Out with the old bike, in with the new bike

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I’ve got a new, weird bike! Pictures provided, duh. Go to the bottom if you want to see the rest of them and ignore all these words!

The bicycle is a Cruzbike Sofrider. It has a dynamic boom front wheel drive and is an all around strange little ride, I must admit. The reason I got it? Well, sometimes, when you’re a cyclist, you just want a new bike. And I got it used, which mostly means that if I don’t like it, I can sell it for more-or-less what I bought it for – which is, I think, the secret to all of this. You put aside some money for buying a bike and then recycle the money until you find the ride you want! So this is an experiment to decide if I like the dynamic boom FWD bikes, and if I do, I’ll likely end up getting a Cruzbike Vendetta for my coming birthday as my fast bike. Since it does seem to be, and I say this with no exaggeration, the fastest unfaired bicycle made.

Still, one might wonder why build a bike like this? What’s in it for the rider?

Well, first, of course, it’s a recumbent. I’m solidly in the recumbent bicycle camp. Upright bikes are pain machines, they hurt your butt, your back, your neck, your wrists – and in men, they’re a cause of erectile dysfunction! Still, why this style bike? Don’t I have a perfectly good recumbent bike?

Sure. But – and I understand this is getting into nitpicky territory – recumbents don’t climb hills very well because upright riders can get their core muscles into the mix. What the dynamic boom FWD bike does, then, is allow recumbent riders to get their core muscles into the mix while riding hills and sprinting.

Still, they’re weird bikes, let’s be honest. The crankshaft turns with the front wheel, which means that pedaling also tends to turn the front wheel. This connection is necessary to get the uphill power, but it means that your feet help steer the bike. (Indeed, Cruzbikes are the only recumbents that a person can ride without using their hands since you can steer with your feet.) However, this means there’s a learning curve. There are things you’ve got to learn, and things you must unlearn. Right now, I feel like I’m fighting with myself a bit when riding the bike. While this is a common feeling when first riding a Cruzbike, I hear it passes pretty quickly.

Indeed, already, I can see how it does pass. A couple of times in looping curves, I felt I was going to go out of control. If it were severe, I’d take my feet off the pedals, and the bike would suddenly become a regular bike. But at other times, I would pedal into the curve and pop right out. Once I can control that better – steering with my feet – it’ll be totally cool.

But even when putting it up on a kickstand it’s weird. The last couple of shots is of the bike on its kickstand. To make sure it doesn’t fall over, you’ve got to bend the boom back towards the frame! Everything about this bicycle is a little strange.

Despite being called a “Sofrider,” to emphasize the comfort of the bike, the bike’s geometry is borderline midracer. For purposes of comparison, in my old recumbent, the bottom bracket (where the pedals are) is sixteen inches off the ground. On the Sofrider, the bottom bracket it twenty-six inches off the ground. Both have seats that are also twenty-six inches off the ground – so it means that on the Sofrider, my legs are sticking out straight horizontal. Likewise, my old recumbent’s seat is very upright – at about seventy degrees, not too much different than an office chair. The Sofrider’s seat sits back at about forty-five degrees. So not only are my legs higher, I’m leaning further back in the seat. This geometry isn’t much different than the Lightning P-38 recumbent, for instance, which is a very fast bike.

It’s too soon to see if I like the Sofrider, but after completing the tutorial on getting comfy on the bike, I put in a couple of miles. Nothing hard, just riding around the neighborhood, and I didn’t crash into anything or fall over. I did feel the ride in my shoulders – like I said, using your upper body is part of the reason people like this bike – but I’m sure that’ll go away once I stop fighting myself and learn the rhythm of the bike.

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