How much faster are recumbents to road bikes?

Discussion in 'Recumbent bicycles' started by JTE83, Feb 24, 2005.

  1. Hull 697

    Hull 697 New Member

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    Have to share this with you. A while back I was out in my very cool stock 1990 Jeep Comanche long bed being annoying to the A-PUDs (A**HOLE-Pick Up Driver) in the Texas Hill Country.

    Had one so mad he was trying to pass me on the shoulder since the center stripes were double. Then I saw the bikes up ahead. I pulled over and let him by, then cruised along checking out the bikes.

    Lots of DF's, naturally. Then, wow, there's a 'bent up there. Caught up to the bunch with the 'bent in the tail end about the top of a hill. Now, this is rolling country, steep up and downs in places, mainly rollin', rollin', rollin'. The kind of place bikers, road bikers anyway, love.


    As they started downhill the 'bent rider glanced back at me, got the wave, then pulled into the passing position. And smoked them all before getting to the next climb. Then held the position up the hill, and roared along to the back of the next bunch.

    Fascinating.

    I just rolled along, watching this performance repeated a couple more times. That guy on the bent seemed to hold the same cadence throughout the climbs and descents, a real class performance. I was already thinking it was time to get into this 'bent thing seriously. Have not been on a bike for years, and the visual stimulation was great.

    Finally, having caught up to another group, the 'bent rider seemed to finally find a bunch who could maintain a pace he could live with. By this time there were several A-PUD's behind me, obviously impatient, frothing at the mouth tobacco chomping white knuckled A-PUDS so I pulled on ahead and glanced aside to salute the bent rider and yell out, "BENTS RULE!".

    To my considerable surprise, and I am sure to the immense damage of any number of the male egos behind, He was a She! Nice smile too.

    Hull 697
     


  2. Ike90

    Ike90 New Member

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    Hull, that's a great story. Thanks for sharing.
     
  3. gmac

    gmac New Member

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    I have ridden my bent for just about 3 wks now. My average speed is just under 1.7mph slower than my regular bike. I am 59 and think that I am getting stronger and after some training I will be faster than I use to be. The bing advantage is the pain after riding, there is none. Just finished 25 mile ride today and after resting for about 2 hours feel I could do it again. Well maybe not.
    The average is 16.5 on the bent. Consider also that I have 40% less lungs than the rest of you, Cancer took that part away.
     
  4. achtervolger

    achtervolger New Member

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    It depends. On flat courses or downhill, quite a bit.

    Over any course with any kind of hills, which is basically everywhere if you live in California, they're dramatically slower. My dad rides 'bent alone, but if he's doing a group ride of any distance with anyone remotely in shape he has to ride his normal bike to keep up.
     
  5. JTE83

    JTE83 Member

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    Can someone explain what the term "DF" means?

    I guess there are fast and slow recumbents. The Optima Baron is fast. But is the 3 wheeled Catrike slow ? -- I was just looking at it at a bike shop last week - $2000 (US).

    Maybe I should have bought a recumbent instead of my 5th road bike - an 06 Raleigh Prestige with Stronglight Pulsion cranks and 05 Ritchey Protocol wheels ($2000 total).
     
  6. blazingpedals

    blazingpedals New Member

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    Sure - DF stands for 'Diamond Frame,' which is a loose description of uprights. It's a nicer term than using 'wedgie' or other, worse names.

    Yes there are fast and slow bents. At the top of the food chain are the highracers and lowracers, followed by the 'sport' models with more upright seatbacks, with the entry-level compacts at the bottom. Generally, you can look at the weight and the rider position and make a fair guess as to how fast the bent will be. The fastest trikes will fall somewhere in the middle of the sport range. Catrikes fall in the middle of trikes' speed range.
     
  7. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover New Member

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    I just joined and I apologize for posting on this old thread....

    I build my own recumbents and found the dual 26" (high racer) to be close to 5 mph faster than my lightest carbon fiber road bike that I sold in 1997. I would never go back to riding an upright bicycle unless it was for off-road use. On my road bike (19 lbs.) and in better shape I could sprint to 33 mph and cruise at 21 for up to 20 miles. The High racer (26 lbs.) can do 36 in a sprint and cruise at 26 mph, it was built to ride with upright cyclist but I have found most DF riders to be more uptight than upright. I guess when you can ride beside a paceline looking like you are sleeping they all get thier lycra in a bunch.

    When I want to go realy fast I ride a fully enclosed home built (85 lbs.) that will do 42 mph in a sprint and 33 mph cruise all day. It seems more like a cruise ship than a bicycle, it takes a good 300 meters to get up to speed but once there it takes a half mile or more to coast to a stop (on flat ground with no tail wind). It climbs rolling hills very well for a heavy bike but don't even think about extended climbing.

