Why do people ride recumbents

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by G S Banner, Jan 26, 2003.

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  1. G S Banner

    G S Banner Guest

    First off, I'm not trolling!

    I've spotted a few recumbents from time to time on my daily commute in London. Only today did I ask
    myself why anyone rides a recumbent. They strike me as waaaay to low be ridden safely in traffic (I
    can't believe the little flags on the top of the whip aerials they sport make them easier for an
    unobservant motorist to spot). I really can't see what the attraction is - what is it?

    I should also say that I can't ever recall having seen one being ridden recreationally - out on a
    weekend ride. OTOH, I have seen them whenever there's a cyclists' demo in London.

    So enlighten me.

    GB
     
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  2. Danny Colyer

    Danny Colyer Guest

    G S Banner wondered:
    > I've spotted a few recumbents from time to time on my daily commute in London. Only today did I
    > ask myself why anyone rides a recumbent. They strike me as waaaay to low be ridden safely in
    > traffic ...

    For me, the main reason is comfort. Safety is a benefit too. Yes, safety. OK, wedgies have certain
    safety benefits over bents, but IMHO for most of the riding I do those are (slightly) outweighed by
    the safety benefits of bents over wedgies. If I had to ride in London then I'd probably rather be on
    a wedgie, but then no-one could pay me enough to live or work in London anyway.

    Wedgie safety benefits:
    * You're higher up, so you can see over most cages.
    * You're higher up, so you can be seen over most cages.
    * Your centre of gravity is higher, so the bike is inherently more stable.

    Bent safety benefits:
    * Bents are still comparatively rare so, as Guy mentioned, have a high WTF factor.
    * The riding position allows you to easily see where you're going without having to crane your neck
    (this is the main advantage for me).
    * You can brake as hard as you like with no danger of going over the handlebar (although I have
    managed to lift the rear wheel on my SMGT).
    * In the event of a fall, you haven't got as far to go.

    > (I can't believe the little flags on the top of the whip aerials they sport make them easier
    for
    > an unobservant motorist to spot).

    I only bother with flags on trailers. The WTF factor with a bent is high and anyway, most motorists
    claim to be able to see white lines painted on the road, so why should they have a problem with a
    cyclist 3' above the road? (Actually perhaps that's a disadvantage with yellow bikes, since most
    cagers seem to have trouble with yellow lines ;-) )

    There's an enormous variety of bent designs available. One of the reasons I chose the SMGT was the
    height - I'm at about the same height as most motorists. That means I can't see over cars as well as
    I could on a wedgie, but I can see through the windows to the other side, and I can very easily look
    cagers in the eye.

    Having ridden it for a couple of years, I'm confident that I would have no problems riding something
    lower in traffic. If I was buying another bent, it would be lower.

    > I should also say that I can't ever recall having seen one being ridden recreationally - out on a
    > weekend ride.

    Apart from my own bent, I've only ever seen one used for commuting (and that just happens to belong
    to my next door neighbour). I've seen at least 7 used on leisure rides.

    The first time I took Helga out for a ride with my wife, DW commented several times that I looked
    silly on the bent and that she'd never seen anyone else riding one in this country. Then, about half
    a mile before we got home, we passed 3 going the other way :)

    --
    Danny Colyer (remove safety to reply) ( http://www.juggler.net/danny ) Recumbent cycle page:
    http://www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/recumbents/ "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -
    Thomas Paine
     
  3. Andy Welch

    Andy Welch Guest

    "G S Banner" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > First off, I'm not trolling!
    >
    > I've spotted a few recumbents from time to time on my daily commute in London. Only today did
    > I ask myself why anyone rides a recumbent. They strike me as waaaay to low be ridden safely
    > in traffic (I can't believe the little flags on the top of the whip aerials they sport make
    > them easier for an unobservant motorist to spot). I really can't see what the attraction is -
    > what is it?
    >
    > I should also say that I can't ever recall having seen one being ridden recreationally - out on a
    > weekend ride. OTOH, I have seen them whenever there's a cyclists' demo in London.
    >
    > So enlighten me.
    >
    > GB

    Each recumbent rider has their own reasons but they tend to fall into one of three camps.

    1. Those for whom an injury makes riding an upright imposible or at least more painful than it is
    for the rest of us. For these people a bent may be the only way to carry on enjoying cycling.

