Challenge Furai "heel strike"?

Burnette

New Member
I have been looking at buying several bikes and wondered if someone could help me with some insight into the Furai. I have talked to Kelvin at Angletech about the Serian 26 and the Fujin Tour. I am short of stature so the Serian has seat height issues for me and the Fujin Tour sits lower than I want to be. Which leaves the Furai. Does the Furai has excessive heel strike? I will have to shorten the boom which concerns me and it is possible to get the Furai with 26" wheels , which exacerbates the heel strike issue. Is this a no go for me? I really want USS and will make sacrafices(heavier Challenge bikes) but I have to know whether or not I can atleast turn left/right without crashing my front wheel.
 

arallsopp

Post of The Year 2009 winner
Location
Bromley, Kent
The Seiran is a LOT bigger than the Furai. I rolled up alongside one last week for the first time and was amazed at the difference. Its huge! In addition, the seat on the Furai is lower slung than on the Seiran, with the result that the ground is a lot closer than you can credit to the wheels alone. The compact geometry and tight wheelbase means the risk of heel strike is certainly present.

Of course, we're all individuals and our personal levels of scale, flexibility, confidence, balance and comfort will vary. So as we're comparing like for like, I have a 30inch inside leg in trousers, 32 inches crotch to floor. X-Seam of just under 40 inches (measured using the utah trikes method), which makes me a 'short' for most manufacturers. I run the boom a little long, as I tend to sit quite far forward in the seat. I can't ride OSS to save my life, and learnt to ride recumbent on a USS SMGTe bought 9 months before the Furai.

On my Furai 24" (running ETRTO 520 Duranos) I *can* get my crank to within an inch and a half from the tyre. Swap the Durano's (28mm) for Marathon Racers (40mm) and you're closer still. Of course, it'd take the right combination of crank and wheel position, but its possible. The pedals sit outside that, but if you pedal through a sharp turn, at very low speed, you will almost certainly find your foot in the spokes. Put simply, you learn not to do this. At normal riding speeds, simply leaning the bike will get you around the turn. At low speeds, you can 'ratchet' the cranks back and forth so that you stay out of the danger zone (inside pedal down/back). I hit the wheel daily trying to pull away on hill starts for a week or so, and managed to bail into the verge at 2.5 mph on a 16% climb where I simply ran out of power, got twitchy in the steering, and ended up tangled.

After a week I learnt to pull away in a straight line, and change down early when the road begins to climb. I've not hit the spokes since. The low seat and smaller wheels mean I can comfortably rest with either/both feet flat on the floor, which helps considerably when stopping in traffic.

The SMGTe is 8kgs heavier than the Furai and a little higher. Although it has ZERO heel strike risk, I can only really dip a toe to the tarmac to rest up. This makes overshoes expensive (unless the top of the toe is reinforced) and wet roads very slippy. Part of my heel strike woes when learning the Furai were certainly in coming from a bike that didn't have this issue, as I'd picked up habits that I didn't know would be a problem.

(Talking of which, I so nearly grounded a pedal on my other half's upright last night trying to power through a high speed turn. Scared the hell out of me. If the pedals are gonna tip you off the bike, I'd far rather it happens at 2mph on the Furai than 25 on a DF).

You can spec the Furai with 26" wheels. This would certainly take the seat further from the floor and put the wheels closer to the pedals. Either may be tolerable, but I'd struggle to say 'advantageous'. Yes, there are probably more tyre choices, but hell, you only need two. Clearance is pretty tight on the 24", so I expect the 26 version comes with a new front fork (1" longer). That'll raise the front of the 26er bike by an inch at the hubs and another before the boom. Assuming they've compensated at the rear end, that puts you 2 inches further from the ground. You'll know if that's doable. I suppose the increased heel risk could be mitigated by fitting shorter cranks. For a smaller rider (some say *all* riders) that might be advantageous anyway, but it does take you further from standard kit).

I spent some time alongside a Furai 26 on last year's LEL. (see Arvid's report here: http://arvid.org/lel...index.html.en). There were some nasty uphill switchback hairpins to contend with at Whorton, and he seemed to be pedalling through the turn without issue. He's no taller than me, so I guess he (like me) has simply learnt how to move slowly without twitching the wheel.

