questions and recommendation

Discussion in 'Recumbent bicycles' started by EmptyH, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. EmptyH

    EmptyH New Member

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    Last year, I purchased a bike for the first time in years to keep in shape. I enjoyed riding, but the seat was uncomfortable over 10-15 miles and I don't think I had it properly fit to me as I ended up with soreness between my shoulder blades and in my wrists. Even with proper fitting, I don't think the seat discomfort would go away, so I'm thinking a recumbent is the way for me to go.

    I'm hoping to use it for commuting to work, about 5 miles each way, recreational rides of 20-50 miles (I live very close to a state bike trail), and possibly weekend touring rides. I've been researching recumbents online and I'm leaning towards a Bacchetta Giro. Anybody have suggestions for other models I should explore? Also, any suggestions for a good LBS in the Twin Cities, MN area that have a lot of recumbents I could go to for test rides? I'm willing to drive an hour or two if necessary to get to a shop that will maximize my chance of being completely satisfied with my purchase.

    I've also got a question about wheel size. Why would a person choose a Giro 20 over a Giro 26, or vice versa? What are the different ride/handling/other characteristics between recumbents with the same or different size wheels?

    Thanks.
     
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  2. OldGoat

    OldGoat New Member

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    If you've got the money......check out the site below. Very nifty; very swift (low wind resistance); exceedingly comfortable.....based on my exceedingly limited experience (I've ridden one only once, and that for only a short distance).

    http://www.windcheetah.co.uk/

    But before you drop the big bucks, you might do well to get yourself properly fit at your LBS and get yourself a good saddle and pair of well-padded cycling shorts and give conventional bikes another try. Sounds like your current bike setup is causing you to put way to much pressure on your hands/wrists/arms/shoulders. You might also try flat, rather than dropped, handlebars, which, together with seat adjustment, should allow a more erect posture (more like a hybrid or mountain bike) and relieve some of your discomfort. Others more expert (by far) than I will hopefully have other suggestions......
     
  3. sch

    sch New Member

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    Seats are a real problem on any bike. Bent seats are likely but not garanteed to be more comfortable. I spend about 45% of my riding time on a Rotator Pursuit, the rest on a DF. I did try a Bacchetta Aero borrowed from a friend last summer, and it was a borderline fit so I had definite problems with the cockpit, but absent an hours worth of wrenching... My impressions: the dual 26" wheels put me (66" tall) a bit too high off the ground, a 26-20 would get me about 2" closer to the ground (at the feet). The 26" front wheel had required me to stop pedaling in slow turns in the parking lot to prevent heel strike on the wheel. A 20" wheel would have had clearance. If you are tall,
    (69"+) the bike height is not a problem. The seat inclination was such that I had to prop my neck up to see, the neck muscles tired after 25mi and let me know they didn't like this. Trikes and low racers have similar problems and some makers provide head rests on the seat, this may not be a problem for you. I am a bit map challenged right now but look at www.hostelshoppe.com
    and see if a trip there is feasible. Bikes galore, though this is not a good time of year for trial riding. Unfortunately you will have to ride a bike 20-40mi to get a feel for how it is going to do, so a spin or two around the parking lot is not really enough to say yeah or nay. New bent riders need 100mi or so to figure out the steering, starting and stopping. Trikes don't though.
     
  4. PaPa

    PaPa New Member

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    Yes, testing is imperative. Here's a few tips to bare in mind:

    1. Generally speaking, longer legs do better on SWB's (Short Wheel Bases), and shorter legs (say, below 5' 10" in height) fit LWB's (long Wheel Bases).
    2. Chose a seat height which allows flat-footed stance (while fully seat).


    The smaller front wheels provide lighter, more precise, low speed handling (preferred for commuting), while the larger wheels improve high speed stability (better for touring).
     
  5. Slugster438

    Slugster438 New Member

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    There's three bikes that are semi-recumbent and they look pretty normal but are still a big improvement in comfort (listed from most expensive to least):
    RANS Fusion (and the other similar bikes they sell)
    Lightfoot Surefoot
    Day6Bicycles
    I have a RANS Fusion and it's very comfortable and easy to ride, certainly a 50-mile ride wouldn't be a problem (I got mine right before lousy winter weather set in, so I hven't rode it much at all). It is not quite as comfortable as the recumbents I have, but it is much handier and attracts less attention. You won't need padded shorts to ride it, but unpadded lycra shorts do help (they prevent inseam chafing). ....I haven't tried the other two bikes, they just use a similar seat/pedal geometry.

    People who care about going fast prefer the bigger front wheels, because they don't slow down as much as smaller wheels do if the road surface is rough. The bigger front wheels also allows a more relined, aero position. The downside is that having your feet higher is more likely to cause "numb feet", especially while doing extended climbing of steep hills, such as riding in the mountains.

