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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 04-20-08, 07:39 PM   #1
mebesaturday
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My first Recumbent please help!

Hello all,
Let me first start with a little information about me. I'm 33yrs old, single, current location is Charleston South Carolina. I am a professional photographer and have a bad case of wanderlust.

My plans are as follow... Purchase a Recumbent in the next few months (before the fall oops maybe I should call it Autumn) Train for a long distance week trip (500 miles) from charleston to florida (my parents new house) Keeping in mind that I will be "stealth camping" most of the way. I will be leaving Charleston in Feb of 2009 for a 3 week vacation 1-2 weeks on bike.

I plan on also going on a cross country and possibly back (northern route over to the pacific and southern route back) in 2010 or 2011.

So what I need from you is help in selecting a bike because I have never owned a recumbent before. I have been looking into them for months now and with a budget of about $2000 Im kinda leaning towards a Lightning phantom. But Im still not sure. (I think I like the SWB short wheel base the best)

a few questions...

Can you tour on a trike? Much more rolling resistance? how safe? (I only ask because I feel they are kinda wide) How to people in cars treat you on the road ie. when they pass?

Trike vs SWB 2 wheeler? any opinions for cross country?

Loaded Rack and Panniers VS. Trailer/BOB?

What upgrades should I look at for the bike... I know the basics clipless pedals, computer, lights

thanks for your help
Joshua "Saturday"

also anyone in the Charleston area?
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Old 04-20-08, 09:00 PM   #2
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If this is your first experience riding a bent, then I think you are riding too long distances too soon. Recumbents use a different group of muscles and it does take time to develop and strengthen these. Do you spin or are you mashing in a big gear? Are you using clipless pedals and are you "pulling up" in the rotation? IMO a cadence of 90-100 rpms is perfect for hours on end without undue stress on the knee. Just remember to gear down when climbing to maintain that cadence. Listen to your body. If you have knee pain, something's not right but there is a solution. A cleated pedeal should have some "float" to lessen the chance of stress at the knee. Go easy, be patient, and experiment by making adjustments to seat angle, X seam, cleat position, etc.
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Old 04-20-08, 09:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mchell View Post
If this is your first experience riding a bent, then I think you are riding too long distances too soon. Recumbents use a different group of muscles and it does take time to develop and strengthen these. Do you spin or are you mashing in a big gear? Are you using clipless pedals and are you "pulling up" in the rotation? IMO a cadence of 90-100 rpms is perfect for hours on end without undue stress on the knee. Just remember to gear down when climbing to maintain that cadence. Listen to your body. If you have knee pain, something's not right but there is a solution. A cleated pedeal should have some "float" to lessen the chance of stress at the knee. Go easy, be patient, and experiment by making adjustments to seat angle, X seam, cleat position, etc.

well hmmm I thought that 5 months would be enough for a 500mile in a week ride. and a year to 2 years for a cross country 9 month trip..... easy going lots of photos to take. and yes i spin.
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Old 04-20-08, 10:50 PM   #4
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I did a intro review of my new Longbikes Slipstream. May want to look at that and consider a
LWB USS bike if you are planning on touring.

Personally (and no slight to trikes) I kinda wonder why you want a trike anyway. Is this a personal
preference thing, wieight thing, or what?

As to the ride, you might pull off 500 miles in a week of 7 days IF you train sufficiently beforehand,
but as a new bent rider, I can tell you the quads to a lot of work in a while new way.
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Old 04-21-08, 04:24 AM   #5
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I've not gone touring on a bicycle/trike at all yet. I mean to someday, but don't know when that may be.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mebesaturday View Post
...Can you tour on a trike? Much more rolling resistance? how safe? (I only ask because I feel they are kinda wide) How to people in cars treat you on the road ie. when they pass?...
I've not owned a trike yet, am considering it. Certainly lots of people have toured on them, but one problem is that a lot of states (mostly western states, as I heard it) put in rumble strips along the edges of highways. These are basically unavoidable on a trike, and rolling over them gets very tedious.

I am looking at a delta trike, the tadpoles don't interest me. I suspect that a lot of tadpole trikes suffer scrub losses from frame flexing or improperly-adjusted steering systems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mebesaturday View Post
Trike vs SWB 2 wheeler? any opinions for cross country?
My first bent was a SWB, and I found the steering rather jittery and of no practical advantage. The bike squirmed a lot, particularly when riding through gravel. I switched to a LWB and prefer it a lot more.

Quote:
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Loaded Rack and Panniers VS. Trailer/BOB?...
Some bents will be easy to attach full front and rear bags to (the Tour Easy probably being the most obvious) but not all, unless maybe you can make or get custom racks for it. Using a trailer drastically frees up the amount of stuff you have to strap to the bike.

The BOB trailers seem rather expensive to me, for what little carrying capacity they have; their only advantage is that IF you get a two-wheel bike, then the single-wheel trailer will track with the bike. If I had a trike, I'd go for a basic two-wheeler type trailer.

