Why are recumbents so rare?

DIscuss anything relating to non-standard cycles and their equipment.
StephenW
Posts: 96
Joined: 22 Sep 2010, 11:33am

Re: Why are recumbents so rare?

Postby StephenW » 16 Jan 2018, 10:46pm

Hello Tangled Metal

I bought a very good second hand recumbent for a good price in a village a few miles away from me. (It was on ebay).

I'm not in London or SE.

If you keep your eyes peeled, hopefully something will turn up locally.

Some recumbents have racks for conventional panniers. Others use special recumbent-specific panniers.

User avatar
[XAP]Bob
Posts: 16566
Joined: 26 Sep 2008, 4:12pm

Re: Why are recumbents so rare?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 16 Jan 2018, 10:46pm

I find it much more scary on an upwrong than a ‘bent
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

Tangled Metal
Posts: 4012
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: Why are recumbents so rare?

Postby Tangled Metal » 16 Jan 2018, 11:12pm

Cycling has never scared me. Busy traffic I just get on with it. I doubt I'll find a recumbent scary.

Scary is the first time you take your young child out in a trailer or on a child seat in proper traffic. Then you realise drivers give the unusual more space. Or child trailer had a forcefield that pushed motorised vehicles at least 1.5m away from the trailer.

User avatar
pjclinch
Posts: 3204
Joined: 29 Oct 2007, 2:32pm
Location: Dundee, Scotland
Contact:

Re: Why are recumbents so rare?

Postby pjclinch » 17 Jan 2018, 9:40am

StephenW wrote:Hello all

I suppose I was really making two points:

1. People won't ride recumbents if they perceive them to be dangerous in traffic.


You're right, but it's not limited to recumbents. When you look at Sustrans/BC/CUK surveys on why people won't cycle more and they say they think it's dangerous I'm pretty sure the answers don't only apply to recumbents!

StephenW wrote:
If a roadster does a good enough job at everything average Joe wants to do on a bike, why would he want a recumbent? I'm talking about people who are not "proper cyclists", and have no intention of becoming one. They just want an easy way of making short trips around town.


For exactly the same sorts of reason they might want hydraulic disc brakes, a better set of gears (up to a Rohloff with a Gates Belt), a light frame, a Brooks saddle or all sorts of other reasonably costly extras that make some aspect of cycling a bit nicer than it is otherwise is without actually being necessary.
If you paraphtase your question back but with the far more expensive commodity that is a car...
If a Ford Fiesta does a good enough job at everything average Joe wants to do in a car, why would he want a BMW Series 5?
I think you'd find quite a few BMW Series 5 owners happy to justify the tens of thousands extra they spent.

StephenW wrote:Regarding pockets, I've twice dropped my phone on the road! Of course, on longer journeys it is no problem to put things in a bag or deliberately wear something with zipped pockets, but on short trips this is an inconvenience.


Up to a point, Lord Copper. My go-to tailor is typically Rohan and they generally work on the principle of secure pockets being a Given. I don't want my 'phone being lifted out of my pocket either, so why would I keep such a valuable device in an insecure pocket? But in any case my torso is relatively upright, so a shirt pocket would take anything fine.

StephenW wrote:Regarding shoes, I find that being clipped in makes a far greater difference on the recumbent than on the upright. (I have particularly high BB).


That's a high bottom bracket issue, not a general recumbent issue.

People don't cycle in general because it's weird and different (the "dangerous" is a misconception used to rationalise, I suspect). Cyclists in general won't use 'bents because they're weird and different, and they'll rationalise just as spuriously as non-cyclists looking at "normal" bikes as to why it's not for them. For those that are curious, then you hit the availability and cost issues that are big barriers before you can even find one that might be right for you.

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

StephenW
Posts: 96
Joined: 22 Sep 2010, 11:33am

Re: Why are recumbents so rare?

Postby StephenW » 18 Jan 2018, 10:21pm

I have a Dutch friend who owns a Zephyr Lowracer. Yesterday I asked him why he didn't bring it with him when he moved to the UK. He replied: "Because I want to live!" This friend rides an upright to work every day here. He also commented that even in the Netherlands he has some safety concerns in certain situations with the lowracer, for example if there is a small hedge between the cycle path and road, he might not be seen by drivers turning into the side road.

I think it is reasonable to say that recumbents are perceived as being much more dangerous in traffic than upright bikes. (As I said before, whether they actually are or not is a separate matter).

If a Ford Fiesta does a good enough job at everything average Joe wants to do in a car, why would he want a BMW Series 5?


Well, the most popular car in Britain is the Ford Fiesta! Some people are car enthusiasts, and some are bike enthusiasts, but most are neither. Most people just want something that does a decent enough job. Also, it seems that you are saying that a recumbent is a pure upgrade on an upright bike, whereas I would see it as a different thing, with its own different set of compromises. To me it's not so much like Ford Fiestas and BMWs, more like skiing and snowboarding.

