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Ride Report #1

September 14th, 2011

I’ve done a few test rides in the course of the build, but now the bike’s finished I can actually go places on it.  I’ve mentioned that it’s quite hilly here; I’m up at the top, so the homeward leg of any trip is going to be an effort.

My first outing was a 6Km round trip and went pretty well. The bike is smooth and stable and predictable. The seat creaks as it flexes which is a little irritating. Braking is reassuringly solid though not up to the performance of the disc brakes on my regular bike. Shifting is vague, but a little tuning should fix that. On the flat and especially downhill it’s great, grinding back up the hill is hard work.


Outbound was 2.5Km steeply downhill, and lots of fun. Due to the (deliberately) low gearing I spin out at around 40Km/h… after that I’m coasting. From what I saw on the speedometer I got to ~53Km/h which feels very fast when you’re low down. Visibility at intersections is a minor problem – sitting so far behind the front wheel means you can’t see very far left and right. Exercising a little caution overcomes this.  The return trip was hard, around 3.5Km with an average grade over 5%, some short sections over 10%. That might not sound like much but as noted here (my emphasis):

  • 2% grade does not seem very steep, but it’s enough to substantially reduce forward speed, and for most riders it will absorb more than half their power output.
  • 6% grade is enough to cut speed to well under half, and absorb more than 80% of a rider’s power output (leaving less than 20% to fight air resistance and rolling friction).
  • 10% grade, and anyone who is not a fit and frequent rider is off their bike walking — and anyone who is not a racer is reaching for all the extra power they’ve got.

The biggest problem isn’t spinning the pedals – it’s balancing. The low centre of gravity makes it difficult to stay on at very low speeds. I expect hope that will improve with practice.

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