Friday, September 24, 2010


While on vacation recently (a whole story in itself worth retelling) I visited one of the premiere recumbent dealers in the country, Angletech.  In a span of a two hours I test rode the best bikes available:
  • Tour Easy (Fold Easy)
  • Rans Stratus XP
  • Rans Enduro Sport
  • Rans F5
  • Bacchetta Corsa
  • Challenge Seiran
  • Rans X-Stream
  • Challenge Fujin
I also rode the ICE B2, a bike somewhere between the Rans Enduro Sport and F5 in seat/crank reclination.  The list is ordered from more upright to more laidback, which is the order in which I test rode the bikes, to find where my comfort zone really is.  In the end, I liked the Rans Enduro Sport the best, which is a popular design for short wheelbase recumbent bikes.  I was acutally surprised by this, as my limited recumbent riding led me to believe I was more of a Tour Easy guy.  But after riding these bikes in sequence two times, the Tour Easy felt way too upright, like I had very poor power transfer to the pedals.  After these recumbents, I rode the "Crank Forward" bikes:
  • Rans Fusion
  • Rans Dynamik
  • Rans Alterra
The Rans Dynamik was the best feeling to me, very comfortable.  And last the tricycles:
  • Terratrike Rover
  • Terratrike Cruiser
  • ICE Adventure 3fs
  • ICE Sprint2
  • Greenspeed X5
  • ICE Vortex
I liked the ICE Sprint2 the best, it was low and had suspension.  But the connection to the ground was not as nice as with the bikes, so the Rans Enduro Sport was the overall favorite of all that I tested.  Who knows if a longer test period (weeks) would confirm these first impressions?  It would be great to do that!  And I would've loved to try the tandem recumbents, but after the lengthy test rides I had no willing participants.

All those were only a fraction of the bikes on the crowded display room floor, so the next day wondering if I'd missed a rare opportunity, I called back to see if Kelvin Clark, the owner, had any Cruzbikes like the Quest.  He said he didn't, and furthermore gave good reasons why he though that if I had tried one, I wouldn't have liked it over and above the Enduro Sport that I selected as my personal favorite.  Now as it was, I liked that bike for the sheer pleasure of the riding experience, but some people might value other characteristics at least as much, such as cargo capacity.  Needless to say, there were bikes there designed to meet that need admirably as well.  And finding one's personal “nirvana” on a bike is more than simply a factor of seat/crank height.  For example, Rans created the Enduro as a response to consumer requests to lower the seat height on their popular V-Rex bike.  The seat height felt right to me.

Bikes are vehicles, archetypal things that move us, but they require the attention of a navigator to steer a path. This isn't much different from life, where we must steer a path to avoid the shoals of disaster. Life is always in motion, and we are all going somewhere. It is obvious when riding a bike that one must be attentive to everything in the environment around them. Though it is less obvious, so too must one be attentive in life in order to get anywhere. This is one reason why I love riding a bike. I can really get around for very little energy, in fact I put more energy into paying attention to where I am going than I put into making the bike move!

(On the subject of how riding a bike increases one's attentiveness to the here and now, what about a sauna? Stepping into a very hot room, then stepping out into the cold bare naked makes one aware of the largest organ on their body – the skin.)

No comments: