Is the Rans Rocket the best bike for me?



R

rBOB

Guest
I do not have good shop near my home to test ride a bunch of bents. Any
opinions based on these data points:

Budget for a bent (used is OK): would prefer to spend no more than $600
but will go up to $1000 for something worthwhile.

Bent riding experience: Only rode a CLWB bent before.

Type of riding: I do a lot of in-town shopping and errands so I want
something that will handle well at low speeds (in moderate traffic).
Also I want something that is easy to start/stop at traffic lights. In
case you're wondering, I am not interested in a trike right now.

I would like a bike that climbs and accelerates *reasonably* well. I'm
not talking about fast riding or keeping up with other riders but
rather, I want the bike to be enjoyable and not to feel really sluggish
when I climb a hill or try to accelerate. A bit sporty but in no way
racy is the best way I can put it.

It would be nice if the bike is easily transportable by car without
purchase of expensive rack. Because of it's compact size, the Rocket
seems great for this purpose, no?

About me: I am 47 yrs. old, 6 ft tall, 180 lbs, and I ride pretty
slowly (about 13 mph average). Most of the time, I ride short rides
(errands) but I occasionally like to take a 30-50 ride. My area is not
especially hilly but there are some steep, short hills. I carry between
5-20 lbs of groceries sometimes.

My CLWB was pretty easy to start/stop with but I worry about how the
Rocket will be in traffic (getting a foot down). FWIW, I don't use
powergrips, toe clips, or spd, etc. (i.e. I use platform pedals with
regular shoes).

One last thing: My CLWB had a rear shock. I have not ridden a bent
without one so I don't know if is necessary or not. The shock seems to
help in some cases (going over some railroad tracks and such) but I
plan on doing most of my riding fairly smooth roads.

I appreciate all suggestions and/or observations.
 
J

Jon Meinecke

Guest
"rBOB" <[email protected]> wrote
>
> Only rode a CLWB bent before.
> [...]
> My CLWB had a rear shock.


A BikeE AT perhaps? %^)

Do you still have the CLWB?
Is having two bents a possibility?

I have a BikeE AT/XL and still use it as my "errand" bike even
though I have a LWB Tour Easy and a SWB Volae. I have the
Tour Easy setup with medium wide touring tires and the Volae
setup with narrow road tires. I estimate it is 10-15% more
work to ride the BikeE overall than the other two bikes, but
much nicer on rough trails. Some of that difference is related
to weight of the BikeE, some to the suspension, some to tires,
some to riding position...

> I would like a bike that climbs and accelerates *reasonably*
> well.


The BikeE probably fails the "climbs well" test, but I find it
accelerates quite acceptable. The Volae is best climber
as long as my speed stays above stall. The Tour Easy is
great for cruising and down hills and an adequate climber for
my needs. Outfitted for self-supported touring, it probably
weighs in at 70-80 lbs. With just fairing and tools, tubes,
and water for a day ride, it's probably about 40 lbs.
The Volae setup for day rides is probably just under 30lbs.

At 29 lbs base weight, the Rocket isn't too heavy, and the
riding position may be somewhat more aerodynamic than
CLWB for cruising. Don't know if the bigger rear tire on
the V-rex would help much or not for climbing.

> nice if the bike is easily transportable by car


Depends on the car. Any of my bikes can fit inside
my Vibe. Easily? Well, that's somewhat different. %^)

Any of them also fit on a cheap trunk-mounted bike
rack. And any of them fit in my (expensive if I had to
replace it) Yakima roof rack with fork mounts.

> I don't use powergrips, toe clips, or spd, etc.


Many people think some sort of pedal-shoe attachment
is more needed for higher bottom bracket bikes. I tend
to agree. I have SPD on all three recumbents. Combo
platform/SPD on the BikeE.

I rode with Powergrips on the BikeE and the Tour Easy
before going clipless. There were OK, but I won't go
back.

Good luck,

Jon Meinecke
 
D

Don Boring

Guest
Based on your requirements,
Height, Weight and riding style
I would recommend the EZ-1 Super Cruiser
or the EZ-3 Super Cruiser TRIKE.

