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My Review of Performer FWD Custom Midracer

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My Review of Performer FWD Custom Midracer

Old 10-11-18, 01:06 PM
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Skankingbiker
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My Review of Performer FWD Custom Midracer

Originally posted on BROL:

After three months of riding my Performer FWD Zelus custom fitted with 451 wheels/fork, I think I have enough data to do an “initial review” so-to-speak.



Anyone here who followed my other threads know that this is my first bent (well, aside from the disaster home build I tried 10 years ago). So, take everything I say with that caveat.



Buying Experience



I was very worried buying direct from a Taiwanese manufacturer and purchasing something sight unseen. I needn’t have worried. Christine at Performer was very patient and responsive in answering all my questions and swapped out the fork, wheels, drivetrain and brakes from the original Zelus for the parts on their folding FWD at my request and at no extra charge.

The bike was shipped promptly (arrived 3 weeks from ordering) and was well-packaged upon arrival.



Why did I decide to go with Performer? Because I could not find anything comparable in the US market, not to mention at the same price point.



Price with shipping to US was $1535 USD.



Also, I would be remiss if I did not give credit to Vangelo and several other members here for their reviews of their own bikes and willingness to share their experiences with Performer.



What’s in the box? and Assembly




Performer custom midracer fwd by T_MB, on Flickr



The box came with everything I needed to assemble the bike and included numerous “goodies” that were not even advertised with the bike including, Allen-wrench multi-tool; multi-tool wrench/spanner; water bottle cage; ample cabling and housing, “brain bag”; flag; and reflectors.



Assembly was fairly straightforward, although it does require pre-existing working knowledge of bike parts/assembly. I am a self-taught hobby mechanic for context. The most difficult part was setting up the front derailleur. Cutting the boom to the correct length was also a little stressful, albeit a straightforward procedure.



Frame and component design/quality



The frame design seems to be well-thought out. The welds are clean, and the paint exquisite. The component spec is really good for the price point. Both the boom and the tiller are adjustable, and the seat offers 3 positions of recline. Overall, no major complaints in this department. However, there are a few minor annoyances/ areas of improvement.



Tiller: The tiller is a 3 piece set consisting of an attachment to the steer tube, pivot piece, and adjustable boom clamp. The two pieces of the tiller contain “windows” to route the cables through. I have 2 complaints with this set up. First, the range of the pivot piece is controlled by an Allen bolt that makes contact with the steer-tube attachment. After 3 months of use, it appears that the bolt is marring the metal and leaving an indentation. Not a major problem, but may lead to future issues. As it was, I swapped for a longer bolt and glued a piece of old tube rubber to the stem attachment to stop any marring.



The second issue with the tiller is that it comes very long stock. This causes the infamous “killer-tiller” when steering. I cut down the clamp end of the tiller significantly to avoid this and for personal comfort. However, as a result, my cables got all bunched up in the window and I noticed that the edge of the window is somewhat sharp and was digging into/cutting the cable housing. I eventually decided to route the cables on top of the tiller and wrap when with some old handlebar bar.



PRO-TIP: Even if you decide to use the internal routing, DO NOT do so until you have finalized your tiller length. If you use the internal routing initially and then change the length, you will need to remove and re-lay all of the cables/housing after cutting them down (because there is not enough room in the window to take up the extra slack—the shorter you cut it, the smaller the window is).



Seat: I went with the stock fiberglass seat. Overall, no complaints. However, one of the rivnuts for the water bottle mounts came loose during shipping and fell off into the seat. Ultimately this turned out to be a non-issue because I decided not to use the water bottle seat mounts/ included cage because everytime I would hit a bump, my water bottle would eject out the back. Also, I found the positioning of the bottles very awkward to access while riding. As such, I decided to use a camelback bladder contained in a fanny pack strapped around the seat mount for my hydration needs.



My only other complaint about the seat is that the quick release clamp at the back has a tendency to come loose going over bumps and that when set to max recline, it is very difficult to access given the ridges under the seat.



Tires: The stock ties (Duros) are “ok.” They are relatively light with thin sidewalls and are road slicks. I kept getting pinch flats and wanted a little more stability, so I upgraded to some thicker Vee Speedsters YMMV.



