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So I borrowed a friends recumbent... Have questions

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So I borrowed a friends recumbent... Have questions

Old 09-25-16, 12:54 PM
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FlatFender
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So I borrowed a friends recumbent... Have questions

Howdy folks. A good friend of mine is a die hard recumbent rider, and he's been trying to convert me for a few years. He was heading out of town for the weekend, so I borrowed his Lightning Thunderbolt. Did about 10 miles on it this morning, and I really liked some aspects of it, but I have some questions too. The bike was a little too small for me, but not terribly small.

On an upright bike, I'm used to the bike getting more stable the faster I go, but this thing was so twitchy, and I even going as fast as I could go, it didn't seem to tighten up. Is this just a recumbent thing, or could it be because it was a tick small? Maybe because of the short wheelbase?

Also, I had a really hard time climbing, even slight grades. Is this just something that you get used to? Is there technique involved?

I've got some injuries from a spill I took last fall, and I really like the idea of picking up a recumbent, but after riding this particular bike, I'm not so sure. Would a longer wheelbase bike be something better to try?


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Old 09-25-16, 01:46 PM
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The funny thing with recumbents is that if you really want answers to your questions your are gone for years of buying - trying - selling - buying and so on.
No, I am kidding. Well, half kidding.

I have a limited experience but here it is:
- climbing: I never managed to climb effectively with a recumbent. Some people say that you just need to develop the right muscles which are not the same as for straight bikes. They may be right. Just that for me it never really happened. Maybe I should have tried harder.
- stability: I have an old long wheelbase bike which is extraordinarily stable at high speed. Stable to the point that you tend to lose all notion of speed, which could become dangerous given the poor brakes the beast has. I had a Bacchetta Giro 26 that was, as you say, more twitchy at high speed and needed to be handled with care. It was also clearly worse on bumpy roads - which improved significantly when I installed low-pressure Compass tyres.

I had bought the Bacchetta essentially because I was targeting long rides (randonneur events) and I was lured into it by all those people saying that you could ride forever without anything hurting. The reality is I would get tired much faster than on my upright randonneuse. So I finally sold it. In spite of this, I may well fall for another try with a lighter and more rigid carbon recumbent one day, who knows.
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Old 09-25-16, 02:30 PM
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Climbing with a 'bent is slightly different than on a regular bike, particularly since you can't add to your strength by simply getting out of saddle. So use your gears and practice pedalling while bracing against the backrest.
That one being squirrelly doesn't seem surprising. Small wheels, short wheelbase and what looks like a fairly steep fork angle.
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Old 09-25-16, 03:59 PM
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I own two bents and have ridden a dozen others.

I have two recumbents, a swb uss and a lwb above seat stearing.

I have also ridden quite a number of others too.

Every bent feels different and some of them i like while others are just not for me. Same with other bent riders.

See if you can find a recumbent festival, we have one locally every year. Last one i went to i could have ridden a couple dozen bents in the one afternoon. Excellent learning experience.
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Old 09-25-16, 04:00 PM
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On an upright when you get to a hill, you can stand and use different muscles, or even sit up and use different muscles. With a bent, you use the same muscles you've been using up to that point. The way I see it, a good aerodynamic bent has the advantage on flat ground, downhills, headwind, tailwind, and even side wind. The only place it has a disadvantage is on uphills. So if an upright can't destroy me on a climb, enough to make up for all the other conditions we'll see on a ride, I win.

On the subject of twitchiness, it's probably a combination. Once you get used to the bike, it'll feel a lot better; right now you're probably tensing up and over-controlling. It might help to adjust the hamster bars back a bit -- having the hands close to or in front of the steering axis will definitely make handling feel squirrely.
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Old 09-25-16, 06:19 PM
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No "death grip" on the handlebars

Of course trying a variety of recumbents is the way to find one that might suit your needs. Although I still have two regular recumbents with underseat steering (2-wheels), I no longer ride them but I wouldn't describe the handling on either one as twitchy as long as I used gentle pressure on the underseat handlebars. I just find my trikes as more fun so the two wheelers hang in my garage. I always advised anyone who took them for a test ride to avoid having a death grip on the handlebars as that is the way to get an unpleasant experience. Quite a few people tried them and got the hang of it within a short distance.
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Old 09-25-16, 08:09 PM
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Riding a too-small bike isn't helping the climbing or feeling twitchy at speed. (Your leg looks to be bent too much at about the maximum point of crank rotation. Assuming that's you in the pic.)
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Old 09-25-16, 09:18 PM
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I would first attribute instability to being new to bents and not relaxing fully.
Next I would attribute some to the small front wheel.
Third is (if this hasn't changed in recent years) Lightning uses low trail geometry to minimize the influence of pedaling forces on the steering. Most modern uprights have high trail (55-65mm), where the Lightning is probably closer to 30mm. It isn't less stable, but it does take getting used to before it does not feel twitchy. My Lightning Phantom had amazingly precision handling, once I replaced the crappy stock headset.

