INTO THE RIDE #66
A V3 for Everybody
by Randy Schlitter
The development matrix for the V3 goes something like this:
1. V2 steel frame, developed as one of the first production high bottom bracket LWB. Offered originally with a fairing, and claimed to be perhaps the “fastest bike you may ever own”. That was a bold tag line for what has turned out to be a very successful high BB LWB bent. In the first few years the V2 was largely misunderstood, but to put it simply, it is as we say a high BB height long wheel base, offering reduced drag, a bullet-proof strong frame, and best of all a nice low seat height, fitting a wide range of rider sizes.
2. From there we introduced the Formula, which with the aluminum frame and other upgrades proved to be a nicely amped-up V2. The Formula is still available in two versions from the Hostel Shoppe at very reasonably prices, which leads us to…
3. The Formula 26 which is a dual 26 or 650 version of the Formula. We discovered with a chop to the head tube, and replacing the 20” fork with a Stratus XP 26” fork, you could have a really nice and speedy bike. Some test riders complained about low end handling, others had no problem. Either way it is a great bike and selling well over at the Hostel Shoppe.
4. The V3 appeared a couple of years ago in Ti and aluminum form, and is an incremental improvement over the V2 in many areas. A couple of the improvements are better low-end handling and a lighter frame. Every time I ride my V3 Ti I enjoy the smooth quiet ride. The speed is nothing to ignore either. V3 Ti owners enjoy the bike’s sweet handling, low seat height, low drag, high average speeds, and over-the-top good looks. The V3 won bike-of-the-year on BROL in 2007.
5. The latest development in the long chain of LWB high BB madness is the very affordable V3 in steel, with disc brakes stock, and our famous comfy mesh seat. This is the V3 for everyone…
The steel version of the V3 is a bike that defies numbers, not a particularly light bike, but oddly fast and easy to ride. It is one of the few (if not only) entry level priced bikes sporting dual 26” wheels.
The handle bar system we choose places the rider in a fairly upright position, and therefore close to the head tube. This allowed us to use a straight rise to the bars and set up steerage with nearly zero tiller, thus making it a very beginner-friendly bike. The V3 is well spec’ed to handle every day use, commuting, and touring. The frame is substantial and worthy of upgrade should a newbie want to upgrade.
Upgrades like a Hoagie seat and the B-32 riser and B-37 bars would set the bike up like the higher end versions in aluminum and titanium, and drop over 3 pounds.
A word about handling…
Handling is typically described in words and not numbers, and as a bent maker, we often wish there was a standard criteria for measuring and quantifying handling. Aircraft flight reports can be written with actual stop watch response times, measured pressures, and yet despite the measures taken, authors still end up writing descriptions of handling laced with words and phrases like “confident, instantly friendly, squirrelly, nervous, like on a rail, smooth as silk”, and so on. In bikes I imagine the same thing would happen since few would be prepared or experienced to interpret the numbers. That is the risk in describing any ride without the science of measure, and always the best reason to test ride.
Already a strong seller we suspect this bike will gain even greater favor as samples start showing up at rides, and owners let others take a spin. There should never be a shortage of entry-level bikes that have the features to extend into higher performance riding. We feel the bike is a great addition to the growing field of modestly priced bents, and one that packs a lot of bang for the buck.
It is a bike that fits a wide range of riders. With a seat height at max of 23.5”, most find the ground within easy reach. The actual over-all length of the bike is fairly compact (89”).
As a commuter the bike may shine bright. The resilient steel frame will smooth out the local expansion cracks and rough spots, the low tiller steerage is great for managing traffic, and the disc brakes stop you in any weather. All the same virtues transfer well into touring. Each role requires about the same gear: fenders, racks, bags, reliable braking, and running gear.
Making a new recumbent does not happen overnight, at least not refined and eloquent machines. And the beginnings of the V program had its share of frustration. I remember at one point how Gardner Martin at Easy Racers doubted we would ever get a long wheel base high crank point bike to handle worth while. Maybe Gardner was considering a similar design. One distinct memory was trying to pin down just what was making the bike unruly. Was it the fork rake, trail, CG?…what! Finally we started stacking foam cushions on the seat to raise the riders position, suspecting the high BB as the trouble point. Sure enough the higher we got,the better it handled, totally defeating the intent of the design. It was not until we fabricated a variable geometry head tube and fork rake device that we were able to dial in the handling. I guess it ties into that bit about trying to use science to define handling, because somewhere in the process the numbers mean less than what we feel. Going out there and validating imperial values seems to be the most direct way, and one that ends up getting the job done. One should never be shy about discovery; it has been my experience it never fails to reward. In the case of the development path of the V3, it has rung true. The reward is a nice product worthy of its heritage. Until next month ride safe and as always stay into the ride!
Footnote: The aluminum version of the V3 AL is rated at 275 pound rider weight. This upgrade was possible after changing over to a 2” main tube. Enjoy!