Arrived yesterday, Thursday, in St. Charles, IL (W of Chicago).
Had dinner with Cruzbike team. Met new teammates Robert Holler and Lucia Parker and Jonathan (last name?) from Coventry Cycle Works. Nice, smart people. Talked about new current bikes, new fantasy bikes, discontinued models. I’m going to keep mum on that point and leave it to CB to announce these. (If they were to go with one of my ideas for a fantasy bike though, fans of CB would flip out. I’ll say no more. We’ll just have to see what happens.)
OK, about that new Red Vendetta that suddenly appeared on the CB website the day before yesterday. I’m told that Tolhurst believes the new model has a stiffer front end than the previous V and is a POUND LIGHTER than the old model. The front end is definitely more adjustable. Personally, I liked the old Vendetta and the fact that the rider had a customized fit. This is appropriate for a race bike. But a more adjustable front end means riders can experiment more with their riding position as they get used to the bike. Also, in truth, it makes the bike more sellable, both for me as a dealer, but also for the “used” market. It’s an interesting move. I think it will be a hot item.
The new Silvio. The seat angle remains 27 degrees. The “S30” means seat=30 degrees, but it’s really 27 deg. I predict great things from this model. I’ve already sold a significant number, so I anticipate this run will sell out very quickly.
This morning, Friday, we had the traditional Cruzbike Death March. I don’t know why, but it seems the term “death” really turns people off from showing up in the hotel lobby at 5:30am for a 3-mi. jog to the pool, an hour swim, a soak in the hot tub or sauna, and then breakfast.
Still, 4 of us were there. Plans for tomorrow’s Death March are forming, but we’d like to do a ride. We’re still honing in on the route, but, this year, I brought pedals and bike shoes in case we go far and fast. By the way, in person Maria is very nice, quick to laugh, serious, energetic. There must be something about a race that brings out her competitive side. Or else, she’s just competing at a whole different level than most of us. It reminds me of when I’ve worked with other world class athletes like at the NYC Marathon, or pro open water swim competitions, or the English Channel-league swimmers (through CIBBOWS); there’s an easy-goingness that they carry in their ordinary life that disappears — surely it must disappear — entirely in a competion.
I’ll try and post more news later today or tomorrow.
So, a customer (David D.) with a Cruzbike Quest 26 found himself with a problem none of us had encountered before. Basically, it was this. There are a few thick hard rubber pads between the seat and the mounting plates. The pads were slowly migrating out of position. The customer (David D.), was understandably concerned that he might lose the pads someday and, thereby, their functionality.
We didn’t have a factory authorized solution, but had a shop solution (Gorilla Glue the pads to the seat).
David was looking for a solution that was more elegant, perhaps, and less fixed. He wrote me the other day to tell me about it and I think it’s a brilliant and creative “Home Depot” solution, truly worthy of a Cruzbike rider. I love the resourcefulness he shows here. If anyone else has a similar issue, perhaps you’ll find this helpful!
Aug 9 (3 days ago)
Thank you for your help. I thought you would like to know that I believe I have found a solution to my issue of shifting rubber pads under the quest seat. To replace the pads, I found at the hardware store a large rubber hose. This is the hose used to drain a clothes washer. The wall thickness was roughly the same as the pads. By heating it in boiling water I was able to flatten it and cut it as a single piece slightly larger than the bracket that the seat mounts on. By having a single pad that both screws pass through this pad will not be able to shift while riding. To address the issue of the screws loosening I added a star locking washer. This seems to result in stable seat attachment and still allows for an easy seat release that I need for placing my bike on my car rack.
The Quest 20″, also known as the Q451, is taking a redesign holiday. We hope to see it again in seven or eight months. Meanwhile, there are a good number of Q451 owners already out there, who, like me, absolutely love the small wheel format for being so transportable.
One of the few downsides to the bike is the tire size. In brief the metric size “406” tire is the common 20″ tire found on BMX bikes and most recumbent trikes and bikes and the 406s are easy to find. The metric 451 is harder to find at your corner bike shop (does a corner bike shop really exist in New York City anymore?), however it has its fans among discerning BMX riders, who seem to like that slightly larger wheel.
