Silvio Impressions

Discussion in 'Road Series (S1.x, S2.x, S30)' started by Rick Harker, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. Mark B

    Mark B Zen MBB Master

    I don't have quite a month on my Silvio, but after a few hundred miles, I feel like I'm getting a pretty good handle on the bike, it's strengths and it's weaknesses.

    Like I said in my build report; I believe the Silvio is manufactured to pretty high overall standards. The parts fit well and function as they are designed to. The build instructions, while adequate for the mechanically inclined, leave something to be desired for maybe the novice bike builder. This has been discussed and is apparently a work in progress.

    Once built, the bike is obviously a beauty. This is my third recumbent and the first that has received so many positive comments. One of the comments I've heard repeatedly is, "That's the first recumbent design I've seen that makes sense."

    Not only is the bike pleasing to the eye, throwing your leg over the seat and taking the handlebar firmly in hand is nothing less than exhilirating. You can tell right away this bike is a thoroughbred and my heart races when it's time to go.

    Once underway, the bike's handling is predictable and easily managed. This is, of course, assuming you have already gone through the learning curve. If not, you still need to master the MBB, which I think would be much easier on the Silvio. This is certainly true of my experience and in comparison to the two conversion bikes I have ridden. The front end is stiff and power transfer is almost immediate. I have never ridden a recumbent with this kind of acceleration. I can go from poking along to flat out flying in just a few pedal revolutions. This seems to translate very well into climbing, as well. I think the Silvio climbs way better than the recumbents I have ridden. No data to back that up, just my gut feeling.

    Ergonomically, the seat is pretty comfortable for what it is. My conversion was the first hardshell seat I've owned and the Silvio, only my second. I was a little unsure about the aluminum seat with what appeared to be a minimalist cushion. My fears were alleviated after riding the seat awhile and then going back to ride a mesh seat. To me, the mesh seat felt mushy. Comfortable, yes, but mushy, if you will. The comfort you get from a mesh seat translates to lost power, IMHO. I've got some concerns about hot weather riding and sweat build-up in the pad, but so far, it's been bearable. I have ridden in temps into the 90's and sometimes it feels like it's getting damp toward the bottom of the seatback, but not too bad. So far, I am pleased with the seat.

    For my particular build, I used the Origin 8 Gary bar. This bar is a cyclocross bar with a pretty radical flare to the drops. I built my bike with Campagnolo components and the Origin 8 bars are a match made in Heaven with Campy and a Silvio. The angle of the drop is wonderful and provides just the right hand placement for fingertip downshifts and an easy reach for the thumb shifter. I've found that for long, steady grinds, I can grab the drops on the outside of the bar for a little added leverage. I can even manage shifts from the drops, though the thumbshifter is a bit of a reach. My only complaint would be the way the handlebar protrudes, the brakelever is the first thing that touches when you try to lean the bike. I learned something from Jack watching him lean his bike. He leans the TFT against the seat pan, then leans the entire thing against the wall. This seems to be pretty effective.

    The only real issues I've had with the bike have been uphill startups on less than ideal pavement. I got a little tire slip in these conditions, though I think tire choice can alleviate this problem a great deal. I had intended to run 23c tires on my Silvio, but found a wider contact patch to be very desirable. I went to 25c and don't think I would run any narrower. I have experienced a few instances of wheel hop, too, though they have been few and far between. I think both of these issues will clear themselves up with more riding time, learning the techniques and finding the ideal front shock pressure for me.

    In conclusion, I have to tell you I am notorious for having buyer's remorse with big ticket items. I worried a little about selling my Bachetta, a time tested and proven recumbent, for a relatively newcomer on the block. This was the entire purpose for my conversion build; to see if I would like the FWD MBB. Even though I had determined I liked this system, there was a little uneasiness about it, I cannot lie. The reality of it, though, is this bike is hands down the best recumbent bike I've ridden, to date. I get just as giddy thinking about a ride almost a month later as I did the first couple times out. I've gotten stronger and my conditioning is improving quickly because I am so excited to ride the bike. If you are on the fence on this, hop on over, take a sip of the Kool-Aid and join in on the fun. Resistance is futile.

