Author Topic: Being tempted , but .....  (Read 3971 times)

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Being tempted , but .....
« on: May 22, 2019, 11:21:32 pm »
I'm lusting after a Streetmachine, but I don't know why. I'm really tempted. I've never even ridden a  layback, and don't really know why I'm tempted. From what I've read they are very good at long touring trips, but that's not what it'll get used for, well , in my head maybe. It would be to replace Olive. Can a SM replace a df completely, or does one need both. I've also read they are slower than a std touring bike, due to the weight and the suspension, but by how much. In N . Kent, the roads are lumpy, with short shap1:5 , 1:4 'a to get you out of the saddle, but not with a SM. so how demoralising is it twiddling up these short sharp little! hills. Does anyone own such a thing and live  , say in Cornwall? I'm slow enough as it is. Am I foolish to drool over such a thing, and should I walk away?

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2019, 11:49:52 pm »
I reckon the break-even point is about 1% rolling hills.  Any hillier, you regret the weight, any flatter and you're winning on aerodynamics.  (Disclaimer: I'm a brick, not a feather.)

Can it replace a DF completely?  It's a touring bike.  You can do most things on a touring bike, just not necessarily well[1].  It's never going to be really good off-road, and it's always going to weigh a tonne on hills, because it was designed for you to be carring the same weight again in luggage.  Most recumbent bikes are a bit of a faff in stop-start traffic, and people tend to fiddle if you leave them locked up.  There are other SWB 'bents that are perhaps better all-rounders:  Nazca Fuego springs to mind.  As indeed does the Grasshopper (which has very similar DNA to the Streetmachine, but slightly more nimble handling, and comes in a folding version).  The Speedmachine (which is only a fast bike by HPVelotechnik standards) might be worth a look if you're not going to be fully-loaded touring.  And consider the various extremely competent Azub bikes.

Short steep hills are best tackled by conservation of momentum.  Bursts of spinning like a maniac are occasionally necessary (think canal bridges and similar silliness).  But I don't find either of those demoralising.  I don't find twiddling up long draggy climbs demoralising either, because I'd be twiddling up them on a DF too, and once you do get to the top, you're at the top of a hill and you've got a Streetmachine.   :demon:

On the gripping hand, they're popular bikes for good reason, and come up regularly second-hand.  You're unlikely to lose out massively if you buy used one and end up selling it on.


But the standard darksider n00b advice stands:  You don't know what you want until you've got some experience.  Visit some recumbent dealers with an open mind and play with everything you can get your hands on, and don't shell out for your dream bike until you've been riding something for a year and have decided that it's good but you'd really like something more speed-oriented, or that you'd rather have a hardshell seat, or tiller steering, or whatever.  I usually suggest that newbies go for something well-behaved at the touring end of the spectrum to get a feel for lying down on the job and develop some 'bent legs, and see where they go from there.  You could do a lot worse than a Streetmachine in that sense.



[1] Data point:  I think I've used my Dawes for loaded touring about three times since I got the Streetmachine.  In a couple of cases, because off-roading was planned.  In the other, because studded tyres were prudent.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2019, 06:15:07 am »
agree with wot Kim says, try a few first, I think there's a dealer in that london, or D Tek up here. try a few, buy one second hand and ride it for a good while to decide if you really like them or not. most will retain their value far better than a df so you should be able to sell for what you've paid

very important, matching leg length to bike. if you can't easily get foot down in traffic you won't be confident, so that might predicate wheel size, front at least. 

