New to recumbents

DIscuss anything relating to non-standard cycles and their equipment.
Milfred Cubicle
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New to recumbents

Postby Milfred Cubicle » 11 Apr 2011, 10:15pm

I'm looking to buy my first 'bent, due to increasing back/neck problems. I'm looking at a two wheeler, due to storage space. I like the look of the Bachetta Giro 26. It just looks elegant and simple to me. Also, it comes as a frame only option, which I can kit out with various parts I've accumulated. Does anyone have any experience of this machine? Any good?
My riding consists mainly of Audax events, a few club runs, and occasional light touring. I'd appreciate any advice/recommendation for a two wheeler. I need something to look forward to if neck surgery is on the cards! Thanks.

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Re: New to recumbents

Postby Cunobelin » 11 Apr 2011, 10:33pm

I don't want to damp your enthusiasm, but......

Whilst recumbents are good for backs, they vary in design greatly, and the angle of recline, seat shape and the way you mount can all affect the model's suitability

You need to try one before you buy

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Re: New to recumbents

Postby Richard » 12 Apr 2011, 7:56am

The Bacchetta Giro is a good bike. I owned a Giro 20, now sold, and was pleased with it.

Giros have a number of seat options - the two main ones being the Recurve, which is a soft, more upright seat; and the Euromesh, a lighter seat which is better suited to a more laid back riding style.

I am 5'11" with a short inside leg. I struggled to get my feet comfortably on the ground with the Giro 20 until I switched to the Euromesh seat. The more laid back you go, the harder it is to get your feet down.

Recumbents are great. However, they are a completely different experience to an upright bike. They are fantastic on the flat and descending where you can make the most of their aerodynamic benefits. However, the killer for me was climbing. They are significantly heavier and climb much slower than a DF. "Stall speed" is a factor - on a DF you can trackstand if you want - on a recumbent you topple over, so on very steep climbs if you can't keep 5mph forward speed you're off.

I also found them not as comfortable as claimed - on a DF I can stand and move about; on the recumbent trying to scratch an itchy backside is a recipe for a big off.

Below is a quote from Tigrrrr on the YACF forum in a debate about recumbent legs which I'd encourage you to read. I hope people will not mind me linking to this - However, I feel it sums up recumbents perfectly.

I switched from carbon bling roadbikes to recumbents 5 yrs ago, initially with a heavy speedmachine and then a lightweight fujin.
The key to recumbent speed is a combination of terrain, bike type, leg strength and ride length.
The point of recumbents for me is to be travelling at the highest possible speed - to benefit from disproportionate aero benefit.
A higher heavier bike will sap the riders power on uphills leading to a gradual draining of strength until overall speed drops below the aero advantage - at which point the recumbent becomes slower in every way, and longer rides can become hell - although shorter ones may be very flattering. Even strong legs will eventually be drained out by longer hillier rides so they are best avoided. I would not ride my speedmachine on any ride of any length although it blasts around town very well.
A lower lighter bike will sap the rider on uphills - but less - and will payback better on flat and downs - enabling more time in aero advantage and an overall faster time. A bit of leg fitness added will enable both exilerating sprints and higher cruise speed leading to recumbent bliss. That was my experience audaxing the fujin - I found I could go far and fast, with occasional extreme fasts. Eventually though tiredness would lower the cruise speed to below aero, or the hills would empty the legs with the same effect. Fitness has a disproportionate effect on the lighter bike, especially if body weight is also reduced as the hills then shrink.
I think of it like flying - the recumbent has to be lifted up to takeoff speed in order to perform, and you have to be fit enough or terrain-savvy enough to keep it there for as long as possible. If you can do that (bent legs) you are flying. If terrain, fitness, or weight drag you down you are grounded, in which case you have lost all advantage' Once 'grounded', the recumbent is an instrument of torture and will make you weep.

I would seriously consider trying before buying; they are not a straight swop for a DF bike. They are fun and may be ideal for you but go into the purchase with your eyes open as they're an expensive mistake if you get it wrong.

Any more questions on the Giro, don't hesitate to contact me.


