Are Recumbent Bike Reviews Really Accurate


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EZ-Sport-AX-blue Courtesy Sunbikes

 

For those that are shopping for a recumbent bike, it’s imperative that one looks at reviews. It’s not so much about looking at what people are saying, or even the professional rankings, because you may be buying into marketing hype. Finding quality recumbent bike reviews, even though you’ll be able to search a lot of information online, still don’t tell you how to determine just what is good information when you know next to nothing. A quick search will produce millions or results, so while you may find the right options overall, which ones are going to be those worth your time? This is the thing that most people don’t really get in the beginning. So the following may help determine the right information from any bike reviews you’re reading to help that buying decision.

Consider Your Age And Health

Yeah, it may not be what you want it to be, but it is what it is. Those who write these reviews, unless specifically mentioned are not likely going to be the same age or level of health. If you’re a senior, or have to deal with mobility issues, then know it’s absolutely essential to read those opinions taking you into account. The reason is simple, because these reviews are considering an average individual within a certain age bracket with no health issues.

They aren’t going to have you specifically in mind. They will base it on their own fitness level or an average as previously mentioned, and that will give you the wrong information overall if you take it as gospel. So in order to be sure you’re not left with impressions that are skewed, you should be certain to consider who is reviewing the bike, and whether or not they mention how they’ve use the bike they review. All that information will probably not be in the review, so you are left wondering if that bike could be good for you? That review can never answer that question. So keep reading for how to know which recumbent bike review is the one for you.


Consider The Basic Facts

The next thing that you should look for when reading recumbent bike reviews are the basic facts of the bike. Things like weight, size, shape, and maneuverability all come to mind here but are facts that you have no idea how it will affect your experience with any of these bikes.

Recumbent bike reviews should be for one thing and one only. Information. Just that. You can gain tons of knowledge, but it can only be be used at the exact moment it will do the most good. When is that? Ahh, we’re getting there so keep reading. All the facts about SWB or LWB, ASS or USS, materials used to build the bike, all the gears, brakes, and extras that complete the package are going to be over your head. At least when the time comes and you’re at a local bike shop (LBS), you’re going to be able to at least discuss these items with some knowledge of what you’re talking about.

Take What The Experts Say With A Grain Of Salt

Being considered an “expert” is a dangerous thing, since it assumes superior knowledge about something that leads to the belief there’s no room for doubt. When in doubt, looking to see what professionals are saying about a particular recumbent bike may be a reasonable guide, but should not be taken as the last word. All the information you can find, wherever it comes from, is no different than a foot. In the great majority of the cases, everyone has one, but every single one looks different. Reviews are like that too.

It’s natural that you will want to see what consumer reviews are saying, and what experts are talking about. It’s a starting place, not totally unlike how you might go about buying a car. At the end of the day, if you’re going to purchase a recumbent bike, do all your research until you’re satisfied you have all the information you want. Then you are finally ready to take the step that will determine absolutely, the bike perfect for you. How will you do that? Ride it!

The Best Recumbent Bike Review Is The One With You On The Seat

Sounds simple doesn’t it? In reality it is, because getting your seat on the bike seat is the proof whether or not that bike, style, steering, component group, are the right ones for you. All the reviews in the world can’t replace you on the bike. On top of that, it will take several rides because your first one is going to be awkward. The balance of the lower recumbent bike profile is going to take some getting used to. But once you get the hang of it get ready for the “recumbent smile!” Yup. One of my slogans is, “Ride a mile then check your smile!”


So the best recumbent bike review is the one with you on the seat of the bike, tooling down the road or trail. Your review comes from feeling the wind in your face because you’re not bent over handlebars, enjoying the view, along with the unequaled comfort of a seat like you have never experienced before.

