Friday, June 8, 2012

Thoughts on the Primo Comets

I've now got some rides on the Primo Comets that I installed a while back on my recumbent bike.  The following data compiled does indeed prove that the Comets at 1.5" width are slower than the previous 1.1" tires I have been riding since putting the HP Velotechnik into service.

My recumbent was designed for long distance touring in all conditions and road surfaces.  For this reason the bike was stocked originally with tires having a wide smooth tread as opposed to narrow high speed tires.  Re-installing the Primo's has given me an opportunity to let some pressure out of the tires and do some mild off pavement riding.  Off roading is something I have not experienced on the recumbent. With the primo's deflated to about 30 psi I am pleasantly surprised at the bikes good handling on both slow climbs and downhill.  The front and rear suspension is much more noticeable off the road and worked well at both low and high speeds.

Let's crunch some numbers.  Following is ride data since installing the Comet Primos:

Ride 1    Surface: road                               8.2 miles        11.8 average speed
Ride 2    Surface: road/dirt 2 track        15.5 miles       11.6 average speed
Ride 3    Surface: road                              20.0 miles      12.2 average speed
Ride 4    Surface: road                                9.5 miles         9.8 average speed
Ride 5    Surface: rail trail/dirt 2 track  35.7 miles       12.4 average speed

Overall Average Speed:  11.56 mph

Here is a list of my last 10 rides on the Schwalbe Stelvio 1.1" 100psi high speed tires: 

                                    24.2 miles    16.5 average speed
                                    40.0 miles    15.7 average speed
                                    12.0 miles    15.4 average speed
                                    27.0 miles    14.6 average speed
                                    16.6 miles    13.6 average speed
                                    25.6 miles    13.8 average speed
                                    29.7 miles    13.1 average speed
                                    14.2 miles    12.2 average speed
                                    34.3 miles    14.3 average speed
                                    40.2 miles    13.4 average speed

Overall Average Speed:  14.26 mph

11.56 versus 14.26 mph is quite a difference!  To be fair it has to be considered that two of the five rides on the Comets included portions of off road riding but the data also seems to indicate that the HP Velotechnik goes about as fast on road as it does off.

Ultimately I will probably go back to a narrow high speed tire simply because I like to go faster.  However I have really enjoyed the few rides I have logged so far.  The fatter front tire handles great and with the pressure down a bit the ride is very plush.  In it's stock configuration with fat tires the HP Velotechnik Street Machine is a versatile bike ready for adventure and exploration.           

There is another interesting trait of the recumbent worth mentioning that I discovered while traversing deeply rutted two track -ground clearance.  On a mountain bike which includes both the rigid diamond frame and full suspension designs the cranks are down low with the bottom bracket only 11 or 12 inches above the ground.  At the bottom of the pedal stroke this places the pedal a mere 3 or 4 inches from the ground.  When riding through a 15" deep truck tire rut on an upright bike pedals are going to be scraping and banging off the dirt with every revolution.  This is not the case on the recumbent.  The cranks and pedals are all raised safely out of the way at the front of the bike.

Motobecane Le Champion Road Bike
 Just for the sake of comparison following are my last five rides on the Motobecane road bike.  I am definitely the fastest when riding this bike but of course that's it's sole purpose.  All day comfort takes a back seat. 

                                        24.1 miles    15.0 average speed
                                        20.1 miles    17.2 average speed
                                        22.6 miles    15.3 average speed
                                        23.8 miles    16.0 average speed
                                        23.6 miles    15.5 average speed

 Overall Average Speed:  15.8 mph


Last weekend I got down to the Kokosing Gap Trail starting from Mt. Vernon, Ohio and the connecting five mile packed clay Mohican Valley Trail.  Interestingly on this 35.7 mile ride with 10 miles being dirt I still managed to post my highest average speed yet on the Comets.

Normally this time of year the trails are still pretty moist but it's been dryer than usual and the trail was even dusty in places.  Ruts from Amish buggies and bicycle tires were dried into the surface which when above 10 mph did create a bit of squirreliness in the front end of the recumbent but that's common with any two wheeler.  Keep in mind on the HP the front wheel is directly under my thighs and completely out of sight.  All the feedback from the front wheel is tactile in nature through the handlebars.  It's a strange experience but I got used to it fairly quick.  Similar to most styles of riding the key is a light grip on the bars and let the wheel self correct on it's own.

I forgot my camera but I did use my cell phone for a quick shot of the Mohican Valley Trail.  This is one of my favorite places to ride and I documented the route in one of my first blog posts here a couple years ago.

Luckily the road apples were all flat and dry!


  1. You've got some beautiful places to ride there. Interesting comments on the tires and the higher pedals on your recumbent. The weather's been a little cooler the last week and have been getting out a bit myself. 72's

    1. Thanks John, The first 3 pictures were taken inside the city limits if you can believe it.