Author Topic: Initial questions....  (Read 1706 times)

Initial questions....
« on: October 03, 2019, 04:07:06 pm »
Hi all
I've not been able to cycle properly (more than approx 5 miles) for over a year now on a DF - due to damage to my hamstring insertions where they connect around my sit bones. I've just a few tentative questions about recumbents for now - am still awaiting medical input (but may end up being a long term injury) - am starting to entertain the possibility of a recumbent long term.

When you're sat/lying on a recumbent is there ANY pressure/weight at all taken through your sitbones? I'm a fair distance from any dealers - so would be great to know this before I think about travelling to have test rides.

Also - I live in Dorset and am surrounded by lots of very sharp hills and windy lanes with limited visibility - general thoughts on recumbent suitability for this type of area would be appreciated.

I keep lustfully looking at the street machine gte - having realised the thing i miss about cycling the most is the freedom and being able to tour/travel, but then I did enjoy audax and 50/60 miles at weekends with a regular crew - and realise something nippier may be better (but i'm VERY wary of discomfort and risk of further injury now).

Your collective wisdom would be much appreciated.


fd3

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2019, 04:38:13 pm »
Not an expert, but I think weight on sit bones would depend on seat angle and model of laidback. 
Dorset to Edinburgh/Glasgow/Cambridge is a walk, though there are a couple dealers in that London.  Ideally find a local person who will let you have a go (I'm not sure Brum counts as local).
Hills are not that bad, you just have to settle into a rhythm and accept that you will be going up surely as opposed to slowly (until you develop new muscles).
Visibility round corners and stuff is different from a DF, as you move back and down.  If you drive a car then you are already half way there though.

My experience of laidbacks was that it was like learning to ride a bike again for the first time, you have a real sense of "people must be mad to do this in traffic" at first and you have to re-learn balance and control, hill starts, emergency stops and all.  But like taking the plunge in regular bike commuting, if you do it for three weeks it becomes second nature and you wonder why people worry about it.
[/I could be wrong]

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2019, 04:54:59 pm »
When you're sat/lying on a recumbent is there ANY pressure/weight at all taken through your sitbones? I'm a fair distance from any dealers - so would be great to know this before I think about travelling to have test rides.

Depends on the seat.  A hardshell seat in a very reclined[1] position ought to unload them completely, with the weight taken by your shoulders, spine and upper buttocks.  YMMV with more upright positions.  Mesh seats are less supportive, but spread the pressure over a larger area.


Quote
Also - I live in Dorset and am surrounded by lots of very sharp hills and windy lanes with limited visibility - general thoughts on recumbent suitability for this type of area would be appreciated.

Windy lane visibility problems are much the same on a recumbent as on an upright.  The main issues are squeezing past big vehicles (trikes might seem at a disadvantage by being wider, but they can manoeuvre at dead slow speed and mount the verge without tramlining), and occasionally rounding a bend to spook an unexpected horse.

Sharp hills come down to power to weight ratio as usual, and whether you can carry momentum into them (recumbents tend to lose less kinetic energy to air resistance at the bottom of rolling hills).  Trikes have the advantage of being able to gear down without worrying about maintaining balance.  Light bikes have better power:weight, but those built for speed can be more tricky to balance when moving slowly.  Unless it's a humback bridge type hill, you're generally going to gear down and spin, rather than pushing hard on the peals (which isn't conducive to low-speed balance, or knees).

In that part of the world, you could do worse than a visit to ICE trikes - even if you're leaning towards two-wheelers, it would give you an opportunity to experiment with seat and pedalling ergonomics without having to worry about balance.
 

Quote
I keep lustfully looking at the street machine gte - having realised the thing i miss about cycling the most is the freedom and being able to tour/travel, but then I did enjoy audax and 50/60 miles at weekends with a regular crew - and realise something nippier may be better (but i'm VERY wary of discomfort and risk of further injury now).

