For the past few years I have been commuting to work in DC by bicycle. I was using a standard, rigid frame, Mt. Bike. After a while, I developed chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain. After a few month hiatus, and a new bike, I am back to my commute of 17 miles a day on a bicycle. Three months ago, I purchased a Rans Crank Forward from Bikes@Vienna. It is a fantastic commuting bike. I recommend it highly. The reason it is called a “Crank Forward,” is because the bottom bracket (pedals) are in front of the seat instead of below the seat. It is a hybrid between a recumbent and a regular bike, combining the best of both. I bought the Cruz, which is the most relaxed model. There is no pressure on my wrists, no hunching of the shoulders, and no craning of the neck. The steering is a little squirrelly, and it takes a short while to get used to. It is a little longer than a standard bike, but I can still take it in the metro, if I need to. I’m not sure I could transport it on the bus. The racks on the front of the buses are made for standard size bikes.
Another benefit of the bike is that there is only one frame size. I am 6’2″ and my girlfriend is 5’3″ and we can both ride the same bike with just a quick seat adjustment.
WHY RIDE CRANK FORWARD BIKES?
See what they look like in action:
I admit it. My name is Bryan Ball and I used to be a crank forward skeptic. I had ridden a lot of these “crank forward” semi-recumbent bikes over the last year or so and until a couple of months ago, I really did not think that much of them. I thought they were fun enough but I hadn’t been on any that were very comfortable or really made me consider choosing one over a good recumbent. Or a good upright bike for that matter. Fortunately, Randy Schlitter of RANS didn’t give up on me and kept pushing me to give one a longer run. I finally decided to take him up on his offer and he sent me a nice aqua green 2007 Fusion to review.
Since the Fusion comes from an actual recumbent bicycle manufacturer, it’s quite a bit different than many other crank forwards. The bottom bracket is a lot farther forward than many other flat footer bikes and it has a real recumbent style seat base. Fusions are also a bit more upscale than many of their counterparts and the line has pretty nice components and very nice details and options. It’s $950 price tag is a bit higher than many other flat foot style bikes but the Fusion appears to be well worth the asking price in my opinion.
I intentionally took a little bit longer with this review than I usually do. From all accounts I’ve heard, the Fusion is one of the best crank forward/flat footer/semi recumbent bikes out there and I wanted to make sure I gave it fair shake. I usually put between 100 and 200 miles on a test bike but I put about 400 on the Fusion. I was definitely left with a positive impression. I’m still nowhere ready to give up any of my recumbents for one but I could see a place in my stable for one of these bikes. It’s a great for urban riding and performs better than I thought it would. If you’re looking for a fun bike for recreational or urban riding I would take a look at the Fusion line for sure.
MSRP – $950
Highs – A blast to ride, pretty light, good value
Lows – Not as fast as a fast recumbent, not as comfortable as some recumbents
More Info – http://www.ransbikes.com
Right now it’s my favourite bike, with another RANS, the Stratus, as second in line to the throne. I don’t even ride standard geometry type bikes any more. The Zenetik is the most versatile bike I’ve ever owned, nimble enough for tight situations, yet comfortable enough for long days in the saddle.
I don’t know about other ‘Crank Forward’ models, but RANS’ line up has, in my view, revolutionary potential. I know I sound like an ad campaign, but really, this bike can’t be compared to things like the Giant Revive, or any other of the heavyish iterations of similar geometries.
It does appear that it might be quite a reach to the bars, but the bars themselves adjust backwards to a considerable extent, and there is also the possibility of installing a swept back type bar, like the Rivendell Albatross or Dove bars.
If you’re curious, why don’t you just give RANS a call and order a frame set, then have it built up wherever you live. That’s probably the cheapest way. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Cheers, John Hopkinson
« on: October 15, 2007, 11:41:20 AM »
If cycling were enjoyable more people would do it. I started riding at an early age and continued into my teens until I quit because the cycling world seemed to move in an unprogressive direction. I didn’t like the full-suspension approach to making cycling comfortable. Although cycling brings out the best in the body, the industry had failed in the thinking aspect. In my early twenties I walked/hitchhiked/trained/bussed accross the US after abandoning my motorcycle in New England (I didn’t have any money for gas). After the journey, I continued to live motorfree in a mountain town. Getting jobs eventually involved long distance travel for which I needed a bicycle. Riding the bike to work day in and day out had repurcussions unrelated to weather. Due to the logistics of my work and lifestyle, wearing bike shorts was difficult and I decided not to wear them. Right from the start, numbness was a huge problem. I could definately identify with a culture that shunned the bicycle, because for me the feeling was nothing short of sadomasichistic. Showing up to work with sleepynumb legs and a stiff neck, started off every workday on the unproductive side of things. Fortunately my employers tolerated my catatonic state enough to keep me around. I lasted a couple of years in this painfull routine until I stumbled accross a recumbent bike. At the point that I found recumbents I had grown one incredibly large testicle and shrank the other. The recumbent greatly increased my happiness level. The only problem I have with recumbents is the terrain limitations. Riding in the winter required that I regress back to the asshatchet. My search for the perfect bike brought me to the world of Crank Forward. Crankforward is a term created by Ransbikes owner Randy Schlitter. The crankforward gives the rider a high seat without a backrest which looks alot like a standard bike. The crankforward bike doesn’t compromise comfort either. I feel more comfortable without the backrest because the road vibration upsets my sensitive stomach. The road vibration that once travelled up the seat now gets absorbed in the muscle. I know have a bike that I can take safely on dirt road and even off-road. I have now taken back mountainbiking into my life, thumbing my nose at the bike industry by riding a fully-rigid crankforward. I still shun bike shorts and see any bike that requires them as LATOC unfriendly. Of course there are the die-hard riders who love the asshatchet and find it comfortable after ten hours in the saddle, but I find those people are few and far between. Everytime somone askes me what bike they should get I tell them to strongly consider a Crankforward. There are several models available from companies like trek, giant, electra, and Rans. I see these bikes as the future of cycling because they solve the oldest malady to industrial society; the uncomfortable bicycle.