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Lisa Schamback 09-04-05 07:33 PM

Are recumbent tandems slower than conventional tandems?
My husband and I were seriously thinking about buying a recumbent tandem for comfort. Now, someone has told us that recumbent tandems are a lot slower than regular tandems. Now I am having second thoughts. I don't want to be left in the dust. Has anyone had any experience with this issue and would care to add some advice?undefined

bentbaggerlen 09-05-05 07:20 AM

It's not the bike, its the engine. Some recumbent tandems are slower, some can be faster.

We ride a slower recumbent tandem, a Longbikes Gulfstream. Why is it slower? Its the way I built it up, for loaded touring. The bike has a 106" wheel base and when loaded with for touring is about 130 lbs. The average speed over a days ride is slower, by about 1 mph, when compared to our DF touring bike. With the same gear loaded on the bike. 1 mph is not what I would call a lot slower. But heres the hitch, on the bent we can cover more ground in a day before my stoker calls it quits. On the DF tandem after 40 miles my stoker was spent for the day, on the bent she can ride about 60 miles before she has to stop. The avarage speed is lower when riding in the mountains then the DF was, sometimes as much as 4 MPH, but the trade off in comfort is well worth it.

Before the Longbikes Gulfstream, we rode a Rans Screamer when touring and the average speed was the same as the Burley Duet it replaced.

How do you plan on using your tandem? Fast club rides? Racing? Touring?

Lisa Schamback 09-05-05 07:47 AM

We are planning to use the recumbent tandem for bike club rides only. No racing, no tours. Another question: what does DF tandem mean? I'm pretty new at this lingo. Lisa

bentbaggerlen 09-05-05 01:40 PM

DF= Diamond frame

Of the two bikes that you were looking at, Rans Screamer and the EZ tandem, the Screamer will be a faster bike. But regraudless of the bike you buy it all comes down to the engine (s).

Have you had a chance to ride a Screamer yet? Not just around the block, but for 20 or 30 miles? If your near Ct. I can set you up for an extended test ride.

mchell 09-05-05 07:11 PM

My wife and I rode a DF tandem for 14 years. We finally gave in to sore shoulders, my weak back (lumbar), carpel tunnel discomfort, "male numbness" and butt pain on extended rides. IMO the bike didn't fit us although we made many changes to the set up of handle bars and seat tubes to get it so it would. So we "test rode" a Rans Screamer and loved it! Bought our own shortly thereafter and have toured extensively with it, 80-110 km a day for as many as 7 consecutive days. While some of this was fully supported touring, a few trips were entirely on our own, pulling a B.O.B. trailer with complete camping gear. No pain, ever, just the expected sore, tired legs! We have only logged 5000 km in the year we've owned the bike (our season is only 6 months long, at best) and are now feeling that we've both adjusted to the different muscles in "play" when riding recumbent. i.e. more hamstring and calf, not just quads. This was a bit of a shock as we expected to pick up on the bent where we had left off the DF. It ain't gonna happen like that overnight! Be prepared for an adjustment. i.e. be patient; good things are worth waiting for. A higher pedaling cadence comes easily with no bounce and less strain on the knees. At first, we were definately a bit slower than on the DF tandem, especially climbing, but now we are about where we were in average speed...24-25 kph. Not bad for a couple in their 60's. We have gained so much in comfort we wouldn't think of going back to the DF. We needed to make some changes to the gearing when we got the bike to suit our hilly area, so keep that in mind. We use our lowest gears often and are patient climbers. Haven't yet met a hill we couldn't walk up, but we're now climbing just about all of them on the bike!
These bikes are big investments but they hold their value well. Test ride a Screamer, a Vision and a Longbike and then test ride them again a good distance, before you make a decision.

zonatandem 09-05-05 10:01 PM

Test ride, test ride!
. . . and, yes, different muscles are used riding a 'bent compared to a wedgie (upright tandem).
Is there a particular reason why you seem to be set on a recumbent tandem?
We are in our 70s and still ride an upright 2-seater. Have only ridden 'bents a couple times and does not seem to be our cupa tea. But, yes, there are choices out there, including used ones.

galen_52657 09-06-05 05:07 AM

For any given team, recumbent tandem would be faster on the flats and descents due to superior aerodynamics and slower climbing due to the fact that the bike is heavier and the riders can't utilize their body weight and upper body muscles to stand and climb.

TandemGeek 09-06-05 07:39 AM


Originally Posted by Lisa Schamback
... someone has told us that recumbent tandems are a lot slower than regular tandems. Now I am having second thoughts. I don't want to be left in the dust. Has anyone had any experience with this issue and would care to add some advice?

How would you assess your individual and collective fitness? Are you both active cyclists today? If not, is at least one of you an active cyclist or a well-seasoned cyclist who is considering a return to cycling after being off the bike for a few years? Assuming one or both of you are active cyclists, have you participated at least one of the club rides that you indicate would be at least part of your riding experience? If so, are there already single 'bent riders participating in those rides and/or are there fast, moderate, and leisurely paced groups within the larger group?

The answers to these questions will most likely yield the most useful answer to your question...

While we have encountered a few 'bent teams at rallies who have been able to hold their own on the flats, they do not integrate well into pace / drafting lines and get dropped by the upright bikes in hilly terrain. Some of this is due to the team's levels of fitness, and in other cases it's just a function of the differences in how recumbent and upright tandems handle and perform. Therefore, if you want to participate in club rides with upright tandems or single bikes, IMHO, you should be shopping for an upright tandem. That is, unless you live and ride in an area that is conducive to and has an active recumbent community where 'bents are already participating in the club rides that you are also wanting to join.

As others have suggested, test riding both upright and recumbent tandems would be an essential first step in your decision process as would be having some candid discussions with some 'bent riders in your local area who are close to you in age, temperment, etc... as their feedback regarding the 'bent riding experience in your local area would be invaluable.

zonatandem 09-06-05 05:27 PM

Aerodynamics: 'bents can be a heck of a lot faster on steep downhills; but for every downhile there's ususally an uphill.
Again depends on the physical ability/capabilies of the the duo doing the pedalin'.
Keep an open mind and test all the tandems you can put your butts on . . . then decide.

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