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Recumbent What IS that thing?! Recumbents may be odd looking, but they have many advantages over a "wedgie" bicycle. Discuss the in's and out's recumbent lifestyle in the recumbent forum.

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Old 06-01-05, 10:15 AM   #1
HiYoSilver
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Would you recommend a recumbent for me?

Hi,

I've been reading this forum from time to time and just don't know if a bent would be good for me or not. Some of my reading has been skim reading so I may have missed something. I would appreciate all advice.

My understanding of bents:

NEUTRAL
1. better for riders with back problems
2. accept bike bags
3. fairings for DF or bents will add 5..10% speed increase

PROS
1. potential for faster speeds
2. potential for longer rides

CONS
1. uphill is a real chore
2. some riders report riding 1 to 1.5 mph slower than with DF
3. harder to mauveour in traffic
4. harder to haul
5. more limited in carrying ability
6. may not fit inside bike lockers at work
7. bents are "new" and so industry is dominated by small manufacters with major bike producers not entering the marketplace

The bike that got me back into biking is a Giant OCR 2. My top speed on level ground is about 24..25 mph. This weekend I rented a lightspeed and top speed jumpted to 35 mph. On my Giant some uphills at at 7 mph currently so worried about dropping that more.

MY NEEDS/WANTS
1. faster speeds for same effort
2. load carrying ability of at least 300 lbs
3. visibility in traffic [ I use bike for commuing ]
4. able to ride up steepest hills

I am beginning to think of switching from a touring bike to a truer road bike, but if bent riders have a solution to the cons and a way to outrun composite road bikers, I'm willing to listen.

If you think a bent might be right for me, additional concerns would be:
1. SWB or LWB?
2. how to tell good bent from bad bent
3. what to look for in test riding
4. what are the top 5 bents?
5. how to optimize a bent for speed? [ besides tacking a fairing in front ]
6. If fairing bike, how much trouble are side winds?
7. If fairing bike, how much hard to climb hills.
8. Anything else I need to ask and am too uninformed to ask now?

Again, look forward to reading your suggestions and hearing your wisdom.
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Old 06-01-05, 11:09 AM   #2
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Have you considered a trike? It seems as if speed and climbing hills are your biggest concerns. Like a SWB or LWB, you are lying back in a trike, which reduces air resistance. This helps you go faster. On hills, a trike is great because no matter how slow you go, it's impossible to fall over. The same goes for fairings and sidewinds. You can stay clipped in from the moment you leave home, to the time you roll in to work. Trikes can carry a lot of cargo, and because of the third wheel you don't have to worry as much about balancing the load. By all accounts, trike riders say that cars give them more space on the road (perhaps because they are so low, so drivers allow a wider passing margin).

www.windcheetah.co.uk (check out their custom fairing and touring kits!)
www.catrike.com
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Old 06-01-05, 12:34 PM   #3
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No did not consider a trike. I assumed the 3rd wheel would generate more rolling resistance and the increased width would generate more air resistance than a 2 wheeler.
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Old 06-01-05, 12:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
No did not consider a trike. I assumed the 3rd wheel would generate more rolling resistance and the increased width would generate more air resistance than a 2 wheeler.
Ah, if you attach slicks then the difference is probably negligible. I also doubt there would be more air resistance.

Why don't you visit a bike shop that sells recumbents and give some a test ride? If they have a trike, be sure to take it down a long hill as fast as you can. SO AWESOME FUN.
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Old 06-01-05, 01:10 PM   #5
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Forgive me if my arguments wander here.

First, if your top level ground speed jumped from 25 to 35 mph in a day, it wasn't because of going from an OCR2 to a Litespeed. You had a tailwind, a slight downhill, or some other factor helping you.

You seem to want free speed. Don't we all! But you live in Colorado, where you don't have hills, you have mountains. So speed for you is heavily biased toward hillclimbing, and hillclimbing is simply a matter of horsepower/weight. Recumbents weigh more than uprights; so until anti-gravity is invented, recumbents may get close, but never exceed, the hillclimbing ability of an upright.

