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The Dark Side Recumbents

Old 06-29-08, 04:12 PM
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The Dark Side Recumbents

Any diamond frame tourers thought about going the recumbent route. My bike Rufus is a perfectly good trek 520, but i find myself flush with cash and a lust for something new. Okay recumbenters convince me.
Gareth
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Old 06-29-08, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by rockpilex
Any diamond frame tourers thought about going the recumbent route. My bike Rufus is a perfectly good trek 520, but i find myself flush with cash and a lust for something new. Okay recumbenters convince me.
Gareth
We are VERY definitely thinking about getting recumbents for touring for the superior comfort. I am really looking forward to responses to your thread from recumbent tourers but I think we have 90% made up our minds anyway.

We were originally sold on the LHT, then the Big Dummy ..... now we are thinking the RANS Stratus ... the limousine of recumbents. We are actually planning on flying to the US to trial and hopefully buy two RANS Stratus. We are even thinking of getting the titanium version to keep the weight down though that might be too extravagant and I would feel guilty about starving children elsewhere in the world.

And the "piece de resistance": the RANS Stratus with Xtracycle .... would be fabulous for touring on one continent but probably be horribly inconvenient for multi continent touring even with S & S couplings. Though I will try it and consider it for touring.

See my ultimate recumbent here:

https://www.angletechcycles.com/bikes...hter/index.htm


cheers
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Old 06-29-08, 05:46 PM
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Hi rockpilex,
I usually hang out in the 50+ and the recumbent forums, but I saw the thread title and had to pop in to see what's up. Recumbents, or 'bents, can make pretty good tourers; especially the LWB models. Long Wheel Base recumbents have, obviously, lots of places to hang gear. Rear panniers are just the start! You can also get under-seat bags and front panniers. The wheelbase results in a smooth ride. The center of gravity is low, loaded or not. And of course, you never get sore sitz bones, neck, or hands from riding long miles. If I were to do a coast-to-coast ride, I would never even consider doing it on an upright knowing that something like recumbents are available.

That's me. The big question is, why would you want to switch? I've found that a person has to be commited to getting something totally different, or they won't be happy with a new 'bent. Sometimes the driving force is an injury, sometimes being tired of hurting in various places. I've even heard of people getting a 'bent as their first adult bike. Rarely is someone 'just wanting to try something different' going to be happy with a bent.
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Old 06-29-08, 06:45 PM
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Recumbents

I started touring on a diamond frame, then wet to a recumbent. I really like the comfort of the recumbent. I had a Tour Easy and it was a great bike that served me well. I also had a Burley Canto recumbent and it to was a good bike. But, I went back to a diamond frame and will never go back to a recumbent, at least not in the near future. Nothing wrong with a recumbent but just not my cup of tea so to speak.

I have a LHT and a Cannondale T2000 and these are the bikes for me. I am just more comfortable on a diamond frame.
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Old 06-29-08, 08:05 PM
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The choice isn't exclusive. I have and tour on both a Trek 520 and a LWB Tour Easy.

Things I've found in the comparison:
- Different muscles get exercised. Hence, if I do a several day tour on the TE, then I'll commute to work on an upright bike or vice-versa.
- A long wheelbase recumbent can be more awkward to fly with or transport. One can come up with ways to tackle that issue, but not quite as convenient as a upright bike.
- I sit more upright and hence tend to see more of my surroundings as I tour. Also more important to get sunscreen on my face.
- I'm slightly faster on the TE than the Trek 520. Particularly on the level or downhill but climbing doesn't vary much.
- Comfort/back issues are important for some, but not a big issue for me.
- With underseat racks, I can carry about the same on both.
- In winter/icy conditions, when the front wheel starts sliding, I typically go down. That is a little easier to do on the TE, though it is less far to fall. Hence, when there is ice on the roads, I'll ride an upright bike - sometimes with studded tires.

Overall, I like having both bikes and switching off. As a result, I more easily ride more miles than I did before (I don't own a car so still ride a bunch of miles anyways).
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Old 06-30-08, 05:41 AM
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Strangely, I went out on my recumbent for the first time this year yesterday -really enjoyed it.

