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milkoholicBear 05-28-07 10:42 AM

Is a recumbent going to help me fight the headwind ?
I commute to work in very windy area, with 90% of the time getting headwind on my way back from work.
No hills, the occasional bike path overpass, wonderful setting, along the water, greenery, birds chirping all the way, squirrels and the occasional fox crossign the path.
The commuters paradise, if it wasn't for the wind.

The @#$%^&* blows all the time from the west, which means I have it in my face when I go home in the afternoon. It is so bad, that I must do something to fix it, riding home becomes a hassle. I effortlessly average 23 kmh on my way in, and it drops to 14-15 on my way back with twice the effort. All this on a comfort bike with panniers and 1.95 specialized hemisphere tires.
The position on a drop bars bike seems so uncomfortable, I am pretty sure this route is not for me.

I am big fellow, 6'2, 375# going down, I used to throw hammer and shot put in my youth. You see the build.

Coming to my question, is a bent going to help my aerodynamics and make my ride home less pathetic ?
Should I get a fairing to go with it ?
I am planning to drive next weekend to the bicycle man in Alfred, NY to test ride a few bents, maybe I'll come back with something on my rack.

Any other opinions or things I should look for before I shell the cash ?

bkaapcke 05-28-07 11:47 AM

I ride a LWB recumbent and dislike headwinds too. I don't think LWB's will be much help. Fairings could help in headwinds but I've been told they can get real dicey in cross winds. That is the reason I decided not to go with a fairing. bk

aikigreg 05-28-07 01:24 PM

Recumbents get two advantages. In a headwind, the air flows up and out, encountering less resistance. When I ride with DFs in a strong wind, that is always where I start my attack. Even neater is that in a tailwind, we present an "un-aero" front and thus we can catch more tailwind than a DF. Cool, huh?

Now, whether that fact will help YOU I can't say, unfrotunately, but it should help.

geebee 05-28-07 03:50 PM

A low recumbent should help a fair bit, but the ultimate answer is a trike with a full fairing aka velomobile.
Commercial ones cost a mint although there is a kit one in the US for a lower price.
My fairing cost all up $105 au and could easily be put on any trike, see avatar.
The fairing will make you faster in any wind except dead on the nose, a strong side wind and you can sail without pedalling.
A bare low trike is still a lot better than a MTB or hybrid in a headwind.

JanMM 05-28-07 04:04 PM

15 months riding a CLWB tells me that headwinds still exist but they are easier to get along with than on an upright/hybrid bike.

kalgrm 05-28-07 06:09 PM

I bought my Giro 26 for that very reason: consistent headwinds on my homeward commute.

My morning commute without wind on my MTB would take about 60 minutes, while my trip home would take between 70 and 90 minutes, the difference all due to the wind. Now it takes a little less than 60 minutes both directions, regardless of the wind.

And it's more fun too! :)


Opedaler 05-28-07 08:34 PM

I ride a lwb bent and rode along side a DF this weekend......we switched half way through the ride because the headwind (20+) wore the upright rider out. I found there to be a BIG difference. ONE of the reasons I went bent.

bentstrider 05-29-07 03:00 AM

I'm looking into getting me one of the entry-level Actionbents for this exact purpose.
I rarely ever find myself riding on anything rough.
And if it is, 1.25's could usually handle what I consider rough.
As for the riding I do, it is usually 10-15 mile trips across town.
Hills and the road are no biggie, but the winds in the IE and Upper Deserts can turn a good day into a terrible one.
I'm looking forward to my potential purchase as a morale booster.
The less of that forced air hitting my face, the better.

Recumbomatic 05-29-07 06:03 AM

The riding position on a comfort bike is pretty upright and presents a big profile to the wind. Sounds like you need a low recumbent, such as a trike. A lowracer would help also, but they can be pretty expensive. At the very least, with a bent you'll travel in true comfort and enjoy the scenery much more.

jeff-o 05-29-07 10:48 AM

Yes, a suitably reclined recumbent (not necessarily a trike, but it'll work well) will help fight headwinds. A front fairing will help even more! And don't worry about using a fairing with strong side winds. The winds will catch you and scoot you to the side a bit, but that's about it. Be ready to counter-steer on a two-wheel recumbent, on a trike you've got no worries at all.

GreenGrasshoppr 05-29-07 11:41 AM


Originally Posted by milkoholicBear
I am big fellow, 6'2, 375# going down, I used to throw hammer and shot put in my youth. You see the build.

