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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.

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Old 08-17-17, 04:27 PM   #1
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First Time Recumbent Rider/Buyer

Hi all. I'm usually over in the Classic & Vintage subforum, and I'm thinking about my first recumbent. I'm near Portland, OR and there are two recumbent shops in town, so I can go test ride. I think I'd want to start with a reputable brand but a used bike. That way if I decide that recumbents aren't for me, then I won't have invested too much....I'm sure I'm not thee first person to go down this road.
I own 13 bikes - all lugged steel, and mostly mid-'80's like Centurion, Univega, Miyata, and I also have 4 Raleigh Twenty folders. I also have a 2015 650b Surly Straggler with disc brakes. I do all my own mechanic work and build my own wheels.
So far my local CL has Bacchetta Giro 26, but seller hasn't gotten back to me. There's a Rans Rocket (20" both wheels) that I'll go see in a day or two. There was a Burley Limbo, but not sure if it's still for sale. I read that the Limbo would be a good beginner bike, however reviews called it a "comfort" bike and a cruiser. I've ridden Electra Townies which were also cruiser bikes and I hated them. I like something along the lines of a sport tourer, that's fun, spirited, yet still pretty stable. I understand there's a learning curve with recumbents so I'm expecting it to take me awhile to become proficient.
I ride for pleasure and to get around in both suburban and urban settings and am comfortable around cars. I also live near multi use trails that I intend to practice on.
Anyway, I'm hoping to learn from you all and will appreciate any thoughts on the matter.
Thanks
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Old 08-17-17, 06:12 PM   #2
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If you can ride a bike, you can ride a recumbent bike - just takes some getting used to. First-generation Rocket, with two 20" wheels, probably easier to learn on than a high racer like the Giro 26. Not familiar with the Limbo, but Burley has been out of the bike business for more than a few years now. You would seem to be a good candidate for a Starter Bent - riding that and learning about bents and figuring out what you really want/need in your Next Bent.
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Old 08-17-17, 06:35 PM   #3
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@JanMM - Thanks for your encouragement. In theory I like the idea of 26" wheels to be higher up and see in traffic (when I become that proficient), but I understand that a lower stance 'bent will be easier to balance.
The seller is asking $450 for the Rocket, but I can see dry sidewalks in the tires, so I'll see if I Can get him down a little in price.
I'll post photos, etc., if I get one.
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Old 08-17-17, 06:45 PM   #4
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20/26 short wheelbase bikes like the current Rocket or the Giro 20 or RANS V-Rex are in between the style of the older Rocket and the Giro 26. Also generally easier to learn on than a 26/26 or other large/large wheel bike.
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Old 08-18-17, 06:46 AM   #5
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I think that you owe it to yourself to consider a tadpole trike. Probably going to cost quite a bit more. I think that the reason that used recumbent bikes have become so reasonably priced is because tadpole trikes have taken over the market.
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Old 08-18-17, 11:08 AM   #6
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A good place to read reviews is Bentrideronline. The Giro 26 review from 2005 is here: http://www.bentrideronline.com/?p=1782 I'm not a fan of OSS handlebars. My first real recumbent was a 1997 Linear LWB with OSS installed and USS in the box. I tried it with OSS for a week or two and then installed the USS. Way better for me so I tossed the OSS bars. A fellow recumbent rider was pondering buying a bike like the Giro 26 and he got the chance to try a Volae at the Midwest Recumbent Rally in Wisconsin. It changed his mind instantly because even though he had been riding recumbents for a while, it was a lot more difficult for him to handle.
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Old 08-18-17, 02:17 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for your input. I'm making an appointment with Rose City Recumbents in Portland to get more information and test ride. Their website is here if you're interested to see what brands they sell. Looks like they sell 11 different brands of either recumbents or trikes.
Recumbent Bikes and Trikes - Portland Oregon

Part of me wants a new one (I could go up to about $2200)....or I could buy one off CL for much less. I know how to assess a diamond frame bike for soundness & things like a bent fork, but I don't know what to look for regarding damage on a 'bent. I'm going to see a Rans Rocket this weekend on CL - looks like all original. Seller bought from original owner, rode it for about 3 mos., and now is selling.