Once you've decided to stick with it, then choose. my third bent is my dream bike, just about to be rebuilt. I'm biased but the Cruzbike S40 is pretty good as a tourer, taking racks and being OK up hills. I've had it up 14% in the lowest ring of a triple, and its comfotable on the short sharp repeating hills around Essex and South cambs with no trouble on audaxes. Rode it around Scotland for a week last summer, including 100mile days, and there were a few bits that defeated me, but they would have been tough on a loaded upwrong as well. its very different from other bents I've tried and they don't appear second hand very often, but definitely hold their value.

can a 'bent do everything? probably like a df stable, no single bike to do everything, tourers do most things, but you might want a pub hack and an off roader as well etc, or a soot bike for sunny days in country lanes.
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2019, 08:02:03 am »
My Azub Six (very similar design) completely replaced my DF (I do still have a triangular-framed folder to take on the tube). So it definitely is possible. As the others have said, a tourer can do most things, but having just one bike will always be a compromise in some areas - but that goes the same for DF as well.

The recumbent has actually made me a better climber overall (probably because my technique was poor before, and partly just because dismounting is enough of a faff that I really don't want to); my upright friends would always whiz ahead at the start of a climb, but I now tend to steadily chug past as they're stalling towards the top. But it definitely requires learning the technique and applying a lot of patience and self-discipline: the summit may be right there but you still need to keep steadily spinning rather than stomping on it as an upright can. I don't find it demoralising myself but I can see how some people would - and do be aware that it will take some time to develop "recumbent legs" for climbing. And I guess short hills could be the worst case where being able to chug away is less important than being able to put on a burst of climb, which is something I've not (yet) regained.

Over the course of a tour the aero advantage usually outweighs the weight - even for an up-and-down tour, what you lose on the up you'll generally gain on the down (provided the route lets you do that safely). Maybe on a tour that was an outright climb you'd be worse off.

I went against all the advice and bought the dream model I'd been lusting after first thing (having spent 10 minutes on a grasshopper just to confirm that this recumbent business wasn't completely crazy). Worked out for me and no regrets (though most likely I got lucky and the conventional wisdom is there for a reason).

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2019, 10:26:33 am »
Regarding the hills, I would suggest you start getting comfortable climbing by sitting down and turning smooth circles with your upright.  You will still need to get 'bent legs, but that technique stands the best chance of transferring well.  If you are currently stomping up short hills then you need to figure out whether you are happy to sit down and pedal in circles instead for your local journeys.

About the rest of it, if you have a particular purpose to set it to then I would pick the right bent for that.  I would say they're awesome for comfort and for sheer efficiency on long flat (or rolling) rides.  They're also great fun down hills and good for starting up conversations with strangers.  Think about what you want to use it for most, and buy something vaguely right for that to get stuck in and try it out?

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2019, 02:06:46 pm »
Thanks for the advice, one minute I'm about to pull the trigger, the next minute, no. The SM is s/h btw, I'm not THAT foolish!  I've looked ( at pics) of a lot, but for me it's the SM , Azub six, that seems to press my suppressed 'adventure button'. It just looks right to me, and I have seen those videos on YouTube :).  I just don't want to buy it, and think in a few weeks time.......OMG! What have I done.  Something's in life just grab you by the ? , and it is in your head all day long. Buying a Subaru Forester 2.5 sti. is another, but I force myself not to look, as I'd prob kill myself that's why I drive a 20 yo land rover, self preservation! . Can you pedal slower on a bent, uphill, I mean can you grind up hill in slow motion, or must you spin? Also some pics / videos show folks with leg completely extended to the pedals, so that the leg is flat, and some with quite a bend. What difference does it make? Anyone got any ( lots please) of pics of their SM (in action or not). . What is a good avg distance unloaded on a SM. I assume it's too heavy for audax  type stuff. or is it? Is an Azub 6 a similar weight to the SM?   I also love the quirkiness of it, all my cars etc have always been " different"

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2019, 02:24:35 pm »
spin spin spin all the way, unless you are built like an olympic rower.

I have audaxed on both my M5 - 14.5kg naked as built, and my S40 advertised as 12.7kg naked, but I've not weighed mine. Toured on the S40 with about 10kg of luggage+rack+dyno set up+water etc
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2019, 02:38:52 pm »
I have done an Audax SR series on my Nazca Fuego.  Think I collected 3000km of audax on my recumbent in 2017.    Just pick audaxes with suitable terrain.  A grimpeur fest you don't want.  Agree about spinning, as once the legs are gone, there's no getting out the saddle to compensate. 

