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Planning for the future

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Planning for the future

Old 07-03-06, 05:01 PM
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TheRCF
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Planning for the future

At some point, I may move to a bent, but there are plenty of things I'm concerned about. Perhaps some people can offer comments:

1. BEING SEEN! I'm not so worried about being on a road with a little traffic and no cars parked on the side, but with parked cars, I really have doubts about being seen (a little pennant doesn't seem like much to attrack attention to me when you consider some people don't even seem to notice a whole bike!). And in heavier traffic, it seems more like one car may go around you and the car behind may zoom up quickly before realizing you are there.

2. Uphill speed. I understand I'd probably get faster on a bent except for hill climbing. My issue would be whether the amount of climbing I do on a normal ride may result in an overall slower trip. Basically, I start off every ride with about 3.5 miles of up and down hills before things level off on a 13 mile ride. These hills aren't terrible (longest is a half mile I think and only one really kills me for a short distance where it is real steep). Then, if I go on one of my longer rides, I can have some darn steep hills - 8-10% average grades with some parts so steep I have no choice but to zig-zag on my present bike (even with a 34/27 gearing). One hill I've never made up without having to stop at least once. These hills also tend to be 1-2.5 miles long.

3. Being able to put on a bus bike rack. All the buses here have them, but all the bents I've seen (rarely) here are much longer. Frankly, I really like being able to ride anyplace around here I wish and if I get worn out, run into bad weather, or have bike problems, I can just take it home by bus. I have heard there are some compact ones that may fit, but if so, are there disadvantages to them? Oh, and a long bent may be hard to fit in the elevator for my apartment!

4. Price. Aren't these bikes more costly than a regular bike? I've bought three bikes since I started riding again - a Trek Navigator 100 comfort bike ($300 maybe?), a Bianchi Volpe ($750) and a Felt F-35 ($1000 - got a great deal at an auction!). I never really expected to buy anything that good so I was sorta figuring that was it for major bike purchases until I started considering bents.

The things that attract me to a bent, in order:

1. No need for special bike clothes - don't mind the shirts, but hate the shorts.

2. Better speed IF the hill problem doesn't cancel that out.

Oh, and how heavy are these things? Where I go, I typically need to carry my bike down a short set of stairs and, if it can be put on a bus rack, I'd have to lift it up for that as well.
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Old 07-03-06, 08:48 PM
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aikigreg
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1. Not an issue being seen. I have a lowracer, which is as low as it gets for a bent, and I get seen easily. I know people who use theirs to commute with. I would say, though, that YOU have to be more careful and vigilant.

2. Everyone's hill climbing ability is different. Do you get passed a lot on the hills NOW? If so, don't expect that to change. I get passed on the hills by good riders, but they are passed on the flat or downhill and are never seen again, most of the time. So long as it's not a steep grade, I will pass or maintain my position depending on the skill of the other rider. It's 1/2 your ability, and 1/2 the type of bent you buy. I am as fast uphill on my bent as my roadbike, unless it's a very steep grade.

3. This is again dependant on the rack system and the bent you have. My wife's v-rex would fit: my lowracer would not. Her bent, which is a great all-around bike, has a slightly smaller wheelbase than my trek pilot.

4. Bents are definately more expensive, with certain exceptions. It's certainly a downside. They get significantly expensive if you want a racer like mine, or a really light bent (19-25 pounds). Expect many of them to be more like 30. It's not as much of a detriment as you might think. My lowracer is around 25, and over a 64 mile hilly course, I'll be at least 5mph per hour faster on average. Plus my arse, neck, and back feel perfectly fine and I could get right back on the bike and go again. Most bents are plenty light enough for you to lift, unless you're a complete ponce.

