Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

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.

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 06-19-17, 12:05 PM   #1
StevePupel
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Bikes:
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Your opinion: Do recumbents have a mechanical advantage ...

I recently did the National 24 Hour Challenge. Two years ago they changed the standing 33 year old policy and decided to lump recumbents in with uprights in age group medal competition.

It seems to me that in a 24 hour bike race (the last 12 hours on mostly flat terrain) a recumbent has a clear advantage. The event is held in Michigan where there are no mountains, but decent rolling hills in the first 12 hours. I think one rider said the first 120 miles measured in at 5,500 vertical gain. I can attest, it was a fairly hilly track, but I never got out of my saddle, not once - tri bikes suck trying ride out of the saddle. The seat hits you in the butt, you can't get your weight above the pedals.

So my question: Do recumbents have a mechanical advantage over uprights in an ultra cycling competition?

Although all recent winners of the 24HC I can think of ride traditional uprights, and even the course record was set on an upright, I think this has more to do with the fact that elite cyclists have very little opportunity to race on recumbents so the sport doesn't attract nearly as many elite riders as uprights.

As for my own experience ... OMG, I ride a tri bike. After 300 miles, mostly in the aero position, you learn pain in many new ways and levels. My neck was killing me, my shoulders were going to break out of the sockets, the discs in my lower back were ready to go on a labor strike. Mechanical debate aside, hard to imagine a road bike is even half as comfortable as a bent.

Even disregarding the speed advantage, I've been considering a bent. With a tri bike it's really hard to look up. You get used to looking about ten feet ahead of you, with some peripheral view further forward. Then you look up about every five to ten seconds to kinda scan for anything weird, a pot hole, dead animal, whatever. It would be cool to actually look around and not kill your neck. I do think bents are awesome bikes!

I'm seriously considering ... If you can't beat them, join them!

Thanks for reading!
StevePupel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-19-17, 07:47 PM   #2
BlazingPedals
Senior Member
 
BlazingPedals's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Middle of da Mitten
Bikes: Trek 7500, RANS V-Rex, Optima Baron, Velokraft NoCom, M-5 Carbon Highracer, homebuilt recumbent
Posts: 9,983
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 512 Post(s)
They have no mechanical advantage. They have a comfort advantage, especially over a tri bike; and some of them have an aerodynamic advantage.
BlazingPedals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-17, 01:16 PM   #3
dabac
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Bikes:
Posts: 7,260
Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 620 Post(s)
They can have a considerable aero advantage.
They can offer either a comfort advantage, or a brand new set of discomfort.
With the ability to brace against the backrest, it is possible to push the pedals harder than on a regular bike.
Whether that actually is an overall useful advantage, I don't know.
"Mechanical advantage" - if I remember the definition right - would depend on bike set-up, crank lengths, gearing ratios etc, and not on whether the bike is a 'bent" or not.
dabac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-17, 08:34 PM   #4
jebofabo
joyful rider
 
jebofabo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Topeka, Kansas, USA
Bikes: EZ-1 Super Cruzer
Posts: 17
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Indeed, "mechanical advantage" is a term with a very specific meaning in engineering, and as a result it doesn't really work in bicycle comparison: bicycle types introduce so many other variables that any discussion of "mechanical advantage" becomes incoherent very early in the analysis. However, as any doctor will tell you, for a human being a comfort advantage is a very practical advantage. When a human being expends effort ignoring pain, that effort is taken away from everything else she or he is trying to do, e.g., pedaling. I will personally imagine that when a person's body is highly compatible with both DF and bent, he or she will probably exhibit the same power output on both. On the other hand, my body is only marginally compatible with DF and very compatible with bent, so going up hills is easy joy for me now that I have learned these things!
jebofabo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-17, 12:53 PM   #5
StephenH
Uber Goober
 