The 451 also seems to have a fan in John Tolhurst, the genius behind the Cruzbike design. So, I keep a casual eye out for appearances of new 451 sized tires.
I’ve never been too concerned about the comparative rarity of 451s because I’m a Schwalbe dealer, and Schwalbe makes some of the best tires in the world hands down, and Schwalbe makes some extremely good 451s.
Here are the 451s produced by Schwalbe:
Durano 28-451 (20×1 1/8) – a great all-around road tire Mow Joe, 37-451 (20×1 3/8) – a great knobby tire. Do you need it? HS 302, 25-451 (20×1) – I know nothing about it, but it’s listed on their site. Shredda, 28-451 (20 x 1 1/8) and 37-451 (20 x 1 3/8) – a BMX tire for ramps, etc., which means it’s also a great street tire and the widest 451 from Schwalbe. Ultremo ZX, 23-451 (20 x 0.90) – one of the best — fastest, lightest, most puncture resistant — road race tires. Kenda Kwest also makes a few 451s, but I’m less excited about them.
The rubber pads under the seat of a Cruzbike Quest are attached with glue. As a result, those pads might move and migrate around their mounting point over time or even fall off while riding and get lost. How annoying is that?
In the world of recumbent bikes, it’s not uncommon to discover that a manufacturer isn’t yet producing a replacement part for some tiny item, or their stock pile is small. This might be an example.
So, what do you do if you lose one of those pads and don’t have a back-up yet from Cruzbike? My solution is the following.
I’d create a pad of a thickness equal to the original pad by layering a bicycle inner tube multiple times with Gorilla Glue between each layer (like a wafer cookie). Then I’d cut it to the necessary size and shape with an Xacto knife or box cutter. (Finesse is unnecessary, by the way.) In this case, I would use an inner tube mainly because it would have the right properties (flexible, grippy, cheap) and is the sort of thing a cyclist might have laying around.
If you don’t have an inner tube to sacrifice (or resurrect), I’d look for something with similar properties by browsing the isles of a large hardware store. The main thing, it seems to me, is that you’re looking for a piece of strong rubber that would stay flexible under a wide range of temperatures and will not permanently compress. Neoprene might be a good rubber for this purpose, too, but maybe harder to source.
Maria Parker on a Cruzbike Vendetta. She’s a lot faster than me.
OK, so, after a long cold icy winter of running, swimming, skiing, skating and hiking, and riding beater bikes fairly short distances on the salt and slushy streets, I finally felt like it was warm enough to deal with the 15? 20? 30? mph winds in the face while riding a Silvio or Vendetta.
I never ride the RAAM Vendetta I have in the shop. For one thing, I like to keep it shiny, clean and new. For another, I prefer not to string up the front derailers on S’s and V’s to make them easier to adjust for demo rides or the final customer. So, any time I ride the shop’s S, for example, I’m in the middle chain ring the whole time. It’s great for a demo, but it kind of puts a limiter on your fun.
For the V, I really don’t do demos. I offer look-sees and a demo on the S. I simply feel V’s are too fast and hard to handle for anyone who hasn’t already put in a thousand miles or so on a high-speed CB. Moreover, the sizing is a rather final on the V; you can’t just slide a boom in and out over a long range to fit a wide range of different sized riders as you can for the Silvio. It’s more a measure thrice and cut once sort of deal. And, I feel, for the rider, the Silvio 2.0 is so nearly like the V in ride quality, just less time-trial-y, that a demo on an S really tells you everything you need to know: do you like it? Does it speak to you? If you like the S, but want to go faster, get the V.
But spring has sprung in New York City and I began to get antsy from looking at the V all winter, fielding questions about it, and never riding it. So I finished it last week and took it out in Prospect Park for a few demo rides.