    I am working on plans to build a carbon fiber dual 26" racer that should climb hills well but most of my riding is flat so the full fairing bike is my one man peloton...
     
  8. Hull 697

    Hull 697 New Member

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    Why apologize? Sounds like you have some factual information to share.

    I am faster on a bent because I will not endure the pain of riding a DF. Unless the hill is a real bugger I can still spin up it faster than I can walk - oops, that's off topic...
     
  9. ncaudio

    ncaudio New Member

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    Ben,

    Thanks for sharing, good info and you might help inspire me to rebuild the center and rear sections of my F40 fairing that got mashed up when a truck hit me a while ago (both me and the bike recovered although it took a bit of rebuilding on the bike). I bought a bunch of thin coroplast, but just haven't put the time in yet.

    I do know what you mean about the upright riders having a problem with bents. My best story about that is on a weekend ride a few years ago, one of the racers pulled up alongside and asked why I didn't ride my upright any more, while cruising along I just looked up at him and said: "Well, on Sundays, I like to kick back and take it easy"

    Roger
     
  10. scuggers1

    scuggers1 New Member

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    bents are slower! especially while accelerating - they are in theory only faster when you are up to speed on flat terrain.

    you'll never see a bent in professional bicycle racing - because you can't use your body weight to accelerate the bike


     
  11. ncaudio

    ncaudio New Member

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    Don't get everyone started, yes they are slower accelerating but they are faster (not just in theory) on flat terrain or on downhills which equates to higher speed overall on a ride, especially if one is riding a faired recumbent, so for equal capability riders the recumbent rider can drop the upright.

    Re the use in professional bike racing, the reason they aren;t seen in open competition is because they were banned in 1933 because they were deemed too fast. Read about Tyger Johnson on the Lightning website (and other places), this guy would go out on races in the Wisconsin Illinois area and come in as much as 20 minutes fbefore the first upright racer. He was doing it just for fun as they wouldn't consider him a winner because he's riding a recumbent but the guy was racing while in his 60's.

    How about "professional" land speed racing where recuments have topped 80 MPH on flat level ground, or a more practical example where a 4 man team (only one person riding at a time, changing off) rode coast to coast on a recumbent in 5 days, 1 hour, averaging 24 MPH, try doing that on an upright. So unless it;s a short sprint where the upright can out accelerate or a very hilly course....
     
  12. poweredbysweat

    poweredbysweat New Member

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    I was commuting on a mountain bike up to a month ago, when I bought a used Bike E LWB. It's faster than my mountain bike, but roadies still kick my butt. Obviously, this is not a recumbent built for racing though, but I sure am enjoying the commute to work.
     
  13. lowracervk2

    lowracervk2 New Member

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    Just in case anyone is still doubting whether or not recumbents can be faster than road bikes, check out these videos from the hilly hundred with my vk2 lowracer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBV7-h6sIyo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUCEFE8ujuY&mode=related&search=

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoOHDg5y0f4&mode=related&search=

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMGN94NVU3k&mode=related&search=

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E3OFW3S7mw&mode=related&search=

    road bikers pretty much have no chance of catching a lowracer unless they are pro material or in a strong pack of riders.
     
  14. Erzulis Boat

    Erzulis Boat New Member

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    Matching "power to power", the recumbent generally is "faster", but here is the catch.......the recumbent is limited in application, where the DF is the "Jack of all trades".

    Where I live, the recumbent works perfectly on the coastal bike path and flat runs, but in the mountains (real mountains, not hills) the recumbent simply (by design) cannot perform.

    I have always considered the recumbent a fantastic, but specialized machine.

    Saying a bent is faster than a DF, or the other way around, is not a realistic argument.

    I do not understand the recumbent rider's inferiority complex, we ride super fast SPECIALIZED machines, let's leave it at that.
     
  15. Erzulis Boat

    Erzulis Boat New Member

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    Okay, if we are going to beat a dead horse, let's beat it to death.

    3 factors here. "RPM", "torque", and aerodynamics.

    "Torque" You do not kickstart your Harley-Davidson lying on your BACK in the driveway. The SIMPLE FACT of human physiology dictates that the maximum power is exerted from an upright position. The DF is superior in this regard, so I will liken it to "torque" to make this understandable in a mechanical sense.

    "RPM" This is a more even equation, we can "spin" the cranks at basically the same rate. But remember, that RPM is seperate from torque (power).

