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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 07-24-07, 01:24 PM   #1
alexdrozd
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DF to Bent to DF?

Here is my experience so far on my 2007 Giro 26. In the past I rode a 33 lb Raleigh hybrid for years. I am 5’ 11” 165 lbs and in good shape. After experiencing neck and hand pain after 20 miles or so on this bike, bents looked interesting so I bought one about 2 months ago. Now about 600 miles later, I am averaging 15 mph on a 30-mile course I set up with many hills here in Ct. (Which I thought was pretty good)

I now have some problems with foot numbness and lower back soreness. Tried many solutions from this forum to help with these issues and they have greatly reduced these problems, but have not totally alleviated them. So I just transferred some aches and pains to different parts of my body. The longest ride on the bent so far has been 50 miles (very hilly), with a few 30 miles in there too.

Now my wife goes and buys a Giant FCR2 fitness bike that weighs about 5 lbs less than my bent. I raise the seat, hop on it after not riding a DF in over 2 months, and can do my course at 17 mph now with no pain in hands and neck. I am completely blown away. My heart rate averages 10 to 15 bpm higher on the Giant and I have to say that I feel I work my upper body much more. But I do not feel more tired, in fact I feel great. No pain now maybe means this bike “fits” me better then my last one and all along I thought that any DF would be uncomfortable.

Here are some questions. Is it the 5 lbs that’s making the big difference? I guess I can add 5 lbs on my back and see but I don’t think that’s it. Do I have to ride longer to get my “bent” legs? If so, is it going to take a long time again next year to get my “bent” legs after a New England winter? I averaged 2 mph faster on a bike that wasn’t mine and haven’t trained on. Would more training on the DF put me that much further ahead even after I get my “bent” legs? Or will my climbing ability keep increasing on the bent? Am I getting into better physical shape (which is my goal), on the DF because my average heart rate is higher?

The speed increase is not only on the uphills, which I kind of expected, but also somewhat on the down hills. How can this be you ask? Have you ever ridden very fast down a bumpy road? You naturally tend to slow yourself down so the jarring of the road doesn’t transfer into your back (even with the Euromesh seat). On the DF my legs are my shocks. So if I hit a bumpy section either I have to weave around it or apply brakes to soften the jolts. Anyone else notice this? I realized this on one ride when my buddies who are usually behind me, passed me on a bumpy section.

Have I passed other DF riders on my bent? Sure I have. I can sprint at 30 mph on the flats with it. But that to me doesn’t mean anything. I don’t know how long they have been out riding for, and I don’t know their level of fitness. So the only person I try to race is myself. So far, I can’t beat myself on the bent. Also, most of my hills are not “rolling”. Take a turn and there’s a hill. No momentum to help me up, all legs. I do like the difference in the two for cross training though.

Comments or suggestions?
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Old 07-25-07, 07:22 AM   #2
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I'm not exactly sure what your question is, you seem to have answered your own question. But it is not unusual to switch back and forth between DF and Bent and have increase performance gain. Most likely, the time you spent on the Bent have increased your cadiovascular, you're in better physical condition then previousely when you were riding your Raleigh hybrid. Hopping onto a completely new bike (your wife's Giant) would allow you to use different muscle groups.
The questions is whether if you could reproduce the same resault on your wife's bike without the pain returning? give it another 500 miles or so to determine your thoughts.
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Old 07-25-07, 10:39 AM   #3
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If you can't/don't get your HR up as high on the bent, it means you're not working as much. The difference might be upper body, but in part it's probably that your bent legs aren't developed enough to stress your cardio system to the same degree. Also, hills matter. I don't know what the hills look like in CT, but the longer and steeper they are, the more aero advantage you lose to the uprights as their lighter weight and ability to stand will matter more.

