Recumbent - Recumbents for touring
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03-14-10, 11:56 AM
I have done many thousands of miles of touring using upright mountian and hybrid bikes, mostly through mountianous terrain while carrying full camping equipment etc. Although the long steep grades can be physically exhausting, sooner or later you reach the top, whereas riding into a strong headwind most of the day is like riding up a mountian that has no top. Very mentally frustrating. I have never ridden a "bent", but understand they have an advantage both in headwind and downhill situations. On the other hand, I also have been told they are much slower, or are less efficient when riding up long steep grades. Are there any recumbent riders that have done long tours with both "upright" and "bents" that can give me some honest opinions on how compatible "bents" would be for touring with an extra 40-50 lbs. of camping gear through mountianous terrain? Also, how long does it take to learn to ride a "bent" under these conditions (crosswinds and down steep grades) safely?
I think you'll find this guy's comparison interesting:
03-15-10, 09:28 AM
Getting used to riding one shouldn't be a problem. I had a friend who had never been on a recumbent bike before ride the 25 miles from Dante's View to Furnace Creek this past weekend on a short-wheelbase Linear. The winds were blowing from 25 to 30 mph at the time. It's mostly downhill but he did have to contend with crosswinds and headwinds on part of the ride. The bike has underseat steering which makes it even more unfamiliar to a new rider. Of course, I'm prejudiced, as the owner of a Greenspeed GTO trike specifically built for touring. I'd use it for any long rides. You can go as slow as you want up a hill and its a gas going 38 mph down a decent hill.
The HP Velotechnik link has a lot of good points. I have ridden 50 miles in driving rain (w/rain gear) and water can pool in your lap. But all 'bents are not equal. Putting a SWB in your hatchback would be nice. I know nothing of the up or downhill "wobblies" on my LWB. Steep grades at 3-4mph is not a problem, given low enough gearing. And a 45 mph downhill is rock steady and quite an experience. LWB are the most stable w/easiest learning curve. SWB can be twitchy but many have no problem adjusting.
I think 'bent riding is maybe 65-35 mental adjustment. Bents are not aggressive. They don't attack anything. Fast curves are fun though. Bents are car-like. Uprights are horse-like. It is laid back-enjoy-the-scenery-fun. (I call that efficient) Then do the same the next day. You will also shift more often on a bent. You may initially miss the rapid acceleration of your upright bike. SWB could be an advantage over LWB in this regard.
Bents are not equal when it comes to headwinds, either. By far, the Greenspeed GTO style trikes cut through the wind the best and balancing is not a factor. You can ride a bent instantly & master the handling inside 2 weeks. But it may take a few months to dial everything in. In this regard, I would buy a bent now, ride it for a year and tour next summer on it. But that's me.
Re: FIRST RIDE. There is no "body english" to balancing a bent. You must make small adjustments in the directional steering. And keep pedaling. When one feels like they are falling over, many newbies stop pedaling and put their foot down. (if they're lucky) Keep pedaling and slightly turn in the direction you feel you are falling. An empty parking lot is ideal for practice.
03-15-10, 11:13 AM
not too fast but I have had my Slipstream up to 38MPH without a wobble at all...
03-15-10, 12:30 PM
Hi .....I have a Catrike Trail (33lbs) that I bought in July '09 and have put on just under 2000k. My other trike is the Rotator C3, I'm guessing is about 40 to 45 lbs. As my entry to the recumbent trike, I rode it on local trails for about a year than ventured into touring the Islands (Gulf, Vancouver Islands) and when loaded with camping gear, water, fairing and me, the wieght is getting up there. Sure, its going to be slower on the inclines(no stall speed tho) but the downhills can be very exciting. The rotator has 48gears and the hills are doable without too much sweat. I also have a fairing that cut through those nasty headwinds. On the Catrike I put on the Windwrap fairing and installed the Sram DualDrive, the Cat comes with 27 gears but with DD I now have 81gears. Want to do some touring this summer with the Trail, I'd like to go back to Vancouver Island, there are some really great bike trail systems. I've inserted some pix of a tour to the Islands.
03-15-10, 02:27 PM
I've done tours on both uprights and bents. I enjoy both and have no problem riding uprights, and think both have their strengths and weaknesses.
The main problem with bents in my experience is that I can't ride on loose surfaces (sand, gravel). Apart from that - just fun! I don't find hills a problem (up or down), and riding in traffic, navigating etc are no problem. When I ride unloaded, I sometimes find myself lagging behind Mrs Yangmusa on her upright. But oddly when we're both carrying touring gear that difference is minimal.
