Welcome to our forum. With the number of CF bikes growing, customers have expressed a need for a message board dedicated to CF bikes. We hope this message board gives you the chance to exchange stories or ideas that will continue the growth of Crank Forward Bikes. Feel free to post a message.
Got the Z frame back from the powdercoater Friday afternoon (silver metalflake with clearcoat) and built up the bike Friday night. Hit a minor glitch when I found the Thumbies I bought off eBay were road diameter instead of MTB, despite being advertised as MTB - grrr. Mounted some old XT thumb shifters set on friction mode and got to ride this weekend anyway (yes, 8 speed shifter on friction can apparently shift a 9 speed cassette!)
I was very impressed with Randy's creation. Saturday I rode about 15 miles, a hilly route that included a fair bit of dirt road. The Z handled the dirt very well, as I expected, despite having narrow tires (25mm, measure more like 23mm). I fooled around as most folks seem to with the seat height and angle. I'm not certain it's fully dialed in, there's a trade off between sliding forward and hitting the bottom of my thighs :-)
At Randy's recommendation I got the flat bar with mid-riser and that works well in terms of comfort. I don't notice the "climbs really well" aspect people speak of, but I think that this bike uses yet another combination of muscles than DFs or 'bents. I can't effectively stand on the bike because I have lost (temporarily I hope) use of some of the muscles in my left leg due to a disk herniation 2-1/2 months ago, so I can't stand on my toes on the left foot. So I set the bike up with a 23 inch low gear and that worked out for me to stay seated.
After a while I noticed that I seemed to be listing a bit to port - my right knee came a good bit closer to the top tube than my left, and the riser didn't seem to be in the center of my vision. I got off and looked carefully and discovered that the seat was rotated to the left in the frame, but due to the key and groove of the seatpost I couldn't straighten it. When I got back I pulled the seatpost and found that the seat tube must have been mis-aligned in the welding jig or something simlar, because the grooves at the seat tube top were slightly but noticeably rotated counter-clockwise from being in alignment with the frame. I figured that having powdercoated it that this frame wasn't going to get replaced, so I got out the Dremel and made the right hand groove large enough to get the seat to sit straight. A quick test spin confirmed, this was much better :-) When I adjust the seat height now I have to also align the seat (not unlike a standard DF) but I figure it was worth it to have the seat straight! Perhaps this winter I'll build the groove up with JB Weld and cut the groove in the right location...
Today I took a road ride of 40 miles. It was fairly breezy and in the upright position one does catch a lot of air. I noticed on the downhills how much slower the Z was than my bent, but my bent is very slippery aerodynamically (Fujin SLII). Overall I averaged 1.5 mph slower on the course than I did last week on the Fujin, which wasn't unexpected given the riding position and the slightly higher weight. I haven't weighed the finished product. It has a carbon fork and the Pro's carbon seat pan, and a higher component spec than the Tour, but not as light as the Pro. I'm guessing 21-22 lbs.
I could feel some tinges of mild recumbutt yet I could move around a bit on the seat and that helps. I was wondering if replacing the seat foam with a top grade memory foam would make a difference. I also wondered if there was a handlebar that was flat and first curved back towards the rider then swept forward - like the old Scott AT bars except curving back more. It would be nice to have more hand positions than the stock flat bars allow, although I found them adequate on the 40 mile ride.
It was great to be on an upright with all the advantages that configuration brings - stability on loose surfaces and up steep slopes in particular. The feet on the ground while seated is a nice feature too. I was surprised to note that the Z doesn't have pedal clearance to the front wheel, although I only once made contact.
The Tektro RX40 brake calipers with the Mavic Open Pro CD rims supply plenty of braking power. I wondered how people put fenders on the Z Tour, though - there isn't 1/4 inch between the 25mm tire and the underside of the brake caliper (maybe the Tektro has less clearance than other calipers?)
Finally - I really puzzled how to carry the basics I usually carry - spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, pump, etc - without a rack. There's only one set of frame bosses for a water bottle. How are people carrying stuff on these bikes when you want to "go light" but still carry the bare necessities?
I like the bike, and look forward to getting it more seriously tweaked. Right now the seat is the biggest challenge, but it worked - I can't imagine 3 hours on a DF seat anymore.
Thanks, Randy! Your creativity is terrific!
Glad you are getting it dialed in. The frame should have had a second slot at the right location. I am hoping yours was the only one out of the raw frames out there, if not, anyone who has this issue please return it for us to machine it right. Really sorry about that!
Interesting post too, I think you will get your climbing chops real soon, there is a bit of method to pulling and using you core to climb, that comes in a few miles. The more I ride the more I learn tricks, like tossing my upper body side to side in the really steep climbs, or when I want to accelerate up the hills, seems to help.