Can you imagine that review in your mind? How would you write it? What words would you use to describe it? Would you discover some new words like “get bent?” Maybe you’ll hear the term “wrong right bike” or something similar. The one thing that review can’t really tell you about is the recumbent community. There may be hundreds of thousands of CAT 1, 2, and 3 level road bike riders, but the recumbent community while small, is thriving. And to give you an idea of just what that means, consider that this year, in Battle Mountain, Nevada, it was a specially designed recumbent bike that set the current human powered speed record of 89.6 MPH. No road bike unassisted has even come close.

Add to that, a more comfortable ride can’t be had than what you will experience on a recumbent bike. Whether you consider a mountain bike, cruiser or any road bike, none can compare with the comfort of a recumbent. So read all the reviews, forums, and general comments about recumbent bikes, but then do your review from the seat of one. Then you can perhaps agree with another slogan, “Riding recumbent means never having to say you’re sore!”


Adult Tricycles vs Recumbent Trikes: The Difference

three-wheeled-cruiserDid you realize that trikes and tricycles can be a great way to get some much needed exercise while having fun at the same time? Many people have been using their bicycles as an exercise tools for years, but there can be many drawbacks to riding a bicycle. And what exactly is the difference between an Tricycle (for adults) and a Trike?

History of Tricycles

The tricycles have been around for almost 150 years. Following the popularity of bicycles as a means of transportation, tricycles started to appear in the market in 1789, hitting their stride in 1876 with the introduction by James Starley and the Coventry Lever Tricycle. The main reason behind the creation of the tricycle was for safety concerns, and the third wheel made the tricycle more stable and easier to ride.

The first documentation of adult tricycles started to appear in 1680’s when Stephen Farffler of Germany, who was a disabled watch maker, created his own tricycle so that he could travel. As a watch maker, he created a tricycle powered by hand cranks to reach his customers.

Before the end of the 1860’s, variations of tricycles started to appear in the market with the seat moved further back to help correct safety issues. At the same time, as a children’s toy, wooden tricycles started to appear. Official documentation about children’s tricycles are hard to find along with photographic evidence about when and where the first ones were made. Chances are good that the first children’s tricycle was probably homemade.

Tricycles’ key advantages are riding comfort, cornering, stability and terminal velocity. People usually regard the tricycle as a children’s toy. However, tricycles are used by adults who don’t know how to ride a bicycle, or for older people who are afraid of falls.

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The Coventry Lever Tricycle, even though it started with 4 wheels, it was eventually changed to three

One of the main drawbacks of some tricycles is that a low riding profile makes them hard to spot in traffic, which advocates the use of flags, blinker lights and other accessories as a necessity for safety. Supposedly, another disadvantage is the tricycle has poor climbing ability since it takes much more energy to ride uphill. But then, the same can be said for a bike.

 

Recumbent Trikes Are Comfortable

For many people a bicycle can be uncomfortable. Concentrating most of your body weight on that small, narrow seat, that makes itself known for many ends painfully. You will often be reminded later, every time you think about going for a ride, of the experience of that sea, and the result is that bike will remain hanging from the hook in your garage.

But recumbent trikes are extremely comfortable. What could be called “adult” tricycles, all of your weight is not on a small seat. Instead with recumbent trikes you get to sit on a wide seat with a back, just like sitting on a chair.

It is relatively easy to get on and off of a recumbent trike. Based on the style and how low they are to the ground will determine if you’ll have a challenge getting up. There’s no throwing your leg over the seat to get on the bike. With these adult tricycles you simply sit down. Many are even made with a higher seat positioning so that you don’t have to go down quite as far, and it also means you don’t have as far to get back up.

 

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Recumbent Trikes Are A Blast

One of the most important aspects about a recumbent trike is the thrill of the ride. You really have no idea how much fun they are until you get on one, but the bottom line is a recumbent trike can be a blast! Imagine the rush as the ground goes speeding by just inches below your seat, and you are in full control! How much more exercise do you think you’ll get when you’re doing something that is so exhilarating? Is it a bit icy outside? Who cares? You have 3 wheels! Get out and have some fun.

