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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 08-18-05, 05:40 PM   #1
Mars
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Lowracers in traffic?

I am seriously considering a lowracer recumbent for my "very long commute" needs. I ride a 44 mile round trip commute to go to work (16 mile round trip in the winter). I currently use a roadbike, but as I age I am finding my butt, wrists, and hands are getting more and more sore. I like the roadie for the speed and don't want anything slower, or I won't be able to do my commuting in a reasonable time. Most of my commuting is on highways with a reasonable shoulder to ride on, but I have to travel 3 or 4 miles into the city to get to my workplace. There is some traffic there, not horrible, but enough.

Does anyone ride their lowracer in the city? Do you feel safe in traffic and feel that you are visible enough? What do you think of a lowracer to meet my needs? thanks for any input!
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Old 08-18-05, 06:36 PM   #2
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I currently ride a upright road bike myself and I am looking at getting a recumpent. Like you I don't want a bike that is slower than my Cannodale road bike. I don't like the low rider because I ride in traffic also and being that low scares me. I looking at the High Racer recumpent as they are very fast also. The one I thinking of getting is the Bacchetta Corsa. I had a test ride on one last week but want to ride is somemore before I make up my mind. My understanding is the uprider roadies seems to like the High racer more because it feels more like a upright bike. All of the Bacchetta are high racers. Perhaps you should look at these recumpents also.
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Old 08-18-05, 07:29 PM   #3
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I sold the HP Velotechnik Speedmachine I had because I felt it was too low and too invisible riding in SF city traffic. When I rode my other bents (Rans Rocket, HPV Street Machine and Rans V2), cars noticed me. I could tell because they gave me a wide berth. On the Streetmachine it was different, didn't get nearly the attention. In addition to traffic not seeing me well, I was down so low that I really couldn't see that well either. I didn't like it, so I sold it.
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Old 08-18-05, 07:42 PM   #4
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I don't agree that all the Bacchettas are highracers. I don't consider something with a 20" front wheel a highracer. I suppose it's all in the eye of the beholder though. I do agree that a highracer would be a good choice for commuting, especially if you are worried about being seen. It's in the same ballpark speed-wise as a lowracer, but taller. Personally, I've never had a problem with my lowracer. The worst situation I can think of for a lowracer would be on-street parallel parking with cars exiting driveways. In that case you would want to take a lane and ride well away from the parked cars - even further than otherwise would be required to clear the 'door prize zone.' But yes, either one would work.

One caveat: don't expect to jump on one of these machines and instantly be as fast as on your DF. There will be an adjustment period where you might actually be slower as you condition new muscle groups. You don't say where you live, but I wouldn't want to ride a recumbent of any type on ice.
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Old 08-18-05, 09:02 PM   #5
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BP has it, it is a big adjustment. The muscles used are very different. That is a plus actualy. The two worst parts are the run over factor, and what to do if one stops on hills.

I think where I live the problems will get better pretty quickly because the number of bikes is on the increase, but Lady godiva would have an easier time with customer relation than a recumbent rider. You get swarmed, jeared, and worst for me was the old lady in an electric wheel chair who figured it was such a relaxing thing she would like one, while I was doing my usual white knuckled best not to crash!

On the serious side, while I got the hang of peddling quickly enough, if you have to stop at any time on a steep hill, it isn't pleasant. You have nothing like the stability of a regular bike, if you aren't moving, there is no dangle weight below the bike to steady things. Models vary of course.

I also was very nearly run over by an idiot who threw his car in reverse and came back 100 yards to an exit he had missed. He was loitering stopped, never turned his head, just drove back while looking in his mirror. I had just come out into the oncoming lane, even though he was 100 yds ahead, because something about it gave me the creeps. If I had been a kid on a small bike, he would have killed me.

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Old 08-18-05, 11:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
I am seriously considering a lowracer recumbent for my "very long commute" needs. I ride a 44 mile round trip commute to go to work (16 mile round trip in the winter). I currently use a roadbike, but as I age I am finding my butt, wrists, and hands are getting more and more sore. I like the roadie for the speed and don't want anything slower, or I won't be able to do my commuting in a reasonable time. Most of my commuting is on highways with a reasonable shoulder to ride on, but I have to travel 3 or 4 miles into the city to get to my workplace. There is some traffic there, not horrible, but enough.

