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Old 08-10-09, 10:37 AM   #1
The Smokester
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Toying with the idea of getting a 'bent

Okay. It has been in the back of my mind to get a bent. Recently, I was on a long fully loaded bike tour of the Pacific Northwest and ran into a few (probably less than a dozen) people touring on bents. I took considerable time to talk to some of them and concluded that the whole bent experience should become a higher priority for me.

One bent guy kept leap-frogging me for a few days mainly because he was traveling with others who were relatively slow. He was very fast on the downhill (I could never see him coming until he rocketed past) and seemed to climb uphill adequately. During my talk with him he opined that in the choppy up and down terrain along the coast he might be faster on an upright. Still, he was doing well from my perspective. I forget what he was riding.

There was also guy at the hiker-bike camp at Port Townsend, WA who had a Ti Easy Racer equipped with fairing, body sock and low-slung panniers under the seat. Got a full demonstration. Very nice and I wish I had seen it in action on the road.

I would like a practical bent...One that I could carry things on and tour with. But, it also needs to have some inherent advantage over a diamond frame...Like it's got to be faster .

So right now, being fairly ignorant and with zero experience, I am thinking about Easy Racer's Tour Easy or a Rans Stratus XP.

Are there any online resources for learning more about bents? The Recumbent Forum here (which I have searched extensively) seems relatively dormant. I a posting here since I recognize many of the more informative posters there also post here in 50+ and there have been some good threads here on this topic in the past.

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.
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Old 08-10-09, 10:56 AM   #2
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The bigger community for recumbent riders is www.bentrideronline.com. There's a pretty active forum over there.

There are a few of us here who ride bents as well. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to PM me. I commute daily on a Bacchetta Giro 20. Bacchetta and Rans are pretty much considered higher-end than Sun or Easy Racer.
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Old 08-10-09, 11:07 AM   #3
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I ride a Rans Stratus XP, and love it. Feel free to ask me any questions about it.

Make sure you test ride as many varieties as you can. The differences are fairly significant.

The Stratus XP is very fast on flats and downhills; not so much on the hills. But that's true of almost every 'bent.

If you want to tour with the Stratus XP, I would suggest: 1) replace the stock back tire with a 1.4" slick with Kevlar reinforcement; 2) get 2 rear view mirrors, one on each side; 3) replace the stock low gear with a real low "granny" gear. [sorry, I don't know the technical names for all this].

The last suggestion will be important up the steeper hills - anything beyond a 6% or 7% grade.

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Old 08-10-09, 12:51 PM   #4
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Is the stratus a 9-speed? I just replaced the 11/34 on my Giro with an 11/32 and really haven't noticed that much of a difference on the hills.
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Old 08-10-09, 01:05 PM   #5
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Is the stratus a 9-speed? I just replaced the 11/34 on my Giro with an 11/32 and really haven't noticed that much of a difference on the hills.
I assume by that you mean does it have 9 gears on the rear - yes, it does. I can't remember how many teeth the front low gear has now, but it made a huge difference.
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Old 08-10-09, 01:37 PM   #6
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Going from 32 to 34 isn't much difference, correct, but could be just enough to keep you pedaling up a steep incline.
Stratus and Tour Easy are both well-regarded bikes with long wheelbases and low bottom brackets.
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Old 08-10-09, 02:35 PM   #7
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I'll agree with Chaco that the differences among different recumbents is, indeed, significant. Research and do some long test rides. The bentrider forum is a good source of general information, but all too often, threads there quickly become so contentious that the most knowledgeable people don't reply, so don't accept what you read there as gospel. Good luck and enjoy!
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Old 08-10-09, 03:55 PM   #8
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Bents aren't real bikes and benters aren't real cyclists.

I'm just kidding. The reason I made note of this thread is that I've been pondering whether I should check into bents myself. I know one fellow who said he'd lend me his for a few days. I'm afraid I'd 1) wreck it, as I understand they take some getting used to, and 2) really like it. I already catch enough crap for my grey beard and pot-belly.
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Old 08-10-09, 04:08 PM   #9
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Bacchetta and Rans are pretty much considered higher-end than Sun or Easy Racer.
The $2500 EasyRacer Tour Easy and $6000 titanium EasyRacer that Smokester saw aren't considered high end among the recumbent crowd? Woof.

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Old 08-10-09, 05:39 PM   #10
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You can get a good 'bent for $2500, no doubt about it.

Weak Link: Yes, but if you can find an empty parking lot, you can experiment to your heart's content. The biggest problem when you first begin is gripping the handlebars too hard. On a DF, this doesn't make much difference. On a 'bent, it's the kiss of death.

Of course, until you have confidence in yourself, it's a natural reaction to grip the handlebars as if your life depended on it. So, for the first day, it's sort of a viscious circle until you can break out of it. But once you do, it's a blast.

My very first day I bought my bent, I rode it from the bike shop to my house - about 25 miles. That was an exciting ride!
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Old 08-11-09, 08:37 AM   #11
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I commute on a SWB Volae Tour.

I also ride a LWB Easy Racers Tour Easy and a LWB Sun EZ Sport.

The EZ Sport is more like a Heavy Cruiser when compared to the Volae and the Tour Easy.

The Volae is nimble and quick and great for riding around town and on errands. Mine is a 2005 model which I've owned for one year. I've put over a thousand miles on it and it has not given me any problems at all. The seat removes via two quick release skewers and facilitates commuting very nicely. I just pop it off and pop it on, nothing to it.

