The following questions have been asked by a number of buyers so we are including them here.
Recumbent date back as early as 1896. Ever since the invention of the wheel, humans have been thinking on how to propel them selves easier, more comfortable and faster. The first recumbent to compete in Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1985 Linear and an Infinity from about 1986.
What a lot of people don’t realise when it comes to recumbent bicycles is that they’ve been around for a very long time. In fact, even in 1892, recumbent bikes were being made and manufactured for the general public.
The recumbent form of biking then, isn’t some new fad or quirky design that’s only come to the fore in the last few years; it’s been around for ages. It even set some speed records that stood for over 50 years, finally only being beaten by a standard upright bike in 1984.
In fact, recumbent bicycles were actually banned by the UCI in 1938 because of the un-sportsman like advantage they held over the more traditional upright bike we all know today. So where did they go after that decision? Well, unfortunately, the UCI ban knocked them sideways and out of common knowledge for a long time after that.
Because people couldn’t race them at a recognized competitive level, bike manufacturers stuck to the market there was, and the upright bicycle remained the main type of bike. It wasn’t until almost 5 decades later that they started to make a reappearance.
Yes, they’re resurgence was slow, and at times teetered on the brink of falling back into obscurity, but recumbent bikes have, in the last 10 years made such a string impression on the cycling world that more and more bike manufacturers are beginning to make them, and are finally coming round to the fact that there is a market for them.
As more and more riders rediscover the recumbent form of cycling, that market is growing
Because recumbents are still pretty rare, they are eye-catching. Which are you more likely to notice when you are driving, a mini van or a Ferrari? But a Ferrari is so low to the ground! (On most recumbents my head is higher than the roof of most cars). Follow normal bike riding practices, wear a bright coloured clothing, helmet, turn you lights on you will be fine! Depending on the traffic you ride in, you may want to make your bike more visible with a flag. I am not big on the flag and occasionally get chipped by drop handle bar riders on a black bike wearing black shirt/black knickers, WTF!
In the races where they are allowed, recumbent bikes hold all the records. What you really want to know is, will I be faster if I buy a recumbent? The answer is, yes, but not right away. How long it takes depends on how often, how far and how hard you ride your recumbent. Just like any exercise, persistence yields results. You will develop some new leg muscles, (and speed) if you don’t give up. You will be fast if you buy the right recumbent, ride on pavement and if you train on the recumbent as long and hard as you did on a wedgie. Since most of a cyclist’s energy is consumed pushing air out of the way, the smaller frontal area of a recumbent makes it faster on level stretches and down hills. A recumbent with a well-designed partial or full fairing can be even faster. So the short answer is most people, after an adjustment period, except on really big hills, are faster on a recumbent. After a French rider on a recumbent set a new world record in 1933 the UCI outlawed them in 1934. After Tim Brummer, designer of Lightning Cycles won a US national championship on a low racer the USCF outlawed them in 2005. When a reporter asked Lance Armstrong about recumbents he said he would try one if they were legal.
Yes, they are. They are no less dangerous to ride than any other type of bike. They actually have a lower center of gravity than normal bikes, and as the rider is lower there’s less distance to fall if you do ‘tip out.’ And if you do crash one it’s your feet that will take most the impact, as opposed to your head. Speaking of which, it’s almost impossible to go over the handlebars in the event of an accident.
Recumbents also make you more visible on the road to other road users, especially cars! There’s more of you to see through a car window than there is on an ordinary bike. The larger part of your body will be in drivers forward vision and you will have a larger silhouette, and thus less likely to blend in.
Recumbents also stop quicker than ordinary bikes as your weight will be mostly directly over the rear wheel.
On traditional bikes, around 80% of the accidents that cause a rider to go to the hospital, involve a car and around 80% of those cars didn’t see the bike, till it was too late. Being seen is very important. This involves more than being high off the ground. Wearing bright colours, use your lights and a flag are all great ideas.
