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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 01-05-07, 06:34 AM   #1
Opedaler
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Just thinking about a bent

Don't have one but the local dealer is putting pressure on to consider one. A few questions come to mind:

1) What do I need to spend to get a good one? (not great but good)

2) How do I transport?

3) Do some climb better than others? I've read most of the threads on climbing, and I'm ready to spin but are some better natural climbers?

4) For one new to bents......SWB or LWB?
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Old 01-05-07, 07:16 AM   #2
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Being new to bents myself, I'm going to stick my neck out and see if some of the more experienced bent riders chop it off.

Price varies all over the place. For new bikes, $500 up (can be way up!). Consider a good used bike; you will probably save at least 50%. Plus, when you decide that this wasn't the perfect bike for you (you will you know!) you can sell it and buy what you really want.

For a new rider, an LWB is probably easier to learn on (hearsay as I have not ridden an LWB). The downside is that they are less maneuverable at low speed and are harder to transport.

SWB bikes are "zippier" and easier to transport (I have a hitch mounted rack that supports the wheels and is fully adjustable for recumbents and DF's). They can be a bugger to start while facing uphill (I still haven't mastered that) and can be harder to balance because of the crank height.

All that said, there are tremendous variations within type. Your best bet is to ride as many different models as you can until you find that one that "feels just right" to you.

If you live close to a dealer they usually have demos for you to ride. Most people that own a bent will probably let you try it out too (especially if they hope to sell it to you).


Good luck in your search!
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Old 01-05-07, 08:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opedaler
Don't have one but the local dealer is putting pressure on to consider one. A few questions come to mind:
1) What do I need to spend to get a good one? (not great but good)
2) How do I transport?
3) Do some climb better than others? I've read most of the threads on climbing, and I'm ready to spin but are some better natural climbers?
4) For one new to bents......SWB or LWB?
Let me guess--the local dealer is putting pressure on you to buy one he's had on the floor too long? ;) What model is it, and what's he want for it?.....
------
1) New bents start at around $600 or so (Sun and Cycle Genius have CLWB's, ActionBent has SWB's), you get a few choices up around $1000. Trikes cost more than bikes, trikes start at around $1K or so. There are certainly some very expensive bikes out there, but both mine "only" cost around $1000 and I don't feel that anything more expensive would work all that much better.
2) How you transport them is--however you have to. What works well will depend on the bike you choose and the car you need to transport it on.
3) Lighter bikes climb better, and SWB's are usually lighter than LWB's. Some feel that the quicker steering of SWB's helps you balance easier at very low speeds, which is true to an extent--but I have found that if I'm pedalling that slow, I might as well get off and walk anyway.
4) I started with a SWB (Sun EZ-Speedster) because I was concerned with heavier recumbent weights, but ended up not liking the jittery SWB steering and also had slight problems with numb feet. Second bike is a LWB (Cycle Genius Falcon), smoother steering and no numb feet, ever. [-bikes with higher-set pedals have more problems with "numb feet", and the LWB's pedals are set low-] The higher weight of the LWB hasn't ever been any actual problem, except when lifting it on and off the car carrier.

As I have seen it, "ordinary people" who have test-rode both bikes have an easier time riding the LWB than riding the SWB. This seemed to be due to the SWB having a longer pedal-to-ground reach.
------
Also I bought a RANS Fusion, it is a "semi-recumbent". Not as comfortable as a real bent, but still much better than an upright bike and it looks pretty normal still.
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Old 01-05-07, 09:18 AM   #4
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Thanks guys.

The dealer is a really nice guy but just a huge believer in bents (they sell all kinds) but yes there is one used one that I am kicking around. It is a V2 Rans (not made anymore). LWB but the crank is higher than most and we haven't got around to price.

He also has a new Rans stratus LE for 1200 bucks.

I'm hesitant because 1) as mentioned above, I don't want to get stuck with something I don't like and can't unload.(Bikes are a wonderful thing but resale is not one of their strengths) 2)I just don't see many around and wonder if there is a reason. 3) transportation.......I have a Jeep Cherokee and we would like to travel a little and take some bikes to ride at various stops. 4) I admit I'm having a hard time "thinking outside the box" on this one.........I mean, they just don't seem like bikes.

