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Old 06-19-15, 11:10 AM
Portland Fred
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,508

Bikes: Custom Winter, Challenge Seiran SL, Fuji Team Pro, Cattrike Road/Velokit, РOS hybrid

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I've ridden 'bents for a long time and currently own two of them. A few observations:
  1. Lumping them all together as if they were a single type of bike is nuts -- I would go so far as to say it's like lumping BMX and road bikes in the same category. The variety in recumbent geometry is WAY greater than with upright bikes.
  2. Visibility is not an issue. Yes, you are lower but you look different enough that you attract more attention. I actually have less trouble with cars moving into me on my 'bents than on road bikes. The exception is riding my trike in heavy traffic. My head is only a couple feet off the ground, so you're totally invisible from the side so you have to be ready for cars to pull into you. Riding on peoples' left rear quarter panels mitigates this considerably. BTW, riding super low is an issue with dogs. The teeth come in at eyeball level when I'm on the trike.
  3. The handling characteristics vary widely among bikes, but they're not as bad as people think if the rider understands his bike. I can do funky things on the trike you could never do on a road bike -- for example steep descents on hairpin curves are a blast because you can grab a handful of brake on one side and let the rear fishtail which gives a super tight turning radius. This works great on gravel and wet too. Even the longer wheelbase bikes can do some neat things if you know how to handle them.
  4. Hill climbing difficulty varies with geometry but is mostly about the engine. The big minus is not the weight but rather that you can't rotate muscle sets as well as you can on a road bike. This means that cooking your spin muscles can be an issue. But I've climbed 10K feet in one day on a 'bent. Not as hard as it sounds.
  5. Comfort varies with geometry and 'bent evangelists will tell you they're more comfortable, but this is not my experience for longer rides. Due to not being able to shift riding positions, any issues get amplified. I've pulled many 10+hr days on a 'bent, and I'll be bruised up where the edges of the seat are. If your bike is aero, you need a strong neck if you don't have a neck rest. Even if you do, it's not that great. My personal opinion is that traditional road geometry is hard to beat for comfort. You can shift forward and back, stand and sit, and there are a zillion ways to deal with discomfort.
  6. Drivers are much nicer to 'bents than road bikes. Even demographics generally thought to be hostile to road bikes are intrigued by them and tend to get curious
  7. Contrary to anything you see here, road cyclists are also nice to 'bent riders. If you do something stupid like join a paceline uninvited, your experience may be different, but overall, it's easy to make friends. One really quick way to do so is to tow riders who are trying to bridge gaps or just want a boost for awhile.
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