Different Recumbent Types:
What are Recumbent Bikes?
Recumbent bicycles, aka 'Bent bicycles', are not your standard bike.
Instead of sitting perched on a regular bicycle seat the rider reclines in a seat with their legs extended forward.
Despite common misconceptions - recumbents are NOT just bikes for disabled people but are in fact are a fantastic and really comfortable way of cycling for everyone.
Unlike regular shaped bikes (or wedgies as they are referred to by recumbent riders), recumbent bikes don't just come in a standard diamond shape with minor variations. They come in a plethora of different shapes and sizes.
The Many Different Styles of Recumbent Bicycles ...
- LWB - Long Wheelbase
- CLWB- Compact - Compact Long Wheelbase
- MWB - Medium Wheelbase
- SWB - Short Wheelbase
- High Racer - HiRacer
- Low Racer - LoRacer
- OSS - Over Seat Steering
- USS - Under Seat Steering
Other Types of Recumbents
Trikes, Quads ,Tandems, Mountain or Off Road, Touring, Folding, Hand Cycle, Velomobiles
The Advantages And Disadvantages of Recumbent Bicycles
OK, so here is an overview of what the most seasoned recumbent riders consider to be the Pros and Cons of Recumbent Bicycles.
Advantages Of A Recumbent Bike
The recumbent is VERY comfortable and supportive of the rider's back.
Its ergonomic design means it is a great deal less stressful on your body - especially the muscles in your neck, back, wrists, hands, arms and of course your bottom!
This means you will find yourself cycling greater distances, over longer periods and getting much less fatigued.
On a recumbent bicycle your head is held in a more natural, erect position which means you have greater visibility and can enjoy your surroundings immeasurably more. It also means you are much more visually aware of any potential problems.
The lower center of gravity on a recumbent makes for greater stability and gives some recumbents superior cornering, handling and stopping powers. It also means on certain recumbent designs it is easier to put your feet down on the pavement when you need to.
In a potential crash situation the recumbent is easier to re-maneuver and faster at slowing down or stopping.
If you DO actually crash, then you won't be thrown over the handlebars and receive head injuries ... Instead you will hit the object or person feet first ... which is preferable (although probably not for the person!).
Also, being so much closer to the ground, if you do take a tumble then there is much less distance to fall... always a plus in my book.
Recumbents are excellent for recreational highway and long distance tour riding.
With 15-30% less wind resistance - due to your reduced frontal exposure - the recumbent goes faster, is smoother and requires much less exertion, on your part.
Disadvantages Of A Recumbent Bike
The recumbent is generally more expensive than a regular bike.
The weight of a recumbent is - again generally - heavier than that of a diamond shape bicycle.
It has a heavier seat, more tubing and triple the amount of chain!
Without the ability to stand up on the pedals many people find the recumbent much slower and cycling more difficult on hill climbs - (however, still achievable.) To get low enough gears to circumvent this problem, most recumbents are fitted out with triple chain-rings.
The regular recumbent bicycle isn't designed to do stunt or trick work. It can handle moderate off road riding but extreme riding is inadvisable and unsafe ... You will need to buy a mountain recumbent for off-roading.
For urban cycling the LowRacer is not the best choice, because of the dire combination of chaotic traffic and reduced visibility.
Parts can be more expensive because, unlike regular bikes, recumbent bicycles aren't currently mass produced and need to be custom built. This may change if the 'big' bike companies decide to start mass producing recumbents under their brand names ... Cannondale and a few others have already tried to test the waters without commercial success. Maybe if any are finally successful, the prices may start to drop ... fingers crossed.
It will take a regular bike rider quite a while - even up to 12 months - to re-achieve the speeds that they are used to reaching on their diamond frame bike. The reason for this is that riding a recumbent bicycle involves using different muscle groups and these (previously under-utilized) muscles need to be built up and strengthened with training.
Sitting lower on some can mean that the rider faces more issues with blind corners.
Recumbents are less suited for city riding and the starts and stops of heavy traffic except perhaps the CLWB.
Issues To Consider BEFORE You Buy A Recumbent Bike
- Make sure you do you own research.
- Think about the purpose of your cycling.
- Are you riding for recreation, touring, racing, commuting or all of the above?
- Do you want a two-wheeler, three-wheeler, quad or a tandem recumbent?
- Factor in your specific needs and wants, style and desired features.
- Most importantly of all, if you just aren't sure, go in to a bike shop and have a test ride BEFORE you buy.
- Keep in mind that it will take a bit of practice to get use to this unfamiliar and different form of cycling!
- Remember that recumbents are very NON-standard and it really is a matter of 'horses for courses' when choosing the right bike for YOU.
Having Said That The General Consensus Seems To Be That ...
Once you go 'Bent' you will NEVER go back!
Getting Your Measurements
To measure yourself correctly for a recumbent bicycle we use the - X-seam - method. This involves sitting on the ground with your back pressed firmly up against the wall. You then need a friend to measure the distance from the wall to the soles of the your feet.