Does anyone ride their lowracer in the city? Do you feel safe in traffic and feel that you are visible enough? What do you think of a lowracer to meet my needs? thanks for any input!
I've recently resumed commuting but only once weekly so far with 35km each direction and for similar reasons I found I needed a new (recumbent) bike. I have been riding one of the very early HP-V streetmachines but would have felt uneasy on Australian roads. So I went for a Catrike Speed 2005. You can't go much lower: eyes in door knobs height

I haven't been feeling unsecure but riding such bike in traffic is certainly a very different experience. You just have to be refraining from certain styles of riding, particularly the more aggressive ones I used to practice on my uprights years back. You should make yourself very visible with appropriate gear, flag etc and the Airzound will secure blind peoples attention.

Besides that, I guess, its a quite subjective matter.

HTH, Livos
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Old 08-19-05, 12:07 AM   #7
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I think as long as you get a light bike (if you have hills) your speed won't be slower once your in bent shape. I match my racing bike speed on a 37 pound bent. I guess i work harder but I still get the same speed. slower on hills but faster on the flats.
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Old 08-19-05, 12:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
I am seriously considering a lowracer recumbent for my "very long commute" needs. I ride a 44 mile round trip commute to go to work (16 mile round trip in the winter). I currently use a roadbike, but as I age I am finding my butt, wrists, and hands are getting more and more sore. I like the roadie for the speed and don't want anything slower, or I won't be able to do my commuting in a reasonable time. Most of my commuting is on highways with a reasonable shoulder to ride on, but I have to travel 3 or 4 miles into the city to get to my workplace. There is some traffic there, not horrible, but enough.

Does anyone ride their lowracer in the city? Do you feel safe in traffic and feel that you are visible enough? What do you think of a lowracer to meet my needs? thanks for any input!
Any bicycle in traffic is a death wish in America. The law protecting cyclists anywhere in our land is weak. You could be run down and killed in a heartbeat. So why would you consider a lowracer bicycle for any urban environment? A toureasy or a Bacchatta would do you just as well and maybe the dreaded DF bike might be the tool that you need? After all its just a bike with cranks and wheels and a frameset right?

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Old 08-19-05, 02:54 AM   #9
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Have a look at us at cruzbike.com. You can fit your racing bike gear to the frame and with a little better aero shape, you should improve your speed once you body adapts.
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Old 08-19-05, 09:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
I am seriously considering a lowracer recumbent for my "very long commute" needs. I ride a 44 mile round trip commute to go to work (16 mile round trip in the winter). I currently use a roadbike, but as I age I am finding my butt, wrists, and hands are getting more and more sore. I like the roadie for the speed and don't want anything slower, or I won't be able to do my commuting in a reasonable time. Most of my commuting is on highways with a reasonable shoulder to ride on, but I have to travel 3 or 4 miles into the city to get to my workplace. There is some traffic there, not horrible, but enough.

Does anyone ride their lowracer in the city? Do you feel safe in traffic and feel that you are visible enough? What do you think of a lowracer to meet my needs? thanks for any input!
I have said it before and isay it again: Any cyclist is exposed to dangers in the traffic. I don't consider a lowracer to be different in that respect. But I don't consider a lowracer to be more exposed more vulnerable than other types of bicycles. Besides I have recently proven this to be true by travelling through all the Czech Republic in any big city worth of mentioning on the hardest roads of Europe without being hit by a car or a truck. So the most important thing to take into account is not height or visibility, but experience and strategy of the recumbentist. Never cross a busy street on a recumbent. Walk over the street instead. The same goes for crossings. Always respect a red light! If you have 5 trucks behand your back on a narrow road, step off the bike and let them pass! These kinds of measures will increase your safety on the road dramatically.
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Old 08-19-05, 12:08 PM   #11
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For what it's worth- I recently began riding a LWB recumbent (Gold Rush) on my commute, a 46 mile round trip, and found that the commute time was equal to my DF times (within the normal variance due to stop lights, bridge openings, etc). Though the Gold Rush outweighs my DF bikes by 4 to 8 lbs, I ended up trading some uphill speed for better downhill and level cruise speed. I do notice that drivers tend to give me a little more respect when I'm riding the recumbent.

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Old 08-19-05, 12:09 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals
I don't agree that all the Bacchettas are highracers. I don't consider something with a 20" front wheel a highracer. I suppose it's all in the eye of the beholder though. I do agree that a highracer would be a good choice for commuting, especially if you are worried about being seen. It's in the same ballpark speed-wise as a lowracer, but taller. Personally, I've never had a problem with my lowracer. The worst situation I can think of for a lowracer would be on-street parallel parking with cars exiting driveways. In that case you would want to take a lane and ride well away from the parked cars - even further than otherwise would be required to clear the 'door prize zone.' But yes, either one would work.

