Why do people ride recumbents?
People ride recumbents for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most popular ones are increased comfort, improved speed and safety. Some people ride recumbents to improve their mobility, because the seated recumbent position takes the stress off their upper body. Other people ride recumbents for pure exhilarating fun!
Like upright bicycles, the recumbent market is rapidly expanding and there is now a diverse range of options available.
Why does the recumbent format work?
A recumbent bicycle optimises the seating position on an upright bike. Instead of needing muscles to hold yourself upright like you do on a bicycle, your upper body is completely relaxed on a recumbent, increasing your cardiovascular efficiency and reducing your energy expenditure overall. This enables you to improve your pedaling efficiency and cadence. Another benefit of this position is that the stress and strain of cycling is largely eliminated. Riders with back, knee, wrist or shoulder complaints will gain particular benefit from the recumbent seating position.
How fast can they go?
Like upright bicycles, factors such as weight, tyre choice, aerodynamic profile and steering geometry drastically effect the speed potential of recumbents.
Having said that, recumbents hold all the land speed records in the world, with and without fairings. A sad twist of fate saw recumbent bicycles banned from international racing by the UCI in 1934 because the board felt the recumbent format gave riders an unfair aerodynamic advantage. The ruling holds to this day.
Despite the ban, there is still an active recumbent racing scene in Australia and internationally. The record for a recumbent speed bike is over 130km/h on flat terrain, achieved at high-altitude in the Nevada desert.
A combination of aerodynamic advantage, less frontal area, cardiovascular efficiency and light weight (in the case of speed recumbents) are the main reasons why the recumbent format offers improved speed potential. Over undulating terrain most riders notice a 5-10 per cent speed increase on a recumbent (of similar weight to their previous bicycle) once they have adjusted to the pedaling stroke and new muscle groups.
Are they harder to ride uphill?
Riding a recumbent uphill is different to riding an upright bicycle for a number of reasons. While the upright rider has improved peak speed due to the riderís ability to stand up on the bicycle and use their upper body for additional leverage, the recumbent rider has a better maintainable speed up hills. This means that the upright rider would have an advantage up short biting climbs, but the recumbent rider would perform the same or better to a similarly weighted upright bike up longer ascents.
The reason the recumbent rider has a slight advantage up longer hills is because the recumbent seating position provides improved spinning efficiency. A recumbent riderís lower back and pelvis is fully supported, allowing them to maximise both their push and pull stroke. Furthermore, their upper body is kept relaxed and open to improve cardiovascular efficiency. Although trikes generally weigh more than two-wheeled recumbents, the tricycle format offers increased stability at slow speeds. Tri- Sled prioritises lightweight design in all of our models, increasing climbing ability.
Nearly all recumbents are noticeably faster down hills and on flats because of their lower profile and reduced frontal area.
Are they safe to ride on roads?
Trisled only sells recumbents which can be legally and safely ridden on Australian roads. Many recumbents are purchased as commuter vehicles, traveling on city roads every day.
Like all road users, recumbent riders need to ensure they have a strong road presence through the use of lights, flags and/or bright clothing.
Recumbents offer a number of additional safety features not found on upright bicycles. The recumbent format has a lower centre of gravity which significantly improves the riderís stopping distance and stability. The trike format is also considerably more maneuverable than two-wheeled bicycles, improving the riderís ability to take sudden evasive action.
Furthermore, the risks of an upper body or head injury are greatly reduced on a recumbent due to the low centre of gravity (less far to fall), and horizontal position of the body which results in the feet and cranks, rather than the head, facing forward.
Will traffic see me if Iím lower to the ground?
Drivers can see recumbents just like they can see the road in front of them. In fact, most recumbent riders find that drivers give them a wider berth than if they were on an upright bicycle simply because they are unusual and therefore more noticeable on the road. The outward-looking recumbent head position gives riders ample opportunity to make eye contact with drivers and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Like all vehicles, recumbents have blind spots and riders need to be aware of these and ride within their vehicleís limits.
For extra safety, all Trisledís recreational recumbent models are fitted with our SLD flag.
Are recumbents good for touring?
Recumbent trikes are perfect touring machines. Several Trisled customers have traversed the entire Australian continent on our recumbents and returned with amazing stories to tell. Once again, comfort is the main advantage of using a recumbent for touring. Recumbent riders report being able to see more than upright riders because their head is facing up and forwards, rather than down at the ground. Carrying gear on a trike is also easier because the centre of gravity is lower and there is no need to use energy to balance gear while riding, starting and stopping.
Can recumbents carry accessories and gear?
Recumbents can carry just about anything an upright bicycle can, and sometimes a lot more! Our recumbent models come with mounting points for mirrors, speedometers, lights, mudguards, bike locks, water bottles and many other standard accessories. Trisled carries a full range of accessories recommended for recumbents on our online store.
Are recumbents easy to ride?
Trisled recumbents are extremely easy and responsive to ride. Most of our recumbents feature a simple push-pull steering action, which is similar to steering a car. The best way to experience the ease of recumbent riding is to try it for yourself!
Where can I get a recumbent serviced?
Trisled prioritises standard components on all of our models, so finding your way around the machine or getting it serviced by a good-quality bike shop should not be a problem. Trisled also offers recumbent servicing for all customers.
Do recumbents go through doorways and bicycle gates?
Our Gizmo and Gizmo AX models are designed to fit through standard doors and most bicycle booms and gates. You'd be surprised where we've managed to take our recumbent trikes!
How do people transport recumbents?
Trisledís Gizmo and Gizmo AX trikes fit inside most hatchback cars with the seat down. Both models can also be transported using a car tow-bar trike carrier. Some roof racks can also carry recumbents. For transport over longer distances, the frame of the Gizmo and Gizmo AX models can be easily dismantled to fit into an airline bike box. Weíve taken our own trikes to Vietnam, America, Tasmania, Adelaide and Queensland!