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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 09-12-05, 03:12 AM   #1
Sincitycycler
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Newbie question: Why do some bents have the front wheel behind the crankset?

Some have the crankset behind the front wheel. Advantages of each?
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Old 09-12-05, 04:19 AM   #2
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With the cranks behind the front wheel (long wheel base) you typically get a faster machine, but the steering is more sluggish. With the cranks in front of the front wheel (short wheel base), you get more precise steering, but the bike may be a bit slower. Though many say it isn't according to what I've read. In any case, the SWB bents seem to be better-suited for city riding.
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Old 09-12-05, 05:31 AM   #3
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>>Some have the crankset behind the front wheel>>

As mentioned, such 'bents are referred to as having a long wheelbase (LWB). These bikes are well suited for riding long distances out on the open road. The longer wheelbase provides a smooth, relaxed ride. Most LWB's can be excellent touring machines. Some models can go quite fast as well. On the downside, the long wheelbase can make storage and transport somewhat of an issue. They can be a bit awkward to handle and have a large (wide?) turning radius.

On the other side, short wheelbase recumbents (SWB) have the cranks extending out beyond the front wheel. SWB's can offer quicker, more responsive handling...not quite so sedate. They have a shorter turning radius and are easier to store and transport. SWB's also tend to weigh a bit less and might prove to be a bit better on climbs. The ride can be a little harsher, though, as the shorter wheelbase won't soak up the bumps as well.
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Old 09-12-05, 05:58 AM   #4
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If you are coming from a road-model upright, a SWB bent will have more recognizeable handling, since the wheelbase is closer than for a LWB. Still, it can take some time to get used to having your feet outside the turning circle described by the front wheel.

It's easier to put a front fairing on a LWB - all you do is attach it to the fork and handlebars. With a SWB you have to mount it to the frame, often by using an elaborate sub-frame for the fairing.

SWB can be made lighter for a given construction, since there's less frame.

LWB has more room to hang stuff for touring.

Except for lowracers, seat height on LWBs can be lower. Seat height is a comfort issue for stop-and-go riding, and a lower COG is usually preferable from a handling standpoint.
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Old 09-12-05, 07:50 AM   #5
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If you're considering a recumbent, do not buy before you try both LWB and SWB. There's a big difference in both. It comes down to preferences. I have a CLWB, compact LWB, that has underseat steering that scares the bejeebers outa me, but I still ride it. <VBG>
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Old 09-12-05, 08:00 AM   #6
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Or you could buy a bike that does both like the Burley Taiko or Canto.

I really like mine.
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Old 09-12-05, 05:20 PM   #7
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The LWB has the wheel out in front of the cranks and the SWB has the wheel under the cranks (actually the knees), not the other way around as two people have posted here.

SWB bikes tend to be more "twitchy" or responsive depending on your point of view. Most people think that SWB are faster than LWB, but some LWB bikes are very fast. I rode a Rans Formula and it seemed really fast, and I ride a Lightning Thunderbolt which isn't fast at all, but good enough.
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Old 09-12-05, 09:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
The LWB has the wheel out in front of the cranks and the SWB has the wheel under the cranks (actually the knees), not the other way around as two people have posted here.
Which posts were you referring to? I've re-read all of them and nobody has misspoke concerning the relationship between cranks and front wheels.

Regarding the short vs. long wheelbase, I have a LWB recumbent and, while it does have a larger turning radius, I'm able to turn through sidewalk intersections where even a narrow intersects a normal sidewalk. It took me about 100 miles of riding to really get used to it, but unless you are a courier in NYC and have to weave around stopped traffic alot, a LWB recumbent should be fine. You definitely want to test ride several of both types if you can, and not just around the block once.

Cheers,

Bill.
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