I guess few of you have heard of the VeloMotion recumbent brand. These are stick-bike high-racers and are manufactured in Serbia by Igor Ralič. Yes, in Serbia, in one of the post-Yugoslav republics, where Stein Trikes also comes from. Igor is my friend, we regularly meet at a recumbent meeting here in the Czech Republic and during The Sun Trip race, which I participated in 2013, my teammate Karel and I also slept at his place in Indija, Serbia. And that’s why I asked Igor to answer my classic ten questions.
What recumbents mean for you?
Hmm, I think comfort is the first thing that comes to my mind. The ability to go long and far, without any discomfort that I have on an upright bicycle.
Recumbents are a way to travel by bicycle in comfort, speed, and have a nice view of surroundings while at it.
Can you remember when did you see a recumbent for the first time?
My first “contact” with recumbents was virtual. I stumbled upon a travelers blog of some German cyclist, while I was researching for my planned Nordkapp trip. He had a Velotechnik Street Machine, on which he toured Finland and Russia at the time.
I was not interested in the bike straight away, but it seems that the idea was planted in my mind back then. I remember that I went to the HPVelotehnik’s website, and saved a few photos of the bike. A year or two later I was investigating recumbents for some reason and came across information that we actually have someone in Serbia who makes those kinds of bikes. Not long after that, I was heading for a 160km far Subotica to visit Robert Stein and have a test ride on one of his trikes. It was 2006 or so.
When people say “don’t test ride a trike if you don’t have money to buy it”, they are right! 😉
What was your first recumbent?
Since I could not afford to buy one, the plan was to make one with the help of a local welder. Robert Stein sold me a few tubes since all I could buy in the shops was thick heavy tubing, and the plan was to make a stick bike highracer like a Bacchetta. It did not work out with that local welder, as he constantly lacked time/will to do some work, and after a few months when Robert asked how was my build going, and found out that it didn’t move at all, he kindly proposed that I come to their shop one day and they will weld it for me almost for free. Few hours later I had a recumbent frame. More of an SWB then a highracer, as somewhere in the process a front seat mount got welded in a wrong place 😀 and the seat ended up very high, so at first, I used dual 20″ wheels, which I later switched to dual 26″ when I got used to it.
Do you prefer trikes or two-wheelers and why?
Both are good in their own way. I prefer fast two-wheelers because they are faster, easier to transport and store, and are much lighter. But if I was to tour around the world, it would probably be on a trike. And they are fun above all, little pedal go-carts 🙂
And when you want to take a nap, you just pull the parking brake and put your feet down :))
I had two, and I miss them.
Stop reading this, get out there, and ride! 🙂
Which bike do you ride now?
Velomotion Scopa highracer, my design, and brand 😉 I also became an owner of a cool carbon lowracer last year, a nice round tube lowracer similar to Baron, which Alexander Meier from Germany used to make on order. Haven’t ridden it much, so impractical. The turning radius, my thigh rubbing on the front brake and bleeding after 10km.. 😀 But it’s damn fast, that’s for sure!
What do you think about all the e-assist boom we have around us now?
I have mixed feelings. I mean, if you want an exercise, or you simply enjoy riding a bicycle, why would you ever get one? Worst are those, usually very heavy trikes, that actually need e-assist because they end up being very slow and need it to keep any reasonable speed, instead of investing that extra money into a purchase of a proper, lighter trike that won’t be so slow.
It’s like with velomobiles – if it needs an e-assist to keep you at speed, then it means it’s a crappy velomobile to start with!
On the other side, if it makes a person use their car less.. then it’s a really good thing. It’s also great as a commuter vehicle, for those who can’t afford to arrive at work all sweaty, and they don’t have time to take it slow so they don’t sweat. Especially if it replaces a car or public transport.
Also, for the elderly, or people with injuries, that otherwise can’t ride a bike at all or can do it for only a short period of time. Then an e-assist can help them move around, and even benefit their recovery, which is great.
Where is your favorite place to ride?
I don’t have a specific place. I prefer the open road. With as little car traffic as possible. That’s why I’m a randonneur, I just love riding long routes which take me through nice places.
And the most unforgettable ride?
My first 465km ride! I was on a recumbent meeting in Slovenia, where I found out about randonneuring, where few of the recumbent colleagues from Slovenia already rode a couple of events. Inspired by that, I decided to try to ride back home to Serbia in one go. I’ve made it in 25.5 hours, including a 1,5-hour nap. Half the night without water or food, as everything was closed, and not a 0-24 gas station in sight!
Boy, my legs were hurting and I could barely get up to my apartment on the 1st floor 😀 But it seems I liked it 😉
How do you think recumbents will evolve in the next 5 or 10 years?
I don’t think they will evolve much. It’s a bicycle, a very simple vehicle where most has already been invented. So mostly it would be adapting to new technology that component manufacturers keep coming out with, like 10 different bottom bracket standards which no one really needs 😉
I do foresee development in the velomobile world, and in electric-human hybrid vehicles with full weather protection, as a means of transportation.
What is your other hobby besides recumbents? Do you even consider recumbents as a hobby?
It’s hard for me to define what cycling is to me. But it’s definitely more than just a hobby. Besides recumbents? Sure. My other hobbies are mountain biking, road bike biking, biking biking, trike biking.. 😉
I do go hiking from time to time, especially in the winter when cycling activities are rarer. It would be nice to be able to pursue other interests, such as oldtimer and youngtimer cars, motorcycles, archery, skiing.. and whatnot. But i’d have to be rich first. And have a large garage. 😉
AND ONE MORE QUESTION:
Anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Stop reading this, get out there, and ride! 🙂
Name: Igor Ralić
Year of birth: 1979
Education: high school, qualified electric
Job: VeloMotion bicycles, owner and CEO
Bike(s): Velomotion Scopa x2, Alex Meier’s carbon lowracer, Cannondale Furio mtb, Cannondale Scalpel mtb, custom steel randonneur road bike, another hardtail mtb. I had more, I was an addict, but I’m fine now! 😉