I have decided to give my Xstream a try as a lighter, faster commuter. I swapped my Hoagie seat for a Sling Mesh, moved my fairing and Aero Trunk to the Xstream, and have been riding it to work this week.
My favorite riding position is to be very reclined on a Euro style seat, with a tweener handlebar, like my Corsa setup. When the Xstream was created, I was intrigued by it, a dual big wheel long wheelbase bike that would allow that riding position. It has a much lower seat height than a high racer, meaning a fall from a lower height, appealing for someone my age. But I’ve never quite gotten an Xstream to work for me.
With the prototype that eventually became Rose’s bike, I really liked the handling, but not a handlebar that’s as wide as the one on that bike, plus the frame was too short to recline the seat as much as I wanted. Some people seem perfectly happy using less recline on a seat like the Hoagie, but not me. If I’m on a Euro style seat, I want it really reclined.
I bought an Xstream from Greg last year, and it was long enough to finally get some miles on one with the seat reclined where I wanted it, and with a tweener bar. But that brought a different set of problems for me. The riding position is too open for me, and a tweener bar on the bike gives it so much tiller that the slow speed handling is poor. For a slow climber like me, stable slow speed handling is important, and the Xstream hasn’t had it.
So I decided to set the Xstream up like the Stratus XP, with a more upright seat, and high, narrow tee handlebar to keep my hands behind a fairing, and try commuting with it. I’ve loved this setup on the Stratus XP, and wanted to see how it would work on the Xstream. I did the conversion last Saturday.
The first big surprise was the seat height. The frame where the seat mounts on the Xstream is over an inch lower than on the Stratus XP, so I expected the seat to end up lower, and was surprised to see that they’re the same height. The mounting and base part of the Sling Mesh are taller than the mounting and base part of the old style RANS seat I have on the Stratus XP, it turns out. Of course, with the higher bottom bracket on the Xstream, I ended up with its seat more reclined. Here’s a comparison of the Xstream and Stratus XP seats, set where I prefer them.
And below is a comparison of the riding positions. As the smaller rear wheel in each photo gives away, these weren’t taken from a perfect side view position. I’ve painted out the background to make a comparison easier. I’ve also rotated the photos to make the wheels level for an easier comparison, but that does skew the view somewhat. For example, the fairing isn’t as high as it appears in either photo. On the Stratus XP, it’s actually neck level, and on the Xstream, about mouth level. These photos were taken on Monday. Since then, I’ve lowered the fairing and handlebar on the Xstream about an inch, and pulled the handlebar back toward me about the same. I think I can lower the fairing another inch, but I’ll need to fabricate an adapter to do it. You can see the fairing is more upright on the Xstream. When I’m finished with my adjustments though, I think it will be about the same height and angle as on the Stratus XP. The Stratus XP is the top photo, the Xstream the bottom one.
This small photo actually makes for an easier comparison.
My head is slightly lower on the Xstream since I’m reclined more, but of course the biggest difference is the bottom bracket height. My feet are completely behind the fairing at all times on the Xstream, which will be nice in the winter.
The hills on my commute are short enough that I really don’t need to climb anything in the smallest chainring, but I tried it anyway on Tuesday, just to see how the bike handled. At 4.4 mph, it was easy to keep it steady and straight. It passes the handling test with flying colors. I still have a bit of tinkering to do, and only time will tell if I prefer it over the Stratus XP for commuting, but I have to say that so far, I’m really pleased with it.