Cruzbike as mountain bike

View from a Cruzbike during a mountain bike trip in Colorado.

View from a Cruzbike during a mountain bike camping trip in Colorado.


A Cruzbike friend in Boulder, Colorado recently went on her first bike camping trip.  She had asked for advice about packing and mounting panniers on a Quest and I sent her my bike touring packing list and blog post about using Radical Design panniers.

I followed up to ask how it went.  It turned out the route consisted of single track, not much pavement, steep ups and downs, and generally a roller coaster of a dirt ride.  She decided to take her Cruzbike Sofrider, but it sounds like she could’ve taken her Quest 26 if it had more appropriate tires.

She sent me this note and photos.  I thought it was a great story about how a 26″-wheeled Cruzbike handles off-road riding.

# # #

She writes:

I ended up choosing the Sofrider because the route was mostly dirt – just a bit of pavement climbing at the beginning. There were some very challenging segments. When I say very challenging, I mean mountain bike material – very narrow rocky/rooty tracks through the woods up and down mountains. That part was not what I’d hoped for at all, but I made it through! Also at the end, there was a long 14% grade descent which terrified me. So, I braked hard. I also blew my rear tube, had to learn to change/patch it on the side of the road. ADVENTURES. Perhaps a bit of a “death march”* by the end, but I’m glad I did it and wouldn’t have been prepared without your advice. [*There’s a tradition at Cruzbike that we go for “death marches” every morning of the bike conventions. So far, Jim and Maria Parker have gone easy on us and I’ve been able to keep up.]



Check out the Cruzbike on a bus rack!

Here are the few photos I took on my phone! We rode the bus out of Boulder to Nederland the first evening, biked/climbed (literally scaled a mountain side pushing/carrying my loaded Sofrider) to our campsite which we reached at sunset then biked back all the way down to Boulder the next day.


All the important stuff: sleeping bag, water reservoir, change of shoes….

As for the mountain bike trails, I think the Sofrider sans 20 lbs of load could have faired even better. The problem I ran into was front wheel slip climbing on very steep, loosely packed surfaces.

A more experienced/daring rider could have done more than I did  out there – I tend to play it VERY safe especially when speed is in the mix. I’d rather test my limits climbing than descending any day. On the pavement, no one could keep up with me on the climbs!

# # #

Have fun, think fast,


Vege-Carb Trail Soup

I recently got back from a 7-day backpack trip in the Adirondacks.  He asked for my easy, nutritious, ultra-light and delicious soup recipe.  Great for fully loaded bike touring or backpacking.  This is it.

Robert’s Vege-Carb Trail Soup
Serves one.
2 cups (16 fluid oz) water
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon dry vegetable soup mix
1 bunch angle hair pasta (apx. 3 oz. dry)
1 tablespoon textured vegetable protein (“TVP”)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Add salt to water and bring to boil.  Add soup mix and boil apx. 3 min.  Add pasta and TVP.  Then boil another apx. 5-8 min. (until noodles are soft).  Do NOT drain off the broth in which the pasta was boiled.  Serve with olive oil.


You may replace the TVP and olive oil with a can of sardines packed in olive oil.  To preserve the nutritional content of the sardines, I would not them.  Stir them in at the end or in your eating bowl.

TVP comes in various clump sizes.  Use the smallest clumps for this recipe.

If you’re cooking for a group, just multiply all the quantities by the number of people (e.g., for 2 people, use 2 tablespoons of vegetable soup mix.).

To make dish cleaning easier, add the olive oil or sardines to individual serving dishes and not the cooking pot.

This recipe is for a vegetarian soup.  For a carne alternative, I’d serve, on the side, sardines, dry sausage or a hard cheese like cheddar.  I’d figure 2 oz. of sardines, sausage, or cheese per person if you use TVP or, if you leave out the TVP, figure 4 oz per person.
You can make an excellent variation on this by using fresh kale or other quick-cooking veggies in addition to the dried vegetable soup mix.  In my experience, kale lasts a one to three days, depending on the temperature, and can be slightly crushed in a pack without turning to green glop, though I try not to crush it.  I’ve used fresh veggies on the early days of trips or after stopping at a road- or trail-side grocery or vegetable stand.
For best taste, always use high quality, fresh ingredients.

I’ve used miso soup mix and ramen noodles with unbelievably satisfying results.  Strongly recommended.

This link is similar to the vegetable soup mix I buy.