Advantage of TRIKE is that it has room
for a BASKET for your groceries. Both
Bike and Trike are identical except TRIKe
has 3 wheels and weighs a bit more.

I am 54 and weigh 175 lbs and average
about 11 mph on my EZ-1 but I swear by
the derailuer quality and the shifters but
due to rough handling on my part I have
had to replace 2 sets of Plastic Shifter knobs
in 5 yrs.

I can carry two gallons of milk and a couple
of assorted cans of veggies and a stalk of
banana's in the carrier I have on the Back of my seat.

I can climb moderate hills (200-300 feet in 1/2 mile)
in 6th gear. I can climb STEEP hills ( 10 degrees plus
in 2nd gear with a little sweat.)

Downside is that the EZ-1 can't fit on an average
BUS mount (in the Los Angeles County area.) Since it is
a CLWB bike. You'd need a short wheel base for that.

But for rides up to 25 miles round trip I would highly
recommend it. BASE PRICE < $600.00 NEW

EZ-1 Super Cruiser
http://www.easyracers.com/ez_1_lite.htm
EZ-3 Trike
http://www.easyracers.com/ez_3.htm


Don Boring
Glendora, CA. USA
Easy Racer EZ1-SC and Lightning Thunderbolt
 
R

rBOB

Guest
John, thanks for the advice. Here is some more info:

>>>Do you still have the CLWB?


Yes, but I am in the process of selling it.


>>>Is having two bents a possibility?


I prefer to ride one bike for al for all my riding and I will accept
any necessary compromises to achieve that goal.


>>>I have a BikeE AT/XL and still use it as my "errand" bike even though I have a LWB Tour Easy and a SWB Volae.


I would like avoid discontinued makes such as the BikeE. I give extra
credit points to companies such as Rans and Easy Racers because they
have been around for so long and more accessories and replacement parts
are readily available for their bikes. Easy Racers Tour Easy is over my
budget but from time-to-time, I see older models that is close to the
top end of my budget.

Here is a follow-up question: At speeds of 6 mph or lower, which
handles better, a LWB (like a Tour Easy, for example), or a SWB like
the Rocket?

Top speed stability is not as important to me. I rarely ride over
35/mph, as the hills are not that long to build up real high speeds,
and in case, I get a bit nervous over that speed anyway. My nervousness
has nothing to do with the bike, just don't like speed as much as when
I was younger.

If you have any more advice, fire away.
 
J

Jon Meinecke

Guest
"rBOB" <[email protected]> wrote
>
> I prefer to ride one bike for al for all my riding and I will accept
> any necessary compromises to achieve that goal.


Fair enough. I have 5 different tire/tube sizes on three different
recumbents! %^P Care, "feeding" and storage issues are part
of the price of having flexibility/specialization options with three
bikes.

> Easy Racers Tour Easy is over my budget but from time-to-time,
> I see older models that is close to the top end of my budget.


A friend got a nice used Tour Easy (98?) for a bit over $1000
including front fairing. Older RANS V2s are also available in
that range. As someone else pointed out, the EZ line might
be just the ticket, too.

> Here is a follow-up question: At speeds of 6 mph or lower, which
> handles better, a LWB (like a Tour Easy, for example), or a SWB like
> the Rocket?


I can only directly compare my TE (406/700c wheels) and my
Volae Sport (650c/650c wheels). Stall speed on the Volae is
slightly higher than the TE. Both are fine at 6 mph but I think the
TE may be slightly better for lower speed handling. There is
heel strike on the Volae. Don't know if that's an issue on the
Rocket. Perhaps I will gain more confidence in the slow handling
and tight turning of the Volae over time. I've had the TE for
five years and the Volae for only seven months.

> Top speed stability is not as important to me. I rarely
> ride over 35/mph,


35 is not shabby, IMO. Top speed, downhill loaded for me
is ~46 mph on the TE,-- could have gone much faster in the
mountains last summer. I've not tried that fast on the Volae.
On smooth, predictable surface, I have no doubt it would
be very fast down hill. But with chip seal, pot holes,
gravel, etc., I feel no urge to test it.