Adult Tricycles

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And adult tricycle is not necessary just a trike with three small wheels, like those that come to mind used by pre-school age children. There are also those used by adults for a wide variety of purposes. In the United States, adult tricycles, those with larger wheels and seats much higher off the ground, are used primarily by older people for recreation and exercise.

Most adult tricycles made for recreational purpose use the upright layout, or that similar to what is also known as the upright (wrong-right in recumbent terms) when making reference to a road, mountain or cruiser bike. The difference between children’s and adult tricycles is that whereas children’s tricycles are usually direct-drive and have no brakes, adult trikes have a chain-gear drive with multiple speeds and are equipped with front and rear brakes.

 

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Some new riders may find that upright tricycles are a bit strange to ride because they’re more familiar with the steering required to balance a bicycle, as body weight is used during turns. Riding on the road is the principal difficulty to overcome as the variation in the camber of the road throws off the balance of the trike just a bit. Like first learning to ride a bike takes some mastering, the same is necessary for a trike, simply not as drastic.

A Whole New Experience

A recumbent trike is a whole new experience, and for most styles and designs very little effort is needed to master riding trails, streets and country roads with confidence. Because balance is no longer an issue, each successive outing is more enjoyable, relaxing, re-enforcing your choice for a recumbent trike. Your imagination will find it not just easy, but fascinating to imagine riding in events, taking long rides of 30, 60 or even 100 miles, all in comfort.

What are you waiting for? Go find a local bike shop on the internet that offers recumbent trikes as part of their inventory. Then go test ride one. Let your smile be the judge of your experience!

7 Reasons A Semi Recumbent Bike May Be For You

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Day 6 Semi Recumbent Bike Courtesy of http://www.day6bikes.com/photo-gallery/

Bikes just aren’t the same anymore. The diamond frame celebrates 100 years, but have we seen the end of an era? That upright frame may continue to be mass produced, but change is in the air!

Even though the recumbent bike shares a lifespan nearly as long as the diamond frame, it has only recently re-emerged with a passion to let the cycling world know it will not be ignored any longer.

A Bike Frame Design That Is Accessible To Seniors…

A result of this is yet another entrant known as a “crank forward” or “semi-recumbent” bike. The particular design of the frame for what could be called a hybrid recumbent, takes most of the comfort factors of a recumbent and incorporates them into a bike that is accessible to seniors. 

Those with disabilities and others who may not be comfortable getting up or down on a typical recumbent will find the frame of a semi recumbent far more to their liking. The lower position of cranks and pedals on most models make it easier to get the feet down at stops, making the semi more practical.


The position of the handlebars is another factor that make a semi recumbent more comfortable for many riders. With a forward position towards the rider the bent forward position is eliminated, taking the pressure and weight off the hands and wrists. So no more numb fingers or wrists.

The Crank Forward Position Makes Pedaling Easier…

Because of a frame design that avoids the top bar completely, there is no need to do more than step over the lowest part of the frame to mount the bike. Riders with any challenges to legs, hips or knees will find this recumbent easy to get on and ride. This will give back to many the ability to enjoy something that the typical diamond frame eliminated. Even many recumbent long wheel base and definitely short wheel base frame designs were not practical.

The crank forward position makes pedaling easier as the rider is not pushing against their own weight as is typical on an upright bike. Instead the legs are pushing back to the hips supported by a seat with a backrest, with the rider getting better leverage and power to the pedals.

The real jewel of a semi recumbent bike is the seat, which also happens to be the same for any recumbent. At an average of 14” in width, most often standard with a covered foam cushion and a mesh covering for the backrest. This is what riding a recumbent is all about. There’s no small saddle determined to work it’s way up the anatomy, creating pain and discomfort after about 15 minutes into a ride.

