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Saturday, September 21st 2013

7:54

One Year and 2,100 km with a Sinner Comfort Trike

By Gordon Koppang

The most memorable and outstanding feature of my first year as a Sinner owner is the horrible, damnable customer service provided by Sinner Bikes!  Here is a summary of what I put up with:  

Failure to respond to emails

About half the emails I sent to Sinner Bikes received no reply at all.  The trail of unanswered emails goes back to 2008.  Out of frustration, I tracked down an email address for Sinner owner and founder Jan de Vries.  I know he received them, but Mr de Vries did not reply to any of the emails I sent him.  

Failure to draw up an accurate price quote

The Dutch-speaking importer who brought in my Sinner travels often to The Netherlands.  During one of his trips he stopped by Sinner Bikes in person to draw up the purchase agreement.  Two men whose mother tongue is Dutch negotiated the quote face-to-face (with pictures and notes) yet, Sinner still managed to screw it up.  Specifically, they failed to add the cost of the extra seat I ordered.  Later Sinner wanted to revise the quote, but Mr. Bylsma, the importer, held them to the agreement.  

Failure to include the hitch with the trike when it was shipped – followed by months long failure to send the hitch by mail

I ordered the optional hitch with my trike, but Sinner “forgot” to include the hitch with the trike when it was shipped from The Netherlands.  Sinner received payment in full in late June 2012.  They did not mail the hitch until September 3, 2012!  

Failure to properly fabricate or inspect the hitch

When the hitch finally arrived it was unusable.  The hitch plate contains a hollow axle which supports the front fork of the trike being towed.  A quick release slips through the hollow axle and clamps the fork in place.  We found that the hitch plate was too wide so that not enough of the hollow axle stuck out the sides to support the fork.  We had to pound the hollow axle out of the hitch plate (it had been powder coated in place) and grind about a centimetre of material off the sides of the plate.  

Failure to install a 44/32/22 crankset

I ordered a 44/32/22 crankset paired with an 8-spd hub.  I knew from experience that this gearing would allow me to climb the steep hills around Lethbridge and still give me a useful high gear.  I took pains to communicate the details of the gearing I wanted; I put together detailed pictures and notes, which Mr. Bylsma, the importer, took with him to Holland and left with Sinner employee Arjen van Dam.  

In February 2013 – after months of cursing the Sinner’s heft – I decided to count to teeth on my granny sprocket.  I already knew that Sinner had fitted a cheap “kid’s bike” crankset with welded together steel sprockets.  When I discovered that Sinner had fitted a 48/38/28 crankset I became absolutely apoplectic!  A six tooth difference on the granny sprocket (28t vs. 22t) means that my bottom gear was 27% higher than I thought it was!  That’s the equivalent of climbing a hill in third gear instead of first gear!  No wonder the Sinner felt heavy!  

A new crankset, new bottom bracket and an hour of shop time cost me $120.69.  I emailed Sinner a digital copy of the receipt and ask them to reimburse me.  Harma de Vries replied with excuses but no apologies and no refund:

“We didn’t have a 44/32/22 ”.
“We thought it was a small difference ”
“You’ll DESTROY your hub with a 22t sprocket ”  

I blamed Arjen van Dam from installing the cheap and incorrect crankset, but Harma’s email indicated that it was the man at the top, Sinner founder and owner Jan de Vries, who decided to breach our purchase agreement.  Making a substitution is one thing; making a substitution without informing me is quite another.  I’ve had too much of Sinner’s insular arrogance and incompetence and I regret writing about it again.  If I am lucky, I will never have to deal with Harma or Jan or Harry again.  Arjen van Dam was fired in November 2012.  

As the aggravation of dealing with Sinner Bikes recedes, I have to admit; I’m quite happy with the trike itself.  Getting the gearing sorted made a big difference.  The trike still weighs 67 pounds, but now, with an adequate bottom gear, it feels a little lighter.  On long steep hills my speed drops to just over 3 km/hr.  On level ground I can sustain a little more than 20km/hr in short bursts.  

In 2009 – when I was still dreaming about the Sinner – I found some pictures posted by a woman named Mina Bilder.  The pictures of Mina in the Swedish countryside with her dog and her horses and her Sinner trike went straight to my heart.  They reveal an unhurried life – cycling at a leisurely pace – life in the slow lane.  The Sinner trike fits perfectly in that world.  I’ve also spent years looking at Hase Kettwiesels flying around racetracks – and soaring over jumps!  The world of the flying Kettwiesel and the world of the Sinner trike do not overlap.  As I’ve come to terms with the fact that the Sinner is heavy and slow, I’ve taken to calling it a “geezer glide”.  The geezer glide segment includes the Hase Lepus, the van Raam Easy Rider and the PFAU-Tec Scooter Trike.  Anthrotech makes a “tall” tadpole that could be considered a geezer glide.  All the aforementioned trikes have high seats, rear suspension and big cargo racks.  Lighter delta trikes weigh 39 or 40 pounds.  Geezer glides weigh 60 pounds and more; they’re built for comfort not speed.  

I recently rode the Sinner Comfort from Lethbridge to Waterton Lakes National Park, a distance of 140km.  I only rode one-way (a friend brought me and the Sinner home in her van).  Waterton is a mountain park – getting there involves a lot of climbing.  I carried food, water, tools and camping gear.  My average speed was a smidge over 7 km/hr.  I rode 5 hours on day one, 12 hours on day two and 3 hours on day three.  After all that time in the saddle, I’m pleased to say that nothing hurt.  My butt, my back, my wrists, and neck were fine.  The only indication that I had done a lot of work was some tenderness in my knees.  

When I bought the Sinner I was hoping for an all-season, all-surface, all-purpose trike.  The Sinner hardly noticed the snow, ice and muck of winter riding.  It is an all-season trike.  I have pointed the Sinner up and down dirt roads, shale trails, gravel roads and icy streets and it has “hooked-up” on every surface.  I’ve owned four recumbent cycles since 2006 and the Sinner is the best grocery-getter and errand-runner of the bunch.  In the past year I’ve enjoyed many casual group rides with the Sinner.  As long as speeds stay in the 10 to 20 km/hr range I can keep up.  I never thought I’d ride the Sinner 84 km in a single day – but I did.  I wouldn’t call the Sinner Comfort a “touring trike” but on a very brief, very slow tour, the Sinner and I did pretty well.  
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