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Re: New to recumbents

Postby byegad » 12 Apr 2011, 9:18am

Two wheel 'bents are a different balancing act than a DF. With such a wide range of designs you really do need to try several, D-Tec in Ely have a huge stock of second hand recumbents and I'd go there if I were you.

The comments about how slow 'bents are up hill is maybe over done.
1. Don't expect your DF fitness to carry over to a recumbent. Different muscle groups are used and while a fit DF rider doesn't have too much retraining to go through to be a fit 'bent rider it will take some miles. For me at 53 when I got my 1st recumbent, an AZUB-4 81 Speed, i took over 1000 miles.
2. Some designs are harder to learn to ride than others, a general, but not universal rule, being the lower it is the harder it is to balance. The old High Wheeler men scorned the Safety bike as being hard to ride for the same reason.
3. On my AZUB with gearing from 15" to 150" (81 speeds remember!) I could climb at 3 mph in bottom gear. It took me 3 months to learn to do that reliably (Around 400 miles I'd guess.) but I had an undiagnosed balance issue at the time which may have made riding the bike harder for me than almost anyone else. In the initial learning period I fell off the AZUB quite a few times, all as I either started or stopped.
4. Weight! Well some recumbent bikes are a lot heavier than some DFs. However if you compare like for like a Giro 26" is a sporty ride and weighs in at around 30lbs. So not that much more than a typical road bike. My AZUB was over 40lbs but had full suspension as well as a carrier for up to 4 panniers and a rear rack pack, as well as those 81 gears! Compared to a similarly equipped tourer DF it was less than 10lbs heavier.
5. Climbing depends on changing down early an spinning fast, my cruising cadence went from 72 on a DF to 84 on the AZUB over the first year I had it. It is easier to adapt your climbing technique if you already sit and spin rather than honk up hills out of the saddle. You will always climb slower than a lighter DF but not by all that much and into a wind you'll burn DFs with ease.
6. Pluses. Speed My 150" top gear on the AZUB saw me still pedalling downhill at 50mph. In rolling countryside I found I was able to charge uphill using the speed gained down he last one to carry me part way up before I was down to the gear needed to carry me to the top. Comfort is unbelievable compared to a DF. I used to get in from even a short DF ride with aching wrists, neck, elbow and, after longer rides, backside. I never get this on a 'bent. My hardest recumbent days give me tired legs. No more. Road Presence. As recumbents are rare many motorists have no idea what you are, so they are almost always more cautious and give you more room as they pass. I get waved out of junctions by motorists who stop to let me out on my recumbent trike. When I was riding DFs and recumbents I always noticed just how close cars passed me when I went out on a DF after a few days riding the 'bent.

For your described issues a recumbent will be a great help. But you do need to try before you buy given that the differences in recumbent designs make all DFs look the same by comparison. Once you are adapted to a recumbent the different advantages and disadvantages more than even out in favour of laid back cycling.
Last edited by byegad on 12 Apr 2011, 9:20am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New to recumbents

Postby Si » 12 Apr 2011, 9:19am

also a newbie to bents and also due to neck pain. I agree with the others - you need to try before you buy - being able to get a foot on the floor comfortably and securely is very important in my experience so far - on mine I can just about do it but would like it to be easier to aid stability at the lights etc.

As for speed - I've found that it (it's an older model more suited to touring than speed) doesn't climb as well as my uprights, but then I'm more of a 'quick-slow-quick' rather than a 'sustained effort' climber. However, overall, on longer rides it is often faster than the upright because after a couple of hours I am still pain free, where as on the upright I could often be in some pain neck-wise and unable to turn my head as far as normal.

Comfort wise - there is the above, plus I did get a bit of recumbent-bum at the start but this has now gone away. Also I got a lot of leg ache after only a couple of miles but this too seems to have gone - must be starting to get my bent legs.

However, sleeping policemen are becoming the bain of my life!

