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Recumbent with a touring load? Ever done it?

Old 09-28-15, 06:58 PM
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KC8QVO
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Recumbent with a touring load? Ever done it?

I am eyeballing these recumbent bikes. I have seen them around for years, but never rode one. So I am curious - have any of you done much touring with one? What style? Short wheelbase/long wheelbase? If you have both a recumbent and conventional touring rig - how do you compare the two? What are the strengths/weaknesses of each?
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Old 09-28-15, 07:52 PM
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I've loaded toured on both. My lwb Tour Easy recumbent is a totally comfortable, slower ride with a space on the seat back for gear. Also a standard rack for lots more gear. Other than comfort, you've always got a panoramic view. I've toured on it with two panniers and a rack pack. A buddy tours on a swb Bacchetta, lighter and faster.

That being said, I have mostly reverted to a DF, aerobar equipped, for touring. Not as comfortable, but faster and more nimble. Just more fun. (The pic is old.)
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Old 09-29-15, 06:03 AM
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+1 on the Easy Racer family (TiRush in my case).

Another option is to tow a BOB trailer for your gear.
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Old 09-29-15, 07:46 AM
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Last month I did a four day ride on my Burley Hepcat. I will say that this was strictly a beginners level tour with little gear, overnights in hotels, and the forgiving terrain of Central IL. That said, I enjoyed the tour immensely and feel like my bike was the best tool for the job. I haven't used my recumbent for more loaded touring...yet. There are large panniers and midship racks available for the recumbent to put your gear where you need it. To find more folks that have done it, you might also want to poke around Bentrider Online and ask some questions.
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Old 09-29-15, 08:31 AM
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My experience is week-long and two-night tours on my Rans V-Rex (SWB 26/20), weekend and week-long offroad on a MTB, and weekend on a vintage ten-speed (Schwinn Continental). On all three bikes I used rear panniers only, and on the V-Rex I once used a trailer. My V-Rex tours were through northern Kentucky and southern Indiana - terrain dominated by short steep hills.

This is my subjective appraisal of differences; YMWV (your miles WILL vary):

+ Recumbent on comfort
+ Recumbent on panoramic view
++ DF handling off pavement
+ DF tire sizes
(A concern when riding on unusual tire sizes as on many recumbents (e.g. narrow high pressure 26" or 20" tires) is replacement availability, as compared to 700c or 27". On a 26/20 bike like the V-Rex, that meant carrying four tubes and two spare tires.)

In the future, I will probably use my DF on two or three night tours with lower daily mileage and my recumbent on longer tours and/or tours with higher daily mileage. That's primarily comfort driven.
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Old 09-29-15, 09:56 AM
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Most of my touring has been on conventional bikes, but I have done some touring on a Lightfoot Ranger and before that a Tour Easy. Both are long wheelbase recumbents and the Lightfoot Ranger includes both a rear rack and underseat panniers.

As far as the tradeoffs go:
- Recumbent has me sitting back, which is nice for comfort though I also need to be more careful about sun.
- Recumbent is big - if staying in hotel, getting into an elevator or narrow space can be a challenge. I have couplers but haven't flown with it. It is also tougher to fit in an automobile.
- Lightfoot Ranger has two 26" wheels, so no big difference from wheel size or tire perspective.
- Lots of shorter hills and I like my conventional bike (and am faster on it); lots of gradual grades or flat and the recumbent is faster.

I like some variety and hence trying both bikes or switching off. If I'm flying somewhere then easier to take the conventional bike.
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Old 09-29-15, 10:10 AM
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friends have . they have garages to park long bikes inside, when at home.

free magazine available in print @ LBS, Here. Recumbent & Tandem Rider Magazine

They include touring stories sent in.

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Old 09-29-15, 10:57 AM
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I've toured on my Rans Vrex (26/20) short wheelbase, a Catrike Road trike (3x20in wheels), a Surly LHT, Salsa Fargo, and a Salsa Casseroll. For the recubents i used a 2 wheel trailer, all the df bikes I used panniers or frame/seat bags.

I found the recumbents very comfortable, they also start lots of conversations, but are slower/more work on uphills (though the trike had the benefit ofnot having to balance at low speed). But I found the trike placed me low on the road, noise of cars was at ear level, i had 5 wheels, all on a different path. The Rans was faster then the trike, but much more work going uphill. I also foundit much more difficult to turn to see what was behind me. I used 2 mirrors, but still wanted to check. All in all, I ended up selling both and have not missed them. I purchased the 2 Salsa bikes and they fit me great, are very comfortable and I've made it a point to reduce the gear I bring on tour, so much more emjoyable riding.
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Old 09-29-15, 01:36 PM
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I have a buddy that's toured all over the world recumbent. He wouldn't have it any other way.

That said, he also has multiple PhDs and a long beard, which I think you must have at least one of those before the recumbent dealer will let you own one.
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Old 09-30-15, 01:10 AM
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SWB and LWB tourer here. Specifically, I have taken week long or longer tours on a Bacchetta Giro 20 and an Easy Racers Gold Rush Replica.

