eBent Recumbent Cycling

A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Longbikes Slipstream First Impressions

with 15 comments

Longbikes Slipstream from their websireThe first thing that strikes you about the Slipstream is how solid and nicely made this bike is. It has a much sturdier and finished appearance than a Ryan Vanguard. The stays are bigger and hardware has a very nice machine shop look to it. The folks from Longbikes use the expression "Hand Made not Home Made" to describe the difference.

The Slipstream is a little bigger and heavier than a Vanguard:

Size Comparison


Ryan Vanguard

Longbike Slipstream

Weight (lbs)



Length (ins)

90 ½


Seat Height (ins)

25 ½


BB Height (ins)




But the biggest difference a Ryan Vanguard rider will notice is that the seat position is 2 1/2 inches lower and the distance from the seat to the bottom bracket has been reduced by almost 50%. This seating position feels more powerful and efficient but will take a little getting used to because it uses a few new muscles.

There are a lot of equipment and construction changes between the bikes and I will covering them in future posts.

Go to  Slipstream/Vanguard Comparison Part 2.

Also, if you click the Longbikes Slipstream category on the right you will see a list of posts on minor improvement for the Slipstream.


Written by Roland

April 1, 2006 at 10:05 am

15 Responses

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  1. Very interesting comments on the Slipstream. Was anything on the bike (fenders, racks, etc.) to get that 43-pound weight? Or was it just the stock Slipstream? I am planning on buying a Slipstream this summer. I agree about LWB USS recumbents for long distance riding and touring.


    May 19, 2006 at 1:40 pm

  2. Bike has rear rack, computer mount, and light mount.

    I believe most of the difference in weight and length can be attributed to the rear triangle. The Slipstream has a removable rear triangle that is much stiffer than the Vanguard’s. The removable triangle allows for changing the rear wheel size from 26″ to 700 and possiblely 27″.

    The stiffer rear triangle is part of what makes the Slipstream feel faster.


    May 21, 2006 at 8:53 am

  3. Do you use the stock gearing ( 30/42/52 and Shimano LX 9 speed 11-32 cassette)? Are you using a 700 wheel or 26″? I’m told using the 700 wheel option with the new rear triangle makes it feel like a different bike. Are you using stock Kenda Kwests or something else? I have wondered about being able to use a front rack on the 20″ wheel. Have you used the Slipstream on extended tours yet? Comments? Thanks for the information, Roland.


    May 21, 2006 at 1:17 pm

  4. So far Longest Tour on the Slipstream is from Dover to Montreal, about 300 miles. But in July, the plan is a 1000 mile loop from Seattle to Portland along the Columbia River to Idaho and back to Seattle. This is a check out ride for Cross Country Ride in 2007.

    My set up is:

    26″ Rear – my preferred tire is the Panracer Pessla TourGuard. I suspect the 700C is faster and feels lighter. But I need the sturdier 26″ wheels for self contained touring. If you are buying a recumbent to go fast, and impress people on group rides with your speed this is not the bike to buy. If you want to tour and want a solid, reliable bike that is still fun to ride, then the Slipstream is a great choice.

    I run a Shamino XT 760 triple on the front – 44/32/22 – this is a very sweet shifting combination and I like these cranks. I also put them on my Vanguard.

    I use Jandd Expedition Panniers. they have about 6000 ci. of storage and then put my tent on top of the rack. This is more space than I need and have to be careful not to carry too much. Stopping at 40 pounds, it’s a great discipline. You don’t really need as much as you think put what you need you must have. I think I’ll start another page on what to bring along. Of course what you carry is somewhat location dependant.


    May 21, 2006 at 2:27 pm

  5. I missed your question on the rear cassette.

    I run a Shimano HG-50 9-speed Cassette on all of my bikes. The gearing is 11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30-34 . I need the 34 Rear and 22 front for steep hills. It takes a little practice to ride really slow but you pick it up. Most of us can’t ride every hill on any bike. My rule of thumb is that if I am riding slower than the folks on diamond frames are walking, then I walk.