I can do pretty much anything on my Streetmachine, though not necessarily very quickly.  It's heavy, stable, supremely comfortable, good at luggage, reliable and not too much of a pain to get on a train when necessary.

n+1 is, as always, the answer.  My general advice to recumbent bike newbies is to buy a second-hand tourer, learn to ride it, get some miles in the legs, and plan to sell it on when you decide you really want something faster, or you want a different type of steering or seat or whatever: There's a lot you can only really discover through experience.


[1] A very reclined seat is the recumbent equivalent of an aero crouch on an upright, in that it helps you go fast, but your ability to see the road surface in front is compromised and your neck tends to object after a while.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2019, 05:03:39 pm »
Visibility round corners and stuff is different from a DF, as you move back and down.  If you drive a car then you are already half way there though.

Yes, I'd say that a Streetmachine was pretty much equivalent to driving a small car: Same eye level, similar distance back from the front of your vehicle.

Lower recumbents mean more stuff blocks your view around corners - it's as if every parked car has become a parked van, and you occasionally get annoyed by things like pedestrian railings and A-boards.  You handle that the usual way, slowing down and edging forward when on an upright you might have been able to see over the top.

Very reclined positions (and things like delta trikes) put your head even further back, and the more laid back you are the more you need to rely on mirrors to see behind you.  You adjust your riding style to cope.

Being low down does very little to reduce drivers' ability to see you.  Unless you're completely concealed by something (which is actually quite rare), you're generally more seeable than you are on a normal bike, because you look unusual (and in the case of trikes, much wider[1] than you actually are).  Drivers don't like you disappearing behind their bonnet as they overtake, so will pass wide.  In general their priority changes from "must get past the cyclist" to "want to get a better look at / shout something witty at / video that", so you get markedly less bullying on the road.


[1] Compare the track width of a recumbent trike with the elbow width of someone on a mountain bike...
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2019, 05:29:32 pm »
Thanks for the replies both.

A trip to London or Cornwall sounds the best bet, I'd know pretty quickly if its viable with my injury.

There's a lot of narrow lanes round my way with limited visibility.  Turning tight corners with gravel/cow shit to suddenly face sharp hills with no momentum is pretty common.  Add in the occasional tractor, horses, deer, gang of badgers, local driving like a lunatic and it all gets interesting. I felt confident with my df bikes, but not sure of managing it on a recumbent.  As you say,  trying them out or second hand is the way to go.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2019, 05:40:52 pm »
There's a lot of narrow lanes round my way with limited visibility.  Turning tight corners with gravel/cow shit to suddenly face sharp hills with no momentum is pretty common.  Add in the occasional tractor, horses, deer, gang of badgers, local driving like a lunatic and it all gets interesting. I felt confident with my df bikes, but not sure of managing it on a recumbent.

Sounds like it's mostly a case of your confidence in handling what you're riding, rather than the suitability of any particular machine for the conditions.  (For example, you don't find the poor braking performance of a DF to be an issue, it's just normal.)  The solution to that is just experience, assuming you can obtain that experience without being scared off the idea.  Not being able to ride an upright properly is a pretty strong motivational factor, though.

I've been through that learning curve a few times with different recumbents, generally sticking to tame conditions until I had the confidence to deal with traffic/gravel/uphill starts with adverse camber/narrow gaps, etc.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2019, 05:43:58 pm »
Very good point Kim!  :)

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2019, 05:48:44 pm »
Further thought: Hub gears would probably be useful, if you're going to be emergency-stopping after discovering something lurking round the corner on a regular basis.  Getting a recumbent moving again in too high a gear is never fun.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Phil W

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2019, 05:54:15 pm »
The Nazca Fuego reclines from 26-35 degrees. Hard shell seat with Ventisit pad. No pressure on sit bones , it's all spread across a much wider area of the back. Head rest to stop neck getting tired.

Most touring recumbents have rear suspension and can take wider tyres if running disc brakes. So you get very little shock from the road.

