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Help with an Optima Condor

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Help with an Optima Condor

Old 08-11-05, 05:20 PM
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ppc
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Help with an Optima Condor

Hello everybody,

I just finished putting together my Optima Condor (https://www.optima-cycles.nl/eng/2-02-1.htm). This is my first USS, first SWB and first full-size wheeled bent. All my other bents have been easy-to-ride LWB OSS small wheelers.

Now, I have two questions regarding that bike:

- I have a wide rear-end, and that seems to be a bit of a problem when I get onto the bike, as my hands are very close to my hips, and I simply cannot steer much. I will weld a new, wider handlebar tomorrow that will have a lot more clearance side to side. Is this problem a common one amongst "volumetrically-challenged" types who ride USS, or is it just the Condor, or is it just me who can't get used to it? I thought of using a straight bar instead of the regular curved one, that would be completely underneath me, but since it sweeps wide because of the long stem, I think I'll bang my hands against the seat without achieving much turning radius at all. What do you think?

- The Condor is a very high bike (26/26). I know I will need some time before I can get used to starting and stopping safely and without falling. Can anybody give me some good advice on the proper procedure to start, stop and stand at the red light without putting both feet down, so I can start again quickly when the light turns green and follow the flow of traffic?
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Old 08-12-05, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by ppc
The Condor is a very high bike (26/26). I know I will need some time before I can get used to starting and stopping safely and without falling. Can anybody give me some good advice on the proper procedure to start, stop and stand at the red light without putting both feet down, so I can start again quickly when the light turns green and follow the flow of traffic?
My bike has a much lower seat, but still has high cranks. My best recommendation is to go ahead and put both feet down. If I even *think* that I may have to stop, I get unclipped - I can soft-pedal unclipped until I either stop or find that I won't have to stop. This way I have all the stability I need when stopped (both feet planted) and I can clip back in once underway again. Unlike on an upright bike, I nearly always use the brake while stopped. This counteracts the bike's tendency to roll out from under me on even the slightest upslope. I release the brake as I start. I generally put one foot up just as the signal is turning green - if the situation is tight I won't clip it in - if there's no traffic or I have plenty of room I'll go ahead and clip in before starting. I may clip in the other foot on the first stroke, or after I cross the intersection, all depending on circumstances.

At first I tried unclipping only with one foot, just like on the upright. I found I was much more likely to overbalance to the clipped-in side. I nearly fell several times, so I stopped that.

Hope this helps,
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Old 08-12-05, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnH
My bike has a much lower seat, but still has high cranks. My best recommendation is to go ahead and put both feet down. If I even *think* that I may have to stop, I get unclipped - I can soft-pedal unclipped until I either stop or find that I won't have to stop. This way I have all the stability I need when stopped (both feet planted) and I can clip back in once underway again. Unlike on an upright bike, I nearly always use the brake while stopped. This counteracts the bike's tendency to roll out from under me on even the slightest upslope. I release the brake as I start. I generally put one foot up just as the signal is turning green - if the situation is tight I won't clip it in - if there's no traffic or I have plenty of room I'll go ahead and clip in before starting. I may clip in the other foot on the first stroke, or after I cross the intersection, all depending on circumstances.

At first I tried unclipping only with one foot, just like on the upright. I found I was much more likely to overbalance to the clipped-in side. I nearly fell several times, so I stopped that.

Hope this helps,
It does help, thanks. I just installed my SPD pedals today, so I will bear your advices in mind when I try riding with the clips tomorrow.

I made a new USS handlebar today, and it does solve most of the problems I had: my new bar is 70cm wide and I now my slightly-larger-than-normal butt gets into the bike without problem. Also, since I made it sweep quite low, it doesn't interfere with the back of my thighs anymore, which means that I can now be fully reclined in the seat with both feet firmly planted on the ground. I also gained a bit of turning radius as an added bonus. I've installed Shimano XTR brake/shifter handles in lieu of the Dura Ace bar-end shifters, which work great with the added side clearance. The setup is ugly as sin, but it's effective.

The new handlebar did help enormously. I feel a lot more confident with the bike now. The only thing I'll have to get used to now is the limited turning radius, which bit me more than once today while I was circling around in the parking lot to adjust the derailleurs. I guess I just have to acquire the reflex of not letting the bike lean too much at low speed.

