Does a long chain get dirtier than a short chain?

A diamond frame rider named Joel posted the following message on Peter White’s Google Bicycle Lifestyle forum:
>> I have always been curious about the long chain on most recumbants.
>> To this decidedly-not-an-engineer that seems a possible source of
>> maintenance issues.
>> Are any recumbant designers experimenting with the drive shafts that >> have been popping up on bikes of late? Is this even an issue?
(Photo: Timo Sairi’s shaft drive prototype recumbent — with smile.
The following was my reply on the forum:
First of all, please understand that, like diamond frame (DF) bikes, recumbent models vary in quality and have a wide variety of designs. Some of the manufacturers’ engineers have addressed the problems mentioned, and some have not.
First of all: ‘bent designs
There are two basic ‘bent designs: long wheelbase and short wheelbase. I only work with short wheelbase ‘bents since a) they are the best adapted to the widest range of uses and b) the manufacturers I choose to work with only make short wheelbase models and c) I like them better.
Chain wear:
My belief is that chain metal experiences wear when it moves and hinges to pass over cogs, and no additional wear as it moves through the air. ‘Bents use identical gearing systems to uprights, with identical cogs and pulleys except that many ‘bents also use one or two guide wheels — called idlers — to maintain chainline and tension. It seems that, overall, long chains wear slightly slower than short chains since any given link is passing over a cog fewer times over a 100 meters of travel distance.
Accumulation of chain dirt:
It seems to me that dirt is introduced onto a chain from the bike’s own tires, from other nearby vehicles and from the wind. It is logical to believe there is a saturation point for dirt on any given link on any given chain; once a chain link is covered with dirt, no more dirt will accumulate.
Naturally, a 2 meter chain saturated with dirt will be hold more weight in dirt over it’s length than a 1 meter chain saturated with dirt. However, I would anticipate that each dirt-saturated chain link is saturated with the same amount of dirt.
Chain care:
It’s the same on ‘bents and DFs. A 2 meter chain will have more dirt over its length than the one meter chain; so a two-rag cleaning job on a ‘bent will be (roughly) a one-rag job on a DF.
Protecting the chain from dirt and your pant legs from the dirty chain:
The most common way to protect the chain from dirt, as on DFs, is with fenders. Everyone knows about those.
Specific to ‘bents, the next most common chain protection is the chain tube, best implemented by HP Velotechnik (HPV). HPV’s chain tube is intended to protect the rider’s legs from chain dirt, to slow down the accumulation of dirt on the chain, and to help prevent chain dirt from getting on the clothes of fellow passengers when you take the bike on a train (or ferry, etc.). This photo from the HPV website shows the chaintubes.
Dutch manufacturer Flevobike, with their Green Machine ‘bent, follows the Dutch tradition of attempting to design a low- or no-maintenance bike. They fully enclose the chain. It’s an intriguing solution since they seem to be using the chain-protecting case as a structural element. But it’s also about 50% more costly than a similarly specced HPV. The metal chain cover appears almost certainly to be structural, efficiently serving a dual-role.
If the bike is not an HPV, I prefer to fit it with fenders, at minimum. With the HPVs, the chain tubes come standard.
Alternatives to Chains:
Shaft drive:
Timo Sairi (, a Finnish architect has designed a shaft-drive ‘bent, not yet in production. One can see it here. We do not think the rider is Mr. Sairi.
More info.
Gates carbon:
While the most promising cost-effective solution would be Gates Carbon Belt Drives, there are numerous design challenges involved in having a long belt drive. At Interbike 09, Gates belts were shown as tandem timing chains, so we are hopeful to see them on a bent some day.
Imagination Drive:
An entirely maintenance-free and weightless solution that is available everywhere for free.

All best,

Robert Matson
copyright 2009 Robert Matson

HP Velotechnik. Yes it’s true. Lower prices.

Demonstrating the best of business ethics and their deep commitment to cycling, at Interbike 2009, HP Velotechnik announced a slight price DECREASE for 2010.

2009 StreetMachine Gte, base price: $2,590 (USD)
2010 StreetMachine Gte, base price: $2,390 (USD) (With the same specs on both bikes. _NO_ component downgrade.)
This is extraordinary.

Generally, in all areas of business, whether it’s bikes or sofas or soilant green or milk, every year, manufacturers increase prices to reflect inflation on raw materials, labor, real estate, shipping, etc. To gain marketshare, factories sometimes choose to NOT raise prices one year, just to slightly undercut their competitors.

