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  1. #1
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    New rider - would a bent be a wise choice?

    Hello,

    I am relatively new to road biking. I am interested in commuting to work (20 mi each way) and recreational riding with my family and friends. No interest in racing (at least not at this time).

    I bought my road bike a couple of months back, and have been riding it since. I am happy with it, but I find the posture a bit unnatural for daily use. I am somewhat fit, and I have gotten a bike fitting (and am following their instructions).

    I have been investigating going to a recumbent bike as my main bike. They *seem* a lot more natural and comfortable... Then again, perceptions can be deceiving.

    The purpose of this post is to ask for your expertise in answering/guiding me in the following questions:

    (1) Would a recumbent be a reasonable choice for my intended use and location?
    - ~20 miles to and from work, hopefully every day (http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1813403)
    - don't intend to race
    - looking for a relaxed ride that I can sustain day after day, while increasing fitness of course
    - I *do* live in a hilly area. In particular, sustained slopes like this one http://ridewithgps.com/segments/Silver-Crk-Valley-Rd are common (I mean, this is hilly and difficult for me to climb on my upright bike at the moment. I do it, but I am winded at the top. It is probably a joke for most of you, but remember, I am a newbie :-)

    (2) Assuming the answer to (1) is "yes", what type of recumbent would be most appropriate?
    - LWB or SWB?
    - FWD or RWD?
    - Any specific brands or models?

    Thanks in advance for your guidance,
    Luis
    PS: I will be test riding a Bacchetta Giro 20 next week

  2. #2
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    Ride one, and try hills while you do. They are tough on hills.

  3. #3
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    I started riding again in 2006 but only learned about recumbent this year while researching 3-wheelers to ride with my handicapped Son. If I knew then what I know now I would be riding a 2-wheel recumbent. Will change to a recumbent soon when I can afford to. Probably a lwb would be most appropriate but if you get the speed bug then a swb; either could be used for commuting unless you have an unusual cargo requirement.

    Take a look at 3-wheelers also before you decide. 2-wheelers can get difficult to control at slow speeds on steep hills.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  4. #4
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingsqueak View Post
    Ride one, and try hills while you do. They are tough on hills.
    That should be somewhat qualified. I personally climb as well on my 'bent as I do on my upright bikes (poorly, but still).

    Some 'bents climb better than others and in all cases, you can't stand while climbing on a 'bent (so you do have to take this into account).
    http://Charles.Plager.net
    http://RecumbentQuant.blogspot.com

  5. #5
    Senior Member osco53's Avatar
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    Op, Bents are great BUT,,,

    Take your time here, you simply must test ride a few different types.

    My LWB Tour Easy Is Right for me, for how I ride.
    This same bike may be totally wrong for another person, even someone who is my exact weight, size and physical condition.

    You simply MUST test ride, Choosing a bent Is a very personal endeavor.
    Driving several hundred miles to find bents is worth the time and expense.
    Bents are that good !

    The deepest well of 'Bent' knowledge found anywhere is IMO here : http://www.bentrideronline.com/index.php

    Sign In and say Hi, these people will take good care of you also...
    Scott Aspect 940 29er, Tour Easy LE, Sun EZ-3 sx, Walmart Thruster :P

  6. #6
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    I've been riding recumbents for 30 years and I'll say this: the advice you get here is worth exactly what you paid for it.

    Test ride a bike. Test ride a couple. Test ride several repeatedly. If there's a recumbent group near you, talk to them and test ride everything you can get your mitts on.

    Even then, you may want a different bike after you've been riding your first choice for a while. I rode a SWB Lightning (touring, commuting, racing) for 10 years, then switched to a LWB Tour Easy. Still the same speed, just a bit more relaxed riding. I still have my Lighting, though.

