clyde on a recumbent.
So I got this wacky homebuilt recumbent type of thing from my brother. It's actually one of atomic zombie's designs, and this thing is the poop-diggity. A little shaky to start but an absolute pleasure to ride. Spent 3 hours riding around on Sunday and zero back pain.
I'm pretty sure I can't do that on the Montague. Riding the standard bike I seem to be working a lot harder, as in I'm out of breath faster.
So does a recumbent bike burn less calories? The absolute ease I was able to ride so long surprised me. Gotta be doing something wrong, right?
And if it is similar from a fitness perspective, why aren't they more popular? Very comfortable and fun to ride, and tons of people give a big smile or thumbs up.
Liked it so much that now I'm looking into a catrike.
I have had an Easy Racer homebilt recumbent for about 30 years. Although I haven't ridden it in a while.
I found it to be very comfortable. I rode my fastest century on one with NO back pain. I always figured it was a gear or so faster than an upright bike. A bit slower on the hills though. And you really can't stand on the pedals. I like it though. Maybe I should get it back together!!
Part of the low populularity I think comes from cost. Recumbents were and probably still are a little pricey compared to uprights. They look shall we say unconventional. Some people don't like to stick out. They can be a little difficult for others to see and I know people have told me that.
I used to have a flag on mine to be seen. I rode it to work one day. Someone came up to me and said when they came up behind me they thought at first some little kid had gotten on the wrong road with one of those old plastic Big Wheels.
wow those atomiczombie designs are pretty neat... but I can't say I'd trust my welding skills on those... that being said I'm watching his build process vids on youtube and its neat that he is using a stick welder...
as for a bent negatives...
- I know a lot of them have a 300lb weight limit...
- the long wheelbase ones can be difficult to transport
- they aren't common (i'm in Houston and seems we have about 20 of them on our craigslist)
- they aren't "normal"
- recumbent stationary bikes are uncomfortable for many people so it's easy to think a bent will be uncomfortable.
- while perhaps not accurate my mind has it that moving around in traffic could be scary (difficult to look back)
that being said... I'd love to try one out at some point... I can see the allure to them and have a friend that won't ride anything else (sadly they live a thousand miles away)
if you enjoy riding it you should ride it :)
I was riding a Trek 990 and a 7100 when I first got back into riding, then I came across a deal too good to pass up and got an Actionbent Roadrunner High Racer, within 2 weeks I sold the 2 Treks and right now only ride the bent. I know I ride much faster than I before, but some of that is that I am in a little better shape than while I was riding the normal bikes.
Yesterday I broke the only rule you must never break, I got over confident. I took a turn at 20+ and slid out on a small patch of sand. Got a foot and leg that doesn't want to work quite right and a scraped up elbow with gauze and tape to remind me to slow down a little and listen to that little voice that constantly says things like "Slow it down fool or you wont have time to react to the next J walker."
Sounds like a nasty fall, hope you are OK.
Never thought of the transporting aspect (I have a pickup so its not an issue for me).
But for someone who has an "ample middle" being reclined certainly helps breathe easier. When I bend over to the bars on the regular bike I get out of breath easy.
Also for the embarrassed rider, people notice the wacky looking bike before the rider.
They sure are expensive though.
I'm a clyde and rode a recumbent (Stratus XP) for 7 years. On the flats and downhill, I could go like hell. I routinely passed roadies (I'm a roadie now myself), even ones on fast group rides. I'd say I was around 3 mph faster than I am on my road bike today.
Hills however, were a different story, and that's the primary reason I switched to a road bike. Where I live, you can't avoid the hills. A typical one here is called Torrey Pines Grade. It's 1.6 miles at a 5% average grade, with a maximum grade of 7%. On my bent, I averaged 5 mph; on my road bike, my best is 10.2 mph, twice as fast. And there are lots of climbs I couldn't do at all on my bent, even though I had a triple, that I do routinely now.
Lots of bent enthusiasts claim they are just as fast going up the hills as anyone else. I ten years, in an area with thousands of cyclists out on the road every weekend, I have seen only one bent rider who went up Torrey Pines at what I would call a road bike speed. I caught up to him and remarked on his speed. It turns out he had done RAAM with a bent. As for the rest of us, I'm willing to bet riding a bent on anything over a 4% grade will cut their speed by between 30% and 60%.
As for comfort, yes, the bent was amazing. I did a few centuries on it -- no neck, back, or butt ache at all.
Edit: one more thing -- riding in traffic with a long wheelbase bent is not for the faint of heart !
When I returned to the riding world about 4 years ago at over 400 lbs, I went bent for the first time and never looked back.
As my nickname indicates, I'm a bent rider - 20" front, 700c rear. At 230plus, I'm a Clyde.
I've ridden both SWBs (lo and high racers) and LWBs (Easy Racers-Tour Easy/Gold Rush Replica/clones). I rode a TerraTrike Cruiser for about six months before switching to a GRR with a Bacchetta Giro 20 as my backup bike.
Two points to remember - You and only you are the engine regardless of the bike/trike AND anyone can acclimate given time and enough rides.
There's a guy BritSeaPower who used to post over on BROL who rode a Catrike 700 trike on numerous mountainous/hilly rrides/races. He found the Catrike was capable of fairly decent competitive times against DFs. He's since gone back to DF's but he's proof that recumbents, even trikes, don't have to be slow.
So, if it's just fitness you are after, then the ability to exercise "at intensity" for longer periods is an argument that recumbents may be the key for you. They are for me.
If your measurement of fitness is speed, then it's a matter of acclimating, effort and determination. You just need to decide what level of discomfort and pain you can put up with. Lying on your back (reclined SWB style) can definitely help with lowering back pain.
Why aren't recumbetns more popular? Dunno. Why are blonds more arguably popular in American culture than brunettes? My guess is the answer to both questions is marketing.
Catrikes are great rides but there are others equally as awesome according to their owners. If I was going back to trikes, my inclination would be for either a Catrike Expedition or an Ice Sprint - IF money were not a consideration. With my finances, I'd probably look for a used trike or go with a new TerraTrike Sportster (because of easy financing). [In case you can't sense it, my preference with trikes is for a bit of speed even at the expense of comfort.]
Just 2 cents worth of ... um, whatever...
I rode a Lightning P38 for years. Wished I hadn't sold it since it was a great solo ride. But while it was a good climber for a rebumbent, it was much slower on the hills. So in riding in a group, you did a lot of yo-yoing, they pass you uphill, you catch up on the downhill and flats. Loved it when riding alone, not so much on group rides.