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R54
The R50 series bikes were all full suspension. The suspension configuration changed over time, especially the rear triangle, with successive model years. The rear shock was a Cane Creek unit. These bikes were prone to pogo under hard pedalling.

2002 Vision R54 photos courtesy greyfox2ATaol.com. Purchased with Pantour front hub and rigid front fork for much less weight and better aerodynamics. This bike (with pedals and quick adjust pulleys removed) weighs in at about 29 lbs. (29.06 - 29.08 on 6 weighings) The Pantour hub is not as "cushy" as the Ballistic fork but it does remove the normal road vibration and the trade-off in aerodynamics and weight is significant. Bike has some cosmetic flaws, approximately 5000 mi, but in excellent operating shape. The 2002's have the instant adjust chain idlers, quick release boom extender and indexed boom ... all huge improvements over previous models. Ultegra 170mm cranks with 52-42-26 rings (I can replace 26 with stock 30) 9-spd LX Rapid Fire shifters XT Rear derailleur 11-34 cassette Shimano STX Headset SRAM PC 971 chain < 500 mi Cane Creek AD-5 rear shock Schwalbe Stelvio kevlar 1 1/8 x 20 front tire like new Primo Racer 1 x 26 rear tire nearly new Alex DA16 rear rim on Shimano 105 hub - TRADITIONAL dishing - NOT Vision "no-dish" Planet Bike front fender

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Vision R54
The land of grunge rock produces something a little mellower
By Bryan J. Ball Editor bentrideronline.com Posted on August 19, 2000

As many homebuilders can verify that a good recumbent design is the results of years of tweaking and adjusting. It's been said many times that a good builder is never finished.

The designers and builders at ATP Vision certainly never seem to be finished. The Washington-based company has made more changes to their line every year than almost every other manufacturer. It may be something small like adding an inch or two to a wheelbase, or changing the seat foam, but the engineers at Vision always seem to be busy.

This year actually seems to be the exception. Most of Vision's bikes are getting the usual component updates and some MSRP's are being adjusted, but there isn't really any earth-shattering news coming from Seattle for 2001.

This doesn't mean that Vision's design team has run out of Starbucks and gotten lethargic. It just means that most of they are satisfied with their current works and are already tinkering with all-new products for 2002.

LOVING THE ATTENTION

One of the bikes that have benefited most from Vision's steady examination and improvement is the full-suspension R-50 series. Vision's suspension line has been totally redesigned at least twice in its lifespan and the new version is definitely the best one yet.

It may seem that Vision has been spending all of their money on R&D lately. Fortunately that isn't true. Our test R54 also benefited highly from Vision's constantly improving manufacturing process. The company has recently moved into a brand-new facility that has allowed them to keep most of their production in the US while greatly improving their fit and finish quality. Our beautiful, purple R54 was the best-made Vision I've ever seen. A few newer R40's I've seen and our R65 Saber test bike have also proven to me that the company's quality control has improved by leaps and bounds over its level just a few years ago.

The R54's component spec is also much more refined. It features high-end Shimano 105 and XT components, a nice pair of Sun Rims and extremely strong Avid Arch Rival V-Brakes. It's only real weak point is the all-too-common and puncture-prone Primo rubber.

Unfortunately, the high-end Avid brakes proved to also be a detriment at times. I love Avid Arch Rival brakes most of the time, but they put out almost too much stopping power on the rear of the R54. I was able to lock-up the Vision's rear-end without much effort at all. This may have also had something to do with the bikes weight bias, but I feel that the brakes were also to blame.

The drivetrain on the R54 worked flawlessly. As much as I dislike Shimano's business practices, I still feel that almost nothing shifts as well as a pair of Rapidfires. Unfortunately, they usually don't fit very well on most recumbent controls. However, they work great on Vision's USS system. Our test-bike never missed a shift either front or rear during our entire test.

SMOOTH AND COMFY

Comfortable barely begins to describe the R54. Our test bike provided one of the smoothest rides, I've ever experienced. The refinements that have been made to Vision's seat over the past two years also agree with my posterior very much.

The entire 50 series' rear suspension is anchored around a Cane Creek AD-5 air shock. The suspension moves on a single pivot and the triangulated swingarm is very stiff laterally.

I pumped the shock up to 110% of my body weight and never felt the need to adjust it. It sucked up most bumps without any difficulty and didn't pogo excessively under power.

I had absolutely no problem with the R54's rear suspension, but I did have a qualm with the Ballistic front fork. Even at 150 lbs, I found the springs to be a little too soft for my liking. I admit that I usually like my suspension stiffer than other riders, but I think that many 50 series owners will agree with me and want to obtain Ballistic's stiffer springs for their forks.

Tricky handling didn't ruin the Vision's smooth character. I still prefer an indirect approach to my USS, but the Vision has been working with direct USS for a long time and has it nailed down better than anyone else. Our R54 wasn't exactly the Rock of Gibraltar but it was fairly stable and never really gave me any big scares.

As expected, the R54 wasn't a speed demon. It's not a racer or even a fast club-rider, but it's not supposed to be. The R54 is a high-end touring SWB. Its sole purpose in life is to make the miles pass comfortably not quickly and it performs this task with easy. I commuted to work on the R54 almost every day I had it and never dreaded getting on it in the morning and heading out.

ACCESSORIZE, ACCESSORIZE

No pretty, purple outfit would be complete without accessories. Our test R54 came to us (as requested) with a pretty good smattering of optional accessories. These included the Vision seat bag, kickstand and fenders.

My favorite of these add-ons was the unique kickstand. It's a centerstand affair very similar to what you may see on a motorcycle. To deploy it you flip it down with your foot and then roll the bike back until it locks down. This lifts the entire rear end up off the ground and makes a pretty decent repair stand if you're just adjusting gears or brakes. The kickstand even includes a rubber stopper so that it doesn't make a huge clang when it folds back up.

This is the same kickstand that comes with Vision's Double-Vision tandems. Unfortunately, it's rather bulky and quite heavy. It's also your only option as far as kickstands go any 50-series Vision and its benefits do outweigh its penalties.

Vision's seat bag was also a joy to use. It mounts as easy as any seat bag I've ever seen and is extremely well made. It holds two water bottles on the outside and a Platypus water bladder internally. The bladder is great, but does take up a lot of room in the fairly smallish bag. When the bag is removed, it looks like any plain canvas attaché except for the large reflective stripe that runs across it.

The fenders were pretty standard for today's market. The suspension fork made the mounting process a little more difficult, but they weren't a total puzzle. Unfortunately, I only got caught in the rain once on the R54 and I didn't have them mounted yet. (Yes, I did feel stupid.)

A FAITHFUL COMPANION

The R54 isn't what I would call an exciting bike. It's a very comfortable, very capable touring bike. It's still an inspiring ride, but it's inspiring in the same way that a Cadillac is inspiring, not in the same manner as a Ferrari.

My most enjoyable rides on the R54 were when I was out by myself, enjoying the scenery and fresh air. It wasn't a good companion on faster group rides, but that really doesn't detract too much from the bike. Vision didn't have any roadie-smoking dreams going through their heads when they designed the R50 series. That's what bikes like the Saber and R45 are for.

The R54's $2195 asking price may be a little too high for some. The R54's high-end component spec still makes the 54 a decent value, but many customers won't need all of high-tech firepower this bike provides. That's fine too since Vision offers the same frame design with the same suspension pieces in the lower-spec R50 for $1695. If the R54 isn't glitzy enough for you; you can step up the R55 for $2995. Like all Visions, the 50 series is available with OSS.