Archive for August, 2012

Visit to Bikefix – Raptobike experience

I’ve been wanting to try the Raptobike midracer and a lowracer for a while and I finally got my chance.

While central London may not be ideal recumbent conditions, I did get to do alot of low speed fooling.

The Raptobike midracer was very competent. The mechanical drag didn’t feel any greater than the Bacchetta Giro, while it also had a seat about 4-5″ lower and comes apart in the middle for storage / transport. I found the seat a little too reclined for city riding and had one or two heel clips while trying to do u-turns.

As the lowracer example, I tried the Raptobike lowracer. I only took it a few hundred yards, but was pleasantly surprised that it was no more difficult to balance on than the midracer and perhaps easier to start on because the bottom bracket was closer to the ground (if the same height above the seat). It immediately felt faster (probably because of the skinnier tyres) and I don’t think bumps would be an issue because I bumped it off a kerb without any trouble. I tried to stop and balance on my hand, but the bike never “fell” the right way when I stopped. I did manage to start from a hand stand though.

So…

Scorcher through the lanes

Took a very warm ride through the lanes which was also fairly scorching pace (for me) despite wearing baggy shorts (lovely for the cooling breeze, but I could feel them flapping around). I also got to wear my new Union Jack shirt.

The speed rather puts the Windcheetah to shame over the same loop, especially as I started out taking it pretty easy.

Was very slowly chasing down a roadie. I started about 300m behind and got to within 50m when he turned into his house. It might have been closer but for the horses I went very slowly past.

Birthday visit to DTek

DTek is a first and second hand recumbent dealership near Ely. One very nice thing is that you can try a whole bunch of recumbents to see what’s for you.

Because I used to own a recumebent (a RANS V3) we missed out on the easier to ride but slower models (apart from one, but I’ll come back to that).

I was really happy about how easy they felt to control, even in tight spaces. All that time on the V3 must have given me recumbent reflexes.

To put my review comments into context, I am after something to ride fast on road, but giving some concessions to practicality and comfort, such as mudguards and reasonable size tyres (28mm+). In essence, something for a similar purpose to my fast tourer / Audax bike. Thus bikes built for comfort, off-roading and heavy loads are never going to be my sort of thing.

So, the bikes:

Bacchetta Giro: http://bacchettabikes.com/bikes/touring/giro-26

This was all round the best to ride of the short wheelbase recumbents.

Good: It felt lively, would accelerate easily and was pretty fast. Mainly I think due to the lowish weight, stiff frame, sensible chain handling and 32mm tyres.

Bad: I didn’t like the bars, I would have preferred a tiller and it was a little high. Not a problem when I sat up to stop, but if I stayed leant back I could feel the strain in my thighs. I’m told this would be better with the more sporty Bacchetta seat, without the big cushion, but I still think it might be a problem when tired.

Optima Orca:  (they don’t make the Orca anymore, but the Oryx is similar http://www.optimabikes.com/en/products/optima-oryx

I rode the Orca while originally thinking about recumbents in 2008. I didn’t like it then and I’m afraid my opinion hasn’t changed.

Good: I liked the tiller and bb to seat height.

Bad: The seat is as high as the Giro, it’s very heavy and the combination of that, the suspension, chain tubes, fat tyres and transmission felt like it sucked up every ounce of power I put in and converted it to something other than forward motion.

HP Velotechnik Grasshopper: http://www.hpvelotechnik.com/produkte/ghp/index_e.html

This was fun to ride, but slow, partly because of some phantom shifting.

Good: The seating position (height and recline), bar and BB arrangement were my favourite of all the bikes I tried. I really loved swooping through tight corners within touching distance of the ground.

Bad: Like the Orca, I couldn’t get any speed out of it and that was on flat, smooth roads.

Easyracer Tour Easy (the pic is actualy a God Rush Replica, but the one I rode was red): http://www.easyracers.com/goldrush.html

The model I rode had a front Zziper faring, which I’m told makes a big difference on this bike because the seating position is so upright. Minimum amount of re-adjusting from an upright, which probably accounts for why I actually clocked my fastest speeds on this.

Good: Really easy to stop, start and ride because of the low BB. Pretty quick (though it had the skinniest tyres of all the bikes tried) with the chance to easily fit front & rear fairings (and maybe even a body sock) which would make it an aero beast.

Bad: Over a very long distance, I think being on a bed would be more comfortable than a chair. Also, it wasn’t quite as fun to swoop around on as a more laid back bent, but that might also equate to not scaring the s**t out of you in traffic.

Challenge Fujin SL2: http://ligfietsen.nl/index.php?language=en&selection=lowracers-fujinsl2-en

I didn’t actually get to ride this, but the detail on the frame was incredible, with blade chain stays and jewel idlers. Also, I could pick it up with one finger, almost like a CF race bike.

 

Conclusion:

I think I have two ways to go:

Either something more upright than I used to have that will give me the comfort, but be a minimal change from an upright bike and still allow the speed through the use of fairings and body-socks.

Or, if I want to go the “Dutch” route, I think what I ultimately want is a Fujin Tour (http://ligfietsen.nl/index.php?language=en&selection=semilowracers-fujintour-en) but without the suspension, making it closer to the weight of the Fujin SL. Mainly though, I’ll see what turns up on the cheap.

 

Birthday Ride

What to have as a birthday present? A grinding ride through the Surrey hills!

I was abit disappointed by the average speed after we blitzed the lead up to the hills and went pretty quick up them. I think it’s the fact that the descents were all narrow, twisting, wet and one in particular, incredibly rough. I’m not a strong descender at the best of times, but this was just silly.

Nice to have a ride with friends in beautiful countryside though.