You might have a limited selection of recumbents for your weight.

I'm 5'11 and 240#, and I'm at the upper limit of most recumbent frames.

cage.mcp 05-30-07 08:31 PM

I am about your weight, and have ridden a mountain bike with slicks in the past. I recently picked up a 4 or 5-year old Rans V2 with fairing. So far (less than 100 miles on the Rans), all holds up fine. The Rans componentry is excellent (everything I have is original and well used, but is very workable), and there is no flex in the bike.

My riding is similar to yours; relatively flat, well built bike trails, plenty of wind. You are obviously a stronger rider than I am.

I find the aerodynamics of a recumbent a big help, and it is most noticable in the wind.

IMHO, the fairing is a help in the wind. The LBS (Calhoun Cycle, very reputable) tells me that a fairing doesn't make a difference below 15 mph. What I find is that the fairing makes things a bit easier; I have less downshifting, etc. The sail effect with a trailing wind is nice. Have yet to experience any kind of problem with side wind, but all of my bike trails go Southeast or Northwest; in Minnesota that means the wind is in my front or my back.

I was concerned about the rear wheel; on a LWB like the V2, weight distribution is shifted onto the rear wheel. So far the wheels are holding up well, with no signs of stress. The bike came with 26x1.25 tires on the rear (20x1.25 on front). I've had problems with this thin a tire on a hybrid bike in the past, and assumed I'd have to get bigger tires (at least the 1.5 I ride on my mountain bike). But I'm not bottoming out or having any problems. Personally, I've come to a conclusion that the Rans build quality is a big help.

If I were buying new at this point, I would ride the Rans Formula 26HD (built for heavier loads), the Rans V2 (discontinued in 2006, but many shops still have them in stock), and the various models of Stratus. My guess is that Bicycle Man carries all of these.

I like the fairing. Besides the aerodynamics, you'll appreciate the wind break on cool Spring mornings (I'm in Minnesota).

I can't compare the Rans to other LWB's or to SWB's, but obviously I'm a happy camper.


banerjek 05-31-07 07:57 AM

Normally, I'd recommend a highracer, but those work better for small people. However, a trike could be the ticket for you.

Wind will still slow you down, but not as bad. Plus, there's something about riding a bent that just makes wind less depressing. I still ride my DF bikes a lot, but if it's going to be windy, I'll take a bent unless I'm going up the side of a mountain or plan to ride in heavy traffic.

cfblue 05-31-07 05:34 PM

I used to ride a Stratus with a Windwrap Fairing, I found that the biggest asset with having the fairing was mental. A headwind pounding you just beats you down, it is hard to keep at it. With the fairing, I didn't get the wind blasting on my chest and I happily rode harder and kept at it. It often helped just not even know one had come up.

That bike, with fairing, was the first bike I could cruise at a sustained 20+

While I have a fairing that fits my trike, it is low enough, and reclined enough that I do not use the fairing except for protection from the cold.

John C. Ratliff 06-01-07 12:17 AM

2 Attachment(s)
I too have a Rans Stratus with a WindWrap fairing, and it is great in winds. I now have about 6700 miles on the bike, have gone through a number of tires, and have yet to change the configuration. I did get the front rack and panniers for the front as well as the back rack and panniers for it. It is a truck, and can haul easily 50 pounds, plus me (at about 200 lbs). I have been in windstorms here, with gusts to 50 mph, and the wind seems to go around it without much effect. If I get hit, I simply lean a bit into the gust. Going into the wind, it is wind speed that makes the difference. Above someone said the LBS told them that the fairing did not make much difference until 15 mph, but what they did not say is that is wind speed, not ground speed. So if you are tooling around at 15 mph, and the wind is in your face at 35 mph, you have an effective wind speed of 50 mph, and there, a fairing will be very handy indeed. We have that here, when the Columbia Gorge winds from the east come up in the afternoon, or when a strong storm blows in off the Pacific. Also, it is great in the rain, as I only get wet from about the chest up. I don't need rain pants with the fairing (although I do get a bit wet at stop signs and lights).


milkoholicBear 06-01-07 07:40 AM

Thank you all for the excellent answers I received in this thread.
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, a 'bent is what I need.
I am trying a SWB this weekend, from a local store. LWBs are hard to come by in my neck of the woods.
If I decide to not get it, I will pay a visit to the bicycle man next weekend and test ride a few LWBs.
Once again thank you all in helping me in this quest.

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