One caveat: don't expect to jump on one of these machines and instantly be as fast as on your DF. There will be an adjustment period where you might actually be slower as you condition new muscle groups. You don't say where you live, but I wouldn't want to ride a recumbent of any type on ice.

BP: thanks for the post. I have two questions for you (and any others who want to answer): do you personally ride in traffic on your lowracer? And, can you help me find a dealer that sells the bike you have... it's a Optima Baron, right?
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Old 08-19-05, 12:12 PM   #13
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Well right off the bat, if I had to dismount at every street, I might as well be walking.

I don't agree the recumbentist can make up for the problems I described. One thing I will say for motorists (of which I am one anyway) is that they really are wonderful, even if one thinks they are terrible. The most enormous eye opener for me was a transit strike in my town where all of a sudden 100s of Ks of people had to make alternative routes to work. I thought it would be no problem, since I rode my bike to work at that time, but eventually I gave up and used the car (which was 2 hrs to go 20 minutes). The insanity of trying to ride a (regular) bike on a road full of cars that never drove rush hour (and worse still cyclist who never comuted) was incredible. Every nightmare you can imagine over and over again in one ride. As bad as it is, the drivers are aware of the presence of cyclists, and go a long way to accomodate it. But if they aren't aware of you, or are hostile or goofy curious, it is really unpleasant. Toronto is not a bad cycling town, though the number of cars doubles every decade or so, but they can't all get downtown, so it doesn't mater.

I've been biking for 40 years. I'm sure there are more effective cyclists out there but not by much. There isn't anything I could be doing that I am not doing. I drive, I know the driver's perspective. It is just plain dangerous on a recumbent. But as I said, if you have a lot of them, or could do all you touring or comuting off the road, it would be different.

I do enjoy the riding of mine, They are fast, but I was surprised to go onto the local recumbent store this spring and meet slightly defeated owners. Sales were good for them, but they were geeting a little ticked off with the experience of riding them!

My original intention was to use mine for long distance touring, and I think I goofed on the model I bought. A Toxy touring machine. I though with all the racks etc, it was the right model. But it is a little twitchy.
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Old 08-20-05, 01:13 AM   #14
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If you want the expert disscussion on Lowracer crazys in urban traffic than you must post your questions over on the BROL message boards and I am sure someone from Chicago will answer your questions. The Chicago lowracer club has been on low bikes longer than any other place in America and are the experts in all aspects of riding lowracers in urban environments. You seem sold on the lowracer concept but I doubt you will gain any speed over a DF bike in a commuter envirionment with proper tires on a lowracer for that environment.
My highly biased personal opinion is that all lowracers should remain on tracks where they surly excell and that other types of recumbents should be used for commuting and touring. There are many options and those that promote lowracers in an urban American environment are irresponsable at best and stupid at the very worst.
And my personal experience has proved that bikes such as Bacchetta makes are just as fast as lowracers on real roads and far more practicle for every day riding. RAAM should open all eyes on the subject of Bacchetta's top end bikes and there speed potential on open roads.
Ride whatever bike turns your crank!

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Old 08-20-05, 06:25 AM   #15
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I've ridden my lowracer in traffic plenty. I work in downtown Lansing Michigan. But traffic there isn't exactly heavy except for a few streets at rush hour. So yes a lowracer will work in that situation, if that's what you have your mind set on; but to tell you the truth I feel more comfortable in traffic when I'm riding my taller recumbent. Magilla's giving good advice, that something like a Bacchetta will be just as fast, and will probably work better in traffic. Bacchetta sells the most highracers, but there's also Volae and RANS.

One thing that wasn't asked or volunteered yet, is that for commuting you're probably going to want fenders? AFAIK putting fenders on a lowracer may be somewhere between problematic and impossible. I'd at least make sure the bike you get can take them.
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Old 08-20-05, 11:13 AM   #16
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Thanks for the input everybody. I'm a little unclear though: Do you think riding lowracers in traffic is a bad idea Magilla?

