New to biking considering bent
I've only ridden recreationally for fitness. I've been running, but am looking at biking since a knee injury may force me from running. I have a curiosity in bents. I read a couple of threads here so far. Many years ago I rode one in a parking lot and obviously it felt different and a little unstable. Most likely do to no experience.
What are pros/cons of the different styles of bents?
A concern is how agile are they in traffic or on trail?
How about having to stop at traffic lights, what is starting like, how stable?
What are they like on wet and/or snowy roads?
I understand they are faster on the flats and downhill, but slower up hill. I like the idea that they are more comforable, but worried about getting around in traffic and tight spots, along with the cost of a bike and not having any to try.
While any can be ridden in traffic (low racers less advisable), most common suggestions are short wheel base (SWB) for a reasonable turning radius and not a high racer so getting started and stopping easier. Rans Tailwind or similar bike with rear wheel larger than front wheel and bottom bracket lower than the seat.
Really best if you could travel to a bike store that carries several types and brands of recumbents. Think if you could take a vacation or business trip with a slight detour to such a store. If you haven't already, join (no cost) BentRider Online and do some reading and searching there. They have a "New to Recumbents" subforum under the "General Discussion" forum.
About agility, it's a slightly less agile I find than a regular bike, but I'm doign things now that I could not do three months ago, so it's a matter of learning.
Stopping at traffic lights is easy. You just stop and put your foot down. Of course, you'd have shifted to a lower gear before stopping, but that's the same as on a regular bike. Starting is also a matter of familiarity. It is realist to expect a learning curve. You might not start a smooth as you'd though on the first rides. That's OK. Car drivers will be on the lookout for you anyways as they don't see recumbents that often.
On wet roads this will depend on the tires and brakes you have. A hard shell seat will definitvely protect you from water and mud at the back. I haven't tried on snow yet and I'm looking forward as I've used regular bikes for commuting to work every day last winter in Canada. On some days I used stubbed tires and perhaps this is also possible on the recumbent.
The greatest advantage of the recumbent platform in general is the comfort level. Some models may be faster than a road bike, but it would take a 'racing' model and lots of training to get those results; so in general you shouldn't buy a recumbent expecting immediate gratification in the speed department.
If visibility and agility are a concern, the best choice would probably be a 26/20 short wheelbase. The short wheelbase makes them maneuverable and they have less seat recline than the racers, for better low-speed control. Even then, they are a bit less maneuverable than an upright, though. SWBs also sit high enough to be seen over car hoods, which places the rider at eye level with the cagers.
I agree with the SWB 26/20 design as a good starting point. Check these out:
Others recommend the LWB format:
Good luck in your decision. I just got a hard-shelled seat model this year - a used Optima Dragon. I've ridden it all summer, and everyday I'm getting more confident in my ability to maneuver. The underseat steering was a challenge for me at first. However, the other day, I actually found myself attempting to go freehand. I must admit, I kept the hands very close to the handlebars though. I did about 3 seconds :-)
I agree with the advice to try to do whatever you can to test ride a few. I also have a LWB Bike E. The recumbent models are so different from one another, just like a road bike is so much different than a mountain bike. That's why you should try a few...
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