bentrideronline has a wealth of information. My acquaintance told me of a recumbent bike group that meets monthly (I believe) in Portland also, so I can try to attend one of those. He and his wife both ride 'bents.
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Old 08-18-17, 05:15 PM   #8
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I spoke to the gentleman at the recumbent bike shop and explained what I want in a bike, etc. Talked about an hour. Based on what I've said he recommended Bacchetta Giro, Lightening-38, and Rans Rocket. I've done a side by side comparison of them on paper and based on many factors I'm leaning toward the Bacchetta Giro A20. However I will ride all three at my appointment next week.
They encourage appointments so they will have plenty of time to go over things with you, which is nice. I've read that the Lightening 38 is "iconic" and loved. He said a less expensive option would be the Phantom (not interested). So that's it so far.
Thanks for following along. Any and all input is truly appreciated.
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Old 08-18-17, 07:14 PM   #9
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Not the norm in most US locations to have an LBS with a selection of quality recumbent bikes to see and test ride. Lucky you!
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Old 08-18-17, 10:08 PM   #10
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Not the norm in most US locations to have an LBS with a selection of quality recumbent bikes to see and test ride. Lucky you!
There are actually two recumbent specific shops which sell only bents and trikes.....Yeah, I feel lucky about this point.
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Old 08-18-17, 11:14 PM   #11
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I had a RANS Rocket. Very nimble, yet also very stable (once you get the hang of it). I even rode it in the snow. Great bent for urban riding if the price is right.
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Old 08-18-17, 11:32 PM   #12
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Velovixen, limited experience here, but many years ago I rode Prof David Wilson's 'bent in a parking lot when I was a racer. Wow! And what a nice setup, one that felt "right" from the start. Large rear wheel, small front. HBs under the knees. Short wheelbase. The bike, not light with mediocre components, felt quick, fast and fun. Riding it was easy. Feet low enough that it felt natural. With race quality stuff, that would have been one hot bike! (It wasn't slow as was. I used to catch up to the prof on his way home from work, ride and chat with him. No hardship for this (then) hard as nails bike racer.)

Many years later I rode the similarly configured Vision from a Seattle outfit at a trade show on their trainer. Again, it felt natural. I would seriously do your best to find those bikes on the web and see how close you can come with what is out there now. I have ridden a couple of more modern, more extreme lay-back 'bents since then. No thanks. They may be fast, but they are not my idea of what I want to ride.

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Old 08-19-17, 10:13 AM   #13
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@79pmooney - there are two Vision R-40's nearby on CL. Both for $600! I realize the company is out of business, but apparently can still obtain parts.
While I'm at my appointment this week I'll test ride one to see. I'm still at my research phase so am open to different options.
One thing, though, is important. I have a Volvo sedan without a hitch. I know I can buy a hitch and have options for bike carriers, but that adds a lot of extra money that I don't have right now. My current rack mounts on the trunk with straps to help hold it on, so whatever I buy either has to go on that rack, or fit inside the car.
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Old 08-19-17, 02:54 PM   #14
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I just test ride a 1998 Vision R40 with USS. OMG it was scary. All original, owner had original paperwork, etc., but obviously no maintenance. It would need, at minimum, new tires, brake pads, cables and housings, and chain, along with major cleanup. Not to mention repacking wheel hubs, wheel trying, etc.
I do all my own work, but wow. I'm not sure when Vision lengthened their wheelbase for the R40 2" making it more stable, but this bike was a 1998, and I know it was around then. Anyone know?
Is uss harder fir beginners? I thought that I'd ride easily, but balance was rough.
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Old 08-20-17, 06:42 AM   #15
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Your easiest transition to a bent would be on a LWB bent. The BB is even or mainly below the seat level.
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Old 08-20-17, 07:36 AM   #16
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A Giro 20 is the perfect purchase, and once in your stable, the only bent you should ever need. Stable, comfortable, and fun to ride. Then comes the "wanting" of more bents....

Low racers, high racers, velomobiles, trikes......

It's a strange, but healthy addiction.
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Old 08-20-17, 10:59 AM   #17
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Is uss harder fir beginners? I thought that I'd ride easily, but balance was rough.
To answer your question: Yes, USS is usually more difficult, just because it's so different from car-like OSS steering that many people can relate to. Learning to ride a twitchy SWB recumbent is challenging enough, and USS adds on another layer.

My only experience with USS was on a Ryan LWB. The long wheelbase format tamed it enough to make it easy, although the jumbo bike size creates other issues.
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Old 08-20-17, 11:07 AM   #18
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A Giro 20 is the perfect purchase, and once in your stable, the only bent you should ever need. Stable, comfortable, and fun to ride. Then comes the "wanting" of more bents....

Low racers, high racers, velomobiles, trikes......

It's a strange, but healthy addiction.
Yes, I already have "N + 1 Syndrome", with "N" being the number of current bikes you have. I really like mixte frames for the architectural look to them, so I've got 5 of them that I've overhauled & built up how I like.

