Why do people ride recumbents?
People ride recumbents for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most popular ones are increased comfort, improved speed and safety! Like upright bicycles, the recumbent market is rapidly expanding and there is now a diverse range of options available. Some people ride recumbents to improve their mobility, because the seated recumbent position takes the stress off their upper body. Other people ride recumbents for pure exhilarating fun!
Why does the recumbent format work?
A recumbent bicycle optimizes the seating position on an upright bike. Instead of needing muscles to hold yourself upright on the machine, your upper body is completely relaxed on a recumbent, increasing your cardiovascular efficiency and reducing your energy expenditure overall. This enables you to improve your pedaling efficiency and cadence. Another benefit of this position is that the stress and strain of cycling is largely eliminated. Riders with back, knee, wrist or shoulder complaints will gain particular benefit from the recumbent seating position.
How fast can they go?
Like upright bicycles, factors such as weight, tire choice, aerodynamic profile and steering geometry drastically effect the speed potential of recumbents.
Having said that, recumbents hold all the land speed records in the world, with and without fairings. Some of these records held by Australians. A sad twist of fate saw recumbent bicycles banned from international racing by the UCI in 1934 because the board felt the recumbent format gave riders an unfair aerodynamic advantage. The ruling holds to this day.
Despite the ban, there is still an active recumbent racing scene in Australia and internationally. The record for a recumbent speed bike is over 130 kilometres on flat terrain, achieved at high-altitude in the Nevada desert.
A combination of aerodynamic advantage, less frontal area, cardiovascular efficiency and light weight (in the case of speed recumbents) are the main reasons why the recumbent format offers improved speed potential. Over undulating terrain most riders notice a 5-10 per cent speed increase on a recumbent (of similar weight to their previous bicycle) once they have adjusted to the pedaling stroke and new muscle groups.
Are they harder to ride uphill?
Riding a recumbent uphill is different to riding an upright bicycle for a number of reasons. While the upright rider has improved peak speed due to the rider’s ability to stand up on the bicycle and use their upper body for additional leverage, the recumbent rider has a better maintainable speed up hills. This means that the upright rider would have an advantage up short biting climbs, but the recumbent rider would perform the same or better to a similarly weighted upright bike up longer ascents.
The reason the recumbent rider has a slight advantage up longer hills is because the recumbent seating position provides improved spinning efficiency. A recumbent rider’s lower back and pelvis is fully supported, allowing them to maximise both their push and pull stroke. Furthermore, their upper body is kept relaxed and open to improve cardiovascular efficiency. Although trikes generally weigh more than two-wheeled recumbents, the tricycle format offers increased stability at slow speeds.
Nearly all recumbents are noticeably faster down hills and on flats because of their lower profile and reduced frontal area.
Are they safe to ride on roads?
Many recumbents are purchased as commuter vehicles, traveling on city roads every day. There are many dangers with riding any form of trike / bike in traffic conditions, generally we feel (for trikes) as you take away the falling off factor, all forms of road travel very similar. We have never had any riders of trikes suffer any broken collar bones, arms or fingers.
Like all road users, recumbent riders need to ensure they have a strong road presence through the use of lights, flags and bright clothing.
Recumbents offer a number of additional safety features not found on upright bicycles. The recumbent format has a lower centre of gravity which significantly improves the rider’s stopping distance and stability. The Trikes will always out brake any conventional bike in an emergency. The trike format is also considerably more maneuverable than two-wheeled bicycles, improving the rider’s ability to take sudden evasive action.
Will traffic see me if I’m lower to the ground?
Drivers can see recumbents just like they can see the road in front of them. In fact, most recumbent riders find that drivers give them a wider berth than if they were on an upright bicycle simply because they are unusual and therefore more noticeable on the road. The outward-looking recumbent head position gives riders ample opportunity to make eye contact with drivers and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Like all vehicles, recumbents have blind spots and riders need to be aware of these and ride within their vehicle’s limits.
Are recumbents good for touring?
Recumbent trikes are perfect touring machines. Once again, comfort is the main advantage of using a recumbent for touring. Recumbent riders report being able to see more than upright riders because their head is facing up and forwards, rather than down at the ground. Carrying gear on a trike is also easier because the centre of gravity is lower and there is no need to use energy to balance gear while riding or stopping.
Can recumbents carry accessories and gear?
Recumbents can carry just about anything an upright bicycle can, and sometimes a lot more! All our recumbents come with mounting points for mirrors, speedometers, lights, mudguards, racks, bike locks, water bottles and many other standard accessories.
Are recumbents hard to ride?
Most of our recumbents feature a simple push-pull steering action, which is similar to steering a car. The best way to experience the ease of recumbent riding is to try it for yourself!
Two-wheeled recumbents require riders to learn a new balance point. Some people pick this up instantly and others need to spend some time learning to ride this format like they learned to ride a bike.
Where can I get a recumbent serviced?
Before opening RSC, at times we have felt we were the only recumbent riders in Sydney, saying that almost all your servicing needs can be purchased and carried out by your “normal” bike shop. If you are unable to bring the trike / bike back to RSC for servicing.
Do recumbents go through doorways and bicycle gates?
Most recumbents are designed to fit through standard doors and most bicycle booms and gates. You'd be surprised where we've managed to take our recumbent trikes! (Excluding some wide wheel base models). I carry mine (ICE Q) over the train station turn styles with no problem.
How do people transport recumbents?
Most recumbents fits inside most hatchback cars with the seat down, some of the folding models even fit into some large boots. All recumbents can be transported using a car tow-bar trike carrier. Most roof racks can also carry recumbents. For transport over longer distances, the frame of most recumbent can be easily dismantled into pieces to fit into an airline bike box. We advise checking how you will transport your recumbent, prior to selecting to ensure you can enjoy your recumbent where ever you want.