Gallery: Zach Kaplan’s HP Velotechnik Scorpion

This is my 2006 HP Velotechnik Scorpion which has replaced my Earth Cycles Sunset as my commute vehicle. I’ve ridden it 5662 kilometres so far, mostly commuting and errand running. —Zach



The specifications are as follows:

  • Frame: HP Velotechnik Scorpion 7075 aluminium, orange
  • Size: one size fits most
  • Seat: HP Velotechnik BodyLink
  • Rear shock absorber: DT Swiss SSD 225
  • Brake levers: Magura Marta hydraulic
  • Brakes: Magura Marta hydraulic with 160 mm rotors
  • Headsets: TH Industries
  • Shifter: Rohloff
  • Chain tensioner: Rohloff
  • Crank: Tracer 155 mm with Rotor Q-Ring 53 tooth chainring and double guard rings
  • BB: Shimano UN-72 68 x 107 mm
  • Cog: Rohloff 17 tooth
  • Chain: SRAM PC-991 Hollow Pin
  • Front wheels: Alex X-101 406 mm 36-hole rims, DT 2.0 mm SS spokes with brass nipples, HP Velotechnik tricycle hubs
  • Rear wheel: Alex X-101406 mm 32-hole rim, DT 2.0 mm SS spokes with brass nipples, Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 CC EX, silver
  • Tyres: Greenspeed Scorcher 40-406
  • Skewer: Delta Axelrodz bolt type
  • Grips: Johar high density foam
  • Pedals: Bebop SL
  • Rack: HP Velotechnik custom tubular aluminium
  • Front mudguards: SKS on HP Velotechnik mounts with 3M yellow reflective tape
  • Rear mudguard: SKS with 3M yellow reflective tape
  • Headlights: Busch & Müller Ixon IQ Speed
  • Taillight: Dual Vetta TSL-C taillights running off single 4xAA battery pack, Busch & Müller DToplight XS Permanent
  • Cyclecomputer: CatEye Mity 3, orange
  • Bags: Arkel Tail Rider black rack top bag, FastBack System LS hydration pack, Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic orange panniers

[Zach is the proprietor of Zach Kaplan Cycles in Alameda, California. —ed.]

23 Responses to “Gallery: Zach Kaplan’s HP Velotechnik Scorpion”

  • janfrid says:

    A great looking machine, Zach; very advanced and refined. But how secure do you feel locking it up on the street, or is that not the kind of errands you use it for? Can a trike be insured for theft?

  • Zach says:

    I don’t feel secure locking any of my cycles up on the street so I normally bring them inside with me. My most frequent errand is going to the post office and I’ve been bringing my bikes and trikes inside the post office for years. Everyone who works there knows me as the one who brings the recumbent inside and they notice if I’m riding a different recumbent than I normally do. Most of my other errands are visiting people where I can bring the trike into their place. I only use my Kryptonite New York lock for two types of local errands. One is going to the Trader Joe’s supermarket which is in the Alameda Town Centre shopping mall where there are security guards all over the place. The other is going to the Alameda Library which is right next to the Alameda Police Department.

    For a price you can insure anything against theft.

  • Alexander López says:

    The Scorpion is one my favorite trikes. And the twin rear lights really make a difference! One question: could you tell us what are the differences between using a recumbent 2-wheeler vs. a trike for commuting?

  • Zach says:

    On my commute the recumbent trike has the following advantages over the recumbent bike it replaced:
    1. Don’t have to unclip and clip into the pedals at traffic lights and stop signs.
    2. Quicker getaway when the light turns green because both feet are already clipped in.
    3. Don’t have to worry about falling down due to cracks in the road, wet metal in the road or sand in the road (never happened with my previous commute bike but I always had to be very alert to the road surface to prevent it from happening).
    4. Motorists give more passing room and seem to notice it more because of the width.
    5. Can brake very hard while simultaneously swerving to avoid a potential collision (doing so on a bike could result in loss of traction and falling over into traffic).

