You may wonder…

I‘m connected! ~ No, I’m NOT!” poll. I’m just wondering what others think and do regarding the Internet when they are away from their computer [for a while]. I did not specify a time-period, as I set up the poll. Anyway, I hope to be in Washington, DC for several days starting as early as next weekend. So, what do I do, for BROL, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I potentially have Internet “read” access with my  iPod Touch; but, I can not upload. Plus, my cell phone is not a Smartphone. What is one to do? BTW, my Tablet PC was destroyed during Cycle North Carolina.

Blackberry Bold vs, iPhone G3Purchase a Blackberry; purchase an iPhone; do nothing. Here is an interesting comparison of the BlackBerry Bold & iPhone G3 [another comparison]. Then, there is the cost. Earlier Blackberrys are at $0.oo cost from Amazon.com. The Bold and iPhone cost about the same after a Blackberry rebate. Of course, there is the usage fee. Questions, questions, questions…
Any, and all, comments are appreciated. I have a few days to think about it.

Head/Neck Rest

Reply to a BROL question from Dragonfly:

“Jim, how did you make your head rest? I’m thinking of buying or making one somewhat like that. Always nice to have great photos like yours to view!

I always work on upping my speed, too. After seeing the comparisons of women RAAM teams to men, I don’t feel so bad when the guys I ride with are typically faster than me.”

Hello Dragonfly,

On speed, I understand. In my cycling club there are several lady riders [all DFs] who drop me all the time. I can probably get them on a sprint or climbing a hill, but general speed on the flats, they are amazingly fast. So, I just recognize there are really fast ladies and do the best I can.

This is probably the 4th iteration [and best so far] of a neck-rest for this bike. I am using the carbon-fiber neck rest that I purchased with the bike. I shortened it and cut the top back to about an 1 1/4 inch. I’m using 3 layers of pipe insulation (like this) [that I also use to protect the my DF’s top-tube when it is transported for organized rides], cut to a width of ~4″, that is wrapped around a junk piece of plastic [could be PVC pipe or anything light] that is hollow. I used strips of dark double-sided tape to secure the layers to each other. This cushion is then attached to the carbon-fiber piece with a black strip of Velcro wrap.

I find this neck-rest the right height for me and pretty comfortable to rest against. I try to shift positions as I ride for maximum comfort. I still wish I had better bottom comfort. The top of my gluts are a bit uncomfortable after about 30 minutes of riding–any suggestions???

Clincher or Tubular???

Interesting BROL discussion and yet another one.

Which do you prefer?

René E-Mail Dialogue–Day2

Time now allows me to answer René’s questions from yesterday.

Jim:

“1) compare your Stratus versus VK2. I do not think a low racer should be compared to a LWB recumbent. The ride and handling characteristics are different [relevant to the type handlebars on each]. I purchased my SXP for
touring. As I have it setup, it is perfect for that task. The ride is comfortable and its load carrying ability is superb. The low racer (VK2) is a fast bike. As I see it more for sprinting than riding long distances. The ride and riding position are not as comfortable as on the RANS Stratus. I love them both, but see them as different bikes for different functions.

2) performances on flat roads, hill climbing, down hill Again, the VK2 I think will beat the Stratus on a short distance sprint–say a mile or so. It is a much lighter bike. My SXP is loaded [heavy]. I can make it go fast however, particularly downhill. The VK2 probably has the edge in hill climbing. Downhill–edge probably to the VK2 because of it weight and gearing. However, I’ve seen near 40 mph on the Stratus.

3) Also the handling. Some articles say the XP is hard to drive at low speed and unpredictable at high speed?? I’ve had no control problems at low or high speed. I do find both bikes twitchier as compared to my road bike. A low-center of gravity bike has different handling characteristics. It may however be me and the number of miles I have ridden. Other bent riders say the twitchiness will go away. I do not know…

4) What is the benefit in speed with the fairing?? Is it necessary to run above 15/18 miles per hour?? what are your comments ?? I do not know if I have seen a speed benefit with the fairing. I’d have to do coast down test to know for sure. A speed advantage is not important to me. I like the rain and wind protection the fairing gives, plus the bike is so COOL with it on. If you are riding over 18mph, you are suppose to get the fairing increased speed advantage.

Well René, I hope my responses are of some use to you. Can you travel to some other location in Europe to ride a Stratus. Given your concerns, I recommend you ride first. I purchased mind without riding one. I spoke with my dealer and described what I wanted to do and he recommended the SXP. The bike can be adjusted to fit your size. I’m a bit taller and heavier. I think I have a good setup for me.Have you visited my blog?

Sorry for the delay in getting this response to you. I may want to post our
dialogue in my blog. Do you have any objection?”

René:

“Hello..

