Longbikes Slipstream / Ryan Vanguard Comparison Part 2
Contunued from Longbikes Slipstream First Impressions.
After, almost a year of riding the Longbikes Slipstream I am still very impressed by the Slipstream. This is a great long distance, self contained touring bike. As I get ready for my first long ride (>1000 miles) on the Slipstream, I find myself discovering nice touches that I’ve missed before.
In Part 2 of the Slipstream/Vanguard Comparison I will be discussing how the Slipstream addresses the Vanguard weaknesses. The Ryan Vanguard is a great touring bike and the Longbikes folks seem to recognize that. They have maintained what was great about the Vanguard, comfort, reliability, and stability. But they have also recognized the Vanguards weaknesses and improved the bike significantly.
The chain on a Vanguard swings wildly and could catch on the idler since only the lower portion of the chain was controlled by an idler. This chain swing had to hurt efficiency.
The Slipstream has an excellent chain management system. It has both the upper and lower idlers that capture the chain and prevent the wild chain oscillation and swing on a Vanguard.
My Vanguard arrived with what was the standard street gearing at the time. This bike had a very high top end that required flat ground and a faring to use. Most riders didn’t find a lot of use for the 52 on the outside of the triple and didn’t find the relief they needed for steep climbs with the 32 on the inside of the triple.
The Slipstream ships wit XT Mountain Gearing. This 22-32-44 front and 11-34 rear is about as nice as it can get. The mountain gearing helps new riders get started without straining their knees and get us older riders over the mountains.
The Vanguard has a very comfortable mesh seat but when I talked to Dick Ryan he said about 20% of riders could not live with the horn in the middle of the seat. The seat was also hard to adjust and keep adjusted with those plastic buckles. I had 2 problems with the seat. One, keeping it attached to the horn (easily fixed with a wire tie I learned eventually). Second that the horn was held onto the steering mechanism by only a few threads that eventually strip out.
The Slipstream has the most comfortable seat in cycling. It is a much plusher mesh than the Vanguard and has no horn. It seems a little wider but I haven’t measured it. The mesh tension is easily adjusted with Velcro straps but doesn’t need much adjustment. The seat back also folds forward for easier transportation.
The seat braces on the Slipstream don’t have quite the range as a Vanguard. So if you like to really lean back you may need to shorten the tubes and add a few holes. If you let the Longbikes folks know this up front they will handle it for you.
The Vanguard had a bit of flex in the rear triangle. The Slipstream has a much stiffer and more efficient rear triangle that can be changed to accommodate 700C wheels.
The seat on a Slipstream is 2 1/2″ lower and the bottom bracket is 2″ higher than on a Vanguard. This position is slightly more aerodynamic and feels more powerful. The difference is real and for me about 1 MPH faster when not loaded. 1 MPH may not sound like a lot but on a 4 hour ride you finish 4 miles ahead of your Vanguard.
Vanguard riders will feel the difference and need to develop some new muscles, but this happens fairly quickly and thy will appreciate the feeling of power this more efficient position provides.
The hardware on the Slipstream is all top notch. They have kept the number of different fasteners to a minimum. You don’t encounter the same mix of SAE and Metric cap screws on the Slipstream you had on the Vanguard.
Take a look at the picture of the Slipstream Seat Clamp and compare it to the drilled phenolic part on the Vanguard. This clamp is typical of the beautiful parts on a Slipstream.
The Cronos rear hub on the Vanguard was marginal. I went through 2 until I switched to Velocity wheels with Hugii hubs. I am not really familiar with Alex Rims and the sealed cartridge Quandro hubs. But the rims are very sturdy, deep V of the type I have had good luck with. So far after a year and a few thousand miles they look very good.
The Avid Mechanical disc brakes are a dream for a loaded touring bike. You will play with them more than V brakes but they are so easy and fast to set up it’s almost fun. Plus no more worry about long descents loaded over heating your wheels.
The Slipstream has a very sturdy Tubis rack that is much more securely mounted than the Vanguard’s rack. Rack sway is gone with this rack.
The Slipstream rack also has a better shape designed to keepexpedition size panniers away from the wheel and stabilized.
The rack and bigger rear triangle of the Slipstream move the center line of my Jandd Expedition Panniers forward of the rear axle improving the weight distribution and stability of the bike when loaded.
I haven’t seen the new double rack for the Slipstream but it looks like just what Ortlieb pannier users needed to handle enough gear for self contained touring.
The Vanguard had a nice functional kickstand but the double kickstand on the Slipstream is a joy. It is like having a built-in work stand.
The cables on my Vanguard were always worn from rubbing the chain. As you can in the picture the Slipstream cables are neatly routed and do not come close to the chain.
The price of a Slipstream may sound high but it isn’t higher than the Vanguard price adjusted for inflation and this is a much better bike. In fact, the parts on this bike look like they come from a much more expensive bike.
If you want a recumbent for long distance self contained touring, there are not many other choices and no better choices. I know the Easy Tour and Rans fans will argue with this but if you put these bikes side by side the Longbikes Slipstream is clearly a better built bike.