Till Death do us part?
By Jose A. Hernandez
PHILOSOPHY OF EMOTIONS
Some modern philosophers claim that people
just don't fall in love. In their minds, love, as any other emotion, is simply
a "strategy" that we choose to either grow as a person or to gain
something. They claim that emotions are any one of many sensations that we
unconsciously, yet purposely, choose and use to set us into motion (E.I.
"E-motion" - to set in motion"). We choose fear, for example, to
ensure our survival. Similarly, we may choose shame, to correct a certain pattern
of behavior. These philosophers tell us that we fool ourselves by accepting the
misguided notion that we live in a "devil made me do it society. This "notion "results in a society, which manages to
escape all kinds of personal responsibility by simply blaming things outside of
themselves for everything that happens to them. In this ill conceived "devil-made-me-do-it society",
people do not choose to fall in love. People accidentally fall in love or
worse, they are the victims of a little guy named Cupid who is "bent"
on piercing our innocent hearts with magical arrows. Do you choose to be in
love? Do you blame Cupid for your feelings or do you simply say, " the devil made me do it"?
While I do think we should take responsibility for our actions or feelings, I do suspect that Cupid is in fact real and mercilessly pierced my heart the moment I ran into the new RANS Velocity Squared (V2) . Did I choose to end my 12-month love affair with the RANS Stratus? I think NOT! I'm sure Cupid had something to do with this! I do feel I was 100% honest when I promised my wife that the Stratus would be the last bike I would ever need or own. After all, the Stratus made it possible for me to keep up with the advanced riders in my local bike club. And the Stratus was indeed the most comfortable bike I had ever owned. How could I have possibly known that my love affair with the Stratus would suddenly come to an end? How could I have possibly known that in just 12 short months, the V2 would enchant me?
RANS THEORY OF EVOLUTION
Like many of us, I heard about the new superbike from RANS through the old grapevine. Rumors about the new speed demon kept the bent community on the edge of their seats for a very long time. One thing was quite apparent: the "secret" V2 prototype managed to mutate faster than a retro virus. The frame material magically changed from steel to aluminum and then back to steel. While some folks claimed this bent was a low racer, other bent enthusiasts somehow "knew" that the seat height would be anywhere from 18 to 21 inches. At some point I feared the bike suffered from a serious personality flaw as its name suddenly changed from "The Limbo" to the RANS Velocity Squared. Fortunately, we now understand that all of the confusion surrounding the release of the new super bike was simply the result of a long, laborious and costly period of research and development. 'BentRider Online asked Randy Schlitter to set the record straight. According to Randy, "The V2 started life as the ill named Limbo. My brother John was the main force behind this one, wanting a low riding, high performance ride. We set about building several prototypes. This was back in 1997. We encountered handling problems with trying to go low; so trade offs were reluctantly made. We wanted to go fast so minimum profile and stiffness played a big part. I must say that after John left we had a pretty good bike, but still something was missing. That sweet handling, that would welcome the newcomer and reward the veteran, was just not there.... So we employed an old bike builder's trick: a frame with variable head angle, and a variable fork rake. The odd looking but effective device allowed us to dial in the ride. So after three years of tweaking the V2 is out there. Thanks to a lot of talented people, now and formerly at RANS, we have a great bike. My thanks to John, Eugene, Kevin, Mike, Stacy and all others who have or are on the RANS bike design and develop team."
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, that may be so but this concept did not apply to the V2. At least not in my case. I had seen a number of pictures and, frankly, I was not impressed at the time. So there's no way I could have predicted my reaction when I first encountered the real thing! When I first saw this bike I felt that I was not in the presence of a mere bike! The V2 was simply a work of art! The pictures had not captured the muscular and dynamic appearance of this bike. The almost invisible frame welds suggested that the whole frame had been sculptured from a single block of 4130 chromoly steel. A flawless paint job and the Windwrap fairing dressed the bike in an elegant class of its own. In fact, the Windwrap fairing suits the bike as if it had been designed specifically for the V2 and enhances the bike's futuristic character. My friend Scott--an upright bicycle purist who rides a titanium Lightspeed --described this bike best when he said: "Man, your bike's AWESOME… it looks FAST even when it's standing still!"
Yes, this is a cool looking bike, but this is only part of the story. The bike's handling feels precise and responsive. This bike combines the responsiveness of a short wheelbase (SWB) without their often-associated "twitchy" handling. Tiller does not, in my mind, apply to the V2 and you need not worry about your heels ever striking the front wheel. The V2 instantly feels predictable and supremely controllable. Slow, tight turns are fun as opposed to challenging. At faster speeds, the bike is so steady and surefooted, one is tempted to ride it with no hands (I'm sure this can be done w/ a little practice but please don't try this at home). The frame feels noticeably stiff but the RANS seat faithfully protects my sensitive bottom with tender loving care. Hence, I'm sure I could ride my V2 all day long in complete comfort.
