Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Peter Noris - RANS F5, Easy Racers TE & GRR

Location: full time RV; winter home Gainesville, Florida

LD experience:
  • Super Randonneur 5000
  • 10 Super Randonneur series, BMB
  • RM1200, PBP
  • six 1000K
  • a few extras here and there (permanents and other brevets)

Bents: Easy Racers Tour Easy and Gold Rush (both fully faired), Rans Force 5 with 700C wheels

Why a bent? Injured in car/bike dispute, after very long rehab realized I would never be able to ride a DF again.

Why these? I was fortunate to live near a 'bent shop with a wide selection; the TE was the first bike that felt like a performance bike (against, for example BikeE and a few others) that was not too expensive to put an aero kit on. The TE , a Large, was on the small side for me; the GRR was an XL and was much more comfortable and better handling since the weight distribution was better. While living in Colorado I got tired of dragging the weight of the aero kit up hill; the Force 5 was about 8 pounds lighter than the GRR.

Modifications from stock: The TE was bought as a frame, and built from boxes of parts left over from my DF days. Many of the parts were eight or nine years old (I said it was a long rehab). Shimano barcon shifters, Mavic tubular wheel on the rear, other odds and ends. The GRR I replaced it with was bought built up; I replaced the rear wheel (love those tubies), had Ultegra road brakes, barcons again, otherwise fairly stock. Since I have a relatively long torso I altered the fairing mounts to get the fairing higher.

The Rans wasn't offered with 700s when I bought it; as far as I know it was the first. I had no trouble with the extra height, and want as few non-standard parts as possible. It was also built up from a frame set - with the worst build I ever got from a bike shop. I eventually had the whole bike stripped and rebuilt.

Lighting: Except for the F5 I've used a Schmidt hub and Lumotec light. Very happy with this setup. On the F5 I switched to an LED in a BiSy light with battery power. While acceptable, I am going back to a generator system for 2008.

Hydration: 70 oz. CamelBack in rear seat bag; on the F5 I use a FastBack bag and really like it.

Nutrition: Until this year I ate regular food; this year on the F5 I mounted a bottle on the steering riser and used Hammer products; in cool weather it's possible to mix a 1500 calorie bottle that will last for a 400K. In addition, one or two flasks of gel in my rear jersey pocket.

Luggage: I got tired of bungeeing stuff to a rear rack; this year I bought a Terracycle EasyReach pannier system.

Riding in groups: I got lots of complaints with the Easy Racers; I'm not sure if it was how strange the bike looked or just the lack of draft. The F5 is aerodynamically somewhere between the GRR with a fairing and with the sock on it - no testing, just my impression. It's not really much higher than the GRR, but I get fewer complaints, possibly because it looks more normal and is shorter. The GRR didn't seem to benefit from drafting; the F5 does, but not as much as a DF. If people complain (rarely), depending on my mood I either drop them or tell them to pass.

Bent riding technique: It is difficult to ride with groups in hilly terrain; slower uphill, faster downhill. Very easy to blow out knees if you try and push a big gear from a start. With the F5, it took me a while to learn not to get the second foot clipped in until I had some speed - just get the foot on the pedal and keep going. Climbing and sprinting with the weight off the seat and pushing back into the back support gives lots of extra power.

What other bent would I like to try? Even though almost every part would not be standard, I'd like to get a hardshell low racer; I just don't know where I could buy one.


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