Best I have managed on the Fuego is 20% uphill but that was a trip out specially to try it, and when fresh.  I wouldn't have wanted to do it again, or when tired.

Transport is a concern and if I replace mine it's likely going to be a folding FWD model.  But there's no rush at the moment. The Fuego just fits in my estate car with the pedals over the centre console.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2019, 03:07:51 pm »
Thanks for the advice, one minute I'm about to pull the trigger, the next minute, no. The SM is s/h btw, I'm not THAT foolish!  I've looked ( at pics) of a lot, but for me it's the SM , Azub six, that seems to press my suppressed 'adventure button'. It just looks right to me

To be fair, that's exactly what I did.


Quote
Can you pedal slower on a bent, uphill, I mean can you grind up hill in slow motion, or must you spin?

You can't shift your bodyweight to compensate for the grinding like you do on an upright, so a higher gear raises your stall speed.  By spinning, you keep the pedalling frequency from resonating with the wobble frequency, or something.

Given thousands of miles of practice, I can winch myself up hills at about 2mph.  CBA to do the maths, but cadence in the low 50s I suppose (I tend to be concentrating on other things).

Since you've got something solid to push against without using weedy arm muscles or influencing the steering, you can grind much harder on a 'bent.  Which - while occasionally useful for very short steep climbs, emergency shit-I'm-in-the-wrong-gear-and-there's-a-car-coming manoeuvres, unsticking bottom brackets and sprinting for the finish line at races - is a great way to accelerate drivetrain wear and b0rk your knees if you make a habit of it.


Quote
Also some pics / videos show folks with leg completely extended to the pedals, so that the leg is flat, and some with quite a bend. What difference does it make?

Seems to be a personal preference thing.  I find I ankle more on the Streetmachine than on my uprights, and - interestingly - the Baron (which has a much higher BB wrt the seat).  Crank length is another factor - many recumbentists prefer shorter cranks.


Quote
Anyone got any ( lots please) of pics of their SM (in action or not). . What is a good avg distance unloaded on a SM. I assume it's too heavy for audax  type stuff. or is it?

100km rides are fine.  I've done a few 200s on mine, but its suitability for Audax is limited to the lack of contact-point issues (which IMHO counts for a lot), its high reliability (being built like a tank and there isn't too much recumbent-specific weird stuff to go wrong[1]) and that you don't get splattered in wet weather the way you do on lower recumbents.  Obviously a lot of this depends on the engine, and you can rig things in its favour with a flat route and tyres that are a bit faster-rolling than you'd normally fit on a tourer.  I don't think the suspension is a particularly bad thing in this context - when correctly adjusted it's not sproingy like a mountain bike, or a pointless energy-sink like on a Brompton, and it goes a long way towards making crap roads tolerable at speed (particularly when loaded - all the luggage is suspended load).  But it does add an awful lot of weight to the design.

If you're riding in a group with people on uprights (solos that is, tandems have similar dynamics to 'bents and are your friend) expect to work harder up the hills and waste momentum down them.  Riding at your own pace will be markedly more efficient.


*scrabbles for a recent photo*





[1] Water getting into the gear/brake cables can be an issue with USS, but you'd have to be pretty unlucky for that to be a problem during an audax.  Expect to replace the cable outers much more frequently than on an upright.  I've had good results with sticking bags over the controls whenever I park it outdoors in wet weather.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

fd3

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2019, 04:11:54 pm »
I was in a similar position as the OP - wanted a 'bent but didn't have a need for one.  Based on the time/faff/cost involved in trecking the country to try a number of bikes I simply bought one second hand at an acceptable price (thank you yacf!).
Apparently a higher recumbent is easier to learn to balance than a low one (so the SM is a good choice).  Is it hamster, aero or USS?  I expected hamster would be the easiest but having tried a couple now I think USS is probably the simplest and hamster the least intuitive.
If you buy it, you will be able to sell it for what you spent.  If you decide you need a different 'bent you will never be able to make that informed decision without buying one first.
So, go on!
[/I could be wrong]

DaT

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2019, 05:06:17 pm »
I've had a few. While they're fun I don't enjoy it quite like cycling. I would own one again if I owned a car but as they aren't as compatible with public transport I'll stick to DF.

