Longbikes Eliminator review
Longbikes Eliminator G2
There are a lot of recumbent riders using their bikes for serious cross country touring. In fact it’s long been the opinion of many observers that we should be trying to convert touring riders to recumbents instead of concentrating on the hard core roadie set as some of the major manufacturers are. Recumbents are comfortable for the back-to-back-to-back-to-back long distance days that touring cyclists regularly put in and the usual hurdles in touring bike design (weight distribution, rack design, ability to accept fenders, etc.) have largely been sorted out on many recumbents. But despite the increasing crossover appeal, there are very few truly touring-specific recumbents out there. Many ’bents are easily converted to this purpose but the only companies that are almost singularly focused on this segment are HPVelotechnik, Linear, and Longbikes.
The latter of this trio began life producing a design that has long been the benchmark of touring recumbent design, the Ryan Vanguard. That design has now morphed into the more modern Longbikes Slipstream. Longbikes later added a short wheelbase to their stable with the Eliminator. Longbikes freshened up both designs over the last two seasons. The new version of the Eliminator is now called the Eliminator G2.
This new Eliminator is made from the same sturdy steel as the original. The Eliminator had a reputation as a great handling bike so Longbikes didn’t mess with that very much and other than the swooping tube behind the seat, the G2 is also aesthetically similar to the original. However, this new bike is much improved over the original.
Primary among these improvements is the addition of a sliding boom mechanism in addition to the sliding seat. This allows the rider to center their weight between the wheels more accurately. There are also new replaceable drop-outs that allow the use of a 700C or 26" rear wheel. The seat height has also been lowered slightly and disc brakes are now standard. The Eliminator can also be ordered with several different mid-drive chainrings so that buyers can get exactly the gear range he or she wants. Longbikes’ adjustable hip angle seat is also fitted.
In an effort to fix some supply problems, Longbikes has brought all of their rack production in-house. These new tubular chromoly racks are similar to the Tubus brand pieces that they replace. Right now only a rear rack is available but there should be an underseat rack in production shortly after you read this.
My Eliminator G2 test bike was finished in a lovely shade of red. Not too flashy but far from burgundy. It was one of the smoothest powdercoat jobs I’ve seen lately. The Longbikes’ welds and the CNC machine work on the alloy parts was also outstanding. Longbikes recumbents have always looked the part and this new G2 is no exception.
Longbikes says on their site that they “don’t like wimpy parts.” 99.9% of the Eliminator G2’s design and construction lend credence to that statement. The one weak part I discovered on the G2 was literally on accident. I laid the bike down on a slippery grass covered descent (yes, I know it wasn’t smart) and it landed fairly gently on the left end of the handlebar. The bike was completely unscathed … I thought. A closer inspection revealed that I had bent the bolt that the handlebars pivot on. I was able to bend it back fairly easily and replaced it a week later to be safe but seemed like it shouldn’t have bent that easily. I later spoke to a dealer who reported a few instances of that same problem occurring on other Longbikes he had sold. One Slipstream owner has been through three of them already. The good news is that when it bends, you just get some vertical slop in the handlebars and it’s extremely unlikely that it would actually break. It’s also a pretty cheap part and takes about a minute to replace. I would probably carry a couple of spares if I were on a long tour.
The component spec on the Eliminator definitely shows a preference for sturdy and reliable parts. The derailleurs are Shimano XT for the rear and Shimano 105 on the front. They are actuated via a pair of trusty Shimano Dura-Ace Bar-Cons. The Avid Speed Dial brake levers are attached to a pair of Avid’s excellent BB7 disc brakes. The crankset is a no name Taiwanese piece but that’s not unexpected on a bike with a custom drivetrain. It looks to be of fairly high quality at any rate.
