Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Riding the Wild Recumbent

Riding the Wild Recumbent

Fun is defined by each person and cannot be necessarily transferred, but if I could I would try. Riding my recumbent bike is a ton of fun, and I see evidence all around me that many others could use some of this enjoyment. I actually ride it all over the Denver area through city trails and sometimes river trails. It seems to attract the most attention from young people who think it is a low rider.

I love my BikeE - This picture is a recent one from early July in Dillon, Colorado

I get comments like "hey, cool bike" and "where did you get that bike" and other similar statements. Sometimes an older guy like myself will stop me to ask how I like it. Since I love it for many reasons, I wish I had several for sale back at home. I am sure I could sell as many as I could afford to stock. All I would have to do is to ride it around the city.

My shoulders never get tired using this bike. The recumbent position allows complete support for my back, and the reclining attitude of the rider combined with the big seat and seat back, mean there is no stress on anything but the hips and theighs. It really is good exercise to keep an older body in good shape. The main thing upright bikes cause is shoulder strain and loss of circulation due to sitting on a small slender seat all day. Not a problem with my bike.

I actually convinced a guy one day that the bike was such a wonderful way to ride that he wanted to buy it from me. He offered his upright bike and $300 in a trade, but I just could not go for the deal. I just cannot give up my comfort and enjoyment. The bike is easy to ride unless you are taking a steep hill, and then I simply spin in the lowest gear combination until I get to the top. All those upright bikes pass me up then, but later I get caught up just fine.

The bike has 21 speeds and goes real fast. It is actually quite heavy and well built, making it completely stable at higher speeds. You just have to be careful when you try to look over your shoulder behind you. It would be easy to turn the handlebars when doing so, and then you could wreck badly. It does take some getting used to that's for sure. Once you make the adjustment it is the finest way to ride, in my humble opinion.

Today there are many recumbent bike options, but they tend to be quite expensive. If money is no object, you can find a plethora of similar designs among several top brands, and titanium frames are even an option on some models. The original recumbents were designed by a Frenchman, and he had a good deal of success on the racing circuit until the design was banned by bike race organizers. They simply were too fast and no one in those days could keep up with them.

According to the website BentRider Online, the 2007 bikes of the year in the recumbent category are:

Editor's Choice - Bacchetta Bellandare - Bacchetta's sophomore long wheelbase effort is a great one. It's economical, comfortable and handles great. We're very happy to see Bacchetta filling out its line so well.

Reader's Choice
- RANS V3 Ti - Reader voting was very close between the Stratus XP Ti and the V3 Ti. It was a late surge in the last couple of days of voting that finally pushed the V3 ahead. This $5300 machine is definitely something to behold and is probably the fastest unfaired long wheelbase in production today.

Honorable Mention
- Flevobike Green Machine - The Green Machine was very popular amongst our European voters and got the attention of the editors also. It's one of the more unique recumbents to come down the pike in recent years and its concept of worry-free commuting reliability is a very worthy one.

I have looked into these more serious machines, but the cost is a factor for me. I am kind of stuck in my world with my BikeE, but being the fastest biker out there is not my goal. Being the happiest biker is my goal, and I think I achieve it most of the time. I went on a 50 mile ride last year and I was considerably spunky afterward, while many of my counterparts who ride upright models were not. I did not race, but I finished well in the middle of the pack. I felt great afterward!

Recumbent in 1933

Records of recumbent designs go back to the early days of cycling, however recumbent use was not widespread until the late 20th century. Recumbent riders hold world speed records for unpaced, human-powered vehicles. Tricycles form a substantial part of the recumbent market (far more so than they do for uprights); the generic term "bike" tends to be applied to these as well.

Well there I am again, having fun riding my BikeE recumbent machine all over the city trails. They call me the "Old Bent Guy" in some circles. Guess that is a complement. Anyway, it is fun for me and having fun in life is important. My wife rides with me and she rides an upright. She is considering looking for a bike like mine, but never quite makes the leap. Oh well, I guess it will continue to be ME who gets asked all the questions. I also consider that to be part of the fun!

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