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Old 03-09-07, 09:59 PM   #1
sbhikes
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Do you ride a non-standard bike, and what have you learned?

There are a lot of recumbent cyclists here, and at least one guy rides an upright trike with his cute little doggy in back. We who ride bikes that aren't the normal, every day kind have to develop our own tips and tricks to survive the experience.

If you ride a non-standard bike, what kinds of things have you learned about cycling in general?
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Old 03-10-07, 01:27 AM   #2
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probably a "dumb" response but I have had 7 beers in me tongiht. I ride a fixed gear w/ a front brake---if that is considered "nonstandard." Even w/ the brake, riding fixed gear has taught me to be more attentive to my surroundings----to constantly calculate stopping distance and look for "escape paths." Wheras before I would just ride w/ my my head in the clouds, now even on a "pleasure ride" I am much more conscious of my surroundings, whether it be terrain, motor vehciles, or pedestrians. One of the things I truly enjoy about riding fixed is that I don;t have to worry about changing gears and wondering if I am in the "right" gear-- I just go where I need to go and ride how I need to ride.
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Old 03-10-07, 01:54 AM   #3
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First of all I kind of resent being called abnormal for riding a recumbent.

As far as the things I've learned pver the past 5+ years I've had it. Where do I begin?

1. It is a myth that motorists can not see you as well as they could a cyclist ona wedgie.
2. Short wheel base recumbents are more responsive & can be down right twitchy compared to long wheel base.
3. You can not mash big gears while climbing hills on a 'bent. You have to gear dpwn & spin.
4. Recumbents have a better advantage over wedgie riders in a head wind.

This is all I can think of for now. I'll think of more & add them later.
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Old 03-10-07, 02:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by N_C
First of all I kind of resent being called abnormal for riding a recumbent.

As far as the things I've learned pver the past 5+ years I've had it. Where do I begin?

1. It is a myth that motorists can not see you as well as they could a cyclist ona wedgie.
2. Short wheel base recumbents are more responsive & can be down right twitchy compared to long wheel base.
3. You can not mash big gears while climbing hills on a 'bent. You have to gear dpwn & spin.
4. Recumbents have a better advantage over wedgie riders in a head wind.

This is all I can think of for now. I'll think of more & add them later.
I've really wanted to get a bent for a few years---but consideringi am building up another fixed gear, i can't really jsutify it right now-----I was on a bike pub crawl last summer and saw someone who had a recumbent trike---i dont even know if that is the right term (two wheels in front--one in back--"tank" style steering---it was a friggin BLAST to ride.
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Old 03-10-07, 06:34 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by skanking biker
probably a "dumb" response but I have had 7 beers in me tongiht. I ride a fixed gear w/ a front brake---if that is considered "nonstandard." Even w/ the brake, riding fixed gear has taught me to be more attentive to my surroundings----to constantly calculate stopping distance and look for "escape paths." Wheras before I would just ride w/ my my head in the clouds, now even on a "pleasure ride" I am much more conscious of my surroundings, whether it be terrain, motor vehciles, or pedestrians. One of the things I truly enjoy about riding fixed is that I don;t have to worry about changing gears and wondering if I am in the "right" gear-- I just go where I need to go and ride how I need to ride.
This is pretty much what I came here to say, aside from all the beer. Right down to the front brake.
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Old 03-10-07, 06:57 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by skanking biker
One of the things I truly enjoy about riding fixed is that I don;t have to worry about changing gears and wondering if I am in the "right" gear-- I just go where I need to go and ride how I need to ride.
Maybe if I couldn't handle my beer drinking, I might worry about changing gears and wondering if I am in the "right" gear. So far that has never occurred in over 50 years of cycling. In fact, I never met any cyclist (except electronically on BF) who worried about being in the wrong gear.
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Old 03-10-07, 07:59 AM   #7
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There's no "best" kind of bike, and the optimum riding style depends on what you ride as well as riding conditions. Lastly, what you ride and what you look like makes a big difference in how motorists treat you.