I really want to tour across the USA -and when I do, I most likely will do it on a recumbent. The comfort and view you usually get is a definite positive over a diamond frame bike. There is also a street luge feeling and swooping through bends is undeniable fun.

The downsides? Going up hill is a little harder, though not as much as most people would have you believe. You exercise a slightly different set of muscles, and you just need to get used to using them. For many recumbents, you also need a unique rack or adapter, which is a further expense -plus since recumbents are not mainstream, do not expect to get as much value for money compared to a more mass produced diamond frame bike. In heavy urban traffic, I also believe you are not as visible to others as on a more upright diamond frame bike. Further, you cannot brace yourself and use your knees as shock absorbers when you go over a pothole -you are usually going to hit a pothole hard. As others have noted, another issue is that recumbents are not easily transported on the back of cars, in planes, and are not always accepted on trains.

There is also another factor; recumbents seem to elicit either outright pleasure or an almost illogical disgust and dislike from cyclists (which is very ironic when you consider how some automobile drivers consider cyclists, but I digress!). If you're bothered about what people think about you, a recumbent might not be for you -obviously something I'm not bothered about! I would certainly take any comments from people who haven't ridden recumbents or have tried one for a very short time and have been put off with a very large grain of salt (there are many kinds and makes of recumbents of different quality e.g. lwb, swb, above seat steering, below seat steering...... to me that's like riding a Huffy for 5 minutes and declaring all diamond frame bikes are terrible!). One good example is the common myth for those people who haven't ridden a recumbent is that they say they are not very visible -probably with the exception of heavy urban traffic, this just isn't true -in fact, I feel very much more noticeable to people in lighter traffic -and I usually won't be touring through cities anyway.

If only from the point of view of riding something different and making your cycling more refreshing, I'd recommend you give one a go (caveat: if you are going to cycle mostly in heavy urban areas and traffic, I personally wouldn't bother, though many people do so quite happily).
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Old 07-01-08, 11:37 PM
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I have two bents [have owned several others] and I tour on my DF bikes. That isn't to say bents are not good touring bikes - they are. However, it isn't a slam dunk in favour of either DF or bents. You definitely need to try both if you are interested in deciding which is best for you.

I just finished a 4 day tour on my LHT and ran into a bent tandem in the middle of the day today. That got me thinking why I don't tour on a bent. The two things that jumped out at me were the fact I really like climbing on a DF and I'm good at it. I've done loads of climbing on a bent and I can get up some really steep mtns on one, but I don't enjoy it the way I do a DF. The second is I like being able to move around on my bike. I do it for comfort, for performance and for fun - on my bents I'm pretty much in a very passive [but comfortable position] and don't get that feeling of mobility like I do on a DF.

I could get into all sorts of complex analysis about bents and DFs, but ultimately I have both in my stable and I have the resources to buy whatever bikes I want [keep in mind I don't pay for a car or own living room furniture!].....every time I go on tour I've grabbed a DF.

I know folks for whom the opposite is true.....so clearly there is no "right" answer for everyone or every tour.

I may well find myself touring on a bent in the future. I'd like to ride the several thousand kms long Rhine Canal Path in Europe....I could see myself doing that tour on bent for sure.

One last point to consider is there are a huge variety of flavours of bents. So if you want to tour on one you need to narrow down the field a bit before you can even start to make a decision....LWB, SWB, high racer, lowracer, CLWB, trikes..tandems....etc...The good news is bents are super fun so the learning process can be very rewarding even if you don't ultimately tour on one.
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Old 07-02-08, 01:15 AM
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I haven't really toured much, but i've been riding a recumbent for just under a year (didn't ride in the winter though), and do day rides with heavy panniers (it's 50k to the closest "city" where i often go shopping).

One thing i find nice about riding a recumbent is your head position. It might just be me, but on my road/touring bike, i find i'm more prone to look downward at the ground, instead of horizontally, where the scenery is. The first time i rode my recumbent at night, i thought "wow, i can see the stars if i look up a bit". I'm still not decided on what bike i'm going to take on my first camping tour. Right now i'm leaning towards my recumbent for comfort/scenery, but i'm faster on my DF, especially on hills. 1 year later and my recumbent muscles still aren't built up :/.

One thing i'll also say (that others have as well), is that it's really nice to have both to be able to switch it up now and then.

