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  1. #1
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    Bay Area bent search

    I am wondering if anyone knows of any shops in San Francisco or Marin County that specialize in bents. My online research can take me no further. I must now go out and test ride or rent a bent. (no rhyme intended). It took me over a year of indecisiveness to purchace my last bike, which is a road bike, and it has been almost two years knowing I must have a recumbant. Does anyone have a suggestion regarding a bike shop. How did some of you finally decide on your bike? How many test rides did you take before you said " this is the one!". ? If I don't start soon, I won't have my new bent by summer. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Errand Boy for my girls sukispop's Avatar
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    Greenspeed GTO 20/20 trike, Rans Fusion(semi-recumbent bike), Burley Django recumbent, Marin Larkspur city bike
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesky
    I am wondering if anyone knows of any shops in San Francisco or Marin County that specialize in bents.
    Hi Bluesky,

    Welcome to recumbency!

    Zach Kaplan is the foremost 'bent authority in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has written numerous articles related to recumbent bike/trike riding. He also owns a shop in Alameda, Zach Kaplan Cycles , 1518 Buena Vista Ave, phone# 510.522.BENT(2368), email: zakaplan@earthlink.net . He doesn't have regular store hours; he operates on an appointment-only basis...the good news there is that you can arrange for a two hour appointment, and have his undivided attention and help for those two hours. During that time, he can answer all of your questions, help you find the right 'bent for you, and you can test ride the bikes/trikes he has in stock. He sells Bacchetta, Burley, Challenge, Greenspeed, Easy Racers, RANS, HP Velotechnik, ICE, and possibly other lines. Email or call him; he doesn't have a website.

    'Hope this may be of help! Good luck! Keep us posted...and take care.


    ***Geoff***
    '05 Greenspeed GT3, '04 RANS Stratus, '04 RANS Fusion

    "Nothing compares with the simple pleasure of a bike ride."
    (by John F. Kennedy, from The Quotable Cyclist)

  3. #3
    Errand Boy for my girls sukispop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesky
    How did some of you finally decide on your bike? How many test rides did you take before you said " this is the one!". ? If I don't start soon, I won't have my new bent by summer. Any thoughts?
    Hi again, Bluesky,

    'Sorry...I got so excited about getting you that info about Zach Kaplan, I didn't read the rest of your inquiry!

    When I first started my "journey" through the recumbent world about 4 years ago, I didn't know of Zach Kaplan or any other dealers in the greater SF Bay Area(I live in Fairfield)...so I did some research on the internet, found RANS, and then proceeded to buy their very cheapest model, the compact-long wheelbase("clwb") Wave. CLWB's are supposed to be the best type of 'bents for newbies; they're typically the most user-friendly and least expensive. It retailed for around $650 or so(I don't really remember), and I found a dealer on the internet who had it on sale. So I bought my first 'bent without the benefit of any kind of test ride, and sight unseen....kinda risky, eh? I liked the bike's comfort, but strongly disliked the bike's propensity for tiller steer(quite common for 'bents with long, angled stem risers)...still, it opened my eyes to the high comfort potential of recumbents...I was hooked.

    When searching for my second 'bent, I found a really great 'bent dealer up here in Northern Calif., Gold Country Cyclery, in Cameron Park(about a dozen miles short of Placerville...and only 70 miles from Fairfield). The shop owner, Rick Steele, helped me put my Wave up for sale on consignment through his store, and then showed me all of his 'bents. I spent the entire afternoon(and I do mean entire) repeatedly test riding a RANS V-Rex and a Burley Django, both short wheelbase bikes("swb")...Rick was very patient with me, answering all of my many questions....I ended up going home with the Django...The V-Rex and the Django actually rode fairly similarly, but a couple of things worked in the Django's favor. One, it was almost $200 cheaper than the V-Rex(although, admittedly, the V-Rex has much better components), and, two, I was really smitten by the Django's beautiful metallic burgundy color and its handcrafted-in-the-U.S. frame. It was a great bike, but, to be honest, I never really got comfortable with its high bottom bracket(crank height relative to the seat height)...which is kinda strange, as it didn't bother me the whole time that I was test riding it(or the V-Rex, which has a slightly lower but still high bottom bracket)....thus, in the almost two years that I owned it, I only clocked around 200 miles on it---virtually unused.

    My ongoing search has finally brought me to a 'bent that completely feels "just right" for me, and that's my new RANS Stratus long wheelbase("lwb") 'bent. I feel completely at home on it, I can't think of any real shortcomings about it, I love its looks, build quality, and component specs, and, with the great deal that my dealer(Gold Country Cyclery again, of course!) gave me on it, I certainly can't complain about its price(although, like most recumbents, it is quite expensive). The other bike I own that I truly love is my Fusion, also a RANS product. Some folks call it a semi-bent; Bob Bryant at Recumbent Cyclist News, the most respected print magazine dedicated to recumbent riding, categorizes it as an "EZB"(Easy Bike) bike...it's the only other bike that I feel "just right" on. So when I just want to have a fun, cruising kind of ride, I jump on my Fusion...and, when I want to go on a longer, more serious ride, I happily jump on my new Stratus!

    I've actually reached the point where I don't have any lingering desire to upgrade or replace either of my 'bent or "sorta 'bent" bikes...which is strange, as most of us bentriders have that sensation on an ongoing basis!

    Again, much luck to you on your search...let us know how it goes!