    2. Those who just want something more comfortable than an upright bike. This may be because they are
    planning longer trips or maybe they just like comfort! This is what got me started on bents. We
    did an end-to-end in 2000 and I figured that if I was going to spend 6-8 hours a day in a saddle
    it might as well be a comfortable one.

    3. Those who want to go faster. This is a contentious one but a low recumbent is reckoned by some to
    be more aerodynamic than an upright so faster on the flat and downhill. However, they tend to be
    slower uphill so whether you are faster overall depends on where you ride.

    As for the safety in traffic this is often touted as a big problem by people who've never tried it
    but rarely deemed to be an issue by those who have. When I bought my second bent (a Windcheetah
    trike) I got it second hand from a shop in Sussex and my second ride on it was from a friends house
    in Croydon to Euston station to catch a 9:30 train on a Friday morning. I originally intended to use
    a Sustrans route but got fed up with the Cyclists Dismount signs so took to the main roads. Not
    being able to filter as easily as on my upright was a pain but I can't say I ever felt unsafe.

    Actually safety was my main reason for getting the Windcheetah but that's because I wanted to ride
    on the country lanes of Aberdeenshire through the winter, where ice is an ever present danger.

    I should point out that I don't think that recumbents are inherantly better than uprights. Indeed I
    occasionally contemplate selling the Windcheetah to fund a lightweight upright racer for use on the
    hilly routes around here (then I ride it, or just look at it, and the urge goes away!). But they are
    a sensible option for some people.

    Cheers,

    Andy
     
  4. Sky Fly

    Sky Fly Guest

    "Danny Colyer" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > * Your centre of gravity is higher, so the bike is inherently more stable.

    Shouldn't this be "...the bike is inherently *less* stable"?

    --
    Akin

    aknak at aksoto dot idps dot co dot uk
     
  5. anon

    anon Guest

    as an asthma sufferer, I wonder whether any such ride these machines - breathing on your back is
    harder than if your chest is supported by hands ie the normal position. comments?
     
  6. G S Banner

    G S Banner Guest

    > >They strike me as waaaay to low be ridden safely in traffic
    >
    > Not a problem. It's called the WTF factor - as in "what the F*** is THAT?!" - you get ten times
    > the notice a wedgie does.

    But what about when you're approaching a car from behind - eg passing a line of stationery traffic.
    Aren't you a bit low to be seen in their wing mirrors?

    > Every recumbent rider with a computer has a website extolling the virtues of the Dark Side -
    > here's mine :)
    >
    > http://www.chapmancentral.com/Web/public.nsf/Documents/Recumbent_FAQ
    >

    Yes... this was quite an eye opener! I have to confess that I enjoy climbing on my road bike more
    than descending. Basically, I'm get scared shitless descending at speed - it's the psychological
    fear of what would happen *if* I fell off. I've only *ever* managed to fall off once whilst moving
    (clip in pedals can be a bastard at lights!) and I did not like it one bit. Once got frame shudder
    descending on my road bike fitted with aero bars - thought I'd crap myself there and then. MTBing
    has always struck me as a competition to see who breaks their collar bone last.

    > >I should also say that I can't ever recall having seen one being ridden recreationally - out on a
    > >weekend ride.
    >
    > Wedgies and bents

    "wedgies" "bents" - where the hell did those names originate??
     
  7. G S Banner

    G S Banner Guest

    > >They strike me as waaaay to low be ridden safely in traffic
    >
    > Not a problem. It's called the WTF factor - as in "what the F*** is THAT?!" - you get ten times
    > the notice a wedgie does.

    But what about when you're approaching a car from behind - eg passing a line of stationery traffic.
    Aren't you a bit low to be seen in their wing mirrors?

    > Every recumbent rider with a computer has a website extolling the virtues of the Dark Side -
    > here's mine :)
    >
    > http://www.chapmancentral.com/Web/public.nsf/Documents/Recumbent_FAQ
    >

    Yes... this was quite an eye opener! I have to confess that I enjoy climbing on my road bike more
    than descending. Basically, I'm get scared shitless descending at speed - it's the psychological
    fear of what would happen *if* I fell off. I've only *ever* managed to fall off once whilst moving
    (clip in pedals can be a bastard at lights!) and I did not like it one bit. Once got frame shudder
    descending on my road bike fitted with aero bars - thought I'd crap myself there and then. MTBing
    has always struck me as a competition to see who breaks their collar bone last.