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2019, 05:56:13 pm »
I've had a few. While they're fun I don't enjoy it quite like cycling. I would own one again if I owned a car but as they aren't as compatible with public transport I'll stick to DF.

I wouldn't take my M5 fixed boom RWD bent on a train, but have taken my MBB S40 which has the same wheelbase as a DF on trains several times, fits in the vestibule just like an upright
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2019, 06:18:19 pm »
One of the advantages of the Streetmachine is that while it's more awkward to get round corners the overall envelope is about the same as a flat-barred 700c touring bike.  I can fit mine on most trains - even CrossCountry's ridiculous dangly bike spaces.  Taller riders may require QRs on the boom to shorten the length.  USS does increase the awkward-factor, particularly if you want to fit it sideways in a car (TBH, this is where some sort of fold is a massive win).  I've found the Baron, while much longer, can fit better on trains where bikes are kept opposite the accessible toilet - as it's low and narrow there's less sticking out to block the gangway, and you can tetris it quite easily with DF bikes.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2019, 07:07:27 pm »
The ICE B2 was good in that respect, though wheels needed to be removed to maximise space for smaller cars. .
“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Socks

  • FFCT rally, France 2012
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2019, 07:26:04 pm »
I was in a similar position as the OP - wanted a 'bent but didn't have a need for one.  Based on the time/faff/cost involved in trecking the country to try a number of bikes I simply bought one second hand at an acceptable price (thank you yacf!).
Apparently a higher recumbent is easier to learn to balance than a low one (so the SM is a good choice).  Is it hamster, aero or USS?  I expected hamster would be the easiest but having tried a couple now I think USS is probably the simplest and hamster the least intuitive.
If you buy it, you will be able to sell it for what you spent.  If you decide you need a different 'bent you will never be able to make that informed decision without buying one first.
So, go on!

What fd3 said - if possible try a second hand one first.  There are as many variables as there are for uprights, for example lighter but less robust; heavier but with suspension and/or better luggage capacity; lower or higher seat height; rigid or hammock type fabric.  And as well as that, getting used to the different riding technique involved in a recumbent.  I started off with a second hand Kingcycle, and after a few months of riding that had a better idea of what I wanted longer term.  Dave McCraw has some excellent reviews (available on-line) however these make more sense once you've tried riding a recumbent for a while.

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2019, 07:27:59 pm »
Can you pedal slower on a bent, uphill, I mean can you grind up hill in slow motion, or must you spin?
You can grind up, once your balance is good enough. But you won't want to. (I was skeptical too at first). You might even find yourself shifting to a more spinny style when riding uprights.
Quote
Also some pics / videos show folks with leg completely extended to the pedals, so that the leg is flat, and some with quite a bend. What difference does it make?
Flat legs put more strain on the ankles (or some muscle or organ in that area). Bent legs put more strain on the knees. You just have to find that sweet spot where they both start aching at the same time.
Quote
Anyone got any ( lots please) of pics of their SM (in action or not).
No action shots but here's my Azub Six on the Green & Yellow Fields.
Quote
What is a good avg distance unloaded on a SM. I assume it's too heavy for audax  type stuff. or is it? Is an Azub 6 a similar weight to the SM?
My Six is something like 22Kg "unladen", though that's with full racks/dynamo/fixed lights/mudguards/... . I did a 600km on it last weekend. I'd say this is the perfect style of bike for audax, for the same reason it makes a good tourer: comfortable over long distances, able to cope with a bit of rough stuff, and not bad in road traffic. Mine is specced out more for touring (every possible rack, suspension, wide tubes and marathon plus tires) and maintainability on the road (standard 3x9 derailleurs, hamster bars, cable-pull brakes, spring rather than air suspension). If I were building one specifically for audax I'd probably go with only one rack, a Rohloff hub, maybe USS, maybe hydraulics and air suspension. (And actually I'd go for the Max (26" front wheel) rather than the Six, though as a first recumbent that would be rather a baptism of fire). I'd probably keep the heavy tires and suspension though - they come in handy on towpaths or gravel, and personally I'm willing to carry quite a bit of extra weight if it means not getting punctures.

