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I've posted this at BROL, but thought that I should also post it here.
Some of you may recall that I purchased my wife a Rans Fusion ST for her last birthday:
I primarily ride my Nazca low-racer, but it can be a bit awkward when we ride together. I am very low and she is very high, plus I have a tendency to chase every roadie down that passes us by with a smirk. So, in an attempt to ride with her more, I just recently traded one of my other bikes for a Rans Hammertruck from Nanda Holz of Spincyclz, CA 925.301.7043 www.spincyclz.com . Nanda defines customer service and is highly recommended - a great guy and fantastic to work with.
This trade makes sense on other levels too. Since I like to take multi-day overnight excursions on my Nazca and usually end up carrying about 25 pounds of gear, I figure that Hammertruck (HT) would be a great alternative.
Even after taking out my wife’s Fusion for test rides, I’m not sure if my neck, back, and other issues will allow me to comfortably ride a CF for any great distance but I figured I would give it my best shot. I took it out last night for a 15 mile test ride and what follows are some random thoughts and observations.
Height - I am sitting up so high and if I fall I will get hurt! I’ve taken a spill on the lowracer but there isn’t far to fall. I am at eye-level with most vehicles now.
Aerodynamic position – To ease any strain on my back, neck, and shoulders I purposely set the bike up so I can sit more upright. I actually felt like the space shuttle sitting on top of the shuttle transport vehicle when riding it. My helmet was hitting the tree branches that I usually hit with the top of my flag on the Nazca.
Bike Quality – This bike is quality from front to back. The weld quality is great, the paint is luxurious and the standard components work well. Despite the added length and all of the additional attached appendages, the bike is dead-quiet, rides super-smooth, and feels just right.
Bike Ride – The HT is easy to pedal. I love the standard gearing and seriously doubt that I would use the granny gear in Florida even with a full load going over an intercoastal bridge. No squeaks and it absorbs road irregularities surprisingly well.
Miscellaneous – The mirror I put on the handlebars seems too far away, but hey, I can turn around if I need to! In my opinion, this bike is 80% standard bike, and 20% recumbent. I need to get my clipless pedals on it but wanted to take the first ride or two with platform pedals to get used to it. I’m not sure if I can stand up on it yet to pedal.
Performance – It moves along very well. Despite having aerodynamic qualities of a brick, I found myself cruising along at very respectable speeds. I wasn’t carrying anything of substance but still I was pleasantly surprised. Climbing – on my normal ride I need to cross a body of water by going up a steep incline. Again, the HT did this well and I was pleasantly surprised.
Capacity – Geez, this thing can carry anything. I nearly have the full option package (minus the wooden deck, hitch, and rain covers) and two of the large pannier bags I use on the Nazca can fit in one bag on the HT with room to spare. It also has a segregated upper area within the bags for carrying smaller items. No doubt I can carry 2x6x12 pieces of lumber on the runners if I could safely strap them down.
Engineering – The added extra frame length with the bolt-on rack system is brilliant! It is incredibly light but super-strong. It looks like it means business and it does! Again, no squeaks or groans which is impressively especially because this bike was used as a demonstration model. I love the stow-and-go bags.
Comfort – At the end of the ride, I didn’t have any back, neck, or shoulder issues but I tried to remain in a more upright position whenever possible. My problematic knees did OK, though one was squawking a bit towards the end. I may have had the brace too tight. Since the weather dictated that I wear pants instead of shorts for the first time since April, I couldn’t easily readjust the brace. Part of my behind seemed to fall asleep a little towards the end of the ride (insert joke here) but I’m not overly concerned.
Conclusion – I really want to like this bike and hope that my body accepts the radical change from the fully-supported low-racer position it has been used to for years. It does everything exceedingly well and my hope is that by breaking in to it gradually I won’t stress anything on my body. Psychologically it is a major change too. I know that I don’t look fast on it and I am comfortable with that fact and won’t mind being passed by roadies who should know that this bike is a load-hauler. This bike can carry just about anything including the kitchen sink, and I hope that I can use it in place of my Nazca on occasion for overnight excursions as it will make the packing and unpacking process much easier and should be readily more visible in high-traffic situations. It definitely is a niche-bike, but it fulfills all of my requirements so far. I haven’t ridden it with my wife yet, but we will be at the same height and my need for speed will be naturally suppressed.
And this follow-up:
Last weekend I loaded up the HT with about 25 pounds of gear and went for an extended ride. I normally carry about 25 pounds of gear, food, and liquid when overnighting on the Nazca, so I wanted to have the weight fairly equal before attempting to draw any comparisons between the two.
I wasn't overly concerned about packing things in just right because there is so much room. I tried to keep the load evenly balanced on each side while packing but didn't go to my normal extent of weighing each item...just threw it in and went.
I was aware of the extra weight when starting from a dead-stop or trying to quickly accelerate but not much beyond that - even when going uphill. I purposely swerved back and forth quickly and repeatedly in 'S' turns at speed, but didn't notice anything abnormal. I half-expected the tail wagging the dog sensation, or some sort of squirrely steering after-effect, but everything was tight, true and well balanced. I neglected to mention quiet...the bike amazes me at how quiet it is at all speeds.
I actually achieved my highest average speed ever with the HT yet, even though I was more concerned about capacity and quality of ride than speed. I can attribute this to finally getting the bike dialed in, clipping in, and possibly building up the slightly different muscles used.
All in all, a suprisingly good first ride carrying a significant load. I am still cautiously optimistic that my back, neck, and shoulders will continue to behave when riding this new format.
Not that it matters, but the 'street cred' that this bike elicits from the roadie types is somewhat suprising. Every time I stop, it draws as much attention as my low-racer.
So far, so good still!
Nice report! I wish you many miles of "Hammer hauling". I have had great fun using the bike to shop, and what I love if you leave home empty on just a fun ride, there is nothing stopping you from turning it into a shopping trip! Thanks from all of us at RANS, thanks for the biz and ride safe!
Wow, that is what I am talking about! Thanks "Bike Stop" for becoming a HT owner, have many safe and fun miles on your HT.
With temperatures forecast to be around 70 degrees, I took the HT into work yesterday for the first time. It's about a 20 mile round-trip. I loaded it up with some 12-packs of soda to stock my office fridge, and dropped off some dry-cleaning along the way.
My staff was shocked to see me ride in on a non-recumbent but I still kept up my 'weird bike guy' reputation!
I added some Planet Blinkey superflash lights on each of the lower runners just so drivers would have an idea that I was wider than a traditional bike. Commuting in the most densely populated county in Florida and crossing three bridges without an adequate bike lane, I don't want to take any chances, which is why i have a Dinotte back there too. Drivers gave me a wide berth.
With the lower runners installed, I have to remember to do the bow-legged start when pushing off otherwise my ankles could get trapped underneath the front-runners.
All in all, a fun trip.
I love using the runners, for loading it is great! Lean the bike over, then load the high side. Lean to the loaded side, load the other side. I am taking off my double legged kickstand.