I'm a new bent rider, might as well share some background. Used to commute in the city to work on a mountain bike, but started having back issues due to the hunched over position using my back as a shock absorber. Took a break from biking got into computer programming, didn't move around enough for extended periods of time. Lucky for me there is a bikepath going from my home to work so I decided a recumbent would be the way to go.
After some research, decided on the hp velotechnick grasshopper. It's a joy to ride. So much more comfortable than my upright there isn't much comparison. I can go many more miles on this bike with no discomfort and many more smiles along the way. The aerodynamics are a huge difference and the adjustable seat is nice for this since you can instantly adjust it for different parts of the ride.
This bike has OSS, and it is good, altough I have always been sort of attracted to USS, maybe I'd try it in the future (seems like it may not be so good for traffic or other arenas where your hands can hit stuff that is close to the side of the bike). One thing I don't like about OSS so much is the folding handlebar, though it is very convenient when you are stopping to just throw it forward, it sort of makes the bike feel less than solid when you apply any pressure in the folding direction if you say wanted to reposition yourself in the seat mid ride.
The suspension is really nice, makes riding super fun, sort of like floating along as if in a dream or something. Tried it on mild offroad conditions, handled well. I wonder if fatter tires can be installed for rides where there are longer stretches of loose surfaces. Climbing seemed pretty good mostly because of the seating position, good pressure to the pedals, sort fo like being hoisted up a roller coaster while lying in bed, nice views at least. Starting from zero on an up hill, on the other hand, seems to be more difficult than an upright.
I wonder about the efficiency of the wheel size. It must be somewhere betweeen a high/lowracer and a trike. I do like the smaller wheels in the sense that the bike is compact, it's easy to touch the ground, good torque / acceleration, and the wieght distribution is very even so the handling is predictable. Maybe in the future I'd look at a larger wheel high or low racer for more efficiency, but generally I can tell this bike is better for any sort of distance than my upright simply due to total comfort and less drag.
Yesterday it was about 28 degrees, commute was fine, but my shoes were inadequate. Seems like there was not enough material between my foot and the cold cold cleat. I'll have to look into dedicated winter shoes.
Also for pedals I'm using speedplay frogs with frog2 cleat. They seem OK, but release a bit too easily, actually the left cleat seems kind of funny in that the 1mm wedge of metal that actually holds your foot in is not totally flush with the rest of the cleat and it releases if you try to apply pressure all the way around the pedal stroke. Kind of a dodgy seeming design with that little ridge of metal and tiny bit of elastolomer underneath, but maybe its OK. Does anyone have a different / better spd pedal suggestion?
I ride an upright bike, but have been eyeballing HP Velotechnik's products occasionally. Beautiful bikes!
Some comments on SPD and winter riding: cleats are a heat sink. Also I prefer not to be tied to my bike in winter, so I use regular heavy hiking boots and platform pedals. Is the ability to pull the pedal even more crucial when riding a bent (as compared to upright riding)? If it is, I am sure some winter shoes or added insole layers will help, depending on how cold your winter is. I need to be able to ride in temperatures around -20-30C.
To err is human. To moo is bovine.
Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?
The grasshopper is a nice choice, should be a good bike for a long time. You might try some different tires in the spring, there are much faster options out there. I'd go there before shopping for a taller wheel bike. This is an endless debate in the recumbent world. Turns out the only difference wheel size makes is in rough surface conditions, a smaller wheel dives farther into holes and dips in the road, so encounters more resistance climbing back out. On smooth surfaces, the tire makes much more difference than the wheel size. Since you have a good suspension, you can go with very hard/fast tires and not pay for it in the butt!
About the cold feet, I've found some waterproof socks that do the job for me, Seal Skinz. Here is the cheapest place I've found 'em on the web, about half what the local shops sell 'em for:
Easyracers Ti-Rush, Tour Easy, Vision R-64 Sabre, Rans Screamer, Bike E CT, Trek R-200, HP Velotechnik SpeedMachine, Haluzak Horizon
Andrew (recliner). Speaking of the wierd feeling on how the OSS seems to move easily when you are readjusting you sitting position try to tighten the handlebar riser where it attaches to the head set. This should take care of that problem and make you feel more secure. I use Frog pedals and love them. They are suppose to have approximately 20 degree of rotation b4 you disconnect. They are also adjustable to minimize the rotation degrees. I believe the best all around tire size for your Grasshopper is a 1.50. This size of tire is very good on bike paths, streets and some trails. This tire size is very common and a number of different manufacturers supply them. For a comparrison check out this website. http://www.hostelshoppe.com/. They have a very extensive mail order business and there staff is very knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with. They are also dealers for HP Velotechnik recumbents. Good Luck and Good Riding. PS: I ride a Street Machine of which I purchased from the Hostel Shoppe this fall.
I ride suspended on mixed terrain with size 1.5 tires, although I don't ride too many loose trails because it gums-up my chain tubes. Last year, I tried size 1.75 because I thought I'd need more stability for loaded touring, but it only became harder to pedal and it wasn't one bit smoother. Now, I'm back to size 1.5 again. What a relief. Also, I ride on Schwalbe Marathons. They're not the lightest tire, but the ride is good and they are highly puncture resistant.
As for wheel diameter, a 20/26 SWB would give you a slightly smoother ride. Also, many European 20/20 manufacturers (e.g. HPV) like to tout the aerodynamic advantages of their high BBs and reclined seats...something I find far from optimal, especially on hilly terrain. For this reason, the more moderate setup of many 20/26 designs could improve climbing and overall comfort, especially on longer rides. Of course, everyone's body is different, so these things are really a matter of preference.
Also, I doubt the 20/20 is noticably slower. Sure, theoretically it has slightly more rolling resistance, but I've never actually noticed a difference in speed. Plus it has quick handling and is very compact. The g/h in particular should be easy to lift and carry, which can be advantagous depending on where you live. I take my (somewhat larger) 20/26 into the elevator for a 10-floor commute to my highrise apartment. But that's probably a bit extreme...at least my neighbors think so:=)
Pedals...why not just buy some inexpensive MTB pedals for the winter? Mine stick nicely to my sneakers, so I can still get an almost circular range of power. Plus, my feet are on the ground quickly.