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Is BikeE a good first recumbent bike?

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Is BikeE a good first recumbent bike?

Old 12-21-19, 12:49 AM
  #1  
t1k
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Is BikeE a good first recumbent bike?

I commute on a diamond bike but I was curious about recumbent bikes for a while now.
Didn't have a chance to try one yet. I've stumbled upon an affordable used BikeE bike (I think it's the RX model) that I'd like to buy to introduce myself to the world of recumbent biking I know that the company behind BikeEs is out of business. So here a couple of my questions:
- Is the BikeE RX a good bike overall (I'm not a big fan of grip shifters but I can live with them on a "toy" bike)
- how maintainable is the bike? are the drive train parts just regular bike parts or BikeE specific parts? is the suspension serviceable?

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

The picture of the bike in question:
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Old 12-21-19, 09:49 AM
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Be careful!

My first recumbent 19 years ago was a BikeE AT. Lots of people love them but I am not one. It was only a few months after buying the AT that I bought a used Linear long wheelbase bike. I put a few hundred miles on the AT but thousands of miles on the Linear. These are my thoughts:
Good Points:
Very easily adjustable for riders of different sizes.
Just about anyone can hop on it and ride off with no difficulty. I kept if for this reason as a "try it out" recumbent until the 3 speed rear hub broke while it was being ridden by one of the test riders. Probably not his fault though as I later learned that BikeE had a batch with questionable rear hubs.
Bad Points:
Not very efficient. It was far easier to propel the much larger Linear which was lighter than the Bike E and had much better gearing. I was faster on the Linear and could ride it much further with the same effort.
Replacement hubs and hub parts are no longer available and haven't been for years. SACHS which became SRAM is notorious for being bad about supplying repair parts. I ended up finding a used hub and restored the AT but still found it to be not worth the trouble so ended up throwing it in a dumpster when nobody I knew was interested in taking if for free.
Some models were recalled by the CPSC back when the company was still in business. Look up BikeE recall at the CPSC website. The defects were serious enough you would not want to buy one that has not been fixed. The company went out of business right around the time of the recall so many were not repaired,
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Old 12-21-19, 02:12 PM
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Bike-E was a very entry-level bent - more along the lines of your typical garage-hanger bike than something serious. But depending you your expectations, it could work OK. It will never be a fast machine for doing club rides, and it wouldn't be the best choice to do a multi-day tour. But for putt-putting around some easy local trails, or neighborhood loops, it'd do fine.

Most parts are either standard, or can be replaced with similar items. They're repairable. The one pictured has a multi-chainring mid-drive; so probably no IGH to worry about. Regarding geared hubs, SRAM may not make theirs anymore; but Shimano and Sturmey-Archer both offer one.
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Old 12-21-19, 03:30 PM
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VegasTriker and BlazingPedals, thank you for the advice.

Sound like the bike is nothing spectacular. The seller sells the bike for 100US, so even if I don't like it that much, I'm ok with the loss.

I'm hoping that the bike will be more comfortable than my upright bikes (I've started having lower back and wrist pain after fast rides on imperfect pavement).

The expected use for the bike is occasional commutes in dry weather (about 15 miles round trip).

I don't really need another bike but I was curious about recumbent bikes for a while and this is a chance to try/own one.

However, if the BikeE is of a department strore bikes quality then I'll pass on it.

I'm going to meet with the seller and try the bike. Looks like he upgraded the front wheel to 20".

Last edited by t1k; 01-15-20 at 03:12 PM.
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Old 12-21-19, 06:59 PM
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Reporting back after going and looking at the bike.

The bike looked so different and unusual to me that my first impulse was to buy it.
But I ignored the impulse and looked at the bike carefully.

It was surprising to me that the frame was opened in the rear. The owner filled the opening with the piece of a styrofoam (which kept falling off). I imagine that the opened rear frame end will collect dirt and gravel (flying from the rear wheel).

The suspension felt very mushy. It dropped down a good inch when I sat on the seat. I imagine that the suspension will "eat" a lot of pedalling effort.
The guy didn't have the suspension pump but he claimed that any bike shop can adjust the pressure for 30 bucks.

The rear derailleur was very close to the ground, it looked like it could be hit when making a sharp turn.

The rear brake needed adjustment and possibly repair (one arm didn't spring back on the break release).

Unfortunately, I could not test ride the bike. We had a freezing rain and snow last night and the roads turned into a skating ring.
The bike had slick tyres on, so I didn't risk to ride it and decided to pass on the bike.

Last edited by t1k; 12-21-19 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 12-22-19, 12:21 PM
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Used Bike-Es generally go for $300-400 if they're in good shape. So $100 doesn't sound bad even if the shock needs replacement. Yes, the shock is one reason why it's never going to be a speed demon. And Yes the derailleur hangs low; that happens with 20" drive wheels. One thing I see is that it has a 20" front wheel. That may have been an owner-upgrade, since the ones I'm used to seeing have a 305mm (16") front wheel and rim brakes.

