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  1. #1
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Bents, Trikes, and Cranks

    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.

    http://www.ransbikes.com/Dynamik07.htm

    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.

    http://www.catrike.com/trail.htm

    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.

    http://www.bacchettabikes.com/recumb...bellandare.htm

    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.

    http://www.ransbikes.com/SXPAL07.htm

    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.
    Last edited by Tom Bombadil; 05-20-08 at 08:48 PM.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    I haven't ridden an aluminum recumbent. My Stratus LE definitely soaks up almost all of the road. I can only really feel bumps. I use a 26X1.5 Armadillo on the back.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

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    You might try a 'bent with a suspension.

    My Cruzbike Sofrider is the most comfortable vehicle I've ever ridden.
    But, it's challenging to learn to ride well: takes time.

    My point is, my bike has both front and rear suspension.
    And, it's a good fit for me.

    Do yourself a favour and keep looking!
    "We don't have to be mean because, remember, no matter where you go, there you are."
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  4. #4
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    The bent I own has a suspension. A very heavy duty shock.

    Not that I'm sure I need it, although I appreciated having it the other day when I bounced through 3 or 4 water ruts on my local rail trail.

    I'm not looking seriously at this point - this was more a gathering of info & experience that I've been wanting to do for several months. Been wanting to ride a tadpole, a RANS crank forward, and a LWB bent with 26" rear wheel, and today I checked all three of those boxes.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

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    If it's not to far away you might want to go to Hostel Shoppe.
    http://www.hostelshoppe.com

  6. #6
    Wheezing Geezer Bud Bent's Avatar
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    Nice reviews. Nothing with narrow road tires is going to ride like a wide tire bike, but the steel version of the Stratus XP gets pretty close. I bought a 1984 RANS Nimbus frame, and since I didn't get a fork with it, decided to go on and convert it to a dual big wheel bike. I've been amazed ever since at how much I've loved riding a big wheel LWB, and wonder how I ever lived without one. It was supposed to be a weekday, short ride, winter bike, but I've already put well over 2000 miles on it. But, the Nimbus is the tallest recumbent I've ever seen. That makes it lose the biggest speed advantage of recumbents (aerodynamics), and makes me unable to keep up with my speedier friends on it (my shot engine isn't helping either). So, I bought a Stratus XP frame Saturday, and my next project is building it into a bike to replace the Nimbus.

    The Hostel Shoppe idea is a great one, lots of stuff to test ride there.
    Last edited by Bud Bent; 05-21-08 at 08:21 AM.
    Bud
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    My Blog - uneasy-rider.com

    They told me it's ok to post mileage over in the commuting forum, so you'll probably find me there these days.

  7. #7
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jab1362 View Post
    If it's not to far away you might want to go to Hostel Shoppe.
    http://www.hostelshoppe.com
    That's where I was going to go next week, but then my LBS picked up almost everything that I wanted to ride and so I may now skip the trip up there. My LBS is now carrying several models from each of RANS, Easy Racers, Sun, and Bacchetta recumbents, along with crank forwards from RANS, Day 6, and Giant, and trikes from Catrike, Sun, and HP.

    As this LBS is one block from where I park for work, the convenience can't be beat.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  8. #8
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Bent View Post
    So, I bought a Stratus XP frame Saturday, and my next project is building it into a bike to replace the Nimbus.
    In my mini-review, I understated how nice the Stratus XP cruised down the road. I was able to hold a decent speed, even up modest slopes, without working hard. It felt like you could cruise all day on it.

    Good luck with your build.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  9. #9
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    One other ditty that I neglected to mention.

    When I was pedaling on the Catrike Trail, I had a slight side-to-side motion that I couldn't eliminate, it felt like a wobble. As I pushed down with my right leg I would slightly drift to the right, and vice versa with my left leg. It was annoying.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

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    Tom, my Easy Sport is a 20/26 and I'm loving every minute I spend on
    it. The bike is a little slow and I'm quietly wondering how much quicker
    a Rans Stratus might be, if at all. I'm also thinking about looking at
    SWB 26/26 bikes with the thoughts of possibly commuting with the SWB
    'bent instead of my Trek 820.

    Keep the test reviews coming as they make for interesting and informative reading.

    Happy Trails

  11. #11
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    I've read reports from others that the EZ Sport is slow, but I don't know why. It's a bit heavier, but that should make much difference. It may be a bit less aerodynamic too. I guess the combination of weight, aerodynamics and maybe not having the best seat to bottom bracket position for maximum power transfer could well result in it being slower. The BB is quite low on that design.