The person at the recumbent shop told me on the phone not to get my mind too set up on a particular bike, because it may not be the one that I'll find rides the best. I already know, though, that I can't afford a Lightening P38. Plus since I'm not sure how this journey of discovery will turn out, I think the Giro A26 is in a comfortable price range.
@Recumbomatic - yeah, that's what I've read. The issue with me getting a LWB is that I'm doing urban riding for recreation & commuting with stop & go, so as a beginner I don't think that would suit my riding preferences.
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Old 08-20-17, 11:36 AM   #19
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The issue with me getting a LWB is that I'm doing urban riding for recreation & commuting with stop & go, so as a beginner I don't think that would suit my riding preferences.
I hear you, Velocivixen. LWBs require a lot of parking/storage space, they're a pain to get up stairs or transport by car, and they often turn like the Queen Mary. For your first bent, get something used. OSS Visions are fairly common in the PNW. I also stand by my recommendation for the RANS Rocket. The V-Rex is reputedly a great bent too. Older Sun EZ-1s are way underrated, although not great mountain climbers. Bacchetta Giros will be hard to find used because most owners keep them forever.
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Old 08-22-17, 03:40 PM   #20
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My test ride at Rose City Recumbents in Portland is tomorrow and I'm so excited. I've been devouring research and have my questions ready. I'll be testing a Giro 20 & maybe a 26, a Phantom II, and a P38. A P38 would be a financial stretch though.

Anyone have experience with customer service at Lightening?
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Old 08-22-17, 05:50 PM   #21
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You can read a review of the P38 Anniversary Edition here http://www.bentrideronline.com/?p=8827

I can see why a Lightning recumbent would be a stretch. This is the price list for Bicycleman in Alfred NY. It is a good source for getting an idea of prices. With the exception fo the Phantom, they are really up there as far as prices go.
Lightning Phantom $1,860.00
P-38 Starting at $3600 P-38 Voyager Starting at $5400 R-84Starting at $5200 F-40 Starting at $6600
and the entire list http://www.bicycleman.com/wp-content...Price-List.pdf
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Old 08-23-17, 07:47 PM   #22
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I first test rode a large Lightening Phantom II (the small was ridiculously small). It was just ok. Nothing outstanding.....sort of meh. I then rode a Lightening P38 and wow! I returned to the shop shouting "WhooHoo"! It was fun. This bike, though, with mid level components is $4,100. Too much for me to spend on a first recumbent.
The Bacchetta Giro A20 was there in a shipping box, not ready for a test ride. I've got an appointment for this Saturday. I'm 5'6" with long legs for my height, and I can ride a small and a large. The one they are building up is a large. It was also ordered with a recurve seat vs the Euromesh.
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Old 08-24-17, 10:19 AM   #23
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I just test ride a 1998 Vision R40 with USS. OMG it was scary. All original, owner had original paperwork, etc., but obviously no maintenance. It would need, at minimum, new tires, brake pads, cables and housings, and chain, along with major cleanup. Not to mention repacking wheel hubs, wheel trying, etc.
I do all my own work, but wow. I'm not sure when Vision lengthened their wheelbase for the R40 2" making it more stable, but this bike was a 1998, and I know it was around then. Anyone know?
Is uss harder fir beginners? I thought that I'd ride easily, but balance was rough.

This is a hugely interesting thread. I live in NE Portland not all that far from the re-named Coventry shop. I only recently found out that a couple of former Coventry employees left and started Rose City Recumbents. I am curious as to how you made the decision to visit one shop over the other. I have had a couple of pleasant conversations with the proprietor of the first shop. Time just hasn't allowed for a visit. About half my bikes are new, and half are used. I thought I had a lot of bikes but your stable puts mine to shame. I have a Schwinn (free to good home) you may be interested in: Exage 400 biopace triple (needs new BB). I've ordered two recumbents from Performer and need space in the garage. Are you familiar with Performer?


Both of the recumbents I ordered are USS. I find your experience with it interesting. I am expecting a learning curve. I don't know, I would worry more about a used recumbent having been involved in a previous wreck(s) more than a DF bike. I also read an account of someone buying a Vision used who was unaware that the previous owner had made extensive modifications to the steering until he saw pictures of a stock one online. That's just FYI. I'm sure you will let us know how you get on with the testing and what you eventually settle on. Good luck.
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Old 08-26-17, 06:05 PM   #24
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I sat on the large Bacchetta Giro A20 and couldn't come close to reaching the pedals without a new, longer seat stay strut. I then test ride a standard size and it was love.....aaaahhhhhh.

So they've ordered me a standard. Also ordered a One Arm Bandit light mount, Bacchetta fenders, kickstand and B & M Crystal Star mirrors. It should be ready the week of Labor Day.
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Old 08-26-17, 06:46 PM   #25
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The Giro A20 should be great as a first 'bent!
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