Cruzbike has a new model coming out
And I’m still not impressed.
Their Silvio is positioned as a road bike, I just haven’t figured out who the target demographic is. According to their website, it will take Dura Ace or Ultegra 10 speed components, and they show it with FSA carbon cranks and Easton wheels. That certainly sounds like the beginnings of a decent road bike. Until they get to the bit about it being full suspension.
Since they seem to view the traditional diamond frame as some sort of outdated torture device, I feel it’s only fair that I point out the folly of some of the claims they make. For instance, they list 10 points as to why it should have suspension. Among the silliest explanations are that this being the 21st century, there’s no reason not to do it. That explains why every other manufacturer of road bikes is clamoring to get suspension on their rigs. Right up there with that explanation, I read that the pivot points were already there, and besides, their Taiwanese manufacturing partners already had some “lovely suspension technology”. All very good reasons to use full suspension, to be sure.
But let’s look at the real reasons. Being front wheel drive, their design requires front suspension, as high pressure road tires don’t have the necessary compliance to keep the rubber properly planted. At the other end, they have a very stiff looking seat that would probably only be comfortable for the shortest of rides, unless there was some rear suspension.
I’m sure the Cruzbike has it’s place for some riders, but I still see it as a design full of compromises in order to deliver minimal returns over a standard bicycle. Trek, Giant, and Electra all have bikes well suited for the casual rider. For someone looking to go a little faster, there are pleny of other options, priced much better as well. Built from scratch, the Silvio frameset is $1800 plus shipping. Add in your gruppo and wheels, and you’re spending some serious change. For that kind of money, you could get yourself a nice road bike, some comfy kit, and have cash left over for a proper fitting including a bar and stem swap, if needed.
So what’s the point? I’ll be open minded here, if someone wants to try and convince me.
I think the simple reply – “Because it’s the 21st century” is a nod to the positioning. I’ll fill in the sentence: Because it’s the 21st century…it’s about time riders switched seating positions to what is the natural progression of comfort. In the past, recumbent bike models were overlooked because makers hadn’t thought to put a chain on the front wheel. When cycling was invented as a competitive sport, the only fast models around were standard bikes and I think it is hard for avid riders to give up that idea. Had fast, ergonomical forms like the Sylvio been available 50 years ago, cycling would be a different world. But because it’s the 21st century, it’s about time comfortable riding makes a comeback.
I’ll go along with most of that. But apparently, the design wasn’t that comfortable if they needed to add rear suspension. Nor was it that feasible if they need front suspension for traction.
I’ll first declare that I ride a recumbent, (not a Silvio but I’ve owned a Cruzbike Softrider) so I am biased to some degree. I ride a ‘bent for two reasons, the first medical (enlarged prostate) and the second because at my age and level of fitness I enjoy the comfort and slight gain in efficiency that comes from riding a well designed ‘bent. May I say that too many recumbents are not well designed and are flexy, heavy and slow. ‘Bent owners can be annoying too – rather like fundamentalist preachers but so can some DF riders.
My P-38 is stiff, fast and still a bit heavy – but you can buy a 9 kg carbon version.
The seat on the Silvio isn’t uncomfortable because you use a cushion on it! I can’t imagine why you’d think a saddle is more comfortable than a chair. The seat distributes the riders weight and doesn’t cause erectile disfunction or chafing.
So for starters, you get a supremely comfortable bike that is aerodynamically faster than a standard bike and it does it without the rider crouching in a lung crunching tuck.
I think the makers are aiming at riders who, for one reason or another, find their bikes uncomfortable. The standard bike (DF) does cause problems including the aforementioned erectile issues, back backs, crook necks, numb hands. I agree that a lot of that IS improper fit and posture, but not all of it.
The Cruzbikes are recumbents and that’s where their first market is. The reason for their being is to eliminate some of the reasons why a lot of ‘bents are slow. A ‘standard’ recumbent has 2.5 lengths of chain, two extra idlers, a heavy (compared to a DF) frame and a bottom bracket that flexes between 8 and 25mm on each pedal stroke under hill climbing. You’ve got extra drag in a transmission that already suffers power loss from flex. In a DF, that amount of flex would be unacceptable and probably make the bike unrideable.
The Silvio solves all those problems but introduces a really big problem – pedal steer. Basically it’s a bitch to ride initially. The learning curve is fairly severe but when the bike is mastered, you’ve got a fast, practical and comfortable recumbent that fits well into DF pacelines – if they can keep up….
Suspension? I’ll bet you dislike chipseal as much as I do. A bike with suspension can be faster over rough roads. As you say, it helps with traction and a comfortable rider needs less rest. I’ll BET the Silvio would be an excellent PBP bike.
I won’t have convinced you because you don’t need this style of bike. The Diamond Frame bicycle is a beautifully minimalist design. If you don’t find it stressful to ride then why would you pay more for what you perceive as less. Unlike some ‘bent riders I love DFs; I love all bicycles.
The Silvio is an alternative recumbent design that offers comfort and speed and the design can blend with DFs without frightening the horses.