This thing is so unbelievably fast and twitchy and responsive and stiff and aero and with such a tight cockpit, that my first ride out was really — again, as with all my first Cruzbike rides — just holding on for dear life.
That first ride I did only about 7 miles because I was mainly just checking the build. But, more than anything, when I got off, my primary thought was that I had absolutely no idea what I’d do with a bike this fast other than ride incredibly far in a lot less time than I’m used to. I wondered if I needed to sign up for a brevet just to start bringing the world back into balance.
But I like going fast. So I took it out again for another ride. And then another.
My second ride, I went out for an hour, again still holding on for dear life, but getting a better sense of how to handle it. I did 20.5 hilly miles in that hour and really felt no fatigue. Kept up with some of the pros and semi-pros who train in the park and with whom I have no business keeping up. Went out a second time a few days later, knocked off another 20 mi. in an hour.
Who is this guy? My idea of serious riding is pedaling 13.5 mph down remote roads with 35 lbs of food, clothes, and wet camping gear on an HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte. The road itself changed character at the speeds I was hitting. This isn’t cycling. Is this cycling? I realized: this means I could ride the 180 miles up to Chatham, NY in one day instead of two. I began to think about lycra, damn it. Lycra!
So anyway. Got a Vendetta here. It’s fast. It really is. If you like the idea of that, get one. I’m pretty tempted to buy one from the shop for my personal use. And I’m such a touring dork that I really might try and figure out how to hang panniers from it. I mean, think about it. If I’m doing 20.5 mph with winter legs, I could probably hold 17-18 mph on the open road with summer touring legs and Radical Design’s aero panniers. 8 hours of riding, 8 hours of goofing around, 8 hours of sleeping…. That’s like three and a half days from Brooklyn to Mt. Desert Ile. Heck, it takes two days in a car and you’d be dying of boredom.
Kind of changes the notion of “possible.” And of “cycling vacation.”
Anyway, other things.
I received Cruzbike’s regular, irregular seasonal newsletter the other day.
Silvios: they are sold out of all current models. You missed it. They anticipate having new stock in mid-June or so.
Vendettas: there are a few frames left. I anticipate those will sell out soon and that’ll be the last of the 25 models in the RAAM V production run.
Riding a Cruzbike requires a fair amount of coordination between the hands and feet. For many people, myself included, it takes practice to master that coordination. Some people are more patient with themselves than others, but I assure you that if you’ve bought a Cruzbike, your utter patience and practice is a worthwhile investment in a really neat, high performance machine.
The following are some of the drills I give customers (and myself), for refining the coordination required to confidently handle a Cruzbike.
The payoff is that these drills will help make the hand-foot coordination second nature more quickly than if you simply spend your time riding down the bike path.
Guiding Principals and Tips for getting the most out of the drills.
Press with your feet, pull with your hands. So, you will pull with your right hand while you press with the right foot, then you will pull with the left hand while you press with the left foot. Got it? This is as opposed to pressing with the right foot while pressing with the left hand. I know the “official” Cruzbike instructional videos show an open handed “pressing” technique for beginners; I teach a pulling technique. We’re both right but I find it easier for me to pull against the bars and that’s how I teach others.
Concentrate on coordinating a brief moment of “punctuated thrust” between your foot (pressing) and your hand (pulling). Continue a very tight mental focus on that coordination while doing the drills. For a while (how long varies by individual), you the rider may need to think a lot about the coordination. After a while, it will become second nature.
Make everything other than the coordination as easy as possible. Bring the seat to the most vertical position possible. This makes it easier to balance.
Wear reasonable shoes. Don’t try and learn with toe clips or sandals.
For all the following, first ride with two hands, then ride one-handed, alternating left and right. When riding one-handed, switch from left to right hand on the bars after every 10-20 pedal strokes. The exact number doesn’t matter; you simply want to make sure you’re working the same amount on both sides.
Bike speed is slow during the drills. Although your cadence will often be fast, ride at a low comfortable speed for all drills. In fact, your riding speed under all conditions should always be “comfortable” and under control. Never, ever ride a Cruzbike (or any bike) at a speed beyond where the coordination feels comfortable and second nature. Take this advice seriously. Your welfare depends on it.