Brakes: In my experience, v-brakes not returning properly can usually be fixed by removing the arm and taking steel wool to the canti post, then cleaning and lubing before re-assembly. It's just something that happens with age.
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Old 12-22-19, 04:01 PM
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The Bike-E is the most maneuverable ‘bent I know of. You can navigate traffic like a minnow on it. Big plus if your commute takes you through a lot of intersections where pedestrians cross. I test rode one many decades ago, took it from downtown NYC up to Central Park and had a blast. Unfortunately it was an early model with the low seat back, and next day I was kinda sore so did not purchase the bike.

Of course you can find more generously proportioned ‘bents for sale used, but $100 is a steal for that model even if you do have to service or replace the shock. And after cleaning and lubing V-brakes the arms can be adjusted for spring tension L & R through the little black Phillips screws on either side.

Otherwise, you might try to get your hands on something like a Bacchetta Giro 20. Very easy “mid racer” to learn, and fairly adept in traffic. Frame can handle wide tires for imperfect roads. I’ve ridden mine many thousands of miles on NYC streets and upstate highways. Plus it can accept both underseat and rear racks in case you ever want to schlep anything. And Bacchetta is still in business so you can buy any model specific replacement parts such as seat foams, backs and covers and various accessories like their One Armed Bandit for attaching a front light to the boom.

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Old 12-23-19, 03:25 PM
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I've never owned a Bike E but I did test-ride one back in the mid '90's when they were being sold at bike shops.
You can find parts from The Bicycle Man here:
https://store.bicycleman.com/collections/bike-e-parts
Several years ago I was wanting to take the plunge, so I did quite a bit of online research into the Bike E.
The stock seat sliders would fail. Newer ones fixed that (available thru above link).
Allegedly there is a rebuild kit available for the rear shock.
On Bentrider Online there is a member who did the 20" front wheel conversion. The fork "rake" was the key to success.
I never bought a Bike E but I agree with other comments above that $100 is a deal that you could have fun with.
A similar bike to consider is the Sun EZ 1.

Happy Festivus!

Last edited by trestlehed; 12-23-19 at 03:27 PM. Reason: Editing
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Old 12-24-19, 04:38 PM
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Plus, with a BikeE you can do this:

https://www.pinkbike.com/news/reclin...ying-back.html
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Old 12-24-19, 04:51 PM
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Old 01-03-20, 03:03 PM
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I have been commuting on a BikeE for over 2 years now with an estimated total of over 5,000 miles. I like it as a commuter bike but it has it pros and cons. It is an easy to learn recumbent and very comfortable on shorter commutes. But since you sit more upright most of your weight is on the seat cushion. I am a heavy dude and after 20 miles I notice the tiredness in the butt cheeks. But I have done 40 to 50 mile trips as well. And yes it is not very efficient. But this is not a drawback for me since it just means more exercise since I need to loose a lot more weight anyhow.
The biggest drawback for me is the weight distribution. I am a tall and heavy dude and carry panniers. One of them has my laptop bag. Although I do have the XL frame most of the weight sits on the rear wheel. At higher speeds the the bike becomes a bit unstable. And on wet surfaces the front wheel might loose traction if I don't pay attention.
In my opinion these bikes are not made for speed. But they are comfy cruiser bikes.
As for the rear hub: I love the old style Sachs/Sram 3x7 with the internal hub. I actually prefer the internal 3 speed over a front derailleur for inner city traffic. And yes these hubs have been discontinued for many years after Sachs was taken over by SRAM but some parts are still available. I actually used these hubs on other bikes before and have collected a few spare hubs for parts.
I am currently looking for a used Tandem Bike E to convert into a one seater cargo bike but they are are rare find. I addtion I am experimenting with other recumbents. I also own a Lightning Phantom and a Barcchetta Strada. But so far I am not happy with the seats on the short wheel recumbents. They don't make them for tall folks.

Here is mine:
- Modified the seat with extra shoulder support
- Added a front hub dynamo and lights
- build a rear rack for the panniers and a hitch to tow my Burley Travoy for grocery runs.

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Old 01-06-20, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Harhir View Post
Here is mine:
- Modified the seat with extra shoulder support
- Added a front hub dynamo and lights
- build a rear rack for the panniers and a hitch to tow my Burley Travoy for grocery runs.

Do you do wheelies if you're not careful on take-offs? That is a lot of weight behind the rear wheel, on a bike that is heavily rear-biased in the first place.
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Old 01-08-20, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Do you do wheelies if you're not careful on take-offs? That is a lot of weight behind the rear wheel, on a bike that is heavily rear-biased in the first place.
Lol. I actually have done wheelies unintentionally uphill when loaded. This is why I use the trailer for shopping vs packing the stuff in the bike.
But I am also looking for an alternative solution for carrying cargo.
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