Based in part upon everybody's wisdom here, I am veering away from the pure lowracers and am now looking at the Bachetta Corsa, Challenge Hurricane, and HP Velotechnik Speed Machine. Anyone have opinions or experience with these bikes?
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Old 08-21-05, 01:00 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlazingPedals
I've ridden my lowracer in traffic plenty. I work in downtown Lansing Michigan. But traffic there isn't exactly heavy except for a few streets at rush hour. So yes a lowracer will work in that situation, if that's what you have your mind set on; but to tell you the truth I feel more comfortable in traffic when I'm riding my taller recumbent. Magilla's giving good advice, that something like a Bacchetta will be just as fast, and will probably work better in traffic. Bacchetta sells the most highracers, but there's also Volae and RANS.

One thing that wasn't asked or volunteered yet, is that for commuting you're probably going to want fenders? AFAIK putting fenders on a lowracer may be somewhere between problematic and impossible. I'd at least make sure the bike you get can take them.
John,

Again a most excelent post.
If I were closer to my job I would use a bike for commuting but I am 37 miles from work.
I would use a single speed DF bicycle for any short commute of 10 miles or less and in urban combat combined with that special nine would make the most perfect commuter bicycle. But to each his own. Some ride lowracers in urban combat but I would prefer a DF single speed with a perfectly loaded gun to any lowracer recumbent. The prospect to the motorist of even the hint that the cyclist that they are harrassing is armed is a most convincing deterant. And the killing of a few motorists in self defense in a city with a well published trial and aquital of said cyclist would be a great encouragement to communting to work by bicycle.

The real Magilla.
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Old 08-22-05, 03:50 PM   #18
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I have a Challenge Hurricane sport and tomorow will be riding one of the new Challenge Hurricane SL aluminum, carbon fiber, titanium wonders. 21 lbs, yes!
I have found cars give me a wide berth when on the Hurricane, they apparently see me easily. Challenge is a great company, good service, great product. Beautiful paint on the bikes. You won't go wrong with a Hurricane.
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Old 08-22-05, 10:30 PM   #19
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I bought a Challenge, then changed my mind, and went with the TOXY. The Challenge is sweet.

I was riding my TOXY last night. I still have some weak points, but they are fun to ride. It sure is like relearning though.
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Old 08-22-05, 10:48 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
Thanks for the input everybody. I'm a little unclear though: Do you think riding lowracers in traffic is a bad idea Magilla?

Based in part upon everybody's wisdom here, I am veering away from the pure lowracers and am now looking at the Bachetta Corsa, Challenge Hurricane, and HP Velotechnik Speed Machine. Anyone have opinions or experience with these bikes?
As my good friend Rich Pinto always says everyone has to determine there own level of risk on a bicycle.
And that is how I will leave it with you Mars. Some folks use one speed fixed gear DF bikes designed for track racing with out brakes in urban environments. These guys have super bike handling skills as you would Imagine while riding without brakes. There are quite a few lowracer pioneers in Chicago who ride lowracers in dense urban traffic with no problems. Again these folks have tremendous bike handling skills and many years of experience on all types of 'bents in urban traffic.
So again its all about risk and I feel that commuting in dense traffic is best done on a DF single speed bike with brakes. Can't get any simpler than that for a short commute of 10 miles or less.
Would I ride a lowracer in dense urban traffic? Yup if I had the money for a NoCom if for no other reason than to just blow peoples minds with a bike like that one after I was totally used to it.
I have great bike handling skills on any type of bike that I expect most on this forum lack so other options make more sense like Bacchetta's line of bikes or Easyracers line of bikes do.
So my answer is that it depends......


Magilla
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Old 08-23-05, 07:26 PM   #21
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I don't commute to work just because of the times of day involved. People are bleary-eyed and loopy on the drive to/from work, and I have this feeling I would die, weather I was on my road bike or my recumbent. On Saturdays I get into heavy heavy traffic and don't bat an eye with either bike.

I don't think a road bike has any more advantages for commuting. Commute on whatever you are most comfy on. For me that would be my Baron. It's designed to work as a fast commuter as well as a racing bike, so why not use it that way?
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Old 08-23-05, 11:20 PM   #22
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I don't commute to work just because of the times of day involved. People are bleary-eyed and loopy on the drive to/from work, and I have this feeling I would die, weather I was on my road bike or my recumbent. On Saturdays I get into heavy heavy traffic and don't bat an eye with either bike.

