Lightning Low Racers

Lightning U-2

(No longer in production.)

These may be the fastest unfaired bicycles in the world. They are custom-built for road and track racing, as well as bike path sprints. People do ride these on the street as well, but only outside cities on roads with wide shoulders, or with little traffic.

We start with the M-5 lowracer frame and seat built in the Netherlands by Bram Moens, then add many improved features, including:

  • Special fork with a 406 front wheel eliminates crankarm/front wheel interference
  • Custom modified twist shifters for quicker, faster, and more accurate shifting
  • Shimano 105 components with wide gearing range
  • Carbon headrest standard
  • Shock cushioned seat mounting
  • Front derailleur positioned for “over the front wheel” chain routing

The M-5 has two sets of chain idlers. There is the normal one set which routes the chain under the seat. There is also a set above the front wheel; these route the chain over the front wheel to permit somewhat normal turning (see top picture). If desired, the idlers over the front wheel do not have to be used; in this configuration the chain runs next to the front wheel (see lower picture). This provides better power transmission but more limited steering. Also, the front derailleur does not work as well in this configuration. A monoblade fork built from aero tubing permits the chain to run next to the front wheel without fork interference, and lowers wind resistance.

The U-2 is a special M-5 adaptation that is legal for USCF time trials. This version has a 24-inch rear wheel, and a shorter frame, making the total length of the bike less than 2 meters as required by USCF rules. U-2s won 5 USCF time trials before being banned. Read the full story here.

See the U-2 photo gallery here.

Specifications M-5 U-2
Colors (see full color chart) Crimson Red, Metallic Blue Crimson Red, Metallic Blue
Finish Electrostatic baked-on Urethane powder Electrostatic baked-on Urethane powder
Weight 29 lbs. 27 lbs.
Seat Molded Carbon with foam cushion and Headrest Molded Carbon with foam cushion and Headrest
Brakes RX-100 long reach RX-100 long reach
Brake Levers Tektro RBP Profile Quick Stop Aero
Bottom Bracket 105, Tube spindle 105, Tube spindle
Crankset 105 Hollowtech 105 Hollowtech
Chainrings 39×53 or 30×42×52 60 tooth, with aluminum chain disc
Chain idlers Machined Delrin Machined Delrin
Chain KMC Z9200 KMC Z9200
Cassette 11–32, 9 speed 11–23, 9 speed
Front Derailleur 105 105
Rear Derrailleur LX 105
Headset 105 105
Hubs 105 rear, Wheelsmith front 105 rear, Wheelsmith front
Pedals Not Included Not Included
Shifters Custom LCD Twist shifter Custom LCD Twist shifter
Front Wheel Sun M-14A 20″ (406) Sun M-14A 20″ (406)
Rear wheel Mavic Open Pro 700C Sun M-14A 24″ (498)
Tires Continental Gran Prix, 120 psi Continental Gran Prix front, Panaracer rear
Lightning disc wheel covers Optional Standard front and rear
M-5 Low Racer
M-5 low racer
Sandiway Fong tests the M-5 Lowracer: “The M-5 is the best looking bike I’ve ever seen, recumbent or upright.”
SandM5.jpg (15965 bytes)