Comfort and ability accessories
Press room - Recumbent Cyclist News 05/06/2006
HP Velotechnik in the news: the following text is an excerpt from the magazine Recumbent Cyclist News, issue 05/06/2006. We recommend to order the complete magazine from the publishing house to read the whole story.
The HP Velo Scorpion
"The Scorpion has been designed to create what is probably the most sophisticated touring trike you can buy. The ride is exhilarating - fast and controllable - yet you can carry enough gear for a fully loaded tour with minimum compromise to handling." - HP Velotechnik
By Bob Bryant
TRIKE: The HP Velo Scorpion Tadpole
PRICE: $2,790 + options
The Scorpion is the newest model from respected German recumbent maker HP Velotechnik. The Scorpion is a touring (or sport touring) trike with three 20" wheels, a linkage under-seat/side-stick steering, an active coil/oil rear suspension, a finely TIG welded aluminum frame with some unique touches. Like all other HP Velo models, you can customize the Scorpion to your heart´s content. Despite HP´s location in Germany, dealing with them is as if they were located here in the US. While the designs are very Euro-centric, the level of quality and refinement has been apparent in every model we´ve tried.
USE: The Scorpion is a sport touring, performance and touring trike all wrapped into one. As with all HP Velo models, accessories are available for long distance travel or for comfortable sport riding.
SEAT/COMFORT: The HP Velo Bodylink seat is well suited to this trike. It mounts via eight hex bolts in two unconnected sections. The mid-section extends to accommodate longer torsos. The design is quite ingenious. This is the most comfy Euro shell (with the Airflow pad). The seat feels firm, yet comfortable - and you can definitely feel the lumbar. The Euro seat promotes body English when riding as it allows you to lean more (opposite of a mesh seat, which inhibits leaning).
I have a difficult time with reclined recumbents. In order to be comfortable, I need to have my neck supported when reclined in this riding position. The HP Velo headrest is simple and bolts right onto the seat. The problem is that it really works best when you ride WIHTOUT a helmet (a big taboo and illegal in some parts of the US). If you ride with a helmet, you can feel the lower section of your helmet resting on the headrest.
RIDING POSITION: The riding position is less extreme than any trike I´ve had here lately. The bottom bracket is fairly low, and the seat angle suited me just fine. The unique seat is what sets this trike apart from its competitors.
RIDE: The Scorpion has a very forgiving and refined handling. I had no tense moments. The trike has almost no brake steer when you are coming to a stop, and I even did some no brake stops when signaling a turn. I rode up and down the steepest hills in town with relative ease. The Scorpion offers excellent stability and high-speed handling, for as fast as I care to go on trikes (up to the low 20 mph range). The refined handling is similar to what I´ve experienced with other high end trikes. The Scorpion has quickly moved to the upper echelon of fine-handling tadpole trikes.
The rear suspension keeps the rear wheel on the ground and makes for an even safer and more controlled ride. Despite the rear suspension, I could still feel the jarring of the stiff aluminum frame and high pressure tries over our very rough paved roads.
The Scorpion feels a bit taller than other trikes, though it really isn´t. Perhaps it was the 20" wheels. With tadpole trikes you are down low. I never felt unsafe while riding our country roads or even downtown streets. I still get nervous when I´m surrounded by cars, such as the middle lane of a tree-lane intersection; I don´t like being beside cars and down low. Also, on a tadpole you are at automobile exhaust pipe level. I found myself holding my breath in these situations. This is worse than on my long wheelbase ´bent, and much worse than on my upright commuter.
PERFORMANCE: The Sorpion is capable of just about any kind of riding. The Scorpion is relatively fast as trikes go, perhaps not as quick feeling as the small-wheeled Greenspeed X-series or a Catrike Speed - but the Scorpion is handles more easily and is more forgiving on the road than a dedicated sport trike.
FRAME: This is HP Velo´s first trike model - and it´s stunning. The frame has many fine details. The aluminum weld beads flow nicely, and the handlebar stem bolt is recessed into the main tube. The swing-arm and suspension looks refined and well-designed and is an integrated part of the trike. The bolt-on swing-arm pivots on maintenance-free bushings. The extendable boom slides on a plastic liner sleeve, and two hex bolts clamp it down. There are zip-tie style cable guides. Since the standard drivetrain is a DualDrive 3x8, the front derailleur post is optional.