Fairing a recumbent would help aerodynamics, but aerodynamics only come into play at speeds of 15-18 mph or more. Below that they're just more weight. That means your hillclimbing would suffer even more with a fairing. Would that hurt your overall speed? It depends on how much % of your riding is on climbs.

Most recumbents have a weight limit of 275 pounds or less. There's a few exceptions, but the exceptions are not among the fast group. I'm not clear if the 300 pound limit is due to self-supported touring or your weight. If it's the latter, then even if you got, say, a Jester, getting in and out would be a nightmare. My Limbo moves have gotten a lot better since getting my Baron!

Here is a link to my bent/upright comparison page. At this point I can't see a good reason to recommend a bent (unless you just want one, of course.)
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Old 06-01-05, 02:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlazingPedals
Forgive me if my arguments wander here.

First, if your top level ground speed jumped from 25 to 35 mph in a day, it wasn't because of going from an OCR2 to a Litespeed. You had a tailwind, a slight downhill, or some other factor helping you.
Wasn't tail wind. Downhill was no greater than CO downhill where I got the 25. Normally more in the 14..15 mph range.
My touring bike weights in at about 25lbs. The litespeed was about 17. Change from a 700x32@60 lbs to a 700x23@100 lbs. Maybe that I was biking in Napa instead of CO.
Quote:


You seem to want free speed. Don't we all! But you live in Colorado, where you don't have hills, you have mountains. So speed for you is heavily biased toward hillclimbing, and hillclimbing is simply a matter of horsepower/weight. Recumbents weigh more than uprights; so until anti-gravity is invented, recumbents may get close, but never exceed, the hillclimbing ability of an upright.
Free speed would be a motorbike, and they are fun fun fun, but they don't get me in shape. I can't change my weight, I can change bikes and gearing options.

Quote:
Fairing a recumbent would help aerodynamics, but aerodynamics only come into play at speeds of 15-18 mph or more. Below that they're just more weight. That means your hillclimbing would suffer even more with a fairing.
Good point. A 1.5 lb fairing is dead weight. I would like to be able to get above 20 mph regularly. I don't know if it is possible, but it's a nice dream. [/quote]

Quote:
Would that hurt your overall speed? It depends on how much % of your riding is on climbs.
I have some gentle climbs, one good climb and one slow long climb on normal commute. I've never measured %. I'm sure it would differ for distance and for time.



Quote:
Most recumbents have a weight limit of 275 pounds or less. There's a few exceptions, but the exceptions are not among the fast group. I'm not clear if the 300 pound limit is due to self-supported touring or your weight. If it's the latter, then even if you got, say, a Jester, getting in and out would be a nightmare. My Limbo moves have gotten a lot better since getting my Baron!
275 would probably work, I was trying to build in a margin of safety. My current ride weight is probably about 250.


Quote:
Here is a link to my bent/upright comparison page. At this point I can't see a good reason to recommend a bent (unless you just want one, of course.)
THANKS. I saw this a long long time ago. It's a great comparison page. I just didn't want to buy another bike and find out it wouldn't work. The aero advantage of bents is the key item that is bringing me back to considering bents.

Thank you for taking the time to give me some things to think about.
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Old 06-01-05, 08:09 PM   #7
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The main reason to get a bent (-or rather, get rid of an upright bike) is for riding comfort. Other aspects are either neutral or a disadvantage. So if you are "comfortable enough" on an upright, hey, stick with it.

Two cheaper ($400) bents are from Cycle Genius and Sun. Rans has their crank-forward upright bikes as well, not real bents but better comfort than a regular upright, and still pretty compact overall.

Bents being more comfortable, that mostly matters in longer-distance rides. I live where it's flat, and I can't imagine taking "long-distance rides" up and down mountains. If I lived where it was super-hilly I think I'd not have gotten a bent, and just done the "suspended-MTB-with-thin-slicks" thing for short rides.
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