Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Sun EZ1

One of my favorite bents is being discussed over at BROL. The Sun EZ-1 is truly the People's Bent. Here is my review from a few years ago:

Sun EZ1: The People's Bent

By Bob Bryant

"The EZ1 is the most functional of the EZ series. Regarded as an all around recumbent, its strength lies in its stability, comfort, and predictable handling" — Sun Bicycles

The EZ1 SX is a simple, straightforward and very affordable recumbent bicycle. It is the VW Beetle of the recumbent world (vintage 1967; or one of the best years for the Beetle). Itʼs perfect as first bike or as an extra recumbent to keep around. It isnʼt that fast, or that attractive, but it works well, and could be described as The Peopleʼs Bent. Originally designed by the late Gardner Martin of Easy Racers fame, the bike was then updated and licensed to Sun Bicycles and has since become perhaps the best selling recumbent there is. The EZ1 has been around so long we take it for granted, yet it's a near perfect recumbent for what it is: user-friendly, unassuming, downright cheap, durable and reliable. The platform is ideal for customizing and will fit a large range of riders (larger than any other Sun model). The EZ1 can be used for just about any type of riding: recreational, commuting, maybe even light touring. The EZ1 is best suited for casual rides on smooth neighborhood roads and trails (due to the small wheels).

The EZ1 seat has a steel seat back frame, and shares the foam covered base with all of the Sun models. Initial comfort is excellent, though the seat base foam is thinner and less comfy than an Easy Racer. The upright position and foam may have some riders experiencing recumbent butt after an hour or two. The EZ1 places the rider in a buck upright position with feet placed on low pedals. Itʼs a perfect place to be for new riders. I took several one- to two-hour rides on our well-worn test bike, and only experienced recumbent butt discomfort as I neared the two hour mark.

The ride of the EZ1 is better than youʼd expect. The high-tensile steel frame is compliant, and the usually stiff frame and small diameter wheel set was softened by the Kenda Kwest tires run at low pressure (I did this review while vacationing in Sunriver, Oregon. The rental shops run the tires at 40 psi so they donʼt explode in the hot sun). The ride is light and agile feeling — perfect for bike trails.

The bike accelerates well, but tops off quickly. Retaining speed is more difficult than with larger wheels. I honestly never noticed this on the smooth bike trails (15 mph speed limit), but it became apparent when we tried an EZ1 AX on the rough roads of Port Townsend late last summer. The Sun EZ Sport has a 26”/20” wheel combination which offers a smoother ride and perhaps improved performance over the EZ1's small wheels.

The EZ1ʼs ladder-style TIG-welded high-tensile steel frame is a bit homely though seemingly tougher than nails. The square section steel makes for easy seat mounting, and the little bike just works. Also, the EZ1 has a larger adjustment range than any other Sun model (34"-48" ex-seam). The EZ1 is no lightweight at 39 pounds. The AX aluminum model is five pounds lighter, but more expensive.

In this mostly pedestrian mix of affordable components, which is nothing to rave about, everything worked great on our well-worn rental test bike. The bike shifted great, the generic V-brakes stopped it on a dime and the wheels were true. The “alloy” crank does have steel chainrings. The EZ1 SX has a 30/42/52 triple crankset and an 11-32 8-speed cassette, which makes for a 18-92 gear-inch range (the 20” drive wheel measures approximately 19.5”). The gearing range is low and is well suited for casual riders.
It would be quite easy to set up an 8-speed EZ1 with a gear range of 29-85 gear inches (48-tooth single crank x 11-32 cassette), or a 16-speed with a gear range of 24-94 gear inches (39/53 double crank x 11-32 cassette). The EZ1 has a fairly free-floating drivetrain with a single lower chain skate-wheel idler. You can lift the chain off the idler and run without it. The chain dances a bit, but there is less friction.

The basic cheapie linear (V) brakes worked fine. If you want to make them better, add some Koolstop pads. The wheels and hubs are aluminum and BASIC with a capital B. Nothing special here, but no problems. The short spokes make for a strong wheel. The EZ1 comes outfitted with Kenda Kwest tires, these are the more recreational 65 psi version (instead of 100 psi). These are very comfortable tires, and just a bit slower. If you want to go faster, get some Primo Comets.

Itʼs possible to lighten up the EZ1 by ordering an aluminum seat back (J&B part #67455), aluminum seat lower struts (J&B part #67457), upper struts (J&B part #67456) and alloy handlebars (J&B part #67349). This might save two or three pounds. Lighter wheels and tires are also possible. An EZ Sport 20” fork (J&B part #27664 black or #27665 silver) will also fit, so you can convert to a 20”/20”. If you are going to make all of these upgrades, you should probably just buy the lighter AX model. Sun offers an EZ-Messenger seat bag, fender set, Edge fairing, a rear basket and a 20” wheel indoor trainer for the EZ1.

The EZ1 can be purchased at nearly any recumbent shop and in past years has been one of Sunʼs best selling models. The EZ1 really has no peers for price, track record and dependability. I preferred the affordable SX to the more costly aluminum AX. The AX is lighter for sure, and has one notch better shifters AND derailleurs and better Avid brakes — but costs significantly more. The EZ1 is the perfect recumbent for the smooth and perfect bike trails of Central Oregonʼs Sunriver resort — or anywhere else. Buy this bike for a tough, casual and fun neighborhood/bike trail cruiser for kids, friends or a spouse to ride. The EZ1 is the best bargain the recumbent world has to offer.

HIGHS - Great buy, excellent handling, wide fit range, cheap recumbent fun.
LOWS- Not super fast, kind of heavy, feels smallish (though has a wide fit range) and some low-end components.

1 comment:

  1. The rumor I heard was that the new, old, ladder frame model is now built in China and can be sold at a lower cost. Anybody know more about this?