Sunday, 18 April 2010

Kit Review Part 1: Glyde Review

Glyde Review
April 2010

This review is based on having spent the last two weeks touring on a new Greenspeed Glyde. I previously owned a Quest so this review considers the differences between the Glyde and Quest when used for cycle camping in the UK.

The Glyde is noticeably smaller than the Quest - it is shorter, lower and seems to be narrower, although on paper I don't think there is a significant difference in width at the widest point. This means that there is potentially less luggage space inside the Glyde, but as my Quest had a 26in rear wheel and the Glyde has a 20in one perhaps it is just differently shaped space. Either way I got my full camping kit packed inside her. I had planned on having some luggage stowed ahead of each wheel well as there is a useful void between the spaceframe tubes and the bodywork but after a couple of attempts, in practice I found things inevitably shook loose and ended up catching against my feet. For my next trip I will arrange some kind of lightweight wall to create a 'box' either side of the pedal area so this area can be used without this problem occurring.
With care to keep the height down, luggage did stack comfortably either side of the seat and acted as arm rests. With a camelbak hooked just behind the seat the remainder of my stuff was slung around and above the rear wheel box. The areas either side of the seat are not as big and do not run all the way into the tail as they did in the Quest but this didn't really prove to be an issue with the gear I had. Being a smaller machine it should punch through the air better - I didn't have a speedo fitted this trip so I didn't determine if this was true.

The most important improvements the Glyde has over the Quest for this trip were better brakes and gearing. The Glyde I used has twin BB7 mechanical disc brakes - an unfamiliar model to me, I'm used to hydraulic discs. I had no issue with the mechanical side of things but the pads did need 'advancing' to allow for pad wear several times during my trip - once I'd worked out how to do it, it was a routine 5 second job to adjust each one every couple of days. This is something that hydraulic brakes do automatically and something I'd never even needed to consider on the Quest. The stopping power from the discs felt significantly better than the Quest's twin drums. On flats and gentle downhills there is maybe little in it, but I really did prefer the feel of two discs controlled via two separate levers with the nice light modulation that disc brakes have when coming down steeper descents such at as the 14% descent down into Dover city centre past the castle. Because of regularly needing to make these adjustments I'm considering upgrading the specification of my own Glyde to have hydraulic discs but it is a tight call whether it is worth the extra cost… Mechanical discs are field-repairable, hydraulic ones are less likely to need attention but more difficult to work on if they do. Drums, as per the Quest, are pretty much bulletproof and maintenance-free. I'd say the choice depends entirely on the terrain where you ride but for me and the areas I ride, discs are an essential choice.

Gearing - the Glyde I've ridden had a Schlumpf Mountain Drive (2 speed bottom bracket hub gear), a SRAM Dual Drive (3 speed hub) and a 9sp cassette. The benefit of the two hub gears is that they can be shifted when stationary (or, more usefully, stalled on a hill). On the leg of the trip I've just completed I expected the mountain drive (MD) to be a luxury that would only be needed occasionally but I think I ended up using at least once every day. With a relatively heavily laden touring bike it can take a degree of effort to pull away from an uphill junction or to make a brisk start from a stop in traffic. With the MD this is just a matter of drop the gear and spin until a higher gear can be picked up. When I asked for an MD on my Quest I found I wasn't the first to ask and the guys at the factory were clearly not impressed with the additional load such low gears would put on the hardware. Greenspeed have designed the Glyde to take the same gearing options as their other trikes so the MD, Dual Drive and even the Rohloff hub would not be unreasonable options… With the aero benefits of the streamlining I did find that I used the entire range of available gearing. On the good days with a nice quality road and a tail wind like the Dymchurch-Rye section I was heading towards the top end of the available gearing and really eating the miles. The Quest I had had a standard 27sp drivetrain with only the option of juggling the chainring/cassette combination biasing the range towards the 'hilly' or 'sporty' ends. The options fitted to the Glyde gave a gearing range half as wide again as my Quest had. And I used it on this trip!

