“...OK, Ill bite... why would I want one of THESE types of bikes?”
Imagine riding your bicycle for dozens, even hundreds of miles without stopping; arriving at your destination free of pain anywhere on your body,aside from normal muscle-fatigue. Say goodbye to painful "saddle issues", numb hands/wrists, sore necks, backs - that will be history! Also, you'll have no need for special, expensive padded shorts, "chamois cream", or other things like special padded gloves or special gel handlebar tape. Welcome to the world of recumbent cycling!
Often casually referred to as 'bents (and we who ride them as 'bent riders, taking "'bent" from the word "recumbent"), these 'bent bikes will put the smile of a 5-year old back on your face, no matter how long it's been since the training wheels came off.
Safety - recumbent riders do not go over the handlebars (except in rare instances) as riders of traditional style bicycles do - very few broken skulls or broken collar bones in our ranks - just "road rash" on the sides of our bodies when we do suffer a misfortune on the road and, in the worst case a broken hip. Which would you rather have as your worst case injury - a broken hip or a broken skull? It's a (pardon the pun) no-brainer in our book!
Visibility - most of us find that we are highly visible in traffic due to the more unique/non-traditional appearance of our bikes. For a while longer, recumbent bikes are still enough of a minority that we really stand out. Get used to hearing children call out to you "Cool bike!" on nearly every ride; you'll feel like a rock star.
The Learning Curve - "How do I ride this bike?" - Recumbent bicycles have a small learning curve, but the good news is, if you can ride a bicycle - it's a bicycle! Our shop full of experts will help you with tips that will have you flying around like a pro in no time. We have quiet streets nearby, where you can safely test-ride our bikes. For those of you who are kayakers, the balance is similar. A relaxed upper body and refraining from gripping the handlebars tightly, keeping a feather-light grip are a couple of great pointers to start with.
Riding in groups - You will be a little slower than your friends on traditional bikes when climbing hills, but you will be faster on the flats and, on downhills, you will be rocket-launched ahead of them due to aerodynamics. In most groups we all "ride our own ride" anyway; your overall speed will be faster, but not so much so that you won't see your friends at rest stops. Fast club rides? We've got just the bikes for you. Can your friends draft off of you? Yes - once they learn how and once they gain confidence in your handling abilities of your new steed.
Distance riding - recumbent bicycles are swiftly becoming more and more common on UMCA (Utra Marathon Cycling Association) events, such as RAAM (Race Across AMerica) and RAO (Race Across Oregon) and in many Randonneuring events ( www.rusa.org , www.orrandonneurs.org ) where their superior comfort takes the pain out of long miles. But don't let these racing statements intimidate - the recumbent bike or trike is also perfect to take you to the market for groceries, take the kids/dog out in a trailer, or for a few miles of smiles on a sunny day down the local bike path; they don't have to be used for an epic journey to be a terrifically worthwhile bike choice. No pain.... no pain!
Recumbent bicycles have been around since the late *1800s; they are the fastest bikes on the planet due to their aerodynamic design (fully-faired - 82.8mph, "Battle Mountain", 2009, powered by Sam Whittingham). The best part is, due to the body positioning used to achieve superior aerodynamics; they are also the most ergonomic form of bicycle on the planet - a veritable recliner on wheels!
So why did recumbent bicycles fade away until more recently? In the 1930s recumbent bicycles began winning a lot of races and the major organization of racing decided to ban them, since they were not designed along the same lines as other bicycles of the day. The UCI (United Cyclists International) decreed that recumbents were HPVs (Human Powered Vehicles) and NOT bicycles and banished them from "legal" racing. That silly ban still exists today.
So come on out for a test ride and see what all of this is about. You've got nothing to lose but pain issues as you enjoy the scenery ahead of you as you cruise down the road with a big grin on your face!
Things you Need to KNOW
Repairs - Help!
All bicycles and tricycles have "rider and gear" total weight limits - most are around 275 pounds max load capcitiy, but some are as low as 230 pounds total and others are a bit higher. Manufacturer's warranties will not cover repairs if the rider exceeds the limits for which the bike/trike was intended, thus causing frame or parts to fail. When in doubt, please ask or do a web search - most manufacturers have the weight limits posted in the specs of their product lines, usually at the end of the list. With limited floor space, we do not carry models for the over 300-pound plus range, with the exception of the new TerraTrike "Rover" and the Greenspeed "Magnum", both are designed for loads of up to 400 pounds.
