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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 08-25-08, 02:59 PM   #1
markwebb
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Short Wheel Base vs Long for Hills and Long Rides

I am sure you've had this question before, but can you take time to explain the advantages of short wheel base vs long? My riding interests are being able to ride up lots of rolling hills, and large group rides of 50-100 mile length. No real urban commuting. I don't know the advantages of one type of recumbent vs another. It seems to me if the short wheel base models are faster up hills and faster on flats then what advantage do I get from a long wheel base like an Easy Tour? I'd also like to steer up top moe traditional vs down by my sides.

On an ET - or TE (whichever one it's called) is it really that bad up hills?
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Old 08-25-08, 03:59 PM   #2
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What it came down to for me was confidence on the bike. I had a SWB(Lighting Phantom) and now ride a Rans Stratus and Rans V2. I can climb hills just as well on the LWB as the SWB, speeds the same. I guess I never got used to the twitchy steering. I could ride the SWB well but my confidence in traffic was not there. But we are all different. You also may want to post this at www.bentrideronlone.com as there is a world of experiance there.
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Old 08-25-08, 08:18 PM   #3
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I ride a SWB V-Rex and a LWB Stratus. The LWB (66.625 in.) feels more stable on fast descents. The SWB (42.75 in.) can be twitchy but can make closer radius turns and is, just my opinion, more fun to ride. I think one climbs about as well as the other for me.
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Old 08-25-08, 09:36 PM   #4
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You should test ride several of each type of bike.

I am short and found that the long wheelbase style of recumbent bike fits me better than short wheelbase. Most of the SWB frames are designed in a way that raises the seat higher as you move it closer to the pedals. That makes it more difficult for a short rider's feet to reach the ground.
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Old 08-25-08, 09:55 PM   #5
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I ride a LWB (63.5 inch wheelbase). It has a relatively large turning diameter, about 18 feet. That's about a foot short of the width of the paved roads I ride on. I can turn a 180 degree turn fine on level ground, but on the hill, forget it. I often dismount. I live in a very hilly area. I've been planning my routes so I don't have to turn more than 90 degrees. My bike is otherwise extremely comfortable, except when hitting railroad tracks. Today I discovered I can lift my butt off the seat when hitting RR tracks if I choose to do so. I have no experience with SWB or CLWB recumbents.

I agree with parnass that you should spend as much time as possible test riding different kinds of recumbents -- different wheelbases, different gears, different steering (over or under), etc.

I am not very good at climbing hills, but am getting better. I find that zigzagging from one side of the road to the other helps a bit while climbing. Of course, this wouldn't work in heavy traffic, but works fine on lightly traveled roads.

I understand that, theoretically, shorter wheelbase bikes are more highly maneuverable, especially in traffic, due to a smaller turning radius, and that the tradeoff for this maneuverability is less comfort.

Last edited by LWB_guy; 08-25-08 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 08-26-08, 11:46 AM   #6
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The wheelbase is a function of pedal position and overall design, nothing else. If you want something that climbs fairly well, the first place to look is the engine, on any bike format. Having said that, you can fine tune the engine aspect with a lower BB position and a more upright seat back angle. These two aspects bring more glutes into the hill climbing and keep the BB at a point where your legs aren't pedalling upwards on the steper climbs. These two aspects are a bonus for hill power but they also produce more aero drag. Your speed requirments on the flat will decide if the aero detriment is too much. Everything is a matter of balancing characteristics. Bents are a lot more varied and versatile than uprights are, but you need to make sure you aren't trying to do something the bent wasn't designed for. In the end, if you aren't picky, you can tour on anything and do hills quite nicely on anything - it just takes seat time.
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Old 08-26-08, 12:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 25hz View Post
The wheelbase is a function of pedal position and overall design, nothing else. If you want something that climbs fairly well, the first place to look is the engine, on any bike format. Having said that, you can fine tune the engine aspect with a lower BB position and a more upright seat back angle. These two aspects bring more glutes into the hill climbing and keep the BB at a point where your legs aren't pedalling upwards on the steper climbs. These two aspects are a bonus for hill power but they also produce more aero drag. Your speed requirments on the flat will decide if the aero detriment is too much. Everything is a matter of balancing characteristics. Bents are a lot more varied and versatile than uprights are, but you need to make sure you aren't trying to do something the bent wasn't designed for. In the end, if you aren't picky, you can tour on anything and do hills quite nicely on anything - it just takes seat time.
+1

lwb vs swb is more a factor of personal preference. The real contributing factors of climbing and speed are bike weight, engine (you), gearing, and (probably the most argued about) tires - fat vs skinny/smooth vs knobby.