For those doing cozy-cooking, this recipe almost works, but you’ll need to change a few things.  One problem is that big chunks in the soup mix, like peas, must be boiled to rehydrate. Similarly, the pasta is better if it’s boiled.
To ensure the soup rehydrates, put the soup mix in a bowl with a quarter cup of boiling water, seal the top, insulate it with your hat and jacket, and give it a few minutes to rehydrate and get a head start.  You could also pulverize the soup mix in a food processor before you start your trip.  This will help it reconstitute faster. (If you’re cooking at elevation, this is even more important.)  For the pasta, either “quick” thin ramen noodles or cous cous will rehydrate faster and use less fuel.

I specify boiling the water several times.  The main reason for this is to kill anything in the water, on the dishes, or in the food that could make you sick.  Remember that if you’re cooking at elevation, water boils at a lower temperature so merely boiling may not sterilize the water and food.

Stay well and eat well,

Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2015 Robert Matson

Cruzbikes climb steep hills.

Cruzbikes climb steep hills.

Frequently, people ask me about the limit, in terms of grade of incline, that a Cruzbike recumbent bike can climb up a steep hill.  I personally have ridden a CB Silvio up short 25% grade sections and recently, during a New York Cycle Club ride, I climbed a fairly long, steep hill with grades ranging between 20-25%.  Skill and finesse are required to prevent the front drive-wheel from slipping, but the technique* can be mastered by most Cruzbike riders.  (*Consistent, slow, steady pressure on the pedals while leaning forward over the handlebars.)

Here in New York City, since few of us carry clinometers, it is useful to refer to a specific hill and incline that many cyclists know in order to explain how steep a Cruzbike can climb.  My hill of choice is the incline on the West Side Hudson River Bikepath, north of the George Washington Bridge, at that place where the path S-curves inland, up and away from the river and begins following right next to the highway.  It’s an ugly stretch.  While the hill isn’t long, three things make it hard: it’s crazily steep, it’s very narrow, it curves tightly at the steepest section, and — four things — there’s a traffic barrier in the middle of the narrow bike path that you have to squeeze past.  Cyclists tend to think it’s barely climbable on any bike, let alone on a recumbent bike.

I’ve climbed this hill on a Cruzbike Quest 20 when the asphalt was slick due to a drizzling rain.  And I did not put down a foot.  So, I can say with total confidence that this hill is climbable on a Cruzbike.  In addition, I point to this example as one of the reasons I like Cruzbikes for extended long rides where you don’t have the privilege of choosing your route to avoid the hills.

Several months ago, I was having a conversation with a customer about how the Cruzbike climbs.  This guy now owns a Cruzbike Silvio in addition to a Volae Team rear-wheel-drive recumbent bike he bought from me several years ago.  We were talking about this hill so we’d have a common reference point.  He went out later and measured the hill with a clinometer app that he has on his smart phone.  Here is his note.




Recall that you told me that on your Cruzbike you were able to climb that steep climb on the bike trail by George Washington bridge. I’ve never been able to climb it on my Volae.

Last weekend I measured that hill with my phone clinometer.

The bottom 20 feet or so are at an 18% grade.
The next 20 feet or so are at a 20% grade.
The next 20 feet or so are at a 12% grade.
The top 10 feet or so are at a 21% grade, going around a sharp left hand turn to the flat crest of the hill, and I measured on the outside of the turn where the bike would be.

Now you know exactly what you climbed.

Even though I ran the App calibration sequence, which is a 2-step process turning the phone 180 degrees to cancel out the phone being thicker at the camera end, I found that the app still measured 2 degrees different on the hill depending on which end of the phone was uphill. I measured both ways and averaged to get the numbers above.

This App from plaincode is the only free clinometer App I have found that has an option (still free) to measure in percent grade (after one-time setup in the configuration dialog to switch from degrees to percent) the way cycling people like to do. Plaincode makes their money on paid upgrades for advanced features.

This app is available on Apple, Android, and Windows phones and tablets. Website with links to each of the three App stores:

My ride was a 90-mile round trip from Yorktown Heights to Stinky Cheese on 20th street and back. Their Caveman Blue is beyond way out there. Just enough daylight for it at my all-day, 11 mph rate.

J__ L____

(By the way, this same customer set up his Cruzbike Silvio with a Rohloff Speedhub.  I’ll post a note about that sometime in the near future.)

