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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 11-06-09, 12:52 AM   #1
Autobus
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How much faster are u on a 'bent that a std road bike?

I'm have a fixed gear and a road bike that I'm very fond of, but I have never tried a recumbent.
I'm looking for speed and I think I'd like one of those long wheelbase dandies with the under-the-seat steering.

If I average 18 mph for a 100 mile century, would I be alot faster, assuming the course is pretty flat on a recumbent?
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Old 11-06-09, 01:47 AM   #2
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First off, don't expect to be faster right away. Recumbents use different muscles (or the same muscles, but at a different amount compared to a road), and take some time to get even as fast as you are on a DF.

That said, once you are well trained on a recumbent and comfortable, I would say on a flat ride you can expect to be anywhere from 10-20% faster, but more importantly, more comfortable. Of course if you are in something fared like a velomobile, the improvement will be even greater.

I unfortunately don't have a cyclocomputer on both my DF and my recumbent, but from some rough timing on my route (mostly rail-road grade slope or less) I know I'm typically faster on the recumbent, and much more comfortable, especially on longer rides. Aerodynamics plays a big part, but I'm sure comfort has something to do with it too.

Best way to find out for sure is to try it though, just don't judge off your first ride on the 'bent. Give it some time before the trials.

Edit: There's one thing I forgot to mention. Even though I am slower on my DF on flat areas, it feels like I'm faster. I attribute this to my face not sitting in the slipstream from my feet/legs/frame, and that it's pointing directly into the wind. Also, I'm sure there's less wind pressing on my body as a whole, leading to the faster time (but slower perceived speed) on the 'bent. Definitely take a cyclocomputer if you want accurate speed measurements, as your senses can be misleading.

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Old 11-06-09, 01:53 AM   #3
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Yes, but the difference depends on the aerodynamics of each bike/rider combination.

But, to illustrate, the last time I had a road bike was about 20 years ago. I could max about 25 mph on level ground. I can do about the same max on my recumbent now. The difference is that now I have nowhere near the fitness and strength level I had when I was much younger and couldn't possible ride a road bike to the same speed. The recumbent let's my older body play to the same level as my young mind.

:)ensen.
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Old 11-06-09, 07:02 AM   #4
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On a USS LWB you'd probably be slower. If you got a racing style recumbent, you'd be faster, although it's hard to say by how much. I have several racing recumbents. My former best time for a century on an upright, drafting for all I was worth, was 18 mph not including stops (avg speed on the auto-start computer.) I was pretty well wiped by the end. My best on a recumbent has been 23 mph, mostly solo, and non-stop. Well, non-stop except for having to wait through TWO cycles of the only light on the route! GRR! I was tired, but after catching my breath I walked several blocks and got myself a hot dog at a vendor stand.
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Old 11-06-09, 08:49 AM   #5
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On most days, I am somewhere between 14 and 16 MPH faster on a bent than on a road bike. My recumbents get used. DF's mostly pine away in the garage going zero MPH.
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Old 11-06-09, 09:56 AM   #6
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On a USS LWB you'd probably be slower. If you got a racing style recumbent, you'd be faster
Yeah, LWB are not generally know for speed. and USS are not known for speed (extra wind resistance). So put them together and you would probably be slower.
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Old 11-06-09, 10:41 AM   #7
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Recumbents enable you to ride for longer periods of time as well (due to the comfort aspect)
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Old 11-06-09, 11:21 AM   #8
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Yeah, LWB are not generally know for speed.
Yeah, except for the Gold Rush, which was used for setting speed records.
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Old 11-06-09, 11:31 AM   #9
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Yeah, except for the Gold Rush, which was used for setting speed records.
Streamliners are a different breed entirely. An unfaired Gold Rush isn't any faster than an unfaired V-Rex.
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Old 11-06-09, 01:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Autobus View Post
I'm have a fixed gear and a road bike that I'm very fond of, but I have never tried a recumbent.
I'm looking for speed and I think I'd like one of those long wheelbase dandies with the under-the-seat steering.