Seat Pad

The seat pad is acceptable. I wanted a little more cush, so I added a layer of foam mat between the seat and pad. I also added a cut pool noodle under for some more lumbar support due to my low back issues. YMMV



Headrest

The positioning of the head rest was all-wrong for me—its clearly intended for a taller rider. I wound up bending it upwards and replacing the stock foam pad with part of a cut pool noddle. YMMV. However, the mount for the headrest needs to be rethought. As is, the mount plate goes on top of the seat, which, for me, results in a nice square piece of aluminum between my shoulder blades, which starts to bug me on longer rides.



Free Bag



As noted, the bike comes with a free seat/brain bag. Pros: its free. Cons: The stitching is horrible. Within 2 weeks, all major seams ripped. I wound up hand sewing them all with some heavy-duty nylon thread, and now the bag is great. It fits 2 tubes, my tools, phone, and spare room for snacks.




The Ride/Performance

Overall, I am very happy with the ride quality/performance of this bike. I am 5’ 8” and decided to go with the 451 wheels mostly due to concern about my leg being able to reach the ground and stability issues, being my first bent and all. I went with the most recline option for the seat both for back comfort and aerodynamics.

Yes, there is a learning curve to this bike, as a first bent for me. However, I was able to ride up and back down the street within 2 days and within 5 days was cruising around bike paths. Starting/stopping takes some getting used to, but is fine.

PRO TIP for newbs: You can’t go into it thinking that you can just ride it. It really is like learning to ride a bike all over again, esp. if you adopt a more reclined position. Steering if different, balance different, entry/exit technique is different. BUT---its all easily manageable. Once your learn to “pilot” the bike and stop fighting it, you are golden.

Front wheel drive

I was very worried about the FWD after reading horror stories of “pedal steer”, chain/wheel interference, wheel slippage, and interference with the main idler. Bottom line: None of these are really an issue.
Why did I go with FWD? A couple reasons. First, I like the engineering/design/efficiency. I don’t like the idea of hauling 4 pounds worth of chain around and throwing dirt everywhere. FWD just seems cleaner, more efficient, and more direct than the many RWD bikes I test rode. Plus, it was $300 cheaper than a RWD.

So what about the drawbacks? Honesty…pedal steer is no more an issue than with a similar RWD bent IMHO. Yes, you get some torque when hitting the drive side hard..but guess what..you get than on an upright and RWD bent as well…you just don’t notice it because you learn to compensate. No different with a FWD. Is the steer torque “more” than a RWD? Maybe, but it isn’t an issue and I don’t notice it at all now. I suppose it is most pronounced when launching, but you just internalize how to compensate. To me, total non-issue.

Wheel slippage? What wheel slippage? The only time I have had the wheel slip is on lose gravel up hill. I have taken lots of steep hills both dry and wet and have not yet had ANY front wheel slip. To the contrary, if I have a problem with wheel slip, it is in the rear, which tends to fishtail when braking heavy downhill or when wet. On an upright I usually use 50/50 front rear brakes. On my bent, I think it is more 60/40. Part of this could be due to the fact that with a smaller fork, the bike has more front weight bias.

Chain interference? Only an issue when walking and steering the bike or if taking a really sharp, slow-speed right turn. In practice, when you are under power, it is a non issue.

Idler interference? Nope. I have wide hips so my thighs never get near the front idler. For narrow-hipped people, the front idler has a protective cover. Also, given my seat position, my thighs are significantly above the idler anyways.

Comfort

As I noted, I added a foam pad under the seat and wider tires. I also added suspension bobbins under the front part of the seat. With those mods, the bike is fine comfort-wise. You still feel large hits but can compensate by lifting your butt/bridging—similar to unweighting an upright. I am also relatively heavy at 211 pounds, so YMMV.

Speed

I bought this bike to be able to keep riding after a back injury. Yes, I wanted something fast, but I wasn’t expecting a formula race car. That said, the speed is pretty impressive. 16-17 mph cruising on flats with little effort—I can spin her up to 25 mph on a flat going all-out and have gotten up to 43 going downhill. Speed is not an issue with this bike. If I lost some weight and went with narrow tires, I am sure I could be faster.
Still working on my hill technique, but no problem getting up hills—just slower because it is all spinning.




