Customer writes: “Bike race!”

R_Brown on her HP Velotechnik Gekko fx

—– Original Message ———-
Subject: Bike race!
From: RB <r–b—>
To: “Robert Matson”

The Gekko is incredibly well engineered and turns well.  I really appreciate the thought that you put into the gearing system.  Also, to get to the race would have been impossible with my previous trike.  We are car-free.  It was a simple matter to put the folded Gekko into the trunk of an Uber XL. I am also able to ride further with a smoother ride.  I felt like the 5K was too short. In the Fall I am planning on a 10 mile race.

I came to Robert with the desire to upgrade my trike.  It took a lot of thought. Robert was incredibly patient while I worked my process. Finally it became financially possible and he answered a million questions.  Plus finding a friend who was willing to deliver my Gekko to NJ.
Thank you again.
Ed. note: I like RB’s blog. It is Three Wheeled Librarian.

Testimonial from a customer

This testimonial arrived today from a customer.  Very nice of him.  – RM

———- Original Message ———-

On April 21, F-C- wrote:

A couple of years ago, I became interested in recumbent bikes, and contacted Robert Matson at NYC Recumbent Supply. I was specifically interested in HP Velotechnik bikes, and Robert is the local expert and dealer. Robert gave me a lesson in riding recumbents, then spent several hours with me while I tried out the Streetmachine Gte and the Grasshopper Fx in Prospect Park. It was a difficult choice, but I decided on the Streetmachine.

When it arrived from Germany, Robert assembled and fully tested the bike before handing it over. As I started riding, over the next months, Robert was always available to answer questions by email or phone. Several times, I brought the bike in for a tuneup, or to add some component, like a rear rack, and I enjoyed watching Robert work on the bike and explain what he was doing. He’s a skilled bike mechanic and an expert on HP Velo and recumbent bikes in general. I’m really loving the Streetmachine, it’s a great bike.

Me with my HP Velotechnik Street Machine by the Hudson River.
Me with my Street Machine by the Hudson River.

My daughter recently decided she also wanted a recumbent (back problems run in the family). I found a good deal on a used Grasshopper Fx in Oregon. I contacted Robert for advice on packing the bike for shipment, and he phoned the HPV dealer in Portland to decide on the best packing option.

When the bike arrived, on a pallet, I took it to Robert who taught me how to fold and unfold it, shortened the boom and chain, fully adjusted it, and make sure it was in great working order before I delivered it to Katie in Massachusetts.

The Grasshopper fx arrives!
Robert checking out the Grasshopper fx.
Katie learns to ride a recumbent bike.

I can strongly recommend Robert and NYC recumbent supply as a recumbent bike dealer, expert mechanic and guru.

Frank C.
Pelham, NY


Q&A and summer wear

I have this customer who asks the sorts of questions I suspect everyone has, but they don’t ask.  Here’s a sample from two of our recent conversations.

On Mar 30, 2017, at 17:20, Robert Matson wrote:

Hi D—-,

I hope you’re well.  Responses below, in-line….
Thank you for your business,


Robert Matson
The Innovation Works, Inc.
Tel: (646) 233-1219


On Thu, Mar 30, 2017 at 3:27 PM, D—wrote:
Hi Robert,I hope all is well with you. I have a couple of questions that I wanted to ask which I forgot to bring up when you repaired the handlebars on my Grasshopper. (Thanks again!)

Does it cause extra/undue wear and tear on the brakes or drivetrain to have one foot on the pedal and a brake on at stop lights?



D:Is moving the pedals backward harmful at all? (For applying lube and also getting the pedals in position before starting to pedal.)





Lastly, is the recumbent more or less subject to wind because of the more aerodynamic design? Is there any rule of thumb for a particular speed or type of wind where it becomes dangerously difficult to control the bike? (I know a big factor here is rider level of skill and there’s no exact reply but am hoping to get your thoughts nonetheless).


I don’t believe there’s any greater issue for recumbents as opposed to standard frame bikes regarding wind.  In a heavy wind I get blown around equally by both.
On the speed or type of wind question, I want to reply jokingly that I’d be concerned about hurricanes and tornadoes.
Maybe more helpful would be to say that high winds — maybe over 60mph? — are dangerous on bridges.  But I don’t know exactly at what point a wind becomes dangerous on a bridge.  One thought, it isn’t terribly rare to travel at 40mph on a recumbent bike, downhill, in which case the headwind, on a windless day, would be 40mph.
I suppose I think recumbents are less susceptible to winds because they’re closer to the ground, where wind speeds may be lower.
Thanks as always,



No problem.  You ask interesting questions.

