I have found a new Canondale recumbent at a local dealership. It's being repaired so I didn't try a ride on it but it's just minor adjustment of the rear deraileur hanger. It seems to be comfortable and I like the high stance. The price of $1600 is about 20% off list. I assume that's not a great bargain but about normal for this bike new.
I'll go ride before I buy but let me ask some questions about this bike because the world changed between my last ride and today:
1. The shock absorber has me bothered. The idea of anything sprung, including a seat, seems 'impure' to an experienced rider (old guy) like me. It seems as though I'll waste all my energy bouncing the thing. Anyone want to reassure me?
2. The seat is so padded I can't believe it. It's like sitting on a sea sponge! Is this another energy waster or just normal on today's bikes? Remember, I have been away from serious riding for over 12 years. When I last built a bike, SIS shifters were so suspiciously new I wouldn't put them on my bike! The old rule was a hard seat for a hard-ass rider. Seats this soft were invitations to a sore butt. Have things changed?
3. The 16" and 20" wheels are bothering me. It seems to me I'll drop into every pot hole and feel every bit of irregular pavement. On a recumbent, what are the 'rules of wisdom' or common sense regarding tire size?
4. Hubs are not specified for this bike so I assume they are whatever Canondale finds on the shelf to fit it. Maybe they don't make 'good' hubs for tiny tires? I'm used to a diamond frame with DurAce hubs that I've rebuilt several times as the bearings wore out. What are my worries with modern hubs? Why are these unbranded? Oh, and how often do you true these little wheels?
5. I am used to clipless pedals and shoes. This one has normal quills. Would you advise moving my clipless pedals over to the recumbent or do recumbent riders normally ride quills?
6. The gearing specs run from under 19" to 121" across 9X3 gears. The chain rings are 22-32-44 front and 11 to 34 rear in nine steps with a 20" rear wheel. I make it a true wheel size of about 24". My table runs 18.8" to 116.5" (am I missing something about the geometry of recumbents?) with very smooth and even patterns up the hub but no good crossover points. Is this a problem or do SIS shifters and nine-speed hubs make this a non-issue? I'm used to dealing with a 5-speed hub and a close-ratio Campy triple, with 'grinder' derailleurs and 'feelie' bar-end shifters. What are the issues here?
7. I use (non-SIS) bar end shifters. Do these have any application to a recumbent with SIS hubs?
8. It has bosses for a chain guard (I assume from their position) but no chain guard was in place. Do I need to bargain for one, buy one, or forget having one? That is a lot of chain capable of throwing a lot of muck at me. I use excellent chain oils and keep my chains super clean, but...
9. Are there other features I need to check out or pay attention to?
10. Are there other accessories I need to have or consider?
I know this list is long but I have lost a lot of time away from bikes and this is an important decision for me. I appreciate any advice you throw my way.