I wonder if Optima's narrow stock handlebar isn't a bit too "radical" for new Condor users: for wide guys like me, they don't work well at all, but I think even for lean riders, they're not the best there is to allow the feet to touch the ground...
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Old 08-12-05, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by ppc
I guess I just have to acquire the reflex of not letting the bike lean too much at low speed.
You're probably right, for now. When you've got 500 miles or so on the bike, you may find that keeping your speed up a bit and leaning quite a bit actually gives you a tighter turning radius. I'm just getting comfortable with that now, after 600+ 'bent miles.


Originally Posted by ppc
I wonder if Optima's narrow stock handlebar isn't a bit too "radical" for new Condor users: for wide guys like me, they don't work well at all, but I think even for lean riders, they're not the best there is to allow the feet to touch the ground...
I think you're supposed to be a giant dutchman to ride this bike - at least 2m tall ... ;-)

I'm glad it's coming together for you - enjoy!
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Old 08-12-05, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnH
I think you're supposed to be a giant dutchman to ride this bike - at least 2m tall ... ;-) I'm glad it's coming together for you - enjoy!
Optima says they "don't recommend this bike for riders under 1.75m". This makes me laugh a little now, because at 1.86m, I feel just a tad too small for the bike. With the stock handlebar, it was close to unmanageable for me, with regard to leg length.

I guess I'll get there eventually. I'll give USS a fair try for maybe a 1000km, and if it turns out to be a pain, I'll switch back to OSS.
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Old 08-13-05, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ppc
Hello everybody,

I just finished putting together my Optima Condor (https://www.optima-cycles.nl/eng/2-02-1.htm). This is my first USS, first SWB and first full-size wheeled bent. All my other bents have been easy-to-ride LWB OSS small wheelers.

Now, I have two questions regarding that bike:

- I have a wide rear-end, and that seems to be a bit of a problem when I get onto the bike, as my hands are very close to my hips, and I simply cannot steer much. I will weld a new, wider handlebar tomorrow that will have a lot more clearance side to side. Is this problem a common one amongst "volumetrically-challenged" types who ride USS, or is it just the Condor, or is it just me who can't get used to it? I thought of using a straight bar instead of the regular curved one, that would be completely underneath me, but since it sweeps wide because of the long stem, I think I'll bang my hands against the seat without achieving much turning radius at all. What do you think?

- The Condor is a very high bike (26/26). I know I will need some time before I can get used to starting and stopping safely and without falling. Can anybody give me some good advice on the proper procedure to start, stop and stand at the red light without putting both feet down, so I can start again quickly when the light turns green and follow the flow of traffic?
On my first recumbent I used a type of indirect USS steering used on many USS recumbents today. Notice the stick that is linked to the fork and attached to the handlebar as well.
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Old 08-13-05, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by erik forsgren
On my first recumbent I used a type of indirect USS steering used on many USS recumbents today. Notice the stick that is linked to the fork and attached to the handlebar as well.
I just checked your Marco Polo on your site and it seems to be direct under-the-seat steering on the photo there. So I suppose you converted it to indirect USS, am I correct? How did you do that? was the bike already equipped for the conversion?

As for my Condor, I went ride it 30km today. Most of my original issues are gone with my custom h'bar, the only issue left now is that it's just not very nimble in tight-ish turns, in town mostly.
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Old 08-16-05, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by ppc
I just checked your Marco Polo on your site and it seems to be direct under-the-seat steering on the photo there. So I suppose you converted it to indirect USS, am I correct? How did you do that? was the bike already equipped for the conversion?

As for my Condor, I went ride it 30km today. Most of my original issues are gone with my custom h'bar, the only issue left now is that it's just not very nimble in tight-ish turns, in town mostly.
No It is the other way around: My Marco was originaly outfitted with indirect steering with a stick coupled to the handlebar and front fork. But unfortunately the steering system went broke, so I had to change it for a direct one, the very type you have got on your Condor. What I suggest is that you change your steering system for an indirect one. Thus it would be easier for you to put your feet wide apart when you stop and for the rest you will have plenty of room on the seat.
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Old 08-16-05, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by erik forsgren
No It is the other way around: My Marco was originaly outfitted with indirect steering with a stick coupled to the handlebar and front fork. But unfortunately the steering system went broke, so I had to change it for a direct one, the very type you have got on your Condor. What I suggest is that you change your steering system for an indirect one. Thus it would be easier for you to put your feet wide apart when you stop and for the rest you will have plenty of room on the seat.
I'm not sure that would be possible without extensive modifications to the frame on the Condor. Unless there's a kit from Optima I'm not aware of, but I doubt it. Besides, I think I know why they used direct steering on this bike: it increases space for bags on the sides of the bike. This is a tourer after all :-)