All in, the advantages of the 26 (standard rims, spokes, tyres) should be weighed against the advantages for the 24 (more wind shelter, stronger wheels, no need for custom cranks), evaluated against aesthetics and taste, and test ridden until you know which you want
 
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Burnette

New Member
I have 28 1/2" pants inseam, a 38" xseam, so not too far then. I want to be able to get my feet down good and want the option to use standard components, so that means staying with the 24" wheels I guees. Do you switch out the tires from Durano to Matathons much? I live in NC where the roads are roguh/bumpy and the hills are aplenty. I like the plumpness of the Marathon but I may need to go with the Durano for climbing. Which do you ride with themost? I like the Metallic Green color but I'm not a fan of the black wheels. I will bother Kelvin and ask what options I have there. Thanks for you replies.
 

arallsopp

Post of The Year 2009 winner
Location
Bromley, Kent
Do you switch out the tires from Durano to Marathons much? I live in NC where the roads are rough/bumpy and the hills are aplenty. I like the plumpness of the Marathon but I may need to go with the Durano for climbing. Which do you ride with themost? I like the Metallic Green color but I'm not a fan of the black wheels. I will bother Kelvin and ask what options I have there. Thanks for you replies.

I never switch out, and run exclusively on the Duranos. I live in SE London where the roads are rough/bumpy and the hills (and traffic) are aplenty. The rear suspension soaks up enough of the buzz to avoid plump tyres, but you have to keep the front at 120psi to avoid pinch punctures. I run an aftermarket SON hub up front, which I've coupled to aerohead rims. They're still black, but with a shiny braking surface. My bike is black and white anyway. :smile:
 

Fiona N

Veteran
Just to add to what Arallsopp has said, I could just hit my heel on the tyre of my Speedmachine as I'm also at the short end of the range - between you and Arallsopp with a 31 inch crotch-floor. It was never an issue for me as the Speedmachine was the first recumbent bike I rode to any extent (I did test ride a Hurricane and it was a bigger problem on that as it has OSS tiller-type and I found I had difficulties cycling straight at low speed even on the flat) and I just learnt when there was likely to be a problem and avoided it. Once I got short cranks - which I would heartlly recommend - the issue disappeared.

I also run Duranos all round on my Windcheetah and find them a good compromise between performance and durability. I was using Continentals (28mm on front and 25mm on the back, 110 psi all round) before and the durability of the Duranos is much better for only a slight loss of performance - and they're easier to get hold of.
 
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Burnette

New Member
To Furai owners, did any of you replace the idlers with Terracyle idlers/if so were they worth it? Do any of you have pictures of yourself on the Furai with USS? The Challenge site has some OSS pics but I want to see the seat/arm/leg intergace. Pics and info are hard to find.

Also, I will never ride the Furai off road but the roads here can get rough. Would you go for the front suspension with the narrower Duranos or is it not necessary for road ridng?
 

arallsopp

Post of The Year 2009 winner
Location
Bromley, Kent
To Furai owners, did any of you replace the idlers with Terracyle idlers/if so were they worth it?
I've been chasing Pat at Terracycle on the development of these idlers since purchasing the Furai without them. The main issues with the stock idlers (as shipped at the start of this year) are:

1. The Power Side chainkeeper does not work well.
2. The Power Side idler does not float.
3. The power side chain likes to gnaw on the mid return idler, the fork, and sometimes snags the return chain at the crossovers.
4. The front return idler breaks, and could use a chainkeeper.

Challenge have issued me replacement idlers, and the newer/upgraded in-house versions address point 4.

I'm a couple of weeks of getting the Terracycle kit now. Its not an essential upgrade, but it does sort out a lot of niggles. I can share pics if you want. You can ride a long way on a broken idler, but its not great.

Do any of you have pictures of yourself on the Furai with USS? The Challenge site has some OSS pics but I want to see the seat/arm/leg intergace. Pics and info are hard to find.
Leave it with me. I can get some snaps next time I head out.

Also, I will never ride the Furai off road but the roads here can get rough. Would you go for the front suspension with the narrower Duranos or is it not necessary for road ridng?
For road riding, I suspect the front suspension is overkill. Its also not mechanically brilliant. Nice idea, but the early implementations I saw looked like another point of failure.

Goodness... I'm quite down on the Furai today. I feel somewhat obligated to add that I love mine, and wouldn't be without it. :biggrin:
 
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Burnette

New Member
I just sent an e-mail to Terracycle about an idler kit for the Furai because I didn't see one on their site. I hope they do offer because I cannot accept paying four grand for a bike that breaks. Thank you very, very much for th effort to post some pictures of you on your Furai. When I buy mine(if the idler issue can be resolved) I will try to also post some pictures. It will be helpful for me to imagine how I would fit into the bike and how the whole arms, feer and legs thing works out. Let me say again that I appreciate your effort to help and for the information already given.
 

arallsopp

Post of The Year 2009 winner
Location
Bromley, Kent
I just sent an e-mail to Terracycle about an idler kit for the Furai because I didn't see one on their site. I hope they do offer because I cannot accept paying four grand for a bike that breaks.

I can save you some of the wait.