For example, take the velo shown in my avatar. Experience has taught me that I cannot "herd" cars with it as I can when I'm on my racing bike. If I attempt to do so, I will find people cutting me only a few inches of space. I suspect that this is because people cannot see me -- they just regard me as a piece of equipment. Conversely, I usually have no trouble "herding" cars when I am on a DF. I believe this is because they avoid smushing me for the same reasons they avoid smushing a spider (even though they don't like either).

However, I have also found that people who belong to demographics not normally associated with love for cycling (e.g. males in jacked up trucks) react very differently to me when I'm in my velo than if I'm in full kit on my racer. The normal reaction is curiosity and a certain amount of wonder rather than contempt and questioning of my manhood.......

BTW, nonstandard bike owners post pics.
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Old 03-10-07, 08:09 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by N_C
This is all I can think of for now. I'll think of more & add them later.
You forgot that if you ride certain types of bikes, people will assume you have a physical disability -- even other cyclists make this mistake (though awareness of different bike types seems to be increasing).
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Old 03-10-07, 08:47 AM   #9
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"Non-standard bike". I think that term includes this one.
Flat-foot, or semi-recumbent, it makes me very comfortable.
The fairing is a quarter scale truck spoiler, but it's also a utility box. It's like I have a glove-compartment and it's full of beverages and snacks.
The fairing is made of heavy fiberglass, a quarter inch thick. I can ride in the "door-zone" and the motorists have to look out for me, or I'll take their door off.

Gives a new meaning to "SEMI-recumbent" , as motorists think they see a Mack truck and stay out of my way. Okay, the fairing design is based on a Kenworth...

Because the seat is over the rear axle, this bike can make really tight U-turns, and also do wheelies. Air gets caught under the flat bottom of the fairing and makes wheelies effortless.

I also learned that green is the best colour for a bicycle, but that might just be my opinion.

Hard lesson: copyright everything. I thought I had a monopoly on the word "Spoiler", as it applies to bikes, but then Schwinn came along and named their lowrider the Spoiler.
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Old 03-10-07, 09:15 AM   #10
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I agree that you learn that what you look like makes a difference in traffic. Sometimes you get different treatment because your appearance makes them make assumptions about you.

On the trike they often think I'm handicapped. They give me extra room. They'll change lanes to pass me even if I'm in a 10' bike lane. They freak out at 4-way stops. All directions wait to see what I'm going to do. I have to tell THEM what to do otherwise we'll get nowhere.

On my upright there are a few places on my route where I have to take extra care because I'm not going to be very visible. Like this one block of apartment complexes with cars parked along the street. People are often coming and going from the driveways and they can't see me well so on my upright I move out and take the lane so they'll see me and I'll have time to react. On my trike it doesn't make much difference if I do that. They still are not going to see me and I'm not going to see them either so there won't be much time to react.

When I ride my recumbent two-wheel bike I find that traffic treats me well, like I'm a professional. They give me adequate room, but not like the trike where they are doing it because they think I'm a ******.

On the recumbent bike I do have to worry what gear I'm in because if I stop and I'm in too high a gear it can be nearly impossible to get started again. I hate flailing and struggling in front of people. I don't see how anybody can ride a fixed-gear bike with no gears unless they live somewhere flat. I need all these gears!
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Old 03-10-07, 10:50 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
I don't see how anybody can ride a fixed-gear bike with no gears unless they live somewhere flat. I need all these gears!
The trick to gearing a fixed gear bike is to find a gear that you comfortable with in most situations. Mine is geared 52X21 making for about 63 Gear Inches. If you've ever driven a stcik shift car, its like third gear all the time. It's a compromise but it's well worth it for the control and the flywheel effect you get on the fix.

The thing about it is you need a gear that is tall enough to allow you a decent cruising speed, but not so tall that you can't control the spin going downhill.
My gearing allows me enough top end to ride in traffic, I'm not out of control going down hill and I can skip and skid if I need to.

To those who have never tried fixed, try it....I bet you'd like it alot.

Since someone asked for photos, heres my (conversion)Fix. She's not the prettiest girl at the dance, but she only dances with me and she's going home with me at the end of the night.


Also, my other alt bike, my chopper;


Both bike are front brake only, routed moto. The chopper has a 44X15? gear ratio with these rediculously short cranks from a child's bananna seat bike. Its a single speed freewheel. Makes for an interesting ride with a 26 inch wheel up front and a 20 incher in back.