    Aerodynamics. The REAL factor. Recumbents have brought a gun to a knifefight. The DF is an aerodynamic flop, we have to sit upright to combat the aerodynamic inefficiencies, a Catch 22 on the grandest scale. BUT....when initial acceleration and steep hills are concerned, the "torque" that the DF allows squeaks ahead of the lack of "torque" that the recumbent inherently cannot provide.
    On the flats and moderate hills however, the recumbent has the "RPM" and the aerodynamics but no "torque". Once the recumbent is up to speed the need for "power" is minimized. The DF, due to it's deplorable aerodynamics will never give the rider a break, you must "fight" a constant battle.

    The DF is more "universal", but the recumbent is a specialized speed machine on certain terrain. The recumbent shines with the modern paved roads, flat and smooth. The DF is more "Worldly", steep rough hills, offroad trails and the like. It depends on your desires and where you live. The recumbent fits perfectly for a modern lifestyle in conjunction with technology. The "recumbents are faster" argument would be laughable in the Gobi desert.

    A recumbent is a specialized machine.
     
  16. lowracervk2

    lowracervk2 New Member

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    OK, Honestly, the only place I see DF's being faster, is uphill. That pretty much makes them slower everywhere else. I'm sorry, but I don't know any riders that only ride uphill all day. That tends to make the DF a specialized machine only efficient at climbing up hills.

    As far as wattage output from a recumbent platform vs an upright platform, I also haven't seen that much difference when doing comparisons on my virtual trainer which calculates wattage. I experience the same course times on the trainer whether riding the recumbent or the upright.
    The legs do fatigue quicker on the recumbent than the upright, but when legs are fresh, the recumbent produces the same horsepower.
     
  17. Hull 697

    Hull 697 New Member

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    Let's jump up and down on the dead horse.

    39.8 MPH faster than my (former) upright.

    Upright speed = 0 MPH because the bastard hurt so I did not ride it.

    My personal best on my Strada = 39.8 MPH because I ride the recumbent. And that was at the end of a 20 mile slog into the wind. Have no idea how fast I could do that hill if I was fresh, but it's a long drive to that ride.

    I say forget the debate. Enjoy your bike, whatever platform suits you.
     
  18. Aussie Steve

    Aussie Steve New Member

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    How can a "bent" be faster than a normal traditional bike? at least on my normal frame, I can get off the saddle and use upper body to drive the pedals harder...the "bent" looks ungainly, uncomfortable...it can't be good for your back, and it must be tough to take corners...
    When people say these bikes are good, is it just a case of not admitting they spent $4000 on a lemon? Are they all in denial?
     
  19. Hull 697

    Hull 697 New Member

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    I did not spend $4,000 for my bike. It is much better for the back, neck, butt, wrist and shoulders than the unnatural position you assume on your upright, unless, of course, you are a lower order of primate. I take corners just like you do, lean into them.

    The perception thing is very real - you are experiencing it with your post. My sister has ridden with me several times and still can't get over the fact I can even ride the Strada. I admit to the same problem when viewing someone on a unicycle.

    'Bents also can climb. Some are better than others, depends on what they are designed for. It's only a factor if you always ride uphill or if you are a serious competitor, in which case the UIC rule will really limit what you can ride. Personally, I do not care to subject my body to machines designed to a rule that benefits the manufacturers at the expense of my body.

    The best thing for you to do, providing you are not just a troll, is to find some shop or some person where several are available and test ride 'bents for several miles each. Properly fitted, you will be amazed not only by the comfort, but by how much more you see. As to why 'bents are faster, given equal riders, it's frontal area. 'Bents have less drag:

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Aussie Steve

    Aussie Steve New Member

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    I am not a troll, but thanks for the compliment...:cool:
    On Saturday, 5 of us lunatics did a 200 km ride (120 Miles), 4 on DF, one on a "bent".
    It's quite obvious that the lower frontal area should translate to better aerodynamics but also must make it a bit less safe in traffic. Much lower rear red light; lower profile means less chance of being spotted by cars...etc
    It just looks unnatural and with the spine seeming to adopt a curvature in the seat, would be no good for my L5/L6 area. I remember using a similar apparatus in a gym, which of course is not really like a "bent" however I couldn't handle the legs-in-front position.
    The angle between abdomen and quads would be smaller than that on a DF, isn't it?
    Some medical opinion holds that a cyclists hip flexors are underdeveloped/underworked, presumably because of this angle. So would a "bent" make this worse?
    I don't want to appear to be bagging "bents' , each to his/her own, but the above are my opinions, and if you enjoy riding them, great:) but I cannot see myself considering them a viable alternative...for me, that is. Just my 2 cents worth, fellas
     
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