The combination of comfort from anatomical support by the seat, handlebar position that eliminates the numb hands and wrists, an upright or slightly reclined sitting position offering a view of the riders surroundings are all great reasons to like a semi recumbent bike.

A full range of components as would be found on any quality bike will be on a semi recumbent as well. Caliper brakes, gears offering 21 speeds, 26” wheels front and back making steering smooth up front, and a reasonable dampening of the road in the rear.

A Frame That Allows Stepping Over To Mount

The added benefit is exercise that can be enjoyed rather than endured. Because of that the frequency of riding is likely to increase, rather than a bike sitting in a garage gathering dust because it’s uncomfortable and painful after a mile or two.

Taking into consideration the wide, comfortable seat that has a backrest which you can actually recline for your riding style, the easy on and off the bike, a frame that allows stepping over to mount. Then top quality components, affordable cost between $500 to $800, handlebar position that eliminates numbness in fingers and hands, and it’s hard to find a reason not to have one of these semi recumbent bikes for yourself. Then  you can say as many others do, “Riding recumbent means never having to say you’re sore!”


 

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3 Tips For Picking Out An Electric Recumbent Trike

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Organic Transit Elf-Solo Model Click photo to visit site

Exploring all facets of recumbent bikes and trikes, those not moved by strictly human power can’t be ignored. With so much emphasis on cheaper, carbon free, more organic forms of transportation, consider the following as some of those alternatives.

Fully electric or fully human power too

The first thing to consider is whether or not you want to take part in moving your trike. Quite simply, do you want to pedal if you’re out of electrical current? This is what you look at when purchasing an electric recumbent trike. You’ll have options on most that come with pedals to move you, and others that do not move without the engine launching you down the road or trail. Which is the right option for you? Is part of your objective to also get some exercise?  A combination setup would be fairly common since a battery could run down and you’d be stuck otherwise. However it should be kept in mind that’s something which can change the overall price tag. More expensive options focus on just the motorized components, where as inexpensive models can heave a manual override so that you can use your feet to get moving forward.

There are many options to choose from, such as adding to the battery pack to provide more power for a longer period of time. For most models, to stay within the classification of a bike and avoid licensing, 20 MPH is the max. speed allowable, so you won’t be blasting down the road. Still there are those that extend the distance based on how much pedaling is done. So there are trade-offs to be considered.

This may be the Mercedes of Electric Recumbent Trikes. Visit their site at http://outriderusa.com/products/alpha

The Price Tag

OK, so now the big question. How big is your budget? The average trike in this category can start at around $1000 and adding accessories upwards of $1800 or more, and this is at the low end of the mix. That means that you’ll need to carefully weigh your overall budget. Decide if it is about the cost, or what the electric component means to you and your riding. Or do you want to test out a solution that is a bit less overall like adding a kit to convert a trike to electric? Surprisingly there are many choices to get you moving in the right direction, especially when it comes to electric options. So just keep in mind cost can range from $1000-$15,000! And you thought this was different from what?

This is not just about riding around the block on Memorial Day or the 4th of July. Electric Recumbent Trikes go beyond just recreational outings, even though many may choose one for that exact purpose. Consider the overall upkeep, as at some point those batteries need replacements, and they are not cheap.

How do you intend to use it

Are you commuting to work on a regular basis or intend to do so? Want to flatten out these hills on your commute or riding? Will you be wanting to transport kids, groceries, miscellaneous other items that will add weight? How about that RAG, or RAAM event you’ve been anxious to do? This may be just the ticket you decide to punch with an electric ride. There is little doubt that a combo electric and pedal option offer the best of both worlds. The potential is there for your riding purpose.

The Reviews Still Matter

Even though the above tips seem simple enough, reviews are something that you should not ignore. It’s going to take some time and effort to read the various reports and watch the many videos available. Like anything else, the less you know the greater your chances for regret. Take the time online to search out as much information as you can. That way you avoid the emotional element when sitting on the seat of one at the factory or shop.

