Recumbents and all feet forward machines
Well I just can't help myself I have spent countless hours researching and I'm -----------> <------------ this close to plonking some coin down on a RaptoBike Mid Racer frame kit and start a new build but before I do any advice from those that may have one on this forum or know of someone using one that might like to chime in for final pros/cons before I do?
I can help you out from experience here.
I bought the lowracer frame kit and built it up with quality parts and wheels. I also included the pivoting tiller since low to the ground makes exiting the bike look and feel awkward unless you're a gymnast.
No.1: Front wheel drive. It has good points and bad but whilst you're riding it makes no difference. Its only when you're doing tight turns and reversing with the wheel turned. Thats it.The negatives. In reality, no big deal.
No.2: Handling. In a word, superb. I've never had my bum in or on a bike that WANTS to go fast around corners with confidence inspired stability. I have read about bikes with tillers having the "tiller" effect with the steering. I don't know what it is but I cannot find anything negative about it with this bike.
No.3. Wheels. 405 front (will accommodate 451) and 559 (26inch) rear or 700C. What more do you want. Problem is that the front wheel being the driven wheel requires you to have a huge chainring. I have a 60 and 46 on the front and that will get me up any hill and spins out at about 50K. More than what I need in reality. After 50 I let gravity take over which, if I may say, has seen 84Kph going down Olivers hill near Frankston.
I also chose a front disk setup too. Stopping power is the best although it adds a small amount of extra weight... Big deal.
No.4:Seat. A hard shell seat is really a must but a bit of padding helps too with less than good roads. I took the advice from Paul Worden and put elastomers under the rear seat brackets and helped a lot.
In summary I find it to be a great all round low racer. Personally I wouldn't ride in busy traffic but weekend traffic on the same roads has no drawback. You will get plenty of attention too. Acceleration seems to be very quick and Stop start traffic has no problem either.
In comparing it to the higher spec of Raptobike I would choose the higher wholly due to having that advantage of a bigger wheel. Seat height may also come into the equation too.
When I ordered my bike it took 4 weeks to get here. Communication with Arnold has been hit and miss sometimes but I believe he has been very busy too Although ordering online for other parts has been very good from him. Small parts from Nederland will take about 2 weeks.
Hope that is helpful to you,
William where do you get the elastomers from, as I would like to put them on my seat brackets too?
Exiting the bike tip: Do you do it this way - Unclip and slow down, just before coming to a complete stop put your feet on the ground, apply the brakes and stand up. Your bum should slide up the backrest as you stand up.
Great info - agree with the larger drive wheel
Optima Baron Raptor
Low Racer - Recumbent
Plant the feet before you stop tip.
I tried that a few times but usually ended up stabbing myself in the thigh with the bars. The original bars have a 90 degree bend pointing forwards and slightly down. I did see the little video clip with a shorter person doing this but after a few thigh gouges and "dead leg syndrome" I gave up. It is much nicer to be able to stop, lift the tiller, stand up with dignity. I also went with the flatter angle bars too. That keeps the bars away from my face and clearance from my legs and with the height being adjustable you can position it where you want.
William thanks for the great write up and yes the low racer hasn't gone unnoticed but if the low racer comes into play it will be built with 26" front wheels. As I told Brad if my leaning goes more to the RaptoBike low racer then the Challenge Hurricane might come into play in the link below.
Coming back to the raptobikes either way there going to be 26" wheels and the idlers will be Terracycles along with the Terracycle glide flex stem because like you I'm not that fond of climbing under handlebars I'm all about comfort and ease. I won't be setting up the bike for a speed demon as my plan is to place on Schwalbe 2" big apple tyres allowing me to travel over a little more terrain plus add a little more comfort. I'm leaning towards the more compact mid racer rather than the longer low racer for ease of travel etc.
When I pop Arnold an email I too will be going Disk brakes all round and having the frame made with out the VBrake mounts on the frame and forks. Because I have a set of almost new Avid Juicy 7 Hydro's rather than purchase more stuff I decided to use them up and this bike will be there home. When I do email Arnold I plan on asking if I can have a raw frame as I think I will be adding my own frame colour scheme but if that can't be done then no issues a trip to the sand blasters will happen.
At this stage because of new spares I have in XT Shamino 9 speed this bike will be built from that or what ever the next bike is just to get rid of some of my stock. I have enjoyed my Rotor chain rings on the other bikes so this one will get the same treatment once I work out the size. Now I hope you don't mind me picking your brain William but as for headset do you know the ID of the head tube and if there using Internal headset or external bearing headsets?