If I average 18 mph for a 100 mile century, would I be alot faster, assuming the course is pretty flat on a recumbent?
I am trying to accumulate real-world data on this question...It turns out it is difficult to do, at least in my case where the comparison is between a carbon fiber road bike and a high racer. I think the best way to answer this question is to use this bicycle speed and power calculator:

http://www.noping.net/english/

My experience is consistent with the results of this calculator. So, if you have an upright racing bike with your hands on the drops and can produce 200 watts then your speed is estimated at 19.8 mph. A highracer estimates out at 21.6 mph. So a high racer recumbent might be about 10% faster than an upright DF racer for the same 200 watt rider on the flats.

A low racer with above seat steering estimates at 23.4 mph.
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Old 11-06-09, 01:20 PM   #11
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I'm not actually any faster riding my titanium recumbent than either of my two road bikes. I'm just not as sore or tired after a long ride.
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Old 11-06-09, 02:13 PM   #12
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I recently changed from a USS bike to a bike with tweener bars. I'm not sure there's much to the aero difference actually. If anything, my old USS bike had a terminal velocity going down hills several mph faster than my new bike, suggesting it may have been more aero. But hills aside, I'm much faster overall on my new bike because the position lets me generate more power, more efficiently.

To the OP: try to find a dealer and do lots of test rides. Recumbents have very varied designs, and some may suit you better than others. In general, to get the speed you're after you'll want to look for a high bottom bracket and reclined seat. Light weight would be nice too, but quickly gets expensive and a few extra lbs may not be a big deal if you're riding in mostly flat areas.
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Old 11-06-09, 03:17 PM   #13
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The other thing with speed questions is, at 10 mph, aerodynamics don't matter by a measurable amount. Ya gotta be going fast before aerodynamics matter.
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Old 11-06-09, 08:04 PM   #14
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Slower uphill. Faster downhill.

I'm averaging 14 MPH on my LWB recumbent.

Forgot to mention I ride a homebuilt recumbent in a hilly area. I might get a faster average speed in a flat area or with a commercially made recumbent bike with OSS. Who knows?

Last edited by LWB_guy; 01-12-10 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 11-07-09, 03:03 AM   #15
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I'm faster on a loaded CF than I am on a DF stripped down road bike!
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Old 11-07-09, 08:07 AM   #16
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just curious, but why is a bent with under seatr steering slower than above seat steering, with both bikes being the same?

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Old 11-07-09, 10:07 AM   #17
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why is a bent with under seatr steering slower than above seat steering
I'm not 100% sure this is so, but if it is, it would be a matter of aerodynamics. Aerodynamic drag is a function of two things: your frontal area (that is, how big a silhouette you present to the wind), and your coefficient of drag. Your Cd probably isn't much different either way, but with your arms in front of you, they are subtracted from your frontal area.
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Old 11-08-09, 11:43 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Autobus View Post
I'm have a fixed gear and a road bike that I'm very fond of, but I have never tried a recumbent.
I'm looking for speed and I think I'd like one of those long wheelbase dandies with the under-the-seat steering.

If I average 18 mph for a 100 mile century, would I be alot faster, assuming the course is pretty flat on a recumbent?
Agree with BP's assesments and also think Smokesters calculations give a good indication of DF-HighRacer-Lowracer speeds(i'm about 1.5 mph faster on Lowracer than my HiRacer) . Wouln't want to do a century on a DF constantly in the drops for sure.

I really think the biggest bonus is the relax/rest factor on a reumbent, your normal sitting position is both exceedingly comfortable and aero. I would really suggest getting a LowRacer or HiRacer (or both).