My cannondale
My Giro 26

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Old 07-02-08, 06:09 AM
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Very much agree!!! Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Also, to reiterate what's been said in this thread -it's nice to be able to have both to give you a change of perspective and enjoyment.

Originally Posted by vik
That isn't to say bents are not good touring bikes - they are. However, it isn't a slam dunk in favour of either DF or bents. You definitely need to try both if you are interested in deciding which is best for you.
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Old 07-02-08, 09:13 AM
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Using a Cannondale T700, I solo toured Costa Rica and also pedaled across several states in the USA ... not to mention taking several little 3 & 4 day jaunts.

I had to give up upright frames due to doctor's orders (bad back/prostate). I now use a RANS F5 Enduro and plan on going touring with it. I haven't done loaded touring with it yet, but I have to admit, I do love riding it. (my first loaded touring trip is planned for mid-August)

disadvantages
I find that hills take more out of me and really raise my heartrate more, but I think that has more to do with me using different muscles. On most hills, you can push against the back of the seat to help you with leverage (equivalent of standing on pedals). It is much harder getting started on hills with a bent.

I can carry the same amount of gear, but I really miss a handlebar bag and map case.

Don't have a good location to put my airhorn on the handlebar

I get more comments about my bike (this can also be an advantage). Some people like anonymity while touring.

Harder to place camelbacks

Can't get into your pannier backpockets.

You really feel potholes more because the shock hits you right in the back.


advantages
It feels like cheating it is so comfortable. It gave me an entirely different view of what "cruising" means.

I get a much better view of the scenery because of the heads up view. However, I also am riding a "hi-racer". Personally, I think that tadpole trikes and lo-racers are too low to get great views.

Riding into the wind, while still horrible, is much less painless due to the aerodynamics and other than going slower, I don't notice it anywhere near as much as I did on uprights.

Someone opening their car door on you won't throw you over the handlebars. I feel safer on a recumbent.

Going downhill literally feels like flying.

No aching butt... well, at least not like I experienced on an upright.


SIDE NOTES
If I was going to buy another recumbent, I would get one with a suspension... either the Optima Condor or the Grasshopper FX.

I am VERY happy riding a recumbent. It is far more comfortable than i expected.
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Old 07-02-08, 09:58 AM
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"That's me. The big question is, why would you want to switch? I've found that a person has to be commited to getting something totally different, or they won't be happy with a new 'bent."

I agree, I think bents are a sort of cult, not in any bad way. It's just like some people like paragliders when there are all these awesome hang gliders, and why not use an airchair, or a foot launch "real" glider. Basically people get obssessed with a particular form. In the bike case there is little practical reason to sellect a bent. They do work better in heavy head winds, but I don't live in Holland or Saskatchewan.

I should be a perfect candidate because due to an accident lying down while pedaling is pretty much the perfect choice, short of swimming.

The negatives (some of which are based on the euro design I bought, some of which I have grown into, and some of which are not going away):

- Much higher chance of being run over. Never had the slightest problem on a DF, though I know some people who have been clipped. But I more nearly get run over on my bent in one day than in a lifetime of DF. Some of these incidents have been clearly related to an invisibility factor, and have been extremely close near fatalities. This problem is not getting better, though it would be far less if you see a lot of bents around in your area.

- Exponentially higher incidence of rednecks trying to run me over or throw bottles out the window at me. A DF is just a bike, a recumbent is like meeting Al Gore on the Hwy, trying to talk you out of your gas guzzling lifestyle. I would say the general abiance here is about 80% euro and 20% Texas, so use at own risk further south.

- Very different type of bike, which is the point I guess, but cycling has to be relearned. Mine is extremely unstable, hard to start/restart on a hill, totally different muscles in the legs, etc... Not something I could pick up one week and head out across the country on. I would be more comfortable with a Rans, the new models look great, however there isn't that much advantage in wind resistence on a recumbent, vs. better positions on a DF, to start with, if it is only a semi-recumbent...

- Format is tough. Don't let Zeallots at the bike store make you take a lower handlebar model, that many serious bent riders prefer. My local store would not sell me a high handlebar model, though everything else about the store was great (the following year they all bought high handlebar trikes!). The low bars are fine for riding but stupid on a touring bike were one has to do stuff like push a bike over a bridge on a stupid narrow pedestrian walkway.

