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HPVelotechnik Scorpion plus 26
Posted on November 4, 2014 by Bryan Ball
By BRYAN J. BALL
Its not exactly a secret that the trike segment has dominated the recumbent market the last decade or so. That sounds like a long time, but in reality trikes are still maturing and new trends are emerging quickly. Over the last few years weve seen more full suspension, more trikes with higher seats and folding options have become omnipresent. HPVelotechnik has managed to capture almost all of those buzzwords in their new Scorpion plus 26.
When I first became involved in the recumbent industry in 1998 or so, HPVelotechnik was primarily a producer of full-suspension touring-focused two-wheelers. In the last few years theyve become more well known as a trike maker. The German company has accumulated a wide range of trike models and when they decided to make the plus 26, they had a large portfolio of previous knowledge to draw from.
HPVelotechnik calls the Scorpion plus 26 a "trike with SUV genes." To create it, they took their full-suspension knowledge from the excellent Scorpion fs, combined it with what they learned from the higher-seat Scorpion fx and added in the same folding hinge that they use in many of their folding trike models.
The result is very nice indeed. The lowest seat heigh can be had by choosing the German companys BodyLink hardshell seat. Even with this seat, the plus 26 still has a commanding 17" seat height. If you opt for the extended ErgoMesh HS seat, you can get as high as 22.5". My test trike was more in the middle with a standard ErgoMesh seat and a 19.5" seat height.
Combine this taller seat with the Scorpion plus 26s swept back cruciform and you get a trike that is very easy to get in and out of. HPVelotechnik also offers the excellent ErgoMesh in two different widths. The taller seat also means that the bottom bracket-to-seat-height ratio is very low for a tadpole trike. The handlebars are also very adjustable for angle and width. In short, this one of the most ergonomically perfect trike cockpits you'll ever sit in. Sometimes I get bikes or trikes in to review that I just sit in the garage and stare at. The plus 26 was one that I just sat in the garage and sat in.
Obviously, full-suspension also helps with the comfort factor. HPVelotechnik already has a great reputation in that regard with the Scorpion fs and most of its suspension design is carried over here. The McPherson strut style system used on the front of HPVelotechniks full-suspension trikes (2.4" of travel) is very cushy and their NoSquat rear suspension design (3.2" of travel) has been refined and perfected for years. Youd have to run over a pretty serious bump to upset the Scorpion plus 26.
My only quibble with this trikes suspension is that I feel it should come stock with the optional heavy springs in the front. I only weigh 195 lbs but I still much prefer the harder springs to the softer ones. The softer springs bounce a bit more when pedaling hard and occasionally bottom out. Im sure that the softer springs are more impressive on a test ride, but Id rather live day-to-day with the harder ones.
The stock rear shock is a Dnm coil-over unit with a steel spring. My test trike came with the optional Rock Shox air shock. In fact It came with a lot of options.
The Scorpion plus 26 used in this test came with a rear rack, fenders, a couple of drivetrain upgrades and the superb SON hub dynamo lighting system. The plus 26 starts at about 3,990 Euros or about $5000 in the USA. My test trike with its options retailed for closer to $6500. Thats about a grand more than similar offerings from ICE but thats not really a surprise given HPVelotechniks more complex suspension system.
HPVelotechnik has always been known for its rather lengthy options list and the Scorpion plus has taken that to even greater lengths. As mentioned above, there are five seat options and numerous drivetrain configurations. There are also options for either a 20" or 26" rear wheel. There are several very well thought out GoSwiss electric assist options and more options for special needs cyclists than you can possibly imagine. The price climbs quickly when you start ticking boxes, but you the level of integration that you find in HPVelotechnik trikes is really second-to-none. Everything looks great, is very secure, doesnt make a sound and adds to that signature rock solid feeling that you get with an HPVelotechnik.
When you raise the seat on a trike, it can often have a negative effect on stability. As the owner of a lower Scorpion fs 26, I was expecting the Scorpion plus 26 to be noticeably more tippy in the corners. Due to HPVelotechnik spending a lot of time on the suspension design and the geometry (including a widened track), it really wasnt. I couldnt really feel any discernible difference until I was cornering at or above 8/10s. The only time it caught me out was when I decided to make a last minute turn into a parking lot and clipped a bit of curb. Even then, the right wheel lifted a couple of inches and then returned promptly back to the pavement with little drama. This may be worse if you opt for the HS seat.
With the possible exception of the new Gekko fx 26 (which I really liked riding at Recumbent Cycle-Con), Id never describe any of HPVelotechniks trikes as "fast." With a starting weight of about 42 lbs (our test trike was closer to 50 with the options), the plus 26 is no exception. However, like all of the companys other full suspension models, it is very efficient. I never felt like any of my energy was being lost because of drivetrain or suspension issues and on flat ground it moves along nicely. As HPVelotecnik says, the plus 26 is an SUV. Not a sports car.
Where the plus 26 really excelled was in a "daily rider" sort of situation. Its almost unparalleled comfort, easy handling and ability to carry four panniers and 330 lb weight capacity make it great for running errands. It would also be an excellent touring trike for those of you who are "everything but the kitchen sink" types.
The added ground clearance was also a nice benefit off-road. With the stock road tires, the plus 26 wasnt exactly a mountain bike but the suspension makes it quite competent in the dirt. Id love to try one with HPVelotechniks Enduro off-road spec.
The Scorpion plus 26 may present a dilemma to full-suspension trike buyers. The standard Scorpion fs 26 is lower and does handle just a tick better in really hairy situations but the plus 26 isnt dramatically heavier and can carry four panniers. Its also a bit more comfortable for some people and can go places the fs 26 probably cant. If you have mobility issues, it becomes a no-brainer.
HPVelotechnik Scorpion plus 26
HIGHS – Superb comfort, Great suspension, Great quality, Immensely practical
LOWS – A bit pricey
MSRP – Approximately $5000 base. $6500 as tested
More Info – http://www.hpvelotechnik.com