HP Velotechnik’s fast “road bike” is engineered for fast day-rides and brevets, so you can keep your bike club membership even after you’ve “gone recumbent.” Readily accepts racks, fenders, light kit and panniers to become an aerodynamic commuting and touring machine. Could this be the “one-bike” answer?
I’m now stocking an HP Velotechnik Speed Machine for demo rides. Before it arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect since, at the “speed” end of the market, there is so much competition and clamoring for bragging rights for “the fastest bike.” The Cruzbike Silvio and Vendetta are clearly special. So, why bring in a Speed Machine?
Now that it’s in and I’ve ridden it more than just to check the indexing,* I must say I’m rather impressed. It’s a cool bike, just as we would expect from HP Velotechnik, but — again, like all their recumbent bikes — there is a lot more to it then meets the eye. I had incorrectly anticipated something like a Street Machine Gte, just lower-slung, but it’s really a whole new vehicle, as different from the Street Machine as is the Grasshopper fx.
(*In 2013, the Speed Machine has become one of the recumbent bikes I take on 85-mile day-rides and fully loaded weekend get-aways. I’ve become a fan of its versatility. Great bike. Not too low. I’ve ridden it in Manhattan traffic. Fast, but also carries a load. Like the touring nerd I am, I fitted it with fenders, rack and lights. – RM)
First of all, regarding aerodynamics, the leg, body and head positions are in the “typical” range for good “racer” recumbent bike designs, whether high, medium or low — flat and layed back. The frame is extremely stiff, straight and responsive, as we expect from HP Velotechnik, and the frame design allows great power transfer to the wheels. Till now, I’ve believed unsuspended racers would be preferable — faster and more responsive — but the Speed Machine handles fine with the added benefit that, with the suspension, the tires stick to the road even when the pavement is rough. Personally, I strongly prefer full-suspension because, when I’m traveling at high speeds, the inevitable bump, pothole or patch of rough road doesn’t throw the bike out of control.
The build I have here is fitted with the Concept front suspension, the DT Swiss air shock, Shimano XT hydraulic disk brakes, aero bars, the standard Alex wheel set, and the upgraded XT drivetrain. Long and short, it’s light, responsive, and reminds me a bit of a standard frame road race bike in the way that the faster you’re riding, the better it seems to handle. The Concept front suspension with oversized head tube is beautifully manufactured both inside and out.
A word about the seat angle: while the deepest seat recline is 25 degrees (which is very flat and aero), the seat can be adjusted up to 35 degrees, which is the same as the “medium” setting on a Street Machine Gte or Grasshopper fx. In other words, this “speed” recumbent bike can become a highly aerodynamic touring machine by changing the seat angle and adding racks, fenders, panniers and a light kit, which it is designed to accept easily and quickly. Looking at it another way, with the fully suspended build, we have a very nice, fast and aero touring machine that can be easily stripped down and turned into a weekend racer.
The Speed Machine recumbent bike is an interesting urban bike solution. It provides a new option for the city rider who is limited in the number of bikes he or she can fit into their small space at home. Many recumbent riders seem to own a folding bike and two or three recumbents. We are compelled to decide between a recumbent bike for fast club rides, one for commuting and grocery runs, one for long distance trips, one for off-road, one for pavement, one for folding and taking on the train, etc.
The Speed Machine covers the requirement for a fast “club” recumbent bike without sacrificing the option of a touring and commuting machine. I might still prefer a Street Machine Gte for a two-month trip just as I’d prefer a Speed Machine to ride a brevet and a Grasshopper fx as the commuter-extraordinaire. But the Speed Machine, as a recumbent road bike or fast tourer, has a role to play as possibly the single recumbent bike that does several jobs very well.