Q. What do you call that bike?
Recumbent bicycles get called a lot of things - we've
heard them called Incumbent Bikes, sit down bikes,
Recumbant Bikes, Human Powered Vehicles or HPVs and some
aficionados refer to them as 'bents.
use the term 'recumbent' bicycle to name bikes that
allow comfortable riding in a seated position. My
dictionary says recumbent means "leaning, reclining,
lying - as in the recumbent position of the Romans while
they ate their meals."
Q. It looks comfortable, is it?
Very comfortable thanks. From my butt to my neck, my
body gets along with my recumbent very well. On an
upright bike (AKA "wedgie" or ?neuter scooter?) the seat
can't be very wide, or it will cause chaffing between
your legs. With its pedals in front of the seat a
recumbent doesn't have this limitation, their seat can
be as wide as we are! Because the seat doesn't fit
between your legs, it doesn't put any pressure on your
anatomy there either. Your lower back is relaxed, and
well supported. You are not leaning on your hands. Your
arms are relaxed at your side, not holding you up,
feeling every bump through the handlebars. In the seated
position you don't have to crane your neck to see where
you are going, it?s easy to keep an eye on where you are
going. You can ride long distances in comfort, free from
saddle sores, wrist, back, neck and shoulder strain.
(Can you tell, I like recumbents?)
Q. What physical problems can be helped by recumbents?
Some common physical problems that can limit riding a
traditional bicycle do not affect riding a recumbent.
1. Butt & crotch pain or numbness.
2. Wrist & hand problems i.e. pain, nerve trauma, Carpal
3. Neck, shoulder & and back pain & pinched nerves.
4. Male impotence (relatively rare.)
Q. Are they difficult to ride?
No, It may take you a mile or two to get used to though.
They feel and handle differently, but you soon learn to
lean back and relax. When my family goes to a
campground, we usually take a Linear recumbent or two.
We ride them around till someone stops us to ask a
question. Then we invite them go for a spin and everyone
does fine after 100 yards or so. Recumbents fit right in
with the relaxed atmosphere at a campground. Different
recumbents handle differently. Come dressed
appropriately and, hey, my daughter could ride one when
she was only 8!
Q. Can I climb a hill on a recumbent?
Yes, you can. You don?t have to stand on the pedals,
just let your legs push your back into the seat and keep
spinning the pedals. Liner recumbents come with a low
"granny gear" so you can take your time and spin your
way to the top. Usually you can keep up with most
upright riders, and if you lost any time climbing, you
get it back on the downhills and flat ground. Recumbents
use different muscles, even a very fit rider will climb
more slowly at first until they develop their gluteus
muscles. I live 1/10 mile from a hill, a big hill. It
climbs 425 vertical feet in 11/2 miles. I've climbed it
on a few different recumbents, and I'm 45 years old! You
may have trouble believing a bike that looks so
comfortable can perform well.
Q. Are they faster than ?normal? bikes?
Racing recumbents are faster but Linear recumbents
aren?t for racers. Linears are best for touring;
commuting; exercising; running errands and generally
enjoying the outdoors. Just like any exercise,
persistence yields results. You will develop some new
leg muscles, (and speed) if you don't give up. Since
most of a cyclist's energy is consumed pushing air out
of the way, the smaller frontal area of a Linear
recumbent gives you a bit of an advantage.
Q. Are recumbents easily seen by automobile drivers on
Because recumbents are still pretty rare, they are
eye-catching. Which are you more likely to notice when
you are driving, a minivan or a Ferrari? But a Ferrari
is so low to the ground! (On a Linear recumbent my head
is higher than the roof of a Corvette!) Depending on the
traffic you ride in, you may want to make your bike more
visible (even on a wedgie). Try wearing a bright colored
helmet or adding a flag.
Are they safe?
traditional bikes ~80% of the accidents that cause a
rider to go to the hospital involve a car and ~80% of
those cars didn?t see the bike till it was too late.
Being seen is very important. This involves more than
being high off the ground (I didn?t feel safe in traffic
on my 1879 High-wheel bike). Wearing bright colors is a
great idea. I like the safety gear available at
a traditional bike has an accident you are likely to
arrive head-first. On a recumbent you will likely arrive
feet first. On a bent you may be less likely to get a
concussion but more likely to break an ankle. If you are
at risk for osteoporosis you should consult your doctor,
maybe you would be safer on a trike where you are very
unlikely to fall.
Q. How do you steer it?
Linear has Under Seat Steering (USS). The handlebars are
just beneath the seat. Sit on a chair; relax your hands,
hanging them at your side. This is where Linear?s USS
Q. Are recumbents a recent invention?
recumbent history page
you will find a review of a recumbent with USS dating
from 1905. Our USS recumbent museum includes a 1980
Avatar 2000, serial #0024 (the first recumbent to ride
in Paris-Brest-Paris), the first Linear USS prototype
from the early 1980?s; an Infinity from about 1987 and a
DeFelice, also from the mid 1980?s. Check them out when
you stop in for a visit and some test rides.
Q. Is their much variety among recumbents?
Oh yes! They are mainly classified by wheelbase and
handlebar position. Wheelbase is the distance between
the centers of the front and rear wheels of the bike.
Some are long wheelbase (LWB), some are short wheelbase
(SWB). Most riders find LWB bikes (64" - 72" wheelbase)
more comfortable, fast and stable. They are great on the
open road but U turns and navigating narrow, twisting
paths can be awkward.
Short wheelbase bikes (SWB) have wheelbases from 40" to
45". They are easy to recognize because their front
wheel is behind the pedals. Most riders find them more
nimble and easier to maneuver. They transport and store
more due to their size.
Q. I'm still slow! How long till my speed is back?
depends on how much (and how hard) you ride your
recumbent. Some riders find they are faster almost
immediately. Some riders take longer to develop speed on
a recumbent, especially riders who have trained and
raced upright bikes. Just like any exercise, persistence
yields results. You will develop some new leg muscles,
(and speed) if you don't give up.