The Tour Easy is long, low, extremely comfortable and plenty fast. I have no problem riding along with the Baccetta and Rans High Racers during tours with the local recumbent group (and I haven't even gone into the big ring yet). Easy Racers have been around for about 30 years and are very well respected. Mine seems to be very well built and the thousand miles I've put on it since I purchased it this Spring have been trouble free. It's a nine year old bike, I bought it used at half the cost of a new bike. I like this bike best for long rides and I've ridden four centuries on it so far this season.

I hope this info helps a little. By the way, all these bike were very easy to adapt to. I kept my DF's and I have no issues jumping onto any of the bikes and just taking off. Going back and forth from 'bents to uprights aren't a problem at all.
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Old 08-11-09, 09:51 AM   #12
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Going back and forth from 'bents to uprights aren't a problem at all.
That's a very good point that often gets lost in 'bent/upright arguments. For long distance riding, recumbents truly excel, but not even most hardcore 'bent riders would claim that a recumbent works as well in a paceline as a road bike. Lots of people do enjoy a variety of bikes. It's one more excuse for N+1.
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Old 08-11-09, 03:06 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the advice and encouragement so far. I am hot on the track of a used Tour Easy right now but haven't yet heard back from the owner.

I am glad to hear that one can swap back and forth to diamonds and bents...I was wondering about that.

If I can, I am just going to buy a used bent to figure out whether this is for me or not. Seems to me that is the best way to learn and if doesn't work out then I can resell and not lose too much.

We have a lot of hills around here and I worry about being able to keep up (which is already a problem).

There seem to be more SWB than LWB's for sale...Should I go for one of those if the Tour Easy falls through or are they harder to learn?
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Old 08-11-09, 03:34 PM   #14
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We have a lot of hills around here and I worry about being able to keep up (which is already a problem
I can almost guarantee you won't keep up, unless it's OK to go ahead of the group downhill, and let them catch up to you going uphill. Yes, the people who do RAAM may have no trouble with 'bents up the mountain, but the vast majority of people go slower than DFs on hills, even if they're in good shape.
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Old 08-11-09, 04:34 PM   #15
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There seem to be more SWB than LWB's for sale...Should I go for one of those if the Tour Easy falls through or are they harder to learn?
SWB's are extremely difficult to learn to ride and are best left to true Expert Cyclists.

I rode a compact LWB (twin 20" wheels) for a couple of years before moving up to a SWB. I suspect learning to ride 'bent could be a tad trickier starting off on a SWB, but probably not for most folks. Very easy switch from a Tailwind to a V-Rex.
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Old 08-11-09, 05:09 PM   #16
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Can I have your Gunnar?
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Old 08-11-09, 05:21 PM   #17
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I've thought about this a few times over the years. They're hard to find around here . . .
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Old 08-11-09, 05:33 PM   #18
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Hostelle Shoppe in Stevens Point is a big recumbent dealer. You're in the same state, at least.
Take a look at their web site.
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Old 08-11-09, 05:33 PM   #19
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Can I have your Gunnar?
No way. Get your own!!!
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Old 08-11-09, 06:46 PM   #20
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I've thought about this a few times over the years. They're hard to find around here . . .
Not too hard. There are bent dealerships in Milwaukee, and a fairly large one in Madison. This is in addition to the big one in Stevens Point. There are quite a few bent riders in the Madison area.

I love my RANS Stratus, by far my favorite bike.
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Old 08-11-09, 07:10 PM   #21
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Bents aren't real bikes and benters aren't real cyclists.

I'm just kidding. The reason I made note of this thread is that I've been pondering whether I should check into bents myself. I know one fellow who said he'd lend me his for a few days. I'm afraid I'd 1) wreck it, as I understand they take some getting used to, and 2) really like it. I already catch enough crap for my grey beard and pot-belly.
You've got the bent prerequisites.
Now if you were an engineer by trade, you'd hit the trifecta....
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Old 08-11-09, 10:39 PM   #22
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Dang. The used Tour Easy was already sold. Still looking.
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Old 08-12-09, 03:25 AM   #23
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Dang. The used Tour Easy was already sold. Still looking.
You can use this extra time to research manufacturers web sites and learn about the various frame sizes and how to determine a good fit for yourself.

Good hunting!!

EDIT: here's one on your side of the country...http://www.bentrideronline.com/messa...ad.php?t=52169

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Old 08-12-09, 11:20 AM   #24
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You can use this extra time to research manufacturers web sites and learn about the various frame sizes and how to determine a good fit for yourself.

Good hunting!!

EDIT: here's one on your side of the country...http://www.bentrideronline.com/messa...ad.php?t=52169
Thanks. Looks like a demo unit which is fine. I will pursue this one although it is a bit over budget for my purposes of experimentation.
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Old 08-12-09, 05:07 PM   #25
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Bents aren't real bikes and benters aren't real cyclists.

I'm just kidding. The reason I made note of this thread is that I've been pondering whether I should check into bents myself. I know one fellow who said he'd lend me his for a few days. I'm afraid I'd 1) wreck it, as I understand they take some getting used to, and 2) really like it. I already catch enough crap for my grey beard and pot-belly.
You've got the bent prerequisites.
Now if you were an engineer by trade, you'd hit the trifecta....
Sweet! Do programmers count as engineers? If so, I da WINNAR!!
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