Friday, May 1, 2009
Raptobike vs Corsa
I have had the Raptobike Lowracer for almost one month. I have put a few hundred miles on it. These past few days I also have been riding the Bacchetta Corsa since I have the Raptobike at the shop. This enabled me to compare the bikes a bit more faithfully. This comparison is specific to myself, I am a bit small for my Corsa in that I can't easily put my feet down. The Raptobike lowracer is nice and low so getting my foot down is easy.
Ease of Use
The Raptobike is easier to start and stop. I do a Flintstone start on the Corsa, skittering forward before getting my feet into the clips. The Raptobike is very easy to just place one foot on the pedal and push off from a standing start. I find stopping similarly easy. With the Raptobike when I approach a right turn or area where I need to consider a stop, I just loosen one foot and continue to pedal with it. On the Corsa I unclip and lower the foot while sitting forward. That is also how I do sharp turns on the Corsa, I unclip and sit forward to make turns. With the Raptobike I just turn. All of these issues are due to my 5'8" height and 30" inseam. I am just too short to be totally comfortable on the Corsa. With the Raptobike I had to cut the boom to fit me, but once adjusted everything has been great.
Shifting and Gearing
My Raptobike has a Rohloff SpeedHub. This isn't standard but my Raptobike was purchased as a frame kit and I had my LBS build it up for me. This is my first Rohloff and the Raptobike has never had any other shifting setup. I also have Q-rings on the Raptobike and the Corsa. The Corsa has 22-117 gear inches and the Raptobike has 16-88 gear inches today (soon 20-109).
I absolutely love my Q-rings, they are great and really help me climb. The Rohloff on the Raptobike is greatly superior to my triple front + 9 speed rear derailleur setup on the Corsa. I have never had a triple that shifted seamlessly from low to middle to high and back, on any bike. Triples generally have trouble shifting from either middle to low or middle to high. One of those shifts will always be a bit hard with a triple. My Corsa with Q-Rings has this issue, Q-Rings make it worse and so shifting from middle-low causes me difficulty. I have to preplan that shift and can't do it while on a hill. The Rohloff is just amazing, I can shift at a stop sign, I can shift while coasting down hill. The gear range I have at the moment is a bit lacking in the high end but the convenience of it is hard to convey. When I have the 13T cog installed the range should be corrected.
The shifting and gear range are great on my Raptobike. The Rohloff also adds greatly to ease of use.
Speed and Performance
My Raptobike is faster for me. The more inclined seat combined with the much lower height makes a significant difference at the 16+ MPH I cruise at on the flats. I accelerate faster and more confidently on the Raptobike, part of this is due to the simplicity of just changing from gear 8 to 9 to 10 on the Rohloff compared to fiddling with front ring, rear ring position on the Corsa. Climbing speed is faster on the Corsa though. The more upright position and lighter bike make a difference in climbing. I hope to improve my pedal stroke and technique to compensate for this on the Raptobike. Additionally I am losing weight, with my goal to lose 30lbs this Summer, I want to be faster, lighter and stronger by the end of the season. I expect this to make quite a difference since the Raptobike only weighs 31lbs as configured right now.
Downhill I have taken the Raptobike to 40mph so far, it is stable, comfortable and fun to ride. I feel more comfortable with my Raptobike on grass, gravel and bumps then my Corsa. My Corsa has 23mm tires and my Raptobike has 28mm tires. I am sure that the extra width plays a part and a Corsa can be set up with 28mm tires, though that is the limit for a Corsa. The Raptobike can go to 38mm (1.5") tires easily.
Cornering on the Raptobike is much better for me. I have big thighs and I had to work around thigh handlebar interference with both my Corsa and my Raptobike. The Raptobike has tiller steering and the Corsa has superman/open cockpit steering. My preference is the tiller steering. When I turn with the Corsa I need to sit up, and drop a leg, I don't have to do this with the Raptobike. The Raptobike holds a line in curves like it is on rails, I find myself taking curves with confidence that I slow down for on the Corsa. Many of these issues are related to fit and for a taller person the Corsa may be better in these respects.
Both of these bikes are performance recumbents. They are both comfortable and I am very happy to ride either for five hours or more at a time. The euromesh foam pad that comes on the Corsa does compress a bit too much on longer rides and comfort starts to suffer. I have a Ventisit pad on the Corsa now and it is much better for longer rides now. I don't have any problems. On the Raptobike I run a hard shell carbon seat and the zotefoam seat pad that airxxxwolf makes. The Raptobike with zotefoam pad is a firmer ride but over hours of riding it is more comfortable. I also feel more connected to the bike. Fit wise I feel better on the Raptobike. It is easier to adjust the boom vs moving the seat on my Corsa. When I move the seat up, I am both closer to the pedals and higher up off the ground. When I shorten the boom on the Raptobike I am just closer to the pedals. That made it much easier to adjust the Raptobike for my short legs.
The lowracer is the loser in this part of the equation. It is lower so cars will have difficulty spotting me when obstacles are in the way. So if I am crossing an intersection with hedges on the side of the road, a car might not see coming. Conversely, when I am at a light and there are hedges along the side of the road I have difficultly knowing when the way is clear. The Corsa places my head above that of most drivers so it doesn't have this issue. The Raptobike puts my head at or below the position of sports cars drivers. There is a Lotus Elise in town and my head is lower than the driver of an Elise.
Carrying stuff on the Bike
Both the Raptobike and the Corsa can be fitted with racks. A rear rack on the Raptobike and the Terracycle underseat rack for the Corsa. On both bikes I use a Fastback double century set of bags and Radical Designs Lowracer Panniers. They fit on both bikes easily mounting to the seats. I have no problems on the Raptobike with the Lowracer panniers but they tend to swing into the rear wheels spokes on the Corsa, rubbing a bit. The Raptobike can also be fitted with a tailbox. For my purposes both bikes are fine for everything but full on self-supported cycle touring. I would take either bike on a credit card tour or on brevets. I think with a tailbox the Raptobike edges out the Corsa in this category.
I find both bikes excellent. For me the fit issues leading to more confident stopping and starting as well as better handling makes the Raptobike a clear winner. For anyone else I would find it more of a toss-up. Additionally I didn't mention the FWD of the Raptobike at all, I did that because I found it is a non-issue. I ride 13% hills in the wet and dark often because I live in the Puget Sound region. I have never had an issue with the FWD, I wouldn't make it a subject of concern if you were considering the Raptobike.