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By Cindy of Stone Marmot
Aug. 8, 2008
I've been riding a recumbent bicycle for a number of years now. It is an about 10 year old RANS V-Rex. It has a 27 inch rear wheel (I understand more recent models have 26 inch rear wheels) and a 20 inch front wheel. The pedals are in front of the front wheel. The rider sits almost on top of the rear wheel.
Consequently, the bicycle rider is sitting almost as high as on a regular bike. When I'm riding this bike, my head is higher than all cars on the road and about even with the top of most pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs. This means that I can see most all traffic well and they can see me. This is much better than most recumbents, which tend to be much lower, and an important safety feature.
This recumbent also has a turning radius comparable with most regular bicycles since its wheelbase is about the same as most bike. This is because the pedals are in front of the front wheel. Most recumbents have their pedals between the wheels, which results in a much longer wheelbase and bigger turning radius.
Recumbent bicycles subject the rider to a lot less physical stress. The back and neck are in a more natural position on a recumbent, resulting in less back and neck stress. A recumbent rider's weight is almost entirely on her rump, which is much more natural than on two little areas between the legs and on the hands, as with regular bikes. On a regular bike, about 25 % of the rider's weight is on her hands, which can result in numbness in the hands on long rides, like the 60 mile rides I usually do. This is especially important for me, being a guitar player.
Recumbents also seem to be more efficient than regular bikes. When I first changed from a regular 21 speed road bike to my 24 speed recumbent, I found that, for the same apparent resistance against the legs while pedaling, I was going about 2 miles per hour faster on the recumbent (17 mph on the recumbent as opposed to 15 mph on a regular bike, average speed on level ground, no wind).
It does seem to be harder to go up hills on a recumbent. This probably because you can't stand on the pedals on a recumbent like you can on a regular bike.
A recumbent bike does feel a bit different the first time you ride one. But, if you are an experienced bicyclist, you usually can adjust to to the different feel within minutes.
Recumbents typically cost about twice as much as a comparable quality regular bike. But if it saves you possible health problems in the future due to avoiding the stresses on the body caused by a regular bike, then I feel it is worth the extra cost.
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