Handling/Ride

The bike handles excellent once you get your positioning and steering dialed in. My pre-purchase dreams of piloting a jet fighter down the bike path and carving corners is a reality. Very fun machine.

The biggest thing for me is this bike has allowed me to return to riding pain free. I can now spend 4 hours on a bike with no neck/hand/or low back pain. The only thing that is sore after a ride are my leg muscles.

Conclusion

For the price point, I think this bike is an exceptional value. I was looking for a sporty low/mid-racer that would accommodate a shorter person for a reasonable price and Performer delivered. Yes, I have made a bunch of mods to the bike, but who doesn’t? I noted my minor complaints above, but nothing that is a “deal breaker”. I really do love riding this bike. It is fast, fun, and comfortable.

Its also very customizable. The bike was originally designed for 700/700 wheels. With the shorter fork, it handles 451/451 just dandy. Also, I have experimented with a 26 inch wheel in the back, which also handles very nice, but gives a more upright position.

Would I recommend this bike? Absolutely.



Performer FWD custom midracer by T_MB, on Flickr



2018-09-11_06-48-29 by T_MB, on Flickr
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Old 11-23-18, 10:06 PM
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Very sharp bike.
I bought a semi-recumbent tandem from Performer over 10 years ago, still ride it every summer with my wife.
Just like you, I bought it right unseen, it was a great value.
I wish the Performer brand is more popular in the US, their products are well designed and built to last.
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Old 11-24-18, 12:25 PM
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Mbb

Why not shorten the chain further by using MBB design. You'll get the benefit of steering the bike with pedals and eliminate heel/front wheel interference.
700C wheels, 2x11 drive train, Thor carbon fiber seat, gross wt. ~9Kg.

Last edited by violini; 12-16-18 at 02:08 PM. Reason: add
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Old 11-24-18, 02:58 PM
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IMO, when bottom bracket is connected to the steering column, you might as well eliminate the whole steering column and steer with your feet; that would be even more weight saving, no?
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Old 11-24-18, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by violini View Post
Why not shorten the chain further by using MBB design. You'll get the benefit of steering the bike with pedals and eliminate heel/front wheel interference.
700C wheels, 2x11 drive train, Tor carbon fiber seat, gross wt. ~9Kg.
Some people can ride MBB bikes, some can't. A friend has a hand-and-foot powered recumbent bike and he can ride no-hands for miles. Other people have tried riding his bike and failed completely.

I need to get down to Rose City Recumbents and try a Cruzbike or two. Given my lousy level of coordination and fitness it ought to be good for some laughs.
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Old 11-30-18, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
Some people can ride MBB bikes, some can't. A friend has a hand-and-foot powered recumbent bike and he can ride no-hands for miles. Other people have tried riding his bike and failed completely.

I need to get down to Rose City Recumbents and try a Cruzbike or two. Given my lousy level of coordination and fitness it ought to be good for some laughs.
Don't do either. A Cruzbike is an answer to a question no one has asked. That's why they have to work so hard to sell them. I mean, they give them to you to keep for a year now. Who does that?! And, Rose City Recumbents? Meh. Been there. They get such good press. Tiny shop. Very unfriendly. Recumbents PDX. Huge shop. Massive inventory on display (97% trikes, sigh) and Mel and his spouse will treat you like ... like a potential customer should be treated.
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Old 01-13-19, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by violini View Post
Why not shorten the chain further by using MBB design. You'll get the benefit of steering the bike with pedals and eliminate heel/front wheel interference.
700C wheels, 2x11 drive train, Thor carbon fiber seat, gross wt. ~9Kg.
Well, i was intrigued by the mbb design, but was not going to shell out for a cruzbike sight unseen. i was willing to take a $1200 loss on the performer
......3gs....not so much.