    The bad thing about "numb feet" is that there's no way to really predict if you'll have a problem with it, and it will tend to happen more on longer rides--you won't get it from a test ride around the block. Sometimes lacing your shoes looser can help, moving cleat position, even wiggling your toes inside your shoes until it abates. ,,,,The "classic" touring recumbent is a LWB with an upright seat and low-set pedals. These bikes tend to be slower than an upright bike (because of worse aerodynamics) but recumbents with upight seating and low-set pedals makes it unlikely you'll have problems with numb feet at all.
    ~
     
  6. PaPa

    PaPa New Member

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    Depends on what you mean by "rough". .. and 'which' LWB bike you refer. You'd be hard pressed to find a faster bike than a socked LWB, Tour Easy - w/ 20" front wheel. And few would tangle with a large pair of thighs straddling a faring blessed, LWB, Rotator Pursuit - which has a tiny 406mm wheel at BOTH ends. And if you don't mind staring at SUV's exhaust pipes during everyday commutes, the blistering Velokraft VK2 and No-Comms (again, both have a 20" (406mm) front wheels), should easily satisfy one's thirst for speed.
     
  7. Tackdriver56

    Tackdriver56 New Member

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    Try Calhoun Cycles in Minneapolis, MN. They have a website.
    I'm in CT, but have driven by Calhoun on vacation.

    I've tried a lot, and own three RANS bikes: Stratus, Screamer, and V-Rex.
    The Stratus is my favorite. The V-Rex is FUN, but so responsive it can be hard to get used to.
    The Easy Racers Tour Easy is an easy bike to ride.
    If you can find a recumbent riders group through Calhoun, you may be able to try bikes they don't carry. Also, if you can find a used bike, you won't have to take such a big depreciation penalty if you change your mind later.

    Good luck.
    Tackdriver.
     
  8. thetmqdoc

    thetmqdoc New Member

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    I would recommend either the giro or the stradda. I would go with a high racer either way. As the low racers or the recumbents that are very close to the ground obviously arent easily seen and are best suited for tracks in my opinion. I have the stradda and enjoy it. I ride around 15-20 miles 3 or more times a week usually averaging 19-20mph. I am 225lbs and spent alot of time lifting weights. I have alot of shoulder problems and thats why I bought the stradda. My only complaint is the rear cassette which was not very straight. Whatever you buy I would reiterate what others have said about having a proffesional fit you.
     
  9. blazingpedals

    blazingpedals New Member

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    It may seem obvious to you, but it's not obvious to me and I ride a lowracer. Car drivers can see lane lines, pot holes, and dogs in the road, they can see me as well if not better. Except in very congested situations, height does not equal visibility.
     
  10. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    Try the NICOLLET SOUTH BIKE SHOP in Nicollet -- they may-or-may-not be able to help you ... and/or, point you toward other shops to buy recumbents ...

    Smaller (circumference) wheels tend to have rougher rides.

    BTW. For your "regular" bike, consider a standard BROOKS B17 saddle -- you'll love it or hate it ... however, problems with comfort are more than likely due to poor set up than the saddle. The downside is that they generally weigh well over 500g.
     
  11. blazingpedals

    blazingpedals New Member

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    I'll just expand on the advice of others. Test ride everything you can find, whether it is in a bike shop or an owner somewhere. This means testing lowracers, highracers, trikes touring, sport, heavy, light, EVERYTHING. It doesn't matter whether or not you have any intentions of buying a $5000 bent; if you can find one to test, do it. And after you've ridden them all, give your brain a few days to digest the experiences and then do it all over again. By the second go-around you should be able to identify your favorites, then apply some sort of price/suitability analysis to choose which one is best for YOU. If you go to a little store someplace and test ride a Sun EZ-1 and a Sun EZ-Sport, then buy one of them, (I've seen this happen,) you will have completely missed the larger, real world of recumbents.
     
  12. overbyte

    overbyte New Member

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    My two cents. It seems to me that your main motivation for changing to a recumbent bike is comfort. That was my reason, too. I have a Sun EZ-1 AX, which I started riding mid-June this year. After surveying the recumbent spectrum, I decided that the Easy Racers style of bikes is for me because of the more upright riding position. I like sitting up, looking out at the world as I ride, without craning my head forward from a more extreme reclined torso position. The Bachetta Giro has a high crank position with more reclined seat, causing the rider to tilt the head forward on the spine to compensate for the reclined torso. That doesn't look like the natural head position that humans have evolved. If your motivation is speed, then sure, get a more reclined style of bike for its streamlining. But if you want comfort, the more upright seating seems better to me. I ordered my bike with a front fairing, so I get plenty of streamlining to cut down on wind resistance going into headwinds and speeding downhill. Some will complain that the upright position puts more weight on their butt than the more reclined seat which distributes weight on seat and back, but the broad seat still gives good comfort in the upright position without having to tilt the head unnaturally forward. I've ridden my bike about 450 miles so far and like it even better now than when I first started. I was out of shape for bike riding, so it took a while to get muscled up for the hills I have to climb around my home. The initial wobbly start-up has given way to a more stable take-off since my sense of balance on this bike has improved an my leg power gives enough force to start at a steady, secure speed ramp-up.

