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  1. #1
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    A 'bent commuter?

    Ok, here's the deal. I live about 30 miles from work. I'm getting a Kona Smoke hybrid for a car-bike-bus thing. I'm afraid as the price of gas goes up, so will the number of people doing the same. The buses only have room for two bikes on their racks. So I am wondering if a 'bent could fill the bill of forgoing the car/bus. I hear everyone extolling the comfort, but what about speed vs say, a cyclocross or touring bike? Also, what about year round, all-weather?

  2. #2
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    I am only a a some-to\ime fair weather bike commuter. Bentrider Online has an active Commuting/Car Free forum. Posters there have many years of bent commuting experience in many settings.

    I ride a Rans Rocket SWB and a Trice Q Trike. My speeds on the Rocket are about the same as on a good touring bike. The trike costs me a mile or two.

    In general, bents are best for commutes that do not involve high numbers of stops, sudden maneuvers around obstacles, or slipping through in tight places. In my opinion, and this is not shared by some veteran bent commuters, ice and snow are more of a problem with bents expect for trikes.

    For me, a daily 60 miles commute on a DF would be mild torture. On a bent, if the roads/weather were good, it would be a pleasure.

    Depending on local transit rules, you might also want to consider one of those cool folding bikes.
    George
    Laissez les bon temps rouler

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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Ok, here's the deal. I live about 30 miles from work. I'm getting a Kona Smoke hybrid for a car-bike-bus thing. I'm afraid as the price of gas goes up, so will the number of people doing the same. The buses only have room for two bikes on their racks. So I am wondering if a 'bent could fill the bill of forgoing the car/bus. I hear everyone extolling the comfort, but what about speed vs say, a cyclocross or touring bike? Also, what about year round, all-weather?
    30 miles is a LONG way to commute, if I had to ride the whole distance and considering that my average speed is only somewhere around 16 MPH.... what's yours?

    If you had a gas engine on the bicycle that could work, but bicycle engines aren't legal everywhere. Some bus lines don't allow recumbents on bike racks (if that's a concern) and won't carry bikes with engines either.

    Also, for the price of what a good bicycle+engine setup would cost, you could get a cheaper Chinese or used moped that was built a lot more robust, but even with the moped you're still looking at only 30-35 mph tops.

    I like bicycle riding but for that distance I would be looking at a 150cc scooter or maybe a 250cc motorcycle, quite honestly.
    ~

  4. #4
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Ok, here's the deal. I live about 30 miles from work. I'm getting a Kona Smoke hybrid for a car-bike-bus thing. I'm afraid as the price of gas goes up, so will the number of people doing the same. The buses only have room for two bikes on their racks. So I am wondering if a 'bent could fill the bill of forgoing the car/bus. I hear everyone extolling the comfort, but what about speed vs say, a cyclocross or touring bike? Also, what about year round, all-weather?
    I sometimes commute on a highracer (today was one of those days). There is absolutely no comparison in speed with my touring bike. My ride is almost exactly 22 miles each way. In warmer months, typical commute time door to door is 1:01 - 1:03. If the lights are friendly and I'm working hard, I can get in under an hour. Add a tailwind and it's a snap. Touring bike is normally in the 1:12 - 1:15 range.

    For a 30 mile commute, you want a bent for the aero advantage. My highracer would not be good for slop weather. If I was going to do 30 each way year round, most of the time, I would ride my highracer in good weather and a Giro 26 in slop.

    I don't believe in cheating, but 60 mi RT is seriously hard core. You might consider a bionx electric assist.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    60 mi RT is seriously hard core. You might consider a bionx electric assist.
    +1 on the "hardcore" assessment. -1 on the assist. Call me a purist if you want, but a bike is a bike - human powered, period. If you want a motor, buy a moped or a Vespa. /rant.

    I've been commuting by 'bent for the last 6mo, after commuting (off and on, mostly on) by df for 30 years give or take. I'm currently riding a 26/26 highracer, and find it to be just fine for riding in traffic. Stop and go is no problem at all, and I'm right at eye level with drivers in "normal" cars, so visibility is not an issue. On top of that, my commute times are a good 10% faster than on the df. And that's a 24mi rt, 500' climbing going to work and 1000' going home. Factor in the heads-up riding position and greater comfort, and I've got no reason to go back to a df, at least for the foreseeable future.

    SP

  6. #6
    Laid back bent rider unixpro's Avatar
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    You don't say what kind of terrain you're going to be riding over. I commute just over 14 miles each way daily on a Bacchetta Giro 20 SWB. I've been doing it since I got the bike at the tail end of Feb. Before that I was commuting on a DF "comfort" bike.

    I weigh about 225 and I carry somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 pounds of "stuff" in my AeroTrunk.