When a traditional bike has an accident, you are likely to arrive headfirst. On a recumbent, you will likely arrive feet first. On a bent, you may be less likely to get a concussion, but more likely to break an ankle. If you are at risk for osteoporosis, you should consult your doctor to see if they think you would be safer on a trike, where you are less likely to fall over and hurt yourself.
NO – Over 90% of most bikes are standard components found on conventional bike. So parts and servicing can be easily supplied and carried out by your local bike store.
Yes, they do. Some think “if I can’t stand on the pedals, how can I climb a hill?” Yes I have to admit I miss getting out of the saddle “BUT THAT’S ALL I MISS.” If you keep pedalling, the scenery keeps moving. For steeper hills, most quality recumbents come with a low “granny gear”, so you can spin your way to the top. Usually you can keep up with most upright riders, and if you lost any time climbing, you get it back on the downhills and flat ground. Recumbents use different muscles, even a very fit upright rider will climb more slowly at first until they develop their gluteus muscles. If you are converting to a recumbent, don’t expect to achieve the same times for a few months, but you will get there. On a Trike one of the greatest advantages is, if you tire on a steep hill “just stop” rest and get going again when your rested, try that on a diamond bike.
There are two common ways to steer a recumbent: OSS (over seat steering), or USS (under seat steering.) With above seat steering, the handlebars are at shoulder height. This is by far the most common type. On bikes with USS, the handlebars are just beneath the seat. Sit on a chair, relax your hands, hanging them at your side. This is where USS handlebars are. Above seat steering is often (but not always) easier for first-timers and looks more conventional. Recumbents, unlike conventional bikes are not steered much by the shifting your body weight, and few recumbents can be ridden “no hands” (it’s illegal anyway.)
It depends on how much (and how hard) you ride your recumbent. Some riders find they are faster almost immediately. Some riders take longer to develop speed on a recumbent, especially riders who have trained and raced upright bikes. Just like any exercise, persistence yields results. You will develop some new leg muscles, (and speed) if you don’t give up.
Oh yes! They are mainly classified by wheelbase and handlebar position. Wheelbase is the distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels of the bike. Some are long wheelbase (LWB), some are short wheelbase (SWB). LWB bikes (64″ – 72″ wheelbase) are comfortable, fast and stable. They are great on the open road but U turns and navigating narrow, twisting paths can be awkward. Examples: all Easy Racers, Rotator Pursuit, RANS Stratus & Velocity squared.
Short wheelbase bikes (SWB) are 34″ – 45″, with fewer and fewer being made under 39″. Their front wheel is behind the pedals. They are nimble and easy to manoeuvre. They transport and store easily due to their size. Examples: all Lightnings and Haluzaks, RANS Rocket & V-Rex, most Bacchettas. In between are the compact long wheel base (CLWB) bikes. A CLWB is 50″ – 64″. Some riders find these to be the easiest recumbents to adjust to. They are responsive, stable, and with a higher seat – they are more visible in traffic, they are great commuting bikes. Examples: Sun EZ-1, RANS Tailwind, Maxarya Ray-1.
The Burley Canto is convertible from LWB to SWB. Talk about versatile (but hard to classify!)
A very good question. The answer is; not very much, and quite a lot. The major difference is of course the way you ride them. Instead of sitting upright as you would on an ordinary bike, on a recumbent bike you sit in a reclined position with the pedals in front of you instead of underneath you.
As a result, your actual style of riding does change somewhat from what you’re probably used to, but this change is more a matter of aesthetics than anything else. Getting used to one is very easy, trust me on that.
Tiller steering is when the handlebars move side to side when you steer. Some recumbents have it, some do not. Some riders find even a little tiller objectionable, others do not.
Under Seat Steering is when the steering bars come from under the seat, leaving the rider in a more relaxed position. This position is less conventional, but your view is unobstructed and relaxed for the ride. Most common on trikes.