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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 07-08-12, 10:46 PM   #1
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newbie needs some sage advice

Bought my first bent yesterday - a used EZ-1 ($200 including a hitch mount bike rack). Went on my first ride today with my son (age 11) in an empty (as in no houses yet) neighborhood and in my yard.

I've been riding a schwinn MTB of some 17 years age (21 speeds, grip shift - like the EZ) and a 30ish year old sears 10 speed free spirit road bike on bike trails, doing 3 to 10 mile rides with my kids (daughter age 8 on a 20" 6 speed, son on a 21? speed 24" MTB, wife on a 16 yr old schwinn 26" MTB). Between guesstimation, a GPS on one ride, my wife's (uncalibrated) cycle computer we do 7 or so mph on a typical ride.

Today's ride, my first on a bent, was with my son - him following. I have no clue as to my speed - no mile markers, no traffic, to timed, no computer or GPS. My feeling (and my son's if his answer is to be trusted) is we (I) were doing a pretty good clip (compared to normal).

Things I speed sucks. I was a 3/7 and maybe could have spun a bit faster but it didn't feel like I was doing much. I never get my DF bikes to this gear combo, and if/when I get close I'm crankin it - 25mph or so on my 10 speed (at least for short distances)

Second was low speed. On my MTB I changed the cassette to better than 1:1 (on 1/1). It's nearly impossible to ride this on the road and hard off road. The EZ1 could be ridden at 1/1 no problem (ok, some wobbling but I'll get that worked out).

I like to keep a pretty high cadence and am not used to lots of shifting (ok, on bike rail-trails at least). On the bent I shifted a LOT to keep things spinning and it never felt quite the same.

So my questions - are bents (or this particular one) geared that much lower? OR was I riding faster than I thought? (does the perception of speed change with the seating position?)
My legs (quads) were working hard - as i was told to expect - and i usually spin to avoid this 'issue' but seemed to have difficulty spinning on the bent compared to a DF - should the pedals be setup the same (a tad over inseam length?). I've not get clips on the bike (never rode with them).

I have a cycle computer coming and the ride on wednesday on a trail with the kids (and I can take a GPS for speed info) may help me adjust some.

Any advice for a newbie bent rider? (age 50 and male if that matters).

(ps - I know the bike is heavy- I'm 40+ lbs overweight - when I get that off I"ll worry about what a lighter bike can do for me)
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Old 07-13-12, 04:05 PM   #2
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I am anything but a sage...bents are sometimes slower on the uphill (depending on the 'motor') so my take is that they are a little lower geared.
Glad you are enjoying your new steed. continue to enjoy the comfort of your lounge chair on wheels.
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Old 07-13-12, 04:12 PM   #3
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Are you a tinkerer?

If it was my bike I'd ride it like it is for awhile but I'd think about all the things that you posted. At some time I'd probably change the gearing. The question is, what to change it to? That's what the thinking process is for. This could turn out to be a lot of fun.
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Old 07-14-12, 04:13 AM   #4
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The Sun EZ-1 is not a particularly fast bike. It has small wheels and an upright seating position, so the aerodynamics are probably not much better than an upright bike, the (small diameter, moderate-pressure) tires have a lot of rolling resistance, and the EZ-1 is almost certainly heavier than most typical uprights at the same price point. So yea, it was probably slower.

Better (fatter + higher-pressure) tires can help but there's not much you can do about the upright riding position or the overall weight. While the seat back is adjustable, if you recline it too much you cannot push against it to pedal very hard.


With most upright bikes, there's generally not a lot of variation in riding position or overall design, so how fast they are mostly comes down to weight.

With recumbents you have much larger variations in rider position, wheel sizes and weight. Most recumbents that have you sitting upright are easiest to ride and are very comfortable in pretty much all riding conditions, but they aren't ever fast without fairings or other aerodynamic add-ons. People buy these bikes just for the comfort provided.

If you wanted a recumbent that is fast 'naked', you have to buy one that is intended to be fast (that is, that has the rider in a steeply-reclined riding position).

The Bachetta Strada and Volae Club are two "stick bikes" that are relatively light & fast (both around $2000).

The RANS X-stream is a fast long-wheelbase with dual 650 wheels, for $2700.

Both of the above are bikes with 650c wheels, with a "sit-over" height pretty far off the ground. For shorter riders, the Catrike Musashi is a midracer that is built lower to the ground, and goes for around $2400.
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Old 07-14-12, 09:29 PM   #5
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For go fast, a short wheel base(swb), lightweight, aerodynamic, bent is your ride of choice. Once your bent legs get developed, you should be able to hold your own with most roadies. Developing the muscles needed for a swb bent will take much longer than for a lwb. The EZ-1 is a long wheel base(lwb)recumbent and a good one for morphing from an upright. But not a fast ride.