    Recumbents are like potato chips: you can't stop at just one.
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

  7. #7
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    I bought a bent before I knew anything about them other than they might help with my back problems. I ended up finding a high racer, built for speed. I love it, but like the man says, you can't stop at just one. I am looking at getting a lwb as a touring bike. After a couple weeks of riding the bent I tried getting back on my normal bike and was way too uncomfortable. They were sold with in a week after that. I can't come up with a reason that will hold water to ever go back.
    No bike does everything perfectly. In fact, no bike does anything until SOMEONE gets on it and rides.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by osco53 View Post
    You simply MUST test ride, Choosing a bent Is a very personal endeavor.
    Driving several hundred miles to find bents is worth the time and expense. Bents are that good !
    Riding is important. The different recumbent styles ride much more differently from one another than DF bikes do.

    You also have to live with your recumbent 24/7. Think about how you are going to transport and store it. We've all grown up with DF bikes. Some of the car racks etc that are designed for them don't work so well for some recumbent styles.

  9. #9
    el padre
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    All the above advice is good, I also repeat, try riding one, several, so that you know what style of bent you like...if you do not have the possibility close to you, you may have to take a little longer in your investigation.

  10. #10
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    Random thoughts...
    ....Recumbents with higher bottom brackets (pedals near the seat base level or higher) tend to cause numb feet. It isn't possible to predict if this will be a problem for someone or not, and you need a decent-length ride to provoke it. Long-wheelbase bikes (like the Tour Easy) have the least issues with it, because the pedals are a few inches below the seat base.

    ....Unlike upright bikes that are all pretty similar in riding position, there is a drastic difference in cruising speeds with different types of recumbents. Some are slower and others are faster. A recumbent might be faster than an upright bike IF you guy a 'fast' recumbent,,,, (faster for the same pedaling effort, that is),,,, but the faster recumbents are also the most-reclined ones, with the highest foot-positions, that leads to an increased change of numb feet.

    ....A recumbent will be a LOT more comfortable than an upright bike--but 20 miles one-way is still a pretty long commute particularly in hilly areas. You might consider an e-bike kit, at least to help get there in the morning. If you want to pedal all the way home and get sweaty and tired would be your own choice.

  11. #11
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    All but the response immediately above mine make good points and contain relevant advice. I'd "like" any of them except that one. There's little in it that I agree with and some of it is factually incorrect. YMMV

  12. #12
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    That's a pretty serious climb, with much of it in double-digits. A bent will most likely be harder, not easier, to get to the top. Your only option with a 'bent will be to spin, probably at a pretty slow speed, all the way up. OTOH, you'd be able to coast for a mile and a half on the way down.

    Standard advice bears repeating: Do homework and see which bents might be faster/better climbers and test several of them on your typical routes. I know that finding test rides can be difficult to arrange; but only you are going to be able to tell if a bent is right for you.

  13. #13
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    Also teat ride a few trikes. They are slower on the hills, but with the right gearing you can climb any hill, as you can spin along at 2mph if necessary, with no stability issues.

    Very easy and relaxing ride.

  14. #14
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    I see some of the anti bent crowd is rolling out their usual drivel about bents.

    Look at the positive things bents bring to the table. Comfort!!! They also bring safety. A LWB bent cant throw you over the handle bars. LWB bent stops much faster since they load up the front wheel and can be braked harder. You arrive feet first in an accident rather than head first. Also sitting upright you can see traffic much better.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    .. drivel ...
    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    They also bring safety. A LWB bent cant throw you over the handle bars. LWB bent stops much faster since they load up the front wheel and can be braked harder. You arrive feet first in an accident rather than head first. Also sitting upright you can see traffic much better.
    1. You CAN go head first over the handle bars. I've seen it done. Saying it''s not possible is just dumb.
    2. Some LWBs have such lightly loaded front wheels that stopping takes longer than other bike designs. The load on the front wheel AND the type of brakes used combine to make or detract from braking effectiveness - not just one element.
    3. Arriving feet first is not necessarily safer - driving a femur into and shattering the hip socket has resulted in numerous deaths on and off bike.
    4. Not all LWB designs are ridden with upright seating. Some can and are fairly reclined - depending on the preference of the rider. So, the view of traffic, especially to the rear if mirrors are not used, is NOT necessarily good, much less "better".

    As I quoted - DRIVEL.
    Last edited by 20_700c; 09-23-13 at 11:46 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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  17. #17
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lblando View Post
    Hello,

    I am relatively new to road biking. I am interested in commuting to work (20 mi each way) and recreational riding with my family and friends. No interest in racing (at least not at this time).

