Where to start with recumbents?

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Freedom21tim
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Joined: 28 Feb 2020, 7:43am
Location: Winchester

Where to start with recumbents?

Postby Freedom21tim » 10 Mar 2020, 7:45am

I'm new to the recumbent world although have been rather intrigued by them for sometime. I have done a fair amount of reading and think i know what i would like to try first but budget is tight. £400-£500 tops

I'm doing the Coast and Castles - Newcastle- Edinburgh at the end of May so something that can take a rack would be handy.
I'm 5'8" 75kgs, there is a medium Kingcycle on EBay which looks tidy but not sure if you can fit a rack? Pashley PDQ seems neat
And rather like the Crystal/speed Ross. There was one on Gumtree a few weeks back which i missed by prevaricating for to long. Are there any others I should look out for or has anyone got something gathering dust in their Shed or Garage. Don't mind if it needs a little work either.

I will say i havent actually ridden one yet but pretty confident I'll be ok, I've joined BHPC and am planning to go to the race meet at Hillingdon in April.

Thanks, Tim
Current collection:-
Ellsworth Truth
Ellsworth Moment
Giant Halfway Rd
Home made Bent

pn_day
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Joined: 3 Mar 2020, 8:28am

Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby pn_day » 10 Mar 2020, 8:14am

Hi Tim,
Have you ridden any?

I would get yourself to a shop and try a few out - even just to decide what sort of recumbent suits you - tadpole trike, low racer, high racer etc?
I'm not sure where you are - but as you mentioned Edinburgh, Laid back bikes are worth a wee visit on a Saturday.

Good luck,
Phil

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 10 Mar 2020, 8:21am

Kinetics in Glasgow, or DTek near Cambridge are the other major options.
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.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 10 Mar 2020, 8:27am

Oh, and for a two wheeler.. it is literally learning to ride a bike all over again - be prepared to scoot and gradually get one foot then the other up to the pedals....
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
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Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby Tangled Metal » 10 Mar 2020, 8:31am

Street machine gt or gte current model. I got one about 2 years ago for touring on. Handled a 110 litre panniers front and rear with ease plus drybag on top of rear rack. Hard to push around when off it but easy to ride loaded. No idea what load it can take but I'm 87kg and those 4 panniers weren't light.

If you're serious about loaded touring then imho a SMGT/GTe must be on your shortlist somewhere. My only issue was marathon racers on the front wheel was slippy on grass. Yes, I took it off road. It's not meant for that.

PS my OH would tell me to offer my recumbent to you if she was on this forum. Glad she's not. I might not be riding it these days but covered up with cycle cover in the loft it'll be ready when I want it. You don't get rid of something that works so well. Not even if offered say £500. Did I say it's got a new seat? One made by that Dutch company with a hard wearing mesh that drains and lets good airflow through.

Tangled Metal
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Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby Tangled Metal » 10 Mar 2020, 8:34am

When you learn to ride it a slight downhill slope helps. It's when going slow you'll struggle. Slope helps get your speed up quicker IME.

One last point. If you're riding with family or friends, expect to see a member of the public tell one of them "it's great when they can get out like that" or something similar. Seriously, the ignorant think you've got to be disabled or special needs to ride a recumbent. It'll happen, trust me. :lol:

recumbentpanda
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Joined: 6 Apr 2009, 12:13pm

Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby recumbentpanda » 10 Mar 2020, 9:21am

My ‘entry bent’ was an American Linear. A lot were imported to this country in the 80s and they come up now and then on eBay in about your price range. They have their quirks but are very adjustable and ‘tinkerable’ and have a relaxed but not too extreme seating position. I rode mine straight off the bat, after many years of upright riding, but it took me six weeks to get really confident and a year or so to get totally intuitive. It’s a good tourer, the long wheelbase giving a relaxed ride.

But, bents come in many forms and geometries. After some years on the Linear I knew I wanted something different, and went for a short wheelbase semi low rider with tiller steering. It took me another six weeks at least to get confident, but now I love it. What suits is very personal. When looking at a bent these are factors to consider:

Height of bottom bracket above ground - if you have shortish legs a high B.B. makes it hard to get feet on the ground in a stop.

Height of seat base above B.B. - some people get numb legs if feet too high relative to heart.

