This will be a long post ( your warning to click the X ). After buying a Surly Karate Monkey singlespeed over the winter (My first DF bike in over 15 years), I started thinking that I wanted my first loading touring/utility style bike. The Surly Big Dummy was the obvious choice, but I wanted to research all the options before I decided on the new ride. While lots of people provided feedback, Devo, Dylan and Vik provided the best posts across many web sites and all responded to numerous emails about the Big Dummy.
Devo, Dylan and Vik are cycling “rockstars”, so they really don’t need their last names mentioned!
After reading everything possible about the Big Dummy, I headed north to ride The Goat, Dylan’s BD. He was very gracious as we cruised around town. The Goat is an amazing bike. If you are wanting to customize a BD, The Goat must be the model for it. While it was a great ride, over 15 years of riding recumbents has spoiled me. I had this nagging feeling that I may not be comfy for miles and miles of riding on a DF bike. What to do now?
I ran across the CrankForward forum on BentriderOnline. I’d never seen or heard about the CF type bikes. So the research began again. It turns out that RANS had just released a Big Dummy alternative, the HammerTruck. More research and emails. Seemed like a good idea, but I’d never ridden the CF design, so I was a little unsure if I would like it.
I ran across a Nanda (http://www.spincyclz.com/) on several forums. I saw he had a bike shop web site. He also had a list of customer locations. He hooked me up with a guy in Gilroy, CA because I was going out for the Sea Otter Classic. I was fortunate to ride a RANS Dynamic. The owner was very cool and helpful. The Dynamic was a great ride, so I started thinking seriously about the HammerTruck. While I wanted a loaded touring/utility type bike, I was also finding that I can’t get comfy on the Karate Monkey for long rides. Short single track was fine, but the longer rides were not comfy at all. Hmmm, the HammerTruck looked perfect, but I kept reading about the trail version of the Dynamic. I wonder if I get something that gave me some trail riding versatility too? More research...
My buddy Tom (aka Bikelounger) can attest that I have owned MANY recumbents. He has worked on most of them and was going to be my “go to guy” for whatever I ended up with this time. After lots of research and seemingly hundreds of emails with Nanda, I decided that Nanda should create a new, hybrid bike for me. RANS had also introduced a new CF bike for taller riders, the Sequoia. In a nutshell, it fit nicely between the Dynamic and the HammerTruck in terms of wheelbase, function, etc. So, for a week, I have had my new “SequoiaTruck”. Essentially it is the Sequoia frame with the HammerTruck components.
My current, everyday ride, has been a custom Angletech Strada. Kelvin built this for me several years ago. It is fast and has most of the same parts as when new, except for the ones that needed to be replaced after I hit the ground at 30mph (that’s another story, a painful story). It is comfy, fast and rides great. With that said, here is the “one week old ride report”:
-The “SequoiaTruck” is a comfy bike. Very stable and impressive.
-One of my regular routes has a long downhill, followed by a long uphill (it always happens that way!) early into the ride. The downhill speed is almost identical between the two bikes. That is interesting since I am running 2.0 Schwalbe XR tires on the “SequoiaTruck”.
-The hill climb is also interesting. I have to use the granny ring on the Strada to climb the hill. It’s all middle ring on the “SequoiaTruck”. I don’t think that I climb too much faster, but I certainly climb easier and without using all my gearing.
-I am a bit slower, but not slow enough to bother me, on the flats while on the “SequoiaTruck” with normal wind. On a windy day, the Strada is quite a bit faster. Keep in mind that I am running heavy duty wheels and tires.
The CF design seems very cool. I like the “normal” DF type position. I can see the road better than many of my other recumbents, feel like I have more control over the bike and like it better for riding in traffic. I’m in the process of accessorizing the bike. I’ll add the RANS RAC system before my first loaded touring trip. In the interim, I went with a nice Topeak rack and bag system. I’ll post some of my pics later. For now, here are the pics from Nanda’s site:
Finally, I highly recommend Nanda. He was great to work with and provided a very high quality experience. Like I mentioned, I’ve bought many recumbents. Nanda is certainly at the top of the customer service scale. If you like the CF, go see him and tell him I said good things about him