yes, they are both good, my new almost unused 2008 HP Velotechnik Spirit recumbent bicycle on the left,and its 2003 sibling that carried me for some 19,000 km.
Want to know what I use it for? Mostly for commuting. Want to know why and how I got the second Spirit? As for why, well, among bicycles, this is a Rolls Royce.
Why I bought the second(hand) Spirit
If you guessed because I am satisfied with the first one, you are right. Here is how I got there. Biked a lot to school, after school and as an engineering student. After graduation when I started working, I left the bicycle alone. The car was too convenient, the distances seemed too far. In 1986 I moved to Japan and brought my two bicycles with me, a solid '70s Bauer 28" steel frame with 3-speed and drum brakes that I had built from the frame up and used to commute in Tokyo. The other one was a 1986 Raleigh sports 10-speed, used rarely. When I changed to motorbike and found not much time to use the bicycle in Tokyo, I sold the Bauer to the janitor of the apartment building in Shiroganedai I lived in at that time.
Fast forward 15 years, the company had grown a lot, family growing, too. I enjoy my 4th motorbike and dislike my gross body weight. Whatever food, water and diet regimen I tried did not work, what with the engineered foodstuffings so easily available. So, exercise it is. Running is not my cup of tea. So let's bicycle again. On a mild Sunday in 2002, I dusted off the 10-speed, pumped and oiled it, and took it the 7km hop to the office. Had a break and cycled back home. Except that short 10% grade uphill ... huff and puff and finally push. The humiliation. That old Raleigh Sports (ha) failed to climb in lowest gear, so of course I needed a new bicycle...
Studied on the web what was new and techie, got as far as aiming at a full suspension mountain bike with disc brakes, then stumbled over that word I did not know: recumbent. Search found forums, I educated myself, learned from the experienced enthusiasts, one had better test ride reumbents, as there is so much variation in shape and fit. Did that, found a shop in Tokyo that lets you pay for a test ride, decided to buy the German-made HP Velotechnik Spirit as a good beginner's recumbent.
Jump to 2008, summed up
More than 13000 km on my 2003 Spirit
Served as my first recumbent when I started cycling again after 15 years of motorbike and with serious overweight. The Spirit became my levitation machine, doing away with 20 kg over 2 years and still keeps me enjoying the commute and occasional shopping.
No-squat suspension, as described, means putting the chainline near the swingarm pivot to reduce drivetrain - induced oscillations. Works for me.
Amazing to read about the dual 20 version, that is what I wanted to have 5 years ago.... Front suspension is not critical for the larger riders, only 30% of the weight is on the front if you sit that far back as I do, and the suspension has a certain stickiness. A wide tire at low pressure is better. Rear suspension... would not want to leave home without it.
For the longer rides, I graduated to a T-Bone. Next dream ride is a Zenetik Pro frameset - I hear they have long delivery time...
Sorry for the forum insider lingo. If you want to see the Rans Zenetik Pro, I built it from the frameset and show off it on my about.me page.
Be it enough to say for today, I enjoyed a very balmy almost warm November 13 in Yokohama wearing shorts and t-shirt pedaling the new Spirit with air suspension for that comfy plush Rolls-Royce feeling. Over the years with the first Spirit, its maker HP Velotechnik turned out to be very generous when I had technical trouble and shipped free replacement parts to Japan. Repeated acts of generosity and their overall design and build quality prompt me to stick with the brand, even advocate it, and compare them with the reputation of Rolls-Royce, but that can wait for another post.