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2019, 09:52:48 pm »
Imm, you did a 600k on it..... :o   did it weigh the 22kg or did you trim it down. how were you time wise, and were you last or well in time. was it hilly????

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2019, 12:00:08 am »
It weighed the 22kg (more with my bag of tools etc.). I'll worry about trimming down the bike's weight after I've trimmed the 25kg of excess rider ;). I was very much at the back (though partly due to a 41/2 hour sleep stop) and this was in fact "the flatlands". it was actually my first 600, I'm hoping to work my way up gradually to the tougher ones.

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2019, 09:12:51 am »
When people say "spin spin spin", what do they mean? I'm normally a masher, but on advice from here, yesterday I 'spun' up one of my usual hills, at approx 72 rpm. Would the panel consider this as spinning, or are we talking 90-100+ rpm. I have no idea :facepalm:

ElyDave

  • Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society member 263583
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2019, 10:39:17 am »
When people say "spin spin spin", what do they mean? I'm normally a masher, but on advice from here, yesterday I 'spun' up one of my usual hills, at approx 72 rpm. Would the panel consider this as spinning, or are we talking 90-100+ rpm. I have no idea :facepalm:

My cadence on a 'bent is normally >90, but I also follow that on D/Fs as well.  I find getting much lower than 70 is very straining on a recumbent, partic on knees and lower back as you tend to arch to put the extra power out,  and it is very much a matter of gears.  Of course you may be able to routinely work at lower cadence than I on both DF and recumbent.

“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2019, 12:19:35 pm »
My experience was that it was more important to apply even torque all the way round the pedal cycle than to spin at particularly high rpm.  So I could climb smoothly at perhaps 60 rpm (not really low by upright standards).  But I watched a friend, who was managing alright on my bent along the flat, try to pedal up a hill on it by violently shoving at the pedals alternately and it appeared very hard work and quite ineffective.

Don't have notes of exact rpm.  I have a feeling it depends on the bike and at the point at which the pedalling starts to coincide with a natural left-right wobble of any kind, you're fucked.  Which may be one reason why smooth pedal circles work better.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2019, 12:23:42 pm »
Agreed.

Fortunately, Streetmachines come with a convenient system of chain-tubes for training the rider to pedal smoothly; you simply aim to minimise the rattle.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2019, 02:18:17 pm »
Having looked up the bpm of the Irish folk songs I tend to humm, I'd say I climb at 45-60rpm. Much faster than what I used to stomp at on the upright, so I'd call it spinning, but shrug.

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2019, 08:53:03 pm »
Lots of good advice but it might help to know how tall you are. A dual 700c wheeled bent is likely to be quickest and to not need suspension, however the seat height can be a problem. The SM is difficult for those of less than average height. You could do worse than dip your toy in the water with a used Giro 20 but they come in different frame sizes which aren't obvious and can be more limiting than you'd imagine depending on the seat type you get and angle you set it at. The Nazca Gaucho is a good tourer and there is a lighter highracer version.

Re: Being tempted , but .....
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2019, 11:19:00 pm »
Kevin at d tek recumbents I think still does taster sessions for a set fee which would give you the opportunity to try a number of different recumbent s .he is based near Ely  😀 .
the slower you go the more you see