Climbing I think suffers from not being able to use different muscles, and the mesh seat, but once you get bent specific conditioning, it is not as bad as people say, and bent conditioning does work on uprights, so going back is easy. Last time I rode a bent, I could sustain speeds of 35mph for about 5 minutes in a stretch. I haven't been able to do that on an upright for 20 years.

I no longer ride bents because newer saddle designs and big Compass tires minimized the problems I had on uprights.
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Old 09-25-16, 10:01 PM
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I started my recumbent career on a Lightning and switched to Easy Racer bikes later. The Lightning was sensitive, but once I learned to relax my arms and hands it was fine on 50+mph descents. I think the too-small frame contributes to the twitchy feeling.

The LWB Gold Rush I ride now is a Cadillac. I would seek out a shop that sells recumbents and test ride a few. You may find that one just talks to you.
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Old 09-27-16, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by FlatFender View Post
On an upright bike, I'm used to the bike getting more stable the faster I go, but this thing was so twitchy, and I even going as fast as I could go, it didn't seem to tighten up. Is this just a recumbent thing ...
You're re-learning how to ride a bike - everything is different. The fact that you could go on 10 miles on your first ride is a really good sign. Some people can't go out on the road until they've had hours of practice. The more you ride, the more comfortable you'll get. If I'm climbing a 17% grade, I can climb as slow as I want & still be stable - even 2-4 mph.

Do your homework on what type of bent would suit you. I wanted speed but my first bent was slow (uphill, downhill & flats -- aaargh). I went back & did my homework & got a fast bike that I've been riding for several years. I carve downhills at 40-50+ mph on almost every ride. I couldn't do that on any of my diamond frame bikes.

Some people just want to have leisure cruises on their local rails-to-trails. There's excellent bents for that also (& everything in between).

Start reading & ask questions. Most bent owners are more than happy to share their knowledge & experiences. Enjoy the journey.
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Old 09-28-16, 08:30 AM
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My bike (a Bacchetta Giro 20) does get more stable with speed. In the picture (assuming it's you), your elbows seem to be out. That can't help. My upper arms are touching my body and don't move much at speed. I steer with my butt once I get moving.

The first time I climbed a hill, I was all over the road and panicked whenever someone passed me. Now I can start on a 10% grade and straighten up pretty quick.

My wife has a long wheelbase, and I believe those are in general easier to ride. I don't have a lot of personal experience, though. I got the SWB so I could put it on my tray style bike rack easily.

It took me about 1000 miles before I really felt like my bike and I were really getting along well.

I agree with other posters.. ride as many bents as you can before buying. Find a place that will allow long test rides (like an hour). I drove 3 hours to find a place.. the 12 hour day was completely worth it. I did that after buying a trike (I didn't even try 2 wheels I was so convinced I wanted a trike) after a relatively short test ride and finding out it really wasn't the best bike for me.
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Old 10-11-16, 11:43 AM
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Rans Stratus Recombant

I have been using my Rans Stratus for 15 years, and have about 15,000 miles on it. With my gearing, I can climb pretty steep hills, but it gets a bit unstable at under 5 mph. The Stratus is very stable at higher speeds, and I have seen 50 mph on a long downhill. It is rather a tank, and with front and rear panniers it can haul a lot. It is not as fast as the Easy Racer, but very, very reliable and steady. I got it years ago after a series of bicycle crashes related to the design of the bike.

The safety of a long-wheel base recumbent is unsurpassed in bicycling. I have crashed the Stratus several times, but usually that was at low speed, and the "crash" was like sliding into third base, more of an ego problem than a safety hazard. As a retired safety and health professional, I like the seating ergonomics, and being able to use handlebar mirrors on noth sides to facilitate seeing to the rear.

I will turn 71 in December, and will continue using my Rans Stratus for the foreseeable future as my primary bike.

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Old 10-12-16, 12:46 PM
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My Tour Easy is very stable.
You most definitely need a larger frame..
SWB bents take longer to a climate to..
Takes time to get 'Bent Legs'

Try to relax your whole body..tense shoulders create twitchy..... Lean back Look far ahead..try a slightly slower cadence..say 70 rpm's
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Old 01-03-17, 10:59 PM
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Recumbent vs DF

I have not ridden a recumbent for long, but must say that after riding the Katy Trail on a Raleigh Grand Prix one year and then on a Sun EZ-1 recumbent the following year, the Sun won out on my preference. The EZ-1 is not the lightest weight bike, but is fun to ride. Maximum speed is around 15-18 with the gearing on it. With the KT and the gravel surface, speed was not that critical.

