Comments: Bicycling S & M

"A Man For All Seasons"!

Posted by Carol Bowers at July 8, 2011 01:50 PM

I hate to jump back to an offhanded remark, after all that lovely information-- on the other hand, you were VERY thurough, so I don't have anything to add besides that it seems like mirrors are a much more likely option on a recumbent-- but I really, really, REALLY wish the "serious" cyclists up here thought that a rack on a bike was heresy. Seattle area, spend way too much time dodging idiots in 40MPH zones with a trailer and freaking horse panners on the back of their little bicycle. (Switching between riding on the road and riding on the sidewalk depending on where the green light is, not signalling, swerving across half the lane when they are sort-of on the road, and forget about them actually being in the bike lane if there is one....)

Posted by Foxfier at July 8, 2011 03:22 PM

Dear Foxfier:

Thanks for your comment! If you'll look closely at the left hand bar ends on both bikes, you'll notice rear view mirrors. I can't imagine riding without one, or a helmet, for that matter.

I agree on your observations. On one hand if bicyclists fully obey the rules of the road, drivers want to kill them--and often accidentally do. If they don't, the police want to ticket them. Don't get me started on red light sensors bicycles can't trigger. Still, common sense goes a very long way toward happy mutual co-existance.

Posted by Mike Mc at July 8, 2011 04:50 PM

Nothing wrong with racks or fenders. While I rarely ride now, (not yet this year in fact), I have 4 working bikes: 2 traditional racing bikes, (an old team bike and a cu$tom bike), and two bikes with fenders, one of which has a rack. Oh, and DiNotte lights.

They all have their purposes. If I rode them.

As a matter of fact, the rack/fender bike got a lot of 'cool bike' comments from many racers when I first put it together, originally for commuting and sloppy weather riding. It is now a 20 year old bike, with just about the frame, seat and bars left from original, but still looks 'cool'. And it is my favorite bike of the 4.

There was a lot of sneering in my old racing team about tourists and how much noise they made due to the stuff they carried. Like tools, spare tubes etc.

I never understood that. Those tourists were cycling fans, why sneer at your supporters and fans? Then I realized, most of them were leftists just like Hollywood elites or Manhattan-ites, who sneer at anyone that is not them.

A big reason I no longer ride.

Posted by tomwright at July 8, 2011 06:38 PM

Wow, come for the guns, stay for the recumbents!

I'm a 55 year old, 6'4", 205 lb man who rides an upright bike, a Giant FCR2 flat-bar road bike (with a rack! But no fenders, I draw the line there, honest). I'm not into the machismo, I have good bike trails and country roads next door to the house, and I just pedal. I'm on the road after work for 12 to 20 miles four nights out of five, and on the weekends it's 20 to 35 miles a day. In the winter it's an indoor exercise bike.

I'm serious but not obsessive about it. I like a good bike but I can't spend $4K on one. I don't have a lot of pain issues with the upright but I am getting older, and there's no way I can do the drops any more.

So I write all that to ask this: for touring the way I do, should I look at a short- or long-track recumbent? High or low? I want a sturdy bike that lets me do the cardio I need to do, and I'm not going to be road-racing anyone.

My local bike store guy is good at what he does but sniffs at recumbents, so I'm going to have to travel to find one.

Any advice appreciated!

Posted by Steve White at July 9, 2011 09:07 PM

Dear Steve:

Glad to have you! Don't worry, more guns are on the way.

Sounds like you're like me in many ways. As you can see, I'm a Rans fan, and I've found them to be very sturdy and well built. My guess is you'd prefer a short wheelbase bike because they do turn and handle substantially more quickly than a long wheelbase bike, and the higher chainwheel is actually more aerodynamic. Check the Rans catalog online.

The V-Rex would be a good choice for you, and with waterbottle mounts, a pump and other little incidentals like that, I'm sure you could be riding one for well under $2000. Rans also makes a model called the Enduro that is several hundred cheaper and would also work well. One of the issues with short wheelbase bikes and long legged people is that you often--with any make and model--find yourself bumping your knees against the underside of your handlebars. One of the best things about Rans is their extensive catalog of accessories that will allow you to swap a variety of stems, bars, etc. to dial in exactly what you need. When they're properly adjusted, your knees will miss by about 1/2 inch--as long as you're smooth and relaxed. In fact, it's a good way to remind yourself to be smooth and relaxed.

The V-Rex does come with decent components from the factory. I upgraded to Shimano gear basically because I'd come to like the feel of it over the years with my Lightning, which comes with a very high level of components, thus the $3200 base price.

I must warn you, however, that once you ride a good recumbent, you'll probably never ride your other bikes again. You can ride recumbents on gravel, but because of the weight distribution and the inability to shift your weight, they're a no-go for any reasonably serious off-road stuff. On the road, you'll find yourself grinning like an idiot and notice people waving and smiling at you all the time.

I hope this helps. If you need more specific information, e-mail me directly via our "about the authors" section.

Posted by Mike Mc at July 9, 2011 09:39 PM

Mike Mc: thanks for the info!

Yes, it seems a short wheelbase bike would be the way to go. I've seen the ads for Rans and for Volae, which also looks like they have a few models to try. The problem is that neither has dealers anywhere near me. In fact, of all the dealers around me (far south suburban Chicago) not a single one does recumbents. I see the occasional recumbent rider on the trails I frequent, so I'm going to have to ask them where they got their bikes!

Posted by Steve White at July 10, 2011 08:42 PM

Dear Steve:

Glad to help. May I suggest that you try two internet methods of finding bikes? First, go to the websites of any make of bike and check their dealer list. Rans, for example, lists five in Illinois including one in Chicago proper, all with addresses, phone numbers and e-mail contact information. The other option is to google recumbents for your area, using a variety of combinations of words. That will usually turn up dealers as well.

Remember that with short wheelbase bikes, if the bars don't quite work, if the stem is curved near the top, merely turning it 180 and reinstalling the bars can often get you the space you need. If you try a V-Rex I think you'll find it has all the adjustability you need.

Posted by Mike Mc at July 10, 2011 09:32 PM