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Top End XLT handcycle review

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    Top End XLT handcycle review

    Thought I would post a review of the Top End XLT handcycle. I have yet to find a solid source for handcycle info, so maybe this will help someone.

    I?ve been riding handcycles for 22 years (T-6 para) and have been on a Freedom Ryder for all of that time except for the last 2 years on this trike. The XLT has several things going for it, but two things definitely not going for it. I decided to get away from the Freedom Ryder because I don?t need 21 speeds (never did, really) with all the equipment that goes along with a derailleur. I was tired of dealing with a greasy chain and gear set. The XLT appealed to me because of the Shimano Nexus enclosed gear system. It took a lot for me to change because I love lean steer trikes and Mike at Freedom Ryder is a class act with customer service at the top of his list.

    Anyway, the XLT has a nice seat, good leg supports, and a simple, easy to shift enclosed gear system. It also has a poor chain guide system with no tension idlers and is geared to the moon in stock configuration. Those are the two things that almost killed the deal for me. Luckily, I had an old crank from a Freedom Ryder that had a 74mm BCD (bolt circle diameter). This allowed me to mount a small ?granny? cog as shown in the picture. I?ve gone from the original 38T sprocket to a 28T sprocket. This has made the first 4 gears usable, where as the stock gearing required the strength of the Hulk to use more than the first three gears, and that was pushing it. I?m planning on installing a 24T to let me use maybe one more gear. The chain guide system still stinks, but I?ve learned to keep a close eye on the chain tension and adjust it the minute I start to see some slack.

    The Shimano Nexus system is great. You can shift it rolling or sitting still; it doesn?t matter. So if you have to stop unexpectedly, you can shift to first to help you get rolling again. The gears are all enclosed, so no excess grease and grunge falling off on your garage floor. It also has a built in brake, so you just reverse the crank to apply the brake. The bike also comes with a backup cantilever rim brake.

    So here?s the bottom line, for me anyway. I?m getting old and just cruise the neighborhood anymore. No long distance riding. This bike is great for that. I would not recommend it stock because of the gearing. But if you can change the gearing yourself or have it changed, it is a good alternative to a bike with a derailleur. I still miss my lean steer, but this trike offers a lot for the casual rider. Just get the gearing changed.
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