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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 11-30-07, 05:45 AM   #1
macteacher
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Recumbent questions from a noob

Hi all....I keep hearing about these bikes...i think i've only seen one in passing on the street. I have a few questions though.

1. What is the difference between a recumbent or velomobile? or are there none?
2. How do you clip on/off one of those two wheeled types? Aren't you more prone to falling over more so than a bike?
3. All factors aside (performance of rider, etc), does a recumbent go faster than a bike? They look slower to me.
4. I commute to work in the morning on unfriendly roads...speeds are roughly 50-60km/hr. Roughly 30mp/hr i think. Since I can't hit 50 km/hr on my bike, i ride on the sidewalk for safety issues. These are open wide suburban sidewalks. Can a recumbent hop on and off the sidewalks without difficulty?
5. Where do you buy one? I haven't seen any at the bike shop.
6. When I arrive at work on my mountain bike now (i only have one bike so i use it for everything for now), I am hot, and sweaty, will you get the same work out with a recumbent?
7. How is your visibility when your on the road? Any ever feel a big SUV won't see you because you are low to the ground?
8. I notice some recumbents have three wheel's. For those types, do you get pushed off the road a lot by cars? I live in an unfriendly bike city.

Thanks for any up-coming responses.

Cheers
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Old 11-30-07, 06:59 AM   #2
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1. A velomobile is most often a fully enclosed recumbent trike. I suppose it could have 4 wheels.
2. You clip in/out just like on a safety bike - you clip in with one foot, start pedaling, then clip in the other foot. When you stop, you unclip a foot to put down. Unless you're on a lowracer or a trike, in which case you don't need the foot down to balance.
3. Some recumbents are faster overall, some are slower. Most are slower climbing.
4. I'd consider 50-60 Kph a bike-friendly speed limit. Not that I can do it for long, but cars won't be overtaking you at dangerous speeds. Recumbents don't hop curbs, at least not in the up direction.
5. I recommend using Bentrideronline.com as a resource. I take it you're not in the U.S., so I don't know what your supply lines look like; but you're correct in noting that they aren't stocked by most shops. Maybe if we knew exactly where you were, we could point out a dealer.
6. Yes. Depending on the speed capability of the bent in question, you may be faster or slower, but you will tend to work just as hard.
7. Bent riders see the 'big picture' better than upright riders. For whatever the reason (and there are many theories,) being lower on a recumbent does NOT make you less visible to cars. In fact, most bent riders report that cars give them more respect and clearance than when riding uprights.
8. A trike doesn't take much more room on the road than a 2-wheeler, it just looks like it. Cars will push any bike over, if you let them. The trick is correct lane placement so they can't do it.
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Old 11-30-07, 07:18 AM   #3
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Try the following retail store in Oshawa/Whitby.

The Company
Oracle Cycle Works - Canada's recumbent road bike manufacturer: Oshawa, Ontario. ... Triketrails retail store opened in March 2002 in Whitby
www.oraclecycleworks.com/aboutus.htm

I went on their site, looks like they may be able to help you.

I used to live in Oshawa and traveled up and down between Parry Sound and Oshawa. You live in a beautiful place. Winters, well that's when bike riding isn't done there if that is where you live. According to your previous posts you live in Mississauga, the above site should be close enough.
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Old 11-30-07, 07:18 AM   #4
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Blazing answered most of your questions better than I could, so just a couple additional points. . .

The vast majority of my mileage has been where the speed limit ranges from 40 to 55 mph, but there are good bike lanes on almost every part of it. I generally go from 15 to 35 mph, but I would never dream riding on the sidewalk. Cars treat you more like a vehicle if you act like a vehicle. Of course, if the roads in your location are extremely bike unfriendly, that's another issue.

I watch people on DF's clip in and out, and from what I can see, there's absolutely no difference between DF's and bents on this issue. It all depends on your experience. DFer's fall just as much as bent riders when they first start out. It's just a matter of practice.

I find I am typically about 3 to 5 mph faster than DF's on flats and downhills, and can hold my own on short hills. On long hills ( > 1/2 mile) I'm about 3 mph slower.

In general, I think drivers notice me more than they do DF's, just because my bike is comparatively "unusual".

Last edited by Chaco; 11-30-07 at 07:24 AM.
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Old 11-30-07, 01:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
Hi all....I keep hearing about these bikes...i think i've only seen one in passing on the street. I have a few questions though. ...
Others have pretty much answered the questions asked.
I'd also add a few of what I consider to be facts:

...recumbents main advantage is riding comfort, but how much it matters is directly proportional to the length your ride is.

...main disadvantages is they tend to cost more, there's much fewer dealers and recumbents tend to be more difficult to transport (such as on a vehicle rack).