    Steve Rose likes this.
  2. Rick Harker

    Rick Harker Well-Known Member

    Hi Mark,

    Thats a fantastic review.
    I'm happy to read about your thoughts and feelings for the Silvio (and enjoying your rides).
    I get the feeling that you also still have the underlying fiery competitiveness simmering away with just a hint from a wry smile and a glance over the shoulder to measure your pace.
    How do you find the handling at speed particularly down hills.
    My Sofrider gets somewhat sensitive over 30mph with my max speed being just under 40mph. It may not have been designed for this but I'm sure some adjustments will improve it. Other than that they are fantastic to ride and ride and ride, and then some.


  3. Mark B

    Mark B Zen MBB Master


    Thank you for your kind words. I'm getting much more confident on high speed descents. Like everything else with a Cruzbike, I think practice is the key. Which means more climbing, so I can get more descents!

  4. Rick Harker

    Rick Harker Well-Known Member

    The descent is in my mind when pushing up a long hill thinking about electric motors and lower gears and someone running beside me with a cool drink and... Too much time to think riding up hill. Down is much more exciting.

    I just popped over to Brian's post about his ride and the pics.

    Arrhhh! Should I get a Silvio just yet.... Oooooh!


  5. Mark B

    Mark B Zen MBB Master

    After rereading my comments on the Silvio, I thought it only fair for an update.

    I've now logged about 1700 miles on my Silvios and I am still just as pleased with the bike as I ever was. So much, so that when Silvio I was wrecked, I got a replacement. Considereing I could have bought just about any bike I wanted and returned for another go at a Silvio, I think that speaks volumes. No buyer's remorse, whatsoever!

    Silvio II is getting 75+ miles per weekend and I still find the seat to be super comfortable. The pad seems to breathe pretty well, as I have not noticed the seatback getting extra warm or extra wet. I can feel that my back is wet after a long spell on the seat, but for me, it's not uncomfortable. The seatback is wide enough to give great support and narrow enough so you can use the outside jersey pockets for easy access to snacks and such.

    One thing that has become a pleasant surprise is the ease of reaching the waterbottles mounted on the seatback. This was a challenge, at first, because of my lack of handling skills. Now, it's pretty easy to grab a drink while on the move and return the bottle to the cage. Speaking of handling skills, I've come to discover what John was talking about in regard to sitting up in the seat to close the position and gain more power. You have to not only pull yourself more upright, but also scoot your butt back into the seat so it becomes easier to stay longer in this position. This isn't a skill to try while you're still learning to master the bike... You have to let your body figure these things out on it's own time. I use this skill for otherthings, too. I will sit upright when rolling through a dip, or over tracks and when rolling through water, to keep spray from going up the back of my head.

    I'm still not real effecient at climbing and haven't pushed that envelope too much. Living in SoCal, climbing is inevetable, to some degree, but I have stayed away from the mountains. I can tell you that the Silvio continues to impress me with it's climbing ability. I was riding on the back tire of a roadie friend recently as we entered a climb. He stood up, which is usually an indicater of a gap coming, but instead, I ended up feathering my brakes to keep from riding up his back tire! Of course, the climbing is only as good as the motor powering the bike and this motor is still a work in progress. I run out of gas on extended climbs, whether steep, or shallow. It's getting better, just a matter of more work on my part..

    Where this bike shines is open road. This is a bike that wants to roll and roll fast. For me, 19 and 20 mph is pretty easy cruising speeds and I would say my effort to maintain that is very minimal. It's comparable to the effort I would use to maintain 15-17 on my other recumbents. Bumping that to 23-25 will get my heart going a little and I can maintain that for quite awhile, but eventually have to back down to cruising range. I can roll high 20's and even bump into 30 mph for just a little while, but it's a real reach. What I've found is this bike is a joy for roadies to draft behind. More than one of my friends have told me there is a real sweet spot where you feel like you totally disappear out of the wind. It seems I'm like a rolling fairing for them. This is attributable to the very aero quality of the bike; the design, the seating position, the whole package. Headwinds are not much of an issue for me and most people are more than happy to let me pull into a wind. Because of the aero qualities, this bike is a rocket on any kind of a downhill. Even minor downgrades where roadies have to pedal to keep their speed up, I will coast right past them. I fully realize my "aerobelly" is part of the reason for this, but there is no denying that the Silvio is a slippery bike.