LowRacers really can't be beat for speed and comfort on long distance, but I would consider them more of a loner bike. HiRacers just a step below in speed fit in very well with the DF crowd. I paceline with a group of upright riders quite a bit (allways in front or the back-never in between). Have done some 19 mph 100 mile paceline rides with my HiRacer. A 5 hour century this year on my LowRacer at age of 62.

Last edited by karjak; 11-08-09 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 11-08-09, 04:55 PM   #19
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Most USS are not designed for speed. They often have somewhat upright seating, with the bars below the seat. This increases frontal area, since the arms are essentially perpendicular to the wind (like an upright rider's legs.) Exceptions are bikes like the Reynolds Wishbone, which although they were USS, placed the rider so reclined that the arms ended up being in line with the airflow.

The biggest advantage for recumbents is comfort. For the racing 'bents, they also have the advantage of aerodynamics. A broad question like "how much faster are recumbents" ignores the diversity of the genre. If someone asked, "how fast is an upright?" the next question would rightly be "what kind - road, mountain, hybrid, cruiser?" Somehow, that eludes the upright community, who think a Carbent and a Bike-E are both recumbents, and lumping them together is perfectly valid.
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Old 11-08-09, 07:08 PM   #20
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The bikes with under-seat steering are not as aerodynamic, because your arms catch a lot of wind that would be avoided by using above-seat-steering. Underseat steering is more about general riding and touring comfort more than speed.

The only currently-made underseat-steering LWB I know of (in the US) is the Longbikes Slipstream ($2800).

If you want a long-wheelbase that's fast, the $2600 RANS X-stream is an option (the top bike pictured).

High-racers are fast also and can be had for $1500 easily, but the steering is more-jittery. I had a short-wheelbase bike first and switched to a long-wheelbase, and very much prefer the longer wheelbase just for the steering stability.

There are also lowracers, but they mostly cost even more.

-----

I have a 20/26" long-wheelbase recumbent by the by. I am probably slower on it than I would be an upright bike--but I am far, far more comfortable on the recumbent.

I didn't buy my first recumbent until I was about 35 years old.
If I'd have had recumbent bikes my whole life, I'd have rode at least twice the miles I did on "normal" bikes.
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Old 11-09-09, 11:12 AM   #21
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On my LWB recumbent im 2 to 4 mph faster on ave. Also because of the comfort, I probably ride about 50% further. As stated the ASS LWB recumbents have a better aero profile. I myself adj my handlebars to keep my arms almost straight out so the aero proflie is just my fist. And of course the faster you ride the more advantage a recumbent will have since almost all of them have a smaller profile. Above 15 mph about 85% of energy used is to overcome aero drag.
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Old 11-09-09, 01:47 PM   #22
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So a SWB is faster than a LWB? What do "DF" and "high racer" mean?
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Old 11-09-09, 02:15 PM   #23
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If this comes thru properly then they are (left to right) (click on attachment to zoom in)

LWB (long wheelbase), MLWB (medium-long wheelbase), SWB (short wheelbase), not quite sure, highracer, lowracer, velomobile
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File Type: jpg bentbikes2.jpg (42.1 KB, 44 views)

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Old 11-09-09, 02:22 PM   #24
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DF is "diamond frame," a.k.a. UCI-compliant bike. We have other names for them, too; but "DF" or "upright" are the polite ones.

Racing 'bent come in two basic varieties: high and low. Highracers have two big wheels, 26 or 700c and very reclined seating. Lowracers are, well, low. Seat height is generally 13 inches or less, and also very reclined. Both types place the bottom bracket higher than the seat so that the torso is placed behind the legs (minimizes frontal area.) Of course, there is a smattering of 'bents which don't quite fall into those two categories, so you will hear of 'quazi-low' or 'mid-racer' or other variations.
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Old 11-09-09, 08:56 PM   #25
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So a SWB is faster than a LWB?
Depends.

I anticipate that I will be faster on my LWB V3 than I have been on my SWB V-Rex, once I get the V3 and my legs dialed in.
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