Some folks may, as I used to, object to the high cranks, yet, the V2's cranks are not as high as that of most short wheel base bikes. The cranks are high enough to help you climb a hill or optimize your acceleration but low enough to ensure comfort. The SRAM 9 speed shifters/rear derailleurs and the Shimano 105 front derailleurs reliably perform their assigned duties as the bikes smoothly glides through its 27 gears. Chain or gear noise was virtually absent except in a few low gears but this little problem may vanish after a quick adjustment. If you happen to be vertically challenged as I am (I'm only 5'6") you might find that the handlebars and the Windwrap fairing might seem to be on the high side. Fortunately, you'll be able to order a 34 inch frame with a short handle bar and you'll be able to lower the fairing by simply drilling a couple of holes as shown in the picture below. A larger frame (40") is of course, available for taller "bentees."
Please keep in mind that any comments I might have about the V2's performance are of necessity, relative to the engine behind the pedals (little fat old me!). So how fast is this bike? Consider this ,draw your own conclusions and remember, "your mileage may vary". While the RANS Stratus made it possible for me to keep up with the advanced riders in our club, the V2 made it possible for me to actually HAVE FUN during an "advanced" ride. The average advanced ride covers a distance of 40 to 45 miles at a maintained speed of 19-21 MPH. Before the V2, the "advanced" level represented the upper limits of my physical ability. Maintaining 19-21 MPH was a lot of work and I always needed a nice post ride recovery "siesta" as I would be wasted after each ride. The V2 instantly changed this. Now I'm breathing and talking normally as I maintain 20 MPH and feel just great at the end of a 2 or 3 hour ride. If the advanced riders in my club decide to sprint, I'm no longer left in the dust. In fact, I've been able to easily drop a number of relatively fast riders as the V2 will take me from 0 to 28 MPH in an instant. Again, this performance is relative to my physical condition, which is not that great. Although I've been biking religiously for the past 4 years, I still carry at least 50 pounds of pure lard, compliments of so many years of physical inactivity and, well… OK, I'll admit it, my life-long love affair with food. . The point is simply this: If the V2 can turn an overweight former couch potato like me into a pretty decent biker, just imagine what it can do for you!!
So why is this bike so fast? Is it the stiff frame, the high cranks, its aerodynamic design, geometry and the use of the Windwrap?. Was it the selection of Shimano drivetrain components? Nope… I don't think so!!! None of these attributes can in and of themselves account for the V2's superior performance. But the combined effect of all of these attributes does the trick and sets this bike in a league of its own.
To find a performance long wheel base bike with high cranks, great handling, a futuristic look, good components and a great seat for about $2000 was not only hard, it was darn near impossible. Fortunately, RANS recognized that there was a market out there for performance oriented individuals who wanted everything but were not willing to mortgage their homes in order to get the bike of their dreams. I think the V2's performance is only exceeded by its value. The component group, may not be the top components in the market but will do the job just fine. The triple chainrings , the stock 9 speed cassette and the bike's gear inch range should satisfy the needs of all but the most fastidious riders. The frame was built with the goal of high performance in mind and will efficiently transfer your energy to the wheels. The stock bike comes with a fairing and although you may choose to save a few dollars by ordering yours without a fairing , I do strongly recommend you spend the extra bucks. You'll probably want a fairing later on and will end up spending more money anyway. Moreover, the stock bike has a nice rearview mirror , a kickstand and comes with one of the most comfortable seats in the market.
Adjusting the seat and handlebars is a snap and installing the fairing is a no-brainer provided you're not mechanically "declined". Add a bike computer and you'll be all set to go the moment you receive your new bike. Of course, you can always try to enhance the bike's performance a little by selecting lighter components, lighter high pressure tires, a cassette with closer gear ratios, a better chain, etc. However, if you go this route, I would have to seriously question your sanity. Since I have already lost my sanity, I'll probably go ahead and experiment by swapping some of the drivetrain components and tires anyway . I guess I must act as a pseudo scientist in addition to my pretending to know something about philosophy.
A MATTER OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
By now I think you all can see why there's a new V2 in my stable. I dreamed about this bike from the moment that I first rode it. Thus, I had to look deep inside my soul to understand this attraction. I finally found the answer: I'm not at all responsible!!! Cupid is REAL!!! Fortunately, my wife understood that I was an innocent victim. Your significant other may not be as understanding, so here's a tip: If you happen to become the victim of a V2 love arrow, go ahead and make your day: Get a V2, bring it home ASAP and... at the first sign of trouble just say: "Sorry honey, the devil made me do it".