SatRDay MkII TourFirst, a disclaimer: I realize I work for Bike Friday, but this is not hyperbole. There’s no lying here. If I didn’t feel this way, I would just keep my mouth shut at the very least. I certainly wouldn’t say something to betray my true feelings.

Now, back to the subject at hand: The new SatRDay MkII Tour. For those not in the know, I have blogged about this in the past not once, not twice, but three times. In case it’s not obvious, this is our new recumbent! There are even a few specifications online but like all other Bike Fridays, they’re entirely custom.

I’ve been riding the heck out of this showroom model we have. In fact, it started out as a desire to get home after not having a bike (long story), but I haven’t stopped. I continue to ride it every day, back and forth to work. I’m still trying to figure out what has me so intrigued about it, but I do really, really like it. Though I have no bias against recumbents, I have never seriously thought about owning one. However, I’ve spent the past few days spec’ing out my SatRDay MkII in my head. 🙂

I’m still riding it the same way: street clothes, no gloves, sandals. I have added a computer (note the main unit is mounted just behind the head tube on the main tube, an idea which I borrowed from my fixed gear as it provides more reliability and really makes sense on a recumbent as its pretty much within the normal field of vision), a rear rack (note that this is the older version of the SatRDay where the front rack mounts were a little too far forward, so this ends up being close to the seat and causes the problems Larry Varney mentioned as far as clearances are concerned, but the assembly of the rack is the same on the new one and you’ll notice it’s a little different than the way it’s assembled on the wedgies), and a FastBack tool kit/water bottle holder set up (you’ll notice a grey bottle on the back side of the seat).

This thing weighs 33 pounds as you see it, about twice (!) the weight of my fixed gear. Despite the fact that I usually ride the fix with clipless pedals and I haven’t gone that route with the new bent, I still manage to keep up the same level of performance on the flats. Overall, I actually find it somewhat easier to go as fast on this thing, especially in the intense headwinds that often sweep over the wetlands on the way to my house in the late afternoon.

I have found I do like it more reclined, so that I’m sitting more on my lower back than on my butt and I think this is the intention with the bike. I found that I had some pressure points when I had it a little more upright. I also wasn’t as comfortable, and couldn’t get so nice a view of the morning sky’s colors. It’s much easier to push the performance level higher with the higher bottom bracket (I’ve raised it to its max height– and yes, it is adjustable), too.

This bike (I think) has a boom which is a bit too short for me as I have the seat all the way back on the rails and can just barely (but still comfortably) reach the handlebars. Because of this crucial distance, I would strongly suggest making sure you measure your xseam correctly when you order one. Do NOT follow the Hostel’s Shoppe’s advice.

Despite the fact that I’m a little long in reach and a little short in leg extension and the fact that I’m laying back quite a bit on the bike with a very high bottom bracket height, I really haven’t had any problems with stability. Sure, in the beginning I was very wobbly. Now I pedal through turns taking them very quickly (and I have never hit a knee, thus proving the utility of “tweener bars” despite the fact that they do tend to be a problem turning at very slow speeds), I have no problem maneuvering tight corners with a trailer or panniers, and getting started doesn’t mean I end up in the middle of the street. I also might mention that even with only one pannier on the rear rack, there was really no noticable change in handling. Considering the monostay rear end design, this was incredibly surprising. Oh, and I have no problem taking my hand (haven’t felt entirely comfortable taking both off– yet) off the handlebar and reaching around to grab the water bottle, to take a phone call, or to switch songs on the iPod.

This does bring up another note, though: I can’t put anything in my shorts pockets or in a jersey pocket like I used to. You’d be sitting on anything in the latter and everything would fall out of the former. I’ve been wearing a lot of button up shirts lately so I could make use out of the breast pockets, but it would be cool to have one of those recumbent jerseys that have the pockets on the front.

So I’m thinking about a commuter, probably with a Schmidt dynamo front hub with Oval Plus light (no need for batteries and the light has a capacitor in it which charges when you ride so you can still see when you’re stopped) and an internal hub of some sort. Dave has had pretty good luck with a Shimano Nexus and that’s one reason I’m thinking along these lines. SRAM is slated to come out with a new 9 speed internal shortly and that would be nice.

Part of this thought, though, is the knowledge that recumbents are at a disadvantage going up hill, so I don’t imagine myself doing a lot of hill climbing with them. However, this is also true for tandems and yet because of the nature of the tandem itself (i.e. the fact that we can ride together and work together), hills are almost more enjoyable when my wife and I ride ours. I wonder if the joy I have faced every morning and afternoon riding this thing wouldn’t help it up the hills after all.