Novice here, so please be gentle.

Discussion in 'Recumbent bicycles' started by Elkhound, Jun 10, 2007.

  1. Elkhound

    Elkhound New Member

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    1. How hard is it to learn to balance on a recumbent? It LOOKS hard, but looks can be decieving.

    2. Is it true that recumbents have problems on hills? Please remember that I am from WEST VIRGINIA, so what someone from Kansas, or Illinois, or Iowa probably doesn't know what we call hills.

    3. Which is better, a bicumbent or a tricumbent? Of the former, what are the relative advantages of a long wheel base vs. a short wheelbase? Of the latter, what are the relative advantage of delta vs. tadpole?

    Please forgive an ignorant newbie. (Note: No LBS here regularly sells either bi- or tricumbents. They'll order them, but I have no way to do a test drive.)
     
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  2. Aeliel

    Aeliel New Member

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    1) Balance is only an issue the first few times out (unless youre buying something really radical like a low racer). Everyone worries about it, but it's rarely an issue. Living in the hills I would suggest you stay away from the longest wheelbase bikes because at low speeds they can be a bit tricky but even then it's not as bad as you might think.

    2) I live in Southwestern NY on the side of a 2 mile hill and I have no problem. But if you want to fly up hills don't expect it overnight. Bents use slightly different muscle groups than an upright so they take a bit of getting used to. I think they are slightly slower up hills (depending alot on the type of bent and the weight) but not as bad as some would have you think.

    3) 2 wheels or 3 is dependent on what you want. I think 2 wheels is lighter and has less rolling resistance so they are faster but 3 wheels are a riot. The main advantage for you might be that a 3 wheeler makes it easier to stop halfway up a hill and rest (just hit the brakes).

    Long and short wheelbase is another tough one. Generally I think short wheelbase tends to be better at slow speeds and long wheelbase tend to be a bit more stable on those long high speed decents. Of course alot of this depends on geometry and I've ridden some short wheelbase bikes that felt dang near perfect at all speeds. But that is generally my experiance and I'm sure others will probably disagree.

    My advice for your first bent, sight unseen, would be to get something of a moderate wheelbase with a crank that is about lvl or just above/below the seat. That seems to be the most comfortable arangement for the novice.

    I havent ridden a delta trike but my guess is that the higher seat height makes them a bit more unstable in turns at speed. The advantage is that you see more and are more easily seen.

    I hope that answers some of your questions. Alot of the questions you ask are dependant on price range too. A Volae Century is my next bike but I don't have $2k atm....

    Check out The Bicyclemans website. He has some good general info about different bikes and their positives and negatives.
     
  3. blazingpedals

    blazingpedals New Member

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    Uprights are balanced to steer, while bents are steered to balance. What that ultimately means is that you have to use the steering to stay upright rather than use 'body english.' It also means that it's hard to balance a bent at very slow speeds, say below 3 mph. Otherwise, they are different but no more difficult.

    Having seen a few W Va hills, I can say that steep hills are a challenge on a bent. The main reason is you can't stand on the pedals. The upshot is that you can't rest your sit-and-pedal muscles by using your stand-and-pedal muscles, so you're stuck grinding it out in the same position, using the same muscles that you started using at the bottom of the hill. Also, when the going gets steep as it often does in W.Va, speeds will get slow (see above for balancing issues.) For what most of us would consider average grades of 3-7%, bents are a little more work and consequently slower going up. That is only a problem if you're trying to match pace with a group of uprights.

    The advantage of a trike is that there are no balance issues. You can gear them to literally winch you up the hills at speeds for which no two-wheeler could hope to balance. Tadpoles tend to be lower for better cornering capabilities, while delta trikes, being taller, tend to be easier to get in and out of. You take a small hit in the speed department for riding a trike - that's the tradeoff. If you are of average stature, then LWB vs SWB is merely a personal preference. In general, LWB will have lower seat heights, more upright seat positions, and lower pedals, all of which make it easier to learn to ride. SWB will be more maneuverable and 'sporty' feeling. For tall riders, SWB generally works better because the LWB's necessity of putting the front wheel ahead of the rider's feet starts making the bike inordinately long. Conversely, short riders generally do better on a LWB because their legs may have problems reaching pedals that are ahead of the front wheel.
     
  4. jawnn

    jawnn New Member

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  5. winkyb

    winkyb New Member

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    Interesting and well written.
    Wink
     
  6. Elkhound

    Elkhound New Member

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    As I told you on another thread, I tried a swb recumbent and nearly broke my neck. I don't know of a lwb owner around here. I'm thinking, though, of going with a tadpole tricumbent, if I go the 'bent route at all.
     
  7. WKB

    WKB New Member

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    First of all, I am very new to recumbents, so take my advice with a high degree of salt. Despite that, I have test driven five different models, and I feel that I have enough experience to answer your first question. The answer: not very long. In general, I found the long wheelbase recumbent with low cranks very easy to adapt to. Short wheelbase and recumbents with higher cranks were more difficult, but still very learnable. All bikes were pretty stable at cruising speed. The problem was when you slow down to stop or turn sharply. That's when the steering gets really twitchy and you feel a lot less stable. After 15 minutes of practice in the parking lot, I was able to make controlled figure-eights at a modest pace on the long wheelbase. In short, it simply doesn't take that long if you can practice for awhile.

    I don't have any firsthand experience to answer your second question, so I'll skip it. In response to the third question, I found the long wheelbase bikes a little more stable. The shorter wheelbases were a little more twitchy, particularly at slow speeds. I have read of one exception to this general rule: when riding a long wheelbase through gravel, when the front wheel has a tendency to slide more quickly than it would on a short wheelbase. I did not experience this problem at all, however, so I'm not sure if it is another myth associated with recumbents or not.

    One general piece of advice: don't buy a recumbent without test driving it. You can read all you want about how others describe them, but until you put your feet on the pedals and your butt in the seat, you really don't get the feel of them.
    Good luck with your decision. I' know I'm going to love mine.

    Best, Keefe.
     
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