R-40 26x26: Some Reflections after the First 140 miles

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Bill Anton

I just got back from a 30-mile ride, a training loop I've ridden many times before, only this time
I averaged 19.5 MPH overall. My previous fastest average was 17.3 with the 20" (406 mm) front
wheel and fork.
19.5 hardly qualifies me for the Tour de France, but by my own personal standards this is absolutely
SMOKIN'! It is also at least 1 MPH faster that the "fast" group of roadies at the local club ride
(who are no slouches!) If there were any lingering doubts in my mind about the value of the
larger front wheel and the resultant smaller aerodynamic profile, those doubts are gone now. It
would seem that what I've got here is the "poor man's Strada."

Today's ride was with the Windwrap front fairing, standard 32-spoke wheels, stock Vision seat, and
a heart rate monitor to remind me when I'm getting lazy. (My heart rate was 140-155 for nearly all
the ride.) Someone commented last week that I could go just as fast without the fairing, but I
have found that NOT to be the case. Here on the plains, I find the aerodynamic advantage of the
fairing far exceeds it's weight penalty (which is only a couple pounds). My subjective evaluation
of the fairing is that it is of greatest value when the wind is blowing directly in your face or
directly from behind, or when the winds are calm. It is of less value in a crosswind, but still
not a liability. Sometimes a wind coming from the 4 o'clock or 8 o'clock position will help by
catching the back of the fairing much as it would the sail on a sailboat--rare, but it's great fun
when it happens.

Steering: The "loose" steering rake angle takes a little getting used to at first, but I'd hardly
call it dangerous. On the contrary, I find that when cruising at speed, the steering has a better
"on-center" feel than it ever had before. I haven't tried it hands-off yet, but it felt like I
probably could have if I wanted to.

Seat: The stock Vision seat is back as far as it will go. It could go back further if I moved the
front mount to the forward of the two mounting holes. When you add the 9 degrees of additional
recline due to the big front wheel, it's pretty laid back, but no so far that I have to strain my
neck to hold up my head--it's quite comfortable like this. It's kinda' fun to be riding into a stiff
headwind, then look down and see that I'm still going 18 MPH--WOW! Someday I'd like to try an M5
seat. I hear Vision will begin offering an M5 seat with Vision-ready mounts in 2004--something to
look forward to, but I doubt that any seat can surpass the Vision seat in comfort, especially when
it's really laid back.

Handlebars: I've tried many different steering positions with my tilt-riser, and it's just my
impression that this bike is fastest with hands near my body. The other day I re-adjusted my
handlebars to bring them even closer, while lowering the stem an inch and rotating the bars inward
so that the bent part of the bars bend around, following the shape of my (recently downsized) belly.
I also moved the brake/shifter levers about 2" inward on each side, to keep my hands as far inboard
as possible. This new arragement works great for everything except tight U-turns. For U-turns, I
must push the bars away from me a little before executing the turn. There is, of course, more
"tiller" feel with the bars further back.

Pedals & cranks: One thing about the Vision seat set-up is that the more you lay it back the longer
the X-seam measurement gets. Of course I had already fine-tuned the boom length for max recline
before going to the bigger front wheel. Since the new fork and wheel did not change the
seat-to-pedals geometry, no additional boom adjustments were necessary.

Foot numbness: None. I had a little when I first got the bike in 2001. The fix was to move the
cleats rearward on the shoes. The higher BB has made no noticeable change in this area.

Ride quality: Significant improvement. But what else is new? Bicycle makers have known for centuries
that bigger wheels give a smoother ride.

Forward visibility: Slightly reduced. The fairing is up higher now, so as I approach road
imperfections, RR tracks, etc., I do have to look through the fairing, but for the most part I can
still see over

Weight distribution (with me on it, of course): 20" front wheel and fork: 55% rear/45% front. 26"
front wheel and fork: 65% rear/35% front. As a practical matter, I haven't noticed any consequences
to this change in weight distribution.

Other minor points: Since the whole bike is tilted back a bit more than before, the rear luggage
rack is also more laid back. I can still use my rack trunk and/or panniers, however, so it's more
cosmetic than anything else. You're probably saying to yourself, "If he wants more speed, why not
nix the rack?" I'm thinking about it, but I do like the utility of it, even though I seldom carry
more than will fit in the seat bag.

Overall evalutaion of this mod: A- and way better than I had hoped. If you have an unsuspended
Vision 'bent (R-40, 42, 44, 45), over-seat steering, and long enough legs (at least a 30" inseam)
you should seriously consider this mod. It has cured my new-bike-fever and it only cost $160 plus my
own labor. Best of all, it's 100% reversible.

For more information, the previous post was dated September 18: http://groups.google.com/groups?dq=-

And the pictures are here: http://community.webshots.com/album/90937196CRwEIc

<GFETEBIT> (Grinning from ear to ear, bugs in teeth)

Bill Anton 2001 Vision R-40 26x26 SWB OSS Lubbock, TX, USA
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