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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 09-18-07, 07:22 AM   #1
asanderson
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recumbent climbing

i just read the following about bents:

Starting is much harder . . ., partly because you cannot push off with the leg that is already as far back as it can go. All you can do is push hard on the one pedal. Getting your toe into the clip is possible if you have fitted a friction device (half a tennis ball does the trick) to the bottom of the pedal so you can flip it to the correct position. On climbs the recumbent is a dog. . . . Because of the problems with starting, though you may be able to climb a reasonable hill slowly on a recumbent, you cannot start on such a hill, even ith all your strength. Even if the hill is so gentle that you can start, you still have problems. Once I rode uphill for over a mile with one foot out of the clip because I couldn't get it in while turning the low gear fast enough, and couldn't stop pedaling because I'd fall over. I'm not unskillful, and half of my riding is on fixed gear or tandem, which both require getting your foot in and out of moving pedals. Finally, there is no way you can see which rear cog you are using, and with a machine that depends for climbing success on spectacularly accurate shifting of the front three and the rear six that is a fatal deficiency. You can easily stall out in the wrong gear and find [y]ourself unable to start again.
Forester, John, Effective Cycling, 6th ed., p. 75.

I'd like to hear from the experienced riders here how they respond.

thanks,

adam
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Old 09-18-07, 08:18 AM   #2
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I hate constantly hearing this garbage. The writer has either not ridden a bent much or has only ridden the old, heavy ones. The toe clip and six-speed comments really make me think this is an old article. Who uses toe clips anymore? Clipless pedals are just as easy to get into on a bent as they are on an upright.

On a modern SWB bent a halfway experienced rider can start off quite easily on anything but mayby the steepest of hills. An experienced rider can also climb as well as he/she is willing to put in the effort to train for climbing. I climb every bit as well on my Corsa as I ever did on an upright.
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Old 09-18-07, 10:20 AM   #3
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I have no problem clipping in. Uphill starts were a little difficult for a month or two. No longer an issue after being 'bent for 18 months. Hill-climbing is not really a problem. Maybe a little slower uphill than I was on hybrids, but getting faster. Overall, riding faster than upright. Can't see the rear cogset, but that's what indexed shifting is for, right? (compact long wheelbase Tailwind)
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Old 09-18-07, 10:53 AM   #4
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Please folks, new riders need guidence and encouragement.. no need for bashing.

The key things is to practice, which ever method that allow you to start/stop in the middle of a hill.. or climb with the least effort.
Personally, I keep one foot/leg clipped in the pedals at most if not all of the time while riding.
Pedaling non-full circles with one legs could allow you to gain some needed speed to pedal full circles with one legs, then try to clip-in with the other leg.
Your recumbent has gears, so use them, especially before your speed gets too low for the difficult climbs, or coming to a full stop.. shift into the small chainring and big cog, combined with the one leg pedaling method, with enough practice, all of the above would become second nature as getting your foot out from the pedal as you come to a stop.
Practice, practice, practice.. until the motions become reflex, they could be accomplished without thinking.
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Old 09-18-07, 11:50 AM   #5
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True. Sorry. But I wasn't bashing the rider. I was bashing the outdated article. Got a little carried away.
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Old 09-18-07, 12:41 PM   #6
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Also, balancing recumbent more difficult than upright

Also remember that balancing a recumbent is inherently more difficult than an upright. Your body's center of gravity is lower on a recumbent and it is more difficult to shift your body to balance the bike. This is why a recumbent is very difficult to track stand (bike not moving but remains balanced), ride no-hands, start uphill, etc.

As posters suggest, practice on less steep hills, downshift ahead of time (how far down depends on how steep the hill; the steeper the hill the more you should downshift), one foot on pedal. If you have narrow tires, you might try tires as wide as the bike/rims can accomodate. If your bottom bracket is higher (e.g. a high racer), it takes more practice.

I also suggest joining 'BentRider Online and then search the message board.
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Old 09-18-07, 12:44 PM   #7
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Recumbent trikes solves all those "issues"

Clip in; stay clipped in
Starting on hills; easy... and rest on hills to boot
climbing is a dog? There is no gear too low for a trike
Not knowing what gear your in? I have non-indexed shifters and I know... and they do make indexed shifters.

I don't know that I'd start riding 2 wheel'd 'bents but the tadpole trike is a sheer pleasure to ride.
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Old 09-18-07, 12:55 PM   #8
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OK, folks. John Forester's book, Effective Cycling, was first published in 1976. The 6th edition (quoted from) was written in 1993. A long time ago.
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Old 09-18-07, 05:47 PM   #9
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People have every single one of those issues on upright bikes as well. I can smoke 90% of the riders out there on the hills, and most of the other 10% on the downhills and flats.