    In conclusion, I stand behind the statements I made the first month into Silvio ownership. Not only do I stand behind these statements, but I also add that this love affair with the Silvio is one that's still growing after five months.

  6. JonB

    JonB Zen MBB Master

    What are you going to do when your aerobelly disapears?

    I liked reading your 2. review. Lets have a 3. later, maybe when the aerobelly is gone.
  7. botbldr

    botbldr New Member

    I hve a question - as a long time roadie with no history of ED or other traditional bike afflictions, I am interested primarily for the speed and safety benefits, which look significant (especially for commuting in traffic. My only real question is whether the configuration makes turning while pedaling difficult, especially for tighter turns at slow speeds when actually turning the front wheel is significant.

    Thanks for any input you can share.
  8. John Tolhurst

    John Tolhurst Zen MBB Master

  9. hardtdavid

    hardtdavid Member

    I own two Sofrider V1's, one with the original 65psi tires and seat above 45 degrees; one with 100psi tires that I am running at 70-80 right now, and a seat probably a little less than 45 degrees. When descending on either one at speeds over say 27mph, especially on less than perfectly smooth pavement, I seem to lose some sense of the steering control or stability (though this may just be sensation, not actual loss of stability). Very un-nerving. The 65psi tires seem to have more contact feel. The more familiar I am with the hill, I eventually learn to trust the ride and go with it.

    I've read this sensation can happen on a Silvio too, to a smaller extent.

    I test rode a Silvio today at Hawley's, down in Fayetteville, NC
    (what a great shop; and what a great bike, now that I've seen and ridden one!)
    Overall, a very easy bike to ride on flats and uphill. I rode it several times up and down some similarly unsmooth hills. At first the sensation downhill was un-nerving, with the light steering feel, and the "buzz" from the road. Subsequently I just trusted the stability that others have described, relaxed, and enjoyed the ride much better, trying to feel the tire's connection with the pavement. It felt like I would get used to the steering feel with more experience.

    (Perhaps that will be the case eventually on the Sofrider's too?...)

    Questions: The Silvio has dramatically lighter steering feel compared to the ponderously heavy feel of the steering on the Sofrider. On the Silvio descents, this feels twitchy/very responsive, which I think I could get used to with experience. On the Sofrider descents, I'm thinking the heavy steering might be contributing a sense of not having sufficient "control" of the bike (if the pavement is rough, or with higher pressure tires). Does this make sense?

    Also, why does the Sofrider steering feel so much heavier than the Silvio's? It doesn't seem like the construction weight difference would account for that big a difference in feeling, given how much weight is in front of the steering axis on either bike. Are their respective geometric trails so different? Do the handle bar positions make such a difference?

    Other impressions?
  10. Mark B

    Mark B Zen MBB Master

    I can only speak in the case of the Silvio, but I agree that for awhile, high speed descents were pretty unnerving, especially in high cross-winds. I feel like I have a much better handle on the bike now having gained a lot more confidence in my handling skills. It is a very aggressive bike, no doubt about it. As long as I've been riding a Silvio, I still feel like I'm improving in some areas. The trip has been fun, too!

  11. bikette

    bikette Member

    So I had my first real ride on my new Silvio.
    I was quite surprised at how easily I could soon handle the bike.
    I started with trainers on but after only ten minutes I could put on my cycling shoes and clip in .First my right foot then my left one and it was a breeze.
    Having thus gained confidence , I left the parking lot where I was and rode on the road .
    I felt a bit worried at the cars passing me by as I was a bit wobbling and not always keeping on my part of the road.But I soon got used to it and decided to move on and try to go uphill for the first time .
    Not that steep a hill but steep indeed and a long one at that .A hill I've never much liked riding on my Tica because you get no help there from the very flat part you leave when starting going up.
    But on the Silvio ,the hill looked very different suddenly : it turned into a friendly-looking little thing , very welcoming even to a Silvio beginner and truly , I never rode as fast and as easily as I did there on my Tica.

    So this first ride is really thrilling .The bike is responsive and stiff and turns your energy into power .
    And with more experience I feel I can look forward to many long happy rides .
  12. Mark B

    Mark B Zen MBB Master

    It's amazing, isn't it?