……another day, another set of questions and answers…..




On Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 1:06 PM, D— wrote:

I’m glad you find my questions interesting! I’m very grateful for your help.


Here go my best attempts at answers! 🙂 Below, in-line.

Best regards,


Robert Matson
The Innovation Works, Inc.
Tel: (646) 233-1219


I do have just a couple more now if you don’t mind. (I’ve been trying to find answers for these on my own but haven’t succeeded much in finding reliable info.)
Is there a rule of thumb for estimating calories burned on a recumbent vs DF? Given that bents are more efficient because of lower wind resistance, I must be burning fewer calories than normal. Is 25% fewer a good ballpark? 30%? I’m wondering what your take is.
I think that may be true, but I have no idea how to guess at it.
With the design of the GHfx [HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx], it seems like many cyclocomputers won’t work. Are there particular makes or models with which you’ve had success with the sensors for speed, cadence, etc.
I’ve used the standard brands like CatEye.  Sometimes I have to work a bit to make them fit, but nothing too outrageous.
Lastly, do you have any suggestions on summer wear? I’ve been reading a lot about wool, synthetics, how many layers to wear for sweat, etc. and am unsure which direction to go in. I’m curious if you have any good recommendations for bents in particular as I tend to sweat a ton just walking around during the summer and want to make sure I can keep riding.
I like these guys’ recumbent-specific bike shorts — Bend It Cycling:
For a top, I often wear a standard “dry fit” running shirt like the Under Armour Tech Fit or Nike Dri Fit.  I also have several cycling jerseys.
I do prefer “high-viz” shirts and Nike and Under Armour have several of those.
Thanks again, and I hope all is well!
# # #

Explanation of Cruzbike Silvio / S30 Chainstay lengths

Cruzbike Silvio S30 frame kit illustrating explanation of S30 Chainstay lengths

I recently had an email conversation with Cruzbike’s Maria Parker about the chainstay options on the Silvio / S30

The question at hand was about the chainstay lengths for the S30. There are small, medium and large.
This is what she wrote:
The S30 comes with a medium chainstay. If a customer asks for a small chainstay, we can get them one.  Usually we don’t open the box and replace, we just send them a small along with the frameset and they can return the one that doesn’t work as well.
The large chainstay moves the feet very high on the S30 and at the same time moves the handlebar down – this doesn’t really work well. I actually have ridden the S30 that way, but it’s rather strange.
To give people more options for handlebar height, we have the curved slider. It can be used curved up or down depending upon whether the customer wants their hands higher or lower.  Most people want the handlebar lower.
The medium chainstay works really well for most people. Very short-legged people might like the short chainstay.
Ride on,

Radical Design Seat Bags, Rack Bags and Pannier Systems

Radical Design side panniers in blue, rack top bag in orange.

“A Brilliant Product”

Manufacturer website: Radical Design

I keep Radical Design (“RD”) bags in stock because I think this company is making some of the most exciting products in the recumbent marketplace. I’ve used RD bags for the majority of my tours for the past five years. They replaced my prior favorites, Ortlieb panniers, which have been relegated to grocery shopping and hardware store duties.

There are several significant reasons I like Radical Design bags: they are aerodynamic, they enable a lightweight solution for carrying gear, the overall cost is similar to bags of equal quality, the quality is excellent and they are easy to carry unmounted from the bike.


Radical Design large side panniers in blue. Manufactured for HP Velotechnik.

Radical Design bags and panniers are aerodynamic in several ways. The seat back bags and the rack-top bags are mounted behind the seat. Not only do they add no wind resistance, they smooth out the airflow behind the seat. The panniers bags are mounted beneath the seat but then continue on behind the seat as shown in the photo, above. There is only one small cross-section hitting the wind straight-on and the rest of the bag follows in that airflow. This is contrasted with standard panniers which put the the full height and width of the bag in the wind, creating significant aerodynamic drag. If under-seat panniers are also mounted, those present a full second set of bag cross-sections to the air flow. This contrasts strongly with RD panniers which, even in the largest sizes, do not add significant air resistance as bag capacity increases. It’s an incredible experience to have a heavily-loaded bike that is still very fast on the downs and flats.