    On the flats, I tend to ride in the 16-18 MPH range unless I'm facing a wind. I have hit speeds in excess of 21 MPH on the flats, but I was kind of showing off a little and only did it for a mile or so. Downhill I've reached speeds of over 33 MPH. Uphill I get into the lower chainring on the front and 4 or 5 on the back and do about 7-8 MPH, maintaining a cadence of 65-70.

    My commute includes one fairly long hill (2.25 miles) that's a reasonable climb, IMHO. This is where I hit 33 on the way into work and only 7 or so on the way home. My best times in have been in the hour to hour and 10 minute range, and my rides home in the hour and 10 minute to hour and 15 minute range. More commonly I use about an hour and 15 on the way in and an hour and 25 on the way home. I'm coming into downtown Seattle so I have to deal with lots of lights, 3 RR crossings, and a drawbridge.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Well, the 60 r/t would be 2-3 times a week (depending on weather), and that is AFTER I get into shape. Right now I'm just contemplatiing the car/bus/bike thing, with the bike thing 8 miles one way in the afternoon. I stopped by my LBS where I'm getting the Kona, and they advised against a 'bent for my commute (they also sell sun recumbents). They suggested a flat bar road bike. I dunno, I think I'll go see Larry at Recumbents of Oklahoma tomorrow and ask him for his 2 cents worth.

  8. #8
    Recumbent Ninja
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    Well, aflat bar road bike might be more practical, but there are plenty of bents that would do the trick with more comfort. It's more about what would make you happier in your commute. If you decide it's a bent, you can find a way to make it work.

  9. #9
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Well, the 60 r/t would be 2-3 times a week (depending on weather), and that is AFTER I get into shape. Right now I'm just contemplatiing the car/bus/bike thing, with the bike thing 8 miles one way in the afternoon. I stopped by my LBS where I'm getting the Kona, and they advised against a 'bent for my commute (they also sell sun recumbents). They suggested a flat bar road bike. I dunno, I think I'll go see Larry at Recumbents of Oklahoma tomorrow and ask him for his 2 cents worth.
    For 2-3 times a week, 60 RT is absolutely doable.

    Although I would advise a bent, I would advise against a sun recumbent for a commute that long. The prices on suns are good, but their bikes are very heavy, slow, and the components aren't so good -- better to buy a higher quality used bent for the same price.

    I also think that flat bars on a road bike for a distance like that is also a bad idea. I commuted 36 mi RT for a couple years with a flat bar, and there's no way I'd do a distance like what you're talking about on anything other than a drop bar or a fast bent.

    Since it appears you don't want to ride in slop, I would either get a high racer or a racing bike. Either would definitely be much faster than what you have been looking at.

    BTW, don't worry about comfort. Ride enough and you get comfortable no matter what you're on.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    For 2-3 times a week, 60 RT is absolutely doable.

    Although I would advise a bent, I would advise against a sun recumbent for a commute that long. The prices on suns are good, but their bikes are very heavy, slow, and the components aren't so good -- better to buy a higher quality used bent for the same price.

    I also think that flat bars on a road bike for a distance like that is also a bad idea. I commuted 36 mi RT for a couple years with a flat bar, and there's no way I'd do a distance like what you're talking about on anything other than a drop bar or a fast bent.

    Since it appears you don't want to ride in slop, I would either get a high racer or a racing bike. Either would definitely be much faster than what you have been looking at.

    BTW, don't worry about comfort. Ride enough and you get comfortable no matter what you're on.
    I'm willing to try riding in the slop, but from what other people are saying, a 'bent isn't a wise choice for doing so. BTW, I at one point was considering a tadpole, but their too pricey for me and hauling one after a break down would be difficult.

  11. #11
    Laid back bent rider unixpro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    I'm willing to try riding in the slop, but from what other people are saying, a 'bent isn't a wise choice for doing so. BTW, I at one point was considering a tadpole, but their too pricey for me and hauling one after a break down would be difficult.
    I ride in slop without any issues. I might go a little slower, but I still get there. This fall I think I'll be getting a fairing, which should keep my hands and feet much drier as well as providing some wind relief.

    I would also recommend a better bike than the Sun. My Giro is built as a commute/work bike, and it's performed well for me. I would recommend that whatever bike you get, you invest in good Kevlar reinforced tires. On a ride that long, you'll undoubtedly be going over some stuff that won't be tire-friendly, and you don't want to (1) have to replace a tube in the rain and/or (2) use your only spare, get another flat on the same ride, and try to find the hole in one or the other tube without having some water to drop the tube into. Don't ask how I know these things .

