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USS not popular?

Old 08-27-11, 05:27 PM
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kiltedcelt
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USS not popular?

I'm looking to build my own recumbent sometime this winter - a combination wood frame combined with parts of metal frame donor bikes. I'm planning on making it 700c front/rear with under seat steering. I was perusing the "show your recumbent" thread and saw that the vast majority of bents are over seat steering. It seems to me that USS would be the most neutral riding position, making the most of the comfort factor of bent riding. However, riding my DF bike on the local bike path, the few bents I see are again, almost exclusively OSS. I bet this is one of those dividing lines just like the opinions on which is better - DF or bent. I have read about how the OSS allows one to pull on the bars somewhat improving climbing performance, but then again, I've also read about USS bents where pulling on the bars doesn't matter because your pedaling technique makes more difference. In all honesty, I've never ridden a recumbent except for exercise bikes and I'm wondering if I'm setting myself up for problems making my first bent in an USS design.
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Old 08-27-11, 06:10 PM
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I like the way that under seat steering makes the bike look. I don't have an opinion regarding riding comfort. I can think of a couple of drawbacks.

Under seat steering makes the bike a little wider. That makes it a little less aero and it also makes it more difficult to fit through doorways.
Under seat steering also makes the bike a little more difficult to push around when you're not riding it.
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Old 08-27-11, 06:56 PM
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I remember seeing a movie in high school that must've been filmed in the late 70s and it was all about HPVs. There was a guy who had built his very own recumbent with USS and I remember him talking about how much safer this bike was than a traditional DF. His rationale was that being closer to the ground meant a crash was less likely to be as severe, but the really interesting point was that if he hit anything he was likely to be launched feet first off the bike simply landing on his backside. I've always thought that OSS on a bent was asking to get yourself seriously impaled in the event of a crash, what with that big steering stalk sticking up right in front of your unmentionables. I too like the way USS looks on a bent. I think it makes the bike look a lot more sleek and less ungainly. To me, the OSS bikes look very ungainly. It also seems like your arms could still get tired having to hold them up in front of you versus resting them on bar positioned underneath your seat.
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Old 08-27-11, 07:03 PM
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Another difficulty with USS is that, depending on the design, the steering system may require an additional steering pivot and some sort of linkage. This makes a homebuilt vastly more complex. OSS steering parts to fit a variety of designs are easily available:
https://www.terracycle.com/Merchant2/...tegory_Code=SM
https://www.terracycle.com/Merchant2/...ategory_Code=H

My 3 recumbents (long wheelbase, short wheelbase, and lowracer/streamliner) are all OSS. In 20 years and 25,000+ miles of riding, I've not had a problem with comfort or crash survivability. I've crashed a few times, and the worst resulted in a couple stitches in my elbow. Had that same crash happened on an USS bike, it would have crunched the handlebar at least. As it was, the bike was rideable after I removed the rear fender.
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Last edited by Jeff Wills; 08-27-11 at 10:11 PM. Reason: Removed snotty remark.
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Old 08-27-11, 07:09 PM
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If your thinking about DIY you need to check out AtomicZombie. I tought myself how to weld and haven't looked back since.
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Old 08-27-11, 07:56 PM
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In my experience the USS learning curve is a bit longer for novices, but we're only talking minutes or at the most hours. Depending on the exact design and the person USS can be comfortable or not. The same is true of OSS but maybe not so extreme as with USS.

Have fun with your project! The homebuilders forum at Bentrider Online might prove fun and helpful for you.
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Old 08-27-11, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
In my experience the USS learning curve is a bit longer for novices
That's certainly been my experience as someone who almost always rides upright bikes but has tried out a variety of recumbents. I feel immediately comfortable on the OSS models but usually have an adjustment period with the USS ones where they feel rather unstable. Given the other disadvantages of USS mentioned already (worse aerodynamics and difficulty wheeling the bike along while walking) and I'd be inclined to stick with OSS.
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Old 08-27-11, 09:34 PM
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Personally, I like USS. The StreetMachine is a pleasure to ride.....I don't bring it in the house and the garage has a wide doors. So that's a total non-issue, nor did it take any longer to get used to than OSS.
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Old 08-27-11, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by WeldGrindWeld View Post
If your thinking about DIY you need to check out AtomicZombie. I tought myself how to weld and haven't looked back since.
I've looked at their designs and like some of them better than others. However, living in an apartment I have no place that I can weld. I do have the ability to get access to a wood shop though so some of the messiest woodworking can be done out of the apartment. Although, now that I think of it, there is a "maker space" here in Chicago where I live so I might be able to get access to welding equipment there. Might be something to consider I guess. I'd really like to try building something like this:

https://www.nazca-ligfietsen.nl/en/li...tem/23/#type=2
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Old 08-28-11, 06:40 AM
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I've had USS before, but currently have an OSS. USS is a 'twitchier' steering bike calling for a bit more learning curve. I think that's probably the reaspn there are fewer out there.