again, let me stress, it's all about your ability and the kind of bent you buy.
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Old 07-03-06, 09:02 PM
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Being seen is mostly a problem when you are beside a car. Bents are unusual and tend to attract attention otherwise. The vast majority of riders go slower on bents on the average or uphill. On the level or into the wind, depending on the bent, the bent is that same or faster. I spend about half my time on a Rotator Pursuit, which is middlin in the aero department (it is rare for a DF rider to stay with much less go faster than me down a hill where you coast at >25mph), and tend to struggle on hillier routes when I ride with a group of DF riders. SWB bents with narrow seats and bars (Volae/Bacchetta types) may well fit on a bus rack, you can check wheelbases at www.hostelshoppe.com and compare with a DF. If you are performance obsessed, the bent will knock you back a bit. On shorter rides the time difference will be 5min or so (say <30mi). On longer routes you will feel better at the end of the ride
and that makes it worthwhile for me. The Pursuit is my preferred century bike.
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Old 07-03-06, 09:50 PM
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> 2. Everyone's hill climbing ability is different. Do you get passed a lot on the hills NOW? <

Well, it isn't a matter of whether others pass me - I mostly ride alone pre-dawn and when I do ride with a couple others who sometimes do the same, they just blow me away. To give you an idea, I've been working on setting a record for a one-mile stretch which involves climbing up Diamond Head in Hawaii. About a third of a mile is essentially flat or a little downhil. The rest is uphill. My best time is 4:09. I got these two friends to try it (it was their first try so they wouldn't know the best way to pace themselves). Well, one guy did it in 4:00 but the other guy did it in 2:21!

What I really wonder is how much I would slow down. For example, if I climb a hill now with normal effor and typically find myself going 6-8 mph, is a bent just going to make it more like 5-7 or maybe more like 3-5! I just know they are supposed to be slower, but I don't know by how much.

> I am as fast uphill on my bent as my roadbike, unless it's a very steep grade. <

Interesting. A hill I've never made up with stopping to rest is only 1.5 miles long and according to my mapping software is a 10% grade overall - though sections are much worse than that. Most of them that I consider really challenging are probably 8-10%. The ones between 5-7% are difficult, but not killers. Of course, a lot depends on distance too.

Don't know what range of sizes the bus racks will handle, but my bike's wheelbase is only about 39 inches, but it is a small bike (50 cm?).

> Expect many of them to be more like 30. <

Well, my first comfort bike was, with the stuff I had on it (mainly weight from the rear rack) was, I think, 36 or 38 lbs so that is okay. But I know it was much easier to get my new bike on the rack than that first one! And when you have to try to get one on or off when another is already taking up the outside position, it is harder to deal with when the bike is heavier.

> I'll be at least 5mph per hour faster on average. <

Wow, that's huge! A big deal for me when it comes to wanting to ride is how fast I can go. When I'm fighting the wind - almost always on the outbound leg and often 10-15 mph - I won't even average 15 mph (13 miles). What I want to be able to do is make 15 mph even when not making a big effort - just cruising - even with fairly strong headwinds. And if the wind is low, I'd love to average 20 mph! My very best all-out effort was 19.19 mph and I haven't come close to that for ages.

> again, let me stress, it's all about your ability and the kind of bent you buy. <

Yeah, that's the tricky part. If I get a bent, I don't want to spend a bunch of money only to find out that a little more (or even less for that matter) would get me a much better (faster) one.
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Old 07-03-06, 10:03 PM
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> you can check wheelbases at www.hostelshoppe.com and compare with a DF. <

Thanks!

> If you are performance obsessed <

Well, it isn't like I'm fast - I'm not. I've been stuck at a certain level for a couple years now and since I'm not likely to go into some careful training routine, I figure it isn't going to change. I'm probably better than many other non-competitive riders simply because I ride a lot (7500 miles each of the past two years), but put me with a group of people who compete or just take their riding serious and they'll blow right past me. Iven on a short sprint, I'll probably only make 20-24 mph depending on how tired I am or what the headwind is like. Since I start my rides with 3 miles up and down hills, by the time I have a flat area, I'm not feeling like I'm at full strength - hills are not my friend!