I've mine at lowest recline most of time. I have a mirror mounted on bar end which allows me to keep an eye on what's behind.  You get into habit of looking in the mirror a lot, not just when making a turn etc. Car lights are still yellow tinted so you know cars are behind long before you would upright.

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2019, 05:35:39 am »
One idea .......

If you can get to Little Thetford near Ely then a trial session on various recumbent with Kevin at D-Tek will give you a good idea at what's possible/reasonable.
You'll start on a high/easily balanced 2 wheeled recumbent and get on lower/harder to balance ones as the session goes on.
Plus D-Tek has a good range of second hand bents if you find one that suits you.

Luck .........  ;D

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2019, 01:25:00 pm »
I'm visiting friends in Cambridge early Nov - will try and arrange a visit to D-tek. Thanks for the suggestion.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2019, 01:39:55 pm »
I'm visiting friends in Cambridge early Nov - will try and arrange a visit to D-tek. Thanks for the suggestion.

Good plan.  Kevin can be hard to get hold of, but his collection of recumbents is second to none.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

andytheflyer

  • Andytheex-flyer.....
Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2019, 01:50:42 pm »
Hi Tom,

As usual, Kim has lots of good advice based on experience.

I have a couple of Performers, both hardshell seats, both with Ventisit pads, and neither reclined particularly flat.  I've had 2 lots of back/neck surgery and a DF is now pretty much impossible.  The 'bents are ideal.  I've no weight at all on my sit-bones, all my weight is taken between bum and shoulders.  Unfortunately, my balance is deteriorating and I'm beginning to think of a trike.

I live in rural Cheshire so don't have really steep hills, but what there are can be challenging.  You need a wide range of gears and lots of practice.  Restarting from a stop on a hill is nigh-on impossible.  Similarly, uphill T junctions.  You have to re-learn how to ride and to plan ahead for adverse eventualities. You have to build confidence and that takes miles.  A test ride is a good idea, but there's no substitute for getting one and doing it. Buy a cheapy, work out what you can and can't do, and what you'd like to do, then buy the appropriate recumbent.

But, after all that, you can continue to ride, in comfort, juts not the same as on a slippery, lightweight skinny-tyred DF bike.

HTH.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2019, 02:04:06 pm »
My balance is presumably somewhat better, but sometimes re-starting uphill can be made impossible by poor traction (usually a combination of gravel and a lightly-loaded back wheel).  Counter-intuitively, a full touring load can actually help, especially on tadpole trikes.

The best approach to climbing on recumbents is to throw as much momentum at the start of the climb as possible[1], then gear down and pace yourself so you can get to the top without stopping.  You'll achieve the same sort of climbing speeds as on an upright of equivalent weight with practice.

Lightweight skinny-tyred recumbents can be brilliant fun, but only if the road surface isn't a liability...


[1] This can be frustrating when riding with DF bikes, as they'll slow down and cause you to brake.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2019, 03:38:07 pm »
Email and phone message left with Kevin at d.tek, hopefully he'll be available the weekend I'm in those parts.

Been looking at recumbents out of interest. Looks as though having a speedy audax type and also a tourer would be ideal,  but unlikely to be possible financially for me.  Are there any that cope with both types of riding reasonably well?
I see the raptobikes take a rear rack. Could someone let me know the general differences in comfort and speed between low and medium racers?

fd3

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2019, 03:51:24 pm »
Depending on the sharpness of your hills you might want to avoid fwd as your power wheel at the front has less weight on it, so can loose traction.
Mid/High/Low racers are not the best description.  Typically it's about wheel size, but this does not necessarily translate to seat position or height (IIRC the Nazca Gaucho and Cruzbike Stelvio have high seats, while something like the Optima high baron or M5 racer are quite low despite their large wheels). 
[/I could be wrong]

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2019, 03:57:38 pm »
Email and phone message left with Kevin at d.tek, hopefully he'll be available the weekend I'm in those parts.