It’s easy to spend a bundle on one of these trikes…

Look for reviews on any electric recumbent trike that you want to buy. There are several good resources at http://www.electric-bikes.com/trikes/trikes.html, and http://electricbikereport.com/electric-recumbent-trikes/. Great for starters but there are more. There is really no way to figure out if one will meet your needs, if you don’t know what they are before hand. It’s easy to spend a bundle on one of these trikes, and find out that it is too difficult to navigate, complicated to use in general, and worst of all the electric component isn’t what you expected. However, there are some that are simple to drive and override the electric motor manually, which is why reviews are important to help you learn.

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Road concept Raht Racer by Rich Kronfeld. Top speeds of 90-100 MPH.

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Concept by George Cooper electric trike.
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Leonardo-leuci-velomobile-open-hatch

Velomobile concept of one of a kind by Leonardo Leuci of Italy. Built around a recumbent trike chassis. Not in production…yet!

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Dreamer-Basic-with-pedal-assist

Drymer Basic Tilt Wheel with pedal assist electronic.
Here’s another good reason to follow the various reports and reviews. There are many cool concept designs, and others looking for crowd sourcing to bring their trikes to market. If you’re not ready now but could be in the near future, then you want to know about what’s coming.

Building Your Own Recumbent


Since I am a big fan of custom recumbents, I wanted to share some pictures and considerations of building your own recumbent. How does it differ from a normal bike? Do you need a custom fairing? What seat position should you choose? Here are some considerations:

Wheel sizeswheel-sizes-recumbent-bike

One of the most striking characteristics of most recumbent is the use of small wheels. Small wheels are used primarily to reduce the overall length of long wheelbase designs, and to improve heel clearances on short wheelbase designs. But it turns out there are other advantages to small wheel designs. Road racers using 700C rims are quick to point out that smaller rims have higher rolling resistance. At around 20 mph, aero drag becomes a bigger factor than rolling resistance. So small wheels contribute to higher top speeds. Smaller wheels are also lighter weight, and lighter wheels make a bike accelerate faster.

Until recently, it was necessary to use low quality ‘kiddie bike’ tires on the rims commonly used on recumbents. Recumbents are now being manufactured in sufficient quantities that tire makers have started making high quality tires in suitable sizes for recumbents.

Most recumbent designs use a small front, and a large rear wheel. Since the rear wheel is behind the rider’s body, aerodynamic drag is not as much of a concern. The large wheel allows the use of conventional gearing; otherwise very large chainrings are required to compensate for a small wheel while still allowing speeds on level ground greater than 18-20 mph.

Mid-drive system

Mid-drive solves two other problems at the same time. First, controlling the long drive chain used on a recumbent usually requires an idler; the mid-drive functions as an idler. Second, designing a performance recumbent requires a very wide gearing range. Building a wide range 21- or 24-speed system results in large steps between gears. The mid-drive system has 35 speeds, so there is a good compromise between range and step. Mid-drive allows fully indexed shifting over all 35 combinations of gearing, too. There is no chance of chain jam caused by ‘illegal’ front and rear combos since the each derailleurs controls a separate chain.

Steering position.faired-hotmover1

While under-seat steering (USS) is indeed very comfortable, it results in more frontal surface area. Above-seat steering (ASS) to make our bikes more aerodynamic. And if you add a windshield or a full body, it can be narrower than the windshield for a similar USS bike.

Seat design

Some designers believe that a solid seat back is best for power transfer. Some use a breathable mesh back rest with a solid foam saddle. Especially in hot climates, an all mesh design tends to be the most practical and comfortable for extended riding.

seat-design

Fairings

There are two reasons to put one of these onto your bike. 1. It will make you faster because your aerodynamic drag will be 10-20% lower. 2. Weather protection. It will keep you warmer in cold weather. It will keep you drier when it rains. (This assumes you will put fenders on, too!)

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