Thursday, May 10, 2007

David Cambon - Easy Racers Gold Rush

Hell Week 600 Start

Hell Week organizer Ken Bonner @ Finish of 600 w/ David Cambon

David is still evaluating this bike for rando use, but has a preliminary report here.

In the meantime you might want to read David's article on PBP Recumbents.

Update - here are David's thoughts after some serious miles on his bent:

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia


Rando experience: 22 years of on and off randonneuring including 2 Paris-Brest-Paris.

Bent Make/Model Current: Easy Racer Gold Rush.

Why did you start riding bents? I tried a Rans Rocket at a bike shop. That bike was more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I bought it and I got hooked on ‘bents.

Why did you pick this model? The conventional wisdom would dictate that a laid-back hiracer or midracer or semi-lowracer would be the appropriate bike for randonneuring, due to the comfort of a laid-back seat and the lack of requirement of a fairing to achieve an aero advantage. However, I like a fairing for cold and wet weather and for sun protection in the summer. An Easy Racer is the ideal bike for a fairing.
Other things I like about the Gold Rush:
  • It’s the best climbing ‘bent I know of. The upright hardshell seat, the direct drive-side chainline and the stiff frame all add up to good climbing. Randonneuring in British Columbia is all about climbing.
  • The long wheelbase is very comfortable and makes high-speed descents a confidence-inspiring pleasure, with no scary short-wheelbase issues that some bikes have at 100 km/hr.
  • The upright seating position offers a good view, which is especially important at night when trying to spot potholes and rocks etc.
I have another Easy Racer (a Tour Easy) that I use for commuting and touring. This Gold Rush is a new bike that that I had not done a brevet with so I picked the first big rando event of the season to try the Gold Rush just so I could write this report for Vik’s blog. So I took the Gold Rush to the Vancouver Island 2008 Eau de Hell Week in mid-April.
Hell Week is an excellent way to test a bike for randonneuring. Hell Week is held very early in the season (before adequate training and butt-hardening) and Hell Week is a whole rando series in one week, so it’s a ride that is likely to produce upright seat recumbent butt if anything is going to produce recumbent butt.
Hell Week consists of a 200 km brevet immediately followed by a 300, a 400 and a 600, one day after the other. There’s plenty of tough climbing too (11,500 feet on the 300, with 15% grades and blistering downhills). I also pulled my 90 lb trailer 200 km back and forth to the start of Hell Week (one direction in 25 cm of fresh snow) and I did some bonus miles when I became horribly lost on the 400.
The only time I got recumbent butt was during a cold 60 km relentless push into a strong headwind (and salt spray!) along exposed oceanfront during the 600. The rest of Hell Week I successfully avoided recumbent butt by stretching during the downhills, occasionally lifting my butt off the seat, riding in different positions (eg, lean-forward position) and generally squirming around as much as possible.
At no time did I get recumbent butt severe enough to slow me down. The secret is the minimal padding on the carbon Cobra seat on the Gold Rush. The other secret is that you can lift your butt off the seat by pushing into the seatback.
Don’t even think about using the mesh-back (Koolback) seat for randonneuring. The carbon Cobra hardshell seat is lighter, much faster and more comfortable for marathon cycling (I have used both seats for randonneuring).
The Gold Rush is as fast on a brevet as my normal person’s bike even though it’s heavier and I have more accoutrements on the Gold Rush. The Gold Rush was more comfortable than a normal bike at Hell Week. I don’t know what it would be like at longer events. Hell Week is only 1500 km. Perhaps Peter Noris could comment (I believe Peter has a considerable amount of rando-mileage on Easy Racers).
If you want to go fast on a Gold Rush keep it light. Use a carbon Cobra seat, a carbon fork, a light stem etc (but use durable wheels – no ultralight boutique wheels for randonneuring please). The Easy Racer carbon fairing is lighter than the Zzipper fairing that I use.

Modifications from stock: I built my own rear wheel with a Mavic CXP 33 rim because I wanted a heavier rim for durability. I also put on a 9 cm 30 degree rise stem to bring the handlebars closer because I have long legs. The Velokraft fork on the Gold Rush does not use a compression plug so I put a cork in it to keep water out. The cork is from a bottle of 2004 Château Cambon La Pelouse Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois.