If I can find some good used ones that is how I'll go.

One final thing any good sites that carry bent carriers that fit on hitches (a la my Grand Cherokee)

Thanks again
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Old 01-05-07, 11:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opedaler
Don't have one but the local dealer is putting pressure on to consider one. A few questions come to mind:

1) What do I need to spend to get a good one? (not great but good)

2) How do I transport?

3) Do some climb better than others? I've read most of the threads on climbing, and I'm ready to spin but are some better natural climbers?

4) For one new to bents......SWB or LWB?
1) $1000-$1500 will get you a recumbent that will do everything you need it to. This is doubly true if you get a used one in good condition.

2) Many recumbents, especially SWB models, will fit inside a minivan or SUV. SWB models often have the same wheelbase as a regular bike, so roof-top racks will often work well. Hitch racks will also work with many recumbents, especially the Rans. The V2 has a nice, long main tube that will sit nicely on the rack's supports.

3) Yes, some climb better than others. Generally, the better climbers are lighter, but also have a straight chainline that doesn't turn the bike's frame into a giant spring. The V2 should climb better than many other models.

4) SWB or LWB doesn't have much to do with how new you are. the LWB may be a bit easier to ride right off the bat, but you'll get used to either one within 100 miles, probably. Some people just prefer one seating position over the other. It also depends a bit on where you'll be riding (commuting with lots of 90 degree turns, or long country roads with no turns for miles?)
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Old 01-05-07, 01:15 PM   #6
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You can get a pretty nice, new bent for between $1000-2000; My beloved V-Rex now retails for $1800, up from $1495 'a few years ago' when I bought mine. The sub-$1000 models will be heavier but depending on your intended use they might work fine. And of course you can choose to spend even more - some of the fancy ones go for $5000+. I might gag at the thought of spending $5000 for a bent, but compared to the prices on some fancy uprights, it's still pretty reasonable. List price on a Stratus LE is $1295. The V2 is now marketed with a large front wheel, as the Formula series.

The standard advice is, "test ride, test ride, test ride." Ride everything you can lay your hands on, even if you know you can't afford it or you know ahead of time it's not the bike you want. Bents are so different from uprights that you need to build an experience base before you can decide exactly what you like. Then you find the right bike, it'll speak to you.
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Old 01-05-07, 01:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opedaler
Don't have one but the local dealer is putting pressure on to consider one. A few questions come to mind:

1) What do I need to spend to get a good one? (not great but good)

As much as you can afford! But try finding a used one first. Much cheaper!
I recently got a Tour Easy (LWB) that is about 8 years old and zero miles...$650!
About a year ago I found a Greenspeed GTX w/82 miles on it...$2,000 (retail; $7,800!!)


2) How do I transport?

See attached pic. Our Greenspeed GTT (tandem) on a Honda Accord. The Hollywood rack also takes the GTX. Just not both at the same time.

3) Do some climb better than others? I've read most of the threads on climbing, and I'm ready to spin but are some better natural climbers?

The Lightning P-38 is one of the best climbers, as well as an Optima Baron. A Tour Easy is a pretty good climber too.

4) For one new to bents......SWB or LWB?
Probably LWB, but that can be an idividual parameter.
My first 'bent was a Challenge Hurricane, and that one definetly had a long learning curve!
But it was worth it! That bike caused me to start a recumbent specific rental shop.
Now I refer to it as my $125,000 recumbent!
Long story, but suffice it to say I still have that one!

As a note, BikeE's can be found on eBay for $200-$500. They are no longer made, but are great beginner 'bents! I also still have one of those!

