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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 12-09-09, 04:57 AM   #1
buelito
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I hate this bike

I hate this bike… well, maybe not the bike, but I really disliked it last week. I bought my Django about 4 weeks ago. I rode it the first 2 days, then between the weather and travel I was away for a while, so have not ridden it nearly as much as I would like. I have commuted to work on it twice (50 miles round trip). Yesterday was one of those days.
On my DF bike (a fixed-gear KHS) I would be on the trail between 1 hour 20 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes. Yesterday I was 2 hours getting home. Yes, it was windy, yes, it was a little cold… But TWO HOURS!?!?
Getting out of the subterranean parking garage in the building I work was the first challenge. Of course, the bike was not in the lower range of gears, so I struggled up. When I hit the street, it was full of traffic, and maneuverability of a bent just isn’t what it is on a DF. I wobbled through the cars and had to wait behind several, where on the DF I would have gone around. It took a while to get to the MUP, which was much better than the roads full of cars. Oh, the other thing that is frustrating is learning to ride this bike in the dark. My main commuter was a fixed gear bike. I NEVER worried about being in the wrong gear. On the bent, I am constantly shifting. I also notice that the rear derailleur is probably a little out of whack, because I have 4 of the 8 rear cogs I can ride in without the chain skipping (skipping as you are struggling up a hill is horrible…) I also realize I can’t really ‘power’ up a hill like I did on the KHS. I have a good light on the bike, which is actually a GREAT light, but it blinds those coming at me. I try to be courteous to those coming my way, and since the bent has a mast, I move it away from my body, which puts the light down and away from the oncoming traffic. That is fine on the flats, but I find it really hard to do if I am going either up or down.
It also seemed like I got stopped at every red light on my way home. I know that has never happened on the DF bikes-- Part of my frustration was getting the bike started up again, especially on a slight uphill. I know I need to remember to shift down, but it doesn’t come easy… I know that is where I lost a lot of time. People would pass me as I was struggling to get going, and then I would catch them later, only to have the same thing happen again at the next light.
I am on the bent because of a neck issue, and I am trying my best to make the best of the situation, but I am having second thoughts about commuting on it. I don’t have 3 ˝ hours a day I can devote to commuting—even if I am getting a good workout out of it.
OK, enough ranting… I do like the fact that my neck doesn’t hurt, and although my bum is sore, as sitting on a wide seat is very different from the DF bikes where it got so I didn’t notice any discomfort. The other good thing is my hands are not sore and don’t get tired, as I am not putting any weight on them.
Hopefully things will improve. I only have about 300 miles on the bike—and I figure I need at least 1000 on it to feel comfortable. I will take the bike into the shop to see if they can fix the shifting issues—I have never worked on a bike with such a long chain, which I assume is contributing somewhat to the spotty shifting. Maybe I can learn a few things. I will go to one of the LBS around here, which happens to specialize in bents and folders—so at least they will know what they are doing-
I don't really hate this bike ... train safe-
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Old 12-09-09, 07:25 AM   #2
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I feel your pain, man. Some of it will go away, but a bent isn't an upright. You're probably not going to regain those rocket starts.

The wobbles will go away, start-ups will get better, and the speed will come up. I never did pass cars at lights; it's unsafe at best and illegal in most places, too. The shifting problem should be looked at; a long chain is no excuse for poor shifting.

Your 1000-mile estimate might not be off too far; it took me a good part of a season to bring my recumbent speeds up to the level I'd been on my upright. But without a fairing or some other aerodynamic aids, I think the hull speed on a Django is going to be no better than your road bike -- 17-18 average mph might be about what you can expect. OTOH, that might not be bad compared to what you 'd get from raising the bars on your road bike to a comfortable level.

I never liked the Burley seats. I think they're too upright to be that hard. Maybe it'd be better if you put an inch or two of upholstery foam on it and covered it with a lycra cover. In other words, made it more like a RANS combination seat. Plus, if you're having problems with recumbent butt, recline the seat more. The idea is to distribute some of your weight to your back. That'll help with the butt as well as with cruising speed.
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Old 12-09-09, 10:01 AM   #3
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Remember the first few hundred miles on your road bike? remember the first time you use clipless pedals? riding on a recumbent is is just the same, you start from zero experience, speed and smootheness comes with practice, lots of it... same with maneuvering through traffic.