The front wheels have a unique axle arrangement where a hex bolt tightens the axle into a ¾ round (slit down bottom) wheel mount. I´m no engineer, but this mount is the most convenient trike front wheel mount that I´ve seen.
SUSPENSION: The Scorpion has HP Velo´s trademark "No Squat" rear suspension with 2.75" of travel. This is the finest suspension in the recumbent business. While it does add weight and complexity, HPVelo has suspension down to a science. The stock shock is a DNM coil/oil shock. There are optional shocks for heavier riders. An optional and lighter weight air shock is available.
STEERING: The trike steers easily and the parts all work great. The handlebars pivot on sealed bearing and the steering rods have bronze bushings. The kingpins (forks) pivot on headset bearings, making this about the finest quality front end we know of on a tradpole trike.
WEIGHT: The Scorpion is a bit heavy for a tadpole in this price rage. This is primarily due to the rear suspension. Ours weighed about 40 pounds with pedals, Airflow seat pad, parking brake and a headrest. With the rear rack and fenders, it weighed in at 44.5 pounds.
According to HP Velo, you can get the trike down to 36.5 pounds by adding the following options: DT Swiss Air shock (-200 grams), Deore XT gears with 40/60 double crank instead of DualDrive (-382 grams), standard EVA foam instead of Airflow pad (-407 grams), Magura Marta disc brakes instead of Avid mechanical (-376 grams), Schwalbe Stevilo tires instead of Marathon Slick (-320 grams). You would also need to order the trike with no parking brake (-320 grams) or headrest (-155 grams).
COMPONENTS: The Scorpions drivetrain is based on the SRAM DualDrive 24-speed. The down side to this system is the SRAM twist grip shifters. While some people like them, I think they just don´t work as well on a trike as Shimano bar-end shifters.
GEARING: The DualDrive has three internal gears inside the hub, gear #2 is a 1:1 lockup (the most efficient gear), and gear #3 is an 136% over-drive. The DualDrive is shifted like a front derailleur by a twist shifter.
With the 19" diameter rear wheel (actual measurement), a 46-tooth chainring and an 11-32 cassette, the gear rage is 20-108 gear-inches. The gearing in Dual-Drive gear #2, the 1:1 lockup is an excellent 27-79.5 gear-inches. Overall, this gearing may just be a bit too high for hilly terrain with a touring load, but fine for flatter terrain or commuting.
DualDrives have more internal friction and I could definitely feel it in my shifts and power to the pedals. While they are quite functional and even impressive, less power gets to the pedals than with a straight 27-speed drivetrain. The DualDrive has a shifting rod that comes out of the drive-side axle and a plastic shift box that clamps on and holds the cable to the shifter.
Those who just can´t get enough, can opt for the new Deore XT/105 DualDrive 81-speed option, which combines the DualDrive with a triple crank (3x3x9=81 speeds).
CHAIN MANAGEMENT: HP Velo uses high quality PTFE Teflon tubing to guide the chains. The Scorpion has three of them. The power-side rolls under a 4" cartridge-sealed bearing idler in between two chain tubes. The HP Velo system does a nice job of protecting your thighs and trousers (if you ride with street clothes, as I often do in the winter).
BRAKES: The stock Avid mechanical disc brakes performed flawlessly. Our test trike had the optional rear Avid V-brake ($49) attached to a friction shifter that acts as a parking brake. This is a best parking break I´ve used. Optional Magura BIG hydraulic disc brakes are costly, but allow both front disc brakes to be connected to one lever. They are also hydraulic, which means they have fluid in the lines and somebody has to bleed them occasionally (not me).
WHEELS: HP Velo wheels are built overseas and touched up at the factory (a good plan). The hubs are very nice HP Velo brand with sealed bearings. The rims are a modest anodized Alex brand. The tires are venerable Schwalbe Marathon 1.35" 95 psi and work fine - a good match between performance and durability.
