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  1. #1
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    Best bent for commuting in traffic?

    I am a daily commuter in London traffic (10 miles each way), year round. Lots of stop-start at traffic signals, and squeezing between lanes of stationary vehicles. My problem is a pain in the neck. No seriously, I fell off my MTB a couple of years ago damaged some discs in my neck and it isn't getting better. On a road bike, with my neck positioned in forced extension, I get neck pain and numb hands after about 30 mins.

    I think the riding position on a recumbent will be better for me, but is there a type of recumbent which can cope with heavy traffic riding on a daily basis?

    I'd be grateful to hear from any commuters.

    thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    You're road bike isn't set up for you, an individual. It sounds like you need a mor upright position to be comfortable.

    Find some shops that sell 'bents and test ride different designs to see what you like best.

  3. #3
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    I have had my raod bike custom built and set up for me to try and deal with the neck problem. No good I'm afraid, the neck is damaged. I need to ride with my neck staight or flexed, which tends to cause accidents on a roadie.

  4. #4
    Recumbent Evangelist
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    A trike with a motor assist (to keep up with traffic! FUN!) and lots of lights for visibility.

  5. #5
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    I'd like a trike, but wondered about them being too low to be seen or too wide to wind through the traffic. Anybody tried this?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockingdoc
    I am a daily commuter in London traffic ...

    I think the riding position on a recumbent will be better for me, but is there a type of recumbent which can cope with heavy traffic riding on a daily basis?
    Your best bet is going to BikeFix, which is in Lambs Conduit Court (just south of Kings Cross) or to London Recumbents, which are in Dulwich Park. They are both friendly and helpful, just depends who is closer & more convenient for you. If I were you I would try out as many different models as you can!

    I have cycled my recumbent around London for about 1.5 years now. It's a Challenge Hurricane Tour (and it's for sale.. www.bhpc.org.uk/forum/ for sale section.. (shameless plug!)) See pictures of it here: http://tinyurl.com/6yv3o I felt uncomfortable initially, but I think I would have been uncomfortable in London on any bike to start with since I was used to a more rural environment.

    Now I feel totally comfortable, and I don't feel visibility is a problem. However, you must adapt your riding style to compensate for being lower down. Filtering through traffic is risky, because someone cutting in from the side probably won't see you. I don't tend to shoot out from stationary lines of traffic into a junction either. These things slow you down, but at least you're comfortable! And when the light goes green you'll catch the upright riders again anyway

    Recumbents come in so many shapes & sizes, I'm sure you'll find something that suits you.

  7. #7
    Recumbent Evangelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockingdoc
    I'd like a trike, but wondered about them being too low to be seen or too wide to wind through the traffic. Anybody tried this?
    Yeah, they probably are too wide to dodge through traffic, but this is a very dangerous thing to do in the first place. I realize that you like to beat traffic by going through it, but the day some cager performs a quick lane change and cuts you off is the day you'll wish you had just stayed put.

    As for being too low, if you make yourself visible with lights and flags, cars will most likely give you lots of room, if only to see what the heck is rolling down the road beside them!

  8. #8
    ppc
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockingdoc
    I am a daily commuter in London traffic (10 miles each way), year round. Lots of stop-start at traffic signals, and squeezing between lanes of stationary vehicles. My problem is a pain in the neck. No seriously, I fell off my MTB a couple of years ago damaged some discs in my neck and it isn't getting better. On a road bike, with my neck positioned in forced extension, I get neck pain and numb hands after about 30 mins. I think the riding position on a recumbent will be better for me, but is there a type of recumbent which can cope with heavy traffic riding on a daily basis?
    I'd go with a cheap CLWB if I were you. Cheap because you don't want to cry if someone saws off the padlock and nick your bike in town, CWLB because I think it's the most practical and agile in town. Well, SWBs might be more agile, but I'm not very confident with a chainwheel full of teeth sticking out in front of pedestrians and cars. But that's just me.

    Out of curiosity though, commuting 10 miles, you probably don't have time time to get butt pains on your bike, so why don't you try installing a higher stem, maybe a slightly wider saddle, and ride more dutch-style, to relieve your upper body (and, well, shift the load to your rear-end that isn't yet affected by problems presumbably). Surely your road bike would become ugly as sin, but in the short term it might be a cheaper solution to your neck pains than a brand new bike. Unless you're also attracted to bents and this is a good rationale to get one of course, which I fully understand :-)

  9. #9
    Senior Member OldShacker's Avatar
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    My commuter is a Sun EZ sport cx. it is high and rides real good in and out of traffic. Great for drafting as well.
    Last edited by OldShacker; 09-13-05 at 09:49 PM.
    Ride well and be kind to others
    OldShacker

  10. #10
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    My commuter is my ReBike. I like riding high and everyone sees me with my big yellow flag.
    On group rides I let everyone draft off me. They tell me the flag never slows me down.

    Mooky

    Quote Originally Posted by OldShacker
    My commuter is a Sun EZ sport cx. it is high and rides real good in and out of traffic. Great for drafting as well.
    Last edited by Mooky; 09-08-05 at 07:47 PM.

  11. #11
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    Thanks. Dulwich and Holborn are both easy for me to get to, so I'll go and have a look, but I think I need a few days of real town riding on a bent trike to know whether it is going to work out.

    I should point out that I have been a daily cycle commuter for over 10 years, using every shape and size of diamond frames, with all sorts of stem heights and lengths. The problem is an actual neck injury (from falling off a bike) a few years ago.

