F5′s alive!

My new RANS F5 Pro build reached the rideable point today, and I took off on it this afternoon and rode to Purtis Creek State Park. I ended up with 30 miles. I’ve been neglecting my blog again. Today’s ride gave me 100 miles for this week. I also rode 100 miles last week. All rides were just short rides from home, 40 miles or less.

I just got the last parts for the A23 wheels I’m building yesterday, so for now, the F5 is running with the only 700c wheels I seem to own these days, a cheap and heavy wheelset I bought for the Nimbus, way back when. The A23′s should ride better, but even with these old wheels and skinny 23mm tires, the F5 definitely rides smoother than the Corsa, something I will appreciate on the rough roads I ride around here. The combination of a steel frame, size large bike which centers me better between the wheels, and 700c wheels rather then the 650c or 559′s I had on the Corsa, all help. There is still quite a bit of work to be done on the F5.

I debated about which handlebar to use on the F5. I knew the B-41 handlebar that came with the bike was wider than I want. I considered ordering a Bacchetta handlebar, but when I dug out the HR3way handlebar that I already had, I saw that as long as you don’t swing out the handlebar ends, this bar is really only an inch or so wider than the Bacchetta bar. I figured that would work for me, leaving the only thing I didn’t like about the bar being the fact that it’s too long for me, even adjusted to its shortest length. I cut off an inch and a quarter and adjusted it to its shortest position. It’s still longer than the Bacchetta bar, and I have longer grips on it than I had on the Corsa, but I’m going to try it this way. Its extra length will let me ride with my arms in a less outstretched position. That may help my cratered shoulders. The price for that is less leg clearance when I turn, but I’m thinking I can live with that. If not, I’ll chop more off the end of the handlebar and go to shorty grips like the Corsa had. We’ll see. So far, I think I like it.

The F5′s seat ended up at 26 1/4 inches at the lowest point. That’s 2 1/4 inches taller than the Corsa. I was concerned about how well I could get my feet down with this additional height, but after today’s ride, I can say that it’s not a problem. With the Kinesis bag taking up most of the space between the front of the seat and the riser, I have to just step over the seat to get on the bike. That’s a tall step. I guess when I reach the point that I can no longer make it, I can either lose the Kinesis bag or retire from high racer riding.

The big chainring is the only one that came with the bike that I’m still using. The middle ring is a Q-ring like the one I’ve run for many years on my Corsa. I had gone to a 26 tooth granny gear on the Corsa after my lung surgery, along with an 11-34 cassette to help me wheeze my way up big hills better. I had an even smaller granny gear chainring, a 24 tooth, and put it on the F5. With the 700c wheels, I figured I needed as small a granny chainring as I could get. The old wheels I broke out and installed already had an almost new looking 11-34 cassette on them, so I just left it on them. There are no hills around here to really give the lowest gear a good test, but I tried it out anyway, just to see how slow I could go. An 80 cadence with the lowest gear produced about 4.5 mph. That should work for just about any hill I encounter.

I’m pretty excited about this bike with its American made steel frame. I got 26,000 miles out of my aluminum frame Corsa; I’m thinking this bike should last me the rest of my riding days, or at least the rest of my high racer riding days. Many older recumbent riders seem to eventually move to something lower. We’ll see.

Notes and photos:

The (almost) finished RANS F5. I’ll be adding bar tape, like my Corsa had, but for now, it’s just small pieces of electrical tape holding the cables close to the proper position so I could cut and fit the cables. The brakes will need adjustment as soon as I install the wider A23 wheels. The shifting still needs adjustment, and there are still plenty of other minor things to do.

My Team RANS jersey only seemed appropriate for the bike’s maiden voyage.

My riding position is pretty similar to the Corsa.

Yes, that middle chainring isn’t round.

This view shows the starting seat clamp position. After installing and adjusting the seat, I ended up with it an inch or so further back than this, but it’s still in the far forward reaches of the adjustment, a reminder that I’m barely tall enough for a size large high racer frame. This larger frame will better distribute my weight for a smooth ride, though.

The bike’s seat is the same Euromesh seat I’ve had on the Corsa for years, including the Fastback Double Century bags and slow moving vehicle triangle. I may upgrade the seat later, but I’ve always loved that Euromesh seat.

115 miles this week.

I ended up with 115 miles on the bike this week. Considering we had one inch of sleet on the ground here on Monday morning, I’m thinking that’s not bad. And it’s much better than the paltry 65 miles I rode last week.

On Monday and Tuesday, the weather was just colder than I like to ride in. Wednesday was still chilly, but Rose and I took off on the Screamer tandem in the afternoon and rode to Purtis Creek. We picked up a piece of steel wire remnant from an automobile tire in our front tire on the way back, and had to stop a couple of times and air it up, but managed to get home before I had to take the time to fix it. We ended up with 25.2 miles.

