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  1. #1
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    recumbent commuting

    i commute 2 to 3 times a week on an upright. i ride anywhere from 12 to 15 miles one way. a significant portion of that commute involves highly trafficked roads where the cars go 50 to 60 mph. i'm fine with this on an upright, but i'm getting ready to switch to a bent and am a little nervous that i won't feel as safe.

    does anyone have any experience with this they can share? any advice?

    thanks in advance,

    adam

  2. #2
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    My commute is 13+ miles each way, depending on local construction. I've driven my car 7 or 8 days since mid-May, so I have a lot of recent experince (should hit 2000 miles be the end of this week). I haven't found motorist traffic to be much of a problem, but not sure how I'd compare mine to yours. I spend the first and last 3 miles at each end inside residential developments or on low traffic routes. My middle 6-7 miles is on 5 lane metropolitan roadway, 2 lanes each direction plus a shared center. Light motorist traffic on the way in because I'm ahead of rush hour for the most part, lots of motorist traffic on the way home. I ride in the roadway the majority of the time, and some of it is bikelane plus I make one cut across for a mile on a rails to trails path.

    My only advice is make sure you are highly visible, get some mirrors, and then ride predictably and act like a motor vehicle. For visibility I recommend a strobe light. I prefer the xenon strobe for brightness (like the school buses and garbage trucks have on their back ends), but I see a couple LEDs coming the other way each morning and they are visible too, but I think they don't strike light lightening the way my strobe does. The day I mounted the strobe earlier in the spring was the day motor vehicles stopped coming anywhere near me, and I think the far-in-advance notice of something being on the road in front of them helps the motorists keep their peace while the pass wide or wait to pass.
    Longbikes Slipstream

  3. #3
    Recumbent Ninja
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    I felt that way for my first commutes, and now I feel les safe on the upright. It takes time. Do what's necessary to make yourself feel better about being seen, and be overcautious for a while. Let us know how it goes!

  4. #4
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    I've been commuting 20km each way on a highracer for a couple of years now on fairly heavily trafficked roads, and I reckon it's at least as safe, if not safer than my old mountain bike. It's not just the 'freak factor' either, although that does help. My considered opinion is that the recumbent's handling and braking is superior to the mountain bike. Just allow youeself a bit of a learning curve before doing anything too hair-raising.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  5. #5
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    I switched from upright to 'bent commuting about a year and a half ago. (suburban/urban). I feel as safe as before. It's easier to mount multiple tailights to sprint braces than on a seatpost. It took a while to get used to being almost entirely reliant on my mirror for keeping track of traffic behind me.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Rogerinchrist's Avatar
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    In my mind the biggest safety move for me to make for commuting is to be out there on a regular basis. The same cars pass me each morning (more or less) & the same cars pass each evening. We have gotten so used to one another that I can about tell if I'm running early or late by where I am on the route when certain cars pass. When I am a regular fixture on "their commute", they then can anticipate me & they do give me more room. Waving to my regulars helps too.

  7. #7
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    I've been commuting for twenty years, pretty much the same route. (Only about 5 miles) In Feb of this month I changed to a bent. I feel a lot safer on the bent since I have covered the back of my seat with lights and such. Some of the guys I work with have told me that I am a lot more visible in the morning than I was on my upright. I also spend a lot more Saturday mornings riding than I ever did on my up right. Since I got the bent (Sun EZ Sport) in late February I have already put over 1000 miles on it. And I have lost 25 lb. I love it!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Rogerinchrist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gew0419 View Post
    Since I got the bent (Sun EZ Sport) in late February I have already put over 1000 miles on it. And I have lost 25 lb. I love it!

    Congrats!!

  9. #9
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    Nice! way to go..

  10. #10
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    I fully agree with Rogerinchrist. I've been commuting by DF bike, as a vehicular cyclist, since 1990 and I am convinced that over time you are surrounded by the same motorists every day who learn to trust you. Because of back problems, however, I bought a recumbent about a month ago. For a variety of reasons I just did my first commute, by recumbent, this morning about half an hour ago though I have been doing a lot of recreational riding on it since the purchase.

    I personally don't feel safer on it than on a DF though I suspect that over time I'll get used to the differences and that will change. I have two main issues and I will gladly take advice and input from you folks on this.

    My first issue is my headlight. I'm riding a Burley Django and my headlight is mounted just left of centre on my handlebars but is partially obstructed by my left knee with each pedal stroke so I am going to have to buy/design/build something like a short boom or something of that nature to make it more prominent. Any thoughts, suggestions etc?

    My other issue is low speed performance. I ride as a vehicle, therefore, at intersections I take the lane behind the last vehicle in front of me. On a DF bike this was completely non-problematic as I could do short track stands/creeps or stay on the saddle and "walk" the bike until speed picked up. On the recumbent, in the same situation, I find this brutally awkward. Any suggestions?

  11. #11
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogerinchrist View Post
    In my mind the biggest safety move for me to make for commuting is to be out there on a regular basis. The same cars pass me each morning (more or less) & the same cars pass each evening. We have gotten so used to one another that I can about tell if I'm running early or late by where I am on the route when certain cars pass. When I am a regular fixture on "their commute", they then can anticipate me & they do give me more room. Waving to my regulars helps too.
    This effect is huge. Even people who don't see you are looking for you. The difference is enormous.

