Recumbent bikes

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look out
Member
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Just wondering if anyone out there rides a bent.. I am thinking of buying one shortly. More specifically, the “Bella”, LWB.

I hear that they are just like riding in a lounge chair, and have heard so many positive things about them, mainly about physical ailments alleviated by their design.

I guess I am getting to that age, where my body can’t stand the numbness and crotch pains, etc,,,etc..,, to me they look like riding a chopper bike. I WANT ONE!


reddan
Keymaster
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I’ve ridden a few models; currently, I use my ‘bent for long rides, and my upright for shorter stuff (< 40 miles). My first 'bent was a homebuilt LWB: it was a fine way to get started, but I eventually moved to SWB for better maneuverability and ease of storage/transport. My Lightning P-38 has served me well for the past 8 years. In general, I recommend that new riders take the time to test-ride as many different models as they can. Unlike the traditional bike world, where differences in fit and ergonomics (though crucial) are fairly small, there is a really wide variety of designs; as they tend to be pricier than equivalent uprights, it makes sense to take the time to find what works for you. There's significant differences between recumbent bikes or trikes designed for rail-trails, for touring, or for racing, as well as above-seat or under-seat steering, height of the cranks, style of seat, cargo capacity, etc., etc., etc. The nearest fully stocked shop is about 3 hours drive away, in State College: RBR, rbr.info. They're closed from December 24th to January 2nd, but it'd be worth your time to take a trip out and do some test rides in their parking lot or on the nearby side streets. Call first, and Rob (the owner) may have some suggestions, or be able to get something specific set up for you.


edmonds59
Participant
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“In general, I recommend that new riders take the time to test-ride as many different models as they can.”
That cannot be stressed strongly enough.
I have tried several of Dan’s at the Try-a-Bike Jamborees we’ve had, and all were extremely unnatural to ride for me, but some more-so than others.


Marko82
Participant
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Dan, to add to the conversation, I’ve only tried your bikes at the oval, and while some were easier to ride than others, are there any styles more “traffic” friendly than others? Are there other considerations one should think of when trying to decide what to buy?

(while they are fun to try, no I’m not growing a beard and buying one)


Vannevar
Participant
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Dan’s advice as always is excellent.

I had an under seat steering bent and i absolutely loved the uss.


reddan
Keymaster
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@edmonds: In many cases, the more experienced a cyclist is, the harder it is for them to become comfortable on a ‘bent, at least right off the bat. I think that it’s due to the need to unlearn a lot of habits (you steer with the handlebars, not the hips; your center of gravity is much lower; you won’t worry about pedal strike on a fast banked turn, but you might suffer heel strike at low speeds while turning; etc., etc.)

@Marko: IME, the SWB (short wheelbase) models are a bit more nimble and maneuverable, so I prefer them over the LWB (long wheelbase) types.
I also find that the ‘bent bikes and trikes that are excessively low require more assertive lane positioning; not that you can’t get away with riding a really low ‘bent in traffic, but your ability to see (and likelihood of being seen) is lessened in direct proportion to how closely you hug the shoulder/gutter/parking lane.
On the bright side, I find that I’m given significantly more room when I’m on my ‘bent than when I’m on my upright, even on the same routes, same times of day, and same riding style. I suspect that this is due to the novelty factor; recumbents don’t fit nicely into the mental “just another annoying bike” pigeonhole, so are more likely to be noticed by motorists.

As far as other considerations go:
1) Some models require extra effort when it comes to transport . LWBs need tandem-length racks; SWBs can usually work fine on fork-mount racks or some hitch-mounted tray styles; no ‘bents which I’ve tried can go on a PAT bus rack
2) Most parts are stock bicycle components (albeit needing more lengths, in the case of chains). The only things that are really proprietary are the seats, steering systems, and portions of the chain management. Although they may be a pain in the ass to get into a workstand, any competent bike mechanic can wrench on a ‘bent.
3) ‘Bents often use less-common tire sizes, which can make finding replacement tires and tubes challenging.

@Vannevar: that’s a great example of why I tell people to try lots of different models; many people love under-seat steering, but I’ve personally never liked it.


Ahlir
Participant
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I went up to Rob’s shop a couple of years ago, when I thought I had to do something drastic to deal with my back issues.

He first put me on a dual 26″ wheel bike (which must have been SWB since it fit on the roof rack on my car). I didn’t get it, much to my embarrassment. And I kept trying. Conceptually the problem had to do with being unable to intuit how turning the handlebars could possibly mesh with pedaling (yes, in my brain I understood what I should have been doing).
I then got to try one of the normal ‘bents, with the small front wheel. That went much better (or maybe I was just getting used to the whole thing) and I was getting enthused. But I had been given to understand that the same-size wheel ‘bents were for ‘real’ bikers, so I was conflicted. Anyway, around that time Rob seemed to decide that I was the retail commerce equivalent of a troll (not that I blame him) and drifted off to other stuff.
Maybe I’ll be back once that second disc squirts out.

In the meanwhile I’ve been more than happy with my Specialized Sirrus “Pro” with its upright ride and zippy response (at least in comparison with my everyday commuter). No issues with my back (or other annoying body parts).


MaryShaw
Member
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Another ‘bent shop a little farther away than State College is Mt Airy Bikes, on the service road of I70 at Mt Airy MD (east of Frederick). They let you test ride on the local roads — they have a 2-mile test route.

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