Yesterday morning I drove to Groningen to park my car at Anton L. his place and take the bike and go to our rowing club. I would be steering a women's team at 9 AM. But just before I arrived at Anton's place I got a phone call that it was canceled because of the hard wind (later there was given a rowing ban because of the weather). So we could go to Dronten early for a QuestXS test ride. But first it was time for a cup of tea.
The drive was turbulent because of the hard wind and rain. Ieks! I hope the weather changes when we go out riding. Peter H. and his new go-one Evo K would also ride to Dronten, but let us know that he would do a ride around Assen because of the weather. To bad. No comparison between the Evo K and the new Velomobiel.nl QuestXS.
After some hour and a half and 125 kilometers in the car we arrived at our destination. The QuestXS was waiting outside, but was quickly put indoors to adjust the pedal distance. On the pictures I thought the bike would have a big 'hat', but in real-life it wasn't that bad. In fact, I think the bike looks really good. Better than the regular Quest and definitely prettier that the Strada (it doesn't fascinate me). I like simple, round shapes (just like a woman). After Anton tried the bike it was my turn to sit in it. The man hole is smaller, that's for sure. In my Sinner Mango+ I can just hop in, but in the XS I have to be a bit more acrobatic. My knees get stuck and my but seems to be to big. But with a little practice getting in and out of the bike improved during the day. So... we changed, packed our things in the bike, had a quick lunch and went outside. Fortunately it stopped raining.
We rode towards the Ketelbrug to go besides the water towards Lelystad. The bike feels light and the first sharp corner going of the industrial park goes well. I do however have to get used to the larger turning radius. Remember, such a bike is made for going fast and straight, so I tried a sprint on the cycle path towards Swifterbant. The wind came almost directly from the left and a bit from the front and I could easily reach 42 km/h. At the Ketelbrug we had to pass a barrier to get to the IJsselmeerdijk. Because the XS is lower than the Strada, which Anton drove, it could easily get underneath the barrier. I do however had to pay attention to my camera on top of my helmet. It sticks out (see pictures below)
Riding along the water we had the wind straight in our face, but I could still reach 33 km/h. Then Anton and I switched bikes to see the difference. It didn't take long before I lost Anton. With the Strada I had to give a lot more effort to keep up with the XS. The speed didn't go over 31 km/h and my heart rate was at least 5 strokes higher than with the XS. Aerodynamics are good. Despite the fact that I'm not a very fast rider it was possible for me to get the XS up to 50 km/h in another sprint (at first a little down hill with a light tail wind). To really say something about the difference in speed between my bike and the XS I have to borrow it for a week and ride to my work.
I also like the sound. The first meters in the XS I noticed that it was quiet. The Strada (and especially my Mango because of the mid axle) was a somewhat noisier. With a tail wind it was almost quiet. And the comfort of the XS is good. It was standing on three Schwalbe Kojaks and the Strada had two F-Lite's in front. The cattle guards along the dyke could be taken comfortably with both bikes. In the Strada however they didn't even seem to exists because of the fat tires.
I can't say a lot about the difference in handling and stability between a normal Quest and the XS, because I don't own a normal Quest. But because of the lower center of gravity the XS feels solid and reliable. Anton, who does have a normal Quest, confirmed that it's more stable and stiff. The XS can certainly compete with Mango's and Strada's. At Velomobiel.nl the also did a test where a rider was sitting in her own Strada and the check when it would tip over and repeated the process with the XS. Conclusion: the difference is small.
All in all a good, pretty and fast bike, but it had to pass one more test. The laptop-bag-test. Because of my work I sometimes have to bring my laptop with me and it has to fit into the bike. Which it did. The space behind the rider is somewhat smaller than what I'm used from my bike, but for everyday things it's good enough. If you want to bring more stuff, for instance for a holiday or groceries, you could always use a bike trailer.
So. Good news for the people who like my Mango with the flames. Early next year it will be for sale. My ordered QuestXS should be ready in the first half of 2012. Then I'll get back to you.