-----

One advantage of a trike with above-seat steering is that you could get a handlebar bag and keep a camera close at hand there. When you see something you want a picture of, you can brake and steer with the off-hand, while you're holding the camera and shooting with the other hand. Recumbents don't steer as intuitively as upright bikes do, so this maneuver would be a lot harder on a two-wheeled recumbent. (a trike with above-seat steering would be one like the Sun EZ-3 AX)

A trike will be somewhat slower than a two-wheeler, but then I doubt that speed is of much concern for touring really. My sister used to live on a hilly Pacific-coast highway in Washington, and when visiting her, I would see many, many people riding by on bikes with full touring bags. Most of those people were on upright bikes (road and MTB) but a few were on recumbents, and I don't think I ever saw anyone going more than about ten MPH.
~
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Old 04-21-08, 07:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mebesaturday View Post
Hello all,
Let me first start with a little information about me. I'm 33yrs old, single, current location is Charleston South Carolina. I am a professional photographer and have a bad case of wanderlust.

My plans are as follow... Purchase a Recumbent in the next few months (before the fall oops maybe I should call it Autumn) Train for a long distance week trip (500 miles) from charleston to florida (my parents new house) Keeping in mind that I will be "stealth camping" most of the way. I will be leaving Charleston in Feb of 2009 for a 3 week vacation 1-2 weeks on bike.

I plan on also going on a cross country and possibly back (northern route over to the pacific and southern route back) in 2010 or 2011.

So what I need from you is help in selecting a bike because I have never owned a recumbent before. I have been looking into them for months now and with a budget of about $2000 Im kinda leaning towards a Lightning phantom. But Im still not sure. (I think I like the SWB short wheel base the best)

a few questions...

Can you tour on a trike? Much more rolling resistance? how safe? (I only ask because I feel they are kinda wide) How to people in cars treat you on the road ie. when they pass?

Trike vs SWB 2 wheeler? any opinions for cross country?

Loaded Rack and Panniers VS. Trailer/BOB?

What upgrades should I look at for the bike... I know the basics clipless pedals, computer, lights

thanks for your help
Joshua "Saturday"

also anyone in the Charleston area?
Joshua,

If I were going Touring the way you're talking about, it would definitely be on a Tadpole trike and not a delta or bike. The delta is a good trike but they tend to be slow and very heavy and weight would be an issue IMO. I'd look to something in the Trice, Greenspeed or Catrike line, Catrike being the cheapest of the three. If you check the Catrike Board http://catrike.yuku.com/ you can find a used Catrike, that's virtually a brand new trike in your budget range. My personal choice was the Catrike Speed at 29lbs with the Burley Nomad Trailer. Something you may also want to keep in mind with your Trike vs SWB 2 wheeler? is that most people don't realize you extend or use a lot more energy using a bike than a trike and IMO a bike and a trailer is even worse and when Touring that's something you want too avoid. Good Luck in your Quest.
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Old 04-21-08, 10:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ric View Post
Something you may also want to keep in mind with your Trike vs SWB 2 wheeler? is that most people don't realize you extend or use a lot more energy using a bike than a trike and IMO a bike and a trailer is even worse and when Touring that's something you want too avoid. Good Luck in your Quest.
I call 'bull' on that. Trikes are not so much slower than 2-wheelers because the rider expends LESS energy. They are slower because trikes weigh more, have more frontal area, have more rolling resistance, and suffer more boom flex than recumbent bikes; all factors which cut into the rider's limited power output. The amount of energy you save by not having to balance is trivial unless you spend a significant amount of time at 2 mph.
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Old 04-21-08, 12:02 PM   #8
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I call 'bull' on that. Trikes are not so much slower than 2-wheelers because the rider expends LESS energy. They are slower because trikes weigh more, have more frontal area, have more rolling resistance, and suffer more boom flex than recumbent bikes; all factors which cut into the rider's limited power output. The amount of energy you save by not having to balance is trivial unless you spend a significant amount of time at 2 mph.
If I were going Touring the way you're talking about, it would definitely be on a Tadpole trike and not a delta or bike.The delta is a good trike but they tend to be slow and very heavy and weight would be an issue IMO is what was posted, nothing about a trike being as fast as a 2 wheeler. As far as a trike being slow or slower than 2-wheelers, that's about as big a myth as bents can't climb both are a load of crap. It all comes down to who's on the bike as to how fast it goes.
The amount of energy you save by not having to balance is more than you think, I don't know of any rider who hasn't thought of or about balancing his bike, going down, running off the side of the road, unclipping at a stop and more and believe me you think about these things and you expel a lot more energy than you know. All your factors which cut into the rider's limited power output as true as they mite be are really moot when you consider this individual is going to be Touring and pulling a trailer.

