Touring bikes make conflicting demands: they should be able to carry as heavy loads as possible, while still being small and light to transport. Maximum riding comfort is desired for longer rides, but the technology must also be robust and low maintenance. And great aerodynamics would be fantastic, but not at the expense of a good riding position where you can see and be seen.
Fortunately the engineers have already invented the solution: the touring recumbent that can do even more thanks to being a trike. It provides great stability on its three wheels. And if cyclists want to take photos and films as they ride this much less of a problem than on an upright bike. They no longer need to watch out for every stone and rut, and can even mount the equipment wobble-free in several positions on the frame for great shots and video clips.
HP Velotechnik displayed their revamped Scorpion fx at the Eurobike exhibition, and it will be ready for the 2016 season.
For Paul Hollants, Managing Director of HP Velotechnik, redesigning the touring trike was a logical step. “After introducing a very unique vehicle class for rehab patients and senior riders in the form of the Scorpion plus in 2014, we have now been able to define more accurately the area of application for the Scorpion fx series”. The initial parameters included the provision of a high seat position and the ability to get on and off the trike easily, which was previously achieved in the series’ broader and higher ‘comfort’ models Scorpion plus 20 and 26. “That gave us the room to significantly hone the profile of the Scorpion fx as a classic touring bike”. The result in brief: a far stiffer frame, better power transmission when pedalling and a considerably higher load capacity – and all with virtually the same weight.
This has been made possible by new technical processes, as Hollants’ partner and chief engineer Daniel Pulvermüller explains. Since the company presented the first touring Scorpion in 2006, the world of multi-track lightweight vehicles has been reinvented in various respects. New welding and moulding processes have been incorporated together with the findings made while designing various recumbent trike models, the range of which has become ever more differentiated over the years, culminating in the S-pedelec. “The key feature with the new Scorpion fx is the use of the space frame technology”, comments Daniel. The designers were able to completely redesign the chassis based on the design tried and tested on their speed pedelecs. The strikingly shaped framework enables rectilinear chain run through the rear end. To ensure good ride comfort, the rear suspension is also fitted with the ‘no squat’ technology developed by the recumbent specialists. This minimises pedal kickbacks. “The new chain guide allowed us to significantly reduce the impact forces of the drive on the overall framework.” The result is a 17 percent stiffer chassis, which can now carry total loads of 140 kg instead of 130.
Combined with other design changes, the stiffness becomes twice as important. The bottom bracket has been raised by five centimetres to enable a noticeably sportier, more efficient pedal movement. Hard-core recumbent riders are aware of the central function that results from the difference in height between the seat and the bottom bracket. On an upright bike, this would equate to the difference between a road bike frame and that of a Dutch bike. A high bottom bracket virtually means pedalling out of the saddle while still squatting.
Nevertheless, the seat position of the Scorpion fx is still essentially classed as medium height. This provides riders with both clear visibility in traffic and great panoramic views as well as good tipping stability when dynamically rounding bends. A key feature of the seat culture of the trikes from Kriftel is their sophisticated ergonomics. Riders can choose from five different basic types, all of which are individually adjustable: the sporty BodyLink bucket seat (height: 33 cm ), the standard-height (35.5 cm) or high (48 cm) ErgoMesh mesh seat or these two mesh seats in broad and long XL versions.
A second advantage of the rather upright position is the measurably larger amount of space for your luggage. “The revamped bracket above the rear wheel means that the Scorpion fx is not only able to carry 50 kg, but also offers plenty of room to do so”, reports Pulvermüller. Not many bikes would be able to hold four large rear wheel panniers from Ortlieb. And, this still does not affect the folding function. As before, the patented folding joint can easily be operated with one hand. To transport it by train or car, it is possible to fold the trike without the need for tools and with just a few manual movements, bringing it down to a compact 89 cm L x 84 W x 96.5 H (or, if you’re still using old measurements 42 years after metrication: 2’11” x 2’9″ x 3’2″). The open wheel carrier, which was a HP Velotechnik development, also comes in handy for those who want to make the Scorpion still smaller. The front wheels can be removed in 90 seconds, reducing the dimensions to 99 cm x 71 x 61 (or, in “42 year old money” – 3’3″ x 2’4″ x 2’2″).
Like all other vehicles from the recumbent manufacturer, the Scorpion fx can still be customised using the highly flexible modular system. Optional features include a shifting system with 81 speeds and a powerful electric motor with a reverse gear plus a second battery. The advanced premium model from GO SwissDrive also offers innovation in terms of functionality. For example, not only do the colours adapt to the brightness of the ambient light, but the control unit can also be remotely operated. With a little practice, it is no longer necessary to focus on the display – except if specifically using it as an external screen for your smartphone. Thanks to the Bluetooth interface, the phone can therefore remain safely stored in your luggage, while still sending the data to the display via an app. According to the Swiss drive manufacturer, it will also be possible to display navigation functions in future.
The Scorpion fx is available at HP’s dealers from November at a cost of €3,390 or just above £2500 for the basic version in the standard colours of Pearl orange and blue shade grey. More details are available online or at dealerships.
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