    I bought my road bike a couple of months back, and have been riding it since. I am happy with it, but I find the posture a bit unnatural for daily use. I am somewhat fit, and I have gotten a bike fitting (and am following their instructions).

    I have been investigating going to a recumbent bike as my main bike. They *seem* a lot more natural and comfortable... Then again, perceptions can be deceiving.

    The purpose of this post is to ask for your expertise in answering/guiding me in the following questions:

    (1) Would a recumbent be a reasonable choice for my intended use and location?
    - ~20 miles to and from work, hopefully every day (http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1813403)
    - don't intend to race
    - looking for a relaxed ride that I can sustain day after day, while increasing fitness of course
    - I *do* live in a hilly area. In particular, sustained slopes like this one http://ridewithgps.com/segments/Silver-Crk-Valley-Rd are common (I mean, this is hilly and difficult for me to climb on my upright bike at the moment. I do it, but I am winded at the top. It is probably a joke for most of you, but remember, I am a newbie :-)

    (2) Assuming the answer to (1) is "yes", what type of recumbent would be most appropriate?
    - LWB or SWB?
    - FWD or RWD?
    - Any specific brands or models?

    Thanks in advance for your guidance,
    Luis
    PS: I will be test riding a Bacchetta Giro 20 next week
    Quick commuter that can climb hills? Easy. A Lightning P-38
    Here's mine:



    But really, test ride, test ride, test ride.
    Lightning P-38 / M5 M-Racer/Ryan Vanguard

  18. #18
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    If you want a comfortable ride, the answer is yes

    I'm one of those people who consider a recumbent a Godsend. Were it not for riding a recumbent I probably would not be riding at all as it was too unconformable riding an upright any distance. Like many on this board, I made uninformed, bad choices with my first recumbent. I've owned and ridden both 2 and 3 wheeled recumbents and finally settled on primarily riding a trike because I didn't feature the idea of crashing and possibly ending up with a broken hip. Still, many 2 wheeled recumbent riders ride thousands of miles a year without incident. I have ridden my two wheelers many thousands of miles with a few crashes and no permanent damage. Recumbents are certainly no more dangerous than DF bikes. They are a heck of a lot more comfortable. Don't be too concerned if the bike is hard to ride at first. You are new to riding so ANY bike you ride is going to take more effort at first. It gets better. Believe me. See if you can find a used bike or trike that meets your needs for the first one. Then if you decide to move up or on, you will be able to recoup most of what you paid for the recumbent.

    I will not tell you which one to try. That's as personal as choosing a wife and I wouldn't suggest that to anyone.

  19. #19
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lblando View Post
    ...I find the posture a bit unnatural for daily use....

    (1) Would a recumbent be a reasonable choice for my intended use and location?
    ...
    (2) Assuming the answer to (1) is "yes", what type of recumbent would be most appropriate?
    ....
    So you're commuting. I assume to work, and I assume that's because you're not independently wealthy. If those assumptions are wrong, then ignore the rest of this note and go buy some bikes.

    There are many adjustments available on a DF roadbike to be tried before giving up on that platform and spending money on another bike. Handlebar height alone can make a huge difference in how a bike feels. I don't know what type of fit you had, but there are different kinds of fit emphasizing different purposes. Much of the fit advice out there emphasizes power and aerodynamics, which may be uncomfortable for your particular anatomy and current state of flexibility. For just a few dollars you can buy an adjustable stem and play around with handlebar position.

    As a veteran 'bent rider, I'll give my $0.02 on your specific questions.

    (1) Sure.
    Of course, no matter the bike, you are the motor. That's arguably the most important part of the bike.

    (2) Too many variables to answer.
    How long are your legs? Affects how high off the ground you want your seat, which affects types and wheel sizes.
    Do you want fenders? If yes this rules out some fame/wheel size combinations.
    Is transporting the bike on a car/plane/train going to happen often? How much storage space do you have? LWB has some drawbacks here.
    How reclined a seat will you like?
    'bents with two wheel sizes will require you to carry two tubes, and two tires if you're inclined to be prepared for all eventualities.