...you need to use rear-view mirrors every time you ride, because it's generally not possible to turn and look behind you--but rear-view mirrors allow you to keep a much better watch on traffic behind you.

...the workout your legs get is the same, but there's no upper body strain at all. The upper-body strain an upright bike gives you is not a good workout anyway, it's just holding stationary in an uncomfortable position.

...the riding position of many two-wheel recumbents is not really much lower than an upright bike. The long-wheelbase I ride puts my eyes about 14 inches lower than they'd be if I was riding an upright road bike on the drops. I have never been in a situation where the visibility of on-road hazards was any issue that riding an upright bike would have significantly helped.

...longer-wheelbase recumbents are much more stable than shorter ones. I started out with a short-wheelbase and it was fine when riding on clean pavement, but riding fast through loose gravel was pretty scary. I never wiped out but had numerous close calls, which is why I switched to the long-wheelbase.

and a couple of opinions:

...the issue of "visibility to drivers" is a pointless question; inattentive drivers run into all kinds of bicycles, and everything else as well.

...I contend that recumbents are less likely to result in serious injuries than upright bikes are. With upright bikes if you use the front brake too hard or strike a stationary object, you tend to land on the ground head-first, and the preponderance of head and clavicle injuries caused by such crashes is testament to this. With most recumbents this is not true--it's often not possible at all to tip over forward by hard front braking, and when you do crash you are lower to the ground and you land feet-first. Statistics are not tracked separately and I haven't found anywhere that has done any such studies, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the typical recumbent crash is where the bike falls over sideways and the rider slides feet-first, suffering scrapes to the leg and hip, and lacerations to the hands.
~
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Old 12-01-07, 10:31 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the responses. What sort of speeds are realistic on city streets? I'd say my physical fitness is about average on all fronts. I think i cruise on my mountain bike around 20-25km/hr. Speed and comfort are my two main issues. I want to go faster and maintain comfort. I do have one big bridge i cross on my commute that requires me going uphill (to cross traintracks)
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Old 12-01-07, 09:52 PM   #7
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Conventional Wisdom: Recumbents can't climb hills, or bridges for that matter. Ha, ha!
Typical commuting cruising speeds for me are from 15-20mph. (you do the metric math)
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Old 12-01-07, 11:52 PM   #8
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Conventional Wisdom: Recumbents can't climb hills
That is what I like people to think with "stealth" power-assist. 'byebye!

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Old 12-02-07, 09:52 AM   #9
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Unless you're getting a velomobile, I wouldn't recommend getting a recumbent with an expectation of going faster. Even if you get a fast one, it'll be slower initially until you develop your 'bent legs.' Besides, the ones best equipped for commuting wouldn't be the ones capable of the higher speeds. Once upon a time, I had a short commute and I did it by bicycle, year-around. I have several bents and an upright, but I almost always chose the upright for the commute. The reason? My bents are set up for club rides, and my upright has fatter tires, fenders, and lights. Sure I could set up my recumbents that way too, but it'd be like hauling a trailer with a Corvette.
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Old 12-14-07, 04:57 PM   #10
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Since you live in/near Toronto, check out the "Bluevelo" website. I've gone through 5 two-wheel bents and 2 trikes in 12 years of benthood, and now, find myself lusting for a velomobile to add to my Toureasy and Scorpion trike. I ride year around (my town is really good at plowing snow!), and the beauty of a velomobile is protection from the weather - assuming you can stand the cost of between $7,000 - 10,000 "Loonies". Nimbus Kayaks in BC (?) make the Aurora, a delta velomobile, and are working on a tadpole velomobile, too. There's a guy in Texas that sells the Allweder aluminum velomobile in kit form for under $4,000 US. The cool thing about velomobiles is that you can add a power assist legally, and no one will be the wiser unless you tell them.
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Old 12-15-07, 03:25 PM   #11
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In Toronto, check out http://www.ucycle.com/
They have a number of bents, two wheels and three, which you can test ride right close to the store.
Also check out recumbenttrikes.ca in Orillia.

Mike
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Old 12-16-07, 06:26 AM   #12
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About speed - I have found that if you are more comfortable you are able to ride more miles more frequently. By being able to rider farther more often you will be in better shape and your speed will increase naturally. When I rode my diamond frame bike I could only ride about 400 miles each year due to discomfort. The first year since becoming bent I rode about 700 miles. I've gradually increased that to about 3100 miles in 2007. My speed has also increased during that time.

In my opinion it's much more fun than riding a diamond frame bike. You get to enjoy the scenery because your head is looking straight forward and not down. I think it also makes safer because you are more aware of the traffic around you.

I have no regrets about getting bent and have no desire to ride a diamond frame bike again. I also wish I would have tried them earlier.

Michael King
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