    My daily commute is much quicker by bike than car, as the cars spend most of their time stationary at lights. Every, and I mean every, cyclist here passes these stationary lines of cars. Otherwise you'd not make any progress at all.

    At the moment, I spend my journey thinking "what would I do on a bent here?", or "what would I do on a tadpole here?" I haven't got that many points of the journey where a trike couldn't get through.

  12. #12
    Recumbent Evangelist
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    Pay close attention to the front wheel spacing of the trikes you're looking at. Some are too wide to fit through a standard doorway, while others are slim enough that you could ride right through. Obviously you'd be looking for one of the narrower ones. ICE in the UK probably has the largest selection, and very high quality, but higher prices to match.

  13. #13
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    I commute on mine, but Santa Barbara isn't quite the same as London. Nevertheless, I'd feel ok on my recumbent probably anywhere where the pavement wasn't too bad. That's really the big issue for me: bad pavement.
    ~Diane
    Recumbents: Lightning Thunderbolt, '06 Catrike Pocket. Upright: Trek Mountain Bike.
    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  14. #14
    Recumbent Evangelist
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    On a trike you never have to worry about bad pavement (or slippery roads or cracks), because you simply can't fall over. You can get bumped around, fishtail or get stuck, but you'll never get road rash ever again.

  15. #15
    Take Your Lane MaxBender's Avatar
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    I ride a Lightning P-38 and a RANS Wave. They are both very comfortable.

    The bottom bracket is lower on the Wave, so feet are closer to the ground for starting and stopping. Make sure you can get in and OUT of your pedals in a hurry. My LOOK-type pedals are just awful for smooth engaging and releasing.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockingdoc
    I am a daily commuter in London traffic (10 miles each way), year round. Lots of stop-start at traffic signals, and squeezing between lanes of stationary vehicles. My problem is a pain in the neck. No seriously, I fell off my MTB a couple of years ago damaged some discs in my neck and it isn't getting better. On a road bike, with my neck positioned in forced extension, I get neck pain and numb hands after about 30 mins.

    I think the riding position on a recumbent will be better for me, but is there a type of recumbent which can cope with heavy traffic riding on a daily basis?

    I'd be grateful to hear from any commuters.

    thanks
    I have been commuting for three years now in intense urban traffic and I must say I feel a lot safer and comfortable on my recumbents than I did on my DF bikes. I have fallen off my bikes many many times but I must say that it is much worse falling from a DF. The visibility on a recumbent is far better. I even ride my recumbent in the winter when there is snow and ice in the streets. I normally use studded tyres then. If you get yourself a lowracer see to it that you get a head rest otherwise you will get neck pains. If you use a touring bike like HPvelotechniks Streetmachine there is no need for a headrest owing to a moderate seat angle. As for your actual neck problems they will disappear after some recumbentriding. A chap I know got rid of his neckproblem by using a recumbent of the Streetmachine type

  17. #17
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    What he is concerned about is filtering.

    If he can't filter, then he'll be better off driving. I will say that filtering is risky on a recumbent but it can be done. I remember riding with a man who was on a Easy Racer recumbent which is a LWB with a fairly large chair. At one point during the ride, he AMAZED me by filtering past a long line a cars at practically full speed. I was on my hybrid and would never be so brave because if someone opened the door, he could have been seriously hurt. By the time I reached the corner he was almost a full block ahead of me!

    I suspect in the most tight situation, a recumbent would get caught behind the cars but a bent rider is only 3 to 5 inches wider than an upright so most can filter past traffic. I think the Giant Revive would be able to filter as good as any upright.

  18. #18
    ppc
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    I suspect in the most tight situation, a recumbent would get caught behind the cars but a bent rider is only 3 to 5 inches wider than an upright so most can filter past traffic. I think the Giant Revive would be able to filter as good as any upright.
    I noticed long ago that the space you have in a lane (be it in a car, a motorcycle or a bicycle) is always a lot wider than you think. If you want a proof, find an aerial photo of a street in your area that you think of as narrow, and be amazed at the amount of space left and right of the cars you see.

    So, even with a wide bike, if you know your bike well and know how to read the traffic ahead, it's usually unlikely you'll get physically stuck between two cars on a two-lane road. You might feel very uneasy about the proximity of the two cars, but you'll pass. If it wasn't for the very real possibility of getting doored, the only difference between you and the guy who filtered at high speed with his LWB bent is the amount of bravado required to engage your respective bikes in the narrow corridor of cars. With the dooring problem, bravado can quickly turn to foolishness though...

  19. #19
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    I can honestly say that in 20 years of commuting, no car driver sitting in the queue at the lights has ever opened his door on me. Why would he/she want to get out of the car? Parked cars are a different matter, but you can always give them a wide berth. After >20 years bike commuting, I've still got all my vital parts attached, so must be doing something right.
    My main point is that on a DF I can sneak back into the stationary/slow moving queue easily if that big truck suddenly appears coming the other way, not sure how easy that would be on a recumbent trike.

  20. #20
    Ollie
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    Try a Giant Revive. The standard 8-speed is O.K. in the flats but you might want to consider the upgrade if you have to deal with any hills. I have arthritis and herniated disks in my back so had to give up my road bike (too much pain), but I can ride my Revive to work each day (24 miles round-trip) with no pain. Also, it is narrow enough you can take it about anywere. It is a little to heavy to be lugging up and down stairs, though. My biggest complaint: Everyone wants to stop me and talk about the "cool" bike!

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