Bottom line: a bike - ANY BIKE - is only as good as the rider and what he/she trains for. If you're scared of the hills on a bent OR an upright, you'll always be slow going uphill. I train for it, therefore I do it rather well.
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Old 09-18-07, 06:43 PM   #10
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Just my take as a newbie SWB recumbent rider.... All of west Little Rock is hills. We are at the end of the Ouachita Mountains. During my test ride, the hills were all I really cared about, so I went for the toughest local ones, ones that were daunting even on my diamond-frame.

Starting is not much more difficult. And once I get going, it's about the same as a diamond frame since I don't tend to stand on the gears on either kind of bike.

Climbing is serene on a recumbent. You have time to sip from your camelbak, you can look up at the sky and watch the hawks circling overhead or watch the scenery ambling by. You can't do it on a diamond frame because to get enough oxygen down your throat, you must look at the road. And because of your position, you can use your abdominal muscles (belly breathing) to help breath instead of being cramped.

Spectacularly accurate shifting? Fatal deficiency. Can't you just smell the hyperbole? I haven't found any problem except that cross-chaining is almost impossible.

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Old 09-18-07, 06:46 PM   #11
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People have every single one of those issues on upright bikes as well. I can smoke 90% of the riders out there on the hills, and most of the other 10% on the downhills and flats.

Bottom line: a bike - ANY BIKE - is only as good as the rider and what he/she trains for. If you're scared of the hills on a bent OR an upright, you'll always be slow going uphill. I train for it, therefore I do it rather well.
Good post, and I'm tired of hearing the bents can't climb mantra, also.
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Old 09-18-07, 08:36 PM   #12
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thank you, everyone. i appreciate all the comments. i've got a little more money to save and a lot more convincing to do for my wife, but i hope to join you all soon on an xpr stiletto.

looking forward to it,

adam
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Old 09-18-07, 08:52 PM   #13
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Don't throw away your money with Performance XPR. These are TW/Bent bikes that can be had a lot cheaper.

See this sale: http://www.bentrideronline.com/messa...ad.php?t=33091 Also shop www.Actionbent.com

Last edited by Shaman; 09-18-07 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 09-20-07, 12:22 AM   #14
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thanks for the tip. all of a sudden i'm really interested in actionbent's tidalwave 3. what's the catch? i'm looking for reviews and information. can anyone point me in the right direction?

thanks in advance,

adam
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Old 09-20-07, 10:55 AM   #15
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can anyone point me in the right direction?
Join the Yahoo! Actionbent Group. http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/actionbent/
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Old 09-20-07, 11:06 AM   #16
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I don't have any problem climbing on my recumbent.

I just swing a leg over the frame tube and sit down!
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Old 09-20-07, 12:20 PM   #17
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I don't have any problem climbing on my recumbent.

I just swing a leg over the frame tube and sit down!
HA!
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Old 09-20-07, 06:27 PM   #18
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Starting is much harder . . .,
Yep, until you get the hang of it, which doesn't take that long. Practice, as they say, makes perfect.

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Getting your toe into the clip is possible if you have fitted a friction device (half a tennis ball does the trick) to the bottom of the pedal so you can flip it to the correct position.
Haha. Toeclips? How quaint. I am curious as to what he does with the half tennis ball though.

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On climbs the recumbent is a dog. . . . Because of the problems with starting, though you may be able to climb a reasonable hill slowly on a recumbent, you cannot start on such a hill, even ith all your strength.
Speak for yourself, old man.

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Even if the hill is so gentle that you can start, you still have problems. Once I rode uphill for over a mile with one foot out of the clip because I couldn't get it in while turning the low gear fast enough, and couldn't stop pedaling because I'd fall over.
Again, practice makes perfect. Even riding a regular bike takes practice if you're not used to it.

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I'm not unskillful,
Methinks thou doest protest too much.

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Finally, there is no way you can see which rear cog you are using, and with a machine that depends for climbing success on spectacularly accurate shifting of the front three and the rear six that is a fatal deficiency. You can easily stall out in the wrong gear and find [y]ourself unable to start again.
If you can't tell what gear you're in by feel, perhaps you're not as skillful as you believe. Another simple technique is to shift down before stopping, but a 'skillful' rider should know that too.

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Forester, John, Effective Cycling, 6th ed., p. 75.
Bottom line is, don't believe everything you read (including this). Test everything against experience. This is doubly true of anything JF writes, and quadruply true of anything he writes about recumbenting.

Without easy access to getting recumbenting experience, it can be a leap of faith. I took that leap a couple of years ago and haven't looked back. I knew going into it there was going to be a learning curve, but figured it'd come with practice. Strangely enough, I was right.