Anyway, I'd just like to be able to cruise my usual 13 outbound miles at no worse than 15 mph average even when it is fairly windy and then maybe get it to 20 mph if the winds are low. I track my best times for the first 11.09 miles (simply because that was where I first rode to when I started riding). The difference between 15 and 20 mph would cut my time by over 11 minutes! It would only be about 1:23 faster than my prior record, but that was a really brutal effort for me.
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Old 07-04-06, 01:21 PM
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Going back to your original queries: to summarize you are unlikely to be faster on a bent in your locale because the hills are a significant factor and it is a rare bent rider that will power up hills faster on a bent than their usual DF bike. Weight is the biggest reason for this, as most bents are going to be 5-10# heavier than the usual road bike. If you use an ATB type bike or a really heavy road bike, which you don't seem to, then weights would be closer. Cost is a significant problem, hard to get a decent bent under $1000, there are sub $1000 bents but they are built like $300 road bikes. Bents have an at least 50% premium in cost.
Clothes are a plus as is comfort on a bent. But unless the DF is excrutiating for some reason then 15-30mi rides are the sweet spot for DF comfort. The saddle, shoes and position on the bike for most people are not a problem with sub 30mi rides. IIRC you commute, to school/work/beach so your rides are broken up by other activities making comfort problems minor, assuming no orthopedic problems of some chronicity. The bus problem may be significant, to be determined. Bents come in so many different configurations that choice may be difficult especially when options are limited. I was lucky my first bent suited me well and is now at 13kmi over the past 6yrs. In your circumstance, the case for getting a bent seem small compared to reasons against a bent.
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Old 07-04-06, 01:24 PM
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I had the advantage of going with one of the best bents money can buy right from the outset. I would probably not be as pumped about it if I had gone a cheaper route. You need to get out and try a bunch of them. Sounds like your hillclimbing ability is low (based on what you're saying). A bent will be slower. You will be walking up some of them until you get your bent legs and train for the hills.

I hadn't seen that you live in Hawaii. Bents will have a strong advantage in the wind, enough to make a big difference.

Bottom line is you need to get our and try some bents, but IMO you'll probably want to save your pennies until you can get one of the upper echelon of bents. You're going to need some climbing ability. Probably the best thing to look at in a more budget bent would be a rans rocket or v-rex. Above that, consider a lightning p-38 or a Bachetta Aero. Those four are probably your best mix of speed and climbing ability, though there are others.

Originally Posted by TheRCF
> 2. Everyone's hill climbing ability is different. Do you get passed a lot on the hills NOW? <

Well, it isn't a matter of whether others pass me - I mostly ride alone pre-dawn and when I do ride with a couple others who sometimes do the same, they just blow me away. To give you an idea, I've been working on setting a record for a one-mile stretch which involves climbing up Diamond Head in Hawaii. About a third of a mile is essentially flat or a little downhil. The rest is uphill. My best time is 4:09. I got these two friends to try it (it was their first try so they wouldn't know the best way to pace themselves). Well, one guy did it in 4:00 but the other guy did it in 2:21!

What I really wonder is how much I would slow down. For example, if I climb a hill now with normal effor and typically find myself going 6-8 mph, is a bent just going to make it more like 5-7 or maybe more like 3-5! I just know they are supposed to be slower, but I don't know by how much.

> I am as fast uphill on my bent as my roadbike, unless it's a very steep grade. <

Interesting. A hill I've never made up with stopping to rest is only 1.5 miles long and according to my mapping software is a 10% grade overall - though sections are much worse than that. Most of them that I consider really challenging are probably 8-10%. The ones between 5-7% are difficult, but not killers. Of course, a lot depends on distance too.

Don't know what range of sizes the bus racks will handle, but my bike's wheelbase is only about 39 inches, but it is a small bike (50 cm?).

> Expect many of them to be more like 30. <

Well, my first comfort bike was, with the stuff I had on it (mainly weight from the rear rack) was, I think, 36 or 38 lbs so that is okay. But I know it was much easier to get my new bike on the rack than that first one! And when you have to try to get one on or off when another is already taking up the outside position, it is harder to deal with when the bike is heavier.

