Thursday, July 31, 2008

RANS Libre?

Photo stolen from here.

The Velo Libre bike rental program in Paris that has inspired several clones around the world is a great idea for busy cities and for people that don't need a bike full time. Riding the RANS Street I can't help but wonder if a step through RANS CF bike wouldn't be ideal for such a program? Easy to ride, very adjustable and comfortable.

Makes sense to me.

Bike Path Comments...

I've rec'd quite a few comments on the Street. People seemed to dig the design, lots of folks like the colour [pics don't do the paint justice] and some home in on how comfortable it is. Yesterday as I was riding home in the AM I was passed by a roadie on a carbon fiber wonder bike who just said..." that seat looks comfortable..." He was gone in a flash, but I replied to myself..."...yes it is..."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The problem with a 5 min test ride...

I've read a few negative comments online about CFWD bikes and one thing each post had in common was the author had based their opinion on an extremely short test ride. Now any short test ride of a bike is problematic since it doesn't give the rider much time to evaluate the bike and there could well be some setup issue that just doesn't get addressed during such a brief exposure, but I think short test rides of CFWD bikes has an additional level of challenge a lot of folks new to these bikes isn't aware of. Almost everyone interested in bikes has owned and ridden a typical upright diamnond frame [DF] bike. So when you go to test an exotic recumbent you inuitively know it is a completely different beast than you are used to. You approach it with an open mind and spend sometime trying to figure it out. You certainly don't try to ride it like you would a mountain bike or your old 10 speed. However, CFWD bikes do look a lot like DF bikes and my hypothesis is many people jump on them and try to ride them like they would a DF. This leads to some confusion and frustration because a CFWD bike simply isn't DF - it's a totally different beast.

I know that I went through a phase early on where I tried to ride my Street like it was a mountain bike. I wanted to get up on the pedals and hammer up hills. That just doesn't work well on a CFWD. I had to learn to work the gears more and use my leverage on the bars to apply more power when I need a burst of speed. This isn't a bad thing, but it requires that you forget your DF riding experiences and learn to ride your CFWD as if it were a whole new kind of bike. Don't worry this won't take long as one of the benfits of the CFWD design is how easy they are to ride. In fact people that can't remember the last time they were on a bicycle will probably adapt faster to CFWDs than those of us that ride DFs a lot.

In the end your efforts will be rewarded with a ride that combines the comfort of recumbents with the agilit and versatility of DF bikes.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Planet Bike Hardcore ATB Fenders

I finally got around to installing some Planet Bike Hardcore ATB fenders on the RANS Street. I know I'm in the minority here, but I think a bike with fenders looks totally bad ass!

The front fender went on easily although I had to bend the left side strut a bit to clear the disc brake caliper.

A little more Planet Bike Superflash porn.

The rear fender also went on easily once I bent the left side struts around the disc brake caliper. Note that there is lots of coverage and clearance for 2.0" Schwalbe Big Apples. I love having a bike with fenders and lights so I can ride it anytime and in any weather. All the Street is missing now is a rear rack.

Dinotte 200L-AA

Dinotte's 4 AA LED light is bright small and robust. I like how it kind of disappears on the bike until you need it. I generally leave mine on all the time so I have it when I need it. I seem to often find myself out after dark when that wasn't part of the plan in the AM when I left for my ride. Since it uses standard rechargeable AA batteries you can buy new ones cheaply and share them amongst your other battery powered devices - much better than a proprietary battery. The velcro and o-ring mounting system is secure yet allows you to move it between bikes in a few seconds.

Planet Bike Superflash

My favourite rear light for the past year has been the Planet Bike Superflash. It isn't the brightest red blinkie available, but it's a great combination of inexpensive and effective. I find the strobe mode is ideal for getting driver's attention as it resembles an emerency vehicle flashing light. I couldn't get the mount around the massive seatpot on the Street so I mounted the light to the left side seatstay. If I'm doing a lot of night riding with the Street I'll mount another Superflash on the right seatstay for maximum visibility.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

RANS Ride & Carry Cargo System

EcoVelo Reports:

Ride Report 70808
Date: 7-08-08
Rider: RJS/KAD
Bike: Dynamik Duo

Testing For:
How the new RAC ( Ride And Carry) system works in the real world.