Fenders have to be split and angle mounts riveted on either side of the brakes. Sounds a bit rude and crude, but about the only way to do it.
I carry a lot of stuff in a small bar bag, and even stuff some items under the seat into that little baggy pocket on the underside of the nose.
You discovered the handling in loose sand with 23 mm tires too? I was really impressed with this, since I like backroads, and they are pretty sandy, and slippery, but the Z seems to slice through.
Extra foam in the seat will seem like a good idea at first, but give it a chance, or at least keep tweaking the tilt and height setting. You may find the sweet spot and not need the extra or different padding.
The seat is right when slightly nose down, about 10 to 15 degrees, you will learn to sit on a sloping down seat, no kidding!Have fun and keep us posted. Again thanks for the detailed post.
P.S. Let us know if your speed comes up a bit once you are really dialed in. I am finding the gap to be less than 1 MPH, since I have been tracking it. Hilly courses, actually faster, and when calm really pretty much on par with my most aero bent.
I might as well add to this thread since I got my frame round about the same time. I've been riding my chromoly Zenetik everyday since it was put together last Wednesday. Here are my observations, for anyone interested:
--The seat is more comfortable than I expected. I had it dialed in by the end of the second day and today was on it for 3.5 hours with no problems at all.
--The ride is smoother than I expected. The stretched wheelbase and foam seat work together really well to make this a surprisingly shockless ride.
--I put on short 153 mm spinning cranks and they seem to work pretty well. I can pedal around corners. It pushes the seat back a bit though, which increases the reach to the bar. Actually I feel the cranks might be a bit too short. 160 or 165 would probably lend themselves to more satisfying standing pedalling. But for the time being I'm happy enough with the short cranks.
--I found the deep bar a bit too high, and put on a strange bar I found at my LBS. It's horizontally flat, but curves backwards about an inch and a half. It seems to work well, though I'd be interested to try the albatross bars to lessen the reach a bit, especially since I'm using short cranks.
--It's much more 'different' than I expected. My upper body thinks it's on a comfortable upright, my posterior thinks it's on a 'bent, and my legs are not yet sure where they are. It's an intriguing and addictive ride.
--Apropos of the above, it has a steeper learning curve than I expected. My legs felt at first a bit like they did when I was first getting into recumbents, which is to say, strangely powerless. On the first day I couldn't even pedal in circles. As the days go by this improves, and today I was pretty fast. Another week and I'll be ferocious.
--It's really nice to use my upper body again. I think a result of this is more mental alertness than on a 'bent, the ride comes alive more, I'm more tuned into the surroundings, more spontaneous in where I decide to go. Bike and rider are together more agile. Not sure why this is, but it is.
--It has good control properties on loose surfaces. I hit a slurry of wet sand across the road coming down a mountain today. Both wheels slid briefly before biting in again, but it wasn't really alarming at all. Kinda fun even.
--The chain length is really ideal; long enough to prevent chainbuzz from cross-chaining, short enough not to require idlers. Silent and smooth. Nice.
--I tend not to avoid hilly rides like I do on my bents. On a 'bent climbing feels like a shift to a different mode, a sort of resignation to becoming a human winch for a while. On the Zenetik I can hunker down and enjoy the good aerobic burn of a nice climb. There's a kind of exhilaration not easily got climbing on a recumbent. The Zenetik has the potential to be a great fitness machine.
--Stopping and starting are stressless. I find myself not even shifting down, I just stand and massage the bike back up to speed.
--riding without hands is fun. I can do 'the meerkat'. I can do 'the airplane'. I can put my hands behind my back.
So all in all it's been quite a positive and enjoyable experience, a week of pleasant surprises. But I'm still acclimatising: I was out for 3.5 hours today, and towards the end my back was a bit sore and I was longing for my Stratus. It's not surprising: I haven't been on an upright this long for years.
Cheers, John Hopkinson
All very good obsrrvation, John, thanks! I'd forgot to mention the bit about the chain length and quiet - a definite plus over both 'bents and DFs!
I'd like to see a photo of your handlebars.
I put 170mm cranks on mine to start. I knew I wouldn't be standing up for a while, plus I never found them too short on a DF. I had an old set of Sugino AT with a Phil BB lying around and I always liked these cranks because they are 110/74 (allows smaller middle ring) and they have a very narrow Q compared to modern cranks.
Why do you feel cranks with a narrow Q are better for you?
Howard, it's just my experience that modern triple cranks make me feel like my feet are too far apart. I'm built narrow, that could be it. On Ultegra triple cranks on my recumbents I use Eggbeater pedals, and to get my feet closer together I put the Ti axles in place of the SS axles that come with SS Eggbeaters. That's because the Ti axles are 4mm shorter, so I get 8mm closer pedal width. It seems to be easier on my knees.