If I recall correctly, you mentioned not being able to try many
recumbents before buying. That's true for a lot of people. I
bought my BikeE after only a 40 minute test ride, my TE
seat unridden (shipped from a going out of business bike
shop), and my Volae after only a 20 minute test ride (picked
up used 150 miles away).

If you trust the seller as to the condition of the bike and you
are confident in the sizing of the bike, I don't think you can go
too far wrong with a used Rocket. Worst case, you have to
sell it and perhaps take a small loss. Even then, you will
know more about what you like and dislike in a bike.

I don't know where you live, but perhaps there are recumbent
owners in the area who might let you have a look or try their
bikes. Or make a trek to Hayes to visit the RANS factory
or to Hostel Shoppe retail store for vacation! %^)

Good luck,

Jon Meinecke
 
R

rBOB

Guest
Jon,

Thanks again. Also, I misspelled you name in the previous post.
Apologies for that. I see used Rockets on ebay from time-to-time so I
may give one a shot.
 
J

Jon Meinecke

Guest
"rBOB" <[email protected]> wrote
> I see used Rockets on ebay from time-to-time so I
> may give one a shot.


There's one listed on bentrideronline.com on the for sale message
board for $650. Seller is in Ohio, I think. There's also a V-rex listed...

Wish Hostel Shoppe would reopen their classified lists...

Jon
 
S

Sunset Fanatic

Guest
rBOB wrote:
> I do not have good shop near my home to test ride a bunch of bents. Any
> opinions based on these data points:
>
> Budget for a bent (used is OK): would prefer to spend no more than $600
> but will go up to $1000 for something worthwhile.
>
> Bent riding experience: Only rode a CLWB bent before.
>
> Type of riding: I do a lot of in-town shopping and errands so I want
> something that will handle well at low speeds (in moderate traffic).
> Also I want something that is easy to start/stop at traffic lights. In
> case you're wondering, I am not interested in a trike right now.


I have only ridden about 6,000 miles on a RANS [1] Rocket, so take this
for what it is worth. I find the RANS Rocket easier to balance at low
speed than any other recumbent bicycle I have ridden except for being
solo on the BikeE E2[2]. The only difficulty was catching the front
fender struts with my feet, and I solved that by cutting off the fender
about 6 inches in front of the fork.[3] The bottom bracket (BB) is also
low enough that starting and stopping in city riding is relatively
easy. The RANS Rocket is also one of the easier recumbents to get
started uphill. The Rocket would certainly be high on my list of bikes
if I was looking for an urban commuter.

> I would like a bike that climbs and accelerates *reasonably* well. I'm
> not talking about fast riding or keeping up with other riders but
> rather, I want the bike to be enjoyable and not to feel really sluggish
> when I climb a hill or try to accelerate. A bit sporty but in no way
> racy is the best way I can put it.


The Rocket has a closed enough seat position and is of a reasonable
weight, so acceleration is decent. Not as good as a lightweight upright
or stiff framed carbon fiber composite lowracer, but good enough to
keep up on group rides with comparable riders.

> It would be nice if the bike is easily transportable by car without
> purchase of expensive rack. Because of it's compact size, the Rocket
> seems great for this purpose, no?


The Rocket will fit in many cars with the seat and/or front wheel
removed. [4] It should fit in most station wagons and minivans fully
assembled.

> About me: I am 47 yrs. old, 6 ft tall, 180 lbs, and I ride pretty
> slowly (about 13 mph average). Most of the time, I ride short rides
> (errands) but I occasionally like to take a 30-50 ride. My area is not
> especially hilly but there are some steep, short hills. I carry between
> 5-20 lbs of groceries sometimes.


You should fit on the RANS Rocket with no problem, and with the bike
will easily carry a touring load. Due to its triangulated frame and
short chain stays, the RANS Rocket is one of the better bicycles for
pulling a single-wheel trailer such as a B.o.B.

> My CLWB was pretty easy to start/stop with but I worry about how the
> Rocket will be in traffic (getting a foot down). FWIW, I don't use
> powergrips, toe clips, or spd, etc. (i.e. I use platform pedals with
> regular shoes).


