Monday, May 24, 2010

Enter the NEW Corsa SS

Well, the RANS Force 5 is no more. It has been stripped bare and the frame has gone on to live another day as another bike with another owner. The essentials, however have lived on in a new mango Corsa SS build. The frame was ordered through the recumbent wizards at Coventry Cycles in Portland. Over the past few nights of building she was finally ready and she is a real beauty:

Ultegra cranks, Velocity Fusion rims

TRP 925 brake, Rotor Q-Rings

Swanson Carbon seat, ICE headrest, Chris King hubs

The orange RANS was a sweet bike for sure, but ultimately it was too twitchy for me - the fault being way too much rear weight bias due to a frame that was just a bit too small. When you can pop the front wheel off the ground on a recumbent on flat ground - you have too much weight over the rear wheel! The Corsa SS frame is a large. The build went smooth as silk and turned out better than I had hoped. So how did the maiden voyage go?

The weather was finally nice enough for a shakedown ride. I put it through the paces on the same loop ride that I have been doing all year on both the ICE QNT trike and the RANS Force 5. Previously the performance of the trike and the RANS were very close - sometimes only a MPH difference average speed. The comfort factor on the trike was a 10 out of 10 and on the RANS was a 2 to 3 out of 10. Today that changed a bit. Having not ridden at all for about a week, I came in on my hilly loop ride at the fastest time and speed so far this year at 15.8 MPH average. But ultimately the change is not only about highest average speed, but about feeling comfortable and safe getting from point A to B.

Having ridden the RANS since 2007 and having it as my chariot of choice for two Cycle Oregon week rides, countless other organized rides including an STP in one day, I was very used to it. It had comfortable handling and was stable at speed. It was a bit wild on, hairpin turns, and slow speed handling during climbs was sketchy, but I attributed that to the weight bias given my adjustments coupled with the Force 5's short wheelbase. Taking off on the Corsa SS was, however, like graduating from an old Datsun 280Z to a spanking new Porsche 911 GT3 as far as take off and handling. Simply amazing. 

The long large frame felt incredibly balanced and the longer wheelbase cruised along with straight tracking. The true test of any recumbent - in my opinion - is climbing stability, and this was much improved. No wheel hop. No tricky spastic handlebar action when the going got steep and slow. No feeling of "Oh shit I am about to topple over backwards" (which on the RANS would cause me to sit up in the seat like doing crunches - draining even more energy.) Piloting the SS I was able to pitch my head back onto the headrest and just climb in a smooth straight line. It was dare I say almost as comfortable as climbing on the trike - almost. Maybe peg it as an 8 out of 10. :)

After a few stops for very small seat adjustments, the bike was feeling a bit dialed. It will take more rides to fully get it set, but boy have I been missing out. The steel RANS was always very comfy on the rough bumps and I figured that the aluminum SS would be hardcore on the same jolts, but that proved to be false. The bike is very smooth considering it is noticeably stiffer than the steel RANS. 

I did have a bit of a scare on one downhill stretch where several speed humps dot the road - speaking of the frames stiff nature. Previously on the RANS I could hit those at 35+ MPH and feel like bike was floating over them. Today at that same speed on the SS I felt airborne for a second on the first hump. A bit startling to be sure as I felt my entire line jump a few inches to the side before landing. For the remaining speed humps I scrubbed off a bit of speed. 

If you are looking into high racers the Corsa is a bona fide ticket to ride for sure. 


  1. Very nice. I see where Mark at Poweroncycling got the design for the POC seat. Just like that one but in fiberglass. They really nailed the geometry on the Bacchetta. The more I ride my Strada, the more I like it. Just got to keep telling myself "steel is real" and resisting the carbon. What's five pounds between friends anyway?

  2. The seat is really a dream. Mesh seats are hard to recline and don't agree with my back. This seat is like a cradle, and the small "wings" on the sides crate a little nest to settle into. Very nice seat indeed.