    May 21, 2006 at 2:34 pm

  6. Although now living near Vancouver, B.C., I cycled quite a bit through New England when I lived in Montreal. If riding the Slipstream (with your gearing) is comfortable through the White, Green and Adirondack Mountains, then that makes the Slipstream even more appealing to me. I was always more interested in comfortable long daily rides as opposed to all-out speed (otherwise I wouldn’t be considering a 40 lbs. bike). Any experience with fairings? I noticed a 10% improvement on my DF but the extra bulk was cumbersome so I only used it once on a cross-New York State trip. Looking forward to hearing more about your Pacific Northwest trip, and more about your Slipstream impressions. I am also planning a cross-country (Canada) trip next year.


    May 22, 2006 at 11:55 am

  7. You can ride a Slipstream just about anywhere, the stock gearing is about right. I asked for the 11-34 cassette instead of the 11-32. I really don’t need the high end. If I’m riding 30 MPH, it’s because I’m coasting down a hill.

    The only place I really had trouble with this gearing was on the Gaspe peninsula. Everyone would say the road is flat but the signs said unbelievable things like 25% grade. It could not have been that steep but there were several very hard pulls both Bennett and I walked because it was faster.

    The faring, I haven’t though of it for a while. It makes a lot of difference in speed, 10% is no exaggeration. I don’t take it on tours any more. I have had some serious problems with cross wind and the faring.

    Coming down Gros Monde in Newfoundland, the wind would pick up the front wheel and move it 3 feet. That was too much for me. I took the faring off and tied it to the back of the bike for the rest of the trip.

    I had similar experiences riding the hills east of Quebec City. The cross wind would just move the front end of the bike during high speed descents. But the real reason I took it off was to get a better work out and because the noise it makes is distracting. I think my Ryan Faring will fit just fine on the Slipstream if I feel like flying again.

    Bennett and I are planning a cross country trip from Seattle to Dover in 2007. Our route is still in the discussion stage, but we definitely don’t plan to dip down and ride through the Midwest. We are planning to ride the upper peninsula of Michigan into Ontario and part of Quebec and then dip down into Vermont and New Hampshire.

    Enjoy the Ride …. Roland


    May 22, 2006 at 12:38 pm

  8. Another thought

    If you are planning a cross country ride on the Slipstream next year, get it right away. A little tip from weight lifting, it takes about a year for you to see real muscle growth. Yes, you will feel stronger and your muscles will look bigger but real muscle growth takes time. That time increases after you turn 40.

    Even if you are riding a Vanguard now you will find that the muscles you use on the the Slipstream are a little different. If you aren’t riding a recumbent, you have some new muscles to develop.

    When I first got the Vanguard, I spent a week learning how to ride it and trying to overcome the bad habit of pulling on the bars (this habit takes some time to break and will really hurt you on steep hills). Then I decided to ride up to Bar Harbor. I was in good biking shape, I had been doing Double Metric Centuries on my Trek in the White Mountains. But I didn’t yet have the muscles to climb steep hills on the Ryan. These were muscles I’d ever used.

    The muscles will come and you will find during the second year of riding that you are much stronger in the mountains. During the first year, the muscles in your butt and knees will determine how many hills you can climb that day. After that, it will be general conditioning.

    But, I would get started riding the Slipstream as soon as possible before my cross country ride.

    Just remember the 7 P’s, Proper planning and preparation prevent Piss Poor Performance.


    May 22, 2006 at 1:02 pm

  9. You mention poor weight distribution on the Vanguard (and I assume also on its descendent, the Slipstream). That probably accounts for your frightening fairing problems (very light front end). That’s why I asked about a front rack. Wouldn’t distributing some of the weight to the front help? But then, will a rack fit over the front 20″ wheel without being too low and will a fairing clear the rack? Many thanks for all of your very helpful posts.


    May 24, 2006 at 12:37 am

  10. Actually, the Slipstream is has a somewhat better weight distribution than the Vanguard because the panniers sit more toward the middle of the bike. The extra few inches in length mostly in the rear triangle and the shape of the rack move the panniers up under the seat a good bit farther forward than on the Vanguard.