Going Lightweight.
Radical Design side panniers in red

There are four ways Radical Design bags establish the basis for a lightweight touring system: the fabric is light but strong Cordura nylon; they minimize the requirement for racks which add to bike weight (RD bags require no rack or only one rack instead of two); bag weight is dedicated to carrying capacity as opposed to rack mounting hardware; and RD bags have a low weight to capacity ratio.


Lightweight Fabric

Radical Design bags are made from lightweight Cordura nylon with a water-resistant inner coating on the fabric. This is a lighter solution than traditional fully-rubberized panniers, like Ortliebs. For additional water-proofing, I suggest putting your gear in dry bags (water proof stuff sacks) which you would then put into the panniers. One could also seam-seal the pannier seams to increase water-resistance. While dry bags add to the overall weight, contemporary dry bags are light and, anyway, many people use stuff sacks or dry bags inside their panniers anyway, regardless of whether the panniers are “waterproof.”


Lighter without a rack.
Radical Design solo racer in yellow

Racks are heavy so they can be strong (and Titanium racks are expensive so they can be strong). Your bike will be lighter if you have fewer or no racks. For example, while exact rack weights depend on the rack in question, consider that the Tubus Logo Evo, a high-quality rack that can carry 88 pounds, weighs 1.6 lbs. For recumbent bikes, the traditional luggage solution is to have a rear rack for basic payload needs and, if additional capacity is required, one adds an underseat rack. With two racks, one is easily 3-6 pounds to the naked weight of the bike.

Radical Design makes small seat-back bags (such as the Solo Aero) with 10-12 liters (2-3 gallons) capacity, that are perfect for day trips. They hang from the back of the seat and require no rack. If you need double that capacity, they have a 25 liter (~6 gallons) “banana racer” side pannier that hangs entirely from the seat, again requiring no rack. Then, if you need still more capacity, you can combine those two models for ~37 liters capacity. This is just shy of the capacity of two 20-liter Ortlieb roller rear panniers, all without needing to add the weight of a rack, as you’d need to do for the Ortliebs.

For Radical Design’s larger panniers, of 40 to 70 liters (10-17.5 gallons) a rear rack is required. However, no underseat rack is necessary. This provides as much capacity as a traditional FOUR pannier system (60-70 liters) based on the weight of TWO panniers and a single rack. You can also add an RD rack-top bag (20-30 liters/5-7.5 gal) or seat-back bag to the setup, expanding capacity without adding weight to the bike in the form of additional racks.


Life is Lighter without Mounting Hardware.
Radical Design solo racer in blue

RD bags are also lighter than traditional panniers because they don’t have the weight of mounting hardware built into the panniers. Instead, the bags attach to the bike seat, frame and rack using light but strong nylon webbing and nylon plastic buckles and fasteners such as those found on hikers’ backpacks.


Low Ratio of Weight to Capacity

RD panniers are lighter than traditional panniers of equal capacity. A meaningful ratio is empty bag weight to capacity: how heavy does the vessel need to be to carry the things you want to carry? I’m going to continue picking on Ortlieb here because: 1) I respect them and sell and use their bags; 2) they’re arguably the world’s premier pannier manufacturer; and 3) I want to compare manufacturers who produce similarly high quality goods. It would be meaningless to compare Ortlieb to something that is lightweight due to lack of durability.

Comparison of the weight of Radical Design and Ortlieb empty panniers to their carrying capacity:

Radical Design Banana Large side-panniers
1,080 grams weight : 70 liters capacity
15.43 grams per liter capacity

Ortlieb Back-Roller Pro Plus panniers
2,007 grams weight : 70 liters capacity
28.67 grams per liter capacity

Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic panniers
1,900 grams weight : 40 liters capacity
47.5 grams per liter capacity


Overall cost is similar to bags of equal quality.

It may seem that RD bags cost more than pannier systems of equal capability. However, the cost of the bag is only one of several costs for mounting a luggage system on a bike. Additional costs are: cost of the rack, cost of labor (yours or the shop’s) to install the racks and, the cost incurred by equipment failure.

To create a comparison, here are several luggage systems of similar quality on an HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte in descending order according to carrying capacity.