Have fun, stay healthy, and go enjoy yourself on some steep hills,


Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2015 Robert Matson

HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx on New York regional buses

Recently, a few customers have written me saying they had absolutely NO hassles putting their HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx’s on the regional bus between New York and Washington, DC.One had taken the Bolt Bus, putting his GHfx in the luggage compartment.  The other took Greyhound (also known as Peter Pan).  Apparently the Mega Bus double-decker buses don’t have much luggage space and their website says “no bikes.”

In one case, the cyclist was told he had to put his Grasshopper fx into a box, but when he told the driver that it folded, there were no more issues.  He also protected the bike by wrapping it in a padded blanket.  I’d presume that the padding is optional as far as the bus company is concerned but that they do want cyclists to put their bike in a bag such as the one HP Velotechnik makes for the GHfx.

Also, recently, I had two long distance riders — they were going from British Columbia to Mexico via New York — who put their HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gtes onto Bolt Buses with no problem.  They didn’t even wrap their bikes in protective material.  They were taking the Bolt from NYC to Wash., DC.  Of course, I assume the driver can refuse a bike if he/she has reason to.

Have fun and stay healthy,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
copyright 2015 Robert Matson

Cruzbike heavy duty rack modifications

Here’s the rack.

A customer called me the other day about getting some Radical Design panniers. He had made some modifications to the Cruzbike Heavy Duty rack on his Quest 20. Talking to him, I became very curious about the mods because it sounded like he was solving a problem I too had observed: no place to anchor pannier bags on the side of the heavy duty rack and no way to ensure the Rad. Design bags wouldn’t touch the rear wheel.

His name is Tor Matson (no relation to me, as far as I know). Here are his notes and photos. He’s happy to make the rack for others if you wish.

Hey Robert, here you go…  Here’s my rack, and a shot of my plush air shock, to boot…

This little aluminum rod bit is what makes it all happen; it’s relieved to fit the CB HD rack. Does require drilling and tapping of the rack. I could make these bits if there’s interest…

Here’s the kludge bit. Having the quick-release option is nice, as you can just slide the rack out of the tube, but the hose clamps aren’t so nice. Could TIG some aluminum tube onto the CB rack for a cleaner look, or fab up a better tube-and-clamp system. This is a beta test mule, function only!

Slipped some tubing over the pannier rack, and got a really secure mount. Solid and rattle-free!

I asked him if I could post the photos and his contact info. in case anyone else wants to order one.
Here was his reply:

Bueno! Post it if you like; I could make those pieces if anybody wants one, but I’m happy to just share the idea; it’s pretty simple to fab and is kind of a custom fit thing anyway, but happy to help if I can… If there’s demand, I could make a batch, not totally sure about the tolerances between racks… Mine took a bit of fitting to be perfect…
Tor Matson
Email him at “maryselapierre [AT] gmail”
You’ll need to add the extension, etc. to that e-mail address.

Have fun and ride like the wind,


Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2015 Robert Matson

Happening this evening!

David Kroodsma wrote me this afternoon about his slideshow and talk.  It sounds worthwhile.  I realize this is kind of last minute, but here’s the info.

The Bicycle Diaries — Slideshow and Book Talk

Manhattan: Monday, March 30th, 7pm — NYC Velo Hell’s Kitchen: [1]

Brooklyn: Tuesday, March 31st, 7pm — Red Lantern Bicycles:

Former Stanford climate change researcher David Kroodsma has bicycled from
California to the southern tip of South America, from Turkey to Myanmar, and
across the U.S. twice. Along the way he has talked to hundreds of
people—both laypeople and experts—about climate change, gathering
personal stories about its impacts across three continents.

Join David for a slideshow of his best photos and videos. In addition to
stories of adventure—ranging from fending off a jaguar in Belize to hiding
from police in Tibet—David will share how people across the globe are
currently experiencing climate change, drawing on interviews with people in
28 different countries.

Copies of his recent book, The Bicycle Diaries, a Shelf Unbound Notable Book
of 2014, will be available for purchase.

Visit [3] for more information.


Check it out,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2015 Robert Matson

Riding across the USA: Tom Braunagel

Tom and I on a weekend trip in 2013.

Tom Braunagel, a friend and customer, is in the final stages of planning his USA cross-country trip.  He plans to leave on May 1, 2015.  The link to his journal is here, on the Crazy Guy on a Bike website. He’s riding in part to carry a dream of his father’s and also to raise money for the orphan children of a friend. Very cool.

Tom’s a good guy and I wish him beautiful weather and a tail wind.

I sold Tom a really neat custom yellow HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte recumbent bike.

Have fun and go for it,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2015 Robert Matson

Christmas note from Matthew Hopkins

Matthew Hopkins in Mexico on his custom blue-green HP Velotechnik Street Machine.