To me, a USS is more comfortable, but not as practical where touring which is what I've benn doing.
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Old 08-28-11, 05:06 PM
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I previously had a Rans Nimbus (similar to Stratus), and a Vision R40 set up as USS/SWB. I now have a Burley Hepcat SWB/OSS. In short, I *miss* USS, I wish someone made an upgrade kit to convert the Burley. I always felt USS was much more comfortable, even though the Burley is a better bike in all other respects. So I can't tell you what you should do to build your bike, but you owe it to yourself to test drive a USS before you commit to or away from that design. By the way, I'll throw in my vote for SWB as well.
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Old 08-28-11, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by mobilemail View Post
I previously had a Rans Nimbus (similar to Stratus), and a Vision R40 set up as USS/SWB. I now have a Burley Hepcat SWB/OSS. In short, I *miss* USS, I wish someone made an upgrade kit to convert the Burley. I always felt USS was much more comfortable, even though the Burley is a better bike in all other respects. So I can't tell you what you should do to build your bike, but you owe it to yourself to test drive a USS before you commit to or away from that design. By the way, I'll throw in my vote for SWB as well.
I'm thinking that if I go with a mostly wooden frame I could design it to accept both types of steering. I don't think it take too much engineering to account for both options. I was also thinking of going with SWB as well. I really REALLY like the look of the Nazca Gaucho and Pioneer models and those are both SWB, and judging by the photos on the site they are both heavily favored for touring. I think I could build a similar beam design to the Gaucho/Pioneer and maybe work into the rear a suspension swing arm setup from a mountain bike. And, for the record I'm thinking of building the beam with plywood that has full thickness in areas of high structural need and girder-like cutouts in the areas non-essential areas (for weight savings).
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Old 08-28-11, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
I'm thinking that if I go with a mostly wooden frame I could design it to accept both types of steering. I don't think it take too much engineering to account for both options. I was also thinking of going with SWB as well. I really REALLY like the look of the Nazca Gaucho and Pioneer models and those are both SWB, and judging by the photos on the site they are both heavily favored for touring. I think I could build a similar beam design to the Gaucho/Pioneer and maybe work into the rear a suspension swing arm setup from a mountain bike. And, for the record I'm thinking of building the beam with plywood that has full thickness in areas of high structural need and girder-like cutouts in the areas non-essential areas (for weight savings).

Wow. At least we can't accuse you of lacking ambition!

Have you looked up the WISIL group: https://www.recumbents.com/wisil/main.asp ?? Plenty of them are homebuilders, and there's good documentation of their successes and failures on their site.
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Old 08-28-11, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
Wow. At least we can't accuse you of lacking ambition!

Have you looked up the WISIL group: https://www.recumbents.com/wisil/main.asp ?? Plenty of them are homebuilders, and there's good documentation of their successes and failures on their site.
Jeff - thanks for the earlier link to Terracycle - that site will prove invaluable for some of the parts that will be necessary with any custom build. Thanks aslo for the WISIL link. I apparently had bookmarked that WISIL site but forgotten about it. Clearly I need to reorganize my cycling-related bookmarks. I'll have to poke around on there some and see what comes up.
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Old 08-28-11, 09:54 PM
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"I bet this is one of those dividing lines just like the opinions on which is better"

You got that right. It has generated a lot of heat over on bentrideronline. I bought a Linear LWB in 2001. It came with some rather fragile ape hanger handlebars and the USS parts in a box. The original owner had paid for a conversion. I installed the USS bars so that I could try both at the same time. In order to shift or brake, I had to go to the OSS bars. I took off the OSS bars, switched the controls, and eventually threw the OSS parts away. I also own an Haluzak Horizon SWB with USS. My trikes have it too of course. I have had quite a few people try out both bikes and they had no problem adjusting to the USS after a just few minutes.

You need to design some sort of pivot system to connect the handlebars to the front fork. The Linear uses two ball joints and an adjustable tie rod. The only time I found USS handling to be "squirrely" was if the ball joints and tie rod were not adjusted correctly and there was play in the steering. The steering needs to be responsive, not loose and not binding either. It only takes a feather touch to control either of the two bikes. Once properly adjusted, the steering doesn't need to be messed with.
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Old 08-29-11, 06:39 AM
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I believe USS is a little heavier than OSS and when a crash happens is prone to a bit more damage. Having said that, I like the idea and look of USS, but so far have not had the opportunity to ride one. I did ride a OSS version of the Street Machine and loved it, hopefully I'll find a LBS with the USS version in stock.
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Old 08-29-11, 08:35 AM
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I have a Longbikes Slipstream. It's my first recumbent and a lot of fun to ride. I don't think having USS makes it more heavy because it's already a big bike to begin with. I agree that USS is more prone to damage if you fall over. On my bike, the brake levers and handle bar would take the initial impact. The handle bar is an aluminum tube with a short upright aluminum tube on each end for the hand hold, brake lever, and bar-end shifters. There is a telescoping drag link to the front fork that has a sensitivity adjustment (nice touch).

The bike is not appreciably wider than a DF bike...it's just long. So taking sharp corners is not the same. It definitely requires some getting used to for that reason and also because all the familiar feelings in terms of balance are coming from new directions. You cannot turn to look behind you and definitely need a mirror. The ride itself is wonderful. I describe it as "like riding a hammock on wheels".
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