    I wouldn't write off the Sun line of recumbent bikes. I chose the EZ-1 AX because it has a short enough wheelbase that it fits on my small-car roof rack with some simple extensions I bolted onto the existing bike rack, it's light enough for me to lift by myself onto the rack, it has an upright seating posture which has ample adjustment for rider height and desired seat back recline, it has reasonably good components, comes from a company that has been around and will likely stay in business for as long as I own the bike (unlike many recumbent manufacturers, who seem to crash and burn after an initial startup and honeymoon period), it can carry quite a lot of cargo using the available rear rack and under-seat pannier racks, and of course, the price was reasonable for my first recumbent experience. I find that the bike handles even better when loaded than when light. I enjoy making shopping trips, picking up about 20 pounds of groceries with no problem using the under-seat "townie bags" and small rear panniers that I bought from www.nashbar.com. (If you get those bags, I have a tip that helps support the weight so the townie bags don't droop too far. Ask me by email if interested.)

    Sun Bicycles has an extensive lineup of styles, from the more reclined, higher crank, long racer Tomahawk (patterned from the Easy Racers Javelin) to the semi-recumbent comfort bike style to several recumbent trikes. If you want even more range, then Easy Racers itself fills out the upper end all the way to the titanium long wheel base bike. Sun licensed the design of several of their bikes from Easy Racers.

    Another factor to consider carefully is the type of terrain you'll be riding. My bike has a 20" rear wheel, which gives a lower range of gear-inches with the same gear sets as a larger wheel bike. That is, my lowest gear is about 17 gear-inches, which makes hill climbing easier and more do-able for me than other bikes that emphasize speed more than hill climbing and therefore have a lowest gear in the 23 gear-inch vicinity. I rarely use the lowest gear, but when I need it for a steep grade, it's there, and I've used it on occasion. The EZ-1 AX goes up to about 90 gear inches at the top end, which is adequate for me to go about 25 mph with reasonable cranking cadence on level ground, much faster on downhills. That's fast enough for me. Most of the time I toodle along at 12 to 15 mph. Bikes with 26" or larger rear wheels usually have an upper gear-inch range around 130 or more, which gives faster speed at the same cadence. If you are touring, do you really want to blaze by the countryside as fast as possible, or is a safer moderate speed better? My preference is to enjoy the ride from A to B, not just to get there as fast as possible, so the EZ-1 AX does me fine. (I don't recommend the EZ-1 SX steel version because the gear range is not as broad and the bike is heavier with cheaper components. The difference in cost to get the aluminum AX is worth it.) But if I were planning to travel hundreds of miles over moderate terrain, the higher gear-inch bike would make more sense. If I were planning to compete in races, then the more reclined posture of a high crank bike would make sense.

    Before you make your purchase decision, think about the way you want to use the bike.
     
  13. jcbarnett

    jcbarnett New Member

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    Why not consider a speedy, comfortable, and safe TRIKE???
     
  14. blazingpedals

    blazingpedals New Member

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    It sounds like you didn't do test rides either. If that's the case, you too may have sold yourself short. Oh, they're all more comfortable than hunch-bikes, IMHO; but that's not saying a lot; and besides how do you know what your favorite style is unless you have a basis for comparison? Maybe you'd have ended up on an ER-type bike anyway, but you'll never know for sure if you don't try the others before committing.
     
  15. overbyte

    overbyte New Member

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    I had certain criteria for my first recumbent. One was that it had to fit on top of my compact car in the existing roof rack with minimal rack modification so I can easily take it places too far to ride to from my home. So a long-wheelbase recumbent was out. Between short wheelbase and compact long wheelbase, I chose the compact version because I want to sit up and look out at the world without a headrest and without tilting my head forward on my shoulders. I also wanted to be able to carry a reasonable load of cargo so I could use it often to make short shopping trips instead of my car. If I had lots of recumbent dealers, or one with a lot of models from various manufacturers, nearby, I would have ridden their CLWB bikes, but there aren't many to choose from anyway. I chose the Sun EZ-1 AX because it suited my criteria as my first recumbent, felt good when I rode it, had good reviews, has good cargo capacity using rear and under-seat racks, and was from a reputable dealer a half-hour drive from my home. I think anyone making their first purchase should consider how they want to use the bike, such as what terrain they want to handle (what gear-inch range suits that terrain), whether they need easy transport (folding or compact versus long or heavy), and whether their main concern is speed or leisurely touring. Then choose among the bikes that meet those criteria. Riding several choices first is of course good consumerism. But I wouldn't be overly worried about buying a bike from a dealer near you without traveling several hours to a distant dealer to try a different brand of similar bike, as long as you study the things that matter to you.
     
  16. NORECUMYET

    NORECUMYET New Member

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