Lighting: DiNotte 200L AA in front, Planet Bike Super Flashes, Busch & Müller DToplight XS Permanent AA light in back, Planet Bike helmet-mount light attached to Carbon Spider visor, two spare Planet Bike headlights all with lithium batteries or rechargeables. I can’t say enough good things about the DiNotte. The Super Flashes are not waterproof and I have them sealed with electrical tape. I only use the Super Flashes when no cyclists are behind me.

Luggage: Arkel Tail Rider, Easy Racer Gold Rush frame bag.

Navigation: No navigation equipment. I tend to get lost.

Bent specific riding techniques: I remind myself to spin low gears up the hills.

Riding with other bents & DF bikes: I will sometimes ride with DF riders to chit-chat or to pace myself off them. I don’t draft when riding ‘bents. There’s no need to draft. I can go just as fast alone on my ‘bent as I can pacelining on my upright bike. It’s great not having to draft.

Eating on a bent: I stop and stuff my face at the controls. Between controls I sometimes store a PowerBar in my jersey pocket (the outside pockets are outside the edge of the Cobra seat) and I usually have a miracle drink (like Hammer Perpetuem) in one of my handlebar bottles (I have four bottle racks on the bars so I can carry more water in hot weather). I will also stop every 25 to 50 km or so and grab something out of my tail bag/rear fairing which I’ll munch on while riding.
It’s appalling but you can do all the same things at the handlebar of an Easy Racer that you can do at the steering wheel of a car (like steering with one finger, while holding a sandwich in one hand and a bottle in the other).
My actual diet while randonneuring consists of whatever sandwiches and cookies I can find supplemented by a Halloween party of candy, junk food and chocolate milk which I’m sure does nothing for my randonneuring but sure is fun.

Hydration: I like having water bottles right in front of me on the handlebar. I find hydration bladders to be a bit fiddly to fill during brevets.

Fenders: I could not get the Easy Racer carbon fender to work with the 451 front wheel without rubbing. I finally chopped off the front part of the front fender and I put a block in the wheel-opening of the fairing to keep tire spray out of my face. A full coverage front mudguard would be better (see Bicycle Quarterly Jan Heine’s comments on mudguards).
The back Easy Racer carbon mudguard works ok but of course a Honjo mudguard would be best.

If you were to start again what bent/setup would you get? I would get the same bike. The Gold Rush really did what I wanted it to do and let’s face it – the Gold Rush and Ti Rush are the ultimate long-wheelbase bikes. There’s nothing to improve. I will continue to experiment with different bikes for randonneuring but I have found I like being up fairly high (like on a Gold Rush) to see better in city traffic and to avoid road spray from cars and trucks, to a certain extent. If someone would come up with a 700 x 20 hiracer/midracer to suit my tastes for randonneuring, with good high-speed handling characteristics I would try that bike too.
My one quibble is that the back of my particular Gold Rush has a V-brake (for mudguard clearance). V-brakes are, of course, an evil conspiracy designed to drive cyclists insane and they make it a pain in the ass to fix flats. The Gold Rush is available with dual (front and rear) caliper brakes.
Some people don’t want to try bikes with two different sized tires. However, the reality is the front tire of an Easy Racer is very lightly loaded and tends not to attract the puncture fairy. I’ve never destroyed the front tire on an Easy Racer and I don’t carry a spare front tire. I have yet to have a flat on the front of the Gold Rush with the IRC Roadlite tire (a really nice tire, by the way).
David

2 comments:

runawayscreaming said...

I tried to get Peter Noris to add some drama to this entry by suggesting he write an angry response to my unrestrained confession of love for my Easy Racer. Blogger would not let him post so here is Peter's response:

I was invited to leave an angry post about why a SWB was clearly superior to a LWB, but I have a problem there.

I can't.

I've done many brevets on both types, and it's more of a case of 'horses for couses' than anything else.

My Gold Rush with a body sock and fairing was the bomb for anything without a lot of climbing - but when I moved to Colorado for a few years, the thought of losing 8 pounds by going to a RANS Force 5 was irresistable. The RANS seems to be about as aero as the GRR with a fairing only - and the seat position is better for sprinting and hill climbing. The GRR is very aero with the full kit, and I think on a fairly flat course would rule.

OTOH, if there is a lot of climbing, 8 pounds is a lot of weight.

Unless the GRR has the full kit, I think I would go with the SWB - but it's a close call. Since I don't have the budget - or room in my van - for both - the RANS is it for me...uhhhh...except I'm probably buying a Catrike 700 this month.

Peter Noris

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