1) 70 liters capacity
$ 6.07 : 1 liter
Radical Design Banana Large side-panniers (70 liters): $ 276 (at current exchange rate)
Street Machine Gte rear rack: $ 149
Cost for 70 liters capacity: $ 425

2) 70 liters capacity
$ 5.70 : 1 liter
Ortlieb Back-Roller Pro Plus rear panniers (70 liters): $ 250
Street Machine Gte rear rack: $ 149
Cost for 70 liters capacity: $ 399

3) 65 liters capacity
$ 9.51 : 1 liter
Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic rear panniers (40 liters): $ 180
with Sport-Roller Classic front panniers (25 liters): $ 160
Street Machine Gte rear rack: $ 149
Street Machine Gte under seat rack: $ 129
Cost for 65 liters capacity: $ 618

4) 40 liters capacity
$ 8.22 : 1 liter
Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic rear panniers (40 liters): $ 180
HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte rear rack: $ 149
Cost for 40 liters capacity: $ 329

5) 37 liters capacity
$ 9.46 : 1 liter
Radical Design Banana Racer side-panniers (25 liters): $ 215
Radical Design Solo Aero narrow (12 liters): $ 135
No rack required.
Cost for 37 liters capacity: $ 350

6) 25 liters capacity
$ 8.60 : 1 liter
Radical Design Banana Racer side-panniers (25 liters): $ 215
No rack required.
Cost for 25 liters capacity: $ 215

7) 18 liters capacity
$ 19.94 : 1 liter
Ortlieb Recumbent Backpack (18 liters): $ 210
Street Machine Gte rear rack: $ 149
Cost for 18 liters capacity: $ 359


Quality and the High Cost of Failure.

Panniers designed for serious usage are built not to fail. The most common failures I’ve seen with panniers are mounting brackets falling apart, buckles breaking, seams tearing, fabric wearing out in the corners, and straps wearing through. You get some warning as materials wear out and seams tear because you may see it happening. Mounting brackets, however, can fail suddenly when a bolt falls out or a spring mechanism breaks.

There are several costs present here. There’s a cost for over-building the mounting system so it doesn’t fail. There’s an additional cost in terms of what else gets broken when something fails: Does your laptop get broken when your pannier falls into the street? And there’s a cost in terms of secondary damage: Does the pannier fall into your wheel, causing an accident?

I like Radical Design bags’ mounting system because they are simple. Very little can suddenly go wrong: the attachment system is webbing and buckles. And it’s easy to repair if it fails: if a strap tears, the field repair is to sow or re-tie it with thread or dental floss. Repairing a mounting bracket or replacing (or finding!) a lost screw is harder.

I don’t know how to calculate the cost of “risk of failure,” but I value peace of mind.  I get a lot of that from the simple RD strap-mounting system.


Radical Design panniers are easy to carry with one hand, when unmounted from the bike.
Radical Design side panniers in red

RD panniers are like two small duffel bags attached to one another by straps. These straps may be used as carrying handles. The largest, 70-liter, size has carrying handles sewn in. So, when you need to carry your bags off your bike, it’s as easy as carrying one duffel. This feature is particularly valuable in situations where you need to manage the bike with one hand and your luggage with the other. Traditional panniers, each of which is an independent bag, require you to manage multiple separate bags, instead of just one “bag unit.”


Manufacturer website: Radical Design


HP Velotechnik Body Link and Ergo Mesh seats

Here’s a Rider/Robert Q&A
Hi Robert,
[Regarding HP Velotechnik seats] Can you send me any links regarding the different seat options? I know there is another option that come standard with the bike… I think this is probably a really important component for overall comfort.
What are your thoughts for the Ergo Mesh seat? Also, does the headrest cradle your neck? Does it get in the way of your helmet?
Hi B–,
There isn’t much on the HP site about the Ergo Mesh seat.  In my experience, it’s more popular on the trikes than on the two wheelers.  The Body Link and Ergo Mesh are the same “price” — you get either one at no difference in cost.
On the StreetMachine Gte, the Ergo Mesh seat requires the extra-wide underseat handlebars.  The seat is 8 oz heavier and softer, so requires more effort on the uphills.  It’s also a bit higher and that, plus the shape with a straight front, makes it harder to touch the ground while stopped (e.g. at a light).
On the up-side — the benefits — in hot weather it’ll feel more breathable and it has a nice 1 liter capacity zipper pocket at the top of the set. It also has good lumbar support for those who require that.
I sell more Body Link seats than Ergo Mesh, but I always have Ergo Mesh seats on hand for people to try.