Good luck in your quest & let us know what you end up with!
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Old 01-05-07, 02:36 PM   #8
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Dr. isn't that a baby seat on the back of the tandem? I love it! Looks like it is reclined also.
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Old 01-05-07, 04:23 PM   #9
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Dr. isn't that a baby seat on the back of the tandem? I love it! Looks like it is reclined also.
Yes, but the kids have all outgrown the babyseat. Now my 6 yr old like to Captain the rig!
(I have reins that help me keep it safe)

And when I find the picture, I'll post it. I installed a babyseat on my Challenge Hurricane!
(Hurricane is a SWB quasi low racer) Very hilarious!
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Old 01-05-07, 04:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opedaler
Thanks guys.

The dealer is a really nice guy but just a huge believer in bents (they sell all kinds) but yes there is one used one that I am kicking around. It is a V2 Rans (not made anymore). LWB but the crank is higher than most and we haven't got around to price. He also has a new Rans stratus LE for 1200 bucks. ...
Is this dealer in St Louis?....

Quote:
... 2)I just don't see many around and wonder if there is a reason. ..... 4) I admit I'm having a hard time "thinking outside the box" on this one.........I mean, they just don't seem like bikes.
I don't know why they don't sell better.
I can say that most "non-riding" people (who have tried riding mine) are put off by the prices, plain and simple. They seem to have a tough time imagining themselves using any bicycle enough that they'd think it was worth $1000.

As for "enthusiast" riders, there's a couple reasons I know of, and a whole lot of others that I don't:
--if someone wants to do sanctioned racing, you need to be familiar with riding on a legal bike.
--if someone commutes and uses public transportation with their bicycle, the public transportation may only accomodate upright bicycles.

I think that a lot of the rest of upright riders don't believe that a recumbent is all that much more comfortable, or that it must be a lot slower if it is. If you cannot borrow one for a few weeks, then you have to take a leap of faith more or less. A recumbent's main advantage is in the riding comfort it gives, but you will not notice that from just a short test-ride around the block; it's when you go 30-40-50+ miles that the difference becomes apparent. And the first couple weeks you do ride a recumbent, it will probably make your hips ache a bit (even if you are regularly riding an upright bike).

Quote:
One final thing any good sites that carry bent carriers that fit on hitches (a la my Grand Cherokee)
Thanks again
I carry my LWB on a fairly-cheap Graber rear hitch carrier. It's a bit of a pain to get strapped on, and I have to strap both wheels to the ends of the bumper to keep the bike from rocking left and right, but it works for one LWB. Two LWB's would be pretty close to the rack's rated weight limit, and I'd probably run some straps from both wheels up around the luggage rack. ...I didn't really think much before buying this rack beyond the fact that on the day I came to pick the LWB up, this was the only rack the shop had on hand that the LWB would fit on.

The best rack carriers support the bike by its front fork drop-outs and the rear tire--and these are usually the bigger and more-expensive carriers.
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Old 01-05-07, 05:55 PM   #11
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Insightful thoughts Doug (and everyone).

As for the dealer, he's not from Saint Louis but I'd consider going that far if the price and bike were right.

It's a father and son business in a midwest small town. I think that it maybe struggling and it's really a shame. Both are honest, industrious and fine people. I think,as you pointed out,no one wants to spend a grand on a bike. And yet, poeple don't think twice about spending twice that on cell phones, cable,eating out,and a relation who owned a Harley shop saw people mortage their homes for a motorcyle. Hmmmmm.....can't figure it out. Maybe it's because bicycles remind some of adolesence hence "cheap" things, or maybe it's the way the industry promotes bikes as "throw away" items or maybe customers know that they're just too lazy to ride a bike. Regardless, it's too bad. They're a cheap,easy way to commute, get in shape and just have fun. Enough of that......

Interesting that you mentioned scantioned racing. The dealers son and co-owner is involved in road racing so stays away from 'bents pretty much,as does his wife. However, they both admit when the family goes for rides it's pops on his bent that always wins. So much for being slow.