UPGRADES: Options and upgrades include: custom colors ($119), DT Swiss shock ($290), Shimano Deore/ Tiagra 18-speed /$109), Deore XT/105 ($219), Deore XT/105 DualDrive 81-speed ($319), Rohloff Speedhub 14-speed internal hub ($1129), short cranks ($49), Magura hydraulic brakes (Marta $409 or BIG $339), B&M light generator ($139), rear rack ($179), fenders ($119), Airflow seat pad ($109), headrest ($69), two different rearview mirrors (B&M $25 and Mirrcycle $35), computer mount ($15), safety flag ($12), aero panniers ($269) and finally a Streamer Lexan fairing ($399).With these options you can truly customize your trike beyond compare.
While we applaud HP Velo for this extensive listing of upgrades, it can increase the price dramatically. The must have items are the Airflow pad, fenders and a rack, which add a whopping $407! The stock seat pad is mediocre, and you can´t haul anything on this trike without a rack.
The rack is very nicely made just to fit this trike. It´s made of ½" aluminum tubing and is suitable for serious use. Installing it was difficult, as you have to remove the rear swing-arm bolts. Getting the four bolts threaded was a juggling act and not the easiest thing I did that day.
HP Velo takes fenders seriously. The fenders are black Zefal 55mm. The rear mounts traditionally, but with some custom spacers. I had to enlarge the lower hole to fit. The fronts have CNC aluminum side-plates that bolt onto the kingpin headsets. The fenders are firmly mounted and work exceptionally well. Fife star fenders.
VALUE/RESALE: This is a hot new model and should hold its value well. The downside is that options are expensive and won´t have as good resale value as the trike itself.
COMPARABLES: In January, ICE from the UK announced their redesigned "budget" line of trikes - all with rear suspension. Similarly priced trikes (non-suspended) are the Greenspeed GT- and X-series trikes, Catrike and WizWheels. The level of refinement of the Scorpion is very fine, though the standard component choices are not as good. The choice comes down to suspension or not, and seat: Euro shell or mesh.
RECOMMENDATION: The HP Velo Scorpion is one of the finest available. It has no bad habits, rides comfortably and performs well. HP Velo took some chances with the design; this is just a copycat trike, but a well thought-out and original new design. I especially like the front wheel mounts. What I didn´t like was the twist grip shifters which are required if you want the DualDrive (at least the left rear shifter). Bar-end shifters are much more intuitive and easy to use with side-stick style (under-seat) controls. The frame and build quality is exceptional. The BodyLink seat isn´t for everyone, but is a very well designed shell seat (be sure to read my headrest comments above).
This trike rides like a very refined tadpole that has been built for years. HP Velo is serious about recumbent design and the Scorpion demonstrated this - and shows that they are very serious about the trike market. The Scorpion is one impressive trike.
FOR: Beautiful craftsmanship, refined look, slick front wheel/axle mounts, lower bottom bracket, most comfy use of the BodyLink seat, sophisticated German engineering.
AGAINST: Weight, cost, cost of upgrades, standard spec is not great for this price range (DualDrive, Tracer crank and twist grip shifters).
NUMBERS: Wheelbase: 43". Seat height: 9.5". Width/track: 32.75"/30.75". Weight: 36.5 lbs. (per HP Velo). Our stock model weighed 39.5lbs. Weight limit: 275 lbs. rider + cargo. You can tow a cargo trailer of up to 69 pounds.
FIT: Telescoping boom, one size fits riders 5'5"-6'7".
FRAME & SEAT DETAILS: Frame/boom: TIG welded 7005 T6 aluminum. Chain idler: HP Velo 4" diameter cartridge sealed bearing. Seat: BodyLink composite sore (two-pice) with foam pad (optional Airflow mesh ¾"). Handlebar: HP Velo "U" underseat. Stem: HP Velo linkage. Color: Orange or dark blue powdercoat or custom.
COMPONENTS: Rear derailleur: SRAM DualDrive 3x8. Front derailleur: None. Shifters: SRAM DualDrive twist grip. Crank: Tracer 170mm 46-T. Bottom bracket: square taper. Cassette: 11-32 8-speed. Chain: SRAM. Brakes: Avid disc (fronts). Brake levers: Avid. Front hubs: HP Velo sealed. Rear hub: SRAM DualDrive 3x8. Rims: Alex K-rim. Wheel build: Machine. Tires: Schwalbe Marathon 20" x 1.35" 95 psi. Pedals: Wellgo platform.