Height of seat base above ground - see above issues. Also, a high seat and high B.B. allows two normal size wheels: ‘Highracer’ format. Low seat requires a small front wheel, either with the same size back wheel or a bigger one: ‘Lowracer, Semi Lowracer’

Angle of recline of seat - affects the leg and heart issues above, also influences how leg muscles get used in pedalling, and alters balance. More reclined may require a headrest.
- laid back is good for speed, more upright better for climbing.

Crank length - many people get on fine with standard cranks, but many find shorter cranks make knee problems go away, and reduce problems of heel strike or interference of knees with bars in some bikes

Steering arrangements - USS ( Under Seat Steering) is very relaxed for long distances. OSS (Over Seat Steering) tends to be more aero. OSS can vary a lot in style: ‘Easy Rider’ -found on American long wheelbase bikes, long, swept back bars, in front of and above the knees, like a 60s custom Harley Davidson! ‘Open cockpit, or ‘Superman’ : long swept back bars low down, but outside the knees. ‘Tiller’ style : a long ‘stem’ or tiller coming back between the knees to handlebars. Means bars swing from side to side. Tiller can be fixed or hinged for ease of getting on and off. Hinged also means you can push the bars upright for tight, low-speed cornering without tiller swing. ‘Praying Mantis, Hamster bars, or ‘Gunner Grips’ are terms for very short, angled bars used with tillers on extreme racers to bring the hands close together on the chest for better aero.

Long or short wheelbase - very different ‘feel’ and weight distribution. Short is most like an upright bike, most weight and braking force on front wheel. Long is opposite, front wheel lightly loaded, most weight and braking force on back.

Chain route - depending on frame geometry the chain can run straight from front to back, may need one or more idler pulleys, and may even need to cross over itself. Chain tubes can help guide chain and keep muck off legs. Both tubes and pulleys add drag but not as much as you’d think. Some designs use front wheel drive. These divide into ‘twisted chain’ -relies on flexibility of chain to allow steering, and ‘Moving Bottom Bracket’ - whole drivetrain, pedals to derailleur moves with the front forks. Another learning curve. FWDs are rare and tend to be racers, but have advantages of reduced chain weight.

So, from the above you will be realising there is no such thing as ‘a ‘bent’! There are many, and all very different.

Fortunately they hold value well, so if your first bent doesn’t work for you, you can sell on and try something else without too much loss.

Hope this helps you and others!
Last edited by recumbentpanda on 10 Mar 2020, 9:43am, edited 1 time in total.

recumbentpanda
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Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby recumbentpanda » 10 Mar 2020, 9:37am

At the risk of being tedious (!!) a few comments on bents mentioned in this thread. The Kingcycle is an early classic, and by all accounts a great bike - but it was designed many years ago around wheel sizes that are now unusual. It is one for a confident mechanic who can modify or chase up parts to keep it on the road.

Streetmachine -known to German enthusiasts as ‘panzerfiets’ (recumbent tank!) Heavy, but very well designed and built. A classic tourer with a high reputation for durable comfort.

Pashley PDQ no longer made for many years I believe, but by all accounts a nice bike for those who like a more upright position.

Orbit/Ross. An early classic, not made for many years. A nice bike of its format but can have an issue of metal fatigue around the headset/ frame tube. Bear in mind these are relatively light, and because of age may have been in use for many years.

Linear all aluminium except for forks. Very adjustable to different riders. Wheels can fold under frame, but folding joints in alloy can be very creaky. Still made, and the modern version is much redesigned and de-bugged, but not cheap, and not sold in U.K. so few if any on second hand market.

My current ride: Nazca fuego. No longer made, but quite few sold in U.K. so pop up from time to time on eBay. Very well sorted, quite speedy, but still very tourable. Seat angle is adjustable. Challenge make similar models, which also appear from time to time.

Have personally ridden only the last two. Info on the others from many years of following bent forums!

Tangled Metal
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Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby Tangled Metal » 10 Mar 2020, 12:48pm

Streetmachine -known to German enthusiasts as ‘panzerfiets’ (recumbent tank!) Heavy, but very well designed and built. A classic tourer with a high reputation for durable comfort.


Heavy and I found it very slow. Mind you i never got my recumbent legs. 33mph was my top speed in it very early on. A hill and it hit it quickly too. Scared the bejesus out of me. Well I'd only been riding it for about 4 or 5 weeks on and off. You need time to get used to them. Imho USS was not natural even if the hand position was.

Still can't decide whether to sell my streetmachine. I've not used it for year and half.