    > >I should also say that I can't ever recall having seen one being ridden recreationally - out on a
    > >weekend ride.
    >
    > Wedgies and bents

    "wedgies" "bents" - where the hell did those names originate??
     
  8. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On 11 Jan 2003 12:45:06 -0800, [email protected] (Andy Welch) wrote:

    >When I bought my second bent (a Windcheetah trike) I got it second hand from a shop in Sussex

    Note to those tempted: www.futurecycles.co.uk

    Be very careful not to ride the bikes unless you are prepared to buy one. Ian doesn't mind, but once
    you've tried it you'll want one :)

    Guy
    ===
    ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    dynamic DNS permitting)
    NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    work. Apologies.
     
  9. Clive George

    Clive George Guest

    "Sky Fly" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    >
    > "Danny Colyer" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > * Your centre of gravity is higher, so the bike is inherently more stable.
    >
    > Shouldn't this be "...the bike is inherently *less* stable"?

    Try balancing a hammer (not sledge) vertically on your fingers. Then try balancing a hockey stick or
    golf club (choose hammer for similar weight!). The hockey stick is far easier as it's centre of
    gravity is higher. Balancing a bike is the same problem.

    cheers, clive
     
  10. Danny Colyer

    Danny Colyer Guest

    Sky Fly wrote:
    > Shouldn't this be "...the bike is inherently *less* stable"?

    When you start to fall to one side, the closer you are to upright the easier it is to correct your
    balance. The higher you are, the longer it takes for your angle to move away from perpendicular as
    you start to fall, so you have longer to correct your balance.

    For the same reason, a tall giraffe unicycle is much more stable and is physically easier to ride
    than a standard unicycle - although the giraffe is
    psychologically harder, and the extra weight may cause problems.

    Clive's example of trying to balance a hammer or a hockey stick on your fingers is a good
    demonstration of this (remember always to look at the top of what you're balancing). I learnt to
    balance a pen on my nose by starting with a much longer dowel and repeatedly cutting a couple of
    inches off once I was comfortable with the balance (admittedly I can only balance a pen for a few
    seconds, but I can now balance a juggling club indefinitely, which is all I need for juggling
    convention games).

    --
    Danny Colyer (remove safety to reply) ( http://www.juggler.net/danny ) Recumbent cycle page:
    http://www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/recumbents/ "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -
    Thomas Paine
     
  11. W K

    W K Guest

    "Pete Biggs" <pLime{remove_fruit}@biggs.tc> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > "Just zis Guy, you know?" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    >
    > > >They strike me as waaaay to low be ridden safely in traffic
    > >
    > > Not a problem. It's called the WTF factor - as in "what the F*** is THAT?!" - you get ten times
    > > the notice a wedgie does.
    >
    > This assumes they see you in the first place to get the WTF factor. It's a point that puts me off
    > bents (in London) too, and also riders being less able to see over cars must be a disadvantage.

    Much as I have toyed with the idea etc. it does seem a great advantage to have my head well up (and
    my hands on the brakes), when in traffic, esp. when approaching traffic lights.

    A recumbent would be great for all sorts of riding, including 90% of my commute, but the 2 miles of
    tailbacks and dense traffic make even "the hoods" seem a bit low. (straight[or riser!] bars with
    tribars on top anyone?)
     
  12. Danny Colyer

    Danny Colyer Guest

    [email protected] wrote:
    > as an asthma sufferer, I wonder whether any such ride these machines - breathing on your back is
    > harder than if your chest is supported by hands ie the normal position. comments?

    Most bent riders find that the position on a bent keeps the lungs open and makes breathing easier
    than the wedgie position, where one may be bent over the handlebar with the lungs and abdomen all
    scrunched up.

    And remember that on very few recumbents is the rider actually lying flat. My seat is adjustable
    between 30-40 degrees from horizontal (I always keep it at 30 degrees). Racing machines tend be
    slightly flatter than that, a lot of bents are more upright.

    --
    Danny Colyer (remove safety to reply) ( http://www.juggler.net/danny ) Recumbent cycle page:
    http://www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/recumbents/ "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -
    Thomas Paine
     
  13. Danny Colyer

    Danny Colyer Guest

    G S Banner wrote:
    > But what about when you're approaching a car from behind - eg passing a line of stationery
    > traffic. Aren't you a bit low to be seen in their wing mirrors?