StephenH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Dallas area, Texas
Bikes:
Posts: 11,483
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 87 Post(s)
I don't think you'll find any good answer to the question because it all depends on how you frame the question.
It's uncommon to see very good riders that ride both, so you don't often get a good comparison that way.
People who are interested in general bicycle racing are by default on the bikes used for that, so you don't get a good comparison there.
What's fastest on a flat course is not necessarily the same as what's fastest on a hilly course.
Recumbents are often compared to "upright" bikes, but then a tri bike or time trial bike is not exactly upright, either.
You mention riding the tri bike, but a lot of long distance riders use road bikes with aerobars, specifically to get more upright and comfortable with a less aggressive position.
All that being said, I believe in the most recent Texas Time Trials, the overall fastest 500-mile racer was a recumbent, some of the Cruz-Bike people. And that's a hilly course. I think that's the first time that's happened, too. Usually, there will be 10-20 people doing the 500 mile and maybe one is on a recumbent, it's not a popular choice there.
Meanwhile, I saw a news item that one of the handcyclists out at Borrego Springs had to DNF because his brains were getting rattled due to chip seal. So maybe it's not all a bed of roses, either.
I think the current RAAM record is on an upright. If I remember right, in the last race, the fastest American was on a recumbent, though.
__________________
"be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."
StephenH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-17, 07:16 AM   #6
jebofabo
joyful rider
 
jebofabo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Topeka, Kansas, USA
Bikes: EZ-1 Super Cruzer
Posts: 17
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Quote:
Meanwhile, I saw a news item that one of the handcyclists out at Borrego Springs had to DNF because his brains were getting rattled due to chip seal. So maybe it's not all a bed of roses, either.
Like to know a lot more about that. I have found my EZ-1 to be easier on light gravel than my Trek 500 DF. I imagine the balance of forces on handcycle may be significnatly different than anything I've tried.
jebofabo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-17, 10:26 AM   #7
Leisesturm
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 3,206
Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 755 Post(s)
I don't think it is fair to compare a competition handcycle with 23mm 20" clinchers with a 700c triatholon bike for comfort. As with recumbents in general, however, handcycles are going to be far more divergent in their various designs than DF bikes in general. I think what this thread speaks to is the observation that in a sprint... even a criterium... no one would think of putting men and women in open competition. In ultra-distance events, however, the sheer differences, be they aero, mechanical, or je ne sais croix, between guys and gals (bents and DF) even out.

Last edited by Leisesturm; 11-07-17 at 10:29 AM.
Leisesturm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-17, 09:09 PM   #8
StephenH
Uber Goober
 
StephenH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Dallas area, Texas
Bikes:
Posts: 11,483
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 87 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by jebofabo View Post
Like to know a lot more about that. I have found my EZ-1 to be easier on light gravel than my Trek 500 DF. I imagine the balance of forces on handcycle may be significnatly different than anything I've tried.

Article here. I think his head was resting almost entirely on the bike, unlike the more upright recumbents, and that was the issue. I've seen some handcycles like this in triathlons, and the guys are pretty much laying down. I'm surprised they can even see.
Undeterred by failed world-record attempt, hand-cyclist vows to try again | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Also, I know my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket with high-pressure 20" tires is a lot buzzier on chipseal than my regular bikes. I'm not sure if that's the smaller wheel or frame geometry or what.
__________________
"be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."
StephenH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-17, 10:09 PM   #9
jebofabo
joyful rider
 
jebofabo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Topeka, Kansas, USA
Bikes: EZ-1 Super Cruzer
Posts: 17
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
Article here. I think his head was resting almost entirely on the bike, unlike the more upright recumbents, and that was the issue. I've seen some handcycles like this in triathlons, and the guys are pretty much laying down. I'm surprised they can even see.
Undeterred by failed world-record attempt, hand-cyclist vows to try again | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Oh my. Indeed, I can see how he got the concussion. Solid rear wheels too, no give at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
Also, I know my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket with high-pressure 20" tires is a lot buzzier on chipseal than my regular bikes. I'm not sure if that's the smaller wheel or frame geometry or what.
I'll think, pressure. I remember when I switched from semi-racing tires to wider knobbies at lower pressure in college. Right now my EZ-1 has the stock 40-pound-only (16-inch by 1.75") in front and 65-pound-max (20x1.75") in back. They look nearly new, so I have some time to learn :-) I have found quite a few 16x2s available and my favorite bike shop guys assure me I can run with them on this rim, and several of the ones I have found have been rated not for 40-pound only, but have been rated for 35 all the way up to 65. We have quite a few light-gravel paths, on river levies and ex-rail trails just outside of town and other places, so I may just get some expertise in this over time.
jebofabo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-17, 11:31 AM   #10
Bob Ross
your god hates me
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Bikes:
Posts: 3,423
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 145 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by StevePupel View Post
Mechanical debate aside, hard to imagine a road bike is even half as comfortable as a bent.
As you point out, a tri bike is a particularly specific variant of a DF bike, and while I've seen plenty of triathletes get out of their saddle your observation about the difficulty/awkwardness when doing so is well-taken.

