Carly Hallman is a professional writer and editor with a B.A. in English Writing and Rhetoric (summa cum laude) from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. She has worked as a curriculum developer, English teacher, and study abroad coordinator in Beijing, China, where she moved in In college, she was a Gilman Scholar and worked as a staff editor for her university's academic journal. Recumbent Bikes: By John Andersen. You’ve probably seen them, those odd shaped bicycles having more in common with lawn furniture than typical bicycles. Stress pervades our lives. We become anxious when we hear of violence, chaos or discord. And, in our relatively secure world, the pace of life and its demands often lead . When a Stress Expert Battles Mental Illness Our columnist literally wrote the book on peak performance, but he had to reconsider everything after an unexpected battle with mental illness. The best place to buy custom essays online, and how to order your own for colleges and universities.
You probably would like to try riding one some time, and wonder if they are easy to ride. Or perhaps you just decided to see if this article would explain just what kind of madness would make a healthy looking bicyclist climb aboard a pedal driven lawn chair. Let me start right off by saying I use a recumbent and three diamond-frame regular bikes as well as a tandem.
I like them all, and have spent enough time on each of the types to know the faults and well as the strong points. What are these things Recumbent meaning seated bikes have been around for quite a while, but have never garnered a significant share of the market.
The last I heard, they had just slightly more sales than Tandems, and you know how rare those are. Yet lately you are starting to see them in increasing numbers.
Often they were, and some still are, assembled in garages out of pieces and parts of cannibalized bikes by guys with a welding torch in their hand and a gleam in their eye. Today, there are a couple dozen manufactures of quality production recumbents in the US, Europe, Australia, and the Orient.
Out of this environment came a few bikes with very nice handling characteristics, a fair bit of speed, and a great deal of comfort. Comfort seems always to be measured against the alleged horrors of the regular bike seat, usually with dramatic exaggeration thrown in for good measure. And yes, they are easy to ride, although in your first five minutes on one you may think me daft for saying so. They ride differently, they steer differently, starting and stopping is different, and climbing hills requires a different approach.
By and large they are quite fun to ride. The "Recumbent Grin" is the most noticeable attribute of a new bent pilot. That term "pilot" comes up often among recumbent riders because the feeling of banking into turns as you swoop around corners has much in common with feelings you get while flying in small planes.
Recumbent Variety There are a lot of different recumbent shapes and sizes. Once you break the "rules" and deviate from the diamond frame design there is little to hold you back from trying new designs and new shapes. These are short wheelbase and Long wheelbase. There is arguably a third category called compact long wheelbase, but the difference between this and the other categories is blurred and indistinct. These tend to be speedy bikes. Sometimes this yields a harsher ride as you are sitting almost on top of the front wheel.
Long Long Wheel Based bikes have the front wheel out in front of the cranks like a conventional bike. Such bikes have larger turning radiuses, and some of the smoothest rides of any bike. These bikes also tend to be the lowest bikes, often having the seat less than a foot above the pavement.
Steering Arrangements Within the three above general categories of bike geometry, there are two common arrangements of the steering mechanism. These varieties each have their own strong points and near fanatical adherents. Both work, both are easy to learn to use. This arrangement is often said to be more comfortable for the beginner than is under seat steering. Above seat handlebars also lead to a more aerodynamic configuration on the bike as your arms are in front of you and therefore do not present an additional wind target.
Under Seat Steering Under Seat Steering USS has the steering assembly under the riders seat and handlebars protruding out from under either side of the seat. This usually entails some sort of linkage to the front wheel, except in the case of short wheel based machines, which have the front wheel very close to the rider.
USS is quite comfortable once you are use to it. There is nothing in front of you. Some riders find this arrangement makes it easier to get on and off, due to not having to duck under the bars. Not Just Bicycles Not all recumbents are bicycles. Trikes have a special appeal to the touring crowd as you are never at a loss for a place to rest, and the carrying capacity is great.
Plus, your full loaded bike does not try to fall over the minute you turn your back. Trikes also appeal to those users with balance problems, salvaging an otherwise lost love of cycling. There is no learning curve, you can ride one instantly. You can also climb very steep hills because Trikes have incredible gearing some as many as 72 gears , and also because you do not have to maintain enough speed to balance as you would on a two wheel vehicle.