Photo by Matthew Hopkins

Our friend Matthew Hopkins is continuing his journey from Alaska to the southern tip of South America.  He sent me this nice Christmas note from Mexico.

I just wanted to wish you a very happy holiday season.

I’m currently in Mazatlán Mexico having ridden almost 18,000 kilometres to date and enjoying a few days off my bike in the company of the family of a cyclist I met a few weeks ago. Hugo,  who featured in one of my last blog posts.
He was generous enough to invite me to spend Christmas with his family.
I’ll spend the new year in Guadalajara and continue east over to Mexico City and eventually to Cancún.

This year has been an incredible one for me.
The beginning and continuation of an amazing adventure, which is far from over.
I am lucky that I have gotten this far and equally fortunate enough to have received support and assistance from you.
I’m very grateful for that.
Thank you very much.
Suffice to say I may well have quit by now, were it not for your generosity.
I’d like to wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2015.

With tremendous gratitude amd continued friendship,

Matthew Hopkins

Stay healthy and ride and ride,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Packing an HP Velotechnik Street Machine in a bike box

Street Machine Gte ready for re-assembly. Photo: M. Hopkins

Matthew Hopkins is in the midst of a 30,000 cycling odyssey on the Pan American Highway from Alaska to Argentina.  He dropped through New York City last week.  I asked him if he’d mind taking a couple photos and sending me his notes about how he packed his HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte for travel on Amtrak.

I was particularly interested in his methods because, besides being an expedition rider, he also has 20 years’ experience as a shop mechanic.  I was curious to see how extensively he took apart his bike, since I figured he’d be comfortable with a greater extent of assembly/disassembly compared to non-mechanic riders.  Interestingly, he chose not to take apart the bike very much.  I think many riders could pack a SMGte like this without any trouble.
HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte ready for Amtrak. Photo: M. Hopkins

Matthew writes:

The bike was packed in two boxes I salvaged from a bike shop. How you pack it depends on the boxes you receive. The larger and wider the better. Mountain bike boxes would be better but I managed to find two city bike boxes. [RM note: these are basically the boxes for packing an ordinary, cheap hybrid.]

  • remove the front boom, lights, computer mount, 
  • unhook the chain
  • remove the front wheel
  • remove the bars
  • deflate the air shock [RM note: if it’s a spring shock, unbolt it.]
  • remove the seat

The bike will then lie more or less flat on its side and the other pieces can be laid in the spaces in between.  I have the ergomesh seat which is the most awkward thing to pack up as it is not exactly a compact design.  I had to tape half a box extra to one end to cover the end of the boom and accommodate the seat.  The sealed box was not the prettiest but protects the bike.

The Streetmachine is not an easy bike to transport. It is heavy, awkwardly shaped and I’m surprised HPV have not released a folding version.  But with the right box it can be made a little more travel friendly.

This is definitely a machine that prefers to be out of the box and on the road.

Sorry the pics are not the greatest, but the staff were hassling me to get out.

Have fun and go an unpack that bike,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson

Hopkins rides an HP Velotechnik on his Pan American Odyssey

Matthew Hopkins with his cool custom blue-green Street Machine Gte. Photo credit: from Matthew’s blog

Matthew Hopkins dropped by New York City Recumbent Supply the other day.  He is riding the Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Argentina, a 30,000 mile odyssey, on a custom green HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte (with Rohloff).  He originally contacted me because he needed a new chain tube.  I didn’t have a spare in stock, but invited Matthew for lunch as a consolation and to see if I couldn’t help him brainstorm a temporary solution.

Here’s Matthew’s blog:

When he arrived, I was wrapping up an appointment with another HP Velotechnik convert (Adam), so we all went to my favorite local source for Caribbean take-out and picked up several containers of ox tail, stewed chicken and jerk chicken.  We had a good time, enjoying the sunshine in my vegetable garden and talked about tents, wasps, water filters, friendly people and the other joys of long distance riding.  And of course we talked about recumbent bikes — this brand, that brand, different considerations, etc.

Matthew has 20 years experience as a bike mechanic, so he knows bikes.  It turns out he owns three HP Velotechniks: the Street Machine Gte he’s riding, a Grasshopper fx, and a Scorpion fx (with Rohloff).  He seems to believe the best option for a machine that will be reliable for 30,000 miles is an HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte.  And if it were me, I’d make the exact same choice.

Have fun, ride far,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2014 Robert Matson