What I found was that the long grades you climb there are much easier with the bent. An added benefit is that your sitter doesn't get the pain like it did with the DF. I could walk with no problem with the EZ-1, and never had the numb arms either.

The EZ-1 came from Craig's List. From what my cousin and I have noticed, the lighter weight the recumbent is, the more it costs. Also, you can go for a longer distance without tiring on a 'bent that fits right. Make sure you size it to your body too.

Is it Spring yet?!

Phil
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Old 01-06-17, 09:59 AM
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I have been riding upright bicycles for over 25 years.

I started riding recumbent since 2006, with a $250 used Vision R40 short wheelbase, underseat steering..

It took me few hundred miles and few weeks of riding to get used to the bike's handling and be able to relax and enjoy the ride.

Recumbent is a different type of riding than upright bicycle. You should not expect the bike to handle the same.

If you have injury that gets aggravated on upright bicycle, a properly fitted recumbent could likely offer you longer saddle time before you have get off the bike.

You should not expect to find the cure to all of your problem on the upright bicycle on a borrowed recumbent that's not properly introduced to you... especially only ridden it for 10 miles.

If you are interested in recumbent bikes, clearly express what you might be looking for from a recumbent bike.

Are you looking to ride longer without pain?

Are you looking to ride faster with more aero riding position?

Are you looking to ride a bikes that's stable at speed?
Long wheelbase maybe better but more difficult to transport and heavy. Short wheelbase may have quick steering,
but far more compact and lighter in weight.

Recumbent may not be suited for everyone, but if you have specific needs, there may be ways that recumbent can perform better than upright bicycle.
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Old 01-07-17, 03:46 PM
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Agree with Jeff, twitch is definitely worsened by a firm grip, which is hard to avoid on a
twitchy bike. I recall my first few hundred miles as having side to side wobble on
startup of 3' or so, then with experience 2' then down to 1' or less. Once up to speed,
side to side wobble goes away. The bike you rode is twitchier than average, with the
short T-bar and small front wheel behind the feet. A bike with the 'superman' bar
style will be a bit less so.

Bents climb less well because 1) they are 5-12# heavier than standard bikes
2) very little upper body contribution on climbs, zero on the bike pictured
3) as others have noted you can't stand up 4)for those of us with a gut, the
seated uprite position slightly or moderately reduces your maximum breathing capacity.
Climbing is facilitated on bents by developing a high cadence, but in general bents
are slower up hills or on any acceleration for all but a few riders.
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Old 01-10-17, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by sch View Post
2) very little upper body contribution on climbs, zero on the bike pictured
3) as others have noted you can't stand up
I'm not sure how relevant 2 & 3 are. I could exert more force on a seated leg press than I could on a squat rack when I was weight lifting. Based on my experience, the seat position on an upright recumbent is similar to a seated leg press.

But I still find it more difficult to balance at the same speed on my bent than I do on my upright, although that is getting closer to being the same. The wobble takes a lot of energy, I believe.
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Old 01-19-17, 12:53 AM
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It seems like the OP has abandoned this thread.
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Old 01-19-17, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Shahmatt View Post
It seems like the OP has abandoned this thread.
OP hasn't posted on BF in more than a month. But maybe he's following this thread with great interest.
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Old 01-19-17, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
OP hasn't posted on BF in more than a month. But maybe he's following this thread with great interest.
We can only hope. 😀
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Old 01-20-17, 08:47 AM
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He's probably long gone. After all, he borrowed the friend's bike in September.
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Old 01-20-17, 09:23 AM
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OP resides near Raleigh NC.. not particularly flat terrain for recumbents.
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Old 01-21-17, 06:33 PM
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I've ridden through the Raleigh area, one year on CNN. Hilly yes but definitely rideable on a bent.
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Old 01-22-17, 09:53 PM
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Bents on hills

I wouldn't say the hills would keep anyone from riding them on a 'bent. They do take longer on the steeper ones, but when it comes to the long hills (former RR grades), you can get more distance on one. On the KT, both of us got more distance without wearing out.

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Old 04-22-19, 09:59 AM
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OP may have departed, but I am a brand new member and pouring over the input here! Thanks ALL...

(I am in Boston, and picked up a SWB Rans V Rex 10 days ago.. did some good parking lot loops (after letting a bike shop pump the tires for me).. then did some more loops and 8s and got them to slide the seat back an inch for me, then took it home and did an L loop on my side streets. A week later I decided I could try a local hill, and turned (right) into a dead end to do my loop around. Caught the heal of my foot on the front tire, and went down.. skinned elbow and hyperflexed knee... recovered, and glided home, and will let my bumps settle before I try some more parking lot looping!)

Thank you all!
- An overweight, pedal assist lover looking into that, but also liking the idea a tadpole/trike 'bent! (Addicted!)
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