As for length of time to be delivered I'm expecting a wait because I'm not sure if the mid racer has even done a production run yet. Add to that ordering a frame without the Vbrakes lugs will no doubt take a little time to come of the run.
You mentioned that due to it being FWD it needs to have a big chainring can you fill me in a little as I have no experience with FWD and this is one of the reason to get a FWD so I could have something different to feel and play with for a ride rather than the traditional RWD. I looked long and hard at Cruzbikes but for the money in my opinion your not getting value for money or enough options for my riding style etc so I ruled them out when looking at FWD.
I may have been a bit misleading with the chainrings. This really only applies to the smaller front wheels or small drive wheels in general. If you're running a 26 inch wheel you can use regular sized chain rings.
The Terracycle idlers are a good upgrade and much qhieter. One problem I had in the initial stages is the Terracycle return idler has straight side plates and when there is a situation where there are extreme angles due to turning the chain will try to ride over the idler. Once you're aware of this it is manageable.
As for the headset I cannot say at the moment. For the price I bought mine fitted and stem cut to length. I think its a regular 1 1/8 headset. I'll measure for sure in the morning.
Mine was ordered without the V brake mounts. The frames will come painted as he has them made in Taiwan where they're also painted. Ask anyway just in case he has one there.
I'm not sure of the terrain you plan on travelling but I may not want to ride on off road trails on loose dirt.
Mine is great at slow speed and can travel slower than walking without feeling wobbly and also have trouble slowing to ride with my friends. It is a great ride.
Oh! One more thing. XT drive bits are a good idea too. I did try a Shimano 105 road derailleur and road derailleurs do not work effectively at all. The spring tension is too weak for the more vertical position.
A laid back seat is noticeably faster for aero but you need a head/neck rest. I don't like head rests so the full aero is not for me.
Ok William gotcha on the chainring I was a little puzzled but now that I know it was diameter related I understand I just took it you also had a 26" or a 650 on the front. Cheers for the idler tip and most of my runs I can't think of tight turns so I should be ok. I'm going to order all my stuff unfitted and uncut only because I have the tools and I may want to add some spacers to the steerer tube so that will give me some room for play. The paint isn't an issue and I may well leave it white because I haven't got a white bike in the fleet and it looks sexy anyway. Most of the rides this bike will travel on will be shared paths,gravel roads or normal tar surfaces be it smooth or full of cracks and pot holes hence my selection on tyres. Nice to know the speed can be dropped right off without the wobbles that is my kind of bike and nice tip on the spring tension with the more vertical position.
I don't know if you have a source William but do you know of anyone that sells the FWD forks I wouldn't mind purchasing one that has a little more style to it for me there just a little plain. You made mention of elastomers under the seat do you have a image I could look at as I take it just fits between the seat and bracket to absorb some of the shocks. Did you choose a particular thickness that hits the sweet spot you could share with me so I don't have to go testing myself. As a general rule I don't mind neck rests but like everything I will try it first and see if I will add one.
I noticed you also went for the 110 degree bars which was my thought as well because I'm not so sure of the 90 degree bars seems a little small and tight for my style. Can you do something for me William and measure a rough line from bars to the rear disk brake mount on your machine. I just want to have an idea of distance that way I can work out roughly how much my hydros will stretch or I'm going to be up for doing new lines etc. If my hydros fit yours then I'm home and hose with the mid racer. How have you gone about mounting things on this bent of yours?
You can get an idea from here. 40 -50 Kg load will be plenty for an 80-90 Kg rider.
Forks I cannot help but Nederland dealers or even Arnold may help. There have been a few owners on the U.S. forums that have asked the same thing but I haven't seen any results.
Brake line to the rear. You will need about 185 cm. I have the Avid BB7 cable operated disk on the front and that will stop you as fast as a formula 1 car. Not for use in bunch rides as roadies will be flying over your head. Rear brakes can be made obsolete with this format.
Luggage? I have the Radical design Low racer bags. Plenty big enough for a lot of stuff, 5 litres each. I don't use mine for 2 reasons. 1, when loaded they bump on the rear brake. Very frustrating. 2, ...Well one really the other thing to note is riding in rain. Without a rear mudguard the tyre will spray water and grit straight into the back of your helmet and bear in mind the tyre speed at the top of the wheel is twice your road speed so it will feel like someone squirting a garden hose into the back of your helmet with grit thrown in. Very uncomfortable so ... I fitted a rear rack with a top bag and fixed that problem. It then acts as a mudguard.
Water bottle brackets have been screwed through the lower part of the seat. Water bladders??? I have one but by the time I run out of 2 bottles its time for a break anyway.
