Staying warm when it’s cold.

Neile Weissman, current President of New York Cycle Club, leads a tropical ride on an incredibly cool Rans Enduro set up for snow.
I wrote several blog entries about staying warm during the winter.  They remain as valid today as the days I wrote them.
Artist and outdoorsman Mike Clelland drew this awesome illustration
for New Yorkers after superstorm Sandy came through.

10 Tips for Getting Warmer When the Heat Is Off

Wind chill, warm hands and telemagenta Speed Machines


Important! Help me raise $250,000 to increase access to recumbent bikes in New York Metro

Vote here. It’s fast and free.

Voting ends Nov. 15 at midnight.

I need your help, guys.  And I need it now.  Please.  Voting ends Nov. 15 at midnight.  I still need more votes.

I realize recumbent bike riders in the NY Metro area wish we had a larger dealership here.  I feel the same way.  And I’d like you to know I keep hammering away at it.

Some of you know the business and you know how incredibly hard it is.  That’s especially true in a high-cost region like NY Metro where we pay 3x what others pay for real estate and 2x more for utilities.  Those of you who know me personally know how I knock myself out to grow the business, every day.

At last weekend’s Recumbent Cycle Convention, dealers and manufacturers from all over the country, pretty much to a man, expressed overwhelming support for what I’m doing, including offers to help if they can, etc.  The level of kindness was really touching.  And it appears I’m on pretty much a similar path to everyone else, doing similar things.  (It also turns out that a few manufacturers consider me their “best” dealer; that felt good.)

None of you will be shocked to hear the main obstacle to growing New York City Recumbent Supply is money.  So, I’ve applied for a huge competitive grant from Chase Bank.  If I get it — if we get it — it’ll be massive and will dramatically increase access to recumbent bikes in our region.

All I need is your vote.  It’s fast and free.
To be considered for the first round of this competitive grant process, I need your support: your vote, in fact.  And the votes of your friends.

The link is below.  When you go to the site, Chase is going to ask for Facebook stuff.  They say they don’t use or retain the info.  I assume it helps prevent voter fraud.  But I don’t know.  I don’t control it.  Unfortunately, some people have found this off-putting.  Please don’t be put off.

Vote here:

Thanks to each of you for helping grow the bent-riding community in Greater NY.

All best,
Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2013 Robert Matson


Urban commuting recumbents: best models and requirements

I specialize in selling ‘bents for urban commuting and touring. Individual rider requirements may vary outside the NYCity Metro area. These are my notes about the challenges bent riders face here and the models I currently recommend.

NYC urban commuters and tourers tell me they need:

a) Even if heading out of the city, riders need to traverse 5 – 25 miles of city traffic before hitting suburban roads, so good stability in stop, slow and go traffic is important (a low center of gravity helps);

b) many touring trips begin with taking the regional light rail (LIRR, Metro North, NJ Transit, Path, subway, etc.), so bents MUST meet rail restrictions, e.g., must be less than 80 inches in length (no long- or medium- wheelbase), and you must avoid getting grease on fellow passengers;

c) bents need to fit in apartments, around sharp corners, into an elevator, or up the stairwell of a 19th century brownstone (should be narrow, light, short);

d) bikes should be lockable and not too vandalize-able;

e) bike geometry should position your head high enough for drivers to see you in normal traffic (a mere safety flag isn’t good enough);

f) high-racers in a “non-twitchy” geometry can work for riders who are comfortable “hobby horseing” in traffic and are able to get their feet on and off the pedals quickly, though many prefer the lower bottom bracket and lower center of gravity of 26x20s and 20x20s;

g) a tight turning radius is vital to negotiate corners at low speed (so the stretch LWB bents aren’t great);

h) chain tubes or other chain protection is a plus, not only to keep your clothes clean but to avoid getting grease on fellow train riders;

i) easy to mount accessories like lights, racks, fenders and mirrors;

j) fat tires should fit fine.

