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Tom Bombadil 04-20-07 04:10 PM

Trip Report - first real ride on my 'bent
Haven't had much chance to get out this year, between the snow and some business travel. The rides I've taken have been on my upright bikes. The longest ride before today on the Sun EZ-Rider AX recumbent that I picked up in January had only been a half-mile.

But today it was 69, no wind, and I had some time. I got it out for an hour of easy riding, stopping a couple of times to adjust things. Put in 10 miles.

At first I was a bit wobbly on it (total lifetime riding on a bent prior to today was around 3 miles), especially when going uphill. After a bit I figured out that it was due to my seat being too far back - I was losing power & stability at maximum leg extension. Tweaked it up a half-inch, and then another quarter-inch and it was much smoother.

The ride was extremely pleasant. With the upright seating position, I was able to enjoy the countryside and greet people as I came to them (I was riding on the paved bike path in a small town near to me). As I cruised around I watched people working in their gardens, out walking their dogs, and looked for signs of Spring. The perspective was not much different than when you take a walk.

The bent's ride was very smooth. It was marketed as an "off-road" bike, and has a full suspension. I had the spring shock dialed to it's maximum firmness, which was still more than enough to take the edge off of bumps. When I rolled off of a curb, the impact was minimal due to the shock and the cushy seat.

I think it would be smoother still if I replaced the off-road tires. You can feel them just a bit, and they are also a bit noisy.

I was very impressed with the shifting. It has SRAM X.9 derailleurs and shifters. They could not have been any quicker, smoother, and precise. Nicest of any bike I've ever owned.

Now to my two long-time bugaboos, hand and rear pain. I've been trying to address hand pain and numbness on all of my bikes, with some success. As there is no weight on one's hands on the 'bent, I rode without gloves for the first time in months. After an hour, I had no pain or numbness at all. Never even had to shake my hands or change my hand position. It was wonderful. Likewise I had no pain in my rear at all, it was very comfortable. First ride in probably 20 years where I didn't have to deal with pain issues in my hands or rear.

Not everything was perfect - for one thing, the bike is on the slow side. I think some of this is due to it's wide (1.5") knobby tread tires. But the shock and the weight (42 pounds with the basket and not counting the water bottle - the standard steel frame version of this bike is another 8 pounds heavier) are the primary factors. Whereas many recumbents are faster than diamond frame bikes on the flats, this is not one of them.

I also need to adapt to the steering. The long handlebars have a little bounce in them and the handling is very different than my other bikes. I'd be nervous about taking it out on roads at higher speeds.

Artkansas 04-20-07 04:37 PM

Sounds great. I've been contemplating getting a bent. The closest I come now is my Giant Stiletto. I know what you say about being upright. It's a whole different perspective.

europa 04-20-07 05:13 PM

Good start.
I'm looking at bents, partly because they are different and I like a bit of variety/novelty/insanity in my life, but also because I have a lot of trouble with hands thanks to a dislocated collarbone years ago. Sadly, they aren't freely available here like they are in America, nor can I afford the ridiculous prices charged, but making one is an option.

Bentech look good to me (the exhaust pipe version as that is something I can make up here) - importing the frame kit costs more in postage than the kit itself.

There's a local recumbent builder who builds for the Pedal Prix we have here each year - a 24 hour team race for high schools - great stuff. They are typically trikes and fully enclosed, low, endurance racers, but once I've worked out what I'm looking at, I'll have a yarn with him.

Is your bent an under seat steerer or an in your lap steerer (couldn't think of the correct term)? Sorry, don't know the model.

Any suggestions on what to look at? I'd hate to give up on diamond frame bikes but with the way my shoulder feels this morning, it's something I fear in my future.


CrossChain 04-20-07 05:48 PM

From my year on a bent (Rans Tailwind), don't worry if it seems "slow" right now. That should pick up. There's a biomechanical learning curve for your body to become more efficient at this new 'bent bike position....some different muscles and a somewhat different spin. Give it a few months of consistent riding and you should feel faster and smoother in the body as well as the bike.

MichiganMike 04-20-07 06:50 PM

Sounds very cool. Looks like you'll have some nice weekend weather to get it further dialed in. Not having the hand pain sounds great. I have that once in a while myself.

Tom Bombadil 04-20-07 06:51 PM

It's an above the seat / high handlebar steerer.

I don't know what is available in Europe. Historically a number of bents were designed in Europe. I believe Bacchetta is sold in Europe and they have some very interesting and popular designs.

As to my slowness, well, I'm pretty slow nowadays on all fronts. So it may be that I will become faster as I ride more, but it might not be much faster. As I wrote here a couple of times before, when I made my top 5 list of what I want in a bike, performance never makes the list. My normal cadence is around 70. In my ride today, I dropped into a middle gear and kicked my cadence up to 90 for 1 minute. I don't know how you guys/gals can hold that tempo.

CrossChain 04-20-07 06:53 PM

P.S. from above. The bent was a real kick-- it was such a change of pace. It became the informal fun machine at first, cruisin' the neighborhood. Then i took it out on 10 miles of rollers and discovered how much fun it could be as a serious bike. Sustained uphills were slow, but downhills could be a roller coaster. Enjoy your new experience.