As for getting one sooner or later, I think that I've stepped over the fence and while I'm keeping my uprights, I see one in my future. If it's one thing that I've learned from this thread tho, it's that I need to ride several and not just for a trip around the block.
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Old 01-06-07, 11:23 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Opedaler
...Interesting that you mentioned scantioned racing. The dealers son and co-owner is involved in road racing so stays away from 'bents pretty much,as does his wife....
One thing your first recumbent teaches you is that you don't need to get off the bike as often. If you have a buch of upright riders and somebody gets a flat, everybody else gets off their bikes and stands around waiting. They won't stay sitting on the bikes, because it hurts. ...When I want to stop and rest, I brake to a stop and put my feet on the ground. I tend not to get off the bike and walk around, because sitting on a recumbent doesn't hurt.

THe other thing you learn is, that most of the effort involved in riding an upright bike doesn't have anything to do with turning the pedals. There's this odd feeling you have after the first decently-long ride (25 miles or so), where afterwards, you feel that your thighs are tired, but nothing else is, and nothing hurts. It seems like it's almost too easy.
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Old 01-06-07, 06:38 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Doug5150
THe other thing you learn is, that most of the effort involved in riding an upright bike doesn't have anything to do with turning the pedals.
I think there's something to this. Upright riders don't realize how much energy is wasted just holding the upper body in place, i.e. supporting with arms and 'core muscles,' and holding their head up in the unnatural position. The other part is what I used to call the 'discomfort factor' where the upright rider expends energy to deal with pain, or ward it off. They're advised to "change positions often," which I would personally refer to as "fidgeting to keep the pain from building up too much in one spot." It wastes energy that could otherwise be used to spin the pedals.
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Old 01-07-07, 12:08 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals
I think there's something to this. Upright riders don't realize how much energy is wasted just holding the upper body in place, i.e. supporting with arms and 'core muscles,' and holding their head up in the unnatural position. The other part is what I used to call the 'discomfort factor' where the upright rider expends energy to deal with pain, or ward it off. They're advised to "change positions often," which I would personally refer to as "fidgeting to keep the pain from building up too much in one spot." It wastes energy that could otherwise be used to spin the pedals.
Yeah, just watch the tracks made by uprights made on gravel trails shortly after a shower. I wonder just how much energy is spent on balance, let alone fighting the discomfort factor.
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Old 01-07-07, 07:20 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Opedaler
Don't have one but the local dealer is putting pressure on to consider one. A few questions come to mind:

1) What do I need to spend to get a good one? (not great but good)

2) How do I transport?

3) Do some climb better than others? I've read most of the threads on climbing, and I'm ready to spin but are some better natural climbers?

4) For one new to bents......SWB or LWB?

I think you'd find either the Rocket or Stratus satisfying long-term bikes. I'm less certain about the EZ series (Sun) unless you had a pretty tightly defined idea of what kind of riding you want to do.

I ride a SWB (Rocket) with a friend who rides a VRex. I don't think there's much performance difference between the two. The VRex may be a bit more comfortable and theoretically is faster, but the Rocket seems to climb a little better. Some say the Rocket is overgeared, some say undergeared. I've hit 33 in the middle ring on level ground - no wind. It's OK for my needs.

I bought the Rocket with some of the money I saved by commuting via the Stratus, which I like better for crummy roads, or when there may be Igravel, chipseal, or a slick of mud. I don't seem to climb as fast on it as I do on the Rocket, and can only drive it to 30-31 on level ground. It may be how I have it set up, as I notice myself tugging on the handlebars more on the Rocket than on the Strat. I'm also running some slower tires on the Stratus, which probably has a lot to do with it. Also, the seat position is more upright, which means I have to have some quality time in it before doing a century or I'll feel it a little by mile 80 or 90. It also means that in city traffic, I can swivel my head a little better to look back before crossing an intersection.

I have only limited experience with a V2, but have thought about one a number of times.

The SWB should have wheelbase of around 40-42 inches, which makes it transportable by a standard roof rack - you know, where you take the front wheel off. With the typical Rans flip-it riser, you can turn the front wheel backwards and fold the stem full "forward" - or in this case toward the back of the bike - and reduce the profile quite a bit, particularly once you've removed the seat. The Stratus' wheelbase is around 6ft which may require a little creativity for a roof rack. I've seen both types suspended from the arms of a hitch mounted rack.

Hope this helps - and let us know what you think after riding a few.
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