Handling - whilst I've seen plenty of Quests on the race track, the Glyde is clearly designed from twisty criterium racing heritage. Whilst I've seen Ymte handle a Quest on the race track in a truly impressive way, I never felt entirely comfortable with the joystick steering and the tendency of the Quest to lift a wheel and feeling as if it were beginning to roll when travelling fast through tight corners. I immediately felt at home with the Glyde side-stick steering. This is a little different from the usual Greenspeed arrangement where the handlebars are mounted on a pivot below the seat - in the Glyde the two handles pivot forwards/backwards along a channel in the back of each wheel well. This may sound complicated but is completely intuitive and the same arrangement as used on their SLR race trike (as can be seen here http://www.wrhpv.com/greenspeed/slr/pic/underslrside.jpg). A little alarming on first noticing, the Glyde also leans into a turn - the whole trike just leans as a bike would do. When stationary this seems to make the steering feel very heavy - presumably because the steering is lifting one side of the body, but once moving at even a gentle walking pace, this effort is unnoticeable. Throughout the entire length of my 760 mile tour I never once had the sensation that the Glyde was unweighting, let alone lifting a wheel.
However there was one fly in the ointment - I was surprised to find that at higher speeds the Glyde did suffer from brake steer. This feature was not observable below around 30mph and became a little more exciting at around 40mph. This is a feature that has been pretty much removed from current generation recumbent trikes so it did come as a surprise. Once I knew it was there it was no problem - simply applying both brakes together gives normal behaviour and slight modulation of the balance between the two levers allows very delicate adjustment of line.
I am feeling much happier with the handling of the Glyde than I was with the Quest. I never relaxed into riding that machine, particularly at high speeds I always felt tense and had to give it my full attention to hold an accurate line. This might purely be that I've not spent enough time with joystick-steering trikes and may be something that other riders do not experience. As I was touring I've mostly been keeping my speeds low, or at a good steady cruising pace, but when the opportunity to gain some free hill climbing has presented itself I have allowed her her head and on sprints between 40 and 50mph the handling has been perfect.

Comfort - no issues at all with the seat or steering. I've had coccyx bruising from longer back-to-back day riding on the Quest, maybe just because I don't carry much fat as padding. I ended my Glyde tour early due to suffering tendonitis in my right ankle after two weeks/762 miles of riding. I think this is due to having done more miles in two weeks than I've done in the previous 18 months. I had planned to have 3 months to get used to the Glyde before the trip but due to manufacturing problems I ended up with a borrowed machine arriving on the Friday before my Wednesday trip departure… I am planning on picking the tour up again next year with my own Glyde and more miles on the machine before the departure date.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great reports on both the Glyde and the tent and the photos. I think the tent is tough to get in the States.
    I'm feeling much better about my glyde order now. I was lamenting that the Mango Sport hadn't become available sooner. Now maybe I think the Glyde is a good choice after all, except I could have a Mango in time for at lest the second velo trip I was planning this year, and I don't expect to get the Glyde before then end of the summer, if then.
    I hadn't ordered my Glyde with the Schlumph or with upgraded brakes, those things I am now considering.

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  2. Yes, that tent manufacturer is local to me here in the UK.
    You have some great lightweight tent manufacturers over in the US - take a look at http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com and their solomid for an example. If you are in the market for a new tent then mixing with the backpacking guys is worth it as their gear is a generation ahead of the usual shop stuff. Backpackinglight.com is a good starting point.
    The stove I used on this trip was also from the US - http://minibulldesign.com so you're not missing out on anything living on that side of the pond!!!

    I'd put the Schlumpf on the 'essentials' list, I'm still torn between the disc brake types...

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  3. On my WAW015 I had excellent experiences with the Schlumpf mountain drive, in combination with the Campagnolo Record 10-speed derailleur. As for brakes, you might consider the 100 mm SA drum brakes, in combination with the excellent Jagwire cables. The Quest rider Wim Schermer -see http://wimschermer.blogspot.com/ - has excellent results with this setup, including a dramatically improved braking performance.

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  4. A WAW with an MD and Campy - that is a sexy combination!
    I noticed the larger drum brake option now available. I no longer have my Quest so no need to upgrade it :(
    Thanks for the info!

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  5. great write up Rob..

    I'm still not convinced by drums on something that heavy/aero in the hills.
    Personally I would go with hydros but the issues you listed are exactly the problems with them, however most semi decent bike shops can help out nowadays if they do play up.
    hydros are getting much more reliable now, the hope mini monos are superb

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