Press room - bentrideronline 2/2006
HP Velotechnik in the news: the following text is an excerpt from the american
vol. February 2006. We recommend to visit their website, for documentation purposes we
store the text on our site.
By Bryan J. Ball, Managing Editor
Many people have been hoping for an HPVelotechnik trike for quite some time now. A three-wheeler seemed like a natural addition to their touring/commuting oriented line of recumbent bicycles. It was also a national progression because HPVelo has been looking for a way to really break into the US market for as long as I've known them. Americans love trikes and a good tadpole is a fairly sure sell on this side of the Atlantic.
So when I first saw the Scorpion on the stand at the 2005 Spezialradmesse show in Germany, I wasn't really surprised by its presence. However, I was taken aback by the appearance of the trike. The Scorpion is beautiful. It's very slick and very modern with a sort of "practical performance" look (HPVelo's own Speed Machine two-wheeler has this same appearance). It definitely did NOT look like a first-effort.
After Paul Hollants, co-founder of HPVelotechnik, snuck it outside for me to test ride, I was even more impressed. The Scorpion handled great, had only a tick of brake steer and was ergonomically perfect. Paul wanted me to ride it and give some suggestions for improvement but I really didn't have many ideas.
HP's other co-founder and developmental engineer, Daniel Pulvermüller, also proved that the new Scorpion was tough enough for the job by racing it (with a fair amount of success) in the brutal Spezi Trike Race. Hase organizes this race every year and the short circuit includes rough gravel sections, cobbles and some rather large jumps. Daniel finished second in the multi-heat race and was only beaten out by a rare Tripendo leaning trike.
For a company that contracts their frames out to Taiwan, HPVelotechnik has some amazingly short lead times. The paint was barely dry on the two Spezi prototypes in late April of 2005, but HPVelo was promising deliveries in December and the company delivered.
HPVelotechnik's factory in Kriftel, Germany is one of the most organized facilities I've been in. The frames may be made in Taiwan but then they're unloaded from the truck in Kriftel, they're far from finished. HPVelo carefully inspects each and every frame, cleaning up the welds and polishing up any rough spots. Next the frames are coated with zinc oxide and then they're finally powedercoated.
This type of attention to detail was very evident in our test trike. The Scorpion was delivered to a nearby recumbent dealer so I didn't get the pleasure of assembling it. When I went to pick it up, it was already laid out in all of its orange glory, just like the Spezi display model. They welds were big and meaty but very clean. HPVelotechnik's excellent Body Link seat looks very good on the Scorpion. The rack and all of the accessories showed the same high level of quality that I've seen on every HPVelotechnik trike we've tested.
We didn't go crazy on the options for this test trike since it was going back to a dealer floor when we were done with it. The only options it had was a sturdy rear luggage rack and a set of mudguards. The drivetrain was the stock SRAM DualDrive.
I have mixed feelings about the DualDrive. On one hand, it's a nice feature because HPVelotechnik did leave the Scorpion's front derailleur post intact. Therefore you can easily upgrade the trike to a wide-range 81-speed arrangement at a later date. It also gives the Scorpion a pretty good gear range without the use of big chainrings. On the downside, the DualDrive adds some unneeded weight may cause issues if it breaks down in the middle of nowhere as the average bike shop has limited experience with them. HPVelotechnik does offer a conventional two-derailleur set-up but it's only a double chainring with a fairly limited gear range. Our local dealer was told that the German company would provide a regular triple for a slight upcharge. I'm guessing that many US dealers will take that option.
It's evident that a lot of time was put into this trike from the second you get on it. HPVelo designed the Scorpion with a curved cruciform tube that makes it very easy to mount the trike (and looks very cool). You can back up very close to the seat and just sit down in a squatting motion rather than sort of half-falling backwards like you have to do on many other tadpoles. This does make the Scorpion's frame much more difficult to line up at the factory but the effort and added expense are worth it.
HPVelotechnik considered designing a modification of its Body Link seat for trike use but after some deliberation, they decided not to. I was a bit concerned that riders would feel that they were rolling out of the Scorpion's seat since it lacked the "cupping" shape that many other trike hardshells have. I was wrong and HPVelo was right. The Body Link is just as comfortable as it is on HPVelo's two-wheelers and I felt very solidly connected to the Scorpion at all times.
In fact the word "solid" is a word that I've often used to describe HPVelotechnik's bikes and it also applies to their first trike. The Scorpion has that same secure, dependable and silent personality that the Street Machine Gte, Speed Machine and Spirit all have. It's hard to describe but it's very confidence inspiring. It definitely will give you faith enough to launch out on any journey without worry of your 'bent letting you down.
The Scorpion's handling is also well-suited to long days in the saddle in for off lands. There is virtually no brakesteer whatsoever and only just the slightest hint of pedal steer when you're really pumping on the pedals.
Of course one of the attractions to buying an HPVelotechnik is the company's extensive list of options and accessories. The Scorpion's order sheet has just as many check boxes as any other HPVelotechnik product. You can order lighting systems, racks, fenders, higher end parts, different seat pads and just about anything else you can imagine. The Scorpion can be ordered as a stripped down sports trike or as a fully equipped touring machine.
Unfortunately adding too many of these options will give you pretty heavy trike. Our somewhat modestly equipped Scorpion weighed in at 42 pounds on our hanging scale. We concede that a bit over forty pounds isn't crazy for a trike but (especially one with rear suspension) but the added pounds do hurt the Scorpion while climbing or accelerating.
Once you're up to speed, the Scorpion is fairly quick. I was able to cruise in the same speed range as I have onother recent test trikes. The stable high speed handling also allowed me to descend pretty fast without any fears of winding up in a ditch.
I'm left with an increased respect for HPVelotechnik. Their first trike effort has turned out to be one of the better touring trikes on the market. If you raise the price significantly by adding some lighter weight parts, you can even build a decent sports trike out of it. The handling is just as good as trikes that have been in production for decades and the HPVelo personality is still very evident. I hope that the buying public gives this new machine a fair look when they contemplate their next three-wheel purchase.