  12. #12
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    I'm willing to try riding in the slop, but from what other people are saying, a 'bent isn't a wise choice for doing so.
    ??? "Slop" as in rain, or as in snowy, slushy schmutz? The snow and slush, I don't ride. Period. There are too many folks who don't have a clue about driving in those conditions, even tho' it's typical here every winter. Far as rain goes, why would a 'bent be any worse than a df? If anything, I'd think a swb 'bent would be better than a df in the rain, if only because your feet aren't constantly getting sprayed with water and road grit.

    I await enlightenment.

    SP

  13. #13
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Well, the 60 r/t would be 2-3 times a week (depending on weather), and that is AFTER I get into shape. Right now I'm just contemplatiing the car/bus/bike thing, with the bike thing 8 miles one way in the afternoon. I stopped by my LBS where I'm getting the Kona, and they advised against a 'bent for my commute (they also sell sun recumbents). They suggested a flat bar road bike. I dunno, I think I'll go see Larry at Recumbents of Oklahoma tomorrow and ask him for his 2 cents worth.
    Well, I did go see Larry. He actually said that I would be better off with the bike I'm getting to do the bike/bus thing. He did point out a Rans Zenetik Touring crank forward that might fit on the bus rack. (I need to check out the max. measurements). He said he would give me a good deal on it, since he's had it for a year now. Actually, it is the frame, but he made it a complete build up w/ parts from his shop.

  14. #14
    Shiftless bum cavit8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unixpro View Post
    You don't say what kind of terrain you're going to be riding over.
    This is an interesting comment that I don't see very often when people are discussing recumbents for commuting (or even in "should I buy one" discussions).

    My commute is urban with mixed bike lane/no lanes, streetcar tracks, monster potholes, and drivers who ignore traffic and open doors without looking fairly regularly. Even the "what the heck is that" factor only works if drivers are actually looking checking mirrors or paying attention to traffic around them. Incidentally, if you haven't seen it yet, check out http://www.dothetest.co.uk/.

    I'm new to recumbents and thus far, I feel like more of a moving target than I ever did on my DF. I put part of this down to the fact that recumbents are new to me, so I probably don't have the skill sets completely down as yet. Are there folks here who use recumbents regularly in similar urban circumstances as me? On a paved trail or roads with decent shoulders, I can see recumbents being great. I'm just not convinced they are all that useful for me in a full-on urban setting; again, perhaps due to my lack of experience.
    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    truneo that tuned park internal nipple wrench work ??

  15. #15
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Well, I did go see Larry. He actually said that I would be better off with the bike I'm getting to do the bike/bus thing. He did point out a Rans Zenetik Touring crank forward that might fit on the bus rack. (I need to check out the max. measurements). He said he would give me a good deal on it, since he's had it for a year now. Actually, it is the frame, but he made it a complete build up w/ parts from his shop.
    Personally, I wouldn't spring for the Zenetik even if the price is good. There are a couple good reasons to get a bent for commuting long distances, and one of the major ones is aero advantage (something that the Zenetik won't give you). On a ride as long as yours, headwinds are a big deal.

    I wouldn't be afraid to ride a bent in inclement weather. I have a tadpole I've ridden in all kinds of crazy stuff and I've been thinking of getting a Giro 26 to replace my workhorse commuter (a touring bike). I'm biased towards designs where both wheels are the same size since I like to carry at least 2 spare tubes. When you ride as far as you have to go, you need some margin for error and bad luck when you're changing tires in the dark and the rain.

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    I think if you can figure out a blend of taking the bus with bike rack and biking part of the way that'd be the most realistic method. It'd be good to know as a backup option. Not sure about the bike choice aspect, but the new folding Grasshopper would be pretty compact and aerodynamic, I've had no problems with 20" wheels.

  17. #17
    Senior Member BeerBiker's Avatar
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    I've done the 60 mile RT commute before and I agree it's pretty hardcore. My current commute is 40 miles RT. I am on the comeback trail after a couple years of laziness and I can do the trip twice a week pretty comfortably. I plan to bump it to three times in about two weeks.. As somebody else said, you can get comfortable on whatever you choose, bent or upright. Personally, I like the recumbent because cars see you better. You are weird looking to them, so you catch their eye and they give you room so they can see what the heck you are.

    Mark

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    I have a fleet of different bikes (mostly road and touring bikes) including a recumbent that I use for a daily 24 mile round trip commute. My lightest road bike, a merlin gets the most use. I have a road bike (Jamis Quest, steel with rack mounts) that I set up with flat handlebars, and my hands get really numb on that handlebar, because I don't have any alternate hand positions.

    My vision R40 recumbent is probably a good 10 lbs heavier than my merlin, yet my average speed is probably 1-2 mph faster than on the merlin or any of my other bikes. It sure helps in a headwind. My commute is mostly flat, with a few mild hills. I have a rack on it so there's no problem carrying stuff.

    Rich

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