Some cities’ buses have bike racks which can’t handle ‘bents. NYC buses don’t have bike racks, so it doesn’t affect us.

City commuters seem to generally prefer these bents:

HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte

HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx

– HP Velotechniks (Street Machine Gte and Grasshopper fx) lead the pack for replacing a car and for riding to work. I like the GHfx because it folds and is designed to take on planes, trains and buses, but prefer a SMGte for long trips. While plenty high in traffic, the GHfx’s head height is about 4″ lower than a SMGte and slightly more aerodynamic.

Since both the GHfx and the SMGte were specifically designed to handle urban commuting and touring, they do it well. What’s great: chain tubes; chain ring covers; fat tires and studded winter tires fit fine; full suspension; high quality racks/fenders/kickstands; mesh and body link seats are cable-locked; easy to install dynamo lighting systems; excellent fairing options.  And best of all, stylish design and a full choice of colors.  And that is important in NYC.

Cons: expense, so a bit painful to lock on the street; some vandalize-able parts. Basically, the HPVs are perfect urban commuting bikes, esp. with secure bike parking.

– Rans’ V-Rex and Rocket are nearly perfect with the Rocket better than the V-Rex because a) it is smaller, b) studded winter tires fit along with fenders and c) the Flip-It with Ahead makes the front fork and wheel lockable.  It’s too bad that the Rocket is out of production (at the time of writing).  Any that remain in stores should be a good deal since they’ll be used and/or amortized.

Rans has always been superb in its design and support for loaded touring, so it’s natural for their ‘bents to work well for commuting. The V-Rex and Rocket easily take racks and fenders and both frames with mesh seats are easy to lock. Points for being steel and strong. Studded tires won’t fit with fenders on rear wheel of V-Rex. Neither bike is terribly expensive, so there’s less heartache in locking it up on the street. Some but not all vandalizable parts can be secured (e.g., sprint braces, seats).  The Flip-it build is nice and narrow, making it easier to manage the bike inside buildings.

On the down side, wheel upgrades are needed to handle potholes, cobblestones, old rail lines, etc. at normal speed. V-Rex fork/stem not lockable. New riders may find the Rocket relatively unstable at crawling speed. Current design for V-Rex makes for a wide, real-estate-hog of a bike.

– Volae’s Tour takes first prize for bang for the buck, but for a few hundred more, the Century is the better bike. Both are superb frames with excellent stock components and chic and stylish designs.

Being stick frames, they’re a bit hard to lock, so we designed and imported a high quality locking solution so carbon seat, wheels, stem and fork can be secured. If one prefers the mesh seat, it’s easily cable lockable (and rather comfortable). Rack solutions are good: we’ve figured out how to fit the excellent Tubus racks onto Volaes, but riders can also use a standard Old Man Mountain rack. TerraCycle makes a good under seat rack. Standard fenders fit fine. We custom-specced an Urban Century(tm) specifically for urban use (with strong wheels, puncture-“proof” tires, and a travel frame for easier storage and travel.

Truly, I love Volaes because they’re high quality and a pleasure to ride and behold. I only wish for more wheel space in the frame so we could safely install studded tires along with fenders for riding in snow. They’re particularly apt for city streets for several reasons: elegant but not flashy, safe and high quality components, light and thin and easy to carry up stairs, good head height on streets, perfect rear-view mirror mounting. Due to the numerous size variations, riders get a bike that fits like a glove. Good TerraCycle fairings are available. In sum, they’re darn nice bikes.

The only downsides might be:
Not many skilled dealers besides New York City Recumbent Supply and fairly extensive dealer training is required to provide proper fitting.
Generally designed for a lighter payload. Rider plus luggage has to be less than 250 pounds.