PLEASE - if you plan to test ride, come in to the shop wearing sensible shoes, not strappy sandals or flip-flops and please wear appropriate clothing that has some give and that won't get caught up in chains, derailleurs, or spokes. If you have a helmet, please bring it along - if you don't, we have loaners and you'll be asked to don one of them, though we will treat you as an adult if you decline. We hold onto your I.D. while you're riding our bikes.
"How well does it climb?": how well ANY bike climbs depends largely on the condition of the "engine" - that is, YOU. How well do you climb? If you are now a strong rider on your conventional bike you will typically see a loss in your climbing abilities at first, when switching to a 'bent... until you get your 'bent legs; the bikes work the muscle groups in slightly different ways. You have to actively work at climbing to get better at it, but you CAN get your climbing legs back. There is no magic pill/silver bullet other than hard work and willingness to routinely break a sweat. No pain/no gain, to repeat a tired, old phrase. If you typically ride up climbs off of the saddle ("dancing on the pedals") for most of the climbs duration, your climbing will not be what it was. A strong 'bent rider can do as well (or much better) than on their conventional bicycle over the length of the entire ride. Again - this takes miles and riding up hills. The harsh truth is that fitness doesn't come overnight or just by buying the lightest "fastest" bike that is available.
All those gears! - if it's been a while since you rode a bike or if you never had one with gears you need to know some hard & fast rules about how to shift. First of all, the bikes we carry are all good quality bikes with equally good components, BUT those components are only intended to be used as designed. We don't know what it is... maybe the "giggle factor", but the three wheelers (trikes) seem to inspire some folks to want to pedal backwards. This is something you should never do. If you don't understand gearing and then you pedal backwards, you can wrap the chain around the rear derailleur (shifting unit) and cause yourself hundreds of dollars of damage that no warranty will (or should) cover - this is using the equipment in a way it was not intended to be used. We are going to consider hosting some "Shifting 101" classes later in the year if enough people are interested. If "something is grinding back there", something is wrong. . That simple.
Trikes - "Yes!", they're a screamin' hoot to ride, but they are not go-carts - they are the 3-wheeled equivalent of a fine road bike and should be treated as such. Their derailleurs are very low to the ground, subject to severe damage if they're not used as they're intended. Slam-banging down rutted gravel roads, riding them off of curbs, blasting through potholes, improper shifting (small/small rings - as per above) and backwards pedaling can cause extensive damage that your manufacturers warranty and our shop will not cover. It's very easy to avoid these issues.
Recumbents with two wheels - "How do I ride that thing?" - Yes, our bikes have a different center of gravity, but if you can ride a bicycle... hey... it's a bicycle! We'll give you tips to take the edge off your worries and before long you'll be a pro. A valuable point-of-reference for those of you who are also kayakers is that the balance if very much like that used in kayaking and a key thing for everyone to remember is that your upper-body needs to be totally relaxed. Lose the "Death Grip" on the handlebars - otherwise you'll be saying our bikes are "twitchy" - it isn't the bike that is twitchy, it's the rider's lack of experience in recumbent-handling technique that creates that experience. Stop. Take a deep breath. Relax and compose yourself and then start off again. Do not grasp the handlebars like your life depends on it. It doesn't. Think of the handlebars on a recumbent as very ripe bananas that you don't want to bruise; that's how you should "grip" them. Piece-O-cake!Relax. Have fun. Your life, should you purchase any recumbent bike/trike is about to get a whole lot better! They've changed my life, in all ways good!
Repairs and Maintenance- we need your help! As the areas recumbent specialists we are super-busy during the late spring, summer & early fall months when all of us want to be out riding. We are also uber-busy introducing new people to these fantastic bikes and trikes and building new bikes for them to take home and enjoy during these months.
You will help yourself and our shop (greatly) by scheduling your repair work in the late fall, winter, and early spring months when we have the time to dedicate to repair work in a less "frantic" atmosphere. You will beneift from this as much as we will appreciate having the work and your bike will be ready to roll when the nice weather comes back.
Note that we cannot do "on the spot" repair work during our busiest season unless an appointment has been made, with time blocked out for you. Always call first: 503.230.7723.