But at least it is possible. On a 'bent, there's absolutely no "getting out of the saddle" ...unless it's to stop, get off the bike completely, and walk away and take a whiz in the woods. And I think if I were going to spend 24 hours on a bike, I'd want to spend it on the bike where I could get out of the saddle (even if awkwardly) without stopping.

So perhaps the comfort thing is a wash?

Last edited by Bob Ross; 11-08-17 at 11:38 AM.
Bob Ross is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-17, 11:37 AM   #11
Bob Ross
your god hates me
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Bikes:
Posts: 3,423
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 145 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dabac View Post
With the ability to brace against the backrest, it is possible to push the pedals harder than on a regular bike.
When recumbents first hit the market -- or at least when I first became aware of recumbents, sometime in the late 1970s -- I heard a lot about this alleged advantage. The ability to brace against the backrest, allowing the rider to push the pedals harder than on a regular bike, was touted as one of the more obvious advantages of these newfangled bikes

...and yet every recumbent cyclist I meet on internet forums these days admits that recumbents can't compete with DF bikes when it comes to hill climbing. If it were actually possible to push the pedals harder, why would this be the case?
Bob Ross is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-17, 12:02 PM   #12
dabac
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Bikes:
Posts: 7,260
Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 620 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
When recumbents first hit the market -- or at least when I first became aware of recumbents, sometime in the late 1970s -- I heard a lot about this alleged advantage. The ability to brace against the backrest, allowing the rider to push the pedals harder than on a regular bike, was touted as one of the more obvious advantages of these newfangled bikes

...and yet every recumbent cyclist I meet on internet forums these days admits that recumbents can't compete with DF bikes when it comes to hill climbing. If it were actually possible to push the pedals harder, why would this be the case?
Only b/c something is true doesnít automatically make it important.
Or useful.

Bicycling in general and hill climbing in particular is about aerobic capacity, sustained power output rather than about max momentaneous pedal pressure.
For most of a ride, pushing as hard as you possibly can isnít a winning concept, as that leads you straight into oxygen deficit, lactic threshold and all those speed-killing nasties.

You can push harder(for a little while) on a íbent, but it simply isnít particularly useful.
dabac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-17, 12:24 PM   #13
BlazingPedals
Senior Member
 
BlazingPedals's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Middle of da Mitten
Bikes: Trek 7500, RANS V-Rex, Optima Baron, Velokraft NoCom, M-5 Carbon Highracer, homebuilt recumbent
Posts: 9,983
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 512 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
...and yet every recumbent cyclist I meet on internet forums these days admits that recumbents can't compete with DF bikes when it comes to hill climbing. If it were actually possible to push the pedals harder, why would this be the case?
Pushing harder might be a short-term advantage but eventually you run into a wall of how much wattage you can sustain.
BlazingPedals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-17, 12:36 PM   #14
HTupolev
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Seattle
Bikes:
Posts: 1,550
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 625 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
...and yet every recumbent cyclist I meet on internet forums these days admits that recumbents can't compete with DF bikes when it comes to hill climbing.
The people I ride with who own recumbents don't share this view. It seems like the higher weight is more relevant than the posture; one guy who's actually compared his rides found that he tends to climb faster on his Bachetta CA2 on hills below 5% or so, but his lightweight DF bikes can edge it out on steep climbs.

I wouldn't be surprised if the "recumbents suck on hills" thing is mostly a misinterpretation of their advantage diminishing.
HTupolev is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-17, 12:54 PM   #15
dabac
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Bikes:
Posts: 7,260
Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 620 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
The people I ride with who own recumbents don't share this view. It seems like the higher weight is more relevant than the posture; one guy who's actually compared his rides found that he tends to climb faster on his Bachetta CA2 on hills below 5% or so, but his lightweight DF bikes can edge it out on steep climbs.
Seems reasonable.
The steeper it gets, the lesser the aero advantage becomes.
And push it far enough, and every bit of added weight - which for some models can be plenty - will begin to tell.
dabac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-17, 07:36 PM   #16
Steamer
Senior Member
 
Steamer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: high ground
Bikes:
Posts: 895
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 59 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
As you point out, a tri bike is a particularly specific variant of a DF bike, and while I've seen plenty of triathletes get out of their saddle your observation about the difficulty/awkwardness when doing so is well-taken.