    The trike has the following disadvantages compared to the bike it replaced:
    1. Slower.
    2. Won’t fit in the elevator where I live.
    3. More difficult to carry up the stairs where I live due to the width and added weight but I’ve developed a technique which hopefully won’t cause long term back damage from the lifting.

  • Margaret says:

    Hi Zach
    I also own a scorpion fx and love it mainly for the comfort. I have not been able to track down a light mount for the front but see from your photo that you have a great set up. Can you tell me where/how to find something similar? I live in UK. There doesnt seem to be anything on the HP website or have I missed it?
    Thanks
    Margaret

  • Zach says:

    Margaret:
    The headlight mount on my Scorpion is fabricated from a no longer made Haluzak headlight mount which I modified and clamped a Nitto headlight mount to. So not an off the shelf part.

  • Dutch JaFO says:

    Mine’s better ;)

    Ok … it’s the FS variant and it’s great.

  • Zach says:

    A Scorpion FS is on the way to me though I’m not sure if it will replace my regular Scorpion for commuting. I’ll have to see if the front suspension is worth the extra weight for my road conditions.

  • JaFO says:

    The weight of the suspension doesn’t appear to be adding that much extra.
    I don’t have the luxury of being able to compare it to a standard Scorpion however.

    You can adjust the front suspension (the german manual has the details) and the tension-bar (or whatever its called) can be replaced as well.

  • Conrad says:

    How do you like the Rohloff hub? I have been researching trikes and was thinking this combination might be what I’m looking for.

  • Zach says:

    Other than being heavy, noisy in some gears and having less gearing range than what is possible using a triple crankset and 11-34 cassette, the Rohloff Speedhub works well for a commute trike. It is nice being able to shift into any gear while stationary or coasting and these hubs have proven to be very durable with only minimal maintenance requirements of changing the oil every 5000 km and reversing the cog when it is worn out.

  • Kurt says:

    Zach,

    how did you fix that headlight? I need a headlight for my Scorpion, too…

    Best wishes

    Kurt

  • Zach says:

    Kurt:

    My reply to Margaret several comments above yours answers your question. BTW, I sold the Ixon IQ Speed with remote battery pack and replaced it with an Ixon IQ which takes 4 NiMH AA batteries internally. This is because I use an Ixon IQ on a few other bikes so I can have just one battery powered headlight that I switch back and forth between the Scorpion and different trikes. Also I like the fact the Ixon IQ uses standard AA batteries rather than a proprietary pack.

  • Conrad says:

    Nice machine. This would have been my first choice except for the cost. I bought a rear suspension ActionBent trike, and love it. I do have issues mounting lights though. I think I’ll go work on that right now, as the days are getting shorter.

  • JaFO says:

    It ain’t cheap, but (to me) it sure as heck has been worth every penny.

  • Ben Fenselau says:

    Hi Zach,
    Very nice looking machine. I recently purchased a (used) HP Velotechnik Streetmachine GTe for long distance touring. The drive needs replacing soon and am wondering about changing the drive to Rohloff. Do you have any comments about the rohloff system from your own experience? Especially in relation to recumbents?

    How do you find the Rohloff grip shifter? Is it fairly ergonomic? Just wondering since from what i’ve read it was designed primarily for horizontal MTB type handlebars.

    Also, could you possibly post a photo of the disk brake side of the rohloff hub on your machine? I’m specifically wondering about how the speedhub torque arm mounts to the frame on Velotech bikes because i’ve noticed the frame is a little strange on that side and i’m wondering if it is to accomodate the torque arm nicely?!?

    Thanks in advance. Ben.

  • Zach says:

    Ben:

    There are lots of people using Rohloff hubs on recumbents with generally good results, just Google “Rohloff recumbent” or do a key word search of “Rohloff” on http://www.bentrideronline.com for enough discussion of this to keep you reading for a long time.