But that's okay. I got the bike pretty much figured out now. I still mess up my starts occasionally, but I'm getting the hang of it. The only thing I'm not so happy with is the turning radius, but I think it's common to most USS bikes. I can always make an even more radical handlebar with adequately placed cutouts where it meets the seat post to get more turning ability if I feel the need in the future.
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Old 08-16-05, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ppc
I'm not sure that would be possible without extensive modifications to the frame on the Condor. Unless there's a kit from Optima I'm not aware of, but I doubt it. Besides, I think I know why they used direct steering on this bike: it increases space for bags on the sides of the bike. This is a tourer after all :-)

But that's okay. I got the bike pretty much figured out now. I still mess up my starts occasionally, but I'm getting the hang of it. The only thing I'm not so happy with is the turning radius, but I think it's common to most USS bikes. I can always make an even more radical handlebar with adequately placed cutouts where it meets the seat post to get more turning ability if I feel the need in the future.
I think you might get a kit from Radius. They use a broad metal-ring of aluminium attached around the frame to support the whole steering system. This system is much better in terms of negociating curves, space and so forth. When it comes to touring, there is no problem carrying Ortliebs bags, a tent a mattress and a sleepingbag.
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Old 06-30-20, 09:30 AM
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radius kit to transform an OSS into USS

Originally Posted by erik forsgren View Post
I think you might get a kit from Radius. They use a broad metal-ring of aluminium attached around the frame to support the whole steering system. This system is much better in terms of negociating curves, space and so forth. When it comes to touring, there is no problem carrying Ortliebs bags, a tent a mattress and a sleepingbag.
Hi Erik,
Even if your post is 15 years old, it shows up when I'm looking for information on how to transform my Challenge Seiran OSS into the USS version.
Tried to find information about Radius, but weren't that lucky. Do you know if they still exist, still produce the kit or if anybody produces/sells something similar?
Thanks for your help!
Etienne
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Old 06-30-20, 12:05 PM
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This is probably going to be a difficult task. Challenge has been gone for a while. The website shows a 2012 date at the bottom of the home page. You might contact the two dealers who sold them in the US. Both are still around - Angletech Cycles in Woodland Park CO and Recumbent Bike Riders in State College PA. They could probably tell you if the conversion is possible.

I own two recumbent bikes that use USS. The "stick" mentioned above is a tie rod. It attaches to a ball on the front fork and another at the USS. Getting parts might mean buying both the handlebar assembly, the tie rod, and a new front fork, Even if available, this would be expensive.
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Old 06-30-20, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
This is probably going to be a difficult task. Challenge has been gone for a while. The website shows a 2012 date at the bottom of the home page. You might contact the two dealers who sold them in the US. Both are still around - Angletech Cycles in Woodland Park CO and Recumbent Bike Riders in State College PA. They could probably tell you if the conversion is possible.

I own two recumbent bikes that use USS. The "stick" mentioned above is a tie rod. It attaches to a ball on the front fork and another at the USS. Getting parts might mean buying both the handlebar assembly, the tie rod, and a new front fork, Even if available, this would be expensive.
Thanks Vegas Triker, I didn't expect a fast answer on such an old thread !
I know there's no "official" conversion kit from Challenge, as the frame was different for USS and OSS. But before making my own clamp (described as "a kit from Radius. They use a broad metal-ring of aluminium attached around the frame to support the whole steering system"), handlebar support, tie rod, fork adaptation, I want to check if a "ready made" solution is available somewhere in the World 😉 That's the reason why I was interested in knowing more about the Radius kit...

Last edited by edaloze; 06-30-20 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 07-01-20, 04:37 PM
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Presumably the 'kit' would need to provide a way to mount handlebars under the seat. I agree, a conversion could get expensive.
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Old 07-01-20, 05:02 PM
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@BlazingPedals, I can spend some money in the conversion. What I'd like to know is "is there a kit on the market or not?" If the answer is yes, I may consider the expense, at least to a certain amount, considering the time and money and trials and errors of making my own conversion kit.
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Old 07-02-20, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by edaloze View Post
@BlazingPedals, I can spend some money in the conversion. What I'd like to know is "is there a kit on the market or not?" If the answer is yes, I may consider the expense, at least to a certain amount, considering the time and money and trials and errors of making my own conversion kit.
Unfortunately I can't help you with the kit other than point you to the same two sources that VegasTriker did. Possibly, just possibly, BentUpCycles could fabricate something.
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