    I do 22 miles one way, almost 20 of which are on a 2 lane highway where cars typically go 65+. In good weather, I might take a highracer, bare tadpole trike, or a DF racing bike. In bad weather, I take my velokit or my touring bike.

    I do not think being seen is a problem if you are set up and lit properly. The bigger deal for bents is seeing debris in the dark and hanging on when you hit a large rock or something else that destabilizes you. There is also the issue of having headlights at eyeball level.

  12. #12
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    Burley Django headlights for commuting

    I commute 12 miles one way and start out in the dark. I did not like the one headlamp on the handle bars. I moved my main light to one of these accessory posts and added two blinking LED lights on the handle bars. Now I have three points of light from the front.



    It is a Swing Grip made by Minoura.
    My LBS had mine but here is a link to Amazon.
    Last edited by R-bentRIDER; 10-06-07 at 09:34 AM. Reason: added name of part

  13. #13
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    I got a recumbent about a month and a half ago. I've been gradually ramping it up for commuting. The only big difference I noticed is that when I ride my diamond frame in bad neighborhoods that I get almost no reaction because it looks like an old beater. But when I ride the new recumbent I look like the "white boy on the expensive bicycle" and I get a lot of nasty looks and comments. So I may have to change my riding that way. Afternoons in bad neighborhoods are the worst. The bad boys are up but haven't started to party yet.

    A lot of it depends on what your road situation is like. Little Rock has narrow hilly pot-holed streets in the core, and wide well paved streets in the west and it makes all the difference in driver's reactions.

  14. #14
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by R-bentRIDER View Post
    I commute 12 miles one way and start out in the dark. I did not like the one headlamp on the handle bars. I moved my main light to one of these accessory posts and added two blinking LED lights on the handle bars. Now I have three points of light from the front.
    Where did you get the accessory post?

  15. #15
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    Swing Grip Accessory Post for lights

    I bought the Swing Grip from my local bike shop. It is made by Minoura
    Here is a link to Amazon.
    Last edited by R-bentRIDER; 10-06-07 at 09:33 AM. Reason: fixed broken link

  16. #16
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    looks as recumbant rolls by

    The funniest looks I get are from little kids who have never seen a recumbant ride by their street. They just stop and stare as I go by trying to figure out what they just saw. Older kids will throw out a "hey I want your bike". I am sure if I had a df decked out as a commuter I would hardly be noticed.

  17. #17
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by R-bentRIDER View Post
    Older kids will throw out a "hey I want your bike". I am sure if I had a df decked out as a commuter I would hardly be noticed.
    Hahahaha.

    I get the same comment while riding my folder!

    If you want to be a true cycling advocate...ride something unusual!
    Fewer Cars, more handlebars!

  18. #18
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    Under certain situations, a flag can be desirable

    Hi there. I guess I commute on a recumbent maybe six kilometers each way, and have been doing this for a little more than a year. I would say that the only extra concern that one might have on a recumbent is that if one had a low racer, one might need a flag. (I was alerted to this by my local bike shop). Until it broke, I was using an orange triangular flag stuck to the back of my Challenge Hurricane. Certain low racers are lower still (examples: Optima Baron and especially the Nocom) which practically demand a flag when biking in traffic. Flags are not expensive -- perhaps five U.S. dollars or four euros.

    On my high racer Bacchetta Corsa, though, no flag is needed.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Goatbiker's Avatar
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    Adam,

    I commuted 15 miles round trip on two-lane country roads with high-speed traffic, and four-lane city roads with all kinds of traffic.

    As a new-to-bent-rider, your first consideration will be holding your line on the edge of the road. New bent riders tend to wander a bit as they learn to balance through steering. As you get more miles under your belt, you will feel more confident that you are not going to drift too far. And, as the miles build, you will realize that you are just as visible as any other bike on the road.

    Tom
    RANS V2
    Goatbiking. "It's not the size of the hills you climb, it's what you smell like when you're done". So sez my wife.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  20. #20
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    I have a bright yellow seat bag hanging off the back of my seat. I wear bright yellow clothing. I have more than one blinkie on the back of the bike. I recommend a front white blinkie on any bike.
    The more you ride, the more comfortable you will feel riding.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

  21. #21
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    If you *really* want to be visible from the rear, get a Dynotte tail light. One guy in my group had one on DALMAC, and it was clearly visible in full daylight, a mile away! We could see the light before we could see him.

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    I would avoid under seat steering in a commuter bent. In my experience, this design is harder to keep on a staight course along the edge of the road.

  23. #23
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    I don't commute regularly but ride to work and back occasionally- 14 miles one way. Mostly city streets with a bike lane. I have to make one left turn crossing three lanes. I feel comfortable, not the slightest problem with motorists. I ride a GRR; day time riding only. I don’t use a flag, I have bag behind the seat back with florescent cloth taped on it.
    Welcome to Tucson, AZ.

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