> I'll be at least 5mph per hour faster on average. <

Wow, that's huge! A big deal for me when it comes to wanting to ride is how fast I can go. When I'm fighting the wind - almost always on the outbound leg and often 10-15 mph - I won't even average 15 mph (13 miles). What I want to be able to do is make 15 mph even when not making a big effort - just cruising - even with fairly strong headwinds. And if the wind is low, I'd love to average 20 mph! My very best all-out effort was 19.19 mph and I haven't come close to that for ages.

> again, let me stress, it's all about your ability and the kind of bent you buy. <

Yeah, that's the tricky part. If I get a bent, I don't want to spend a bunch of money only to find out that a little more (or even less for that matter) would get me a much better (faster) one.
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Old 07-04-06, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by sch
Going back to your original queries: to summarize you are unlikely to be faster on a bent in your locale because the hills are a significant factor and it is a rare bent rider that will power up hills faster on a bent than their usual DF bike.
I guess ultimately it is something I'll just have to try if I can find a place that has one I can ride. As for the hills here, I guess I would not use a bent to take the little side roads up the serious hills I sometimes do where I go up to the end of the road and right back down. But I can divide my other rides up as follows (all outbound distances up to at least 27 miles will be into the wind):

1. Normal short ride (13 miles outbound). 3.5 miles up and down hills under a half mile. The rest is pretty flat.

2. Normal long ride (24 miles outbound). Same as above, but continue over Diamond Head (about 2/3 to 3/4 miles of climbing) then mostly flat (minor rolling hills - the winds are a bigger factor) for the rest of the outbound route.

3. Really long ride (50 miles outbound if doing a century or circling the island for about 104 miles). Not really sure about the rest of the hills past the 24 mile point. I know I have a big one of about a mile right after that and there are some others as well, but I'd say mostly more gradual though longer. If I go around the island, the last 20 miles or so have some really rough climbs - at least considering the conditioning by the time I reach that point!

As for my goal of being able to ride without the bike short stuff, those would not be for more than the normal short ride.

I tried something new today for that ride. I had some padded underwear I bought from Performance some time ago (made by Andiamo - says it is 100% polyester hydrotech). I also have a Performance brand padded undershort but since the tag doesn't say what it is made of, I opted to go with the Andiamo to be sure I was avoiding cotton. I don't know when I last tried them - might be before I got the present saddle.

Anyway, I did okay. Certainly it seemed like less of a hassle than wearing bike shorts for hours (the ride plus time spent at the beach). OTOH, it wasn't great. At around 3 miles, I could feel what I think was the beginning of the usual irritation I get without bike shorts which eventually becomes a burning feeling. But it never got bad for those 13 miles. When it was time to ride home, I figured it would probably become an issue, but while it was a little worse, it was still okay. However, I while I may do it sometimes to see if it gets worse or not, I'd really like it to be a bit LESS of a problem so I can enjoy the ride more.

I don't mind the fact that these are padded because they still, at least for awhile, feel more like something I don't mind having on while I never like the feel of bike shorts.

Oh, and in case it matters, before a ride I take a Sports Stick and put it at the top of the leg where things sometimes chaff, especially if things ride up a bit! Then I use baby powder on my butt and private parts.
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Old 07-04-06, 03:00 PM
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> Sounds like your hillclimbing ability is low (based on what you're saying). <

Well, I'm certainly not good at them. Don't know how I actually rate. The guy I often ride with excels on hills so comparing to him probably isn't fair, but I don't get to ride with people normally. He loves hills, which is a great advantage since if you like them, you don't mind doing a lot of them! In some ways he reminds me of Lance - he seems to like the pain too.

Thanks for the suggestions on different bents.

Like I said, all this is for the future - for one thing, I just closed on buying my condo! Would you believe over $190,000 for less than 700 sq ft??? Amazing. Anyway, next time I go by my LBS, I ask if they have any bents or if they know who does. I've seen a couple on the road, but that's it and never saw any one more than once.

Oh, just remembered a couple things. First, do all bents have you lifting your legs to pedal? Looks kinda odd and I wondered if that bothered some people.