People don't cycle in general because it's weird and different (the "dangerous" is a misconception used to rationalise, I suspect).


I disagree! If people repeatedly say that they think cycling is dangerous, I believe them! I don't think people consider cycling to be weird. Lots of people have a bicycle languishing in a shed. It's riding in traffic that people find weird or unnatural, especially riding in a "vehicular" fashion.

Tangled Metal
Posts: 4012
Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: Why are recumbents so rare?

Postby Tangled Metal » 18 Jan 2018, 10:49pm

Cars don't just get you from A to B so one is as good as another. Cars often carry other items that simply won't fit in our on a fiesta. It's like saying a balance bike can go from A to B so why get a touring bike? Well I'm 6'5" tall and like to carry a lot on my bike when cycle touring. A balance bike does not suit this use.

I actually drive a seat Altea xl mpv. It's about the size of a golf plus. That is 25cm longer than a standard golf or seat Leon or seat Altea. It is just big enough for camping trips away with all the kit we take.

Just as different classes of cars have different uses, the same is true with cycles. Recumbents have a different use than light road bikes for example.

User avatar
pjclinch
Posts: 3204
Joined: 29 Oct 2007, 2:32pm
Location: Dundee, Scotland
Contact:

Re: Why are recumbents so rare?

Postby pjclinch » 19 Jan 2018, 9:22am

StephenW wrote:I have a Dutch friend who owns a Zephyr Lowracer. Yesterday I asked him why he didn't bring it with him when he moved to the UK. He replied: "Because I want to live!"


I have a Dutch friend who was convinced that cycling her upright in the UK (and round here in particular, which I regard as pretty benign as UK conditions go) was an invitation to death. Individual perceptions aren't necessarily much use as measures of reality.

StephenW wrote: This friend rides an upright to work every day here. He also commented that even in the Netherlands he has some safety concerns in certain situations with the lowracer, for example if there is a small hedge between the cycle path and road, he might not be seen by drivers turning into the side road.

I think it is reasonable to say that recumbents are perceived as being much more dangerous in traffic than upright bikes. (As I said before, whether they actually are or not is a separate matter).


Lowracers are "recumbents" in the same way that TT and track bikes are "upwrongs": they're fairly specialist machines designed for going fast more than being practical everyday transport for urban traffic. So in comparing a Zephyr to an Opafiets you're really comparing apples and bananas. To stress once again, there's 'bents and there's 'bents. TT and track bikes would be a liability in close traffic, but that doesn't mean that all upwrongs are. I prefer my Moulton and Brom to the SMGT in traffic because they're more manoeuvrable, but rather ironically that quite possibly makes them more dangerous: I'll filter past and through stuff on those where I'd just sit in the queue on the Panzerfiets, so it's a preference based on speed rather than safety.

StephenW wrote:Well, the most popular car in Britain is the Ford Fiesta! Some people are car enthusiasts, and some are bike enthusiasts, but most are neither. Most people just want something that does a decent enough job. Also, it seems that you are saying that a recumbent is a pure upgrade on an upright bike, whereas I would see it as a different thing, with its own different set of compromises. To me it's not so much like Ford Fiestas and BMWs, more like skiing and snowboarding.


I don't think a BMW 5 is a pure upgrade from a Fiasco: it's bigger, which is only better if you're carrying more, not when you're parking. Aside from capital cost it costs more to insure and run, and I'd guess to maintain. In urban traffic, where I see quite a lot of BMWs, I suspect the Fiasco is in many ways the better tool for the job.

Skiing and snowboarding is a good comparison. One is not objectively better than the other, but there are circumstances where one clearly is better than the other for some people. I'm actually a telemarker so a bit different again, but I wouldn't be averse to trying a tray... but there's no way you'll persuade me it's the best way to get down icy hardpack or skate across flats. On deep soft or halfpipes though, that's a different matter.

StephenW wrote:
pjclinch wrote:People don't cycle in general because it's weird and different (the "dangerous" is a misconception used to rationalise, I suspect).

I disagree! If people repeatedly say that they think cycling is dangerous, I believe them! I don't think people consider cycling to be weird. Lots of people have a bicycle languishing in a shed. It's riding in traffic that people find weird or unnatural, especially riding in a "vehicular" fashion.


Perhaps worth visiting the thread on reclaiming the word "cyclist" in the Campaigning section. Riding in traffic is cycling, though as you say there are plenty of people who ride bikes who wouldn't think of it that way.

Tangled Metal wrote:Recumbents have a different use than light road bikes for example.


Not of they're light recumbents made for going fast with minimal luggage! Recumbents are not a functional class of machine, they're a description of layout. An individual recumbent may be tourer, urban, racer, off-road, cargo, general purpose etc. etc.

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...