Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Commutigami Mantis

Since my last entry two weeks ago, I've ridden the Cruzigami Mantis just over 125 miles (for more than 200 miles total).  Since the weather has been cooperating (read: above freezing temperatures in the mornings), I have commuted for the first time this year.  Using the seatpost rack I showed last time, I had no problem mounting my pannier in which held my work clothes (I did have to mount the pannier toward the end of the rack to avoid it hitting the rear brake.  I could not tell any difference with the Mantis without the rack or with the rack and the pannier.  And unlike most other folders, I clearly don't have a problem with my heels hitting the pannier.  If I wanted to carry a lot more weight, I'd probably install a proper (supported) rack, but the seatpost rack has a weight limit of 22 lbs and that seems quite sufficient for my commuting needs.

In three days commuting, I rode just under 44 miles.  Not bad considering I doubled the mileage I would have ridden if I had limited myself to the most direct home-to-work-and-back route (that would have been under 20 mile).

The Commutigami, err.. Cruzigami Mantis with Pannier.

I also went out for several nice fun rides, including the ride below, where I managed my fastest ever time, a moving average of 15.1 mph for a ride of just under 600 feet of climbing and almost 11½ miles.  This bike just flies.

Yesterday, I went out for a nice two hour ride into New York state. At about 7¾ miles, I'm about to reach the maximum elevation of my ride and I see two diamond frame riders quickly approaching in my mirror.  I kicked it into high gear (both literally and figuratively) and gave it all I had.  I managed to hold them off for just over a mile before they caught me (I could go a bit faster on the descents and they definitely had me beat on the climbs).  Both were very friendly as they past. A mile later I pulled into a gas station to catch my breath just after the two other riders.  I sat and talked with them for a few minutes and drank the Gatorade they bought for me.  It was a very nice mid-ride pick-me up.

The weather this year has not been very conducive to riding (although the weather was a lot worse in other parts of the US, so I should be careful complaining). At this point last year, I had ridden over 630 miles, where I have just under 415 miles this year.  On the plus side, I have a total elevation gain of over 25,000 feet where as I had under 20,000 feet last year, so I've done 25% more climbing in 30% less distance.  I can tell I'm getting better at climbing.  It still sucks, but it sucks a little bit left.

With the lower seat angle, I often sit up straight when I approach intersections to get a better view. One interesting thing that I've noticed is that how the steering on the Mantis changes drastically.  The bike is much twitchier. A small part of this has to do with generally riding at lower speeds.  But I think that most of it has to do with the fact that when I sit up, I move the center of mass of the system (me and the bike) quite a bit forward.  This is a well known feature of short wheel base (SWB) recumbents and for the reason of the center of mass.  But it is still interesting being able to feel the difference (I find the lower seat angle makes the Mantis feel very stable).

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