    You'll find some emotion and lack of rationality when it comes to people and recumbent bikes. If you do choose to ride one, you'll need to develop some thick skin. You might also want to distance yourself from recumbent fanatics, who can get tiresome.

    As others have said, ride ride ride.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  20. #20
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    recumbents are an acquired taste. Right now the trikes seem to be the big deal. I currently have six bents: 2 catrike expeditions, hp scorpion, hp grasshopper, long bike slipstream and a catrike Musashi. I can't ever say which one I like the most because I change my mind each time I ride a different one. The two wheeled bents are alot of fun as well and I like the challenge of riding them(some more than others). Generally speaking the steeper the seat is reclined and the higher the bottom bracket the more of a learning curve it will need. If I were in your shoes I would probably buy a catrike of some sort. They seem to hold their value and if you end up selling it you will recoup most of your $$$$. The LWB used market seems to be offering some very good deals as well. I bought my longbike on bentrider and saved a little over $1k over the cost of a new one. All I would suggest is try to find some bent riders in your area to see if you can test ride a few before you narrow your list or style of bent down.
    Catrike Expedition trike, Catrike velomobile, Cruzbike Silvio 2.0

  21. #21
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    20_700

    Yes while rolling the front wheel on a LWB bent only carries approx 40% of the weight. But in a hard stop with the weight shift forward, the front wheel can and does a great deal of the braking.

    A crash that does all of what you describe would certainly crush your head. Anyway most bent crashes usually mean a short fall to the side.

    But most LWB bents DO have fairly upright seats. And yes I have a mirror that I watch constantly.

  22. #22
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    also forgot to point out that I do get hassled a little with conventional bike riders. Some of them don't even want me to ride with their group. On the other hand some groups are great to ride with. I put a facebook page up and a craigslist ad to try to hook up with a few recumbent locals. For me it's just a great form of exercise. There are alot of times that I go out for a ride and just enjoy the ride(forgetting totally that I'm out for exercise).
    Catrike Expedition trike, Catrike velomobile, Cruzbike Silvio 2.0

  23. #23
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    Thanks very much for all the advice. I will try to address some of the questions and provide a short update.

    Yes, I will be trying both two wheeled and three wheeled recumbents. Starting tomorrow, as a matter of fact (Bacchetta Giro to begin). Will also try other types (e.g. Lightning, HP Velotechnik, Catrike, and possibly others). I will post my first impressions.

    Have two more questions, for which you may have opinions or answers:
    (a) The neck. Everybody (almost) that I read claims that the recumbents are perfect to alleviate the pain that you get in the neck on an upright, on account of having to lift the head up constantly to look ahead, while the riding position would have you looking diagonally to the floor if you wanted to keep your head aligned with the direction of your spine (don't know how best to explain this, but I hope you get the point). However...If you look at some of the recumbent designs, in particular those of the more "advanced", "faster", "sportier" (expensive) ones, you notice that the back is very much reclined, as if you were lying on the couch...and yet you have to look forward, which seems as if it would require you to "tuck your chin into your chest". So how can that be any better than the situation of the upright DFs? Seems equally as painful, unless I am missing something. Now, if you truly wanted to keep your neck "aligned", then you need a recumbent with as upright a seat as you can get....but I read those are the slowest ones, and the ones that are the hardest to climb on (as they apparently reduce the power that you can generate, which I guess makes sense).

    (B) FWD. I've learned (finally), what MBB stands for...and apparently there are some people who swear by it, and some who don't like it. A bit of a passion I've detected. And yet, it is an important variable for me as it appears that if you can (1) stand the slight movement of the BB without hurting your knees, and (2) can get used to handling a FWD, the fact that the chain is shorter etc makes those designs better for climbing and speed (at the same level of effort).

    Do I have my understanding right on these two points? Once I clarify my education on those, I will have to move to OSS/USS, then to shock absorber/no shock absorber, etc.