That is just a minor warning, the real format challenges are mounting racks, shipping size of bikes, excess weight, etc... All totally manageable, just be aware that you may require all new paniers etc... I was lucky because my bike has 4 racks mounted on it from the factory, though that is rare. In fact the package was awesome, with the best german dyno lights, racks fenders, you name it.

When I first got into it and read about it, it almost sounded like only an idiot would choose a DF, but I've done a 180. Lots of people enjoy recumbents, but I think there are solid reasons why they have only a small part of the market.

I would take my bent touring today, I've grown into it. Parts are a problem, I never managed to buy the top mounted bars for it, and then the dealer went out of business. Mine was made in Germany and getting parts isn't easy. While they are a going concern, nobody has ever answered email, and apparently the dealer had trouble also. I assume zero parts available on tour in Montana. At some point i will fab a seT of bars for myself. All just part of the joy of ownership.
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Old 07-02-08, 10:25 AM
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If you want to talk to some folks that tour happily on their bents you should post a msg over at Bent Rider Online's touring sub-forum.
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Old 07-02-08, 10:46 AM
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I toured for many years on a Trek 520. I bought a recumbent for the comfort. I want to cycle across Canada one day, and I decided that if I'm going to be in the saddle every day for three months, I want to be comfortable.

I bought an HP Velotechnik StreetMachine Gte. I wanted a short wheel base bent with under seat steering that was built for touring. I got a short wheel base, because I can throw it in the hatch of my car. I got under seat steering, because your arms are relaxed at your side. It has a rear rack and underseat racks, so I can carry the same four panniers as on my 520. A seat bag replaces my handlebar bag, but unfortuneatly there's no place to put a map.

It's very comforable. No butt pain. No back pain. No shoulder pain. No arm pain. No wrist pain. No hand pain. When I took my bent in for a tune up, I rode my upright on a club ride, and thought, oh yeah, this is why I got a bent.

Bents are less manoueverable, so when I commute to work in rush hour traffic, I still ride my upright, but for touring the bent is ideal.
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Old 07-02-08, 02:59 PM
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Well written comments here!

Currently I've a 520 too, someday I'll go for a Tour Easy built somewhat like Angletech's HD27 https://www.angletechcycles.com/bikes...base/index.htm (lower part of page on right) I don't think I'll keep both, probably sell the 520 to help pay for the Tour Easy.

If you have the money & want a "folder" look here https://www.easyracers.com/ they'll do it in AL or Ti too.
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Old 07-03-08, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Peterpan1
- Much higher chance of being run over. Never had the slightest problem on a DF, though I know some people who have been clipped. But I more nearly get run over on my bent in one day than in a lifetime of DF. Some of these incidents have been clearly related to an invisibility factor, and have been extremely close near fatalities. This problem is not getting better, though it would be far less if you see a lot of bents around in your area.
I have a hard time believing that some other factor isn't involved. Many non-bent riders *speculate* that bents are harder to see, but after riding one for a while, they unanimously agree that drivers see 'bents BETTER and give them MORE clearance. Your statement is, literally, the only one I have ever read that asserts experience of the opposite. Even on my lowracer in moderate city traffic, I don't have a problem. Unfortunately, rednecks are rednecks no matter where you are; and all rednecks seem to hate all bikes.
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Old 07-03-08, 04:03 PM
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I got a Rans Stratus XP 3 weeks ago, and I can't believe the difference! I have been riding 2000-2500 miles a year on my Trek 740, and my body was feeling the pain. On the Rans I'm 3-4 mph faster, it's more fum to ride and NOTHING hurts after 60-70 miles.

There are some downsides (see all above) as well as upsides (see all above), but I truly don't think I'll ever ride my DF again. As soon as I get some decent touring tires (Came with Primo Racers - too thin and too slick) I'll hit the trail.

