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HPVelotechnik Scorpion fs 26
Posted on April 30, 2013 by Bryan Ball
By BRYAN J. BALL
HPVelotechnik has an unqualified hit on their hands with their Scorpion fs full-suspension tadpole. Dealers are moving them quickly and owners adore them. However, its not in HPVelotechniks nature to ever leave well enough alone. Therefore, it was inevitable that there would be a new version eventually. So came to be that the new Scorpion fs 26 that was unveiled with much fanfare at last years Eurobike show.
As the name would indicate, the fs 26 is basically a Scorpion fs with a larger rear wheel. However, when designing the fs 26, HPVelotechnik took the opportunity to make some other small but significant changes that are now shared with the 20 version. The steering geometry has been tweaked to improve the low-speed turning radius and the folding hinge has been radically improved.
HPVelotechniks old hinge worked well enough but could be a bit fiddly at times. The new version has one large lever that doesnt require any sort of tension adjustment like a normal quick-release. There is also a large heavy-duty snap-shut clasp to provide further security. It really couldnt be simpler to use and is easily my favorite hinge system used on any trike. I also appreciated the little details such as a rubber stoppers on any location where the frame comes together and a velcro tether that holds the whole thing into one secure package.
Unfortunately, the fs 26 isnt really all that small when its folded. That big rear wheel takes up a large amount of space. It folds small enough that it may allow you to more easily get it into a small SUV or station wagon, but getting it into the trunk of a sedan is going to require removing the wheels. HPVelotechniks seats attach to the frame via three quick-releases instead of two like most manufacturers use and they can also be a bit fiddly to re-install after folding.
The Scorpion fs 26 with its stock color scheme is quite breath-taking. Its pretty clear that HPVelotchnik let their wild side show a bit on this one. The two-tone powdercoat and bright blue accents really stand out and are (no offense) decidedly un-German in appearance. I always thought that if I ordered an HPVelotechnik for myself, Id take advantage of their custom color option, but I dont think I would with this trike. The stock combination suits me just fine.
As always, HPVelotechniks build quality is impeccable. The welds are outstanding, the powdercoat is flawless and all of the custom parts are fantastic. Its a small touch, but Ive always liked that HPVelo takes the time to put their own brand name on things like the rims rather than leaving them blank. Little things like that really make a trike look like its worth the money it costs.
My test trike came with a few options. It came with a Shimano XT rear derailleur and a conventional 27-speed drivetrain. It had Shimano XT hydraulic disc brakes and levers. I also ticked the boxes for a a rear rack and fenders. My favorite option that the fs 26 came with was the rear view mirrors. They are HUGE and were designed for mopeds or electric motorcycles. The field of vision they provide is fantastic. The mounting system is very sturdy as well.
The fs 26 starts at $4355 but my tester was $5282 with the options. If you spend some money and buy all of the lightweight options, HPVelotechnik claims that the fs 26 can weigh as little as 43.7 lbs. As tested, mine weighed 47.9. This trike is neither light, nor inexpensive but its not very far out of the range of its competition in either respect.
But enough about that Why am I starting this review with all of the boring practical stuff? How does it ride? As you would expect, pretty damn great.
Ill confess my bias right off the bat and admit that Ive owned two of the original Scorpion fs trikes. I bought the test trike sold it after a year missed it dearly and got another one. So, Im obviously a fan. That said, the fs 26 is everything I liked about the older fs but now its all turned up about 15%.
The fs 26 handles superbly. HPVelotechnik has tweaked all of their 2013 trikes with that it calls Advanced Steering Geometry (ASG). Whatever they did, it works. The fs 26 has virtually no brake steer or pedal steer at all. Despite its larger size, it still has a relatively small turning radius and and the low speed steering input is light and very user-friendly. The longer wheelbase and suspension makes it rock solid at high speeds. At speeds over 20 mph, its one of the most stable trikes Ive ever ridden.
The Scorpions very automotive-like front suspension is adjustable in several ways. There are different elastomers and anti-roll bars available depending on your weight or riding style. Once you have it adjusted properly, the suspension stays surprisingly flat in the corners.
