Suspended R-44 ride report (long)
Date: Sat, 28 Mar 1998 21:11:23 -0500
From: Alan Felsen
To: WHIRL <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I have had my suspended Vision R-44 for about 2 weeks now, and the weather finally cooperated for some longer rides on Thursday and Friday. I've had written about my first impressions to a few individuals who expressed interest in the bike, but I'm copying this to the WHIRL list also in case it might be of interest to a wider audience.
Least important things first, the bike looks good. It is a bright red with a silver ballistic fork and silver rims.
As for the ride quality, my only prior experience is on a Vision R-40, and the ride is similar to that bike. The suspension doesn't make the ride soft, but it does absorb the big bumps that would really shake me on the R-40. Part of the difference is that the R-40 had wider tires which helped smooth the ride. I figure I'm trading the extra weight of suspension for lighter rims and tires with lower rolling resistance. It's probably a loss when climbing and a gain for the flats and downhills, although that is just my assumption.
I initially had the rear air shock set to too low a pressure. This caused very noticeable pogoing when climbing or pushing the pedals hard. Now that I've got the shock set right, I'm not noticing any pogo feel.
In my initial reports to a few people I mentioned that there was a severe shimmy in the front end of the bike that was scaring me at speeds over 20 mph and that it would shake violently if I tried to ride no-hands. While the latter is still true, I now have no problem at high speeds and have descended up to about 35 mph. I'm not sure what was going on at first, but I think that the suspension fork may introduce a small amount of "looseness" into the steering feel and that I was overcompensating for it on my first rides. Now that I've gotten used to the feel of the bike I am confident with just a light touch on the (over seat) handlebars.
For a measure of the suspension performance I went over a few
of the famous Montgomery County speed humps yesterday. For
those not familiar with them these were the 15mph variety, which
are about 3" tall and
maybe 6 to 8 feet across. They have a continuous curved profile. (There is another variety that is longer and has a flattened top). I went over these bumps at 25mph while descending. As I went over the top I was lifted out of the seat a little. I don't know that I went airborne, but I certainly unweighted the bike a little. When I came
down on the other side I could feel the suspension eating up the impact. These bumps would have shaken me up pretty severely on the non suspended bike.
Most importantly I've emailed Vision on a few issues including a problem with the fender mounting (installation error at the LBS), the front end shimmy, and questions about component changes. I have found that without exception they respond quickly and have been able to give me the information I need. They seem ready to do whatever it takes to make sure I am a satisfied customer.
[P.S. - Since writing this I have been in touch with Vision about the steering problem. As a result they sent me an R-44 SWB/USS that had been used as a shop loaner bike. I'll be riding that bike for a while and sending them my bike back so their engineers can try to figure out why it shakes. The loaner bike does not exhibit the same problem. They plan to either fix my bike or replace it, depending on what they find - 5/4/98]
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