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Old 01-15-19, 03:15 PM
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I already have two full-sized lowracers. But a dual-20 would make a nice travel bike, maybe even suitable for out-of-state tours. And something small like that would be less intimidating if someone on one of those tours wanted to test it out around the parking lot. Just curious - how wide is the top 8" of the FRP seat?
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Old 01-22-19, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Don't do either. A Cruzbike is an answer to a question no one has asked. That's why they have to work so hard to sell them. I mean, they give them to you to keep for a year now. Who does that?! And, Rose City Recumbents? Meh. Been there. They get such good press. Tiny shop. Very unfriendly. Recumbents PDX. Huge shop. Massive inventory on display (97% trikes, sigh) and Mel and his spouse will treat you like ... like a potential customer should be treated.

So I guess you weren't able to ride one. Some can't. I mounted one and was able to take off on the first try. OK, second try actually. A little too much wobble on the first pedal stroke. I can't think of a reason to suggest someone not try a certain bike. I say try as many as you can before buying, Why limit yourself?
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Old 01-22-19, 07:47 AM
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I've tried a Cruzbike, I logged about 4 miles on it.. I got to a point where I can pedal smoothly and keep my travel direction steady.
I don't like the combination of control forces and pedaling forces stuck together, I like to keep them separated.
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Old 01-22-19, 07:52 AM
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Great review.
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Old 01-22-19, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Great review.
Are you trying to get this thread back on topic? How dare you!
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Old 01-22-19, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Bluechip View Post
I can't think of a reason to suggest someone not try a certain bike.
You mean other than that this thread was about the OP's new lowracer?
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Old 02-16-19, 10:46 AM
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Hi All,

I recently purchased the Performer Zelus and have a question. The 'stock' handlebars which came with the bike is not to my liking. I have another Performer High Racer with 'Superman' handlebars installed and strongly prefer them over the stock bars. So my question is how to replace and install Superman bars? I am not a great mechanic although I'm getting better

Thank you in advance any and all responses!
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Old 02-17-19, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by RiderInPeoria View Post
Hi All,

I recently purchased the Performer Zelus and have a question. The 'stock' handlebars which came with the bike is not to my liking. I have another Performer High Racer with 'Superman' handlebars installed and strongly prefer them over the stock bars. So my question is how to replace and install Superman bars? I am not a great mechanic although I'm getting better