The suspension didnt seem to rob much power when climbing or sprinting either. I could see the front shocks bobbing ever so slightly when I was pedaling hard but I could never tell if it was actually from my input or if it was just doing its job on road imperfections. It certainly never felt like any sort of burden.
As I expected, the fs 26 is a bit faster than the original when cruising on flat ground. It was also just a bit faster over this type of terrain than the Stein Explorer I also have in my possession at the moment. I still would hesitate to call it a fast trike. Its the fastest of its ilk but but unsuspended and lighter trikes like the ICE Sprint 26 and Catrike Expedition are noticeably faster for sure. The same is true for the climbing performance of the fs 26. It climbs very well given its weight and the full suspension but it isnt exactly a record setter.
I did ride the fs 26 off road a fair amount and it was relatively competent in 90% of the situations I used it in. However, this obviously isnt meant to be a true off road trike. Its clear that the suspension is designed to improve performance on rougher roads you may encounter in every-day riding and on dirt roads or crushed limestone bike paths. This is where the fs 26 was designed to thrive and it does a fantastic job in those conditions. In real mountain bike situations the lack of ground clearance and the lack of traction on the rear wheel can become an issue.
HPVelotechnik officials once told me that it takes almost as long to design the luggage rack on a trike as it does to design the actual trike. Anyone who has seen their exquisite racks knows this is time well spent. That said You may notice that the fs 26 rack is a bit smaller than most of the ones that the German company uses. It allows the rider to mount panniers in an area under the seat and beside the rear wheel but does not allow a top bag or the use of large conventional bags.
The reason for this is all a matter of center-of-gravity. Given the large rear wheel on the fs 26 and its rather generous amount of rear-suspension travel a conventional rear rack would have simply placed the touring load much too high and much further to the rear than HPVelotechnik was comfortable with. Not being able to use my trust rack trunk bag was a bit annoying but there are plenty of pannier options that will allow anyone to carry a very large touring load on the fs 26.
The Scorpion fs 26 is also available with HPVelothechniks usual lengthy list of options. You can choose all manner of drivetrain configurations, dynamo hubs, fenders, etc Even if youre not interested in buying one its fun to go through their online configurator and see whats available.
Like all HPVelotechnik trikes, the fs 26 is available with a choice of two different seats. The hardshell BodyLink seat is the standard option on all of their bikes and trikes but it seems that most US customers opt for the ErgoMesh seat. This seat is more similar to a sling mesh seat youll find on most tadpole trikes and is the one that I chose for our test trike.
The ErgoMesh has a very comfortable shape, is just wide enough for most body types without being overly huge and is very well constructed. The seat cover is very well finished and looks like it would last twenty years. It also has a nice little pocket in the top thats large enough to store a set of keys, a wallet and a phone. Theres an open cell foam pad in the base to make sure that you never feel any tubing poking through. If youd like to sit higher on the fs 26 (or any of HPVelotechniks trikes) theres a taller version of the ErgoMesh called the HS that raises the rider 4.3.
I dont think that many people will find the bottom bracket height to be extreme and the handlebars are adjustable enough to fit just about any taste. There is a bit of noise from the chain tubes but nothing that didnt fade into the background after a few minutes. There didnt seem to be much drag from the chain tubes either.
So the final question is whether or not this trike is a real improvement over the Scorpion fs 20. If you want to routinely transport your trike in a smaller car and/or travel with a lot of luggage on board, the fs 20 may still be the better choice. However, in the areas of performance and handling, I definitely think the fs 26 is definitely better. And it still carries enough luggage for my touring needs. I know its the one that I would choose every time.
HPVelotechnik Scorpion fs 26
HIGHS – Superb comfort, Superb handling, Superb suspension for on-road use
LOWS – A bit pricey, fairly large even when folded, rack cant allow for a trunk bag
MSRP – Starting at $4355, $5282 as tested
More Info – http://www.hpvelotechnik.com