As for the headrest, it should be positioned at the base of the neck.  I wouldn’t say it “cradles” the neck, which to me implies support left, center back and right.  The headrest only touches the back of the head, which is desirable so you can turn your head for views, watch traffic, etc.  You can adjust it fore-aft and up-down.  Some people like the headrest touching the helmet, some don’t.  Some prefer it at the base of their neck (personally, that’s where I like it).  Also, riders with a shorter torso may have less room for adjustments than a longer-torsoed rider because you can only lower it just so much until it bottoms out at the top of the seat.
I know of no page on the HP Velotechnik site dedicated to the Ergo Mesh seat but there is one (several, actually) dedicated to the Body Link seat and there are pages with some photos that may help you see the seat:
I hope that helps!

George Washington Bridge bike path inadequate. Speak now.

George Washington Bridge bike path inadequate. Speak now.

Friends and supporters of a better George Washington Bridge:

Our campaign to modernize the George Washington Bridge pathways has seen an outpouring of support.

Of the 429 comments received by the Port Authority on their Capital Plan, 252 concerned the George Washington Bridge paths — more than the bus terminals and PATH combined. Of the 80 people who spoke at a meeting, 13 called for George Washington Bridge improvements.

Despite the outcry, the Port Authority board did not vote for expanded paths in its $32 billion capital budget. They’re holding firm to their preferred list of partial improvements: widened approaches and ramps in place of stairs. As a show of compromise, they agreed to improve sight lines at the towers — which will neither increase throughput nor cost the Port Authority anything. Yet some parties are touting this as a “big win for riders.”

Compared with our needs, these enhancements are small change. We’re still on track to see 9,000 cyclist crossings per day by 2024 and, if Walkway over the Hudson and projections for the New Tappan Zee are any indication, a potential influx of walkers.  The Port Authority’s improvements will not overcome the deficiencies of the grossly inadequate paths.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in cycle tourismpublic health and resiliency at stake, we will continue to press for a proper facility. I am currently researching next steps and welcome all feedback, suggestions, resources or contacts.

Sincere thanks to all of you who contacted the Port Authority, spoke out at a board meeting, discussed the issue with others, or contributed in other ways.


Neile Weissman
Complete George | Facebook | Twitter

PS> If you haven’t emailed the PA and Governor, it’s still useful to do so.

# # # END # # #

Streets Blog NYC chimed in too.


Neile, thanks for spearheading this advocacy work to improve bike travel on the George Washington Bridge, starting when you were president of the New York Cycle Club.  I wish more riders and clubs understood that they may live or die depending on the success of their own bicycle advocacy.


GWB and then some,



Review: HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx

Robert and an HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx in Dutchess and Columbia County, NY.

Robert and an HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx in Dutchess and Columbia County, NY.[Reprint of Robert’s personal review, originally posted on Bentrider On-line.]


Positive aspects: Folds quickly and easily, aerodynamic and fast, full suspension, great high-speed handling, accessories look great.
Negative aspects: Optional under-seat steering upgrade requires a skilled rider.

First, I should reveal that I’m in the industry — I’m an HP Velotechnik dealer in New York City. However, I’m also a happy owner of a Grasshopper fx (“GH fx” or just “GH”), which serves as my “luxury” urban ride. Like everyone in New York, I don’t have any extra space; I store my Grasshopper in my home office. If I want to take a bent with me on the train or bus, the GH fx’s fast fold and carrying bag are ideal. Also, to grab my space on the street, I like a fast ride with nimble, positive handling. And since I have to lift and carry the bike any time I go out — down/up the stairs of my apartment building, down the stairs to train platforms, wedge it into elevators, etc. — a light and compact bent is a good bent, too. Lastly, I ride in all weather, year-round, and need to carry cargo, so strong, well-designed racks, fenders and light systems are a must.

The Fold: quick and easy.

Another reviewer on Bentrider Online has criticized the folding mechanism, but I can’t imagine what the gripe could be. I like it. And I know more than just a little about folding bikes — I also own a Brompton folding upright, possibly the world’s most successful folding bike, and a Montague folding MTB, which, in my hands, is possibly the world’s most abused folding bike. The Grasshopper (in my hands) folds as well as any of them — easily, quickly, smoothly and intuitively. The frame is stiff and straight with a strong hinge design. Ride quality is that of a top-end fold-less bent. And because it fits into a bag, I can carry it onto trains or buses as luggage. In other words, it’s a true folding bike in every way (though not as small as a Brompton).