You will want some sort of foot retention system, since it will be
harder to keep your feet on the pedals compared to your CLWB.
Powergrips are easy for a beginner to use than clipless pedals. [5]

> One last thing: My CLWB had a rear shock. I have not ridden a bent
> without one so I don't know if is necessary or not. The shock seems to
> help in some cases (going over some railroad tracks and such) but I
> plan on doing most of my riding fairly smooth roads.


As expected, the RANS Rocket will have a somewhat harsher ride than a
suspended CLWB. However, the thick seat foam absorbs a considerable
amount of vibration and shock. I found the ride to be tolerable on the
not so well maintained roads of East Central Illinois. You could always
add a Pantour hub at a later date if you live in an area with
particularly bad road.

It is possible by pushing on both pedals at once to raise oneself off
the seat base of a RANS Rocket. I do this when crossing railroad tracks
and other visible bumps. This lessens the shock considerably. Note that
this technique requires wearing an upper body garment that slides
relatively easily along the seat back mesh.

> I appreciate all suggestions and/or observations.


The RANS Rocket is not the best in any particular category, except for
value. It is one of the most versatile recumbents in that is does some
things quite well and most everything acceptably well.

[1] RANS is always in all capital letters.
[2] The handling of the BikeE E2 changes dramatically from being ridden
solo to having a stoker on board.
[3] 6 inches is long enough to keep spray off my feet and the
boom/crank/BB.
[4] It is easy and quick to remove and replace the seat.
[5] I have mostly used SH-55 SPuDs when riding my RANS Rocket.

--
Tom Sherman - Fox River Valley
 
S

Sunset Fanatic

Guest
rBOB wrote:
> ...
> Here is a follow-up question: At speeds of 6 mph or lower, which
> handles better, a LWB (like a Tour Easy, for example), or a SWB like
> the Rocket?


To balance a single-track vehicle, one must move the combined
rider/bicycle center of mass to the line that connects the two
road/tire contact patches. This requires less steering input with a
shorter wheelbase. While the Tour Easy is one of the better handling
LWB bikes at low speed, I would choose the RANS Rocket (or similar SWB
bicycle) if I was doing a lot of slow climbing.

One thing to consider with the RANS Rocket [1] is that the stock
gearing is set up for Kansas and/or a fairly strong rider. I would
strongly consider swapping out the 62/52/42T crank for something with
smaller chainrings. [2] This is something a good recumbent dealer
should do at no additional or minimal additional charge.

> Top speed stability is not as important to me. I rarely ride over
> 35/mph, as the hills are not that long to build up real high speeds,
> and in case, I get a bit nervous over that speed anyway. My nervousness
> has nothing to do with the bike, just don't like speed as much as when
> I was younger.


The RANS Rocket is stable up to 50 mph. [3] While, the handling is
quick [4], it is also very linear in response, so the bike feels very
controllable, and not twitchy like some other SWB recumbents.

> If you have any more advice, fire away.


To paraphrase an alleged statement by Bob Cardone [5], "Just Shut Up
and buy the Rocket [6]". ;)

[1] <http://www.ransbikes.com/Rocket.htm>
[2] Being over geared for climbing is one of the few faults I have
found with the RANS Rocket. Fortunately, it is easily corrected.
[3] It is hard to find any hills in north or central Illinois that
allow for such descending speeds.
[4] The RANS Rocket is best ridden by SWB "newbie's" by holding the
handlebars with just the thumb and forefinger of each hand (except
while braking).
[5]<http://www.ransbikes.com/Gallery/Archive/Cordone.htm>
[6] Mr. Cardone in his alleged statement would have said "Tailwind"
instead of "Rocket", of course.

--
Tom Sherman - Fox River Valley
 
R

rBOB

Guest
Tom,

Excellent write up. You have covered all the points. Thanks much.
 
S

Sunset Fanatic

Guest
rBOB wrote:
> Tom,
>
> Excellent write up. You have covered all the points. Thanks much.


You are welcome.

I should add that the RANS Rocket is quite fun to ride.

Indeed, an Earth Cycles Sunset Lowracer [TM] is the only bike that
comes to mind that is more fun to ride than the RANS Rocket, but the
Sunset is regretfully out of production [1] and only 20 or so exist.

[1] As the manufacturer, Earth Cycles. :(

--
Tom Sherman - Fox River Valley