Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Gear Talk => Topic started by: Old Guy New Hobby on November 15, 2020, 08:33:07 am

Title: Which recumbent?
Post by: Old Guy New Hobby on November 15, 2020, 08:33:07 am
I'm getting problems with my neck and upper back. I borrowed a crank forward bike. It helped my neck but not my back. I'm thinking of a recumbent. I don't tour anymore but still ride about 4,000 miles a year. I ride roads more often than not, but my area also has over 100 miles of shady trails. Many of them are paved, a few are hard-pack gravel. The trails are too narrow for trikes. I wonder if the small wheels of some recumbents would be OK on unpaved trails. There are plenty of hills around here, and I seek them out. I need a sturdy bike that will hold up to my riding. What recumbents should I be looking at? I prefer not to spend over $2000.

Any advice is welcome. Thanks.
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: TCS on November 15, 2020, 04:05:00 pm

I'll send you to

to ask, but be aware that the recumbent riders there (like humans everywhere on the internet) will mostly advise you to buy the same thing they bought!

Test ride several if you can, but, yeah, the market for recumbents is thin and that can be hard.

If you have to fly this on instruments, you won't go wrong with a used Easy Racers Tour Easy.  A Bacchetta Bella almost gets under your cost envelope brand new.  If you find an extra $2500 in your sofa cushions, the Rans Phoenix is ne plus ultra.   <---I don't own any of these bikes!

Why, you ask?  The gentle ergonomics of these long wheelbase, low bottom bracket, above seat steering recumbents are perennial favorites with the community.  Recumbent designs come and go, but this basic layout has been on the market continuously for over  40 years.  These bikes were mentioned over and over in a recent 'if you could only have one' thread.

Wheel size:  my wife rode the crushed granite surface of the Mickelson Trail on her Dahon with 20" wheels.  Other riders made over her but honestly, it was a nothing burger.

See you on the trails!
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: dminden1 on November 15, 2020, 10:33:45 pm
I've owned and ridden several thousand miles on 3 recumbent models. I've also toured with them. I'm going to diverge from others' advice: go for a shorter or medium wheelbase recumbent. They will be more maneuverable on mixed surfaces. The neck supports work fine. I like superman bars best, but underseat is also comfortable; squirrel bars are the most twitchy. I know you said trikes are too wide; you might recheck the folding trikes which tend to be narrower, reason being it will be easiest on your neck. I do agree to try as many models as you can. Can't tell where you live, but if you are anywhere near Wisconsin the Hostel Shop carries a bunch of makes and models, and even re-sells some used in great condition. Have fun!
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: TCS on November 16, 2020, 11:17:27 am
Well, OGNH, if you're considering short wheelbase recumbents, check out the Cruzbike T50, a different type of machine.

Okay, upfront, some folks never get on with the Cruzbike front-wheel drive (yep, you read that right) system.  On the other hand, some folks love these bikes so much they name their firstborn offspring 'Cruz'.

So why the mention?  Number one, you said you seek out hills and the Cruzbikes are known as great climbing machines.  And B, Cruzbike is the ONLY manufacturer of any type of bicycle that's a Titanium - yeah, Titanium! - level supporter of Adventure Cycling.  That's got to be worth a shout out.  Check 'em out, read up on the bikes and if you're intrigued contact a local dealer or owner for a ride.
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: Old Guy New Hobby on November 17, 2020, 04:28:26 pm
Thanks for the advice, guys. I went to a bike store that has several recumbents. It turns out their new bikes are 3-wheel because, according to them, 90% of all new recumbents are 3-wheel. But they had several used two-wheel recumbents, and even had some new Tour Easys. (The owner is a super pack rat.) The only short wheel base bike they had was too small for me. But I saw a very nice Rans Stratus XP (the model with two 26" wheels and disk brakes). I have it on a two day loan. I'm discouraged by how hard it is for me to drive the darn thing. I'm so shaky that I can't go out of the neighborhood. Starting on a hill is totally impossible. I guess practice makes perfect.