Also, and this may apply more to Velomobiles, if you are able to go so fast, just how well do the brakes stop you!!!???
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Old 07-05-06, 11:28 AM
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Don't talk yourself out of a bent. Even if some of the negatives you fear turn out to be true, it might well be worth getting the bent anyway. So instead of thinking negatively, thinking about what makes a bent great, like--

1. Pedaling position. This is the optimum position to pedal a bike, once you get used to it. Perfect.

2. Comfort. What can I say? I never could look up at the stars, the moon, the treetops or clouds on my regular bike like I can with my bent. If sitting like on a bent wasn't the most comfortable, they'd take car seats out of cars and replace them with bike seats, and make you sit leaning forward with your hands resting on the steering wheel and your neck bent up.

3. Low wind resistance. It's nice not to have to fight the air so hard. Recently, a guy on a regular bike drafted me downhill and took advantage of my tailwind, even though I was tired and not really pushing hard. As he passed me at the bottom of the hill, he turned and said to me, "I like it!" I couldn't blame him, he got a free ride!

4. Conversation piece. If you like people, you'll meet a lot more of them on your bent. Tom, Dick and Jane will all stop to talk to you, whether they are walking, driving or riding a bike, at red lights, green lights, yellow lights, sun light and midnight.

5. Downhilling. If you aren't afraid of fast downhill riding (I'm not recommending it, it has its risks,) then this is the bike for you. On the other hand, you don't have to ride fast. If you just like to catch your breath for the next hill, you can coast sometimes as fast or faster than others ride downhill. And if you want to snuff that guy that passed you earlier, here's your chance to show off (just be careful, we don't want to lose you...)

6. Obsession. If you're obsessed with riding now, wait until you fall in love with your bent. Just remember, it's a different animal, and you will be slower (and more tired) until you get your new bent legs. That, and the balance thing. Especially uphill, you'll sometimes appear drunk, until your brain unconsciously adapts to the new balance. You can't rush it, it just happens with the miles. When I first got my bent, my 14 mile commute to work took an extra 10 to 15 minutes! But after my bent legs arrived, I was back to my normal time of 60 minutes, and the balance thing is really much, much better, now.

7. Pleasure. If you ride for pleasure, you will definitely get it (after the learning curve.) After all, that's why we ride, isn't it?

8. Miscellaneous. It's neat to put my feet down when I stop. If I crash, I don't think I have as far to fall, and it probably won't be on my head. Making turns, I don't worry about scraping a pedal, I can keep spinning through the whole turn, especially coming out of it. My side vision is also better. I can carry a load behind my seat without adding wind resistance (and I can really add weight if I want, once I added three six-packs of 16 oz. cans, or 288 oz. of liquid, and it felt fine, no problems.) I have plenty of hills, but probably not like Hawaii, still, I have no problems now. There's probably more, but I can't think of them, now.
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Old 07-05-06, 01:30 PM
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> 6. Obsession. If you're obsessed with riding now, wait until you fall in love with your bent. <

Well, while I ride a lot (no car), I've never been obsessed. I mostly found I don't mind riding if I'm "going somewhere", but I mostly didn't ride just to ride. I do some of that now in the sense that I ride further than my real target point (a beachfront restaurant in Waikiki where I eat breakfast). If I just did that, it would be 13 miles one way, but when I got a bit faster, I found I didn't mind riding further so I may do 37 miles before stopping.

So, I know speed makes me enjoy riding more. Of course, if I was really comfortable, even if slower, maybe I would feel the same. Can't tell until I get a chance to try it.

> and the balance thing. <

Yeah, that worries me some, especially since I've never even tried it. When I started riding 4 years ago, after a 36 year layoff, I found myself wobbling a lot for a little while too!

> I can carry a load behind my seat without adding wind resistance (and I can really add weight if I want, once I added three six-packs of 16 oz. cans, or 288 oz. of liquid, and it felt fine, no problems.) <

That is another attraction.

I'm sorta from Georgia myself - not originally, but I retired from teaching and almost all those years were in Georgia. Closest town I lived in to Stone Mountain was when in Cartersville.
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Old 07-05-06, 10:51 PM
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The balance thing isn't an issue with some bikes. My wife had never been on a recumbent, and had never gone more than 35 miles. Her average speed was 10-11mph. Her very first ride on her new v-rex She went 55 miles and 14mph. She had some wobbles, but she was more comfortable and confident on the bent.