On Thursday afternoon, I rode the Xstream to Purtis Creek for another 25.2 miles. It was still cool enough for me to appreciate the Xstream’s fairing. On Friday afternoon, I took off on the Corsa and rode to Purtis Creek, intending to ride on into Van Zandt County and do my usual 40 mile route. I instinctively turned toward home when I left Purtis Creek though, and had ridden several miles berfore realizing what I had done. I turned around and rode back for a second stop at Purtis Creek. I ended up with 40 miles. This morning, I did another ride to Purtis Creek on the Xstream, for another 25.2 miles. Rain had been forecast for late morning, but I managed to finish before it started.

My riding style has changed over the years. I’ve done my fair share of club rides, charity pay rides, and randonneuring rides, and most of my blog reports have been on those rides. But I’ve also done lots of shorter rides from home, including three years of commuting to work by bike. Most of those rides didn’t seem worthy of a blog post, so unless something out of the ordinary happened on a ride, I didn’t blog about any of them.

But, since moving to Gun Barrel City, the vast majority of my rides seem to be just short rides from home, so my blog has grown pretty quiet. I’m thinking that I’ll start trying to do weekly blog entries, summing up that week’s riding. Surely, a weeks worth of riding is worthy of a blog entry. Hopefully, the weather will improve soon, and there will be more weeks of riding over 100 miles, and very few of those 65 mile weeks.

Rose at Purtis Creek State Park on Wednesday.

A new bike is on its way!

I have ordered a fire sale size large F5 Pro from RANS. I’ve been casually looking at new bikes since my Corsa hit the 25,000 mile mark. Aluminum frames aren’t known for lasting forever. I’m plainly not as hard on equipment as many riders, but I’m no lightweight rider, either (my weight ranges from 183 to 191 pounds). I hadn’t expected to buy anything this quickly, and to be honest, until Paul posted in rbent about the RANS garage sale, the F5 wasn’t on my radar at all. My new bike was always going to be another high racer, but the F5 is probably the least sexy high racer I could have picked. It looks like RANS is going to discontinue the it in favor of the Rifle. The more I’ve thought about it though, the more sense this size large F5 makes for me.

A major consideration is the rougher roads I find myself riding on since I moved to Gun Barrel City. A steel frame, with a slightly longer wheelbase than the Corsa, and 700C wheels, is bound to provide a bit better ride. An F5 isn’t any heavier than a Corsa, and I should be able to achieve a very similar riding position, so the new bike shouldn’t slow me down any. And the price I gave RANS for this bike was too good to pass up.

One criticism of the F5 is the added flex that its 2″ round main tube has over the 2″ x 2 1/2″ ovalized tube of the Bacchettas. I have no doubt that for a rider of Kent Polk’s strength, this kind of flex would be a major negative. I’m strong, and there’s no doubt I could flex the bottom bracket for a few seconds but, lung damaged old f*rt that I am, it would only be for a few seconds. Then, I would be back to the easy spin that is standard for me. I always favored spinning over mashing, anyway, so I don’t think the flex of the F5 frame will be too much for me at all.

I had always favored a medium size high racer frame over a large. I’m within the range that will fit either size. I’m 5′ 9″ tall (almost two inches shorter than when my spine wasn’t shaped like a mountain trail), but have long legs and arms for that height (Greg alternately calls me a gorilla and spider). My xseam is ~43″. But the Euromesh seat I love is a tall seat, and with a 700C high racer, seat height does become a major consideration. With a large frame, a rider ends up further forward on the bike, and on a stick frame high racer, that equals higher off the ground. But a large frame does center your weight better between the wheels, and that plus the fact that a large has a longer wheelbase, improves the ride.

This F5 has no seat or wheels. It is also missing the v-clamp and seat angle. I ordered those two parts with the bike. I’ll start out with the Euromesh from my Corsa as a seat, and see how that works out. It’s a tall seat. If it proves to be too tall on this 700C bike, I may get something else for it.

As for wheels, I plan on getting or building some which have the Velocity A23 rims. These rims are 23mm wide, 4mm wider than the standard 19mm wide road rims, and improve the profile and ride of 23mm tires enough that I’ll likely start out running them. Imagine that, being able to take advantage of all the shopping deals you can find on 700C 23mm tires. I love the 559 A23 wheels I built for the Xstream (that are actually on the Corsa right now). With an odd size like that (MTB rims on road spaced hubs), I just ordered the parts and built them, but with 700C wheels, there are such great deals to be found on already built wheels that use the A23 rims, there are some you can buy for less than you can build a set, so I may buy already built wheels.

I’m presuming the F5 comes with a RANS B-41 handlebar. I also own a RANS three way adjustable high racer bar. I’ve always liked the narrower Bachetta tweener bar better than either of these though, so I may buy one. This bike should go very well with my new Team RANS jersey, too. LOL. I’m not sure what model year the bike is. Perhaps the serial number will tell me that. I’ll post more after I get the bike.

An image of an F5 Pro from RANS’ website.