The only component choice that made me raise my eyebrow a bit was the wheelset. The Alex rims were pretty high quality and while I personally don’t think too much of Kenda Quest tires, they are pretty tough and have a good rep. The problem is with the hubs. And to be honest, this is probably more of a PR problem than a real reliability issue. The hubs are emblazoned with the Longbikes logo but if you look closely you’ll also see a Quando marking. Quando has a pretty bad rep because most of the hubs that leave their Taiwan factory with the company logo on them are pretty low-end. But truth be known, they actually make hubs for several high-end aftermarket manufacturers. Longbikes just didn’t pay enough to have the factory logo removed from the sealed bearing hubs they spec on both the Eliminator G2 and the Slipstream. I compared them to some very pricey Chris King hubs that I happened to have in the shop and while they weren’t quite as smooth as those, they were a bit smoother than the average Shimano mountain bike hubs you see on many other recumbents.
With the adjustable boom and moveable seat mount, it’s not difficult to get your weight centered between the wheels. It does take a bit though since you have to add or remove links from the front chain. I used the old “two bathroom scales” trick to get the distribution as close to 50/50 as possible. Adjusting the hip angle on the seat and getting the variable hand position just ride will probably take a few rides.
Once I got everything “just so” on the G2 test bike, I found it to be very comfortable. I got a touch of recumbent butt on the first couple of rides but it went away eventually. I could definitely see myself spending days on end crossing a state or even a continent on the Eliminator.
The Eliminator’s handling is also very conducive to long periods in the saddle. When I reviewed the original Longbikes short wheelbase, I said it had handling that was nearly as good as the benchmark Haluzak Horizon. With the G2, Longbikes has set a new standard. This is definitely the smoothest handling underseat steering short wheelbase I’ve ever ridden. At both low speed and high speed, the G2 was smooth and predictable. It handled just as a good touring bike should. This may have something to do with the adjustable center of gravity since the general geometry hasn’t been changed much from the original Eliminator.
When I reviewed the Slipstream awhile back, I said that while it wasn’t a particularly fast bike, it was capable of sucking up the miles on a long tour since it sort of disappeared beneath you. The Eliminator G2 is similar to a point. It also has that same ability to melt away and become a part of you as you plod along for hours on end, but it is a slightly faster bike. It’s definitely not going to win any races but it’s perfectly capable of handing the average recumbent group ride without any major surgery such as a wheel swap or a tire change. It also has a slightly rougher ride over rough pavement than the Slipstream does. I fitted our test bike with a pair of Schwalbe Big Apples as an experiment and it really smoothed the ride without sacrificing too much performance.
One frequently overlooked aspect of recumbent design is noise reduction. A constant squeak or rattle may not bother you much on a test ride, but it can really fray your nerves on a weeklong tour. With its mid-drive, three chains and plethora of proprietary parts, the Eliminator’s drivetrain appears quite heavy and overly complicated at first glance. It surely doesn’t help lessen the Eliminator’s thirty-six pound “naked” weight but it is remarkably quiet. In fact, its one of the quietest short wheelbase chain management systems I’ve seen (or heard). Since the drive chain is the length that the Shimano overlords expect it to be, it also makes sure that there are no surprises in the shifting department. Physics says that there should be some additional drivetrain drag with all of the extra pulleys and bearings involved but it’s not detectable from the pilot’s seat.
Of course a review of a touring ’bent is remiss without some commentary on how it handles a touring load. Unfortunately, Longbikes hadn’t quite made it to production with their custom rear and mid-ship racks by press time but I made the best of it by taking a little simulated tour with a fully loaded Burley Nomad trailer. I also fitted a pair of Planet Bike Freddy Fenders to the bike for this purpose. The G2 passed this evaluation with flying colors. Even with the Big Apples fitted, I was easily able to mount the fenders and the Eliminator towed the Burley trailer without a complaint. Predictably, the fully loaded fat tire G2 was not a speed demon but I didn’t really mind very much since the ride was so pleasant.
When a friend of mine was recently shopping for his first recumbent, he was led to believe that you had to have a long wheelbase recumbent if you wanted to do any serious touring. I don’t know where he got that from, but bikes like the Eliminator G2 are quick to disprove that theory. It’s certainly earned a permanent spot on my list of best touring bikes… long OR short wheelbase.
Longbikes Eliminator G2