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Re: New to recumbents

Postby benm » 12 Apr 2011, 9:46am

I have had my Orca for just over a year and love it. The one thing I have noticed is that even though I am 6'+ I sometimes have difficulty getting my left foot down in a comfortable position ready for a lengthy wait at lights. I use it for a commute of 4 miles each way and, come the summer, I may well venture out onto the madness that is Dorset roads for longer trips to pubs :)

I would definitely recommend try before you buy... I didn't get to DTek near Ely because that is well over a reasonable round trip from here but did go to Future Cycles in Forest Row (friends near by) and borrowed an Orca and a Baron (oh and a trike) for a day of falling off and severe wobbling.

Riding up hill is definitely very different on a 'bent. you have to break the long habit of heaving back/up on the handlebar - do that and you wind up in the road. I still don't get it right sometimes and have to make a concious effort to ride with a completely relaxed upper body. I have to disagree about the 5mph comment above - I ride much slower (2mph I reckon) than that up some hills here and don't fall off - and that without the benefit of the 81 gears (though I am tempted to put a triple ring on the front of the Orca)

In terms of average speed - I am now, 2000 miles later, about as quick on the Orca as I was on the DF over the same commute; some bits are quicker (down hill, flat, windy parts) others are slower (uphill, pulling away)


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Re: New to recumbents

Postby [XAP]Bob » 12 Apr 2011, 4:28pm

Try before you buy - that's the biggest piece of advice.

I ride a trike - so all these balance questions are a bit beyond me (well, if you look at the last Draycote video you'll see what can happen ;) )

'bent legs are different - I was commuting 10 miles each way, and it took me a little under a month to get back to the same speed - I levelled out at a fraction quicker one way, and a fraction slower the other - those cancelled absolutely...

Today on the DF motorists really do have a "must get past" mentality which isn't nearly as prevalent on the 'bent.
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Re: New to recumbents

Postby Tigerbiten » 12 Apr 2011, 4:47pm

Another one for try before you buy.

I've seen Kevin's, D Tek, morning of trying 2 wheel recumbents.
You start on something thats almost a crank forward bike, very easy to ride but not areo.
Then get lower/layed back as the morning goes on.
It was very interesting to watch.

Even with trike the different designs, tadpole/delta or direct/indirect/joystick stearing, have a big inpact on how each trike feels and how well you'll get on with it.

Luck .......... :D

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Re: New to recumbents

Postby Elizabethsdad » 12 Apr 2011, 7:54pm

I used to ride a Trice explorer but sold it several years ago after I slipped a disc - clambering in out of it didn't seem like a good idea once my back recovered in case it caused a repeat problem. The original slipped disc was caused by coughing believe it or not.

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Re: New to recumbents

Postby squeaker » 13 Apr 2011, 8:53am

benm wrote:I have to disagree about the 5mph comment above
Me too: about 3mph is where I run out of low gears on my Grasshopper, but as others have said, it does depend on the bike. Happy hunting!

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Re: New to recumbents

Postby Loomis » 13 Apr 2011, 12:45pm

I have had my Bacchetta Giro 20 for a month or so now, and am really beginning to enjoy its very different ways. I had ridden and loved my upright bikes for many years, but medical problems left me with only one option; recumbent or no bikes. I had read many of the on line reviews and comments so pretty much knew what to expect. Living in Northumberland made it very difficult to have a test ride, but the Giro looked like all I wanted with a fairly upright and very adjustable seat and a simplicity of design that appealed to me as an ex engineer. So I went for it. My initial ride was on a very quiet road well away from witnesses to the potential disaster. Deep breath and away, weaving crazily down the road from one side to another with a death grip on the bars. Further rides were better every time with relaxation and familiarity. I have found it vital to hold the bars very lightly. The steering will seem very twitchy indeed after an upright, but you will get used to it. I did find hill climbing frustrating, one of my joys being to jump out of the saddle on hills, but with increased use and bent fitness increasing, I am beginning to enjoy the different technique. There is plenty of info on the American Bacchetta forum; well worth a look. After my month and a bit I really love the bike, and am out at every opportunity. It really has been like rediscovering cycling for me. If you take the plunge I wish you every success.