I don't think a road bike has any more advantages for commuting. Commute on whatever you are most comfy on. For me that would be my Baron. It's designed to work as a fast commuter as well as a racing bike, so why not use it that way?
The Baron designed as a commuter bike? On American roads?
Hmm.... well I thought the bike was designed to be raced primarily on race tracks and they really excel at this area of riding. Some use them in urban environments too. But as a general rule I think that lowracers are unwise choices on open roads for most riders. For some riders there absolutely fine for them.
I am just pointing out the risks associated of owning a lowracer and it is something to consider when deciding on the type of Hpv to purchase.
I shudder at what will happen to the 'bent industry if one of the lowracer zelots gets killed on one and the news media picks it up. Lots of do gooder government types out there that will try to make us all "safe" buy banning all recumbents as dangerous. This could happen in a heartbeat in America and don't kid yourself.
I know that this is some of the fears of those that manufacture American recumbent bikes. Notice only one American lowracer manufactured?


MG
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Old 08-23-05, 11:28 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Mars
Thanks for the input everybody. I'm a little unclear though: Do you think riding lowracers in traffic is a bad idea Magilla?

Based in part upon everybody's wisdom here, I am veering away from the pure lowracers and am now looking at the Bachetta Corsa, Challenge Hurricane, and HP Velotechnik Speed Machine. Anyone have opinions or experience with these bikes?
Please take a look at the new Bacchetta Giro.
Plenty of frame room designed in for a 1.5 inch slick or bigger plus fender clearence for touring and commuting. Well designed and relitively cheap as 'bents go. And changes in wheelsets and seat can get you near Aero speed for very little cash.
I have my eye on this fine machine when cash balance allows.

MG
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Old 08-24-05, 08:00 AM   #24
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I don't have any time on a full recumbent, but I've been riding in heavy urban traffic on and off for 40 years. For the last year and some I've switched to a fully faired and body-socked Easy Racers Ti Gold Rush and commute 26 to 32 miles a day with it (I don't bike commute every day though). DF, semi, or full recumbent, I would say the most important thing to have in urban riding (after good skills and common sense) is a very, very bright headlight and taillight set.

The most common scenario I witness is the car pulling out from a street, driveway, or alley, into a lane with parked cars. As a motorist myself, I know it is hard to see through several panes of auto glass to notice something as slight as a bicyclist. Even with bright clothes the attenuation by, say, the front and rear windshields of two or three cars makes a biker near invisible. Like it or not, these drivers don't spend very many milliseconds trying to identify anything smaller than a car. The light gets their attention in that narrow window of time when they are deciding if there is anything coming that is a danger to them.

I always ride with my arc headlight on--day and night. Always! Certainly staying out in the lane is important, but having a very bright headlight (in my opinion) is crucial regardless of the type of bike. (Of course the headlight must be at a height suitable for being seen through said windows, even if the riders head is low.)

Taillights are also important, but I don't believe the statistics indicate rear collisions to be a major problem. My taillights are also very, very bright (equal to the brake lights on a car) and are intended to (try to) be different enough that drivers take notice of me when I occupy the right lane during fast stretches or when trying to be seen by entering cars.

Oh, and finally, if you ride in traffic you should have a good mirror. It takes some time to get used to them but they allow you to know what is coming without constantly turning your head. Even the half second it might take you to turn your head and look back is enough time for avoiding something in front--and you know that thing to avoid is going to wait until you just turn your head!

Cheers,

Bill.
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Old 08-24-05, 09:59 AM   #25
JohnH
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Originally Posted by Mars
Thanks for the input everybody. I'm a little unclear though: Do you think riding lowracers in traffic is a bad idea Magilla?

Based in part upon everybody's wisdom here, I am veering away from the pure lowracers and am now looking at the Bachetta Corsa, Challenge Hurricane, and HP Velotechnik Speed Machine. Anyone have opinions or experience with these bikes?
I've ridden the Speed Machine in traffic - a little unnerving not to be able to look drivers in the eye, but in general I got more respect from motorists than on my DF. The full suspension was glorious, but it was a dog uphill. My Rotator Tiger is only 2" higher than the SM, but I've got the seat at about 40 deg vs. 30 deg on the SM, which puts my head a fair bit higher and makes maneuvering easier. The Tiger also climbs quite a bit better, which is a big deal in the Seattle area where I live. The Bacchetta's are great bikes - if the bus weren't a necessary part of my commute, I'd have bought one. Unfortunately , the B's are several inches too long to fit the bike racks on the front our buses. You need to get down to about 42". If you like the dual-26 bikes but need a short wheelbase, consider the Rans Force 5, which has a wheelbase that will fit the racks and is stiff and light enough to excel up hills. Different "highracers" ride quite differently, so try more than one if at all possible.

Have fun,
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