I didn’t know if I am well using the message forum to send you my response ??!!
I agree you post our dialogue on your blog ..
I have visited him
[the blog] ..fine but with the shots ..I see you have not same measurements as me!!
Concerning Stratus ..In Europe ..I didn’t know where is it possible to try
one ..so I have the possibility to try a Tailwind ..the BB versus the seat
height is about the same as Stratus ..so I could appreciate the position ..very
different of Bacchetta and VK!!
It is the only problem position
..possibility of recumbent butt ..comfort ??
for other considerations ..I think performance is lower .mainly hill climbing (Bacchetta Corsa or Aéro) but if handling is OK at 5 miles (not too meander as Bryan J .Ball write ) ..no problem ..I take the risk to import from States ..
I have ordered my Bacchetta from Dana …
Have you opinion about Easy racer GRR?? someone says
performances and handling are better (??) than Stratus XP..other says :the same
?? difficult to choose !!
Thanks for your advices for me it is easier to have your mail address to answer separately ..if you want ??”

Jim:

“Dana, Bent Up Cycles, is also my dealer. I purchased both of my bents from him. He is GOOD! On riding a SXP in Europe, you can start a thread on BROL that ask who rides a RANS Stratus in Europe who may allow you to test ride their bike.
I have no direct knowledge of other recumbents and their handling characteristics. Recumbutt is the result on a too vertical seat position. In a laid-back position, you should not have that problem.

GOOD LUCK!!! –jim”


René:

“Hello..

Thanks for your “direct response” ..mainly my “forum box was full” !!
to understand ..it is 300 at 500 miles to go to other country..
but I agree your good idea to start with a thread on the BROL..
but it is first time ..I have never do this !!
I confirm Dana is very capable..
I have also contacted “Angletech” who seems very free to discuss ..

Best regards,
René”

Jim:

“Rene’,

I have also used Kelvin at Angletech. He is also good. The 300-400 miles by train in Europe may be worth it. Who knows, you may have a BROL Member in France who rides a Stratus. Again, good luck! –jim”

René:

“Thanks JIM ..I have posted my first thread…on BROL!!
Take care.
René”

E-Mail Dialogue with a French Gentleman–René

René says:

“hello!

I am French bentrider having a Bacchetta Corsa, a Aéro Basso and a VK1 (20×26″ wheels) and I am looking to buy a Stratus XP ..!! But in France there is no Rans dealer..so no trial..so could you give me advice??

I am looking for a bike having the “output” of the VK but with comfort of the Bacchetta !! Could you compare your Stratus versus VK2? Performances on flat roads, hill climbing, down hill? Also the handling. Some articles say the XP is hard to drive at low speed and unpredictable at high speed?? What is the benefit in speed with the fairing?? Is it necessary to run above 15/18 miles per hour?? What are your comments?? I am X-seam 39″ high 65″ and weight 140 poundsI am interested by the Stratus Standard XP.

..many thanks”

My reply:


“Hello René,

I’ll have to answer a bit later today. I’m involved with my business. Please visit my RANS Stratus Blog [Now Cycling Experiences…], if you have not.

I’ll respond to each of your questions as soon as I have time.

–Jim Artis”

How Can You Transport a Tandem In A Ford Freestar?

If you are as good at woodwork as Bill, then you build a rack like this:

Photographs taken and provided by Bill S

Bill [who I posted on earlier] & Bill are cyclists I met via the Internet. This Bill has also built a rack for his Ford Windstar. He and his wife are currently cycling in Florida.

He says:

Jim, my friend, BK, wanted me to send you some pictures of the bike rack I made for my Ford Freestar and Windstar. If you have any questions just let me know. My rack does not do any permanent changes to the vehicle and yet it locates the bike in the furthest most rear position. I am able to mount my tandem behind the driver seat and still have clearance to the drivers seat. The brake levers on the handle bar just clear the rear window by about .38 inches. The rack comes out by just loosening a wooden bolt with my hand and sliding the plug inboard. It holds my two bikes very sturdy.

Which Fairing To Buy???

Several days ago I posted a question on BROL asking for thoughts on the better fairing for a RANS Stratus XP, the Muller or Zzipper Fairing. I received two responses–one posted on BROL and one reply by e-mail from a non-BROL member [posted below]. His replies have been very helpful. Following is our dialogue over the last few days.

Jim –

I saw your question re fairings on a RANS Stratus on the BentRider Online. I am not signed up for the Forum so could not send a reply there. I have the Windwrap fairing on my Stratus. I also have friends who have the Zipper on their Tour Easy and Gold Rushes. The difference seems to be that the Windwrap is quieter as it is a little thicker; the Zipper is a little wider so you may get slightly less wind on the feet; and the Zipper may have a more secure mounting system. I was having trouble with keeping the rubber grommets in the cross tubes, but the last time I replaced my fairing a few months ago they sent me longer ones from their new design and I have not had the problem since. Bottom line – I prefer the Windwrap, mainly because of less vibration/noise.

Similar to you, I am retired with a keen interest in riding my bicycle. I am 63 and started riding four years ago when I retired and bought my Stratus. I am coming up on 4900 miles for the year so we ride a similar amount. However I am not as versatile as you as I have only one bike. I live in Royal Oak, MI (just north of Detroit) do most of my riding with club groups locally. This year, however, I did my first touring with Bike Florida, Bike Virginia and the Dalmac in Michigan.