Now I ride every day and the total joy of riding has returned.
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Old 07-03-08, 04:48 PM
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I have a hard time believing that some other factor isn't involved. Many non-bent riders *speculate* that bents are harder to see, but after riding one for a while, they unanimously agree that drivers see 'bents BETTER and give them MORE clearance. Your statement is, literally, the only one I have ever read that asserts experience of the opposite. Even on my lowracer in moderate city traffic, I don't have a problem. Unfortunately, rednecks are rednecks no matter where you are; and all rednecks seem to hate all bikes.
I think it is true that a really low recumbent is harder to see than a DF or a high racer, but not enough to make an appreciable difference in the real world. I can imagine scenarios where someone in a really high truck might not see you when they would have if you were on a DF, but those scenarios are really unlikely. And probably almost all of the time, you on the bike can probably tell that he can't see you, so watch out. (which you have to do anyways)

Personally, i avoid high traffic areas because i'm not as good of a rider on my recumbent (I havne't been riding it long enough).
In the places i ride, i find cars give me more room when i'm on my recumbent.
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Old 07-03-08, 04:56 PM
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I recently bought a used Haluzak Hybrid Race for the soul purpose of touring. I have yet mastered the stopping and starting. Once I do a few more club and charity rides, I plan to do some 2/3 day tours. Everything I researched about touring with a recumbent has been positive. Here is a pic of the bike, sorry poor picture quality, better ones on my Flickr.
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Old 07-03-08, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbeach
Now I ride every day and the total joy of riding has returned.
+1 - having owned and loved both bents and DFs I can say that neither is better than the other - rather they are quite different experiences to ride. That's the great thing about having both as options - people who totally connect with bents can ride 'em, people that totally connect with DFs can ride their bikes and a few of us weirdos will ride both...

Choices are great.... and the important thing is you are out there riding something...
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Old 07-03-08, 08:25 PM
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"I have a hard time believing that some other factor isn't involved. Many non-bent riders *speculate* that bents are harder to see, but after riding one for a while, they unanimously agree that drivers see 'bents BETTER and give them MORE clearance."

I have a bright yellow Toxy, which is a fairly high SWB bent. I had one guy throw his car in reverse who would have gone right over me if I hadn't moved out of the way. I think there are two kinds of problems. In the world of paranoia where people think they are going to get hit from behind by every car when the cars have 800 yards of visibility, I think the bent could have the advantage, it does stand out.

In the real world of danger where people assume something is or isn't there based on the usual indicators - ever have a pedestrian step off a sidewalk in front of a bike because they didn't hear it coming? - in that world I have had trouble. In the above example the guy obviously was on a quiet road did a mirror check, didn't see big old me in the rear view and nearly flattened me. That is just one example. Your mileage may vary.

"Your statement is, literally, the only one I have ever read that asserts experience of the opposite."

You don't get out much. And I don't really care what the other cool-aid drinkers think. This isn't the bent forum. I feel perfectly authorized to tell it like it has been for me rather than entering into a group think exercise. Bents are pricey, mine was 3K. This is the kind of forum where you can get a big discusion going about whether "anyone" would ever buy anything other than the stock LHT because it might cost 5 bucks more. I think the appropriate response here is different than it would be in the bent forum. I started out a convert and ended up a sceptic on bents. I had seen so many pictures of people touring x-country on a bent I thought it would be all superior technology and better performance. I like to be an early adopter of new tech. And I believe there is a place for bent particularly wind. But it isn't all good. Rain is worse. So quit the happy talk and get real.

"Even on my lowracer in moderate city traffic, I don't have a problem."

I don't ride in the city with it as a number of others have mentioned, but I would say that isn't my worry. Cars are so cowed in the city and so used to cyclists I can't see the problem. Never been doored in the city except during a transit strike when all the newbies were comuting. It's the sub-urbs that have the higher relative speeds and bike ignorant drivers, and that is where I live.

"Unfortunately, rednecks are rednecks no matter where you are; and all rednecks seem to hate all bikes."

True but I've never been chased by screaming girls on a DF, believe me. Well at least the bike was chased. Or had an old lady on an electric wheelchair pull up and say it looked real relaxing and she would like to get one. It's not all bad. It does remind me of Thomas Stevens cycling aorund the world on a penny farthing drawing crowds and being asked for test rides, or attacked by the locals. I'm a little shy and a black DF would be my prefered way to get around and blend in with the locals. It's not a negative if you want the attention. Also I think the newer Rans LWB bikes would look pretty normal comparatively. There is something about a SWB where juggling plates would not seem out of character.
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