    Have you seen the pictures of the new Sport? It looks pretty snappy. They've renamed it as the X-2. This is the X-2 AX (aluminum frame).
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  12. #12
    tm3
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    interesting review. many of your impressions are similar to mine.

    given your emerging preferences, you might also like to try an Easy Racer Tour Easy or Gold Rush, and a Rans Fusion. the Fusion looks very similar to the Dynamik, but has a different geometry and to me a quite different feel (feels more like a bent).

    the ERs are a classic design with an upright seating position, and low BB which may prevent your foot cramps.

    i had my first trike ride a few weeks ago and was not impressed. might have been the trike and i'll try again, but i felt kind of "confined." weird descriptor but the best i've come up with.

  13. #13
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    I've briefly ridden an Easy Racer Tour Easy in the past, just for a couple of minutes. They had them in the LBS the other day, and I elected to try out the Stratus XP instead, as I had never ridden a 26/26 before. I might go back to ride one of the ER's later.

    They also had a RANS Fusion, I sat on both the Fusion and the Dynamik before picking which one I wanted to ride. In this case, I went with the Dynamik because it was more like an upright and I was interested in seeing how it rode.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  14. #14
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    I added another type of bike to my "test ridden" list today, my first ever SWB recumbent, a Bacchetta Giro 20. It was so strange to not be able to see the front wheel as I rode along.

    I had no problems riding it, was a little wobbly for maybe the first 10 yards and then was fine. Rode over a few bumps without a hitch. The riding position was nice and the ride was smooth, especially for a no-suspension frame on 1.25" tires. I liked that I was reasonably close to the ground and could easily steady the bike at stops. I think I wouldn't get along as well on a 26/26 SWB bent.

    My biggest problem was that it felt like it took an effort to keep my feet on the pedals. This was the first time I've ridden a bike where the bottom bracket was above the seat position. Ten minutes into my ride, I got cramps in both feet - that wasn't pleasant. I rode through them, but never became comfortable on the pedals.

    I wouldn't mind taking a few longer rides on one of these to see how it worked out. It was fun and comfortable on my back and arms. Maybe I'll have to rent one some day and take it out for 2-3 hours. That is, if my feet could take it for more than 15 minutes.

    For now, my favorite bent is the RANS Stratus XP w/steel frame.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  15. #15
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    I have a Giro 20. My feet have never cramped, but they did become a bit numb when I did a century.

    I love it because it is more comfortable than having a saddle in my crotch. On fast downhills, it feels like a sports car and it can turn very well.

    The hardest thing is doing tight slow turns, like doing a 180. That becomes hard, because it's hard to coast for that long and your legs and steering conflict if you try to pedal while turning that sharp. On more typical turns its easy and you can pedal through the turn.

    At high-speed it shimmys a little if you are really pedaling. I'm not sure why, probably because the torque on the pedals pulls your front fork from side to side a little. The steering is very responsive. More so because unlike standard bikes, the weight of your arms affects the steering, so every little twitch of your arms shows up in the path of the bike.

    The brakes stop the wheels, but I still haven't found the balance of doing a high speed stop and keeping everything under control. All the inertia goes to the front wheel, while the rear locks up. The rear wheel may lift off the ground, but I can't be sure.

    My biggest complaint is that it is hard to lock. The stick-like frame provides no triangles to run a lock through. I opted for the rack and fenders, and I love those. I hang my backpack over the seat back and go, and if needed I can strap packages, like a Bones 2 bicycle rack box onto it. And the fenders make it unique and are appreciated when I have to run through puddles.

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  16. #16
    Approaching Nirvana megaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
    My biggest problem was that it felt like it took an effort to keep my feet on the pedals. This was the first time I've ridden a bike where the bottom bracket was above the seat position. Ten minutes into my ride, I got cramps in both feet - that wasn't pleasant. I rode through them, but never became comfortable on the pedals.
    Do you normally use clipless pedals? If not those would take care of that issue. With me though it took a while to get used to them, but after I did, I doubt I'll ever ride without them.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."
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  17. #17
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by megaman View Post
    Do you normally use clipless pedals? If not those would take care of that issue. With me though it took a while to get used to them, but after I did, I doubt I'll ever ride without them.
    Do *I* use clipless pedals?

    Surely you jest.

    I was surprised that the Giro 20 had flat platforms, no pins or cages. Might have been easier if it had had a few pins on the pedal. However the main problem wasn't my feet sliding off of the pedals, it was just keeping my feet & legs so high. This was the first time I can recall it being an effort to stay on the cranks.

    There are a lot of people whose feet go numb on high bottom bracket bents and trikes, and can't ride them for that reason. Don't know if I'm one, but in my two recent rides on the Catrike tadpole and now the Giro, I did have foot problems on both after just a few minutes.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

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