Conditions: Winds ENE 5 temps 84
Ride Distance: 7.25 miles
Calories: 346 (RJS)
Average V: 10 MPH
Max V: 25.1 MPH
Time: 43:24
Ascent: N/A
Average heart rate: 107
Max. Heart Rate: 133

The numbers show we took it pretty easy, simulating an average couple out shopping. The distance ridden was not much, again within average reach. The handling is not affected, in fact the bike responds well with the added load. The downhill was fast, and of course the uphill had the feel of added weight.

The load was about 20 pounds of groceries, or $70 bucks. I wanted to haul a watermelon, and now that I know how well the bags keep shape with a load, we will next time.

I like several aspects of using the RAC on a tandem, it gets both of us shopping, and with some concern on how much we buy, that can mean a couple of things, less spending, and more trips. Note the calories even if double (700) is an example of a good return for the energy invested.

We did stop into a take and bake pizza place with the grocery load onboard. The pizza turned out easy to haul intact, simply letting it “potato chip” a bit worked to allow the pizza to fit inside the bag. If I were hauling a baked pizza in box, taking bungees would be wise, so strapping it to the top deck could be done.

I can see an insulated bag as Kelli our HR person suggest, to keep cool things cool, and maybe a built in bungee system to allow top loading. The RAC is the first proto, and has an open space between the bags, which is great for lifting the rear and droppind the kickstand. We will need to figure another way to drop the kick stand when heavy. Perhaps lifting bar the handle bars on a single seater will work.

So far great, need more testing and try progressively heavier loads. Need to try how to raise and lower the kickstand with a heavy load.

Production should begin in a few weeks with a target price of $375 and some interesting features:

  • Bags remove easy and fit on either side.
  • Sides have net pockets and double small pockets for reaching down on a single to grab items like keys, phone, wallet.
  • There is an oversized load flap that secures the load when an item or item extend above the bag volume.
  • Reflectors, grab handles abound.
  • The system will include an insulated bag big enough for a gallon of milk.
  • They are hoping for a weight capacity in the 75 pound range. Will confirm with more testing.
  • The rack itself is made of 1″ aircraft aluminum tubing, has two settings for installing on both geometries of their CF’s.
  • They will be available in many colors with complimenting or contrasting trims, and are home-sewn in heavy Cordura at the RANS factory. All made in the USA.

If you have questions, ask away in the comment section below as I know Randy drops in here and I’m sure he’d be happy to provide answers.

The Street is rolling again...

I'm embarrassed to admit what an amateur I have been the last month with the RANS Street. I wanted to upgrade the brakes and tires which should have been a piece of cake, but I managed to drag it out in a month long ordeal of incompetence! Getting some Big Apples and installing them was easy. It was the brakes that caused me all the grief. I wanted to get rid of the perpetual squeal of the Tektro discs that were on the bike. It just ruined the whole ride for me to have an ear piercing squeal at every stop. I tried cleaning the rotors and pads which helped, but didn't solve the problem. Perhaps a better mechanic could have figured out what to do next, but in my limited repertoire my best bet was to install some equipment I was familiar with and worked well. My first thought was some Deore V-brakes...they are simple, cheap and for sure I can set them up to work quietly. I got some from my LBS and removed the discs on the Street before I realized the Street didn't have any canti-posts to attach the brakes to....damn! At that point I waffled between getting discs or getting the canti-posts and proceeding with the V-brakes.

In my defense I was really busy and went on several bike tours in this period so my free time to work on bikes was minimal. I eventually decided that I might as well stick with disc brakes after I factored in the hassle and cost of getting the canti-posts I needed. Then I waffled about which discs to use and where to get them from. I'm normally a very decisive person so this was a bit bizarre - nevertheless that's what happened. The whole while I kept reaching for the Street or had friends ask to ride it before I recalled it was out of business.

Well I'm happy to report I finally got everything installed and ready to roll. The sad part was not only did it take a long time, but I ended up using brakes I had in my inventory - a pair of the original Avid mechanical discs from around 2000. Essentially BB7s, but before they called them that. So now The Street is rolling on some comfy Big Apples and stopping fast & quietly with the Avids...crank forward nirvana.

Unfortunately I'm about to depart on a 3 week bike tour to the Canadian arctic, but the lovely and talented Anna has requested the Street to ride to work and to share with her friends. Although I'll have to wait a while to really enjoy the new upgrades at least I'll know that Anna and her friends will be putting lots of miles on this red beauty. Hopefully the Street won't hold a grudge and we can get some nice late summer riding when I'm back.