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Rec.Bicycles Frequently Asked Questions Posting Part 2/5
Section - 7.12 Recumbent Bike Info

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Top Document: Rec.Bicycles Frequently Asked Questions Posting Part 2/5
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
                     (updated by Gary Walsh

Here's my standard response to questions about recumbents.  I'd be
happy to answer more specific questions.

Here's some info I posted in the fall of 1990.  I think it's still pretty much
up to date.  Changes from the last posting are in []'s.

--David Wittenberg

A few words about recumbent design, and then I'll provide a much
larger list of recumbent manufacturers.

There are three main choices in designing (or buying) a recumbent.
Frame material -- all the ones I know of are either Alumninum or Steel.
Wheelbase --  The front wheel can either be in front of the bottom bracket
(long wheelbase) or behind it (short wheelbase).  You can't have a medium
wheelbase without a lot of extra work because the wheel and the bottom
bracket would interfere with each other.  Long wheelbase is reputed to
be a bit more stable, while short wheelbase machines are often easier to
fit into cars for transport.  Some long wheelbase recumbents fold in
neat ways to fit into a remarkably small space.
Handlebars -- under seat or in front of the rider.  Under seat is probably
a more comfortable position when you get used to it (your hands just hang
at your sides), and may be somewhat safer if you get thrown forward as
there is nothing in front of you.  High handlebars are somewhat faster
as your arms are in front of you instead of at your side, thus reducing
the frontal area.  Some people find them more natural.
[There are long wheelbase bikes with both high and low handlebars.  I don't
know of any short wheelbase, low handlebar recumbents, but there may
be some I don't know of.]

The following updated by Gary Walsh ( March 2000.

Recumbent Bicycle FAQs:
Recumbent Mailing Lists
	HPV mailing lists
	HPVSO mailing list
	W.H.I.R.L mailing list
	Linear mailing list
Recumbent Bicycle Organizations and Clubs

	The International Human Powered Vehicle Association:
	An association of national associations and organizations, 
	dedicated to promoting improvement, innovation and creativity 
	in the use of human power, especially in the design and 
	development of 	human-powered vehicles (not just bicycles).
	Human Powered Vehicles of Southern Ontario
	Washington's Happily Independent Recumbent Lovers (W.H.I.R.L)'s list of Recumbent and Human Powered Vehicle Clubs
Recumbent Publications

	Recumbent Cyclist News
	The premier source of recumbent news and reviews of commercially
	available recumbents in North America.
	Human Power
	The technical journal of the IHPVA
	HPV News
	Newsletter of the Human Powered Vehicles Association.
	Recumbent UK
	A British recumbent quarterly magazine.
	Bike Culture Quarterly
	Published by Open Road in the UK. They also publish the yearly
	buyer's guide,  Encycleopedia.
	Bent Rider Online
	An e-mag that started with the January 2000 issue.
	Another new (in 2000) e-mag.
Other Recumbent Links
	A good source of recumbent links and information.
	Bicycle HPV Recumbent Resources and Sources
	By Cycle America the National Bicycle Greenway in action.
Manufacturers and Dealers
	See lists at:
	The Human Power Source Guide -

[This has been copied from a flyer written by Robert Bryant of the
Recumbent Cyclist Magazine.  He has given me permission to submit
it for the FAQ. - GW July 1992]

          Have You Ever Considered a RECUMBENT BICYCLE?

     There are many reasons to consider a recumbent.  First and foremost
is comfort.  When you ride a recumbent bicycle you will no longer have
an aching back, stiff neck, numb wrists or a sore a sore bottom.  You
will sit in a relaxed easy-chair position.  You will be able to ride
longer with less fatigue and arrive at your destination feeling
refreshed.  The recumbent position offerd you a great view of the
countryside. While seated you will look straight ahead. This allows your
lungs and chest more open and free breathing.  Recumbents are very
versatile machines.  They can be used for a wide range of applications:
recreational/sport riding, for the daily commute, a fast double century
and they are great for long distance touring.