Cruzbike Sofrider.
I’ve been positively impressed by the models from Cruzbike. The Sofrider, in particular, is a good city bike due to its low cost, good speed, tight turn radius, full suspension, room for fat tires, and easy lockability. For a rack, use the Old Man Mountain Sherpa. See my blog entry about how to install it. Ordinary Planet Bike fenders work, but they provide incomplete coverage; for total coverage, use two rear fenders. It’s good to have a city bike that looks unimpressive, and the Sofrider fits that bill.  In fact, I get more questions about whether I made the bike myself and fewer awkward questions about how much the bike costs. I’ve heard rumors of on-line complaints that the front tire slips when powering up steep inclines on a wet road. I live in a hilly area of Brooklyn, and I ride in the rain, and don’t experience terrible slipping. I’ve solved this, in part, by installing a fat front tire, learning to ride with steady constant pressure, moving my body weight towards the front when starting on a hill. When none of those work, you can walk the bike up the hill but I think I’ve only had to do this once. (No commuter will be disqualified for touching the ground with his or her feet.)

Any of these bikes will pay for themselves within a year, when used for daily commuting, based on daily savings plus resale value.

1. HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx
2. HP Velotechnik Street Machine Gte
3. Cruzbike Sofrider
4. Cruzbike Quest
5. Volae Tour

“Best City ‘Bent for the Buck” is probably the Cruzbike Sofrider.

If a person has $3,000 – 5,000 to invest in a ‘bent to replace their car, an HP Velotechnik is the way to go.  Looking to spend less?  Go with a Cruzbike.


Robert Matson
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.


New SWB bent from Rans: the Enduro Sport

Hi Folks,
I just got in from Interbike about an hour or so ago. Wanted to post this before hitting the sack, because it’s pretty interesting.
OK, so Rans presented a new SWB bent: the Enduro Sport. It’s basically the F5 in a 20×26 configuration; so a combo of the V-Rex and the F5. 2″ diameter Mono-tube frame. Has an over-under idler, so it looks an awful lot like the Bachetta Giro 20. Handlebars: current V-Rex style, superman.
Components same as current V-Rex (as shown at the show). They showed it in a beautiful deep metallic red they call “Rush Red” (not the Corvette red of their other bikes). The paint looks great.
Randy Schlitter (designer/president) told me they’ll offer it in Small, Medium and Large, which is great, since Rans didn’t have a SWB bent for smaller riders.
What’s also cool is that it has a lower seat height than the V-Rex, making it both more stable, and even better for smaller riders. I don’t have the measurements for the bottom bracket, but it felt pretty close to the V-Rex in terms of BB to seat height: aero, but not high-racer.
They are keeping the long seat rail, so it’s still a highly adjustable bike. Same seat stays/sprint braces as current.
The rear braze-ons are positioned in a new way — at the tail end of the frame — maybe hard to imagine — which should make it easier to mount a rack and fenders w/o the rack mounting kits.
It was shown in 4130 Chromoly steel.
Making this yet more interesting is that Randy is considering making it available in a 20×20 optional configuration, so we will again have something like the Rocket, which is good news for urban riders.
The bike also has braze-ons for a totally new style of under seat rack that will be Rans-designed. The rack wasn’t shown, and presumably it isn’t yet priced, but certainly one can hope that it will have a slightly lower price than the underseat rack from Terracycle, but who knows.
Retail price will be $1485 (not including sales tax or shipping surcharges), so this will be the entry level SWB bent.
In summary, I enjoyed riding it. I tested it at decent speed on a slippery polished cement floor; it was responsive and possible to sense whether the tires were losing their grip or not. I feel this is a good direction, certainly for the NY City urban market. If you already have a V-Rex or Rocket, it’s pretty similar, but if you were considering in the future buying a V-Rex or the B-brand’s Giro, I would urge new customers to consider it.
Photos….alas. I missed my chance. I’ll post one as soon as I get something from Rans. If anyone else on the group got a photo, please post!
Regarding other bikes, I only carry SWB bents, so I didn’t look carefully at the Long Wheelbase ‘bents or crank-forwards. But they had an XStream there and it sounded like they may offer it in 3 different configurations at 3 diff. price points. I was told it may be a while before the website is updated with the new info., but of course that’s the best place to check.
Robert Matson
NYC Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.