I ride a swb/uss and my biggest factor is weight of the bike. I use it to commute so I have a rack, fenders, panniers and lights - added weight = slower. I've also put skinnier (smooth) tires on and had a modest increase in speed without an increase in effort. But that's me. And it goes to personal preference.

Try out different styles and find what works for you best.
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Old 08-26-08, 02:25 PM   #8
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Climbing is strictly a matter of power to weight, where the "power" part is the amount of power you put to the road. Drive train efficiency (including tires) and frame flex both affect power transfer, as the riding position will affect power production. That's just a long way of saying that light riders on light, stiff bikes with fast tires and minimal use of idlers will climb best.
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Old 08-26-08, 03:49 PM   #9
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I have 3 weeks experience on a SWB V-Rex versus 2.5 years/5600 mi. on a CLWB Tailwind. They weigh about the same but the V-Rex is much stiffer than the TW (a 2000 model, the year before they increased the diameter of the main tube to stiffen things up). The V-Rex seems to make climbing easier - that's how it feels, anyway, in my limited experience. Seems to be generally less of my limited energy wasted in power transfer. It feels easier to ride the Rex faster. And, it's just as comfortable, if not more so. I'll be riding the Rex more and in a more spirited manner, which will certainly improve my climbing. The Tailwind remains my commuter for the time being.
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Old 08-26-08, 06:58 PM   #10
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I was looking at the RANS Rex, Rocket, Status, or else a Tour Easy. The Tour Easy is more expensive. The Rans were less expensive and seemed to have a better rated seat.

It is really coming down to a choice between a long wheel base and lower bb on the Status or TE, or the Rocket or Rex. I like the idea of a skinny tire in rear, in order to reduce rolling resistance.

From the advice here, other than motor, the big difference in climbing ability is determined by weight & not so much LWB vs SWB. A 32 lb LWB will not climb as fast as a 26 pound SWB because there is a 6 lb handicap with the LWB. True???


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I have 3 weeks experience on a SWB V-Rex versus 2.5 years/5600 mi. on a CLWB Tailwind. They weigh about the same but the V-Rex is much stiffer than the TW (a 2000 model, the year before they increased the diameter of the main tube to stiffen things up). The V-Rex seems to make climbing easier - that's how it feels, anyway, in my limited experience. Seems to be generally less of my limited energy wasted in power transfer. It feels easier to ride the Rex faster. And, it's just as comfortable, if not more so. I'll be riding the Rex more and in a more spirited manner, which will certainly improve my climbing. The Tailwind remains my commuter for the time being.
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Old 08-29-08, 05:08 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by markwebb View Post
From the advice here, other than motor, the big difference in climbing ability is determined by weight & not so much LWB vs SWB. A 32 lb LWB will not climb as fast as a 26 pound SWB because there is a 6 lb handicap with the LWB. True???
As you have framed it, partially true. I switched from a Stratus to a V-Rex 14 months ago after borrowing a friend's V-Rex. I mostly ride on hills, and I found that the V-Rex was a much better climber. Partly weight differential, but also partly ergonomics.

The P-38 is a renowned climber, largely due to the frame design and the more upright seating position. I have seen a P-38 in action, and I can attest that those bikes climb like monkeys. Again, this isn't just weight, it is ergonomics. That said, I like my V-Rex better because it is more aerodynamic, and I get more downhill action.

The Stratus, frankly, was always a dog going up the hills. Now, that doesn't mean I'm dissing the Stratus; that was my ride for 20 years, and I loved that bike. Going downhill it was completely stable; I felt comfortable doing 45-49 mph with just one hand on the handlebars. I kid you not. It is a phenomenally well-handling bike, and that's why I liked it. I lived car-free for a couple of years, and the Stratus was my only means of travel. It was darn near perfect.

There is, unfortunately, no single perfect recumbent. That's why I think I ought to have more than one...
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Old 08-29-08, 08:12 AM   #12
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I think long distance comfort has more to do with your seat and padding rather then the type of recumbent you ride.

Handling differences and climbing efficiency are something that anyone would eventually learn and improve with more time spent riding.

I prefer SWB recumbent, they are easier to store (which is what they stay majority of time), easier to transport (in case they breakdown in the middle of nowhere). Both of which would stay with the bike for the lifetime.. something that can not be changed on a LWB.
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