With foreign companies, who may benefit from fluctuating currencies, they can get “secret” double benefits from better exchange rates along with the typical annual increase. No one would have thought twice if HPV raised prices 4% due to inflation. Or left prices static to encourage customers to buy their products. However, what THEY did, was LOWER prices on some key models.

Why? Their explanation: the better exchange rate between Euros and dollars meant they were making a bit more money on each bike sold. And they’re willing to pass back that benefit to the people who buy and ride their bikes. In other words, quite simply, they lowered prices BECAUSE THEY COULD without impacting product quality.

What other business in the modern world would extend themselves in a similar way?

Does that mean they may raise prices again if the dollar strengthens? Possibly. Either way, 2010 is a good year for buying HPV products.

The economy is tough in The States right now. Not many of us have $3000 or so to spend on an HP Velotechnik. However, the overall cost/benefit of buying a high quality bike remains in favor of the bike: overall, the bike will save you substantial amounts of money.

There is no better time than now to get rid of the costly burden of a car — or the extra car — along with your gym membership — and replace them both with a Street Machine or Grasshopper*.

You’ll save time that you’d otherwise spend on your commute plus the time spent at the gym. You’ll save money on car costs. You’ll be more fit. Your heart will be healthier. And you’ll be a lot happier. I can almost guarantee it.

* I do continue to think Volae’s are darn good too, and an incredible value.

Robert Matson
copyright 2009 Robert Matson

HP Velotechnik, Grasshopper fx – pics, notes

That’s me on the bike. 🙂

It’s a dreadful business to be sure. Every new bike has to be tested. This unbearable task falls to myself, since it pains me to delegate the job of riding a Grasshopper fx for 50 miles of pure Jersey on a crisp fall day.

Tasks like this put one in an awful temper, so you can well imagine my delight upon finding something wrong with HP Velotechnik’s new Grasshopper fx. I’ll just get it out now: the platform pedals that are supplied with the bike are crap. Truly awful. Specifically, they are too small. Most people would be grateful they provide pedals at all to make demo rides easier. And most people think cheap stock pedals are more than good enough, since most people stuff the stock pedals in a drawer anyway after a week, having replaced with either a clipless system or good platform pedals (e.g., MKS Touring or Grip Kings).

Beyond the stock pedals, from there on out and for the next 50 miles, HPV’s Grasshopper fx simply ruined a perfectly well-tuned bad attitude. And as hard as I looked for something to dislike, I simply couldn’t find it. Instead, I found a bunch of nicities. And a darn fast folding recumbent touring bike.

Let me give you some examples, however, by no means is this list complete. For example, I didn’t mention the rear rack, which is large, light and strong as the dickens.

– OK. The chain tubes that protect your pants and keep the chain clean? They work perfectly. Friction is low. The chain is quiet. And I didn’t get a speck of grease anywhere on my legs, socks or hands, which is odd. The chain tubes are a matte, classy black color. Grumpy people, who prefer ugly and tacky colors, won’t like the color.

– The USS steering is comfortable and enables confident and effortless steering. We easily hit 40 mph on downhills where 35 mph was the speed limit. Nit pickers with a grudge will argue that the Grasshopper fx’s under seat steering is less aerodynamic than other options and might slow a person down by two or three mph. These same people might prefer something harder to steer, like no handlebars. As for me, I dig USS; it’s like steering a rocket.

– The Grasshopper fx folding ‘bent rides like a strong, straightened and trued, non-folding bike, riding true at all speeds — slow uphill or breakneck downhill. At 40 mph, it remained responsive and felt sure-footed and safe. This particular morning, the roads were slick from a morning drizzle, so it was a good test of road feedback and traction, both of which were excellent. The bike’s aerodynamics help press it into the road at speed, providing greater stability and grip.

And there’s the rub. When I’m in a bad mood, I prefer bikes that feel unstable and set my teeth on edge when I’m riding in traffic. If I’m going so fast that my eyes start to water, I also want to feel like the bike is out of control. I want to see my life flash before my eyes. On the Grasshopper, the level of control is fantastic, and that will leave the ill-tempered crowd sorely disappointed.

– The DT Swiss (rear) and Spinner Grind (front) upgraded shocks are extraordinarily nice. I stopped bothering to avoid bumps, cracks, manhole covers and road debris, as I normally do, even at speed. High quality shocks provide a safer bike for several reasons. One, when you hit bumps, even at speed, the wheels remain in contact with the road, providing positive traction. Two, you never feel the need to swerve from your line — and into the path of cars — to avoid obstacles, like broken pavement and potholes, that could cause you to lose contact with the road. Three, they absorb shocks that would otherwise impact the frame which, over many years, can cause frame fatigue. Four, they absorb shocks that would otherwise go into your body, which causes rider fatigue.