Good luck on picking out your fairing. If you need opinions on other Stratus items let me know. I have opinions on many items. How good they are may be up for question, but they are available.

Bill

Hello Bill,

Thanks for your response. Your information is useful. I have read the very points you are making. Given the wider coverage of the Zzipper fairing, if it is mounted securely, it seems the noise problem would be taken care of. I understand they have a thicker fairing that produces less noise. It is difficult to make this selection. Can you send me pictures or a link to pictures of your Stratus with the fairing mounted? Do you ride with it all year? How does it affect handling & speed?

I’ll be 61 in December. You are ahead of me in miles. I’m just over 4,600 documented (GPS) miles since March. My goal is 5K for this year. Yet, I did not ride last week. How did you get your Stratus to Florida and Virginia? I hope to travel to other states to ride later. I operate a small computer company and will probably do so for the next couple of years. So, I’m not totally free to travel.

I’d like to post your reply to the forum for others to read. Is that OK with you? Why not join BROL? It just takes a few minutes.

Thanks again!!!

Jim

Jim -I have no problem with you posting my reply. Maybe I should sign up for BROL. I don’t typically read it, but was just killing time last week and your question caught my eye as I do have experience with the subject.

You mentioned that you thought a secure mounting would take care of the noise issue. I believe the noise is from the flexing of the fairing and not a function of the mounting. Were you saying that Zipper offers a thicker fairing? If so, I was not aware of that.

I hope the pictures come through. The first shows how I transport my Stratus in my Mazda MPV minivan.

Photographs below provided to this blog by BK–Thanks Bill!

I leave the bike in the van all the time as I drive to the start point of most of the club rides. It only takes 2 or 3 minutes to take the bike in or out.

I made the mounting board so that it attaches uniquely to the Mazda van’s rear seat latch. I have friends who have made a similar system for the Chrysler van and the Ford Windstar/Freestar. They of course have different attaching systems. The other pictures show the attaching system for the Windwrap fairing.

I leave my fairing on all the time. As for speed, I believe it starts making a difference at about 17 mph and higher. I really can’t say how much, but I need all the help I can get. I am not aware that it makes any difference in handling.

I looked at my mileage for the year after this morning’s ride and it is now 4905 miles. This would be undocumented miles in your terms as it is from my computer. For the fun of it I put my GPS on the bike for today’s ride to check the mileage difference with the bike computer. The computer was 1% igh compared to the GPS, even thought I had very carefully calibrated itinitially with three rotations of the wheel several times. So I guess mymileage total is about 50 miles lower relative to yours. My goal is not to attain a certain mileage, it is to go riding every time I have a good groupto join, which really means one with which I can keep up. I am good for about 20 mph for a fair distance in a pace line on flat road/no wind conditions. On hills the upright bikes just leave me right behind.

On your web site I noticed that you are also into photography and obviously computers as that is you business. I also fool around a bit with digital photography and simple manipulations with Photoshop.

Good luck with your evaluations.

Bill

Hi Bill,

Thank you for the photographs. I like your van setup. I’m currently using a Winstar cargo van. So, I can do something similar.

On the fairing, I have 2 links for you.

1) This forum has some discussion. The extreme bodyskin caught my eye.

2) This order form shows the various thicknesses.

Whether this makes any difference, I do not know. I’m waiting for a return call from Karl of Zzip Designs.

At least I now understand isolating the fairing from vibration apparently will not reduce unwanted noise. If I do not want this noise, buy a Mueller fairing.

I accept computer mileage a “documented” mileage. In my case, I did not record my mileage on my road bike and my VK2 before March. After that, I have a digest on Motion Based that is a journal of my rides, thus easily accessed for me to see

where I am. I just set 5K as a goal last year for this year. During the year, I just ride. Most of my DF rides are club and event rides.

Like you, I also need all the help I can get. I’ve not ridden my bents in my cycling club rides. There are no other bent riders in the club. In a pace line, we frequent ride at 25+ mph, averaging 19-20 mph over 30+ miles. Sometimes, I’m a “B-Group” rider. Other times, a C+ to B-. I just enjoy cycling.

Thanks for visiting my blog and thank for your comments.

Do you miss the wind in your face in warm/hot weather?

Again, thanks for your time in responding to my questions and for the pictures.

Jim

Jim –

Thanks for the additional info. That guy Perry Butler should know what he is talking about since he has used all the different fairings you have discussed. I was not aware there were so many different choices from Zipper. It sounds like both Zipper and Windwrap have excellent personalized customer support. That certainly is my experience with the Mueller folks.

Regarding your question about missing the wind in my face in warm/hot weather, I believe you get more wind in the face with a fairing. I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing.

I am usually the only recumbent rider on our club rides as you would be. You are a stronger rider than I as can not hold 25 mph for any time much longer than a sprint. Can you maintain that on your Stratus? How are you doing on your bent on hills?

Take care.

Bill