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  1. #1
    bobsut
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    quick commuter suggestions?

    I liked BlazingPedals' general bent-choosing advice in that other "Recumbent advice please" thread. It's a sensible approach to spending a pile of money. Still, I'd like some pointers to help me narrow down my choices.

    I'm 6'2" 225 lbs with about 45" X-seam. I ride a 62cm diamond-frame road bike (700x23 140psi) as a quick commuter, 16 miles each way in 50-55 minutes depending upon traffic. My usual loaded ride-to-work pace (laptop etc. in panniers) is 20-22 mph on flat ground with no wind. I commute year-round every day in mostly flat Silicon Valley (around San Jose) California, about 3800+ miles since I replaced my bike computer's battery in late May.

    I'm intrigued by recumbents for their comfort and (for some types) speed and efficiency. To keep the same efficiency I expect I'll need to look at bents with 700c wheels, which (so far as I can tell) means a SWB high racer style. But for traffic I don't really want to be fully reclined; I wouldn't mind mounting a fairing and maybe even a tail cone to improve my aerodynamics. I'm more attracted to USS because the OSS bikes I've tried had lots of tiller, but I'm willing to be persuaded. I need to mount panniers, fenders, and lights. Budget is of course always an issue; if I try to spend $2K on another bike I'll be shut down cold.

    I live only 40 miles from the Easy Racers factory so maybe I ought to drop in and check them out.

    Can anyone suggest some bikes I should consider? What are the best bent shops in my area? Thanks for any pointers!

  2. #2
    Ric
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    Strada, GTT2s, Hotmover Ric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsut
    I liked BlazingPedals' general bent-choosing advice in that other "Recumbent advice please" thread. It's a sensible approach to spending a pile of money. Still, I'd like some pointers to help me narrow down my choices.

    I'm 6'2" 225 lbs with about 45" X-seam. I ride a 62cm diamond-frame road bike (700x23 140psi) as a quick commuter, 16 miles each way in 50-55 minutes depending upon traffic. My usual loaded ride-to-work pace (laptop etc. in panniers) is 20-22 mph on flat ground with no wind. I commute year-round every day in mostly flat Silicon Valley (around San Jose) California, about 3800+ miles since I replaced my bike computer's battery in late May.

    I'm intrigued by recumbents for their comfort and (for some types) speed and efficiency. To keep the same efficiency I expect I'll need to look at bents with 700c wheels, which (so far as I can tell) means a SWB high racer style. But for traffic I don't really want to be fully reclined; I wouldn't mind mounting a fairing and maybe even a tail cone to improve my aerodynamics. I'm more attracted to USS because the OSS bikes I've tried had lots of tiller, but I'm willing to be persuaded. I need to mount panniers, fenders, and lights. Budget is of course always an issue; if I try to spend $2K on another bike I'll be shut down cold.

    I live only 40 miles from the Easy Racers factory so maybe I ought to drop in and check them out.

    Can anyone suggest some bikes I should consider? What are the best bent shops in my area? Thanks for any pointers!

    First Off Bp's general bent-choosing advice is right on, but I think you're going to be hard pressed to find a manufacturer that's making a High Racer with a 700c wheels. I may be wrong on this but I believe that most manufacturers of the High Racer models Bacchetta, Rans and even ABs are either 650c or 26" wheels, and if you are looking for a 700c look forward too doing a conversion. Good luck.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    You're almost describing a used TourEasy, except that it would have a 20" front wheel. I think some of the Bacchettas can be converted to dual 700c. Maybe MG will pipe in here with a definitive answer to that.

  4. #4
    bobsut
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    I visited EasyRacers HQ today and chatted for a while with Fast Freddy. He put me on a used Tour Easy, a Gold Rush, and a Javelin, for spins around the mostly empty parking lots in their industrial park. All three were their "Speed and Sport" setup with 700c skinny tires in back and 20" skinny tires in front. I'm at the Javelin's upper design limit for weight, and it felt pretty whippy - both in vertical bounce over bumps and when I was pedaling hard. The Tour Easy felt OK and handled OK. The Gold Rush was lighter and fresher and really responded nicely.

