Monday, June 05, 2006

Test Rides

Sure sure, I rode my bike today. But y'all don't really care about that. No, I'm sure you've been feverishly waiting since yesterday's post to figure out, "Which bikes did he ride at Erik's?" Step right up, here's the 411.

I went to Erik's for a specific reason, which I'll get to soon enough. But for some background, I've been doing a lot of thinking about recumbents. The idea appeals more and more. Don't get me wrong, I like my diamond frames. I'm not planning on giving them up. But it would be nice to have an option. Something...different. So that's what I rode.

First ride: The Burley Canto, priced at $1149

After doing hours worth of internet research, I had thought the best thing in a recumbent would be a short-wheelbase (SWB) bike. The SWB is supposed to be extra zippy and responsive, perfect for commuting. And since about 90% of my miles come from commuting that's my primary focus. After a quick primer from Mike the bike store guy, I took it out. It took two quick pushes of my right foot to get rolling, and then I started pedaling. And nearly immediately, I realized that a short-wheelbase recumbent is a squirrely creature. Every little jiggle of the handlebars had me swerving and thinking I was going to crash. The adreneline was flowing through me for the entire ride, and not in a good way.

Pros: Nice ride, extremely responsive. I'm sure I would get used to the squirrely nature after a while. Plus, it's configured so that it can be set up as short wheelbase or long. There's a second headset up front, and one can just move the front wheel up there. Nice idea, good thinking Burley.
Cons: Scary, scary, scary to ride. Makes me wonder if I'd ever convert it back to a SWB after riding it LWB.

Second ride: Sun EZ-1 Recumbent, priced at $579

Based on what I saw on the 'net, I never thought a long wheelbase (LWB) recumbent would appeal to me. All the reports say that they're slow. Perhaps it was just the relief after riding the Canto, but I truly enjoyed the EZ-1. It's a smooth feeling ride and made me very confident immediately. But it is slow. I was just tootling about in the residential neighborhood behind Erik's in Burnsville (which may have some of the heaviest bike traffic in the area, due to the test rides), and even after 10 minutes I was comfortable enough to just about have it topped out gear-wise.

Pros: Stable, forgiving and a pleasure to ride.
Cons: Slow. Even during the test ride, I could already see the possibility of getting bored with this one. It would be nice for a ride with the wife and kids, but not much more than that.

Third ride: Sun EZ-Tad, priced at $1169.

This was the main reason I came. I knew they stocked trikes, and I really wanted to try one out. It did not disappoint. This thing was insanely fun to ride. I had it out for probably 25 minutes, completely permagrinned the whole time. It's like a cross between a bike and one of those go-karts at the raceway. Fast, fun, and wild. But I never felt out of control. I loved the under-seat steering. I also really liked the idea that, when you stop for a red light (or anything else) you literally don't have to do anything but stop. You can stay clipped in. It was weird not having to put a foot down, but extremely cool. This is the funnest (I know, it's not a word) thing on wheels I think I've ever ridden.

Pros: Fun, fun, fun! And fast. And fun! And, wow.
Cons: Heavy. I'm not a weight weenie, so it doesn't bother me. My Raleigh weighs about 50 pounds with my pannier on it, which is what this bike weighs (with no pannier). But it the weight just wasn't a factor. The biggest con for me was the SRAM components. The rear derailleur was plastic. Not just the cogs, but even the cage that holds the cogs. Doesn't seem very good, long term. But I could always upgrade these and put the plastic stuff on the Raleigh. At least it won't rust in the winter like the stuff that's on there now did.

I'd given my credit card to Mike to secure the test rides, and it was incredibly tempting to roll in the door on the trike and say "Sold!" It was my birthday, after all. We received a small, unexpected windfall a week or so ago. Nancy immediately bought a heck of a nice lens for her camera and told me I could take some of it and get "a bike or something." But this might be a little more than she was thinking of...

Date: June 5
Mileage: 15
Ride type: Commute
June mileage: 41
Year to date mileage: 1503


Sparky said...

That trike does look pretty fun. ;)
Happy belated, btw.

P.S. Where are you going to hang the trike?

fatguyonalittlebike said...

Hey Pete!

If you like Trikes check out the Terra Trike.

I think it will probably be a little better quality than the Sun machine, but a little more expensive too. But if you are going to commute on it you want something durable and reliable.


Pete said...

I know, I really like the look of the Terra Trike. And their Cruiser is only about $100 more, so that's not too bad. The only problem is there's no dealers close to me that I can go to for a test ride.

fatguyonalittlebike said...

They had a program in the past where they would put you in touch with a local customer and let you "kick the tires". Maybe you could ask them if they still do that. Or check out the lounge for a local owner.

The one big downside I see is portability. A trike would be tough to hang off a bike rack.

Doug said...

At the 2005 Ironman I rode the last 25 miles near a guy on a trike. I was blown away how fast he was. The only reason I saw him for so long was that he couldn't get up the hills as fast as me. But he would fly by on the flats and downhills. He also looked a lot fresher then me by the end of 100 miles. My biggest concern was the ability for cars to see him. He sat so low to the ground it was scary.

Pete said...

From what I've read, trikes get noticed more than regular bikes. Somebody explained it as people sort of automatically recognize and categorize objects while they drive. And when it's something out of the ordinary, they notice. Bike, check. Sedan, check. Trike. Wait, trike?

Sparky said...

I was thinking about the visibility issue too - from your perspective, being able to see cross-traffic at intersections past parked cars, etc.

You could always put one of those nice orange flags on a stick off the front...


Jon said...

Hey Pete - There is a Sun EZ Tad on the TC Craig's List. Listed for $800.

No relation to the seller.

Pete said...

Thanks! I sent the guy an e-mail!

Tex69 said...

Go Pete! you can smell the kill, or to be more pleasant, the fresh aroma of a newly-cooked pie. that's stupid too. well, good luck.

Timothy A. Logsdon said...

Thank you for posting your impression of the Sun EZ-Tad. I've been thinking about buying a tadpole recumbent, but have never tried one or seen one other than pictures on the internet. The ones that looked like they were well designed cost well over $2000, which is outside my price range right now. I was thinking that the EZ-Tad looked like a decent trike. Since your review is very positive, I'm going to have to go to the nearest stocking bike shop and take one for a test ride myself. I'm hoping to use whatever I get as a commuting vehicle (10 miles each way) to reduce my fuel usage and so that I can get some exercise without causing further injury to my back.