    Last edited by sukispop; 11-01-04 at 02:49 PM.
    ***Geoff***
    '05 Greenspeed GT3, '04 RANS Stratus, '04 RANS Fusion

    "Nothing compares with the simple pleasure of a bike ride."
    (by John F. Kennedy, from The Quotable Cyclist)

  4. #4
    'Bent Brian
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    I really don't think you can go wrong on the RANS bikes. I have a Tailwind, and Geoff really likes his Stratus. I've seen RANS referred to as the "workhorse of the recumbent industry". I have some friends up in Washington who have Burley Koosahs and like them. I've also heard good things about Cycle Genius. There are other excellent bikes out there as well. Incidentally, I bought my Tailwind and paid for it before I had ever ridden a bent! If I ever have the urge to "upgrade" it would most likely be to the RANS V2. I would like to ride a Rocket at least once though.

    'bent Brian

  5. #5
    Seņor Mambo
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    Same deal here: bought a used Tailwind on BROL for my wife, then decided I had to have a Rocket (ok, ok, based purely on looks alone) so we drove 3 hrs. to Gold Country in order to try one out, then bought one.

    For us, the Rocket and Tailwind are great bikes and we love them. But here are some lessons we've learned in general about having bents:

    - Some say a 20" real wheel is too harsh of a ride for a bent. I can feel it, no doubt, and do wonder whether getting a different model with a larger wheel would be better - something you may want to consider.

    - Transportation can be a hassle. At least for both of these RANS models, fitting them on conventional behind the car bike racks can be a pain; we settled on a 1Up trailer hitch rack, but got it at $300 before the price shot up. Depending on the vehicle you drive, you might have to consider the cost of a rack; LWB's can be a particular pain to transport otherwise.

    - Different leg muscles are used, but it's just a matter of developing them.

    - Hot foot/foot numbness syndrome is a real thing. It feels like a burning sensation around the ball of your foot. This didn't hit me until 2 weeks riding the Rocket around. My solution? I loosened my bike shoes, and started using lower gears so that I was spinning more. This has alleviated it for me for the most part.

    - Bents are fairly heavy; this also means finding tricks and methods for going up hills (practice, practice, practice).

    - They are pain when it comes to changing flat tires, especially for the rear wheel (some, however, are able to change flats without removing the wheel! ).

    - Some seats are more comfortable than others - this means other brands compared to other brands, and sometimes even within the same brand.

    - Some seats are easier to adjust and remove than others. This is important because once you become "dialed in" - and yes, this makes a huge difference! - you will want to make sure your settings are marked somehow, just in case someone else wants to ride it, or you have to remove the seat for transportation.

    - You're slightly lower on bents so cars may not see you as easily (and if you're in my town, sometimes bike lanes disappear, so you're really riding close to cars at times, at car door height and shoulder's width; at tire height for the monster trucks with lifts).

    - Finding extras such as tires and tubes can be a bear, since they are an "unconventional" size; they also can cost more depending on where you shop. For using wired computers, it's best to make sure you get tandem length wires, which many stores don't readily carry.

    - Many bents are pricey (well, my bias anyway, for any bent worth having). You might not be comfortable even locking them outside of the library.

    - They are hard to maneuver when you need to carry them up stairs or lift them over something, especially LWB's.

    - On SWB models, turning at slow speeds can cause the front wheel to hit your heel. You learn to adjust to this.

    - But for quick trips or fun rides around the block, I still use an upright, in this case a Brompton.

    However:

    - They are extremely comfortable rides. My fun times are taking my two-year old on trips in his trailer. Since I go at slower speeds, I love just lounging about.

    - They also can be pretty fast depending on how much you like to hammer!

    - You really do notice more when your head is up and you're leaning comfortably on your back.

    - Commuting to work is fun! After a tiring day, it's a blast being able to lean back, and just pedal (I've also rigged my seat bag to hold a small radio so I can listen to all the games and news going on. I don't use earphones; I just lean my head back and listen).



    Quote Originally Posted by bluesky
    I am wondering if anyone knows of any shops in San Francisco or Marin County that specialize in bents. My online research can take me no further. I must now go out and test ride or rent a bent. (no rhyme intended). It took me over a year of indecisiveness to purchace my last bike, which is a road bike, and it has been almost two years knowing I must have a recumbant. Does anyone have a suggestion regarding a bike shop. How did some of you finally decide on your bike? How many test rides did you take before you said " this is the one!". ? If I don't start soon, I won't have my new bent by summer. Any thoughts?

  6. #6
    'Bent Brian
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    If you have a pickup then a bed mount rack might fit a 'bent if you have a full size bed on your pickup. Recently hauled my Tailwind in a short bed pickup. Was still able to get the tailgate closed. Also a tandem rack on top of a car or SUV should work as well for the LWB 'bents. There are ways to haul them. But if where you want to go is close enough, why not ride to the destination?

    'bent Brian

  7. #7
    Seņor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnet1
    ... There are ways to haul them ...
    If you're referring to me, I agree. I never said there weren't.



    Quote Originally Posted by bnet1
    But if where you want to go is close enough, why not ride to the destination?
    I do. Hopefully, we all do, right?

  8. #8
    Newbie bullit bike's Avatar
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    Steve delair of rotator recumbents in santa rosa builds and sells recumbents all hand built and high quility craftmanship. here's a link tell him brian sent you.

    http://rotatorrecumbent.com/ordering.html
    Never take life seriously nobody gets out alive anway

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