Freedom21tim
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Joined: 28 Feb 2020, 7:43am
Location: Winchester

Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby Freedom21tim » 10 Mar 2020, 7:23pm

Hi all,

Thanks for lots of useful advice. I'll try and reply to as best as i can.

No i haven't ridden one yet and unfortunately i live near Southampton so those bike shops mentioned are rather far away and i see bike fix in London have closed the shop to concentrate on maint only.

I Rather like the look of a long wheel base but I'd like to be able to take which ever bike i choose on a train every now and then.

I don't really need a full on trekking setup just a rack and panniers to put a few spare cloths etc for an overnighter.

I'm lucky i live in a cul de sac with a slight slope (and not to many neighbors) for first go.

I rather like the look of USS and thought that could be quite relaxed.

And the Streetmachine does look good although i haven't seen one for sale and imagined it would be over my budget but Tangled Metal I'm not exactly sure how to read your last message but i would very interested if you changed your mind?

Totally agree about resale value they seem to hold their money well.
For the time being i will keep on checking all the usual places.
Current collection:-
Ellsworth Truth
Ellsworth Moment
Giant Halfway Rd
Home made Bent

hercule
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Joined: 5 Feb 2011, 5:18pm

Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby hercule » 10 Mar 2020, 9:48pm

PDQ: my first commercially built recumbent. I think they were last built in the late 90s so getting on a bit now. They are remarkably light though, the seat is ideal for beginners (not too reclined which helps with balance) and the combination of a mesh “hammock” and a suspension element takes on the potential sting of the extremely short wheelbase (shorter than my Brompton). On the other hand that makes the bike very manoeuvrable and I could do u turns in roads that I would struggle to do so without putting a foot down on an upright bike.

Downsides... age; the seat frame is known to crack (mine did, but it’s fixable by a welder and I got some extra bracing pieces added for good measure); and the joint at the bottom of the steering tiller (basically just a hole drilled through the tube) can get ovalised and lead to sloppy steering (also fixable, I drilled a bigger hole and fitted a bush to accommodate the fitting bolt).

I’d still have mine if my legs were an inch longer... the seat was just too tall to allow me to get my feet down confidently, balancing on tip-toes was a bit disconcerting. I sold it once I got my Fuego, but I’d seriously think of snapping up another if one came up for sale again, with more recumbent experience I might be a bit more confident on it.

Tangled Metal
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Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby Tangled Metal » 10 Mar 2020, 9:53pm

I suspect you'll want something a bit more lively than the streetmachine I've got. It's great for loaded touring that is why I got it. Every year I tour with family. Youngster was 6.5 years last summer with two panniers lightly loaded. My partner has a hardtail mob with two panniers and dry bag plus small bar bag. Since we camp I wanted a tourer. Unfortunately i couldn't afford a tour de fer 20 or 30 and fancied trying a recumbent. My recumbent came up for sale on a forum so I got it.

Really love it for slow touring like we do. A 5.5 year old isn't going to do long miles nor long runs without stops for interesting things. Selling it on is final, means I'm giving up on recumbent. Probably won't use it though.

nigelnightmare
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Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby nigelnightmare » 11 Mar 2020, 12:58am

Bike or Trike?

Campag
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Joined: 2 Dec 2018, 8:04pm

Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby Campag » 11 Mar 2020, 10:13am

Tim - in response to a couple of your questions:

It is possible to fit a standard 3 point fixing bike rack on a Kingcycle, the only additional work is a long bracket to connect the front down to rear brake bridge.

I bought a second hand Kingcycle as my first recumbent, even though it is an old design still light and relatively easy to ride.

However if it still has the unusual wheel sizes used in the original setup, you will struggle to find touring tyres to fit. Other thing to consider is the length of time needed to adapt your leg muscles to the different requirements of a recumbent. And to get used to the handling. It took me a few months, doing the Coast & Castles in a couple of months time doesn't leave much time to acclimatise.

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squeaker
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Re: Where to start with recumbents?

Postby squeaker » 11 Mar 2020, 10:20am

Freedom21tim wrote:I'm lucky i live in a cul de sac with a slight slope (and not to many neighbors) for first go.
IME a dry gentle grassy slope is a lot more forgiving than tarmac :roll:
As for machinery, a Challenge Mistral might fit the bill - they do come up on fleabay from time to time (but usually in OSS form).
"42"