– The fenders are solid, provide good coverage, are intelligently designed, and are built with better materials than we normally see on USA bikes. Americans are used to seeing a certain quality (low) in fenders, and we tend to think of these as standard: plastic fenders with adjustable supports that are designed to LOOK like expensive fenders, without all the expensive manufacturing.

The fenders on the GH, like everything on an HP Velotechnik, are on a new level. For example, the braces are reinforced with a metal bridge; the metal bridge connects the supports from the left side of the fender to those on the right side, making the structure very strong. The bolts and fasteners for clamping the supports are especially strong. And the fenders themselves are no ordinary black plastic; they feel especially strong and thick. What this means, in short, is that these fenders aren’t going to break anytime soon.

Fenders are great. The only bad thing about fenders is when they break. And “ordinary” ones break all the time. But the HPV fenders are going to be with you for a long time. For everyone other than the grumpy, that is good news.

-The Magura Louise hydraulic disk brakes work so well I felt like I was driving a luxury car; which makes me mad, because I don’t necessarily like cars. The Louise brakes provide a full range of stopping force from soft to hard, are responsive, give excellent feedback and control, and are, in short, essentially perfect. To sum it up, like any good brakes, these make the bike significantly safer and easier to control on any road at any speed.

– The SRAM dual-drive. I admit to being dubious, at first. Although I like the potential for internally geared hubs, I also like the simplicity of chain rings and sprocket/derailer* systems (*using Sheldon Brown’s spelling). However, I think SRAM is on to something here. I won’t go into the benefits of the predictable stuff — like the fact that you can change the internal gears while standing still, which is helpful on a ‘bent — but what I particularly liked is how widely spaced are the three internal gears, compared to a standard chain ring setup, providing a huge range of gearing for the 27 gears.

I found myself treating the three internal gears more like my main gears, not unlike a 3-speed gear box on a car. I’d find a cog in the cassette that worked for most of what I was riding, and then change the internal gears depending on whether I wanted more speed or was heading up hill or hitting a stop light. I’d use the cassette simply to fine-tune the gearing. It enabled me to take a new approach to gear selection which I thought befitted ‘bent riding particularly well.

– Seat: I was using the ErgoMesh seat, which has a mesh back. I expected to prefer the hardshell BodyLink, but after 50 miles of hills and flats, I can honestly say, pros and cons weighed, I have no preference one over the other. They are both very good. I hope that doesn’t disappoint you.

The ErgoMesh seat is positioned higher off the frame than the BodyLink seat, so your head is higher in traffic. The mesh fabric back is tight and strong so climbing performance is almost equal. It’s comfortable under your bum — I didn’t get recumbent butt — and the ergonomics of the back support is good. While hard-shell seats generally enable better power transfer, I did not notice any loss of performance with the ErgoMesh seat. Maybe there’s a little; I couldn’t tell.

HPV is famous for their attention to detail, and in the case of the seat, there are many examples. I’ll point out the pocket in the seatback. First of all, (a) it closes and (b) with a zipper which is (c) decent quality. Inside the pocket, you’ll find a rain cover for the seat, along with space for a cell phone, wallet, keys, a multi tool and a few gels. I was also able to cram in a warm hat and gloves.

Other details they’ve attended to include the seat back straps used for tightening the mesh. They are wide and strong and include velcro for securing the straps after you’ve tightened them. Lesser seats will loosen during a long ride, so this is a detail I appreciate. After taking the time to adjust the seat mesh to provide good support for my back, I prefer it stays that way.

Another nice detail is they’ve left the structural bars exposed at the back of the seat, so a rear light can be mounted or a water bladder bag can be hung there.

– Being a folding bike that is rated to carry a remarkable 275(!) pounds (rider weight and luggage combined), it should come as no surprise that the aluminum Grasshopper is both exceptionally strong as well as comparatively heavy.

This is a good thing: the bike is engineered to last indefinitely, even under the stress of touring. And a strong frame means it’s efficient with your energy. But riders who don’t need a folding ‘bent and prefer a lighter bike may prefer non-folding touring machines like HPV’s Street Machine or Volae’s Tour, Century or Expedition.