Last edited by Ric; 04-21-08 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 04-21-08, 12:13 PM   #9
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Unless there has been some research done showing that a significant amount of energy is used in balancing a bicycle, then I would be "highly skeptical" of that claim.
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Old 04-21-08, 07:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mchell View Post
If this is your first experience riding a bent, then I think you are riding too long distances too soon. Recumbents use a different group of muscles and it does take time to develop and strengthen these. Do you spin or are you mashing in a big gear? Are you using clipless pedals and are you "pulling up" in the rotation? IMO a cadence of 90-100 rpms is perfect for hours on end without undue stress on the knee. Just remember to gear down when climbing to maintain that cadence. Listen to your body. If you have knee pain, something's not right but there is a solution. A cleated pedeal should have some "float" to lessen the chance of stress at the knee. Go easy, be patient, and experiment by making adjustments to seat angle, X seam, cleat position, etc.
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well hmmm I thought that 5 months would be enough for a 500mile in a week ride. and a year to 2 years for a cross country 9 month trip..... easy going lots of photos to take. and yes i spin.
I think that 5 months is enough time to train if you ride daily. You're only looking at about 70 miles a day if your 'week' is 7 days. And 1-2 years should be more than sufficient for a cross-country tour at the speed that you're talking about (9 months = 270 days figuring a 5000 mile trip is still less than 20 miles a day).

Riding from the low-country of SC to Florida will not be a great strain - if you are cruising down the coast, but more inland and you'll have to deal with SC and GA hills. Training will be essential if you travel that route as climbing on a bent is quite different than a DF. That said, I'm sure that you can get a gearing set up that you can use well. When I lived in Jacksonville, NC (on the coast) I rode 250-350 miles a week (on a DF) and I never have been what could be called an 'athlete'. Just that it was so flat I could cruise as much as I wanted.

I will say that about 10 years ago (when I was still in the Marines) I had my most enjoyable and memorable vacation when I was transferred overseas. Combining AmTrac and DF biking for 30 days. Biked Jacksonville to Wilson, NC; AmTrac to Sacramento, CA for a week - ride through the Redwood forests; Amtrac to Kansas City; Bike to Tulsa and back (whoever said Kansas was flat.... it ain't); Amtrac to Baltimore and got on a flight overseas.
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Old 04-21-08, 08:30 PM   #11
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Unless there has been some research done showing that a significant amount of energy is used in balancing a bicycle, then I would be "highly skeptical" of that claim.
Well,,,,, -I'm not saying it's particularly tiresome, but it could be tedious. The only time it's a real issue is when climbing slowly up a very steep hill. ....Certainly riding on a recumbent is a lot more of a relaxed body position overall than on an upright bike--yet you'd get lots of people who have only ever rode uprights, telling you that the effort involved in sitting on one is no big deal.

I'd also point out that of all the people I've heard comment who had both recumbent bicycles and trikes, I don't think even one claimed their trike was (on average) faster than their two-wheeler. Some trikes are very reclined and sleek and look like they should be faster, but they aren't--the factor of 50% more rolling resistance gets them every time.
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Old 04-22-08, 07:05 AM   #12
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I've ridden cross country from west to east coast twice in my teenage years, both times on upright road bikes though. If I ever find the time to ride cross country again, I would do it on a SWB, two wheel recumbent with panniers and a single wheel trailer if need to. I prefer SWB narrower profile recumbent because they are smaller in size, easier to transport if in case I have to hitch a ride from someone or take public transportation. Most SWB recumbent parts are interchangable with regular bikes that bike shops have readily available. Trike front wheels are not so readily avaialble.

I think my main concern about riding a recumbent on long distance rides would be the comfort of the seat, since you can not get out of the seat to stretch while pedaling or significantly change your riding postion, the seat would have to be comfortable beyond your normal parameters. Personally, I prefer hardshell seat over mesh or heavily padded seats... and definately have some neck/head support.

Line the inside of yout tires with dollar bills or five dollar bills, they serve as extra puncture resistant and emergency cash, even better puncture protection than Mr. Tuffy and far lighter.
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Old 04-22-08, 09:51 AM   #13
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Go for it!

Either a SWB or trike will do just fine just so it's something you like riding.

Start riding and enjoying just as soon as possible.
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Old 04-23-08, 08:04 AM   #14
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Get thee to BentRider Online forums!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mebesaturday View Post
... Train for a long distance week trip (500 miles) ... I plan on also going on a cross country and possibly back (northern route over to the pacific and southern route back) in 2010 or 2011. ... help in selecting a bike... Can you tour on a trike? Much more rolling resistance? how safe? (I only ask because I feel they are kinda wide) How to people in cars treat you on the road ie. when they pass?

Trike vs SWB 2 wheeler? any opinions for cross country?

Loaded Rack and Panniers VS. Trailer/BOB?

What upgrades should I look at for the bike... I know the basics clipless pedals, computer, lights
..
also anyone in the Charleston area?
Since not yet mentioned, I suggest you go to BentRider Online's Message Board. They have a NEW to Recumbents subfourm, a Trikes subforum, a Touring subforum, and an Ultra Cycling subforum. The Touring subforum alone has 2,777 posts, more than the total number of threads in this entire Bike Forums subforum. Join BentRider Online at the home page above (free but donations accepted), read some posts, search out your questions, and then post any questions you still have.

Last edited by Giro; 04-23-08 at 08:07 AM. Reason: minor additions
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