The LWB's biggest disadvantage is simply its length. It takes a football field to turn 180 (only a slight exaggeration there) and no hotels I ever stayed at allowed them in the hallways or rooms (officially). If you pull a trailer, think 18-wheeler with an extra trailer attached. Maneuvering/parking the long bike may take some planning/fiddling, especially if you use a tow-behind trailer. Speaking of which, I used a Mayacycle two-wheel trailer and regretted it. YMMV.

The SWB's disadvantage is simply the height of the bottom bracket and the effect of that when starting uphill with a load. Slow speed and balance are not necessarily synonymous. I could ride 3mph on the LWB but would definitely wobble at that speed with the SWB. I would not use a trailer with a SWB/Giro. There are too many underseat/behind-the-seat/rear rack pannier choices available to overcome what I see as safety issues with SWBs and trailers. YMMV

A fairing on an LWB is great; on an SWB it's a completely different beast (never tried one but I don't see any advantage).

Overall, speed-wise, the advantage, for me, goes to the LWB with fairing except going uphill. The LWB is simply heavier and that's the tradeoff.
Ease of loading/load-carrying probably goes to the LWB,
Responsiveness/Handling, parking, storage, advantage SWB.
Comfort - about equal. I used a mesh seat on the LWB and a carbon seat on the Giro, then switched to a mesh one.
Cockpit flexibility - probably advantage LWB though that flexibility also means that I tended to be too techno-centric, that is, took and used too many gadgets.

Just my own 2 cents worth of experience and opinion.
YMMV

Also, for what it's worth, I toured on a DF/conventional bike decades ago and believe I am more comfortable and efficient today on a SWB recumbent than I was on the DF, 4-pannier setup I rode in the 70s/80s.

Added: I did one week long tour on a TerraTrike and it was the most comfortable ride of all. Unfortunately, it was also the slowest, by at least 5 mph.
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Old 09-30-15, 01:38 AM
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I had a german Toxy which is tour specific and a really nice bike. But in the end I really grew to hate it. I can't really think of any net benefits. They are heavy, awkward. Often on tour the pedestrians and bikes get shunted down some narrow path, like a bridge crossing, or border crossing. There was no way to push the thing single file, as is easy with a bike. Rec. are more streamlined, but that actually means the wind is always flowing over you, which can get annoying and cold. On an upright you seem to be in some kind of inefficient bubble, but not getting wind burned. If it rains there is a lot more of you extended out and the rain gear doesn't work as well. They are extremely difficult to get restarted on a hill. I almost got run over by several cars that just had no idea I was there, or you get mobbed like a scene out of Steven's ride around the world on a penny farthing. I have been chased by small mobs. It isn't that much more comfortable, you have to crank your head forward, and you have a double chin in all your pictures. They don't carry that well, but if you don't need a lot of gear they can work.

I just can't think of enough bad things to say.

Now a Rans Tour easy or similar, apart from looking like they escaped from a retirement home, have a long history of people that are really happy with them. I haven't done a tour on one, but they are enough different I would not lump them in.
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Old 09-30-15, 09:41 PM
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Toured with a RANS Stratus, RANS V-rex, ICE trike. I love touring with a 'bent, long distances are more comfortable. I don't break any speed records, usually average 50 mi/day. No better way to tour, IMHO.
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Old 10-01-15, 01:18 AM
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Regarding hotel access, I will add to my limited experience that I was able to roll my Burley Hepcat (SWB) into the hotel, and roll it into my room and park with no issues. I had ground floors, but I would have just stood it on the back wheel if the elevator was necessary. As for low speed, my Hepcat is a little more stable in the lowest gears than my Rans Stratus, that's why I took it on this ride.
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Old 10-01-15, 02:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Ajenkins View Post
Toured with a RANS Stratus, RANS V-rex, ICE trike. I love touring with a 'bent, long distances are more comfortable. I don't break any speed records, usually average 50 mi/day. No better way to tour, IMHO.

That's the thing. I am an old codger just got a tripple by-pass, up till then I could knock 80 miles a day easy, loaded, and in hills on a regular touring bike. Finding one's own pace and sticking with it is a key, as you have with your pace. But I don't know how I would churn out more on a bent unless there were massive headwinds all the time, or something. Meanwhile the nice euro bikes, you can spend 2-4K easy, imagine the rig you can get for that for conventional touring, or a bike friday and a regular touring bike.

When I got my bent, I thought it was the answer to my prayers. I was coming back from a bag crash where both legs were badly damaged and severely swollen for years. I thought perfect bike for me, legs elevated, riding on a couch, my lower back and neck are shot, that seemed like a plus on a bent, but at the end of the day a regular bike was better.


On thing about bent that actually was good and bad was that the leg muscles used are totally different. I have about 45 years of muscle memory for conventional cycling, getting up to that base on a bent is a monumental task, though cross training wise it was probably very valuable. So it helped with post crash rehab, but it wasn't really worth pursuing when I had year of conventional cycling under the belt.
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Old 10-04-15, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
But I don't know how I would churn out more on a bent unless there were massive headwinds all the time, or something.
I've done 200k and 300k randos on a bent, no way I could have done them on an upright. But I am preparing to build up my first diamond frame in years, it might turn out to be a tourer. We'll see. I'm a sucker for anything cute with pedals.
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