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Re: New to recumbents

Postby 3tyretrackterry » 13 Apr 2011, 8:19pm

another try before you buy here
I researched for a year before buying a trike i suffer lower back pain and it has helped a lot i still ride DF for commuting but prefer to ride recumbent
There are so many types of recumbent bike and trike and to get the best 1 for you you need to try its annoying there is a lack of recumbent dealers but thats how it is

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Re: New to recumbents

Postby Boycie » 15 Apr 2011, 2:17pm

Now then.....I have owned a Bacchetta Giro 26 for the last year, and I have to say it is a fantastic machine. Prior to that, I owned a Trice for a couple of yearrs. I would like to have kept the trike as well, as they do different jobs, but funds would not allow this. As far as the Bacchetta is concerned, it is comfortable and quick on the flat and down hills. Downhills, it is great and picks up speed bloody quickly!!! Up the hills, it is like any other recumbent and slow compared to an upwrong. However, the comfort factor is second to none in my experience. Even after a long ride, I feel no real aches and pains. Occasionally, I experience a bit of 'recumbutt', an americanism, I think!! Nothing more than a bit of numb bum, usually sorted by a few minutes break.

Now the downside, from the perspective of an inexperienced recumbentor (?) ANd bear in mind this is a personal view. They are not a panacea to all cycling ills. They are relatively heavy compared to a upwrong road bike. You can't stand up on the pedals and use body weight. You need to develop the recumbent muscles in ones legs. The balance issues is VERY different to a 'normal' bike, and it took me some 500 miles to become relatively at ease with the feeling of wobbliness! Now I have learned the different handlign techniques, I am pretty confident.

Everywhere you will go on a recumbent, add at least fifteen minutes to each stop you might make for a cup of tea. People generally find these things most intersting, and will ask questions. Kids love 'em, and for the first time in my life, I became 'cool' to the yoof of today.

They are relatively expensive and definately a considered purchase. You will be very well advised to get yerself to a PROPER recumbent purveyor to try before you buy. As has already been rightly pointed out, there are many different models, manufacturers and types, all of which will feel very different to each other. I have used D-TEK, (Kevin Dunsheath) over at Little Thetford in Cambs numerous times and can highly recommend him. He is a bit difficult to get hold of sometimes :roll: but is a good man and a font of knowledge as far as recumbents are concerned. I think someone has said above, he will (as he did with me) put you through a couple of hours on different machines, working up to the more challenging rides. This is a GOOD IDEA, folks!! ANd he will not do any hard sell on you.

Go try one; don't think about it too much. They are a great laff and I will never go back to a normal bike for road riding.


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Re: New to recumbents

Postby UpWrong » 15 Apr 2011, 3:49pm

I have a Giro 20 bought from D-Tek. It's a good bike and I'm not getting any heel-strike when riding it. My wobble speed when going uphill is somewhere between 3 and 4 mph, but I have some balance and co-ordination issues so I expect that an able-bodied person would fare better. I find balancing more difficult the more reclined I am and I have read comments that indicate I am not the only one who finds that. The Giro has 2 seat options. I bought the euromesh seat because it is the lighter one but it has to be used at a more reclined angle. I am considering getting a recurve seat since this will allow me to be more vertical and it's reckoned to be very supportive of the back and neck too.

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Re: New to recumbents - anyone loan / hire / share?

Postby Lazy Rider » 29 Aug 2011, 5:38pm

How do I get past just a tentative interest in 'bents. Trouble is, in North Wales we never see them, nowhere to try them. Could just buy, but they're sooo expensive. Also it appears you need more than a quick ride to find out if it's really for you.

Similar to UpWrong, I've a very bad back and just trying to get cycling after many years. Cannot sit on an upright and 'bents look such a good idea. Currently riding an ancient Schwinn Stingray - it's got me riding, but distinctly limited even though I'm cheating with a motor to help with the weight. That's both the bike and me as we're both tops on the weight.

As Bents are so expensive & I can't justify it yet, I've been watching on eBay. So often they're being sold because of too little use, but people don't really want to get rid. If people offered rental or two or three or more people did timeshares, more people could try for longer, subsidiese others and spread the word.

Any thoughts?