While doing the drills, your aim is to be perfectly in control of the steering, always. This means there is never a moment where the bike is in control of you as opposed to vice versa.
Do the drills both laying back in the seat as well as sitting up straight, with your back off the seat.
The goal is to build your coordination between the motion of your feet and your hands. Keep pushing at the limits of your coordination by increasing the speed of the cadence from slow to “too fast.”
These sorts of drills are not unique to Cruzbikes. Every recumbent rider can benefit from them. For the record, standard frame riders who want to ride well do drills like these as well.
– Slalom “S” turns: pick a comfortable slow speed and maintain it. Make slalom “S” turns beginning with narrow turns and then gradually get wider till the turn is exaggerated.
– Figure eights and double figure eights. Maintain perfect control, pedaling continuously.
– Figure eights: open circles, decrease the radius with each circuit till you can’t go any smaller.
– Cadence/coordination: Begin riding at a moderate cadence, gear up and ride with a very slow cadence. While maintaining speed, gear down to easier gears, maintaining speed while increasing the speed of your cadence, keep gearing down while increasing cadence till you can no longer maintain the coordination between your hands and feet.
– Create an obstacle course on the ground, whether it’s by choosing marks on the pavement or dropping your hat and gloves in a pattern. Challenge yourself to ride the course, changing cadence from slow to ultra fast as you ride. Adjust the course, continually making it more challenging.
I just returned to New York from the Recumbent Cycle Con (RCC) in Los Angeles. A superb experience and a fun trip. Loved the light, ocean, and mountains. Too bad about all the driving, highways, and traffic. I’ve heard people wonder how New Yorkers get by without cars. But how do Angelenos get by with them? I felt I couldn’t easily get anywhere!
But RCC was a blast. I continue to believe that the best things about bikes (and trikes) are the people you meet as a result of being a cyclist, and the experiences you have with those people, whether it’s shooting the breeze with a fellow cyclist at a traffic light, or going on a group trip, or racing, or advocating for cyclists’ rights, or helping a fellow cyclist you find sidelined along the road, or attending a bike show, or any of those other experiences that result from being an engaged member of the world’s cycling community.
Robert demonstrates a track stand on a Mirage Nomad, a shaft-drive ‘bent.
Glad to have had the chance to ride it. Photo copyr. 2013 R Matson
As for the machines themselves, bikes are cool, some more than others, but they’re just bikes; they’re a means to an end, not the end-all and be-all. They’re a lever, a tool for amplifying what your mind and body want to do and could perhaps do anyway. Without the machine, you could have similar life experiences, you simply wouldn’t go as fast, or as far, or, maybe, get into as much trouble. So, the potentially coolest thing about a bike show, for me, is the people; next, it’s the experience I might have with them; thirdly, it’s seeing what people are thinking about and the problems they’re trying to solve with human powered equipment — the bikes/trikes/drivetrains/chains/headsets, etc. Maybe it’s because I’m less a gear-head and more a traveler, but what excites me about a great machine is not the engineering; it’s the experiences a machine could open up for me and, then, whether that machine will get me safely to the other side. I feel similarly when it comes to dealing bikes. First and foremost it’s about people and the experiences a 2- or 3-wheeled human powered tool make available to them, whether during the sales process, or years after when they’re pedaling through Arthur’s Pass (South Island, New Zealand).
At RCC, I met many people who, till now, I knew only by name, e-ml, phone or photo. People turned out to be pretty much as I anticipated: people I thought would be super, turned out to be super. I had wonderful conversations with the people from Cruzbike and HP Velotechnik and I’m going to continue what I’m doing with them. In their own segments they are the leaders for good reasons. Had good conversations with several others, too many to name. I met Catherine and Hubert van Ham of Radical Design, the recumbent pannier manufacturers, who didn’t have a booth but attended the show as visitors; really nice people. Hase remains impressive. I was also pleased to meet the other dealers in my “neighborhood.”
