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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 06-19-17, 12:05 PM   #1
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Your opinion: Do recumbents have a mechanical advantage ...

I recently did the National 24 Hour Challenge. Two years ago they changed the standing 33 year old policy and decided to lump recumbents in with uprights in age group medal competition.

It seems to me that in a 24 hour bike race (the last 12 hours on mostly flat terrain) a recumbent has a clear advantage. The event is held in Michigan where there are no mountains, but decent rolling hills in the first 12 hours. I think one rider said the first 120 miles measured in at 5,500 vertical gain. I can attest, it was a fairly hilly track, but I never got out of my saddle, not once - tri bikes suck trying ride out of the saddle. The seat hits you in the butt, you can't get your weight above the pedals.

So my question: Do recumbents have a mechanical advantage over uprights in an ultra cycling competition?

Although all recent winners of the 24HC I can think of ride traditional uprights, and even the course record was set on an upright, I think this has more to do with the fact that elite cyclists have very little opportunity to race on recumbents so the sport doesn't attract nearly as many elite riders as uprights.

As for my own experience ... OMG, I ride a tri bike. After 300 miles, mostly in the aero position, you learn pain in many new ways and levels. My neck was killing me, my shoulders were going to break out of the sockets, the discs in my lower back were ready to go on a labor strike. Mechanical debate aside, hard to imagine a road bike is even half as comfortable as a bent.

Even disregarding the speed advantage, I've been considering a bent. With a tri bike it's really hard to look up. You get used to looking about ten feet ahead of you, with some peripheral view further forward. Then you look up about every five to ten seconds to kinda scan for anything weird, a pot hole, dead animal, whatever. It would be cool to actually look around and not kill your neck. I do think bents are awesome bikes!

I'm seriously considering ... If you can't beat them, join them!

Thanks for reading!
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Old 06-19-17, 07:47 PM   #2
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They have no mechanical advantage. They have a comfort advantage, especially over a tri bike; and some of them have an aerodynamic advantage.
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Old 06-20-17, 01:16 PM   #3
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They can have a considerable aero advantage.
They can offer either a comfort advantage, or a brand new set of discomfort.
With the ability to brace against the backrest, it is possible to push the pedals harder than on a regular bike.
Whether that actually is an overall useful advantage, I don't know.
"Mechanical advantage" - if I remember the definition right - would depend on bike set-up, crank lengths, gearing ratios etc, and not on whether the bike is a 'bent" or not.
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