Kevin Karplus and his bicycle

(Last Update: 10:51 PDT 7 July 2023 )

Kevin on his recumbent click for full picture (photo by Robert Irion, UCSC Public Information Office)
The bicycle in the picture is a Ryan Vanguard, a long-wheelbase recumbent with under-seat steering made by Ryan Recumbents, which has sold the design to

8160 Blakeland Drive, Unit D
Littleton, CO 80125 USA
The bike was purchased used around 1987 (ridden for the tour before the Flagstaff LAW national rally in 1988). The bike and a Burley trailer were stolen during Bike Week (May 1999), and I have since purchased a replacement Vanguard from Longbikes. If you see a Ryan Vanguard with serial number R1002, then you've found my stolen bike. If you see a Longbikes Vanguard with serial number 99-100152, then it's my new one. To find out a few others who own Vanguards, see the Ryan Owners' Database.

The trailer is a steel trailer made by John Welch, using a Burley rear-triangle hitch. It has been used for several unusual loads, including a 25' extension ladder (14' in its shortest form) and a 4-drawer oak filing cabinet weighing 150 pounds. Here I'm shown taking 150 pounds of junk to the recycling center at the City dump. The heaviest load it has been used for is 225 lbs (just over 100 kg) of fruit for Bike-To-Work Day in 1994. The recumbent has been also used with a lighter Burley Tourist trailer purchased in 1991 and used for a 1200-mile tour in 1991, a 630-mile trip in 1992, and a 500-mile tour in 1994 from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles. I still have both the John Welch trailer and the Burley Tourist, and I used them for shopping.

I used to have a Burley d'lite trailer (with the optional stroller conversion kit) for carrying Abraham around. He was several months old before he rode in it, since I couldn't get his first car seat to fit. He switched over to a Trail-A-Bike when he was about 4 years old, and to his own bike when he was about 9 or 10 years old.

I also modified the handlebars on the Ryan to reduce wrist stress, using Stix handlebar extenders and old barcon thumb shifters, instead of the wrist-killing grip shifters. I can now ride with my wrist braces on. The LongBikes Vanguard comes with a rather different handlebar design that includes handlebar extenders. Adjusting them to be at the right angle is a bit difficult, the handlebars as shipped are too wide, and the left-and-right extenders are on the wrong sides, but it is possible to get a comfortable fit for the underseat steering with a little tweaking.

In March 2000, I crashed the Vanguard at high speed. The front wheel slipped off the UCSC bike path at about 50 mph, and I was catapulted sideways off the bike through a juniper tree. I broke three back ribs and ruptured my spleen when I landed, and did not bicycle for about 3 months after the accident (recovering from the splenectomy). The bicycle took very little damage---the only apparent damage was snapping the tie-rod end connecting the steering linkage to the front fork. [Actually, that's not quite true---the frame was a-- bit tweaked and the front fork and front axle were both bent. But the damage was slight enough that I did not replace the fork or the front axle until I did a complete overhaul in 2005, after another 5000 miles or so.]

In April 2023, I had a very-low-speed crash that left me half-covered in mud (the left half), but snapped the bar-end on the left side. I had the bar-ends replaced (by The Bicycle Trip) with new bar-ends from Longbikes (the ones they now use on the Slipstream). More info and pictures in a blog post.

In 1988, I was part of a group of bicycle activists that created a bike plan for UCSC. Although this plan was never officially adopted, it did help guide bike planning on campus for over a decade.

In 1994, the League of American Bicyclists awarded me the Phyllis W. Harmon Volunteer-of-the-Year Award for service as a bicycle advocate. Here is a restatement of their blurb, into first-person form: I am a certified Effective Cycling Instructor and was chair of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission Bicycle Committee for several years. I have been a member of People Power, the Community Traffic Safety Coalition, the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club, the California Bicycle Safety Coalition, and the International Human-Powered Vehicle Association. I am a life member of the League of American Bicyclists, Adventure Cycling, and American Youth Hostels.

In Spring 1996, I taught a course on Bicycle Transportation Engineering through Cowell College at University of California, Santa Cruz. This course will probably not be offered again, as the students uniformly did a terrible job with their final projects.

In May 2001, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission gave me a "lifetime achievement" award for my bike advocacy.

I maintain the mailing list for Santa Cruz cyclists. To subscribe, visit or with subject "subscribe".

I've started collecting interesting or useful road signs for bicyclists and bicycle activists on a Web site.

For more bike-related sites, try this list.

I was quoted in our local paper, in the FASHION section! (Note: The Sentinel had deleted the article, so I had to find it with the Wayback Machine.)

SoE home
sketch of Kevin Karplus by Abe
Kevin Karplus's home page
Biomolecular Engineering Department
UCSC Bioinformatics research

Questions about page content should be directed to Kevin Karplus
Biomolecular Engineering
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
318 Physical Sciences Building

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