Beverly 04-20-07 07:15 PM

It sounds great. I'm sure it won't take long for you to feel completely comfortable taking it on the road.

Bud Bent 04-20-07 08:28 PM

I owned an EZ Rider for a while. I liked it when we rode a lot on bike trails, but was ready for a change once I started spending all my riding time on roads. And I never liked loading it on the rack on my truck, or lifting it over a low fence at a closed dam road we ride; it is, indeed, heavy. It stands as the smoothest riding bike I've ever been on, but I wouldn't want to take it (or any bent) off pavement, unless it was pretty smooth off-road stuff. I replaced those knobby tires with 100 psi Kenda Kwests. They worked well on it.

Tom Bombadil 04-20-07 10:39 PM

I remember seeing a post or two about your EZ-Rider. You had one of the heavier models didn't you, the SX or CX? I wouldn't want mine to be any heavier.

I was thinking about the Kenda Kwests or the new Schwalbe Marathon Plus 20 x 1.35" tire.

It will be fun riding it over this summer, then I'll see what I want to do next year.

bobkat 04-21-07 05:25 PM

As I have a terrible back and even had a stroke 6 years ago during the last back surgery, all I can comfortably ride is a bent. I've been riding about 3 years, and put on about 3000 miles last summer with a couple of centuries.
I have never had any wrist problems or back problems when on the bent, in fact, riding the bent is about the only time I don't have back pain! And I love being able to sit upright, look around, see birds and animals and stuff I never could with a regular bike. I had to make a longer visor for my helmet though, as the stock visors are too short while sitting upright instead of hanging your head over the front wheel.
They might be a bit slower than an upright, but I manage to easily stay with the middle of the pack riders. Of course the Lance wannabees leave me behind, but I am way more comfortable and have a lot of fun doing it. My wife runs marathons and rides a Trek carbon fiber Pilot 5.5 and I can stay with her OK.
This is my third year of riding and the speed keeps picking up so I think maybe different muscles are used with a bent than an upright. I'd bet your speed will steadily increase.
Maybe see you at the Hostel Shoppe recumbent ride this summer, Tom.

megaman 04-21-07 08:50 PM


Originally Posted by Bud Bent
I wouldn't want to take it (or any bent) off pavement, unless it was pretty smooth off-road stuff. I replaced those knobby tires with 100 psi Kenda Kwests. They worked well on it.

I regularly rode the crushed stone trails with my EZ Sport, using Kenda Kwests. Did get flats sometimes though.

Tom, it may take a while to build up speed, but it'll come, just give it time.

bcoppola 04-22-07 07:39 AM

I hate 'bent riders. They're useless for drafting. :D

Hey, seriously, what I've noticed about the bent riders on our club rides is that they don't have the acceleration of roadies, but once they build up a head of steam...

But then again, if you want speed there's those wicked low racer types. There's a couple of guys I see now and then at Stoney Creek park on carbon monocoque low racers and they're a freakin' blur!

bkaapcke 04-22-07 11:09 AM

Hey, the thing I like the most about my EZ Sport AX is the total lack of pain. Yup, it's a little slower, but at 59, I'm not in any hurry. And, yes, it does take a while for new muscles to tone up and adjust to the new seating/pedaling position. bk

Terrierman 04-22-07 11:10 AM

Cool deal Tom, sounds like a fun bike.

Monoborracho 04-22-07 12:37 PM

Last year for whatever reason I received a Hostel Shoppe catalog. I was chairbound at the time with a wrecked shoulder and wondering if I would ever ride an upright again. Fortunately I have and am staring to spend some time on drop bars (another story). But I assure you that if my old body reaches the point where its more pain than fun on an upright, I will have no qualms moving over to one of these

Tom Bombadil 04-22-07 08:59 PM

Took it out on a shorter ride on Saturday, but on a course with some inclines in it, and one 100' (rise) hill. But I waited until after I roto-tilled the garden and I forgot how much that takes out of my legs. Lots of angles in our garden that I have to work the tiller around.

So I start out going down the hill, and picked up speed. Actually had it in top gear at a reasonably high cadence, flying down the hill. Fastest I've gone on a bike in many years. But on the circle route home, after about 5 miles on a soft limestone trail, coming back up the hill, I ran out of gas. Between the Friday ride, the tiller, and these 5 miles, my legs were shot. After a couple of stops coming up the long incline, I finally topped the hill without having to get off and walk. Actually the whole last 2 miles was a slight uphill incline, with a hill at the end. I think the total climb is around 250'. Not much, but on this day, enough to do me in.

When I got home, my legs were so wobbly that I had a hard time walking into the house. So it was a varied experience. Some higher-speed thrills, some riding down a pretty trail in early spring, then a humbling effort to fight my way over a hill that road bikers go over pretty easily.

This is going to be an interesting Spring/Summer.

JanMM 04-22-07 09:14 PM

Most of my riding the last 13 months has been on my new-to-me 2000 Tailwind. Took it down to Observatory Road last summer (where Indiana University's observatory used to be) and made it most of the way up that nasty hill. Had to stop and walk until it leveled off a bit and then rode the rest of the way up. Had ridden that hill twice the summer before on my Novara Big Buzz hybrid. I'll try it 'bent again this year. Haven't had trouble with any other hills using my "get low and slow but steady" uphill style.

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