Thursday, May 29, 2008

Street Blurr

Biking Crowchild Trail Bridge, Calgary, Alberta

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ian's RANS CFs on EcoVelo

Photo: EcoVelo

Alan Barnard's blog EcoVelo recently featured Ian's sweet RANS CF bikes including this S&S coupled steel Fusion. Crank forward bikes fit in very well with Alan's new focus on practical cycling. The problem with most "serious" bikes is that they are not ideal for the casual cyclist in many respects. Although I love my fleet the most approachable bike I have at the moment is my RANS Street. I can get just about anyone rolling on it without any drama.

I've had a S&S coupled bike project bouncing around my brain so seeing the photos of this nicely coupled Fusion is making it hard to resist the temptation to S&S a bike.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A week with the Street

RANS Street waiting patiently outside the bank, Calgary, Alberta

I've had the Street a week now and we are getting to know one another better. It takes a little time for two strangers to become friends. The Street exudes the sort of quality I'd expect from a company like RANS. The welds are clean and the frame is both strong and artfully designed. I like the beefy tubes that they used and the red metallic paint is amazing in the sunlight.

I had some issues with the disc brakes squealing quite loudly so I cleaned the rotors with rubbing alcohol. That helped a lot and I'll pull the pads for a bit of sanding which should completely resolve the problem. Other than that the Street has run well out of the box. Since my bike isn't built up with the stock specification I'll post some info on what I've got hung off the frame and any mods I'm thinking of.

I've already had a few friends and my boss inquire when they can borrow the Street for a test ride. It will be interesting to see what they think about the crank forward concept.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

First Ride

Relaxing by the Bow River, Calgary, Alberta.

My first ride on the RANS Street quickly reminded me of being a kid again. The riding position was relaxed and the handling was effortless. The bike wants to be in motion and to explore, but there is no urge to go really fast or to get anywhere particular. The joy was in just pedaling down the road.

I found you can get out of the saddle and climb up hills with the Street, but I think the bike is better suited to the intelligent use of its wide range gearing. Like my Big Dummy it rewards consistent effort on the pedals more than sharp accelerations. Being able to put your feet down at stops while staying in the saddle was nice and adds to the relaxing nature of the ride.

I tend to be a fairly aggressive rider - even when I don't want to be - so sitting on the Street was a revelation. The riding positions made me shift gears mentally and put me in a very relaxed head space.

I lent the Street to my friend Kurt and was pleased how easy it is to adjust the bike for different riders. The angle of the seat post is really laid back and results in the seat height and effective top tube length changing at the same time. Another nice feature is the engraved scale on the side of the seat post. This lets you quickly set up the bike for a variety of different riders. I'l l probably note down what setting works for each of my friends so when they want to ride the Street I'll have it ready for them just the way they like it.

Rather than ride our normal routes we ended up just zooming around back streets we don't usually think about. Looking around and chatting - it was definitely a social ride. Eventually we stopped at a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner and Kurt remarked that our ride felt exactly like the way he used to ride bikes as a kid. I agreed and pointed out that instead of stopping by the corner store for a pop & candy we were grabbing some asian food and green tea. I'm glad I have a credit card now and don't have to ask for an allowance from my parents...=-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

RANS CF Flavours

Nanda Holz posted the following explanation of the various varities of RANS CF bikes on Bent Rider Online. It was really useful to me so I've reproduced it here:

"Regarding the micro flavors of the CF line-up, the base/foundation geometry are the Fusion, and Dynamik, from which all the other model sprout from.

The Fusion, and Cruz share the same lower LWB geometry except for the two curvy tubes, full length cables, and X7 vs. SX5 components on the Cruz. The Fusion Step Through prototype is a the same geometry but with a 9spd setup and easy use entry/exit frame design to make even the most noobie cyclist feel right at home. All will run disc and v-brakes and the standard Fusion and Cruz have rear 700c road caliper mounts (and the front fork fender hole can be drilled for a caliper...although it's not perfect, and only a 23mm tire will clear w/o filing the fork)

The Dynamik, Street, Citi, Trail, 700X, and D-Pro all share the same frame feature/geometry, except the Street has beefier curved tubes as does the Citi, and the Citi has no FD post. Also the Dynamiks have clearance in the rear stays for larger rubber and fenders where the Zenetik does not (28mm max). The Dynamik family will also accomodate disc, v-brake or caliper brakes.

The Zenetik, Road, Z-Pro, are all pure road bikes with straight rear stays, rear caliper mount, and rear disc tab. The Zen's do not have the downtube gusset that is present on the Dynamik, and have taller/longer headtubes then the Dynamiks...but are at the same angle." __________________
~Nanda Holz

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Why a RANS Street?

RANS is a small company located in Kansas that designs and manufacturers recumbents, crank forward bikes and planes. Attention to detail and a love of bicycles is evident in all their pedal powered creations. Having owned a RANS Rocket recumbent and enjoyed it - I had confidence that their crank forward bikes would be equally fun to ride. Nanda Holz really sold me with his enthusiasm for RANS CF bikes and his latest touring CF which just happens to be a Street.

The Street intrigued me because it has a geometry that is part way between the more laid back CF bikes like the RANS Cruz and a typical diamond frame [DF] bike. I think it is going to be ideal for running errands, commuting and going on social rides with my friends. I also know quite a few people who want to come biking with me, but don't have a decent bike to use. I think the Street's wide range of adjustment will allow me to loan the bike to these folks and its comfort/ease of handing will hopefully convince some of them to get their own bike.

The folks at RANS were kind enough to send me a lovely metallic red Street to ride and review - thanks!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Why a crank forward?

I live in downtown Calgary and have quite a few friends that aren't serious cyclists. Maybe that's incorrect - they aren't performance cyclists. They love their bikes and they love riding, but our typical rides are very social, fairly slow and all about smelling the waffles not crushing your opponents in an aero tuck! My bike choices of late have been heading in the direction of more practical rides [Bike Friday Tikit & Surly Big Dummy] and they have worked very well for diminishing my need to drive and ramping up my enjoyment of practical cycling.

I get asked to help a lot of people find the right bike for them. I enjoy the process as I get to research bikes, test ride them and help someone find a ride that puts a smile on their faces - all without actually having to buy another bike...=-) Since most of the people I help are not looking to win the Tour de France or break the HPV land speed record they don't need a racing machine. What they do need is a comfortable, practical bike that is easy to ride, attractive [to them] and versatile for the typical urban cycling missions. Naturally crank forward bikes have become one of the obvious options I recommend to people.

The shape and concept of the crank forward appeals to mainstream cyclists who aren't ready to embrace the recumbent form factor no matter how comfortable and efficient. In an urban environment the upright seating and ease of stopping and starting are appreciated. The [almost] one size fits all adjustment range means more than one family member can ride a crank forward ensuring it sees lots of use. Best of all the relaxed handling of most crank forwards inspires confidence in new cyclists and those who ride infrequently.

Most people don't break down their enthusiasm for CF bikes to this level of detail, but they do know they feel relaxed on one and it puts a smile on their face. For a bicycle I'd call that mission accomplished....=-)