    I don't know exactly what was different about the steering geometry and handlebar setup, but I didn't get the huge tiller effect I remembered from other bents I've ridden. Also, Freddy opined USS gives more wind drag and a steeper learning curve, for a less stable ride with more difficult recovery from unusual attitudes. I was comfortable with the setup and I no longer feel constrained to shopping only for under-seat steering.

    They've tested with larger front wheels and found adverse handling effects with not substantial enough performance benefits. I asked about changes in trail and rake to correspond to the larger radius, and he said they had worked with all that stuff. (Maybe I ought to go back sometime and talk to Gardner the designer.)

    I asked what sort of performance I should anticipate, under similar conditions (flat, commuting load). Freddy said I should expect no slower on the naked bike, a few mph faster with a fairing, and maybe 1 mph additional with a tail sock too. He pointed out besides their own products there's a big 3rd-party accessory market (because they've been in production so long and so many on the road), so I should be able to get all manner of racks, light mounts, fenders, panniers, etc.

    I'll keep looking around but I could get along nicely with a Gold Rush. Now that I'm open to smaller front wheels and high handlebars I've just made my choice harder

  5. #5
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    lol - you should keep trying to find more test rides, but it sounds like you're doing well so far. I don't agree with Freddie on all things, but I share his assessment of USS. BTW, I don't consider tiller to be a bad thing, and I ride a bike with huge amounts of tiller.

    Don't plan on consulting with Gardner Martin; unfortunately, he is no longer with us.

    Have you talked yet with Dana at Bent Up Cycles?

  6. #6
    bobkat
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    Hey Blazn and Bob! I'm really going to show my ignorance here, but what is Tiller? And Rake?? I did a ride with Ron Bobb of Easy Racers (I was on my Burley LWB) and he thought it was an OK bike but it needed more Rake, whatever that is??? He could go nice and slow with his Gold Rush while I would wander a bit with my LWB. He said that that was due to lack of Rake?? Thanks for any info. Bob

  7. #7
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Tiller is easy. Imagine a line going through your steerer tube. If your hands very far ahead or behind the line, the handlebars will describe an arc as the steering is turned from one side to the other, like the tiller on the back of a sailboat. Almost all bents have some degree of tiller, just as all uprights have some tiller in the other direction. Tiller has the effect of helping to center the steering while you are riding, but in extreme cases the side-to-side movement of turning as low speed can be awkward for some riders.

    Imagine that same line going through the steerer tube. Now imagine a line running parallel to that line, but intersecting the center of the axle. The amount of offset is the 'trail' of the fork. For upright road bikes, 40mm of trail is normal. For bents, it can be anything from a negative number to +6 or 7 inches, depending on the steering angle and the wheelbase. More rake has the effect of reducing trail. Reduced trail make a bike handle 'quicker' while more trail makes a bike naturally more stable but if there's too much it can make the steering feel 'heavy.'

  8. #8
    bobsut
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    The head angle is the angle between the head tube / steerer and horizontal. It's probably around 70 degrees.

    Project the axis of the steerer downward; measure the distance ahead of that line to the axle; that distance is rake. Rake is not measured horizontally, it's measured perpendicular to the steerer axis line. It's probably around 2".

    Project the steeer axis downward until it intersects the ground. Measure the distance from there to the center of the tire's contact patch. That distance is the trail.

    Tiller is the distance between the handlebar (actually the midpoint between your handgrips) and the steerer tube axis. If the handlebar is mounted on the axis, one hand goes one direction while the other hand goes the other way - zero tiller. If the handlebar is mounted far behind the axis, both hands move the same direction - lots of tiller.
    Last edited by bobsut; 12-31-06 at 10:37 PM.

  9. #9
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    It might be worth the trip to go down to the Los Angeles Area (you don't have to go all the way into the city, he's close to the 405) and visit Dana at Bent Up Cycles. Not only does he have a pretty good selection of bikes to try, he is very knowledgeable, and you'll lean a lot about recumbents.

  10. #10
    Recumbent Ninja
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    Another vote for visiting Dana. If I lived anywhere near him, I'd be a shop rat.

  11. #11
    bobsut
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    We live 320+ miles from Bent Up Cycles, so it's not really feasible for me to just drop in and hang out. (Although we might be visiting SoCal this spring for some college visits with #1 son, and maybe Dad can squeeze in a field trip...)

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