    The Street Machine has my head well above the height of the average wing mirror. I can't
    think of many bents where that would really be a problem. Perhaps on some of the thoroughbred
    racing machines.

    > "wedgies" "bents" - where the hell did those names originate??

    "Bent" is an abbreviation of "recumbent". (I've seen American websites selling T-shirts and hats
    with the slogan "proud to be bent" - I don't think I'd go as far as wearing one of them, I really
    don't want to be beaten up!)

    A wedgie was what you used to get at school when someone grabbed your underpants from behind and
    yanked them up yer crack. That's what the saddle on an upright bike feels like in comparison to the
    nice comfy seat on a bent :)

    --
    Danny Colyer (remove safety to reply) ( http://www.juggler.net/danny ) Recumbent cycle page:
    http://www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/recumbents/ "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -
    Thomas Paine
     
  14. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On Sat, 11 Jan 2003 18:52:00 GMT, [email protected] wrote:

    >as an asthma sufferer, I wonder whether any such ride these machines - breathing on your back is
    >harder than if your chest is supported by hands ie the normal position. comments?

    As an asthma sufferer I can tell you that the bent is better :)

    Guy
    ===
    ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    dynamic DNS permitting)
    NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    work. Apologies.
     
  15. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On Sat, 11 Jan 2003 20:19:48 +0000 (UTC), "G S Banner"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >But what about when you're approaching a car from behind - eg passing a line of stationery traffic.
    >Aren't you a bit low to be seen in their wing mirrors?

    LOL! Wing mirrors are purely decorative, as any fule kno!

    >Yes... this was quite an eye opener! I have to confess that I enjoy climbing on my road bike more
    >than descending. Basically, I'm get scared shitless descending at speed - it's the psychological
    >fear of what would happen *if* I fell off. I've only *ever* managed to fall off once whilst moving
    >(clip in pedals can be a bastard at lights!) and I did not like it one bit. Once got frame shudder
    >descending on my road bike fitted with aero bars - thought I'd crap myself there and then. MTBing
    >has always struck me as a competition to see who breaks their collar bone last.

    The Dark Side is calling you! You ride downhill at 40+, the faster the bike goes the more stable it
    gets! No wheel shimmy, no frame oscillation, and if you did come off you'd be close to the ground
    and hit feet first. No chance of grounding a pedal, so you power through bends as well! There's
    nothing to compare with it :)

    >"wedgies" "bents" - where the hell did those names originate??

    I can feel another FAQ coming on.....

    Guy
    ===
    ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    dynamic DNS permitting)
    NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    work. Apologies.
     
  16. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Just zis Guy, you know? wrote:

    >> This assumes they see you in the first place to get the WTF factor. It's a point that puts me off
    >> bents (in London) too, and also riders being less able to see over cars must be a disadvantage.
    >
    > They do - the reason they don't "see" wedgies is because they are part of the landscape, a known
    > non-threat. Bike = stationary, won't killl me = ignore it. A bent is sufficiently different that
    > it engages their cognitive processes at least briefly.

    I'm still concerned that my image from a bent wouldn't get onto drivers' retinas because of things
    obscuring their view or because their eyeballs are pointed in the wrong direction. Maybe I'm
    misguided to worry so much about this but it is one of the main concerns that I'm sure many of us
    upright citizens have about switching to recumbents. Towering above cars does help safety on urban
    roads and motorists do see me when I'm riding on the optimal part of the road.

    ~PB
     
  17. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Danny Colyer wrote:

    > When you start to fall to one side, the closer you are to upright the easier it is to correct your
    > balance. The higher you are, the longer it takes for your angle to move away from perpendicular as
    > you start to fall, so you have longer to correct your balance.

    What about grip on corners. Doesn't having a lower COG help?

    ~PB
     
  18. G S Banner

    G S Banner Guest

    > The Dark Side is calling you!

    Ho ho! I'm not sure about that just yet!
     
  19. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On Sat, 11 Jan 2003 09:38:41 -0000, "Tony Raven" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Would you ride a Trice Micro in London traffic?

    No, because it's hard to filter on a trike. But I would ride my Optima Stinger.

    Guy
    ===
    ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    dynamic DNS permitting)
    NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    work. Apologies.
     
  20. Simon Mason

    Simon Mason Guest

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