches behind the rear folding joint. Linear Manufacturing Inc, in Guttenberg Iowa, made these bikes before 2002, the company is now defunct. This problem occurs most often with Large, strong riders who ride in hilly country. Iowa built Linears with triple front sprockets (instead of the 3x7 hub) may be more prone to this problem. The folding model is more likely to fail than the welded model.

 
We are not aware of any accidents or injuries from this problem but we know of a lot of bikes that are no longer useable. Replacing the rear of the frame is expensive, before you buy a used foldable linear look closely at the alignment of the rear frame. The problem is worst with the oldest Linears, like the one pictured. Large, strong riders have the most trouble as they put more pressure on the pedals. Be careful, many people selling a used Linear don?t know that it is foldable. Look for 2 quick releases going through the frame under the seat. This problem is not nearly as common on welded Iowa built Linears.

 
We have remedied this on our NY built Linears with a large horizontal horseshoe-shaped gusset on the top of the frame. This reinforces the rear of the frame about 4 times as rigid in the critical dimension. We have not seen this problem with NY built folders with the factory welded horseshoe gusset.

 

Iowa Built Linear Flute tube safety problems


The flute tube is part of the steering linkage. It is the smaller diameter tube with a series of holes in it. It is a bit fragile and can break at one of the holes. It it happened while you are riding t bike this would result in loss of control of the bike and lead to a potentially dangerous accident. Do not ride a Linear with a bent or cracked flute tube. Straightening a bent flute tube may weaken it. To protect your flute tube from damage do not use it as a handle to lift the bike.

 

Iowa Built Linear Cracks near the bottom bracket


We only know of one LWB that cracked here but it continued to be ridden till eventually the frame broke in half. If you have a Iowa built Linear with the bottom bracket shell welded to the beam inspect behind the weld for cracks. If a crack is found immediately stop riding the bike!
If your bottom bracket bolts to the frame the welded bracket holding it may crack but I have never seen a frame break here on this type of Linear.


I have heard that the Linear Sonic SWB had this problem also. It could happen on a Linear Mach III but I have not heard of it.


We have remedied this on our NY built Linears by adding a horizontal gusset to the frame just behind the bottom bracket making it much stiffer and many times more durable.

 

Iowa Built Linear Front derailleur problems


The Iowa bikes that have front derailleurs sometimes have trouble shifting into low gear. This is usually because the front derailleur hits its mounting block. If you are careful you can usually file the block away and get it to work better. Installing a longer crank axle can help also.

 
Newer Iowa Linears did not have a front derailleur and do not have this problem.


We have remedied this on NY built Linears by welding the front derailleur tube to the frame and eliminating the offending block all together.


Click here for the text from the Iowa Linear Mach III CLWB owner?s manual.

Click here for the text from the Iowa Linear LWB owner?s manual.

The Bicycle Man also maintains a selection of parts and accessories for Linear recumbent bicycles.

 

 

 

     
 
 

peter@linearrecumbent.com

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To initiate order email peter@linearrecumbent.com 

or call 607-587-8835 10:00 - 6:00, Eastern-time, Wednesday through Saturday.
Do not email credit card info!