If you care more about sturdiness, lifespan and practicality than ounces, this bike has it in spades. Urban dwellers will appreciate the ability to fold the bike for easy storage at home or work. Air/train/boat/car travelers, who wish to take their favorite ‘bent on a trip, will also appreciate the fold. The long and short is that this bike is a workhorse touring machine that also folds and is fairly small. If that’s what you want, this is your machine.

– More aerodynamic than you might expect, especially from a touring bike. The Grasshopper is a hybrid touring/speed machine. With a bottom bracket at 26.25″ from the ground and a seat height with the ErgoMesh seat of only 22″, we have a 4.25″ raise to the feet. It may come as a surprise that this raise is similar to what you would see with a high racer. For example, Volae’s Team, an ultra-fast 650×650 high racer, has a bottom bracket height of 33″ with a seat ht. of 29″ (with their mesh seat) which gives a 4″ raise to the feet; one-quarter of an inch less than on the Grasshopper fx!

However, giving the Volae it’s due, when using hardshell seats, the Grasshopper fx with the BodyLink hardshell seat gives a 5.25″ raise to the feet. A Volae Team, using the hardshell carbon seat at a height of 26″ provides a very aerodynamic 7″ raise for the feet. This is 1.75″ more than on the Grasshopper.

So, for riders who are concerned about speed, and whether the smaller 2 x 20″ wheels can cut it, you need not worry. Being a heavier bike (especially compared to a Volae Team), the Grasshopper fx will be slower on the uphills, but on the flats and downhills it’s truly an impressive ride.

It is for this reason that I consider the GHfx a folding version of the HPV Speed Machine, but more suitable for urban traffic conditions. The SpeedMachine has a seat height of 20″ with the ErgoMesh seat and a bottom bracket at 27.5″. This raise is 3.25″ greater than on the Grasshopper. The StreetMachine has a seat ht. of 26″ with a bb. of 27.2″, a total raise of 1.2″; more comfortable on a long tour, perhaps, and higher-sitting in traffic, but less aerodynamic than the GH.

The summary of my very positive experience with the Grasshopper is that I think it will appeal to the customer who wants to be able to carry a lot of weight and wants a fast bike that folds down into a small package for traveling or storing at home or the office. The GHfx will also be preferred by an “experienced” rider, by which I mean one who fully understands the advantages that come with functionality and who is comfortable with a fairly low-riding bent in urban traffic. Also, stronger riders will be less bothered by the weight penalty than newer riders.

All in all, it’s all good stuff.

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2009 Robert Matson

HP Velotechnik, Grasshopper fx


Fall is always a time of change in my business, where bicycle sales start to fall off, but the new bikes and bike technologies begin to arrive. At the same time, the creative side of my business begins to pick up, as if everyone is madly catching up on the time lost during the hot summer months.

The weather is better — cooler — for riding and hiking, though the leaves are beginning to fall, hiding the potholes and glass shards and making the wet, oily NY streets yet more slippery.  However much I like Spring, Fall may be my favorite time of year. The time of change. And “change” is always a nice place to be. Besides, with bike sales falling off, I suddenly have more time to ride again, and that is so nice, indeed.

Today I took time to study the details of the HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx: the frame and clamps and springs and braze-ons and the myriad of quick releases and the other details that make these bikes the masterpieces of engineering that they are.

People often ask what could possibly be the difference between an excellent bike, like a Volae, which is really everything a person could reasonable want from a road bike, and an HP Velotechnik, which might be two or three times the price and triple the wait for special orders.

Although the question falls into the category of “you simply have to own one to understand,” today, an explanation began to vaguely take shape: it’s in the details of the darn thing.  Unfortunately, this is a used cliche, but it’s perfectly apt.

HPV engineers have thought carefully and intelligently about each one of the tiniest details. There is nothing misplaced, neglected, forgotten, misaligned. Quite simply, it seems to me, the HPV team set out to create the absolute best human powered vehicle that their collective intelligence could fabricate.  And they succeeded.

Everything seems perfect. Everything is easy. Everything is right. Everything is complete. But, it’s a complex piece of machinery. The user manual, for the bike alone, not counting the manuals for the lights or suspension or Magura hydraulic disc brakes, is 72 pages long (in half letter-sized format). And that’s only the English language version. But it’s easy to read and it’s useful; it’s not merely a marketing piece in disguise. It’s a manual, truly written for the rider. And, as I looked through it, I realized how well it answers many of the questions new riders have. Not all bikes are this complex, but it would be nice if every manufacturer invested in creating a user guide like this. If nothing else, a good manual helps remind riders of the importance of taking care of the bike and how to recognize wear and tear. (Photo of table of contents for Grasshopper fx manual, below.)