My previous recumbent had 2 problems for touring:
1) it was under seat steering, so nowhere to mount a map or gps where I could see it while riding
2) the seat was a hard shell seat, and it made me very sweaty (vs. my new bike's mesh seat)
Remember that recumbents come in many more different configurations than upright bikes. Long/short wheelbase, over/under seat steering, mesh/shell seat, big/small wheels, 2/3 wheels etc etc etc - try to test ride as many as you can! If the first one you try doesn't "click" for you, maybe you just didn't find the right one...
03-15-10, 11:21 PM
On the other hand, I also have been told they are much slower, or are less efficient when riding up long steep grades. Are there any recumbent riders that have done long tours with both "upright" and "bents" that can give me some honest opinions on how compatible "bents" would be for touring with an extra 40-50 lbs. of camping gear through mountianous terrain? Also, how long does it take to learn to ride a "bent" under these conditions (crosswinds and down steep grades) safely?
Several of my friends rode for years (including touring) on uprights before switching to recumbents. They had no particular issues riding across the U.S. a couple years ago: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/ER2005 . BTW: Norm Neiberlien is an old upright racer- I think he was about 70 when he did this tour.
Going up long grades on a recumbent is about the same as on an upright- you set a pace where you're comfortable and you get there when you get there. Climbing is power vs. weight- more weight = slower climbing. The thing with a recumbent is that you can be comfortable at a slower pace so there's less incentive to pound up the hills.
On the flats and downhill, you're dealing with power vs. wind resistance. With a fairing, you can cruise a couple mph faster on the flat, and you'll go down slopes like you're falling out of the sky. Downhill speeds above 40 mph, even with a touring load, are not uncommon.
I adjusted to riding a recumbent within the first couple hours, but it took about a month for the muscles to adapt. Now I switch back and forth without a problem.
BTW: me and a gang of my 'bent friends rode TourBC last year: http://sports.webshots.com/album/573802863oqBSQO . Supported, not self-contained... but we had no issues with the "hills" in eastern BC. We're coming back for more this year: http://www.tourbc.net/ ... looks like we'll go right past your front porch.
03-17-10, 09:38 AM
Having been on this forum and maybe others, Im sure you have seen all the contention between DF and bent riders. Personally I think 99% of it is nuts. We are all cyclist, but I have seen a thread on people debating that too.
Anyway I highly recomment bents for touring. The many hours spent in the saddle (seat really) just brings to a head the advantages of a bent. Personally pain is not my friend, and Im not into styling. Maybe a bigger advantage when touring with a bent is the fact that bent riders sit upright and can view all the scenery. DF riders spend a huge amount of time looking down and staring at their front wheel. Isnt the main reason to tour is to see where you have been riding? Oh and one other thing I recommend a trailer. Loading up a bike is very hard on tires and wheels, so a trailer will take that load off the bike.
Bents are car-like. Uprights are horse-like.
+10 I think it's the angle of the head that makes riding a recumbent feel more like driving a car. That and the fact that the vehicle extends several feet in front of your head.
The main problem with bents in my experience is that I can't ride on loose surfaces (sand, gravel).
+1 You can't take weight off the front wheel because you can't lean back from the normal riding position. Although you can lean forward somewhat, that doesn't seem to be enough to keep the front wheel under control when it lacks proper footing.
Anyway I highly recomment bents for touring. The many hours spent in the saddle (seat really) just brings to a head the advantages of a bent. Personally pain is not my friend, and Im not into styling.
Thing is on an upright your weight is distributed between the pedals and handlebars in addition to the saddle. On a recumbent the weight is usually distributed entirely on the saddle. So the contact area of the recumbent seat has to be about 3x that of an upright saddle in order to break even on comfort and since your ass is only about 2x the size of an upright saddle you really need to be laying on your back to get a comfort advantage. Not all recumbents have such a riding position. Therefore, I recommend a very reclined recumbent.
I think bents are as different as the people who ride them. Advantages/disadvantages to all types. I have heard that fairings can be another matter in a strong cross wind. Never been a fan of USS...no place to attach things...plus your wider body profile would seem to affect aerodynamics. It doesn't take much of a headwind (my nemesis) to gear down. On the other hand, doesn't take much of a tailwind to fly. Touring on my old Rans Nimbus w/BOB trailer works for me. Seems the empty trailer is 12lbs then add about 30lbs to that. (no camping gear). On the flats one hardly knows it's there after the 3rd day. Seems to aid a bit on forward stability. Arrive at your destination, recharge and pedal off to eat w/o BOB, you feel like you're skimming across the pavement. It's a great way to impress yourself.
03-22-10, 04:50 PM
The unloading of weight from your ride reminds me of a tour another triker and I were on, when after a long ride that day we got to our destination and unloaded all our gear and then headed off to eat.....but after the recharge we had a race back to our place, laughing all the way, that was a great tour.(Sunshine Coast, B.C. Canada)
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