Terracycle purchased a Furai a couple years ago and have developed idler kits for it. They're just not quite ready with all the accompanying PR and instructions. They make two different versions. Both include return idlers, but one retains the original Challenge power side idler. This version provides a new, very stern chainkeeper mechanism to keep the chain under control at all times. This is usually the big complaint with that idler. They are actually selling the new keeper to Challenge now. The second version replaces the stock power side idler with a TerraCycle idler on a new floating mount.

Attached are photos of the version that retains the stock power side idler. This is mostly intended for things like the Mistral where the stock idler is integrated into the suspension pivot and it's too hard to replace it with anything else (see attachment id_FuraiSide5a.jpg, id_Furai_stockPowerClose.jpg).


Also attached are photos of the version that replaces all the idlers (see ip_furai3_lo.jpg, ip_furai4.jpg). The power side idler has about 12mm of float.


On both kits, the mid return idler is moved down on a special mount to get it below and out of the way of the power side chain. A small piece of floating chain tube is used to protect the fork where the power side chain goes by. Since the tube is made from a quiet plastic and attached via a special floating mount, it is very quiet. You basically can't hear it.

As above, they haven't announced these kits yet. They've been mechanically complete for a couple months now, but Pat's been too busy to do the instructions, the website, and a press release. They have already sold the chainkeepers to Challenge and a couple of kits to Fujin customers that didn't want to wait. I've asked for pricing to get the full kit to the UK.



Andy.
 

Attachments

arallsopp

Post of The Year 2009 winner
Location
Bromley, Kent
Do any of you have pictures of yourself on the Furai with USS? The Challenge site has some OSS pics but I want to see the seat/arm/leg intergace.
Here you go, courtesy of the wife today. Two flybys, one left to right, one right to left, one race with the toddler, and one demonstration of heelstrike from the driver's eye.

Andy.

frontquarter.jpg frontquarterclose.jpg frontslow.jpg interference.jpg rearquarter.jpg rearquarterclose.jpg sideon.jpg
 
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Burnette

New Member
Thanks! Awesome pics. Did the toddler win? Ha! I have a 2 yr/7mo old daughter myself. I see that from one pick on the side it looks as if you culdn't do a left or right turn with out hitting your calf. It is a beautiful bike btw. Is heel strike an issue much for you now? I am aware that once underway that heel strike will go away but there are times when you have to go slow and turn. Is it something you overlook or does it bother you still? It seems like Challenge could have put the cranks higher and the front wheel alittle further back to help this some. Again, awesome pics, beautiful bike too and it really helps to see someone on a bike to get a feel of what it would be like to ride it.
 

arallsopp

Post of The Year 2009 winner
Location
Bromley, Kent
Thanks! Awesome pics. Did the toddler win?
He won the first loop, yes. He turns tighter than me. :biggrin:
I see that from one pick on the side it looks as if you culdn't do a left or right turn with out hitting your calf. Is heel strike an issue much for you now? I am aware that once underway that heel strike will go away but there are times when you have to go slow and turn. Is it something you overlook or does it bother you still?
In loose jeans, I suspect I could rub the fabric on the wheel if I tried. The calf would be out of reach though. Worth saying that either end of those flybys terminated with a 180 degree turn in the road (which between parked cars is maybe a lane and a half in width), and that I didn't get any interference from the wheel/pedal/clothes.
Turning at less than 3mph invites it, but then, at that speed, I'm damn close to falling off anyway :smile: Learn to pull away straight, and you don't encounter it. I really don't think about it any more, and instinctively roll through low speed turns with the inside leg raised. Cleats help, because they put your foot in an EXACT position. This way, you very quickly learn where the contact will begin.

If I'm aggressively chasing heel strike (say, for the purposes of the 4th photo) its still pretty benign. Tends to be a 'brrrrippp' from the inside edge of the shoe's sole on the tyre, rather than anything nasty re spokes.
 

itself

New Member
Good morning all!

Just Lisa from the States. Burnette and I have been chatting as we are both interested in getting a Furai.

A bit off topic, I am curious about the handling of the Furai. Here in Arizona, as I am sure where Wayne lives, we have a lot of hills to tackle. I REALLY want to give the hamster bars a try. They look really cool, and clearly are more aerodynamic. I have "heard" that one has to lean steer the bike more than turn it, is this true? How does she handle high downhill speeds (if you have any hills!), like around 40mph (I apologize I don't have the km conversion!)

How twitchy/squirrly is the Furai? I am an experienced recumbent rider and can handle most bikes. I had a Rans Rocket when I first started riding. I am not a fan of tiller steering, but I did get used to it.

I had a good chat with Robert at Terracycle yesterday. They have this idler problem licked. Now let's see if Paul at Challenge will respond and just automatically put these on all of their bikes. Most honestly, they are expensive bikes, and one should not have to upgrade the idlers. Let's see how it all pans out.

Thanks for your help!

Cheers!

Lisa
 
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