How is your cardio capability? if you're not used to spinning the lower gears, start practicing that, too. Climbing on a recumbent could be fast, but you have to develop a whole new set of muscle memory to become fast climber on a recumbent.
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Old 12-09-09, 02:22 PM   #4
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a bent isn't an upright.
True dat. I ride way more conservatively on the bent. Consequently, I don't get to maximize the speed potential of the bent on my commute, and it isn't much faster than on my upright. But it is more comfortable, and is the OP has neck problems that should be the main thing.

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You're probably not going to regain those rocket starts.
I find that I outpace most uprights from the lights. But it could be I'm just a stronger rider than most

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The wobbles will go away, start-ups will get better, and the speed will come up.
+1. Riding a bent becomes second nature after a while, just like an upright. After riding bents since 2003, owning 3 bents, and riding many 1000s of miles, I feel equally comfortable on upright or bent. So hang in there - you'll get there. If the bent works for your neck pain, then it's worth sticking with it. On the other hand, if you can live with the discomfort on your upright then that's fine too.
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Old 12-09-09, 04:10 PM   #5
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I forget where you go downtown, but I work near the White House and have commuted to work twice. Starting and stopping is still somewhat of an issue ... especially while heading uphill, but I always shifted a lot with the touring bike so some of that is second nature. Getting around all of the security barriers is a pain in the @ss. Enough such that I will be looking for a different parking location since I tend to arrive a bit late to work. If you go across the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge on the way home, then I find crossing Lynn St at the beginning of the Custis Trail with its limited visibility to be an issue.

Anyway, I lump it all under growing pains and figure that it will get better. I'm swapping some chainrings on the crank to lower the gearing about 10%. I think life will get easier afterwards.
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Old 12-09-09, 04:47 PM   #6
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All good advice/observations so far. Only one thing to add: sounds like your previous ride was (is?) a pretty performance-oriented bike. That's not something that can honestly be said for Burley 'bents in general, AFAIK. Not that the Django's a lemon, but your expectations may need to be tempered a bit.

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Old 12-09-09, 08:22 PM   #7
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I forget where you go downtown, but I work near the White House and have commuted to work twice. .
I'm 2 blocks east of the WH... I cross the Memorial Bridge as I find although it is a bit longer, the ride is better. I will be back riding next week-- hopefully the weather will be good.

Thanks for all the comments. The seat is actually not that uncomfortable--I guess I've gotten somewhat used to it. I looked at this bike sort of like the 'hybrid' of bents. The price was right to try bents, and I figured i could probably get close to what I paid for it if it didn't work out. On the other hand, if I find that my neck issue means no more uprights, I will look at a high racer-- they've got some nice ones at [email protected]

I got a real deal on the bike-- the previous owner bought it 3 years ago and probably put 50 miles on it... it was brand new...just a little dusty from being in the garage all that time. The chain still had the waxy feel to it that new chains do. I have taken it into the shop and they have fixed the slipping issue. I am confident it will work out OK. It is definitely a learning experience--and although I once said I would never ride a recumbent--the thought of either riding one or not riding at all made me change my mind really quickly. Also, it is kind of fun.

I appreciate all the comments, and look forward to seeing you out there--

train safe-
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Old 12-09-09, 08:39 PM   #8
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Keep riding and it will eventually feel more 'like riding a bike'.
By the time you have mastered the Django, you'll probably have a pretty good idea of what zippier 'bent you want next.
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Old 12-10-09, 01:05 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the comments. The seat is actually not that uncomfortable--I guess I've gotten somewhat used to it. I looked at this bike sort of like the 'hybrid' of bents. The price was right to try bents, and I figured i could probably get close to what I paid for it if it didn't work out. On the other hand, if I find that my neck issue means no more uprights, I will look at a high racer-- they've got some nice ones at [email protected]
Yep, that's how I started- just one 'bent. Then another, and another. Now I'm building a lowracer in my garage and customizing my fairings and wearing Hawaiian shirts while riding and... and...