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Old 03-10-07, 12:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by banerjek
You forgot that if you ride certain types of bikes, people will assume you have a physical disability -- even other cyclists make this mistake (though awareness of different bike types seems to be increasing).
This may be possible. But I have yet to have someone ask why I switched from a wedgie to a recumbent. I have had my Vision for over 5 years now, got it just before 9/11 happened. I have been asked if I still have a road bike, to which I say no, but not why.
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Old 03-10-07, 12:06 PM   #13
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I noticed & this is a good thing that the OP does not specifiy what she defines as an abnormal bike. She gives examples but does not say she only talking about recumbents, or the like. People are considering what they have as a bike to be abnormal or not, with a few citing their fixies as such. Diane could have easily specified that she is talking about frame design only. If that were the case then fixies would fall into the wedgie bike catagorie. Kudo's to you Diane.
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Old 03-10-07, 12:19 PM   #14
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I have non-standard bike in that I ride a 45lb monster with 24x3" tires on the road. I've learned that rolling resistance is not your friend.
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Old 03-10-07, 03:12 PM   #15
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Yes, N_C, I didn't want this thread to be only about recumbents. And I never used the word "abnormal". I used the word "non-standard."

I get passed by a guy on a pretty fixed gear every morning. I get passed by him again every evening. I think the skull and crossbones tattoo on his leg smirks at me.
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Old 03-10-07, 06:19 PM   #16
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Diane,

I was wondering what you call "non-standard bike" and therefore what it implies. Each type of cycle – bicycle or tricycle – has a few inherent plusses and minusses, and the reaction of others is also something to account for.

I only ride a diamond-frame bicycle. But I ride different types of them: single or tandem, and either of these with the trailercycle, and sometimes with the cargo trailer too. Special lessons :

– Plan your path accordingly: with the long bike, it means longer turns, no weaving in traffic, need for more caution in hills (up or down), and it also means that I have to plan for 3 tracks. Finding my way around potholes is sometimes a wee bit challenging.

– Check other people even more. I'm not sure which is worst. With the long bike, everybody notices me which is good, but there is also a lot of rubbernecking. Some drivers look at us a wee bit too long and sometimes forget to watch other traffic on the road.

– Plan lighting accordingly.
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Old 03-10-07, 06:27 PM   #17
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Here's mine. BikeE RX with brand-new wheels, custom 'crossing guard' seat cover, and soon to have disc brakes. I have learned that riding a recumbent is much more comfortable in the seat, neck, and shoulders and allows me to enjoy the ride a bit more. It's more of an Eldo than a Ferrari, but it suits me fine.
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Old 03-10-07, 06:40 PM   #18
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I use a semi-recumbent (BikeE AT) as my primary commuting vehicle, a modified trike-cruiser for lugging stuff around, a chopper for fun and a custom stretch cruiser (8 feet long) for showing off (LOL), so all my bikes are non-standard. I don't resent being labeled abnormal as someone else here objected; I celebrate it.

One of the things I have learned from riding all these odd bikes is that I get noticed because the bikes are unusual and that is a good thing. Rather than motorists ignoring me as 'just another cyclist,' or shouting in anger and frustration if I happen to impede them when they want to race down the right lane, they tend to pay attention and offer thumbs up or congratulatory remarks, often giving me a wider berth than normal. Stopping at lights, I can be sure to have pedestrians and motorists alike gawking and pointing at whichever bike I am on and if I make eye contact I can almost guarantee they'll ask about what I'm riding. I'll take curiosity over hostility any day.

The other things I have learned are more practical. Since most of my bikes are slow, I am very conscious of the routes I choose. Some cyclists can keep up with aggressive, fast-moving traffic on busy thoroughfares, I have noticed. I can't, so I don't. I choose lesser-travelled residential streets that often have traffic-calming measures to reduce motor vehicle speed and offer a measure of protection for cyclists like me.

Also, because my seating position is lower on all the bikes except the trike, I make sure I am especially visible with two rear blinkies mounted at different heights and good, clean reflectors as well as front lights.