I think JF should've given the bent a little more time - that article sounds more like inexperience than ignorance to me. The fact that he considered it publishable - now that's ignorance.
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Old 09-22-07, 08:50 PM   #19
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thanks for the tip. all of a sudden i'm really interested in actionbent's tidalwave 3. what's the catch? i'm looking for reviews and information. can anyone point me in the right direction?

thanks in advance,

adam
The catch is, you're buying a lower-quality bike, directly from an importer vs a higher quality bike through a retailer. I don't recommend cutting out the middleman unless you have good bike mechanic skills and are willing to deal with issues - assembly, warranty, adjustments, etc - yourself.
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Old 09-22-07, 08:56 PM   #20
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I really like Effective Cycling, but it is a peculiar book: lots of solid, sometimes brilliant advice, mixed with bizarre redundant sections -- doesn't Forester know he's repeating a story he's told three times already? -- prissy, brittle advice on setting up your hardware exactly the way John likes to set up his, passive-aggressive contempt for commuters and utility cyclists, and the occasional lively, thundering, ill-informed rant. (Not to be confused with the lively, thundering, well-informed rants that are also in abundance.)

His stance on recumbents falls squarely in the "ill-informed rant" category. That snide "I am not unskilled" line says it all. He's a hell of a rider on upright road bikes, but he clearly is unskilled at riding recumbents. My first few tries at climbing serious hills on my LWB 'bent were crazy comedies of errors like Forester describes (except that I was laughing at myself instead of sneering at the bike)...and then, like anything else you practice, I got better. Within a month or two, I could climb as strongly on the recumbent as on a road bike, and no longer had any problems starting on steep hills, clipping in while climbing, or figuring out what gear I was in (is he serious that this was a problem for him?) I sure as hell never felt, after the first couple weeks, that "I couldn't stop pedaling or I would fall over."

I don't have a tenth of Forester's raw talent as a cyclist, so he could probably have learned in days what I did in weeks or months...if he'd been trying. So I can only conclude that he didn't try. He decided in advance what he thought of recumbents, then rode one or two, collecting data to fit his pre-defined conclusions.

By the way, John Forester is a regular poster on bikeforums, so he might be willing to rebut my views here, and/or to give his current thoughts on recumbents.
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Old 09-23-07, 01:22 PM   #21
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The catch is, you're buying a lower-quality bike, directly from an importer vs a higher quality bike through a retailer. I don't recommend cutting out the middleman unless you have good bike mechanic skills and are willing to deal with issues - assembly, warranty, adjustments, etc - yourself.
I would agree will all you say except the "lower-quality bike" part. Remember that most bike frames come from Tiawan and TW/Bents has put out some amazing quality machines at low cost. I will also comment on the warrantee... 3 years on the frame and Actionbent has a great reputation for honoring that warrantee. Not only do they replace the frame, they replace the bike! This is true of a few Apoyo trikes that have design issues. 3 years isn't the best warrantee, but it it is on parr with a lot of manufacturers.
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Old 09-24-07, 07:53 AM   #22
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I was thinking about this guys complaint of not being able to see the rear cogs while riding a century this weekend. My question ??Why in heck would you want to??? Also, I don't understand his inability to clip in and out at a faster cadence???
Seems like a lot of inexperience here. Shouldn't take very long before you just simpy "know" what gear you are in and "know" exactly where to put you feet on the pedals, etc.
The whole thing seems a bit irrational to me. I find while reading web sites that a lot of people 'parrot' along stuff they have heard or read somewhere that is not accurate at all. This applies both to the mechanics of biking and particularly a LOT of medical nonsense (I should call it pseudo medical) that is passed along like herpes in a cat house!
Pass nonsense along enough and pretty soon everybody just "knows" that it is true.
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Old 09-24-07, 07:59 AM   #23
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I could barely climb hills on my Schwinn and I can't do it at all on my EZ-1. I think I'm just not a hill climbing sort of person. Good thing I live in Florida.
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Old 09-24-07, 09:54 AM   #24
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I find while reading web sites that a lot of people 'parrot' along stuff they have heard or read somewhere that is not accurate at all. This applies both to the mechanics of biking and particularly a LOT of medical nonsense (I should call it pseudo medical) that is passed along like herpes in a cat house!
Pass nonsense along enough and pretty soon everybody just "knows" that it is true.
Yep, gotta agree. There are a lot of "universal" truths out there and many of them are even perpetuated by bent owners, themselves. Sad, to be constrained by one's own beliefs. I feel for them.

Bent on!
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Old 09-24-07, 10:32 AM   #25
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I was thinking about this guys complaint of not being able to see the rear cogs while riding a century this weekend. My question ??Why in heck would you want to???
It doesn't matter which cog you're using - what matters is how fast your feet are turning. Besides, at least with mountain bike style shifters, there's an indicator so you can see your gear right on the handlebar. I think the people coming up with these objections are getting desperate to find reasons against getting bents - they feel like the kid with his finger in the dike, and the water's coming through anyway!
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