     Recumbents hold all of the human-powered speed records.  This is
because they are aerodynamically superior to conventional bicycles;
less frontal area means less wind resistance.  The Lightning F-40
currently holds the Race Across America speed record of five days and
one hour.  Gardner Martin's Easy Racer Gold Rush, ridden by Fast Freddie
Markham, was the winner of the Dupont Prize for breaking 65mph.  You
can currently buy production versions of these bicycles.  Fairings for
street use are common and optional equipment on most commercially built
models.  They protect you from rain, cold and wind, with up to a 30%
reduction in drag.  Commercially available recumbents are not always
faster than conventional bicycles.  It depends mainly on the individual
rider.  Your best bet is to do you homework and if your goal is
performance and speed, be sure that you look for a recumbent designed
for this purpose.

1) Do recumbents climb hills well?  Yes they do, although climbing on a
recumbent requires a different technique, you must gear down and spin.
Maintaining an efficient spin takes some practice & conditioning, once
mastered, it takes less physical effort to climb hills.  Depending on
your riding style, your speeds can range from slowwer to even faster
than on a conventional bicycle.
2) Can recumbents be seen in traffic?  Recumbents with a higher seating
position may be better suited for riding in traffic than some of the
low-slung designs.  The use of use of proper safety devices such as
safety flags and reflective devices is recommended.  Recumbent bicycles
are different, futuristic and they get noticed.  Many riders feel they
get more respect from motorists while on their recumbents.
3) Are they safe?  Recumbent's are safer than a conventional bicycle.
Due to the low centre of gravity, they stop faster.  Brakes can be
evenly applied to both wheels simultaneously providing more traction
without throwing the rider over the handlebars.  In crash situations,
the rider goes down to the side absorbing the impact with the hip and
leg rather than flying over the handlebars and absorbing the impact on
your head and shoulder.  Straight ahead vision is also better on a
recumbent, however, rear view mirrors are necessary for proper

     Why are recumbents such a rare sight?  Space age technology?  New
type of bicycle?  Not really, recumbent bicycles actually go back as
far as the mid to late 1800's with the Macmillan Velocopede and the
Challand Recumbent.  In the 1930's, a series of events took place that
changed bicycling history.  A French second category professional
track cyclist named Francois Faure rode the Velocar, a two wheeled
recumbent bicycle designed and built by Charles Mochet, to
record-shattering speeds, breaking both the mile and kilometre records
of the day.  This created a storm of controversy within the U.C.I.
(United Cycliste International), bicycle rating's governing body.  The
debate centred on whether the Velocar was a bicycle and were these
records legal?  In 1934 they ruled against the Mochet-Faure record,
banning recumbent bicycles and aerodynamic devices from racing.  Were
U.C.I. members worried that the recumbent bicycle would displace the
conventional design?  Did they realize this would freeze bicycle and
human-powered vehicle development for the next forty years?  This is
why bicycles of taday look very similar to the Starkey and Sutton
Safety (upright/conventional) of 1885.  Just think where bicycle
technology would be today if the U.C.I. decision had gone the opposite

     Recumbent development was fairly quiet until the late 1960's.  Dan
Henry received some media attention for his long wheelbase design in
1968.  In the early 1970's, the human-powered revolution was starting up
on both the U.S. east coast by David Gordon, designer of the Avatar, and
on the west coast by Chester Kyle.  These pioneers recognized the need
for further development of human-powered vehicles. In the late 1970's
and early 1980's, this lead to the first commercial recumbent bicycle
designs such as the Avatar, Easy Racer and Hypercycle.  In 1990, the
Recumbent Bicycle Club of America was founded by Dick Ryan who currently
manufactures the Ryan Vanguard and was also involved with the Avatar
project in the early 1980's.  In 1988 recumbent promoter Robert Bryant
got his start writing "Recumbent Ramblings," a column for "HPV News."
In the summer of 1990, Robert founded the "Recumbent Cyclist Magazine,"
and in a short two years, RCM has become the source for recumbent bicyle
information in the world today.

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