    The front wheel just doesn’t feel quite as light on the Slipstream. However, I still expect about 65% of the weight to be on the rear wheel.

    20″ front wheels don’t give you a lot of clearance with the ground for panniers. You definitely can’t run a faring and front panniers. I did buy front panniers for the Vanguard but never used them because I just didn’t feel comfortable with the panniers that close to the ground.

    Did you notice that there are double panniers available for the Slipstream? My impression is that they are a way to get enough gear into Ortleib Bags to make them useful for self contained touring. The largest Ortleib Bags are fairly small. But it does move the load even further forward.

    I am not a fan of Ortleib Bags but understand why others like them. They are very well made but I prefer bags that aren’t waterproof and that will dry. The Ortleibs are also very heavy.

    The Ortleibs also tend to pack like a plastic bag and I find that inconvenient on Tours. To get to the item you want you always have to dig through everything and I hate it when my clothes fall out in the rain because I’m digging in the bag for rain gear.


    May 24, 2006 at 7:42 am

  11. This is late, I know, but I’ve ridden the Upper Penninsula of Michigan, crossed at Sault Saint Marie, up through Sudbury and North Bay.
    I don’t recommend it, based on my 1991 experience. The Trans-Canada (17) is a dangerous road, with high-speed traffic (it’s an “interstate”), with about 4 inches of pavement to the right of the white line, and loose gravel shoulders beyond that. I was run off the road at least daily. Once was by an Ontario Provincial Police car, head-on, while he was passing another on-coming car at a high rate of speed. I was extremely upset, but… who was I going to complain to? Another time was by a trucker, who was driving too fast for the poor visibility in a torrential rain storm. He only had time to lean on his horn to tell me to get the hell off the road… he had an oversized earth-mover on his trailer, and it hung completely over the edge of the pavement. I had no time to look, and threw a one-finger salute as I fled to the loose gravel. Only as the truck roared by did I realize how close I had just come to dying.

    Too many brushes with death up there.

    I did enjoy the 18th century fort tour outside Brock (ton? ville?), just before crossing into upstate NY. NY has fantastically well maintained shoulders for cyclists, BTW.
    Once I got the the Champlain Islands of VT, the roads sucked again. Not what I expected!

    Good luck!


    November 18, 2006 at 8:42 am

  12. Hi!
    Nice info, big thx.


    December 24, 2006 at 7:18 pm

  13. I plan on purchasing a slipstream longbike. Your website has helped me make up my mind. I have one question. I ride a great deal of miles on the Katy trail in Missouri. This is a rail-trail. so it is very flat. The surface is crushed chat. How does the slipstream handle gravel roads?

    Thanks for the great advice.


    January 12, 2008 at 7:45 am

  14. Vince, the Slipstream handles just fine on hard gravel roads if you select the right tires. They won’t be as good as a dirt bike obviously and you will have to be careful on soft surfaces. I have done a good bit of riding on dirt roads and have had good luck. I have not had good experieces on crushed rocks though but that is true for me even on dirt bikes.

    Recumbents in greneral have more rear wheel loading than diamond frames so they will in general have more trouble on soft surfaces. The Slipstream is a heavy bike and if you add an industrial sized rider with a lot of gear (typical lwb recumbent rider) then you will need something bigger than standard road tires if the surface is soft.

    Bigger and softer tires are the key to ridding off the road. The trick is too find the right balance for your riding. Bigger and softer for off road, narrow and hard for on road.

    I went to 1 1/2 inch tires for my last road tour because the roads were rough. I normally run 1 1/4 inch tires.

    There are plenty of wider and softer 26 inch tires around, it is hard to get the narrow 26 inch tires. The limiting factor will be your rims. I have gone to Mavic wheels and don’t remeber what the biggest size the standard Slipstream wheel will handle but it should be around 2″ (1 3/4 anyway). That might be nice compromise tire size for you.


    January 12, 2008 at 9:29 am

  15. […]  Contunued from Longbikes Slipstream First Impressions. […]

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