Aerodynamic: Fast on the flats and downs, slightly slower uphill.

People are often surprised to learn that the seat height on a GH fx is 5″ lower than the bottom bracket which, with the dual 20” wheels, provides a moderately low center of gravity. In spite of this fairly aggressive design, the seat height of 21” and the appropriate front-end geometry make this a full-fledged touring and commuting bent. The GH fx is fast on the flats and stable at speed, even when fully loaded. My machine has the optional under-seat steering, but the standard GH fx comes with aerodynamic above-seat steering. Sometimes I wish I had the speed and turning advantage of above seat steering, but I like the relaxed comfort of USS. It’s a toss up.

It goes without saying that it’s hard, slow work pedaling a bent up a long steep hill. Add to this that the GH fx, like any dual 20″ bent, is additionally challenging to balance at slow speeds, like 3 – 5 mph. Some novice riders might benefit from the stability provided by the gyroscopic action of a big rear wheel (such as on a HPV Street Machine), instead of the GH’s small rear wheel. However, in my experience, the GH handles better on hill climbs than other small-wheeled bents, and, at any rate, as you become skilled and stronger, hill climbing only gets easier. (For context, when I talk about hills, I’m referring to 7 to 12 degree climbs.)

Handling at speed.

At normal and high speeds, the GH fx handles like any HP Velotechnik — it’s positively awesome. With an intuitive and stable ride, and a moderately low center of gravity, it feels secure and responsive on the turns. It’s an unforgettable riding experience.

At low speeds, it’s fine, but the optional under-seat steering (“USS”) upgrade on the GH fx puts a fly in the ointment. As a result, unless you really must have USS on the GH fx, or are an experienced rider, I’d recommend choosing the standard above-seat steering configuration.

Here’s what you need to know about the under-seat steering configuration on the GH fx. First, the ointment: everything about the bike is outstanding, just as you’d expect from the minds behind HP Velotechnik. But, as is normal with USS (but admittedly frustrating), there’s a limit to how sharply you can turn at slow speed before the handlebar (or your hand) hits the seat. Therefore, when you need to make a particularly sharp turn, you need a little momentum (and good balance) so you can bank into a sharp turn.

For me personally, it rarely creates problems in normal New York City riding, which is full of 90-degree turns at intersections, fast starts and sudden stops. The only time I find it truly irritating is when I need to ride at walking speed around obstacles like bridge stanchions (or tourists) or when stopping at a red light where I also need to make a close right angle turn (in this last case, I simply pick up the bike and pivot). Mind you, this is a common issue with under-seat steering bents as well as long wheelbase bents, so admittedly I’m nitpicking an otherwise phenomenal bent.

All in all, this means the handling of the Grasshopper fx has a longer learning curve than other HP Velotechnik bents. The balance issue caused by the two 20” wheels is no big deal and simply requires time in the saddle. The limitations of the under-seat steering option are easiest resolved by simply ordering the standard above-seat configuration or…putting in time and practicing your handling skills.

One important note is NOT to order the ErgoMesh seat with the under-seat steering Grasshopper fx; stick with the BodyLink seat. I’ve ridden about 200 miles on a Grasshopper fx with USS and the Ergo Mesh seat and have tried to figure out if there’s a satisfactory way to make it work; I can not recommend it at all. The handlebars contact the seat too early, causing a significantly wider turning radius compared to the Body Link seat.

Weight-weenies be gone: this is what a high-quality, fully-suspended, folding bike weighs. (My Brompton weighs 31 lbs.)

I can lift the Grasshopper fx with one hand, so I don’t really consider its 33.75 lbs. to be heavy. Still, for a fully-suspended, touring, folding bent, rated to carry 275 lbs. and designed for fully-loaded touring and commuting, it would be hard to find the excess weight (maybe a half-pound could be knocked off the drive train and wheels of the stock build). It is unreasonable to compare this type of machine to a 26-pound non-suspended, non-folding Volae Team, for example. Good rear suspension adds weight as do front shocks. Solid, high-quality folding mechanisms add weight. And touring/commuting bikes, as a rule, are over-built to withstand punishing back roads and still keep rolling.

Comparing the GH fx to my tiny, unsuspended Brompton, which weighs about 31 lbs. (with hub dynamo), or my Surly Cross-Check (diamond frame) which weighs about 30 lbs., I can’t consider the 33.75 lbs. Grasshopper fx to be heavy, especially for a bent. Does it make me work harder while riding up a hill? Undoubtedly, but I don’t notice. And, at any rate, I’m happy to have full suspension and a quality build when I hit bad asphalt while ripping down the Catskills….