But at least it is possible. On a 'bent, there's absolutely no "getting out of the saddle" ...unless it's to stop, get off the bike completely, and walk away and take a whiz in the woods. And I think if I were going to spend 24 hours on a bike, I'd want to spend it on the bike where I could get out of the saddle (even if awkwardly) without stopping.

So perhaps the comfort thing is a wash?
On long randonees I am getting off the bike every 3 to 4 hours at controles. I find this entirely sufficient. My recumbent bike seat is actually the most comfortable seat I own of any type, save perhaps my bed. My arms sometime get slightly stiff but this is alleviated one arm at a time, by simply swinging it around a bit, letting it hang down, or resting it bent on my chest. And I can shift around in the seat a bit too, putting the seat lumbar curve in different spots. Its not like you are strapped down to a gurney in a mental institution.

Last edited by Steamer; 11-08-17 at 07:40 PM.
Steamer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-17, 11:46 PM   #17
Jeff Wills
Insane Bicycle Mechanic
 
Jeff Wills's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: other Vancouver
Bikes:
Posts: 8,415
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 219 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dabac View Post
Only b/c something is true doesnít automatically make it important.
Or useful.

Bicycling in general and hill climbing in particular is about aerobic capacity, sustained power output rather than about max momentaneous pedal pressure.
For most of a ride, pushing as hard as you possibly can isnít a winning concept, as that leads you straight into oxygen deficit, lactic threshold and all those speed-killing nasties.

You can push harder(for a little while) on a íbent, but it simply isnít particularly useful.
Is "momentaneous" a word?

Anyway- I agree. Climbing speed is aerobic capacity vs. weight. Flat ground speed is aerobic capacity vs. aerodynamic drag. It's a spectrum, though, and designing for best performance for one factor will sacrifice performance for the other.

World's Lightest Bike, Revisited - Fairwheel Bikes Blog

__________________
Jeff Wills

Comcast nuked my web page. It will return soon..
Jeff Wills is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-17, 12:01 PM   #18
BlazingPedals
Senior Member
 
BlazingPedals's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Middle of da Mitten
Bikes: Trek 7500, RANS V-Rex, Optima Baron, Velokraft NoCom, M-5 Carbon Highracer, homebuilt recumbent
Posts: 9,983
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 512 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dabac View Post
Seems reasonable.
The steeper it gets, the lesser the aero advantage becomes.
And push it far enough, and every bit of added weight - which for some models can be plenty - will begin to tell.
Yes, that's it in a nutshell. There's some sort of crossover point where aerodynamic advantage is lost, power/aero drag doesn't matter as much, and power/weight becomes most important.

For a lot of recumbents, there's also the frame flex issues. Monotube frames and unsupported booms and stays are lighter but cause power losses through frame flex that uprights don't have. I consider that more of a design issue rather than an intractable problem with the genre.
BlazingPedals is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-17, 01:50 PM   #19
elocs
SeŮor Member
 
elocs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Hello Wisconsin!
Bikes: yes
Posts: 446
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by StevePupel View Post
As for my own experience ... OMG, I ride a tri bike. After 300 miles, mostly in the aero position, you learn pain in many new ways and levels. My neck was killing me, my shoulders were going to break out of the sockets, the discs in my lower back were ready to go on a labor strike. Mechanical debate aside, hard to imagine a road bike is even half as comfortable as a bent.
A question to ponder would be how much and when does the pain experienced begin to negatively impact performance and endurance compared to the relative riding comfort of a recumbent?

From my experience bents do have an aerodynamic advantage over DFs. When I first got my heavy LWB recumbent I was riding over a railroad overpass in a bike lane and when I got to the top there were 3 DFs about 40 feet ahead of me and we were all coasting down. Just past halfway down I passed them and I was sort of indicating that I was not pedaling and trying to pass them--it was just aerodynamics.
elocs is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:41 PM.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
 
  • Ask a Question
    get answers from real people!
Click to start entering your question.
I HAVE A QUESTION