William once again thanks for the links and info you have been really helpful I'm going to try and source some more bling forks because in my opinion the stock forks don't do the low racer or mid racer justice. Thanks for the brake info I'm right to go now with that one as you have just solved that concern for me. On one of my trikes I had the same issue road grime beating me in the back of the head so I was quick to make a mud guard to put a stop to it.
Do you have any issues braking in the wet with just the one brake and being on the front wheel?
On the fork issue if I can't find a bling fork I'm just going to Macgyver one adding and welding a derailleur mount so it's not a real big issue but I will give Arnold a call first and see what he has to say.
Thanks again mate
Wet weather handling...
No problem with just the front brake. I have Schwalbe Kojak tyres and have also used Conti Grand Prix. GP's are faster, just as grippy but narrower and need more pressure to prevent pinch flats.
With both tyres I have tested on a short steep hill close to my home. At 70 Kph I have progressively jammed on the brakes to the point I can hear the rubber tearing on the bitumen. At this point I have my feet pushing hard into the pedals to stop me from splitting myself on the head stem. This is due mostly to the fact you have a very low centre of gravity and theres no way you're going over the bars.
In wet weather, as with cars etc, you need to know your tyres. I've had no problem with the tyres mentioned but a Kenda Kwest slips easier due to a hard compound.
Big Apples don't have as sticky a compound as the Kojak but compensate with a bigger footprint.
Thanks William much appreciated and if you don't mind me asking how tall are you and which seat did you purchase? How do you find there seat for shape does it fit nicely without any bits digging in even with a pad off?
I'm 5'9" on a good day with a 42.5 exseam. By normal bike sizing tools my body length is slightly bigger than leg length, going by their standards.
From Arnold measurements for seat selection I was almost a large so went for the medium seat. But... With a bit of seat padding such as 2 layers of ventisit pad then it was a little cramped on longish rides. I should have, in hindsight, trusted my instinct and went for the large.
I don't think the seat will be comfortable bare as the mounting screws protrude through the seat. The bum area may be ok but the shoulder area would be doubtful depending on where your shoulder blades sit in relation to the screws.
I put a layer of what is described as tool box liner on the seat first. It's a sticky perforated rubbery sponge stuff and the ventisit won't slide on it.
Depending on the tyres or road surface you're travelling on you will need something to dampen the higher frequency vibration.
Ah great William thanks for the info I'm 6"2 so I will get the large for sure and thanks for the tip on that non slip mat thingy I know the stuff your talking about so once again mate I really appreciate your time to help.
belated addition to your thread - apologies but only just back in the country from an extended trip in Europe. I actually met up with Arnold from Raptobike and got to ride one of the low racers and have a good look at the mid racer. I have to say the mid racer is one of the nicer `high'' bikes I have seen. Its had a bit of a prolonged development, but it seems to have been worth it. I'm 175 cm with slightly longer than average legs, but was able to sit in riding position over a mid racer with twin 700C wheels with both feet flat on the ground. The bike design is slightly unusual in that it lengthens under the seat, but this allows the crank position to be set to take up to 175 mm cranks with 700C wheels without crank overlap. The bonus I saw with the design is that with a only little bit of work you can separate the frame completely into two halves compact enough to fit into a standard bike bag - not something you would associate with your average high racer and great if you travel with your bike. Because its front wheel drive you would only need to install a single cable splitter on the rear brake cable to make this a relatively simple operation requiring minimal readjustment on setup.
Having ridden the performer 20/20 FWD for 18 months now, and taking the opportunity while at Spezi to ride most of the current bunch of FWDs on the market the rapto low racer road well and was in the favourable side of the bunch (personal tip - avoid the Zox). The use of a 26" or 700C rear wheel on the low racer does make it a more forgiving ride than the 20/20 setup, but obviously not a s compact.
Hi Alax again sorry for the late reply I have been away and I really appreciate your personal handling and catching up with Arnold. Your feedback has gone a long way to cementing this purchase as I'm now just waiting on a confirmed production run. Did you find out any info one when these high racers will be rolling of the line for the mass market purchase? Also thanks for the helpful info on close inspection and detail on the bikes that has been very helpful even though I doubt the bike will ever be broken down it's nice to know that it can just in case one would want to do that. How did you find the flex of the frame was it stiff or did you notice a little give to smooth things out when riding?
sorry been out of town myself for a few days working on a 'little' MTB race in the southern highlands.
