Saturday, April 11, 2009

Raptobike - first impressions.

Raptobike delivery
Yesterday I picked up my Raptobike. I took it on a shakedown ride today, 50 miles on the Burke Gilman and West Samamish trail. The bike is awesome, I was worried for a bit but it rides beautifully. At the shop we took 4.5 inches off the boom so it would fit my diminutive self, I also had to adjust a bit to keep my thighs from hitting the handlebars. But with some thought everything worked out very well. My view of the road is great, the light placement I have really works well and I love my taillight on the headrest mount.
Raptobike at logboom park
The raptobike corners beautifully, it just calls out for speed on swooping curves. She sticks to curves like glue with the Schwalbe Durano tires and is a pleasure to ride. I even rode no hands for 30 ft or so at around mile 35. At the moment I have a 16t cog on my Rohloff so I lack some high end gearing. Even so it was easy to get the Raptobike to 21 mph on the flats. I am already much more confident on the Raptobike vs my Corsa. Much of that is due to my shortness. My Corsa has 650c rims and is just a wee bit too tall for me. I flintstone start most times with the Corsa hi-racer. On the Raptobike I have zero issues starting off with my foot on the right pedal and just going.

The Rohloff hub shifting is wonderful. It is easy and just feels right, I am spoiled for derailleurs now. The build of my Rapto can be seen here. I had my Raptobike built up from a frame kit by Kirkland Bike Shop who did a stellar job.

The only issues are the seat, the headrest and my helmet. The seat is a little short for me, my height is all in my torso so the seat causes me some issues. This is correctable for me by getting a longer seat. I ordered without consulting Arnold and if I had given him measurements I would not have this issue.

The headrest and my helmet don't get along. I will work this out, but it the seat issue causes some shoulder discomfort after 40ish miles and the headrest/helmet interference becomes an issue then.

Rapbike posing I pushed the handling of the raptobike quite aggressively for me on this ride. It performed very well exceeding all my expectations. I feel more comfortable with the handling on the Raptobike at 30 miles than I do on my Corsa at 800 miles.

I had one medium-high speed fall on the Raptobike, I was going at 18-19 mph through an intersection and swerved to avoid glass in the road. As I swerved back to get on the ramp up to the trail I laid the bike down at about 18mph. This was all user error, I am still not using enough body english to steer and oversteered causing the fall. I took no injury and the left edge of the seat and my pedals took all the force. My left glove has some leather damage and my riding pants have lost a bit of shimmer on my left calf. I got right back on the bike, causing some of the observers to smile and cheer. No injury but my pride. The seat edge got a bit roughed up and I just taped the edge with electrical tape.

Cornering on the Raptobike is a joy. I love it and I pushed myself to my limit on her. The ride is smoother than my Corsa, but that may be the tires and the longer wheel base.

This is a great bike, and I am pleased to have one.


M-MZ said...

Seems like you have had a lot of fun on the first ride. Nice to read. I use my RaptoBike mainly for commuting. Last friday I put 8000 km on the odometer. It is still as fun to ride it as on the first day. That is almost one year ago.

Duncan Watson said...

I have a tendency to use a bike for all of my needs. Commuting, recreational rides, long distance riding, and club rides.

I love how when riding my bike I am immersed in the environment. The scent of cherry blossoms as I pass under trees and the smell of freshly turned earth from garden plots both greeted me as I tested my commute route. I see neighbors walking dogs, runners training on staircases and enjoy the feeling of a light rain cooling my skin.

I hope to put as many km on my raptobike as you this next year.

David said...

I would be interested in your thoughts on a couple of fronts. How do you like the front wheel drive? How does it compare to the Corsa when climbing (with respect to the front wheel drive). I have never had the opportunity to ride a FWD bike. Thanks. And the bike is beautiful!

Duncan Watson said...

The FWD is wider than my corsa's front end. This is the main disadvantage for me. I have had no handling or sliding issues. The other issue is that you need to gear for a 20" drive wheel. That is more of an awareness concern rather than a problem.

Climbing I am slower today on the Raptobike than my Corsa. The differential is about 5% in total time but 8% when measured by my GPS for altitude gain. I assume the difference is made up on the flats that exist on my climbing routes. I have already seen improvement on the raptobike, so I am attributing part of the differential to acclimating to the position difference.

My Raptobike also weighs a few pounds more than my Corsa, though the difference is only about 2lbs.

This is my first FWD bike and it is a joy, the lowracer is a lot of fun and handles very well.

David said...

Thank you for taking time to answer my questions. Enjoy your bike!