Thank you in advance any and all responses!
Your best bet would be to contact Christine at Performer and tell her what you want to do, and she'll sell you the parts you need.
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Old 05-22-19, 10:01 PM
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I wouldn't take that bet. Just bought my first recumbent from Performer. Christine and Vanessa were notorious for ignoring my email inquiries. I live in China. A Performer bike was the path of least resistance to purchase here.
I still find it unbelievable I had to literally beg them to sell me a trike. I should have heeded the omen!
Once I got one, there was a welding imperfection inside the frame that wouldn't allow the boom to be inserted. There's a problem with the (indirect steering) tie rods that'd take too much time to explain, and just when I was about to take it on the road, I faced a defective front derailleur.
Now I'm stuck between a Chinese dealer that doesn't know anything and a company - Performer Cycle - that refuses to answer any email or texts. I am told to deal only with the Chinese dealer. We offered to buy and they refused to sell us a new front derailleur. It can be very difficult to buy genuine parts in China...
If I ever get it on the road, I'll come back. Maybe I'll eat my words, but some of the worst customer service I have ever experienced in my life - Performer Cycles - stands on its own.
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Old 05-23-19, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by XPat9 View Post
I wouldn't take that bet. Just bought my first recumbent from Performer. Christine and Vanessa were notorious for ignoring my email inquiries. I live in China. A Performer bike was the path of least resistance to purchase here.
I still find it unbelievable I had to literally beg them to sell me a trike. I should have heeded the omen!
Once I got one, there was a welding imperfection inside the frame that wouldn't allow the boom to be inserted. There's a problem with the (indirect steering) tie rods that'd take too much time to explain, and just when I was about to take it on the road, I faced a defective front derailleur.
Now I'm stuck between a Chinese dealer that doesn't know anything and a company - Performer Cycle - that refuses to answer any email or texts. I am told to deal only with the Chinese dealer. We offered to buy and they refused to sell us a new front derailleur. It can be very difficult to buy genuine parts in China...
If I ever get it on the road, I'll come back. Maybe I'll eat my words, but some of the worst customer service I have ever experienced in my life - Performer Cycles - stands on its own.
I don't know ... how much time did you spend reading back posts on BROL or BF before you started crossposting, and now thread hijacking? You'd have to be in a whole lot of denial not to see that Christine, Vanessa and Victoria are beloved on six Continents by all who deal with them. Let me tell you something. It was HARD getting my bikes ordered. Even you must realize that communication in English is just about possible for the Taiwan based customer support team. Your situation of being an English speaker in China ... tell me you're aware that Taiwan and China do not have the friendliest of relations? Now I really don't know how much geo-politics, language barrier, attitude, or any other thing play into your present difficulties but I can tell you I actually composed and paid for an ad on Craigslist for a Taiwanese speaker to help me work with Christine. When none could be found I rolled up my sleeves and used every ounce of understanding I possessed and made a breakthrough. God forgive me for judging you as lacking somewhat in understanding. But I fear this is the case. We can't help you out of your predicament because you aren't listening. You haven't followed up with any of your other open threads so ... good luck. The common denominator here is you. I don't know what you said, or what you did, but you said or did something to bring things to the point where Christine won't return your emails. Fix it. Or don't. Plenty of people buy bikes, used usually, find them needing something fixed and they have to get resourceful because they bought the thing "as is" and now have no recourse. That is essentially the situation you're in. It isn't a death sentence. Come on man, just get the trike finished and go riding. You'll feel a whole lot better.
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Old 05-24-19, 09:29 PM
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Nice, using a word like 'hijack' to describe my seeking help for a problem.
I dealt with Performer Cycles for 3 months, 2 months of which was pretty regular.
Things went sour when the bolt on the derailleur stripped. They referred me to the Chinese dealer,
said it was my fault, and stopped communicating with me.
'Beloved' is not a word that comes to mind.
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Old 05-24-19, 11:51 PM
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Leisesturm
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Originally Posted by XPat9 View Post
Nice, using a word like 'hijack' to describe my seeking help for a problem.
I dealt with Performer Cycles for 3 months, 2 months of which was pretty regular.
Things went sour when the bolt on the derailleur stripped. They referred me to the Chinese dealer,
said it was my fault, and stopped communicating with me.
'Beloved' is not a word that comes to mind.
Hijack is as hijack does. Post #16 in a thread started by someone else? Seriously, you are going to give me stuff for calling you on it? So all this over a freaking stripped bolt? Of course they referred you to the dealer. That's what dealers are for. If your behavior at the dealers is anything like what it has been in these forums I don't wonder why you've been having a less than optimal experience. Maybe contact Microshift? Chances are if you were stateside you could take it to a large tool center and they could duplicate that bolt. Probably something similar exists in China. You're there. We're not. Beloved may not be the word YOU would use but isn't it starting to filter through yet that your experience doesn't match with what most (maybe more than most) others experience with Performer. And this dealer ... you don't exactly seem to be getting on like a house on fire there either. Find a new bolt, complete your trike, go riding. Peace.
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Old 05-25-19, 04:42 AM
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@Leises.turd Wow, you have some angry words. What did I do to you? Take a good look at your own behaviour. I know how Performer representatives interacted with me. Disagreeing with someone = hijacking a thread? Whatever. Your snide presumption about the dealer is also wrong. And I've spent about .00000001% of my life on forums so maybe I'm not little prissy perfect with every little word I write. So be it. I communicated as objectively as I could, given my harsh circumstances. If you don't like it, go on a crusade and kick everyone off your forum who criticizes your 'beloved.'
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Old 05-25-19, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by XPat9 View Post
Disagreeing with someone = hijacking a thread? Whatever. Your snide presumption about the dealer is also wrong.
It was a hijack because your post was not about a Performer FWD lowracer. It was about your front derailleur. I thought it was inappropriate too. As was you joining multiple forums just so you could cross post like crazy and bash on a company. Forums aren't places to exact revenge. It's all very bad form.
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Old 05-25-19, 08:10 PM
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Some customers are extremely high maintenance, and sometimes businesses fire such customers.
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