I took a day’s vacation yesterday to (hopefully) fulfill a dream I’ve had for the past five years or so.

My main form of transportation has always been cycling – I love zooming around corners, mashing along the flats and spinning up hills: a complete rush. My commute in the mornings used to take me though the centre of Dublin, and during rush hour, this was usually jammed – but I was always nice and fast on the bike, and since traffic was at a stand still, it was pretty safe. That said, when the traffic did move, it moved pretty fast in places – there’s nothing like a 16-wheel truck coming along behind you to concentrate your mind in the morning!

Anyway – on to what I was doing yesterday. For the last 5 years, I’ve had a “funny looking bike” pinned up on my cubicle wall – it was my “Yes, you’re having a bad day, but someday, you’ll be able to get one of these” type of inspiration (haven’t needed it recently, I’m happy to say!)

That was a HP Velotechnik StreetMachine. I’ve long been impressed by the idea of recumbent bicycles – contrast this image with this one and you get where I’m coming from. I’ve always believed that recumbents should be more aerodynamic, comfortable and faster than a diamond-frame bike, along with other advantages, but had never got around to trying one out for myself.

Worse still, I couldn’t afford one even if I could test it. Since not many people cycle recumbents (at least over here), they consequently have very low production runs, so manufacturers can’t get economies of scale, and are as a result, bloody expensive.

But, I finally decided it was now or never. I hadn’t bought a bike in 10 years, my 30th and 31st birthdays had been and gone – I didn’t honestly need a new computer, so it seemed like a recumbent might be within reach!

I headed over to London yesterday, with the sole purpose of visiting Bikefix, where I spent 2 hours trying out different recumbents. Within about 5 minutes of getting on one and getting past the wobbly stage, I had a permanent wide smile etched on my face: if you haven’t tried a recumbent bicycle – do yourself a favour and have a go — by far the most fun you can have on two wheels! The guys at Bikefix were really helpful, and so far, I can definitely recommend them if you’re thinking about buying a recumbent.

I eventually narrowed my search down to either a HP Velotechnik Grasshopper:

Or a Challenge Hurricane SL:

While the Hurricane was an absolute blast – lower and (seemingly) faster, it just wasn’t as practical as the Grasshopper was for my intended use, and besides, once I’d added a carrier & mudgards, it wouldn’t be as super light as the name implies. I ended up speccing the Grasshopper rather more highly than I was originally planning – hydraulic disc brakes and an air shock on the back: my visa card is still cooling down, but I’m really looking forward to a faster, more exciting commute. Well, faster hopefully, once I’ve spent the 3 months to find my recumbent legs – this morning, I definitely felt where they should be, having pretty stiff legs!

Just got to hang on another 3 weeks till it arrives, and then another flight over to the UK to pick it up. Can’t wait. Of course, I’m a bit worried now, if I’m going to get hooked, and end up wanting something more extreme next. I’ll try to keep things in perspective – honest.

ps. Sorry I couldn’t stay in London for the LOSUG meeting – my flight was leaving at 20:15 from Stansted, so I had to leave
the city at 18:00…

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