Been looking at recumbents out of interest. Looks as though having a speedy audax type and also a tourer would be ideal,  but unlikely to be possible financially for me.  Are there any that cope with both types of riding reasonably well?

As the saying goes you can do almost anything on a touring bike, but not necessarily very quickly.  Full-on touring recumbents tend to be extremely capable, but heavy.  You can fit faster tyres, which would help, but you're still lugging that weight up the hills.

If you've got the legs for it, a large-wheeled bike avoids most of the need for suspension, and can perform well for audax-type riding.


Quote
I see the raptobikes take a rear rack. Could someone let me know the general differences in comfort and speed between low and medium racers?

Unsuspended low-racers are undeniably fast (aside from the obvious frontal profile, being that low means you tend to get much more shelter from the wind), and with the seat set more upright can be comfortable enough for prolonged riding.  But their weakness is road surfaces: You don't have a particularly good view of the road immediately in front of the bike, and with fast tyres on small wheels you'll get shaken by every bump.  Riding in darkness can be cognitively hard work, because you've got to concentrate on surface conditions, while being dazzled by every oncoming headlight.  You also get splashed by everything when it's wet.

Higher bikes get you out of the splash zone and headlight beams, and generally give you a better view, but performance and comfort will come down to the wheels, suspension and seat geometry.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2019, 04:11:56 pm »
Thanks both. So given my local area, front wheel drive is likely not a good idea what with v steep hills and dodgy surfaces.
I'm 5ft 6 so sounds like I'd need to careful about large wheeled recumbents. All food for thought  :thumbsup:

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2019, 04:23:17 pm »
I'm 5'6" and have to sit forward in the seat to get a foot down properly on my Streetmachine.  This is fine with under-seat steering (indeed, this sitting-forward position is occasionally useful for treacherous surfaces where speed of getting a foot down and the ability to shift bodyweight for balance like on an upright can be useful).  Larger-wheeled Bachettas[1] and similar are a non-option (I had a go on RichForrest's Giro at one point and it was fine apart from needing someone to launch and catch).  I might fit an M5, haven't tried.


[1] Bachetta compound the problem by moving the seat further from the ground to adjust for shorter legs, rather than sliding the boom in and out.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

tonycollinet

  • No Longer a western province of NĂºmenor
Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2019, 10:12:22 am »
Tom

I have a streetmachine GTE that I am failing to get around to selling. Might be of interest if you decide to go in that direction.

It's fully loaded for touring with both rear and underseat racks, hardshell seat with mesh cover, has a front dynamo and suspension and has been little used (not at all for about 3 years, so may need some fettling - I'll check it out if you end up being interested) It's probably done a total of 1500 to 2000 miles.

No rush, it's not on the market anywhere at the mo. It's located south Cheshire though, so not exactly convenient for you.

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2019, 12:15:59 pm »
Thanks Tony, I'll send you a message later today. I'm definitely interested, but not in a rush just yet either- so it may work out quite well!

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2019, 09:58:35 pm »
I'm not desperately far away near Chippenham if you're in Dorset. I run a Cruzbike, but an end-of-line cast iron (it seems) carthorse V2k (sofrider by any other name). Still, I've gone to and from Bristol on it when the need's come upon me.

I actually want an S40 but can't. You're welcome to try it out, the moving front triangle works nicely, I think.
Cruzbike V2k, S40

Re: Initial questions....
« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2019, 12:53:42 am »
Thanks McWheels , I'll bear it mind, I'll message you if I'm heading that direction at some point.
Had an extremely helpful  phone conversation with Kevin (D.Tek), gave me lots of info and guidance.  Pointed my nose towards looking at Bacchettas that could possibly meet audax/nippy-ish rides as well as a bit of touring. 
I'm going to need to find out more and hopefully have a trial session on different types of recumbents at some point.  I'm not rushing, I'm being sensible for once, which is frustrating  ;D