As seen in RTR Issue #19 - Fall 2005
Review #118: Greenspeed
GTX Trike - Smaller Package, Big Payback
by Jerilyn Quesnel
The rain was pelting the pavement as I stared out the garage door waiting for the big, white RTR truck. I couldn't believe that he would fight this weather to bring me the trike. I felt quite honored. I continued to clean my own trike for what seemed like hours, but it was actually only minutes. Finally I saw the truck approaching.
As I walked out into the pouring rain, I peered into the tinted windows and I saw a new orange Greenspeed GTX trike. My first impression was that the color reminded me of the 50/50 ice cream bars I liked when I was a kid. But what was up with the Dodger blue mesh seat? Surely no woman put these colors together!
As we rolled it off the back and set it on the ground, it looked so long and low. I imagined myself ripping around turns and speeding down hills. Then, I became aware of the rain again. When was it going to stop? It was bad enough that I couldn't take my own trike out. Oh, but not being able to ride the new GTX would be really awful.
Days passed and the rain just would not quit. Finally, after a long five days of waiting, the sun came out. I think I broke every speed limit driving home from work so I could get out on the trike that day. As soon as I got home I layered on a bunch of gear, fired up the lights, and flew out the garage door. There are no words for my first impressions. That first, short, nighttime ride was breathtaking. It felt like I had a totally new skill level I didn't have before. Well, all of a sudden I can climb hills, jump off the line, and almost catch up to the guys in the downhills. After that first short ride I knew it would be hard to give this trike back. Lucky for me, I did get to keep it around for many great rides, including the Palm Springs Bike Tour where I learned some of the finer details of the orange and blue Greenspeed GTX.
As the GTX and I spent more time together, I enjoyed it more and more. My admiration for the subtle and forgiving nature of this trike was magnified each time I took it out. The rides included several with rather unfavorable conditions that would have provoked a less well behaved trike into a miserable outing. The damage from the rains left the local roads with potholes, debris and annoyed motorists. Although this is generally not the preferred conditions to ride, it was certainly a good test for the GTX, which didn't seem to mind the poor conditions one bit!
BRAKES | Some would say that I like to test my limits. I can't deny that. So, the first thing I like to test on a new bike would be the brakes. I like to find out early on how they perform under pressure or in an emergency. The Magura Julie hydraulic disc brakes were awesome! The relatively long wheelbase (42 inches) prevented forward lurching under hard braking. The trike stopped straight in a straight line, even if I failed to pull both brake levers equally.. Even during long downhill runs near 40 mph, it braked straight and didn't pull to either side. There was virtually no brake steering. Now that stopping safely isn't problem, it's time for some real fun.
HANDLING | The GTX felt incredibly smooth and under control. Cornering speed and overall handling was nothing less than remarkable. The accuracy of the steering took a few rides before I got the idea that it was going exactly where I directed it. Being accustomed to compensating for under steer and over steer with other trikes, it was quite an unexpected pleasure. The steering accuracy dramatically improved my ability to hit the apex of turns . It was even more fun when I discovered how quickly the trike would let me accelerate out of the turn. Being frequently distracted by the sights and sounds of the outdoors, I really appreciated how little the steering requested of me and how quickly it responded. It was almost intuitive! The turning radius was surprisingly small for a trike that feels so long (length about 72"). When you take a casual look at the GTX, it looks quite large. This is simply a visual deception. The trike easily fit through doors and nimbly weaved its way through crowded parking lots, narrow sidewalks, and plenty of other narrow obstacles. I was quickly reminded how important this feature was when I barely avoided a drenching while squeezing between a curb and a bus bench on a flooded street. Downhill runs were fast and easy. The only time I felt a twinge of pedal steer was when I was jamming in the highest gear and my pedaling technique got a bit sloppy. The width, low profile, and superb agility of the GTX made the downhill runs stable, fast and intensely fun. Not only did it get up to some great speeds, but it felt totally safe doing so. Although the Greenspeed is fairly low to the ground (about 2-inches ground clearance), it handled so well that you could quickly maneuver away from obstacles. But, please watch out for those speed bumps.
