I've been wanting to get out and ride a few more recumbents, trikes, and crank forwards for a while. But I wanted to wait until I had a few hundred miles on my recumbent, so as to have a meaningful comparison. Today the opportunity presented itself.
Just a few days ago I went out for my longest ride on a road bike, which I wrote about in another thread. In a nutshell, that experience didn't go well. Despite selecting a compact geometry bike with an adjustable stem that I had configured into a more upright riding position, I found the ride quite uncomfortable. Particularly on my hands and shoulders as I could not find a comfortable hand position. I rode for 30 minutes and was really glad to get off of the bike.
Today I stopped by the shop where I've purchased three bikes over the years, along with hundreds in accessories, to try out an assortment of bikes. I had 75 minutes and it was 60 & sunny, a beautiful day to ride. They had a lot of bikes I'd love to ride, but I narrowed my choices down to 4 - 2 recumbents, a tadpole trike, and a RANS crank forward.
FWIW - here are my observations of those bikes:
RANS Dynamik: I've ridden crank forwards 7 or 8 times before, but never a RANS. It certainly had a different feel to it than the others. The riding position was fairly upright, the seat was unlike any I've ridden before, pretty comfortable over the 10-12 minute test ride but I'm not certain it would be for a long ride. Handling was good, I was able to easily manuever around obstacles. It felt like it took extra effort to get it up to speed, that I had to work a little harder. Going up hills it gave my arms a workout as I had to exert a lot of pull to generate power - it is difficult to stand and pedal uphill. All in all I found it to be a fun cruiser, which I would use as a city bike, but don't think I'd want to tackle a long ride on.
Catrike Trail: This is a tadpole trike that is configured to handle riding on trails. This was my first ride on a tadpole and I know this significantly impacted my impression of this bike. I was impressed by its handling, was able to make very tight turns. Stability was very good, much better than the delta trikes I've ridden. It was quiet despite the long drive chain and it rolled/coasted nicely. I experienced my standard response to riding a bike with a high bottom bracket - foot cramps. Happens every time. I didn't really enjoy riding that close to the ground, nor having the limited field of vision. I had to work to get up to speed. I thought I would enjoy this ride more than I did. In the end I kinda decided that tadpoles just aren't what I'm looking for at this point in time.
Bacchetta Bellandare: This is a long wheelbase recumbent with a lower bottom bracket, 20" front wheel and 26" rear (a 20/26). My Sun bent is a 20/20. It has a multi-adjustable handlebar and I spent a few minutes getting it to where I was comfortable. And comfortable I was. This was a joy to ride. Seemingly took less effort to get up to cruising speed than the Dynamik and Catrike. Smooth ride on the cro-moly frame & 1.25" tires. The seat was quite comfy, and afforded a nice field of view. I was ready to head out to the trail and take off for the afternoon. Component wise, this had middlin' mid-range gear. Didn't shift as quick or crisply as my Suns' X.9 drivetrain.
RANS Stratus XP AL: Another LWB bent, this time in a 26/26. Opted to ride the aluminum version instead of the steel. The AL shaves off 3 pounds. At $2300 it is $1000 more than the Bacchetta. This had a very comfortable seat and the same excellent X.9 components as my bent. Shifts were fast and dead on. It was fast and coasted well. The ride was a bit rougher, which I attribute to both the AL frame and 1" tires. It was still quite acceptable but I could feel a touch of the road through both my hands and feet. Another fun ride. Might have to go back and ride the cro-moly version to see what difference that makes. I think I would really like the steel frame with 1.25" tires.
I liked the Bacchetta and the Stratus better than my current bent. But some of that may be due to the tires, which are semi-off-road tires that don't roll as well. That is my next upgrade. I was very impressed with the Bacchetta at its $1300 price point.
Given my experiences of this week, it is very clear that I enjoy more comfortable, more upright bikes. I enjoyed my rides on the RANS crank forward & bent, the Bacchetta bent, and rides on my own bent and hybrid bikes. I had less fun on the trike, and hated my ride on the road bike.