Check out this thread. I ride a lwb Tour Easy and adusted the seat position for leg extension to the standard for an upright. Not sure if this holds for a swb. Seems like it would.
The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me
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Old 07-15-12, 07:19 AM   #6
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I think you will find that like most of us you will be riding further and faster on a bent.
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Old 07-15-12, 01:56 PM   #7
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If you buy a Chevy, do you expect it to accelerate and handle like a Ferrari? The same goes for an entry level recumbent bike. Unfortunately, the same relationship (Chevy vs Ferrari) for price holds in the bent world. Most of us find that we are not as fast on a recumbent as on a regular bike and the first time we rode a recumbent it took a lot more effort to achieve the same speed and distance. It does get better as you develop "bent muscles".

+1 to Rydabent's comment on distance but maybe not on speed:
"I think you will find that like most of us you will be riding further and faster on a bent. "

That is certainly what I found and the difference is one order of magnitude for me.
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Old 07-15-12, 07:45 PM   #8
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Yes, the EZ-1 is geared lower than most uprights. Depending on which model you have, SX, AX, or DSX, top gear is anywhere from 78 to 90 gear-inches. That's according to the Sun owner's manual. For reference, road bikes have top gears of 100-115". The EZ-1 is a cheap bike designed to ride on the MUP or around the retirement community. Flat terrain and slow speeds. Some trikes are geared low like that, too; but most sporty (or higher) 2-wheeled recumbents come with relatively standard gearing. My advice is to enjoy it for what it is.
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Old 07-16-12, 06:36 AM   #9
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I have been riding it a bit and installed a speedo/cadence computer and clipless pedals (my first ever use of them).
1/1 at 85 cadence gives me just over 5 mph and top speed, all pedaled out (or close to it for me at this point) is about 22mph. Avg is about 8, at least around the neighborhood while learning the pedals (fallen over 3 times - but not once on the last ride!)

Slow isn't as slow as on a DF bike and fast isn't as fast, and avg is the same or a tad slower.

At this point my legs are, um, killing me, after a short ride (2-3 miles). Now i'm 'working it' cause I don't want to go too slow and fall down with the clipless pedals, and I'm trying to work on my cadence (74-82 is about what seems normal, at least riding there - a railtrail may be different as the 'hood has short streets and up/down hills - one look of the entire hood is only .3 miles, half coasting down and half going up hill)
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Old 08-11-12, 04:53 PM   #10
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Welcome to the Dark Side I have an EZ-1 still, it was my first bent as well and it isn't a 'fast' bike. But it is a very comfortable bike that my first year commuting to work I totalled 750 miles starting in May, and the second year, riding from the 1st of January, I doubled the next year's mileage total.

I agree with the posters who advise that, this model is called a 'cruiser' for a reason. That said, I regularly ride mine down 9% grades at 35mph+ and 5% grades close to 30mph. Fastest I've gone on my EZ was 41mph. That's with rear rack, saddlebags and fenders.
Now, on the regular, 'round town riding, you can work your way up to 15-18mph on the flat, but it's going to take a few months to get there and that's just how it is. Relax, enjoy the comfortable seat and riding position and ride, ride, ride. The more miles you put on your EZ, the quicker you'll get as fast as you can get, so enjoy the journey.

As for speed, when you get your legs up to snuff, you can start to consider messing with your chainring sizes to gain speed, but simpler than that, look for speedier, high performance 406 sized tires. The front 359(16") tire is going to limit just how much performance gain you can get with that bike.

It's a good, comfortable, fun bike to own and you got a good price on a good bike. Enjoy.
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Old 08-11-12, 07:03 PM   #11
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I ride DF and reecumbent. I have a SWB rotator, which has two 20" wheels. I am not so sure that wheel diameter makes a huge difference in speed if you are not already at a fairly high level. I put 100 psi Kenda Kwest tires on it, and noticed a difference from the 60 psi tires that were on it when I bought it (well) used. I am not as fast on the 'bent as on my DF, but I ride the DF literally 50 times as much as the 'bent, and I can keep up on rides unless there are some serious hills, or serious riders. It takes time to get up to speed. I have friends who ride only recumbents and with whom I can't keep up even if there are a lot of hills.
I guess where I am going with this is, get some decent tires, ride a lot and hard. A fast rider on a slow bike will beat a slow rider on a fast bike. If you find that you are going as fast as you can in your highest gear and could go faster if you had a higher gear, then either 1) change the gearing, 2) buy a "higher performance" bike or 3) live with it and just enjoy the ride!
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Old 08-11-12, 07:12 PM   #12
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I'll claim sage status because it's the internet and I can And my sage advice is: stop thinking and analyzing and just ride.
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