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Old 12-10-09, 11:08 AM   #10
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... -and although I once said I would never ride a recumbent--the thought of either riding one or not riding at all made me change my mind really quickly.
This could be a contributing factor as well. If you previously looked upon 'bents with a certain amount of disdain, it makes it tough to immediately drop all your carefully cultivated prejudices. It is especially difficult when you suddenly find yourself forced to "compromise" by circumstances beyond your control. Give it some time and give it a fair evaluation based upon it's own merits, then go check out those high racers.
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Old 12-10-09, 03:42 PM   #11
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I will look at a high racer-- they've got some nice ones at [email protected]
Just remember when you do you may have a whole nother learning period getting used to it. I started with a Bike E with my commuting but it was in the suburbs then I'd trek into NYC by train and then walk over to work. At the time and even now I'd never consider riding a bent to weave in NYC traffic but I may just be a coward. A few years off the bike after moving to the Republic of Texas ( ) I got a High Racer and it was truely a whole new thing. Starting up and stopping on hills in lots of traffic was especially an event for me. Not just the getting the thing moving but I couldn't totally plant both feet down and being uphill made it slightly harder. I survived 5500 miles of it though and only stopped because I got a challenge hurricane which I absolutely love even after a mere 6100 miles. It's definately a little heavy and the tiny wheels look funny but it is a very nimble creature but in traffic my riding falls somewhere between my road bike and the highracer in aggressiveness.

Definately get those gears checked. Stretched/binded cable or whatever is very painful on a bent or any bike really ilf you are used to not having any gears or shifters.

When I was on a road bike down here my commute was close to 2 1/2 hours. At first my recumbent commute was 3+ but got down to 2 1/2 after a couple k miles although due to non bike related issues it is back to 3+ beacause I can no longer push myself when I ride.
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Old 12-13-09, 10:11 AM   #12
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Yes, you need to ride at least 1,000 miles before you will be efficient. Three things helped me increase my speed on public roads:

(1) Learn to make right hand turns (e.g. at a stoplight without stopping). You should be able to do this while staying to the right of the white painted line.

(2) Shift into first gear before the wheels stop. Always.

(3) Shift only into the next gear. By this I mean, if you're in third gear (the third lowest), shift only into second gear or fourth gear, depending on your circumstances.

(4) Shift both deraillers simultaneously.
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Old 12-13-09, 10:43 AM   #13
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If there's an adjuster on the rear derailer, turn it counter clockwise one full turn and go out for a ride. Try out the shifting. If it gets better but doesn't go away, try another half-turn until it shifts correctly. If the previous owner only put 50 miles on it, your cable might be stretching. This is why most shops recommend bringing a bike back for that free 30 day tune-up, or 300-500 miles.
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Old 12-18-09, 11:39 PM   #14
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I would consider putting a Bionx electric hub on it. For a 50 mile round trip you would have to charge it at work. It would solve all of your frustrations mentioned. Starts and gaining momentum is especially nice with an electric bike. Just a thought.
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Old 12-21-09, 10:42 AM   #15
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It sounds to me as if you are already on the way to making your new ride work for you. Fitness questions aside, I think good DF riders can encounter especially difficult transitions.

Perhaps you have already found that the best way to get a good start is to choose a decent gear for the situation (that's only rarely your lowest), totally relax, and fully commit. Struggling just leads to more struggling. I had to make relaxation before starting a requirement until it became automatic.
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Old 12-29-09, 10:28 AM   #16
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Shifting both derailleurs at once not only wouldn't help any with speed, but sounds like a recipe for jamming or dropping your chain. Step one in learning to enjoy the recumbent is to relax and get used to it. After that you can work on speed. Everyone seems to have their own speed tips, but I'd say, once you've achieved the comfort level, figure out what your strong points are and seek to maximize them.
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Old 12-29-09, 05:23 PM   #17
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Step one in learning to enjoy the recumbent is to relax and get used to it. After that you can work on speed.
thanks! I agree-- unfortunately, the trails are still icy from the recent snow, and am not sure if I will get on the bike before the new year. I am getting more comfortable on the bike, and as I said before, I figure I need 1000 miles on it in order to really feel comfortable on it. Then I will work on speed--or at least at going a little faster.

train safe--
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