    The Rohloff shifter is very ergonomic when mounted upside down at the top of the grip the way HP Velotechnik mounted it, not so ergonomic on this type of USS handlebar when mounted at the bottom of the grip.

    There is no rear disc brake on my HP Velotechnik Scorpion. The hub is using the OEM2 axle plate interfacing with a bolt on the frame. No torque arm.

  • JaFO says:

    Flevobike Greenmachine was designed around the Rohloff speedhub … that would be a really good example :
    http://www.flevobike.nl/content/view/16/79/lang,en/
    // —

  • Conrad says:

    I’ve been having a lot of fun on my Action Bent w/Rear Suspension. I don’t see any need for full suspension. I have been riding at the local University, where I there are lots of cart paths and drivers are very considerate. I sometimes take it down grassy hills to avoid stairs, and it handles the bumps so well, I don’t ever feel the need for FS. I do however wish I had the Rohloff hub. Several times, I’ve missed a shift and found I could not get into the right gear to get started again.

    I have been dog sitting and found the trike is perfect for walking a dog at working speed (as opposed to sniffing speed). Dogs will not stop and sniff everything if they are in a migratory mode. I find myself wishing I had this with my Afghan hound many years ago, then I could have given him a good run every day. As it is, for most dogs, I can set any pace I want and often they tire long before me–not giving me enough of a workout. Walking a dog on a trike has to be the best possible use for a trike. And it makes me want to get in the dog walking business.

    In any event, I’ll be putting a Rohloff hub on my trike this winter, and I may go for a speed hub also–and think about whether to keep the triple crank set after I try it out.

    Still having difficulties with mounting lights.

  • Torben Lauritzen says:

    Hi Zach.

    I am considering a Scorpion for commuting 2×30 km. Could you please tell me the distance you are commuting, and your average speed? And perhaps the added time when you went from two to three wheels.

    Thanks, Torben

  • JaFO says:

    My commute is +/- 12 Km, so it’s not too long.
    I doubt that the time required for the ride has changed at all, even though I know my personal best was +/- 25 minutes. Average speed is 25 Km/h on a good day, cruising speed can be up to 30 Km/h.
    However these are my personal records and I never was really fast on a standard bike to begin with either.

    I would suggest one thing :
    start slow!
    A recumbent or trike does not magically make you go faster.
    Your body needs to adjust to the ride.
    You need to learn how to (safely) handle your bike before you ride it at your top speed, especially cornering at speed can be dangerous if you aren’t careful.

    However the most important bit is that you really need to ride as defensively as possible as people are expecting cars not trikes on the road …
    As such a safety flag will help a little, but you should not rely on it for visibility.
    I have more faith in a reflective vest, but even that won’t helpt against the blind.

  • Torben says:

    25 km/h is approximately what I have been doing when commuting on my mountain bike with road tires. If I can keep up that speed, and get there in a more comfortable way, I would be happy.

    For safety I am only riding my bike in daylight. I am aware of the low position making a trike less visible in traffic, and reducing the overview, compared to a traditional bike, and it does worry me a bit. But I will not let that influence my choice of vehicle, as the alternative is to use the car, and die of inactivity.

    My choice will either be a trike or a carbon racing bike at half the price. Do you have any comments on that?

  • JaFO says:

    Although you eventually will manage to ride as fast (and maybe even faster) on your trike you should not expect a miracle as you do use your leg muscles in a different way so your body needs to adjust.

    This trike is a ton of fun, especially in bad weather with a bit of ice on the road :)
    I sometimes refer to it as my chair on wheels as the seat is that comfortable.
    Heck I sometimes think I could spend the night on the trike sleeping …

    The best advice is to try and see for yourself.
    Definitely try to rent the trike for a day or so and see if you can complete your commute without running into trouble like small gates or potentially dangerous intersections that you might want to avoid.

    Ortlieb makes a great set of recumbent-bags and matching top-bag that fits this trike perfectly, although the top-bag does cover the position for your safety-flag.

 
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