I think there had been a few delays on the initial mass production run on the mid racer frames but they have been sorted and so they should be fully available (delays filling existing orders not withstanding!). Very little noticeable flex in the frame - the fact that the boom is fixed and the adjustment is toward the middle of the frame may be reducing the boom flex complained of in some recumbents. That said I'm not a `masher' so frame has to be soft for me to induce flex. I can however induce wheelspin on front wheel drives not well designed (in terms of fork rake) or with worn tyres and the fork rake must be pretty good on the rapto as I couldn't get it to chatter. As I indicated before the larger rear wheels (or seat position?) seems offer slightly more ride comfort than my performer 20/20 - but with only a relatively short test ride (30 km) its hard to compare. I can feel the road shock in the 20/20, but its still comfortable to ride for a 200 km day (extra layer ventisit pad is nice for that too!).
No worries Alex on responding life goes one as they say. On the bike front I'm going to place my order late October as that should be time to clear the back log of orders and make my wait not so long from payment to delivery. For me this bike won't see much wet weather as It's going to be my summer ride so front wheel spin shouldn't be an issue because it's just going to be a touring bike for riding pleasure. Nice to hear that flex doesn't seem to be a big part of this frame and I do like the idea of a fixed boom with X-Seam adjustments made from lengthening the frame under the seat.
Once again Alex thanks for your input and experience as I have never had a front wheel drive recumbent but this one was just nice looking along with being simple in design so in my opinion well worth the splash of cash to try.
I have ordered a frame kit forRaptobike mid-racer. Planning on getting lightning cranks but a bit confused about bottom bracket sizes. Does it matter these days? They all seem to be cartridge types. Width is 73 or 68 mm, right? What is the other number (113 or 107)? Can anyone tell me the bottom bracket size on the raptobikes? Arnold seems really busy so thought you guys might have more time to let me know these good things. For the rest of the specs: 26" wheels front and back XTR rear derailleur 11-32 tooth cassette; can't decide on front derailleur but am wondering whether 2 chainrings (34/50) and roadbike deraillier would work. Any thoughts?
Sorry to revive a dead thread.
I'm looking at doing the transamerican bike route on a raptobike lowracer and was wondering if any one would let me have a spin or even just a seat on theirs before i fork out to bye one.
I live in flemington vic but am willing to travel to use one.
beat me too it as I was about to revive the thread as after a long gestation period (akin to that of an elephant) a mid racer rapto frame finally arrived at my place about 10 days ago - built up and out for its first test ride.
hopefully the picture worked - if not have a look here: http://s1208.photobucket.com/albums/cc3 ... /newbikes/
I'm in Canberra and happy to make available for test ride.
Hi Alex sweet ride and congrats on the new machine. I guess you will need more time to get used to the bike but when you do feel your ready or if you have already done it how does it ride with no hands? The reason I ask is I want to know if weight/geometry is right because I hate fighting incorrect rake etc with heavy steering.
initial assessments good - no torque steer, have to push very hard to get any wheel slip (managed to get a bit climbing on wet pavement this morning, but the same climb in the dry there is none (and that is still with a slick tyre). Steering is definately not heavy and its quite sure footed when you throw it into a corner. Interestingly - and I don't know, but suspect it has to do with the larger wheel setup - I get no leg interference with the drive and return idlers which I get with the performer FWD with 20" wheels. It is interesting because I read a review of the rapto low racer by Dave McCraw that mentioned he noticed it on that, but maybe the slightly higher position changes that relationship or maybe they are just mounted more inboard? I have the seat / pedal relationship at around 30 degrees which I try to keep on all my bikes and its not affecting it. I'm not all the way back (2 stops to go and I'm on the short rear seat mount) but I don't think I would take it much further back for general road riding.
Seat is one of the more comfortable shaped fibreglass moulds I have ridden on, although I would probably add a head rest for longer rides. Chain run is great - no sign of derailing - even with a triple crank setup which can sometimes be problematic on FWD setups.
Ticking all the boxes so far - hardest bit may be deciding to part with it as - thanks to the delay in it getting here(supplier issues) it is effectively a cancelled order as the buyer went elsewhere (can't say I blame them - but it made me look bad).
Will try and put some decent climbs and longer miles on it and report back.
Great thanks Alex your a champ I'm still getting this frame and I know it's been a year since I raised this thread but I have decided to clear all projects I have on the list before I start any new ones which this build is. I tend to get things started then start something else and this then leaves me with less time on each project but it does mix things up which I enjoy. Keep us posted on your experiences as you gain more road time on this bike. One thing which you could answer right now is It looks like your using 160mm rotors is this pulling you up ok with this bike and are the standard cables and housings long enough or did you have to do custom cables etc?
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