Bents are just smile-inducing. You've gotta try one!
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Old 07-06-06, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by aikigreg
The balance thing isn't an issue with some bikes. My wife had never been on a recumbent, and had never gone more than 35 miles. Her average speed was 10-11mph. Her very first ride on her new v-rex She went 55 miles and 14mph. She had some wobbles, but she was more comfortable and confident on the bent.

Bents are just smile-inducing. You've gotta try one!
I'll start asking about them next time I'm at my LBS. Maybe they know where I can try one.
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Old 07-06-06, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by TheRCF
I'm sorta from Georgia myself - not originally, but I retired from teaching and almost all those years were in Georgia. Closest town I lived in to Stone Mountain was when in Cartersville.
Retirement in Hawaii?



Hey, I'll trade places with you anytime!
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Old 07-06-06, 11:16 AM
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LittleBigMan couldn't be more right. I love riding now on my Bacchetta Corsa than I ever did on any upright.

I'll add to his #8. Because your head is up sweat doesn't run down your face anywhere near as much on hot, humid days. After riding 100 miles instead of needing to sit and relax awhile your ready to go some more, because sitting and relaxing is what you've been doing.

One more thing to add. I climb on my Corsa just as well or better than I did on my upright. Bacchetta, Rans, Volae and others have models that are fairly light and climb really well. They do lighten your wallet a bit but it's hard to put a price on such pure fun!

SB
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Old 07-06-06, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
Retirement in Hawaii?



Hey, I'll trade places with you anytime!
Yeah, it's a rough life. I ride usually 13 miles to Waikiki well before dawn, then work a couple hours at a restaurant doing some light cleaning while I wait for breakfast to begin. Then I eat, relax on the beach, ride home. When school is in session, I then work for a couple hours teaching and that's it for the day.

The restaurant job is new. They were short-handed for people to do the light clean-up stuff and I told them I was just sitting there for a couple hours waiting for them to open so they hired me. Gives me some extra money and a discount on meals and eliminates boredom waiting for breakfast.
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Old 07-06-06, 01:03 PM
  #17  
Doug5150
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The part about "fitting on a bus bike rack" disqualifies most bents, probably all but small-front-wheel SWB's.
I have found that I don't like the edgy handling that most SWB's have, so if you don't like it either you won't get much argument out of me.

What you might consider are the crank-forward bikes from RANS. They aren't true recumbents, they are still uprights but they do eliminate saddle pain.
~~~~~
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Old 07-06-06, 01:35 PM
  #18  
TheRCF
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Originally Posted by Doug5150
The part about "fitting on a bus bike rack" disqualifies most bents, probably all but small-front-wheel SWB's.
I have found that I don't like the edgy handling that most SWB's have, so if you don't like it either you won't get much argument out of me.

What you might consider are the crank-forward bikes from RANS. They aren't true recumbents, they are still uprights but they do eliminate saddle pain.
~~~~~
Never heard of crank-forward. I'll look up info about them. If they aren't recumbents, do they have no advantage with wind - but maybe also don't have the advantage a regular bike has on hills?
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Old 07-06-06, 02:29 PM
  #19  
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A crank-forward bike is somewhere between a bent and an upright. There are a couple of brands. As a low-end example, there's the Electra Townie.
http://www.electrabike.com/04/bikes/...06_twn_01.html
I wouldn't think that a single-speed would be good for hills!

At the high end would be the RANS lineup, for instance the Dynamik. AFAIK, RANS is the only CF maker who has made performance a priority. Even so, I'm not sure how much performance to expect from one.
http://www.ransbikes.com/dynamik.htm
I was thinking of getting one of these for my wife, but amazingly the local RANS-authorized dealers won't carry them because he already carries the cheaper Electras. I sure don't want to buy one sight-unseen, because I'm not even sure it would fit her; so I guess I'll wait until someone else on the block has one to test ride.
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