Options and accessories fit easily and perfectly.

The Grasshopper fx’s accessories attach neatly and elegantly, as you’d expect from HP Velotechnik. Fenders mount securely and look good. Racks install quickly, are incredibly strong, and look like they belong. The kickstand holds the bike firmly, even when fully loaded. The lights have appropriate mounting points and electrical cables can be run through the frame. The GH fx always looks stylish and classy and even lycra-clad roadies give it the “cool bike” salute.

Long and short, in skilled hands, whether in the above-seat steering config, or with under-seat steering, it’s an amazing ride that does everything, goes anywhere and folds easily to boot.


Amtrak to hold open house at the National Bike Summit

This just came in from the League of American Cyclists:

Have questions about Amtrak’s bike service? This is your chance to ask it!

Amtrak will hold an open house at the National Bike Summit, where Summit registrants can check out train cars with different types of bike accommodations (bring your bike!) and ask questions of Amtrak staff about bike access, specific routes and stations, and how to bring your bike on an Amtrak train.

If you will be at the Summit you can register here to attend the open House (and get a Amtrak Loves Bikes T-shirt) –

If you aren’t coming to the Summit you can submit your questions for Amtrak here-

Amtrak will give written answers to all questions and the League of American Bicyclists will publish answers on our blog. (for those asking questions, we can also send answers directly to your email if you provide it in the survey)

So ask your questions!!


Train on,



HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs: comfortable, stable, easy to ride…and fast.

HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs: comfortable, stable, easy to ride…and fast.

Scorpion fs 26 from HP Velotechnik

Review from Interbike, 2009 of the HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs 20.

The fully-suspended Scorpion fs rides like a dream. Amazingly, it also folds at no compromise to ride quality. When I made an appointment to test ride it at Interbike 2009, I expected it to be fun, fast, and generally very good, but the actual experience far exceeded anything I could have anticipated.

It reminded me of the first — second, third, fourth and 100th — time I drove a BMW car; I expected something special, but had no idea a car could be so responsive, smooth and capable. The Scorpion fs is the same. If you require exceptional quality, you will like this trike.

“Responsive” is the word for the Scorpion fs: fast acceleration, fast braking, smooth as silk, hugs the road, grips the turns at very high speed (and without lifting a wheel) and can brake quickly without raising the rear wheel. And all that means three crucial things: it handles properly in high performance situations; it’s safer; and you can ride up, down and sideways on fairly steep hills without flipping over (exactly like you want, but can rarely get).

Mind you, having said that, a strong and skilled rider — or a very incompetent rider — can lift a wheel during a very sharp high speed turn IF he/she tries very, very, very hard, and intentionally does everything wrong and has enough upper body weight to offset what the engineering is designed to prevent. However, this took such extraordinary effort that it was ridiculous and I can’t recommend you try it. Simply, this is a stable bike due to advanced engineering. There’s not much you can do to mess it up. The bike also runs true: it holds a straight line without steering input and I could take my hands off the handle bars without the bike veering one way or the other. (Note: Hands-free cycling is unsafe on all bikes.)*

Robert on an HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs 20. Do you think he liked the high-speed handling?

Like other HP Velotechnik machines, the Scorpion fs is an extraordinary vehicle. Being designed for riding where stability is critical (mountain and high speed riding especially), the center of gravity is low. However, the frame is sufficiently far off the ground that you have decent ground clearance. Average sized riders will find their eye level below that of a car driver but, in the tradition of HPV’s designs, the rider has a relatively upright posture, as seen in the photo. So, you’ll have excellent line of sight which provides both better safety as well as better sight-seeing.

For riders who expect to ride frequently in and among car traffic, the regular Scorpion or Scorpion fx may be better options, both of which are excellent trikes and position the rider with a higher head-level. However, if full suspension and performance are important to you — rough roads, off-road, high speeds, or you simply like the smoothness of a suspended ride — this is a bike you’ll love.

NB: These notes are NOT recommendations for inexperienced riders to attempt high-performance riding on this or any other bicycle. Likewise, I do not recommend hands-free riding on ANY bicycle. The test described here is merely useful for a professional to see whether a trike runs true and should only be done at slow speeds on a level surface.