Recumbent FAQs

What is a recumbent?

A recumbent is a bike designed to sit you upright with your legs extended forward as if in a lounge chair.

What is the benefit of a recumbent?

The main benefit of a recumbent is that it is exceedingly comfortable. It puts you in a more natural body position and prevents the aches and pains associated with upright bikes, particularly road bikes.

Aren't recumbents less visible and thus more dangerous to ride since they sit so low?

This is by far the first and most frequently asked question about recumbents. While it is true that recumbents sit lower than upright bikes, they are still quite visible, at least from the front and rear, as they remain in a driver's line of sight. Recumbents also tend to be seen because they are unusual looking. However, they ARE invisible to cross traffic if there is a car next to you. In my experience, drivers actually give recumbents a wider birth than they do regular bikes. Of course there are some hazzards specific to recumbents, but visibility is not the big issue people think it is. Recumbents do tend to be seen AND remembered.

Are recumbents difficult to ride?

Recumbents are not difficult to ride, but there is a short learning curve. The short wheelbase bikes are a little trickier than the long wheelbase bikes. You'll tend to wobble a bit on the starts and at low speeds. Starting off up-hills can also be a little tricky, but you'll get the hang of it all pretty quickly.

Do you use different muscles on a recumbent than on an upright bike?

Yes. You'll use more glutes, paraformis, and quads on a recumbent. Moreover, your speed will drop significantly as you develop this new muscle group. It takes a while to get up to speed, about 1200 miles for me. There are a couple of stretches that will help, but expect your butt to hurt in the process.

How are recumbents at climbing?

Recumbents climb slowly, at least for us mere mortals. Since you can't stand on the pedals like on an upright bike, you have to spin the low gears to climb. The good news is that being aerodynamic, recumbents go down hill fast. I call my recumbunbent "Dragonfly" because it drags up the hills, but flies down them.

Are recumbents slower than road bikes?

I'd say, yes. On average, I run two to three miles per hour slower on my Longbike than on my road bike. Your mileage may vary depending on the type recumbent you ride. Nonetheless, the drop in speed does take a bit of a mental adjustment coming from a road bike.

Which is better? A long wheelbase or short wheelbase recumbent?

Neither a long wheel base nor a short wheelbase recumbent is better than the other. They're just different. Short wheelbase recumbents lean toward performance, while long wheelbase recumbents lean toward comfort. Short wheelbase recumbents are light, responsive, and fast. The seat positions tend to be more laid-back, and more aerodynamic, which is what makes them fast. Moreover, they're easier to transport, and have a smaller turning radius than the long wheelbase bikes. Long wheelbase recumbents, on the other hand, are very stable and have a very smooth ride because they take the bumps better. This makes them especially good for long distance touring. Whether you get a long or short wheelbase recumbent depends mainly on your use and your personal preference.

Which is better? Above seat steering or under seat steering?

Neither type steering is better than the other. It comes down to personal preference. Above seat steering feels more familiar to most people and it makes the bike easier to push around. Under seat steering, however, is more comfortable, especially on a long ride, because it allows the arms to hang in a more natural position.

How do you transport a recumbent?

Short wheelbase recumbents fit most standard bike racks. Long wheelbase bikes can either be put inside larger cars or pickups, or be carried with racks designed specifically to carry recumbents or tandems. Recumbent Bike Racks

Do you have to grow a beard to ride a recumbent?

It would appear so, but I'm not going to.

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