There’s only one way to describe the Grasshopper fx: it is a masterpiece. There are other great bikes, Volae’s Century ES foremost among them. But of masterpieces, there are very, very few.

I keep searching for a comparison, something that most of us can relate to. What is this like? What is this extraordinarily good, and that many of us are blessed to have experienced? What is wonderful and fascinating and perfect in a way that — surprisingly — is calming?

Try this. Imagine the most perfect day of your life, the day when everything goes your way. Imagine every ingredient of that perfect day. Imagine the feeling of total perfection of the day, as if everything fits snugly and perfectly. It’s the day we each aspire to obtain, but by all rights, can not ever exist. It is unreachable within the imperfection of life. Or, if it happens, it’s by chance; a fluke; an oddity that could only happen once.

Or, maybe it could happen, if you could only control each and every detail of the day — or, rather, by entirely giving up control over every detail of the day. A day, built entirely of flow, and peace. A day of such evenness that you feel thoroughly alive, eager, alert.

The Perfect Day is the nearest description I can offer for this bike. And, like the perfect day, it oozes life energy. Some things are so fine you don’t dare touch, taste or use them; they’re intimidating; what good is a bike that’s so beautiful that you’re afraid to ride it? Grant, from Rivendell Bicycle Works, wrote a piece in early 2009 describing exactly this phenomenon; that of the conflict between pride of ownership and fear of usership. What’s so wonderful about a Grasshopper is the way it embraces you, instead of intimidating you.  You just want to ride it, no matter where or how.  I’ve even zip-tied a plastic milk crates to the rack, like the cheapest ghetto cruiser, to carry heavy junk across town.  I treat it like a truck as well as like a sports car.  It just wants to go.

For me, the Grasshopper increases my yearning to take it on a trip; it feels like a good companion, for you can see and feel all the attention that has gone into making the bike complete. It’s a bike with soul. It’s a good friend in those quiet moments.

In this way, like anything that is extremely well made, it transcends its existence of merely being a bike. Truly, it is a vehicle, a vehicle for experiencing some of the richness of life.

Neptune’s rig (photo by R. Matson).

Oh, by the way, all those on-line “experts” who say it’s heavy and slow?  Don’t believe them.  Ask for a photo.  They’re probably weak and out of shape.  It’s an aerodynamic frame, goes as fast as you want, and weighs only about 7 pounds more than my Brompton folding bike.  Heavy, my eye.

All best,


Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2009 Robert Matson


2010 HP Velotechniks Start to Arrive.

In case you were wondering what it looks like when HP Velotechniks arrive, here’s a photo.

These are the first of the 2010 HP Velotechniks, ordered at Interbike 2009: a Grasshopper fx and a Street Machine Gte, both with a full commuting and touring fit-out. The SM has HPV’s new seat (photo below).

Thinking inside the box:

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2009 Robert Matson


A recent Screamer TR customer

In an e-mail entitled “in case you are wondering…!”, a friend and customer wrote that he and his wife have been having a great time on the Screamer TR they bought from NYC Recumbent Supply(TM) about a month and a half ago.

Since mid-August, they’ve already ridden about 250 miles, some of it on some pretty long and hilly rides. What’s particularly remarkable and pleasing for me, personally, is that his wife hadn’t ridden a bike for some 15 years due to a back injury. Now, they’re out riding 75- and 65-mile days together!

His note also reminded me that customers wonder if it’s truly as easy as I say to take the bike apart with the SS Couplings and reassemble it. Indeed it is, as “A” (name and initial changed) writes me:

>> We have also mastered taking it apart and putting it together in a few

>> minutes. This has been a great savior. Otherwise I have no clue where

>> and how we could have stored the bike. The two parts also easily fit

>> in the back of our car and we had no need for a rack.

>> We are very happy with the investment and have had a great time riding

>> it.

Most people who consider buying either Rans’ Screamer or Seavo (especially in the more expensive but practical TR (travel) versions that I prefer to sell) think long and hard about the investment. Since I spend a lot of time with each customer, I believe I experience nearly as much “sticker vertigo” as they do. Though I feel confident about the product and thoroughly enjoy tandem riding myself, I can never be entirely sure how a couple will adapt to tandem riding. Will they discover, as my wife and I have, that it’s a wonderful investment in a relationship?

I thought readers might appreciate seeing my note to him, below, after he told me how well it’s been going.


