The photo at the right shows me on my "Leprechaun." It's a recumbent bicycle made by Haluzak.
Since people frequently ask me about my bike, this page is set up as a FAQ!
Yes. It's great. It's especially good for my back, since I'm not hunched over when I'm on my bike. It's also comfy for my butt; I don't even own any bike shorts!
I can't speak for recumbents in general; they're all different. I can say that my bike positively shines on hills. I've never considered myself a strong rider, but I now seem to pass people going uphill all the time, and it seems I don't sweat as much as other people. The first time I rode up Kings Mountan Road (a 5-mile climb near my home), I got to the top and said "I love this bike!"
One of the great advantages of a recumbent is that you can push against the seat when climbing up a hill, instead of relying on the weight of your body. (Disclaimer: I'm a fairly small guy, so the weight of my body doesn't amount to much! Your experience may differ.)
I often feel like I'm "flying" past other riders. It's really fun.
The handlebars are located underneath the seat. It's a natural position for the hands, since one's arms normally hang down when walking or relaxing. I like having the handlebars outside of my field of vision, leaving me with an unobstructed view of the world ahead of me.
I wanted a comfortable bike that I could use for longer trips than I could take on my other bike (a Trek road/mountain hybrid). At first, I looked into electric bikes. Then I read about electric recumbent bicycles, which piqued my curiosity about recumbent bicycles in general. When I bought my bike, I expected that I would want to attach an electric motor to it, but I've decided I really like it without a motor.
My decision to participate in the 1999 California AIDS Ride was a major part of my decision to buy a recumbent bike. Buying the bike meant that I could do the AIDS Ride without being uncomfortable, and doing the AIDS Ride meant that I could justify this "extravagant" purchase as a way to contribute to a good cause. (Okay, so my thinking is a little twisted sometimes.)
It was great! I was neither the fastest nor the slowest rider, and I got very tired, especially near the end of the ride. At least my buns didn't hurt, even without bike shorts and "butt balm" -- ugh!
It's easy to maneuver, and it fit easily in the back of the 4-door Geo Metro that I owned when I bought the bike. On the other hand, people who like luxury cars tend to prefer the long-wheel-base bikes, or so I'm told. (Now I'm car-free, and the recumbent bike is my primary transportation!)
The only thing that seems a little hard at first is getting started (from a stationary position). Once you get moving, it's very easy to ride. But, the muscles used on a recumbent bike are a little different from those used on a regular bike, so you might feel a tad weaker on a recumbent at first. The brakes also take a little getting used to, since (at least on my bike) the rear brake is controlled by the left hand and the front brake is controlled by the right.
But really, getting used to my new bike was a very quick process. After just a week or two on the Leprechaun, I decided to try my Trek hybrid again. It felt like cruel and unusual punishment, totally alien to the human body.
True enough. Since I am lower to the ground than other cyclists, I am not seen as easily, and I think some drivers have actually mistaken my bike as a slow-moving wheelchair! I've started using a safety flag, which increases my visibility immensely. I've also learned to call out "Whoa!" if I think a driver might not see me.
Another disadvantage is that I am somewhat less stable than other riders when there is gravel or dirt on the road. I'm not sure why this is; and it's probably not true for all recumbents. I certainly hope not, considering that Haluzak used to make a recumbent mountain bike called the Traverse -- on the other hand, the Traverse appears to have been discontinued!
Absolutely. Not only do they increase your leverage (you can push as well as pull to get up a hill), but they keep your feet from sliding down off the pedals. I was skeptical at first, but now I regard clipless pedals as essential.
Recumbents.com is a great site with information about all kinds of bikes from various manufacturers. It includes a searchable database which you can use to find the bikes in your price range with the features you want, as well as links to manufactureres and dealers in your area.
There are a lot of personal sites devoted to recumbent bikes, and many
of these sites are listed here.
Some of them will tell you how to build your own recumbent!
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