The other part of the equation is the bike. Just being a recumbent does not make it automatically fast. There's one Giro in my club and it is set up with heavy 36 spoke wheels and fat 1.5" tires, as well as a seat bag loaded with way more stuff than most DF riders carry. It would have no chance vs its owner on a skinny-tired road bike - even on flat ground. How is yours set up?
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Old 07-25-07, 11:59 AM   #4
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DF to bent-underwhelmed

I too used to ride a DF and had "comfort" issues with it. I bought a Lightning P-38 and I have none of those issues anymore. I do get some discomfort under my foot, but it is minor.
Overall, though, I have not been able to stay with the group I used to hang with. Whether on the flats or on a climb, I struggle to keep up. It is frustrating. The bike is a good 10 lbs heavier, and I cannot stand up on climbs - as I think about it, I cannot see how I could ever get to the speed I used to climb with. In fact, I cannot see how anyone can claim to be a faster climber on a recumbent. BTW, the climbs I am talking about are 20 -40 minute climbs, I couldn;t give you grades, but maybe 6-10%.
So I am sticking with my bent because the Df was just not good for me, but I am looking for ways to lighten the bike (wheel upgrade is #1) and improve my power/fitness.
I'll take any thoughts or suggestions on either wheel choice or exercises.
Best to all,
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Old 07-25-07, 06:53 PM   #5
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I ride and love both. I'm still WAY faster on the bent, but who cares?
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Old 07-26-07, 06:18 AM   #6
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I've recently discovered that I can devote 90% of my time to riding a DF and be as fit, if not fitter for a recumbent-race then just exclusively riding a bent.

I think having 'bent legs' is slightly overrated. After months of riding 300km DF weeks, the only muscle that hurts after some super-intense bent-racing is the vastus medialis, and even then I can strengthen such a muscle by riding 3 x 30 minute sessions per week on my bent, which I didn't have the luxury of doing before the last race .
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Old 07-26-07, 08:15 AM   #7
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I ride and love both. I'm still WAY faster on the bent, but who cares?
Given the same course/roads, similar weather conditions, wind direction and similar physical condition on you the rider, how much is "WAY faster", your 'bent ride is faster by 10%, 20% or more than a DF ride?

DF at 20 mph avg. speed and 'Bent at 22 mph avg. speed as 10% faster, 24 mph avg. speed at 20%.
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Old 07-26-07, 09:16 AM   #8
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I can't speak for Greg, but my records over the last 12 years show my average speed on a 25-30 mile club ride on my old DF was about 17.4 mph in mid-season, with some short <20 mile rides averaging as fast as 19 mph and NO rides as fast as 20 mph. By contrast, last night's 33 mile ride averaged 23.6 mph. No fairing, no spoke covers, and relatively fat tires (37x406 front, 32x559 rear.)
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Old 07-26-07, 10:03 AM   #9
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I had to go one size bigger on my tire size from stock because I was getting pinch flats on a regular basis. I figure too much weight concentrated over the rear tire, that is the one that kept blowing. I don't know what size they are because I am at work. They are slicks. Down from the stock 85 psi to 65 psi. No flats since I put them on. Spoke count is whatever comes from the factory stock. Can't go fast if you keep getting flats so I had to put on tires that would last.

Blazing Saddles, what is the total ascent on your 30 mile ride and tell me where you got that info because I know the Garmin Training Center, Bikeroutetoaster, and Motionbased, all give different info on the same route. I am curious to compare it with my ride to see if what I consider hilly is really hilly? Your speeds are incredible!
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Old 07-26-07, 10:41 AM   #10
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Blazing Saddles, what is the total ascent on your 30 mile ride and tell me where you got that info because I know the Garmin Training Center, Bikeroutetoaster, and Motionbased, all give different info on the same route. I am curious to compare it with my ride to see if what I consider hilly is really hilly? Your speeds are incredible!
My rides are flat, flat, flat. Last night's was probably around 250 feet of climbing. Just a guess, because I've looked it up in a few places and the ride profiles don't even come close to reality. 'Hilly' for me here in southern Michigan would be 1500 feet in a century. I like to do Hilly Hundred in southern Indiana, which runs about 2500 feet of climbing in a half century. For that, my speeds are in the high 17 to low 18 mph range. So hills make a big difference.
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Old 07-26-07, 02:40 PM   #11
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The ascent in my 33 mile loop is 2350 feet. Here is a picture of it. I guess that's why I can't hit 20 mph!
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File Type: jpg 33 mile ride.jpg (10.4 KB, 6 views)
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