Wednesday, August 06, 2008

eeny, meeny, miny, mo

In my deliberations of whether or not to keep my volae or sell it, I’ve been wondering ultimately if the bike would suite my needs for a long distance commuter. Being that my ride to and from work is 26 miles each way; I do care about having something fast. I’m not a speed freak and don’t get all anal regard the grams of one component to another, but I do want something that is going to be not slow.

I’ve been recording very closely my times, weather, efforts of my commutes on both my Volae and my Sequoia. They are both very different bikes obviously, but they could both be very well suited to a long distance commute. The only one really up on the chopping block though was the Volae. If the Sequoia didn’t come out number 1, it’d still be kept as a touring bike, or to change it up with the Volae for commuting. It also makes for a great bike to head out on a Sunday afternoon with a camera.

If the Volae didn’t come out on top, I was going to sell it and use those funds to buy a Bike Friday tikit folding bicycle. My theory was that I could use the tikit for days when I can’t commit 1.5+ hours to getting to work and 1.5+ hours to getting home from work. My in-laws live about 7 miles from my work, and I could just drive to their house, leave my car and ride my tikit the rest of the way.

So, who won you ask? Well, in a way neither. But the Volae did come out as the fastest most comfortable way for me to get to work under my own power. I am consistently 10 minutes faster on the Volae, and on all except the steepest hill on the way to work, the volae was actually faster! Maybe I’ve just really developed a good set of ‘bent legs’. I’m not sure. I was quite surprised when I was motoring up the hills faster than on the Sequoia and with what definitely felt like less effort. The sequoia certainly does the job very well also. Just a wee bit slower and a wee bit less comfortable. If I had never ridden a recumbent though, I don’t think I would ever know this.

There is one monster hill for about 1km that the sequoia does out-perform the Volae on. I’m sure that has something to do with the fact that the Volae is about 8lbs heavier than the Sequoia, and I can and do get out of the saddle and hammer the hill when I’m on a DF bike. I do now and then hammer it on the Volae, but it’s a bit different than on a DF bike.

Comfort; this was a hard one too. I’ve said before that the Sequoia rides like butter and I’ve set it up with very relaxed geometry. That being said, there is still less area of contact with the bike as there is on the Volae. Less contact area means higher contact pressure. I don’t think you could ever get a DF bike to be as comfortable as you could get a recumbent. Obviously proper fit has a huge role to play, but that goes for both DF bikes and recumbents. The Volae fits me very well, so does the Sequoia.

So, I’ve decided to keep the Volae. I’d still like to make a few changes to the way that I carry gear on the bike, but that’s about all I want to change. The bike feels so good when I ride it. I’m also quite interested in putting on a dinohub, but that’s down the road.

As for the tikit, I’ll have to wait for a while until I save the pennies. On the other hand, I found a car mount bicycle rack at the recycling yard and it fits and works well on my car. So, I don’t have the excuse that I would have to take my truck to my in-laws if I wanted to ride just the 7 miles on a DF. Hey, I’m thinking this might just be the perfect task for my lately all too neglected fixie.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jerome, are you serious? 26 miles each way, you are in Canada don't you mean km?

Maybe you can tell us how many lights and stop signs are on your route. :-)

Jerome said...

Hey B, haven't heard from you for a while. How are ya?

I do mean miles. It's 42km one way. I think I use miles becouse I've ran several marathons, and that 26 miles is an important number to me. Funny that I train so hard to run it, but ride it in the morning before even having a cup of coffee.

There are 2 lights and 2 stop signs on my route. It's all hiway except for the last 2kms. All secondary hiways and very quite. I've gone 12 miles once (19kms) without seeing a single vehicle. Definately a great way to start and end a day. Cheers.

Neve_r_est said...

Another long commuter. When do you have to in by? My 6 to 4:30pm schedule took some thinking to make happen, just couldn't reason getting up at 3am for a 2-3hour gravel commute.

You should trade the Volae in on a Lightning F40, or better yet just build one.

I would be commuting with my streamliner by now if I had a good pave route to work. Gravel liner is in the works.


Jerome said...

Hey DG,

I'm usually on the road by around 6am. I've got a very flexible shedule at work and this gives me time to get to work, shower and eat breakfast by 8. When I'm not riding, I at work between 6 and 7 to make up the difference. I've been thinking about building a lowracer for several years. I like the python and would like to try building something based on 20" wheels that would fold to fit in the back of a car. Something that wouild be good for up to 10 miles and fun in grocerie store parking lots. Small enough I could zip under part semitrucks.

A faired bike? wow, that woud take some incredible work. Maybe when my house renovation is complete. It would be a great way to get to work though huh? They are significantly quicker aren't they?'ve got me thining.....

Tom said...

You go 26 miles in 1.5 hours?? (average 17.7 mph).

No matter what I do I can't beat 12mph on my commute with a hyrdid (Fuji Absolute).... but I do have to go through the city where I bump into lots of lights.

Jerome said...

Hey Tom,

Yep, I do think it's the lights that makes the difference. I also shower when I get to work and sit at a desk all day long so I hold nothing back when I ride. I've actually done the ride home (way more down hill going home) in 1hr 6 minutes. That was with a really strong tail wind though. I also set up my Volae in the most aggressive riding position (sounds funny to say for a recumbent) where I make my profile as small as possible. I basically get so I'm laying down as much as possible. This makes a huge, huge difference over a dimond frame bike.

BTW, I checked out your blog and I like it. Nice work.