You can set the brake, and stop to rest anywhere without getting off the bike. Most commercial recumbent trike designs are of the "tadpole" design with two front wheels and one rear wheel. The trike pictured here is a Greenspeed Touring Trike manufactured in Australia but sold the world over, available either as completed bikes or kits to build your own. Reasons for Recumbents There are several good reasons to ride a recumbent bicycle. I will cover these below in greater detail.
But first I would like to mention the fact that often people choose a recumbent after they have many years of using other bikes, and after they have reached an age where they are no longer socially insecure. In prior years, recumbent riders were overwhelmingly middle aged. Lately you are starting to see more young riders, but still virtually no teenage riders. This may well change, as recumbents become more common, not to mention cheaper. Comfort One of the most frequently cited reasons for riding a recumbent bike is the comfortable seat.
Many people find the having weight on their arms or wrists is unbearable for longer periods with advancing age. Others just never seem to get used to a typical bike seat and find the lawn chair like seats of recumbents more comfortable. Make no mistake about it recumbents are very comfortable. However, many recumbent enthusiasts go way overboard in denigrating the typical bike seat, claiming they would never go back to that "horrible" seat. Long tours are especially comfortable on some of the long wheel based recumbents.
You can ride all day and not have any sore spots. Also, as you sit in a more natural posture, your neck does not get sore.
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Stress Injuries Recumbents are often a way whereby people with repetitive stress injuries to the wrist, neck, or back can continue to ride bikes.
Quite often such injuries make it impossible to bear any weight on ones hands, as is necessary when leaning on the handlebars. Injuries to the back or neck can also keep people off a regular bike, but seldom present a problem for recumbent bikes. Cycling is still possible with many such injuries if the position on the bike is changed.
The upright seating posture of most recumbents is more like sitting in a chair, and reduces stress on arms and neck. Offsetting this, often there is additional stress is placed on knees, especially among new recumbent riders.
We will cover this below. Speed Recumbents hold all human powered speed records. These organizations have decided that the diamond frame bike traditional road bike is the only device they will admit to the record books.
Recumbent enthusiasts insist that this is because they know that recumbents are faster and would take all records if given a chance.
Of course that's true, but the winners of recumbent records would be the same world-class cyclists who race in the Tour De France. You still need world class legs and lungs. Therefore the argument that the USCF "fears" recumbents seems rather weak in that the same super athletes USCF members for the most part would still be winning. The truth is that every sport has the right, in fact the duty, to limit the equipment that may be used. Equipment that lends a tremendous advantage does not reflect the merits of the athlete.
Sport, after all, is supposed to be a competition of strength and skill among human beings. Competitors should rightly be limited to similar equipment. There was a time, sadly long past, when the Tour provided the same bikes to all competitors. None of the above does anything to diminish the fact that most recumbents are fast bikes. This is due predominantly to the better aerodynamics of a recumbent bicycle.
The cyclist is usually seated lower, wind speed near the ground is usually less than found just a couple feet higher up , and the seating position on most recumbents provides a smaller wind target than most upright bikes. This translates into measurably faster speeds.
Many cyclists who ride both types of bike diamond frame as well as recumbents report 3 to 8 mph faster average speeds on the recumbent bikes. Add to this the low seating position, and the effect is not unlike being in a low slung sports car. Sitting low to the ground just seems faster than the same speed at a higher elevation. Safety Virtually all falls from a recumbent dump you unceremoniously on your butt next to your bike. It is almost impossible to go "over the bars" and land on your head.
Very few crashes result in extensive road rash as is often experienced in falls from higher bikes. Crashes with Trikes are virtually unheard of. It is possible to slide out in a tight turn, but if you do so on a recumbent, you will usually have a lot shorter distance to fall than you would from a regular bike.
Because of the novelty factor see below recumbents often get more attention and consideration from motorists. View When was the last time you were able to ride along the road looking up at soaring eagles rather than down at the pavement ahead of you?
On a recumbent bike the view is wonderful, and you see things you never notice on an upright bike. After a long ride, your neck is not tired from holding your head up all day. Among recumbent enthusiasts there is something known as the "recumbent grin". You will see it on the face of every new recumbent rider just seconds after they master the steering and balance.
You bank into corners like a jet fighter pilot. You are riding low and fast like an Italian roadster on a mountain road. You can stop and rest still sitting on your bike. Novelty There is also a certain novelty factor in riding a recumbent, which is diminishing with each year as more and more of them are seen on the road. Still, hardly a day goes by without some 10 year old blurting out "Cool Bike, dude!