Trisled Rotovelo, brought in by Nanda Holz of SpinCyclz. Photo copyr. 2013 R Matson
Several discoveries in terms of bikes and trikes. Yes, lots of trikes were shown as manufacturers try and respond to the demand for T’s. The average number of wheels per bike over the entire show was, I don’t know, 2.9 or so; less cleverly, more clearly said: trike showings dominated though maybe not in terms of speed. A few manf’s. had prototypes of clever trikes, folding and otherwise, and it’ll be interesting to see what they present as production models. A few new bikes, some of which I may bring in. I won’t be too specific right now so as not to disappoint people. Also, again, when it comes to recommending machines to customers, I’m highly concerned about reliability and quality and, with new machines that lack a track record, can we be sure to get that?
Cruzbike Morning Death March, group photo. Photo copyr. 2013 R Matson
Cruzbikes won the “slow-riding” as well as the “turning radius” contests. No surprise. But also the jockey Abram (photo of Abram) was, I heard, a gymnast in the past, so it might have been more than just “about the bike.”
I realize readers of this blog might like to hear my analysis of what I saw and liked or otherwise, but since I’ll be making business decisions based on my ideas, I’ll keep them to myself. Meanwhile, event organizer extraordinaire Charles (Chuck) Coyne of Recumbent and Tandem Rider Magazine was there, along with Chris Malloy and Travis Prebble of Recumbent Journal, and Bryan Ball of BentRider On-line, and I’m sure we can depend on them to write round-ups.
– Nanda Holz of Spin Cyclz (CA) imported a couple dozen of the Trisled Rotovelo and had one at the show. Good ride and nice idea for an inexpensive velomobile. Good enough in every way with one aspect I thought was non-ideal: the pedals rotate rather close to the pavement so I personally needed to adjust foot position to avoid heel strike. I don’t believe I personally, could ride it with clipless pedals or toe clips; someone with small feet might be fine. I pedaled near my instep with platform pedals, which is okay, but not my normal pedaling position. I’d recommend using heel straps with it. Lots of storage capacity inside. Call me if you want one.
– HP Velotechnik was, as expected, extremely polished and professional and was possibly the busiest booth. They had their usual top of the line bikes/trikes and the new dirt trike. They showed their new electric/pedelec system which is, in several important ways, an improvement over the Bionix solution. Call me if you want more info., etc. (Robert: T: 646-233-1219.)
– Cruzbike was possibly the darling of the show and Maria Parker gave one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard at the industry dinner. Entitled “Doing something hard,” it was ostensibly about her experience during RAAM, but was equally a TED-type talk about how to…do something incredibly hard. For the bikes themselves, only a very few people seemed to have trouble “getting” the Cruzbikes. I think we (the dealers) have gotten better at teaching people how to ride them. For a limited time, there is a slight discount on the 20″ folding model. Call me if you want more info., etc. (Robert: T: 646-233-1219.)
– Prototypes of several new folding trikes and bikes were shown in addition to the usual suspects who have production models. There’s a long way between prototype and production model, but it was exciting to see people working away at this challenge. I’ll keep folding machines on hand and will increase what I carry if and when the new ones pass the various quality tests and go into production.
– The Mirage Nomad shaft drive prototype was there. Nice idea and the ride quality is as good as similar designs.
– TerraCycle has a full length fabric fairing/sock. They are again making their tailsocks but now they are also offering a full length sock that attaches with velcro to their front fairings. So, if your bent can accept TC’s LARGE/FULL front fairing, and has the mounting points for the TC tail sock, you can inexpensively make a fully faired ride. Head opening at the top and totally open on the bottom. I’m a Terracycle dealer if you want more info., etc.
– Lightfoot showed several of their HUGE fat wheel bikes and their ATV-like Quad. They use Surly Large Marge rims/tires. Fun to ride.
Next Recumbent Cycle Con. slated for Sept. 27-28, 2014, in Chicago!