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  1. #1
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Practically recumbent

    Well, my dreams of years past have finally come true--almost. If all goes as planned, I'll have a new recumbent bicycle soon.



    But I wonder--for those of you with experience (without discussing you-know-what ) what are the practical and safety measures that are unique to recumbent bicycling, especially for commuting in rush hour traffic?

    Ta.
    No worries

  2. #2
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    I have a bag on the back with a reflective triangle on it. I find this enhances the visibility greatly. Just like with a bike you have to get used to riding in traffic in a more relaxed position but you get used to it. You may be a little nervous at first because all the thinigs you do but have taken for granted on an upright will be a little different and it will take you a bit to get used to them. It took me about 2 weeks to really get used to riding in traffic. One thing different though is just about everyone with a window down, riding in the back of a truck, or walking tries to talk to you.
    Oh and one more thing, because of the head angle a mirror is almost necessary unless you really want to do a number to your neck and balance. (not that it should replace your final visual check of the space you are turning into but it at least lets you do your pre-turn scans to check for openings without having to turn your head).
    Sunrise saturday,
    I was biking the backroads,
    lost in the moment.

  3. #3
    Bent_Rider
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    Paul summed it up. Put a bright bag on the back. Wear bright clothes. Install a mirror. Install bright lights. Ride VC. Overall you will notice that drivers (and everyone else) will notice you more than on a D-frame bike.

  4. #4
    coitus non circum. Mars's Avatar
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    Congats on the new bike. What kind are you going to get?

    Here are some tips/issues that I have found. I ride a semi-lowracer (HP Velotechnik Speedmachine) in moderate urban traffic. As the other posters have stated, a mirror is an absolute necessity, so is eye protection, because your riding position will cause your face to be upturned. The car drivers won't know what you are as they approach you, so you will actually have more respect/space in general from them. My bent is much faster than upright bikes. Cars pulling out of driveways and shopping centers seem unable to judge my approaching speed, so I have to watch out for them pulling out in front of me. When riding along parked cars, be extra careful of the door zone, and people stepping out from between parked cars. They have less chance of seeing you. You can see forward better on a bent, but are lower, so you need to focus your eyes on cues available to you: the side mirrors on parked cars for faces, the tires of cars and feet of peds under the parked cars. Watch out for those right hooks!

    In general, people love the reumbents and will call out how cool your bike is or just smile and point. Kids just stare in goggle eyed amazement and go "wwwhhhhoaaaaaa!"

    If you are going to ride your recumbent in the snow and ice, you MUST get studded tires. I have found my bent as stable as an upright in these conditions, but if that front wheel slips, down you go, even more than on other bikes. Of course, you have less distance to fall, and not headfirst. If your front wheel is small (mine is 20") it is a little less able to handle deep snow than bikes with larger wheels.

    Have you heard of leg suck yet? It's if your foot comes off the pedals of a bent at speed. Your foot can fall off the pedal and touch the ground, where your speed will cause the ground to grab it and yank it back and under you, dislocating your hip or worse. Yikes. If you are a fast rider, you really should have clipless pedals on your bent to prevent this from happening.

    Overall, I think that my low recumbent is less visible, but more noticable, if you see what I mean. The speed and comfort advantages great and I just love riding my bent in all seasons of the year!
    "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

  5. #5
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars
    Congats on the new bike. What kind are you going to get?
    Thanks all for the informative and quick responses. I'm trying to stay out of the thread to allow those of you who know to give input...

    (Due to budgetary constraints, I'm aiming for an Actionbent Jetstream II Under Seat Steering. )
    No worries

  6. #6
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    I don't own a bent but have rented some. Here is my opinion.

    Door Zone --- On a DF, you can sometime ride close to the door zone but with a bent, this is an absolute no, no. I did not feel the bike could make a quick turn out of the door zone even if I was marginally in it. In other words, you'll probably find yourself very close to taking the lane or riding in the middle of the lane. This is why bents are so loved by the motorist.

    16 or 20' front wheel ---- It goes without saying that a smaller wheel in the front requires more care when riding. Ruts, bumps, potholes and expecially waves will destabalize much greater than a DF.

  7. #7
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    How about maneuvering? Is under-seat steering any more/less stable than above-seat steering? I rode an above-seat steering bent around an empty parking lot years ago (not what you'd call "a long ride," but I was hooked that day, and they had trouble getting me to bring the bike back inside) but that's the extent of my maneuvering experience.
    No worries

  8. #8
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Since you do not want to talk about "you know what", I can't tell you how much more important it is to ride by "you know what" techniques on a bent.

  9. #9
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    How about maneuvering? Is under-seat steering any more/less stable than above-seat steering? I rode an above-seat steering bent around an empty parking lot years ago (not what you'd call "a long ride," but I was hooked that day, and they had trouble getting me to bring the bike back inside) but that's the extent of my maneuvering experience.
    I have a USS bent (I have not ridden a ASS), but it seems I use more counter steering and leaning into turns than the ASS guys. Some ASS guys say they can only turn using just steering (I don't believe that). Might be different for you since your bent is sort of a "Side Seat Steering" machine with the location of the grips. Have FUN.

  10. #10
    coitus non circum. Mars's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    How about maneuvering? Is under-seat steering any more/less stable than above-seat steering? I rode an above-seat steering bent around an empty parking lot years ago (not what you'd call "a long ride," but I was hooked that day, and they had trouble getting me to bring the bike back inside) but that's the extent of my maneuvering experience.
    That is a nice bike, cool.