And, finally, because my bikes are all rare and unique, there is less of a chance they'll be stolen. While I use two expensive locks on every bike to discourage theft as well as parking them, primarily, in areas where I and my bikes am well-known, the casual thief has less of a market for my bikes as the parts and components are often not interchangable with regular bikes nor popular. A thief generally likes to blend in with the city-scape and that is difficult to do on bikes that make peoples heads turn and even attract the notice of police officers.
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Old 03-10-07, 08:41 PM   #19
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First of all I kind of resent being called abnormal for riding a recumbent.
I agree. I should be considered abnormal for myself, not for what I ride.
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Old 03-10-07, 09:06 PM   #20
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I should be considered abnormal for myself, not for what I ride.
Maybe, but most "normal" people don't ride bikes on public roads....
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Old 03-10-07, 09:38 PM   #21
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I pull my son in a Burley trailer a lot. We get lots of attention. I spend more time talking to people about cycling when I travel with him in the trailer than when I ride alone.

Other drivers also give us a lot more room than when I'm cycling by myself.
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Old 03-10-07, 11:56 PM   #22
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Rans Stratus Recumbant

I have three bikes, and I may post the other two sometime when I have a photo of them. But I mainly ride a Rans Stratus recumbant, and I mainly travel to and from work commuting. I commute in traffic with it, and also have alternate routes for times I want to be away from traffic that include bike paths, sidewalks (which connect bike paths to streets around here), and side streets. I've found this bike to be particularly good, as it has above-seat steering. Because I have the older bars, I do not have the problem of the handlebars hitting my knees. The bike has two beefy tires (26" mountain-style back rim with a 20 inch front rim), and two rack systems, front and rear. I can carry over 60 pounds of "stuff," which includes clothes, tools, and my computer at times. The seat is great, and sitting back to ride gives a wonderful view of the countryside. Here are some specific advantages for commuting and safety:

--two rear-view mirrors give me all the vision I need to see behind and in front of me at a glance. This is a far cry from the helmet mirrors, or "looking back." You can see below the view that I have with my left mirror.

--The lower bottom bracket makes getting started in traffic easier than some other recumbants.

--The position, at the same height as the other drivers, give me a direct view of the driver's face through their side window, which is much better than looking down and trying to see through the roof of the car.

--I use a flag, reflective tape and lights to be visible. But I also find that the recumbant, as an unusual vehicle, is easier seen and "registered" by drivers than upright bicycles.

--People think that a long-wheel base vehicle has difficulty in handling, but that's really not true. It is longer, and you need about 500 miles to get used to the balance and handlind. But it is still pretty manouverable. And if you get in on a downhill at 35+ mph, it is really smooth riding...

--It is heavier than other bikes, even other recumbants, and so going up hills is slower. But with the right gearing (mine has it) these are fairly easily accomplished.

I'll put more into this as I remember it.

John
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Old 03-12-07, 07:14 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
There are a lot of recumbent cyclists here, and at least one guy rides an upright trike with his cute little doggy in back. We who ride bikes that aren't the normal, every day kind have to develop our own tips and tricks to survive the experience.

If you ride a non-standard bike, what kinds of things have you learned about cycling in general?
Good point! I ride a recumbent (I have uprights, too, but I can't seem to get used to craning my neck anymore, so they just sit in the garage) and I've learned to take a little more space in the road. I also depend more on a mirror, which I used to think as optional, and now it's a necessity.
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Old 03-12-07, 08:17 AM   #24
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Recumbents taught me about mirrors. I never could get the hang of the glasses/helmet mirrors, though, but these mirrors mounted on my bars are great. I put one on my upright, too, but it's just not working as well.
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Old 03-12-07, 12:45 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker
probably a "dumb" response but I have had 7 beers in me tongiht. I ride a fixed gear w/ a front brake---if that is considered "nonstandard." Even w/ the brake, riding fixed gear has taught me to be more attentive to my surroundings----to constantly calculate stopping distance and look for "escape paths."
Must be the beers. You should be able to stop a FG with front brake as easily and as quickly a freewheel bike with front and rear - its not even a skill change. Maybe you are just learning to pay more attention overall.
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