    But yes, I will be riding them to make sure. All this is for educational purposes.
    @downtube42: my DF is well fitted. It does have an aggressive posture, but not too much. The seat and handlebars are at the right height, etc. Please do not get me wrong, I do not feel much pain when riding the DF, but it is certainly not "relaxing" I should say. Let me give you an example... the other day, coming from work, I decided to "take it easy" (I usually push myself so I can exercise, and then take a shower at work/home when I arrive). So when "taking it easy", I rode 16 of the 20 miles with no hands, basically. Still made decent speed, but I threw caution to the wind and ignored air resistance, going light over small rocks, and any of that. And you know what, I loved it........ And that is when I started thinking of recumbents.... What if I could ride sort of that way all the time, and still be using the equipment the way it was designed, and still doing decent speeds and decent exercise, while enjoying the ride, the scenery, etc. I know, sounds stupid, but that's the honest motivation :-)

    Now onto your specific questions:
    - How long are your legs? ---> 32.5 inches, Barefoot, from the floor to the base of my pelvis, using the "hold a book between your legs until you hit bone technique"). No idea if that is the measurement you need. I ride a 52inch Fuji SST 2.0 LE and that is the right size, maybe even a "tad" small for me.

    - Do you want fenders? ---> No, I'd rather keep it open so I get the fastest one possible

    - Is transporting the bike on a car/plane/train going to happen often? ---> Car yes, the other two no.

    - How much storage space do you have? ---> I have an SUV with a hitch at the back, and a roof rack. I have a garage I guess

    - How reclined a seat will you like? ---> Well... see above... Not really sure. Let me put it this way... I want as much comfort as needed to not ache on long rides, *but no more*. In other words, "as reclined as possible so I can go fast and climb easy" as long as the "not aching, healthy, comfortable riding" condition before is met. Sorry I cannot be more specific.

    - 'bents with two wheel sizes will require you to carry two tubes, and two tires if you're inclined to be prepared for all eventualities. ---> Will definitely want to carry two tubes. I don't carry tires now... should I? (did I mention I am new at biking in general

    Thanks again.
    Luis

  24. #24
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    No you should not carry tires. Unless you are touring in outer mongolia, or something.

  25. #25
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Hi Luis,

    Quote Originally Posted by lblando View Post
    (B) FWD. I've learned (finally), what MBB stands for...and apparently there are some people who swear by it, and some who don't like it. A bit of a passion I've detected. And yet, it is an important variable for me as it appears that if you can (1) stand the slight movement of the BB without hurting your knees, and (2) can get used to handling a FWD, the fact that the chain is shorter etc makes those designs better for climbing and speed (at the same level of effort).
    MBB - Moving bottom bracket - meaning the bottom bracket (and the pedals) move when you turn the steering.

    When starting out, pedal steer (having the bike turn when you pedal) is a big deal. After getting used to the bike, it's not a big deal at all (many MBB riders can ride with no hands).

    I know of many people who ride a MBB bike who have knee problems and no issues. I know of one individual who had (I believe) a knee replacement and for him it was an issue.

    With most recumbents, you can't really pull hard and the handlebars (this is not universally true). With MBB bikes, you can. This means that for short periods of time, I find it easier to put out a lot of power on my MBB bikes than my LWB recumbent. There's a great debate about whether or not one can put out more power over a long period of time. I would claim said debate is still going on. (Yes, as you pointed out, it is clear that no idlers and shorter chain mean less losses on the drivetrain.)

    Most people who try MBB bikes (after giving them a chance) like them. A few hate them. If you (or anybody else) is interested, I recommend looking at these short instructional videos. You can also read about my experiences learning here.

    Cruzbike has a conversion kit that sells new for $400. You can convert an old y-frame mountain bike (often easily found on Craigslist) and have a recumbent up and running for $500 (less if you find a used kit). It's a great way to get a cheap bike and not a bad way to get a nicer bike (My Cruzigami Mantis is a Cruzbike converted folding bike).

    If anybody wants to ask me questions about these bikes, you can PM me or visit the Cruzbike Forum.

    Cheers,
    Charles
    http://Charles.Plager.net
    http://RecumbentQuant.blogspot.com

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