Recumbents and all feet forward machines
Have you dabbled in the dark and mysterious world of recumbents? They've intrigued me for a while, partly because they're 'different' (the odd appeals to me...) and partly because of the potential comfort and aerodynamic advantages over conventional diamond frame bicycles, but the big price tags that come with the niche market territory continue to put me off. Just curious if any of you lot have any experience with 'bents.
No experience ... yet.
I want a two wheeler - fitting a training wheel seems to be cheating to me, but that's a purely personal bias and not relevant to the real world. The prices are a bit frightening, especially seeing I'd only be getting it to have one, so the ideal for me would be to find a frame in the back of someone's shed and do it up. Keep your eyes open please
Hey, if I find a recumbent frame in the back of someone's shed I'm keeping it for myself!
I'm also more interested in the bikes than the trikes, largely because trikes are so low to the ground and I'm not sure I'd like that when there's any traffic around. The more elevated position of something like a Bacchetta looks safer to me.
Yeah, that's the idea, though I'm not that taken with the ape hanger handle bars. Then again, the under frame steering just looks odd but I guess if you're going to ride a recumbent, 'odd' is just something you have to get used to.
There's a movie about two blokes who rode recumbents from Moscow to Beijing. Mad buggers. The funniest bit was at the start because one of the riders had never been on a recumbent before and there he was, in Moscow (or was it Paris ), wet road, heavily loaded 'bent, suddenly discovering that they are tricky brutes to ride at first.
Yeah, I want one
I would never ride one of those really low recumblments in Sydney as I wouldn't feel safe. The Bacchetta ones look better as you are higher.
I hear that if you have back problems that they should be considered as an option.
A helmet saved my life
The prospect of cycling faster than you can on an upright bike while at the same time reclining in a comfy chair does seem decadent, almost to the point of sinfulness, I suppose...
The reason for the "quicker" label than racers is that some have better aerodynamic positions that racers. At 40kmh on a racer 80% of the effort is moving the wind around the bike and your body, mainly your body.
A helmet saved my life
Unfortunately, recumbents are faster than real bikes - all the more reason to disprove of them.
One of the events when Stromlo Forest Park was opened was a 'flying lap' and, of course, the record was set by a recumbent. Fortunately, when Mick Rogers was home for Christmas, he was talked in to giving it a go and he reclaimed the record for the 'light side'.
Probably slower as his body is turned to the racer.
It should be noted that these are special bents, the bents in the link wouldn't do it.
A helmet saved my life
I have heard that it can take a highly trained rider up to a few months to regain their former speed if they switch to a 'bent because they use slightly different muscles. For mere mortals whose muscles are less tuned the changeover is of course quicker.
It's true that for ultimate speed on level ground then the ultra-low slung and totally impractical 'low racers' win, especially if fitted with fairings, however the top of the range of the bikes in the link are examples of fast 'high racers' and can be competitive with the low-racers, especially if there are hills to climb.
Well, I've been a lurker on this forum for a while, but this topic of recumbents has brought me to life.
I am a member of the dark side. After several years commuting and competing in triathlons, my riding lapsed to nothing for quite a few years. Just recently I started riding again, and the catalyst was a recumbent. As several have mentioned, it was the difference that first attracted me, together with the increase in aerodynamic efficiency. The price however, was prohibitive. Then I discovered a set of plans for a recumbent called Bentech. With a huge amount of help from a fellow recumbent rider, we built two bikes, one for each of us. This also satisfied my need to tinker and do things myself. For the running gear I used parts from my old Gary Fisher mountain bike, so the whole exercise was relatively affordable.
So far I've only been back on the road since just before Christmas, so the body is still adapting to riding again. Riding has been lots of fun. My weak legs mean I'm slow up hills, but very comfortable. Visibility is much better than a road bike. So far I haven't had any problems with traffic on some relatively busy roads. I'm getting used to the comments every time I ride as well.
I'd certainly recommend having a go if you get the chance.
By the way, I live in Hornsby and would be interested in hooking up with anyone local interested in doing some rides.
Welcome to the forum David
A helmet saved my life
I found the site: Benteck - Build-It-Yourself Recumbent Bike Plans
Be still my beating heart
I'm in love
Guess what lies in my future. Seriously. I've been looking for something like this ... and I've got a mate with the welding skills. Of course, I don't have the money but that hasn't slowed me down so far
First look said "shhhhhhheeeett, how does he balance that? Handlebars DO NOT belong under your bum. Got talking for a while, then got on. It was oddly intuitive suprisingly, and rather relaxing not having to reach out to the bars. Would I own one? Hell yeah! Would I buy one? Ummmm.
As I understand it the under seat steering gives the most relaxed arm position, and so it favoured on touring recumbents. The above seat steering on the other hand positions your arms in front of your torso and so is slightly more aerodynamic, and as a result tends to be seen on more performance orientated 'bents.
For those interested, here are a few comments on transitioning to a recumbent.
They are different. Seems an obvious statement, but I found myself thinking that since I'd ridden bikes for many years in all kinds of conditions, I should be able to just get on and ride it. My first experiences showed this to be very much not so. Just the act of getting started is quite different. Took me a few weeks to be able to start on any sort of incline. The wheelbase is short so the bike is very responsive. It is easy to over control. Had a few scary moments until I learned to just relax my arms and hands and let the bike do it's thing. My bike is configured for above seat steering, which is apparently easier to learn than below seat steering. It is also more compact, and given the tendency for Sydney motorists to brush past your elbows with millimeter clearances, it seemed a good idea to keep the bike as narrow as possible.
As far as on road performance is concerned, it has pros and cons. Since it is lower than a diamond frame, there is much less weight transfer when climbing or travelling downhill. This also makes braking more stable. I have no problems in traffic at the height I am, but certainly wouldn't want to be any lower. The most obvious disadvantage when climbing is not being able to stand on the pedals to push over the top of a hill. You have to really concentrate on spinning effectively. Given the age of my knees, this is not a bad thing.
It is very comfortable. No pressure points on the backside, lower back is supported, neck and shoulders are relaxed. The sensation is more like riding in a open topped car than riding a bike. The downside is that you cannot as easily see behind you by just looking back. You have to rely on a rear vision mirror and plenty of caution. Not a bike for cutting through heavy traffic.
The most important thing for me is that it has rekindled my interest in riding. I'm back out on the road, working on those kilos that have accumulated over the years.
Richard (europa), send me a PM if you'd like to discuss the building process. I can also send you a picture of my bike.
Even better would be for you to post a piccie on the forum (you just need to find somewhere to host it first, e.g. http://www.flickr.com).
I'm seriously impressed that you built your own recumbent. I find the idea of DIYing a bike really interesting, but I can't see me having the time, equipment or space (downside of living in a unit - no shed!) to do anything like that myself any time soon.
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