The Stratus XP is no longer available, but the price listed is $2800. The Stratus LE (with a 20" front wheel) is listed at $2700. To this I would add $60 for shipping and money for a shop to put it together. What does it cost to have a bike put a bike together? What is a fair price for the used bike? It looks almost new to me, but I'm not a mechanic. I'm headed over to bentrider.
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: dminden1 on November 17, 2020, 04:41:53 pm
I suggest checking out Bacchetta's before you buy a new Rans: Several new are $2300. Wierd Bacchetta history is that the company was started by a brother of the Rans!
Used recumbents are from 1/2 to 2/3 new, in my experience. Owners often upgrade them - because they love them! - and hope to recoup what they put in, but it's really not realistic, so some good deals should be had, compared to new.
Shops will usually reassemble for about $50, there's not that much to it, in general.
Make sure you measure your 'x-seam' before you buy. This is the distance from the bike seat to the pedals. Measure by sitting against a wall with your legs fully extended, it's the distance from the wall to your heel. It determines what size recumbent to buy. Most have some adjustability, but a large person will not fit on a medium bike, and so on.
In my experience, the longer wheel base bikes are very comfortable, but take a bit more getting used to for steering and balance. They are a bit slower on uphills, but then most recumbents are slower up hill than uprights due to not being able to rise out of the saddle. All well-made recumbents should be faster on the flats than uprights from better aerodynamics, and more stable in wind as they are lower to the ground where there is less wind. Fairings make them even faster.
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: TCS on November 17, 2020, 08:30:08 pm
It turns out their new bikes are 3-wheel because, according to them, 90% of all new recumbents are 3-wheel.

Yeah, he's not shining you.  Folks in the industry (especially those companies that only offer two-wheel recumbents) are trying to figure that one out.
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: Old Guy New Hobby on November 18, 2020, 01:49:11 pm
Well, TCS, you are exactly right. And now I know why. After trying the Stratus for a couple of days, I decided I can learn to ride it. But I don't think I will ever feel secure enough to ride it on the street. I took it back. There are some interesting trikes that let you sit almost as high as a bike which might be good with light traffic. There's not very much in stock right now. I'm going to hibernate for the winger and poke my nose out in the spring. Thanks again to you and dminden1 for your help.
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: dminden1 on November 18, 2020, 02:25:06 pm
With my two high-racer style recumbents I was only about 6 inches lower than upright bikes. Great views of sky and what's around you. Enjoy the search when you restart in the spring!
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: misterflask on December 29, 2020, 08:54:23 am
<<I'm discouraged by how hard it is for me to drive the darn thing>>

I built a Bachetta clone and rode it around my suburban neighborhood for a week before I felt comfortable on the road.  The best advice I saw on getting started was "push off like you mean it".
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: GaHoosier on January 29, 2021, 09:57:39 am
Hi guys. I am new on here. I have been riding road cycles for over 5 years and have had a couple of accidents. One led to shoulder surgery. I  think it is time to get a recumbent. I ride in the country outside of Athens GA. There is usually very little traffic. As I leave home and return I encounter suburban traffic for a few miles. The countryside is pretty hilly here so being able to climb moderate hills is important. I have not tried a trike yet. There are no local dealers. I will head out in March to a couple of dealers in SC and NC to try some out. I have been focusing on the Catrike Expedition lately. I am 5'11" 158 and will be 70 in a few weeks. Anyone here ride a Catrike?
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: canalligators on February 06, 2021, 10:44:36 pm
When I started riding recument two-wheeler, it took a mile before I didn't think I would fall.  It took ten miles to start getting comfortable on it.  After a hundred, I was pretty confident.  BTW, it wasn't the easiest model to learn on, many are better first 'bents.
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: Old Guy New Hobby on February 07, 2021, 06:24:27 am
I ended up with a Hase Trigo. The seat is higher than many other trikes, making it easier to see and be seen. The under-the-seat steering version has front and rear derailleurs to make those hills easier. The frame seems to be strong. I can haul it in my hatchback. If you're tight on space in the garage, you can sit it vertically "nose up" to take a smaller footprint. I'm having bad luck with the weather, but I have 80 miles on it. It's a lot of fun.
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: Dortotto on May 14, 2021, 04:51:57 am
Yep. A recumbent bike is so much better than the regular ones especially if you suffer from arthritis or back pains. They are perfect for my grandma who has been struggling for years with this condition without being able to enjoy much of the movement freedom as she should. She is just sixty, and I would love to see her enjoy a much more active life without compromising her health and comfort. I recently realized that the best recumbent bike for seniors ( is not that expensive to buy, and I'm giving it a good thought to buy it as a gift.
Title: Re: Which recumbent?
Post by: MrBent on June 22, 2021, 10:50:13 pm
Congrats on the Hase. Superb machines.