COMFORT, SUSPENSION & LOOKS | The GTX had an excellent combination of comfort and performance. The infinite adjustments on the handlebars would allow anyone a great fit for their hand/wrist/arm position. The Shimano bar-end shifters operated the derailleurs smoothly, and the SRAM Dual Drive twist type shifter was easy to get to. After only a few minutes of riding, I gratefully realized that the brake levers were out of range of my death grip. I surely would have thrown myself right over the front if I was able to grab them hard. The mesh seat has fabulous lumbar support and is fixed to a recline angle of 25 degrees. It felt so odd at first, but within minutes I was in love. I can't say enough about how comfortable this ride was. When we stopped one time while riding along the beach, the GTX was also a great beach chair. As I rode along, I became quite aware of the how the air was moving over me from my feet to my head. You could feel the lack of resistance from the low incline and widespread air movement really helped to cool me down when I was climbing. The GTX was very comfortable for my back, bottom and shoulders. When I needed to put a little power to the pedals, I didn't slide up the seat as has happened in other sling mesh seats I have ridden. As I pushed harder and harder, the seat gave me more leverage against the pedals. And, I will certainly take any help I can get. The optional Greenspeed headrest installed by the RTR support crew was also very helpful, especially when climbing uphill. Other headrests I have tried haven't worked as well because they hit right about the back of the helmet. But once again, Greenspeed thought this out. The headrest is adjustable up, down, fore and aft, and you can set it up so it is in the just the right place to work best for you. (Editorís Note: The Greenspeed headrest was installed after the photos shown here were taken.) Being accustomed to riding aluminum, I must admit the GTX Chromoly frame was quite the special pleasure. Adding up all the features on this trike creates a ride that is sturdy, relatively cushy, and without the need for a mouth guard. Spoiled is the only word I can come up with when I think of the time I got to spend riding the GTX! When I got back to my regular trike it just didn't feel the same. It used to be just fine until I put in so many miles on the GTX for this review. Now I dream about the day I can own one for myself.
TIRES & WHEELS | Considering I have a reputation for running over everything and exposing the trike to all sorts of debris, I was quite surprised that I had no flats riding the Schwalbe Stelvios. The tires looked so sleek and racy that I thought for sure I wouldn't get more that a few miles on them before repairing a flat. They did great and rode very smooth as well. I love the look and the convenience of 16" tires on all three wheels. Considering I am female and already carry everything except the kitchen sink in my panniers, I haven't been too fond of hauling tubes of different sizes along.. I'd rather throw in more food if I have to take on more weight. The wheels didn't make a single noise after the many potholes I rode through. Usually you hear the spokes on a new set of wheels pinging and twanging while the wheels are settling in. In spite of all the rough road conditions, the GTX wheels never needed any truing. I was delighted to hear how quiet they were. What I really loved about the wheels and spokes were that they were shiny. I have uselessly tried to polish other wheels so they look bright and shiny only to be disappointed that they just wouldn't take on a shine.. If Greenspeed took all the effort to design into the GTX racy geometry, a compliant frame, bright and durable powder coating, and superb components, why stop at the wheels? Greenspeed didn't!
GEARING | When the guys first showed me the GTX had a SRAM DualDrive rear hub, I yawned. Who needs all those gears anyway? I'm not planning on riding up Mount Everest anytime soon. Well, they didn't let me in on the big secret. Yeah, the guys have bigger, stronger legs and they have a lot more riding experience than I do, but after riding the GTX, I learned one of their speedy secrets. Their speed and endurance isn't totally from superior physique and training. The SRAM DualDrive is a large part of their secret. Being lighter than most of the really fast downhill riders, I'm at quite a disadvantage at keeping up with them. All I could say was "WHOA" once I cranked up the the revs and learned to use the SRAM DualDrive. My downhill pace was seriously accelerated! I was actually getting close to being concerned about how fast I was going rather than how can I make it go faster. And, if I ever do need to climb Everest on a trike, this one will certainly have enough gears to do it. But, I just might need a triple chainring for that mountain road! Generally I am not a good accelerator, but the GTX truly increased my skill level ten-fold. Smooth and powerful starts became an expected condition for me. As power is applied, the trike just seems to ask for more. Your body is pushed and supported back into the seat and you pedal harder. I know I said this before, but it really does work. Feeling fully empowered, it is easy to motivate yourself to ride farther and farther. I must admit a smile came on my face as soon as I saw the Shimano Ultegra setup. Perhaps I'm just a label conscious component snob, but I really do think I feel a difference in the upgraded group. Everything just seems smoother and quieter. A noisy and inefficient trike sounds like an unloved, poorly maintained trike! A double blind test might prove that these cool components improved the performance of the GTX, or it may just be in my mind! But even if it is all in my mind, I still love those Ultegra components! WEIGHT The approximate weight of the Greenspeed GTX dream machine was 35 lbs. It was so stable and sturdy, I was sure it must weigh a lot more. How did they get all this performance out of just a measly 33lbs? I would easily give up my aluminum frame weight savings in a heartbeat to get all the goodies that are built into the GTX.
SUMMARY | It was very hard work to find something that one could criticize about this trike. Of course, it just can't be that perfect, right? But, it is certainly close. I suppose I could whine that the GTX doesn't come with any warning lights and sirens when it has been pushed beyond its limits. My lack of skill and common sense did push the trike too far and I learned that you can tip a Greenspeed if you try really, really hard. Kids, don't try this at home! I could certainly whine about the cost, but to tell you the truth, it is worth every penny!. A bit of crying was provoked when I realized that it would not fit on the rack on top of my car but that's easily remedied by getting a new rack...or a new car. If I really had to whine about something, it would have to be the color combination. How petty, isn't it? When I save up my pennies to purchase my GTX I'll have to invest in a custom powder coat color combination that suits my personality. Hmm.....What goes with Wild and Crazy Lady Test Pilot?