Are regular bikes faster than recumbents? I test them both. The results may surprise you!
Finding the right trike can be fun...
To find the perfect trike, you need to understand what you want to accomplish with the trike and what sort of riding you are most comfortable doing. If you are riding on the beach you need a different setup than if you want to ride paved trails. Here are some basics to consider when buying a recumbent.
Two or three?
Two-wheel recumbents are great for some, but not for others. Two-wheel recumbents require much of the same bike handling skills and balance of a traditional bike and are a good option for riders who like traditional bikes but want a more comfortable riding style.
Three-wheeled recumbents are comfortable and easy to ride. Just sit and pedal! The public is seeing more and more three wheelers and are discovering how much fun can be. These recumbents sit lower and handle like a sports car. Plus, riding a recumbent means you keep your head up and seeing what's around you instead of just looking at the next two feet.
To Fold or not to Fold?
Folding bikes can be stored or transported in a smaller space, but they generally cost more than similarly equipped non-folding models. You should carefully weigh the benefits of folding and decided how frequently you need to do it to see if it is worthwhile.
Should you get a larger rear wheel or have all the wheels the same? There is some debate about wheel size and how it impacts speed and acceleration, but it really comes down to gear selection. If a 20" bike and a 26" bike are in the exact same gear, the smaller wheel will accelerate faster, but the 26" will maintain a higher speed easier. Change the gear ratios, and the story changes. That's why some manufacturers (I am looking at you Greenspeed) don't offer a 26" rear wheel. They make up for smaller wheels with a wide gear ratio.
No bike or trike is worth it if you are uncomfortable. Some brands and models will fit your body better than others. This is where you can't just look at what other people say about the trike and try it for yourself. Once you find a style that fits your body, you can customize your fit with things like a headrest.
Of course feeling every crack in the pavement may not be your idea of a good time, so you might consider trying trikes with a suspension system. Suspensions tend to give a smoother, more comfortable ride and will increase the overall cornering of the trike. Suspension costs and weighs more than a bike without, so you need to try both suspended and non-suspended trikes to see which is the best fit for your riding style.
Figuring out how much you are willing to spend will also make the decision easier. There is no need looking at a $4,000 trike if your max budget is only $1,000. However, if you find a trike that you like for $2,500, you don't have to spend your entire budget. You are in control.
Nobody is exactly the same, so why should your trike look just like everyone else's? You can personalize your trike with custom paint, drive train and braking options as well as unique accessories that separate you from the pack. Some customizations are obvious while other changes may just give you a better comfort or performance. Most components on your trike can be customized to give you the look you want. Want tires with more aggressive tread? How about a bell or horn to announce your arrival? We specialize in delivering just solutions to make your trike stand out from the crowd.
1. Recumbents are fun! Zipping around town in a recumbent feels like driving a go-cart. They corner easily and give you great road feel. Want to kick it up a notch? Most recumbents can accommodate an electric-assist motor that can go 20 MPH.
2. Recumbents are comfortable! Sitting in a recumbent feels more like sitting on a chair with your feet up. My customers describe the feeling as “Relaxercising”. Unlike traditional bikes, there are no pressure points on your hands, wrists, shoulders or backside!
3. Recumbents make exercising easier. The fun of riding a recumbent makes you want to ride. You start looking for reasons to do more riding. If you want to take a break. just pull over, put on the brake, and start again when you are ready.
4. Recumbents are stable. You spend no effort balancing, so you can focus on the fun of riding. People with balance issues can get back to an active lifestyle with recumbents.
5. Recumbents eliminate the “hunchback”. Instead of riding in an unnatural position, you ride in a back-friendly way that leaves you feeling relaxed and refreshed. It is easier to enjoy the scenery around you when your head is in a natural position. Want even more comfort? Most recumbents can be fitted with a headrest.
6. Recumbents are safe. The wider footprint of recumbents actually encourages drivers to give you a wider birth as they pass. The lower seating position also means you don’t ever have to worry about falling off your bike.
7. Recumbents are aerodynamic. The lower profile of recumbents means more of your effort goes to moving the bike forward instead of fighting wind resistance allowing you to ride longer and feel better when you finish.
8. Recumbents are fast. The fastest human-powered vehicle is a recumbent that went over 85 MPH (your results may vary). Generally speaking, people find recumbents faster than uprights with the same effort. It takes a little while for your muscles to adapt to a different riding position, but once they do, look out!
9. Recumbents are adaptable. Not only are recumbents easier to comfortably fit a wide range of people, they can be adapted for wounded warriors or people with physical challenges.
10. Recumbents riders are instant celebrities. Don’t believe me? Try riding a recumbent on your local trail and see how many positive comments and questions you get. Once your friends try it, they will want one too!
On of the best ways to improve your recumbent bike experience is to improve the way you pedal. Most people spend their time on the bike and don’t spend much time thinking about how they pedal. It seems simple, pedal harder, go faster. In reality, the best way to go faster is probably to pedal smarter rather than harder. If you are not using the whole pedal stroke to provide power, you are not being as efficient as you could be.
MAKE A CONNECTION
Power is transferred to your bike through the pedals. The better the connection, the more power is transferred. That’s why I recommend using clipped shoes and pedals. Clipping a shoe into your pedals not only gives you a safe secure base for pedaling, it also gives you more power. When I switched to clips, I felt like I had another gear. Most people report having 15 -20% more power when clipped into pedals. That kind of power can be used to go faster or farther with less effort than riding on traditional pedals.
LINE IT UP
Without clips it is easy to have your feet improperly aligned with the pedal. In order to have the right connection, the middle of the pedal needs to be directly under the ball of your foot. Improper alignment is not only inefficient, it can also make your feet and knees sore. Clipping in makes sure that your foot always gets the most out of each stroke while keeping your comfortable.
CIRCLES NOT LINES
Pedaling without being clipped into the pedal forces you to pedal left, right, left, right, pushing each pedal away from you. Clipping in lets you use the whole pedal stroke, not just the half where you are pushing the pedal. Using both the push and pull part of the pedal stroke gives you more power and spreads the work to different leg muscles. The best pedal stroke applies power in a circle rather than in straight lines. In other words, you should be pulling one pedal down and back while pushing the other pedal up and over the top of your stroke. A good way to feel this action is to unclip one foot and rest it on the boom tube while pedaling with one foot. This will help you develop a strong pedal stroke. Practice one leg at a time and then when you put it together you will be surprised at your increase in power.