    My roadie friends complain because they say it looks effortless. They stand and grunt and groan while I happily pedal past them up the hill.

    Congrats on your Silvio. The fun has only begun.

  13. nbelt48

    nbelt48 Member

    I built a look-a-like cruzbike some time ago, now revisiting the machine. Find I am getting more and more comfortable on it. At the current rate of improvement, when my Cannondale Synapse carbon 5 sells, I will most likely order a Silvio. I also have a Bacchetta Corsa I could sell to supplement my funds. Been reading a lot of good things about the Silvio.

  14. happybentrider

    happybentrider New Member

    YaHoo I am now riding the Silvio that Mark B began posting about in 2008. It now has Shimano 105 compact gearing, and Kysrium SL wheels using Rubino Pro tires and latex tubes @ 140 psi. I have about 750 miles on it now, and am training for the TTT 6 hour event next year. Yesterday I left in the heat of the day (98F) and rode 49 miles in 3 hours with only about 500' of climbing. So I'm not quite ready to break Parkers record yet but I'm gunning for him. :) I'll be mounting a Never Reach Pro hydration system as soon as it arrives, and the longest chainstay that Mr Tolhurst builds as soon as they are available. I'm interested in feedback on the eliptical chain rings, do we have any data on them yet? Should I make that up grade too? After these mods, its just gonna be train train train. I'll be riding the Century @ Tour de Palm Springs in early Feb 2012 then the double Century in Death Valley in March if anybody wants to join me. I need some other rides to go to between March and Sept if any one has reccomendations. Come join me, lets start meeting up at these events and have some fun.
  15. Martinius Berg

    Martinius Berg Active Member

    Thanks Mark fore your outstanding riding review and congratulations with your new Silvio recumbent. I love reading your experiences. Me myself have been riding dutch made recumbents over the years as the Optima Baron and Challenge bikes like Chamsin. Climbing is fairly possible in Norway with these bikes when installing gears that allow that . Riding steep hills of 7-10 % is possible but quite exhausting though. The legs get sour, the hart rate goes up much and the uphill speed is slow with the 28/26 inches/20/26 inches combination of wheels. I would love to use a Silvio and rebuild it with my own specifications to compensate for the hill climbing.

    My thought is to buy a Silvio S 30 frame as i am looking fore one now and install
    28 inches wheels with Tannus 28 inches massive tires ( no punctures)
    Build in a Sclumpf speed drive or there mountain drive with belt adapter
    Build in a Rohloff internal hub with belt adapter and belt hubber

    Both Gates and Schlumpf offer belt drive solutions for FWD recumbents
    Schlumpf produces extended crank solutions that fits the dia of the Silvio bottom bracket 115 x 62 mm

    Its an expensive solution i know but do you think it would give a good tech. drive solution ?

    Sinc. Martinius

    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
  16. Martinius Berg

    Martinius Berg Active Member

    Hey Mark

    I still have not bought the Silvio frame set yet but i will be pretty soon. At the moment i am riding a Challenge Chamsin high racer with 26 inches tires. The bike is not the best climber i have used but it have some nice futures like the Nuvinci Harmony N 360 , Speed drive Schlumpf gear crank, hard shell seat with ventilation holes in the backrest + Ventiseat cover , Tannus solid tires. Can i ask you some questions i have after i read both your reviews which i found pretty objective. You are riding the Silvio 2.0 right ? Be kind to tell me exactly what gear assesoires you installed on your bike ?

    Gear shifters on steering bar ?
    Stearing bar and dropouts ?
    Gear cassette brand and teeth count ?
    Crank brand and chain wheel size ?
    Seat angle ?

    Is it possible to ask for some photos or a short video clip of your bike ?

    Sinc. Martinius Berg/Norway
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2015
  17. jond

    jond Zen MBB Master

    martinus mark b was last seen april 2014 so has not be on forum for a while with the review now years old. i am sure either rick or ratz will give you some info on their silvios or better yet may know of some rohloff conversions? not sure i would add weight to a fast bike though especially with 11-42 and a compact crankset. still it is a wide field cycling so go for it. "kindness" the number one human virtue :)

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