    Mine has above seat steering. I can tell you that, if anything, I find the steering "twitchy". It turns REALLY fast, with a very low center of gravity. The wheels are smaller in the front, but as far as I know, there are no skinny tires for that size rim. In all, I find the smalle bent front wheel handles bumps and ruts on the road better than my roadie with the skinny tires.
    "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

  11. #11
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    This is great first-hand info! I posted a "twin" thread in the Recumbent forum, figured I'd get more hits that way.

    (I don't mind talking about you-know-what, especially if it's significant to bent riding in traffic more so than DF riding, but we're in the A&S forum, so talking about "that" around here is like starting a fire in a room full of fireworks! But feel free, since I posted a "twin" thread elswhere--I'm all ears! )
    No worries

  12. #12
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    It might look dorky, but use a flag so you dont get hidden behind cars.

  13. #13
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    My new midnight blue Jetstream II USS should arrive Friday. I've done some reading (and listening) and I understand I'll need a little break-in period. Not to break in the bike, but to break in myself--get used to the different bike. I've heard some people say it took them 1,000 miles! Well, I'm taking a couple of days off, and I'm sure that's not enough time to adjust, but I'll give it my best shot.

    I'll practice hill climbing, u-turns, avoidance maneuvers (don't laugh, I'm going to try!) just whatever I can to get the feel of it. Gonna hafta mount lights, too. Probably put my large amber strobe on the back and a smaller Lightman strobe in front. Maybe get a flag, too. Already have a reflective "slow moving vehicle" triangle and large reflectors, might get more of those at the auto parts store, cheap but effective.

    As time goes by, I'll probably make changes, maybe comment on differences I notice. By that time, I'll be truly "bent."
    No worries

  14. #14
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Get used to the negative comments as well as the positive. I love it when people in cars two lanes over take the time to roll down their windows and inform me that I'm just not visible. Huh? Then how are you able to inform me of this?

    It won't take 1000 miles to get the hang of it. Just a couple of rides and you'll probably feel good enough for most things. It might take 1000 miles to get your muscles really up to speed, but that's different.

    Often these bikes come with platform pedals. It's good to ride with them for a while until you get the hang of it then put the cleats on after you're feeling comfortable.

    Good luck! You're going to have a lot of fun. And you don't have to choose, either. I still ride my DF bike too.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  15. #15
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    If all goes as planned, I'll have a new recumbent bicycle soon.
    Pete, you're still just a kid. Say it isn't so. I'm 61 and the last thing on my mind is a recumbent.
    Why in the world would you want a recumbent???
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2011 Felt Z4

    Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. ~ Charles Schultz

  16. #16
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH
    Pete, you're still just a kid. Say it isn't so. I'm 61 and the last thing on my mind is a recumbent.
    Why in the world would you want a recumbent???
    I appreciate the compliment. I realize that when you were graduating high school, I had not yet entered kindergarten. But that was 43 years ago! (Time sho do fly!)

    Sir Ronald, how can it be that you have not yet tasted the sweet bliss of recumbentness? Surely thou dost jest, my friend!

    I test rode a recumbent a few years back (you know that Stone Mountain bike shop where Margaret worked, I forgot the name...) and man, it was such a blast. It's not even bicycle riding, it's in another dimension altogether...ever since then, I've been obsessed about owning one.

    That day has finally come...

    No worries

  17. #17
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    Good luck! You're going to have a lot of fun. And you don't have to choose, either. I still ride my DF bike too.
    Fun is what I'm all about!
    No worries

  18. #18
    Bent_Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    It might look dorky, but use a flag so you dont get hidden behind cars.
    Just adjust you road position so that you are more visable. Don't ride next to parked cars. Ride out in the lane.

  19. #19
    Bent_Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH
    Pete, you're still just a kid. Say it isn't so. I'm 61 and the last thing on my mind is a recumbent.
    Why in the world would you want a recumbent???
    At 61 you should be old enough to know better. Ass hatchets hurt.

  20. #20
    Gatoraid powered engine 2wheeledsoul's Avatar
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    This is my dream machine. I'm riding a DF now, but I'm saving up some mad cash for this baby.

  21. #21
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Got to love the brakes on that thing.

    One thing I think about since I went over the bars on my face in 2001 is crashing on a bent and not doing that.

    No worries

  22. #22
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Got my new bent on Friday, only 4 days ago.

    Weaving might be a safety issue, but I'm getting much better at that.

    I've heard you can't see as well in a bent. Perhaps sitting a little lower is why, but I found that the reclined seating position actually gave me a broad panorama and it seemed like I had a better overall view.
    No worries

  23. #23
    Senior Member Paul L.'s Avatar
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    Wait until you see the stars at night, careful not to look too long though lest you become an aesops fable (or confucian proverb, can't remember which one that talked about the man that looked at the stars while walking and fell in a hole).
    Sunrise saturday,
    I was biking the backroads,
    lost in the moment.

  24. #24
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul L.
    Wait until you see the stars at night, careful not to look too long though lest you become an aesops fable (or confucian proverb, can't remember which one that talked about the man that looked at the stars while walking and fell in a hole).


    That would definitely constitute a safety hazard!
    No worries

  25. #25
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    I found that the reclined seating position actually gave me a broad panorama and it seemed like I had a better overall view.
    That's one of the biggest benefits.

    You'll probably get over the wobbliness no problem, but at very low speeds, such as on hills, it may still be a little bit of a problem. Then again, under certain circumstances I'm pretty wobbly and have terrible pedal steer on my upright bike.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

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