Thank you so much for the update! I really appreciate it. This is wonderful news — that you’ve been able to get in so many miles, have mastered the SS Couplings, everything. Perhaps I’ll get that bungee cord sometime in the spring, no rush on that for me.

The Montauk ride — 75 miles isn’t shabby at all given it seems you’ve barely begun to ride together. I have to assume it’s working out fine for “S”‘s back [name changed] (I sincerely hope I’ve remembered your wife’s name correctly) and I’m so pleased about that. And the 65 mile Escape with hills is a real accomplishment. I heard about the rain and slippery conditions on the Montauk ride and it sounds like a sane decision, to call it quits while you were ahead.

A note to remember, on a wet road, if you let some air out of the tires, you will give yourself a larger footprint, and a better grip, on the road. No flats this time, may I presume? 🙂

If you ever get a photo of the two of you that I can use on my site, please do share. I’d love to have it. Your note makes a great testimonial (again). May I use it???

I’ve been wondering if you switched in the new Captain’s sprint brace?? And, if so, how has this affected the handling and hill climbing?

On that hill climbing, this is a common challenge on recumbents. A few brief thoughts here (besides of course that it’ll get easier as you gain experience):

a) The Marathons are made for sturdiness and puncture protection rather than for speed. Marathon “Racers” are still sturdy and puncture resistant, but have lower rolling resistance and a softer ride. Schwalbe also makes a Marathon Supreme that has yet lower resistance and excellent puncture protection (for a price). That may make some of the hills easier. Marathon Pluses are “bullet proof” but have a lot of resistance. I recommend these folks for recumbent accessories: .

b) When I was at Interbike this past week (the annual USA bike market in Las Vegas), I met with the manufacturer of Bionix. ( This is a high-quality electric assist motor that only adds power in relation to the speed at which you pedal (no pedal, no power). But it can also recapture energy when braking and going downhill. It may be something to consider as an assist on the hardest hills. I am considering stocking them beginning next spring, but of course would do so earlier if you were interested.

c) Of course a larger chain ring or a cassette with granny gear could help, but then you have the low-speed balance issues to address.

I probably don’t need to remind you to resist the temptation to mash the pedals going uphill, since this can lead to knee strain. Also avoid the temptation to pull up too hard on the cranks when using clipless pedals, which can stress the tendons in the direction opposite that for which they’re designed. This seems to be a more common problem for ‘bent riders than diamond frame riders.

At Interbike, I had some great meetings, both with Rans and HP Velotechnik as well as with the manufacturers of components, like Velocity (who made your wheels). My Velocity meeting was rather interesting and although I’ve always liked their wheels, it gave me a new appreciation for their quality controls.

I also had a good meeting with the President/Lead Designer of Rans (Randy Schlitter). He has a rather nice new single short wheelbase ‘bent that I got to test.

At Interbike, I bought two ‘bents (singles) from HP Velotechnik, one a 20″x20″ (wheels) that folds (Grasshopper fx) and their StreetMachine Gte (26″x20″). These both have underseat steering and are everything you’d expect from German engineers. I also got to ride one of their tadpole trikes, which is pretty much a human powered BMW — a lot of fun. With the trikes, their unique design puts the rider high enough that your head is at about eye level with cars but is still stable. I’d like to bring in one or two models next spring, if economics allow.

And two of the new Volae’s arrived the other week. They are superb. Good components, good wheels, frames made by Waterford Precision Cycles in Wisconsin and a company managed by a “demanding but fair” president. They may be the best deal in high quality singles right now. One of the bikes has a travel frame that separates, not too unlike the Screamer TR; it arrives next week. If HP Velotechnik is like BMW, then Volae is like Toyota.

I met with a Waterford executive at the bike show to learn about the Volae manufacturing process and left thoroughly pleased. The bikes demand a lot from me in terms of customization but I couldn’t be more pleased to be working with this manufacturer.

A friend of mine told me to start writing a blog and e-newsletter instead of long notes to my customers :-).

Oh, last thing, I’m helping to coordinate some (free, casual) group recumbent rides starting next spring along with a ‘bent rally. I’ll post the info on my site (, but I’ll also announce them to the “NYCBentriders” Yahoo group, if you wish to take part. Rides will be apx. 50 miles, more or less flat, with a picnic of some sort in the middle. Just a fun casual ride. (BTW, we’re using the NYCC ride library to choose routes, if you have any suggestions or requests from there.

Good to hear from you, A. Very, very glad you two are enjoying the bike.

All best,



Robert Matson

NYC Recumbent Supply (TM)

The Innovation Works, Inc.