Ron Swann: Nothing Is Impossible

Ron Swann and his classic Giro 20

Note: The most fulfilling feedback from customers is when they tell us our bikes have made a difference in their lives.  I’ve heard from folks who’ve finally been able to manage diabetes, because they’ve been able to ride again.  One gentleman, spurred by the desire to ride one of our bikes, went from 560 lbs. down to 185 lbs.  Here is yet another story in this arena and we’re proud to have Ron on a Bacchetta! 

My name is Ron Swann. I am 54 years old and live in Atlanta, Georgia. I ride a Giro 20 recumbent that I bought about six years ago from a pawn shop on EBay. It came in two boxes, grimy and almost completely disassembled and I used photos from the Bacchetta website to put it together.

I have been an avid rider of bicycles for most of my life. I rode my first century when I was 14 and raced competitively throughout high school and college. In the early 80’s I raced triathlons and toured several times a year with my wife on our Santana Tandem. When we had children we rode single bikes with bicycle seats.

I thought my cycling days were over in 2005 when I suffered a severe spinal cord injury and was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. Thankfully, emergency surgery restored about 60 percent of my function but I remained completely paralyzed my ankles, calf muscles and about half of my hamstrings and glutes.

About a year after my accident I tried riding a diamond frame bicycle but found my lack of seat/glute muscles as well as saddle anesthesia made it impossible. Soon thereafter I began investigating recumbents and the Giro 20 was recommended as the best recumbent to start with.

Learning to ride my Giro 20 was a challenge. I remember my first attempt at riding, left me lying in the street at the bottom of my driveway wondering if with my wobbly legs I could get the bike back up the driveway to my garage. I was so discouraged that I waited several months before trying again with success.

In 2009 I went with my 20 year old son on a ten day bike tour from Nashville, Tennessee to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. My son rode a traditional diamond frame touring bike and I rode my Giro 20 fully loaded with camping gear. The memories are priceless.

Since July of this year I have been riding about 100 miles a week and will be riding my 4th century of the year this weekend in Opelika, Alabama with my sixteen year old nephew.

I have included pictures of me on my Giro as well as a couple of close-ups of the custom made carbon fiber braces I wear. Without my Giro and the braces cycling would not be possible.
I set a goal in July 2012 to ride a (very flat) 25 mile Time Trial with an average speed of 19.5mph by July 2013. On my first attempt (8/15) I averaged 18.13 mph and yesterday (9/23) I rode my second TT and averaged 18.76 mph. When I achieve my goal, I plan to reward myself with a Bacchetta Corsa!

I love riding my Giro 20. For handicapped individuals like myself, recumbents make cycling possible. For riders of all types, recumbents make cycling more comfortable and more fun.

Ron Swann
Giro 20 (’05)

Jerry Boyer: Crossing America on a Giro 26

'Bent Enthusiast- Tallahassee, FL

I just completed riding the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier route and wanted to share some of my thoughts about the performance of the Bacchetta Giro 26.  To prepare for the tour I reduced the size of the small chain ring to 26t, added a Windwrap fairing, increased tire size and quality (Schwalbe Marathon 26 X 1.50 front, Schwalbe Marathon Plus 26 X 1.75 rear), installed under seat pannier racks and suspended a platypus hydration bag inside the seat mesh of the seat back.  I added fenders front and back.  Also, at my wife’s insistence I added a flag for better visibility and safety.  I left with an Adventure Cycling Tour group from San Diego on March 24 and arrived in Saint Augustine, Florida on May 24.  Sixteen riders left San Diego.  I was the only recumbent rider.  Nine wedgies and one recumbent made it to the beach at Saint Augustine, Florida.

Bike Man, bike shop- Alpine, TX

Bike Man, bike shop- Alpine, TX

One of the things that impressed me the most was how incredibly stable the Giro 26 was when fully loaded, perhaps even more stable then when not under load.  The basic bike performed well.  I had the expected difficulties in keeping up with my upright comrades on the mountain climbs but was able to hold my own on rollers, flats and blew them away downhill.  The first 5 weeks of the tour were incredibly windy with gust reaching 30 – 35 miles per hr. some days.  My flag blew off in the California desert.  It was difficult for me to judge whether the fairing was helpful in the wind or added to my wind resistance.  It was certainly helpful with a tailwind, acting like a sail, and at times seemed to be helpful in cutting through headwinds.  Overall, though, my impression was not favorable under these extreme wind conditions.  Cross winds going down some of the long mountain passes made for some squirrely descents.  When the main aluminum support snapped off during a gust in Texas, I was happy to roll it up and mail it home.  My Arkel under seat panniers worked out extremely well as long as I remembered not to try to ride through standing water more than 4 inches deep and to not lean too much when taking downhill hairpin curves.

Gonzales Pass

Gonzales Pass

All of the articles on touring that I read emphasized the importance of beefing up your tires to better carry your load and to stand up to the rigors of differing road conditions.  I was surprised when I met my group in San Diego and saw the tires that many of them were using.  Most still opted for relatively skinny roadie type tires.  I must admit that I worried about the advantage that they appeared to have with rolling resistance, until they started having flat tires and wheel problems.  This is a testimonial for the Schwalbe Marathon and Marathon Plus tires.  I did not have a single flat tire during the entire 3178 mile ride, while my comrades had as high as 5 per day.  There were 5 riders that had to deal with broken spokes, several had to replace tires that were cut up by road debris, and there was one broken rim.

The platypus bladder suspended between the seat proved to be a very efficient way to carry an additional 100 oz. of liquid.  The fenders were a nightmare.  As many of you know, installing fenders on a recumbent can be tricky and usually requires some modifications to make them fit.  They were constantly rattling apart.  Tire clearance was not good and my tire tread would pick up pebbles and dirt that would get stuck under the fender.  It seemed like I was constantly stopping to fiddle with the fenders.  After weeks of frustration, the front fender was left in a camp ground dumpster in Arizona.  The back fender fulfilled its destiny when it came apart for the last time in front of a roadside dumpster outside of Las Cruces, NM.

Loaded for Bear- Continental Divide

Loaded for Bear- Continental Divide

What changes will I make for the next long tour?  I brought my Giro 26 in 2004 and the front fork has less tire clearance than that used in the newer models.  I plan to switch out my front fork for a newer one.  There is only about ¼ inch clearance between the bottom of the fork and the Schwalbe Marathon 26 X 1.50 tire.  I had a problem with pebbles, sand and dirt packing between the tire and the fork.  I know that many of you swear by your fenders but I won’t put fenders on again for a lengthy tour.  Of the 54 riding days, there may have been 2 – 3 where fenders would have been helpful………………………not worth the weeks of aggravation trying to keep them on.  I would not put the fairing on again for a tour.  I plan to keep the fairing for use in cold weather, because there is no question that it cuts down on the wind chill.  But, in retrospect, under the conditions that we experienced during the first 4 – 5 weeks of the tour, I think the fairing was more of a problem than helpful.

The bottom line……………………the basic, stock Bacchetta Giro 26 with minor modifications (smaller chain ring, sturdy tires) is a capable, comfortable touring bike.  By the end of the tour the bike had won the admiration of many and one of the group members ordered a Giro 20 for his wife and decided to trade in their upright tandem for a bent tandem. 

 I also want to share an observation about preparing for an extended tour.  While physical conditioning is important for riding cross country, far more important, particularly if traveling with a group, is your sense of humor, tolerance for differences, ability to compromise and negotiate, and willingness to immerse yourself in the moment by detaching from the electronic umbilical cord and keeping your cell phone turned off.

On the Beach in St. Augustine

On the Beach in St. Augustine