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Mike tries a Recumbent

Mike tries a Recumbent (from 2001)

My first Recumbent ride 
(or, Outta my way, darned Wedgie!)

It had to happen.  My entire life spent on relatively normal bicycles, and then out comes this weird contraption called a "Recumbent" which looks geeky as heck, is rumored not to climb very well (and if you've read this website, you know climbing is everythingto me), and has attracted a rapidly-growing cult following that threatens to bring these strange things into the mainstream.  It's even got its own lingo...in particular, normal bikes are called "wedgies" by Recumbent (known as 'bents) aficionados..."wedgie" being a derogatory reference to the idea that a narrow saddle is driving your shorts up your tail end.

Well, it's not like we don't have enough on our hands taking care of "normal" bicycles at Chain Reaction, but TREK, in their infinite wisdom (and sometimes they are very wise) decided that recumbents were more than a fad and had some good solid reasons to exist.  And if TREK makes them, we sell them...and since I don't like to talk about anything that I don't have firsthand knowledge about (and since I can't sell them without talking!), well, one thing led to another and when my wife decided that today would be a nice day to do a family ride out on Canada Road, I went down to the shop, grabbed an R200, and the rest is history.

So what does a recumbent ride like? A few observations:

#1:  Just cruising along, you might as well be on a couch!  I suspect everyone will find they've got a "steady state" speed where they can just ride along with virtually zero effort all day long.  Try that on a wedgie and you're going to have one heck of a sore tail end!

#1b:  In general, that speed is probably just a bit slower than you'd normally ride over a long distance.  Perhaps that will change as I get more used to the different muscles etc.

#2:  Hills.  Interesting.  The tendency is to push too hard and really develop some sore muscles in your butt.  I found that running the seat a bit further back than I would have liked (slightly over-extending the leg, which is not recommended for normal road bikes) lessened this quite a bit.  

Actually, my very first experience was climbing over Jefferson (in Redwood City, on my way to Canada Road), and I have to admit that it wasn't particularly pleasant on the way over, but on my return trip 12 miles later, it was a breeze!  So there's definitely something to the idea that you "learn" how to climb on a recumbent, and people tell me that, if you were a good climber on a regular bike, you'll quickly become a good climber on a recumbent as well.

#3:  Getting used to clipping in on a 'bent is going to take some time. There's simply this way you do so on a "normal" bike, and after 20+ years of doing it that way, it just doesn't come naturally.  I'm running normal SPDs and just can't quite find the engagement spot yet.

#4:  Riding a 'bent with the family (young kids that don't go too fast) is much more fun than the same with your regular bike.  A 'bent at low speeds just seems sorta natural.

#5:  Cornering is going to take a bit of time.  The small wheels and medium-short wheelbase (TREK R200) dive under you a bit, but at high speeds on descents, I found that adding just a touch of front brake improved stability quite a bit (pretty much the same thing happens on a wedgie).

Will I give up riding my regular bike?  Uh...no, I don't think so.  I am just *so* much into hill climbing that, until I can climb with a 'bent just as fast as with my wedgie, er, I mean my TREK 5500, I'll probably stick with the 5500.  On the other hand, if I can get to the point where I pass lots of people with a 'bent...well, that might just be too much fun (seeing their expressions) to pass up, ya know?

By the way, the TREK R200 sells for $1599 and I'm told is a very nice piece of work.  At the moment, it's our customers that are teaching us about recumbents, not the other way around!  But we're working on that.

[Please note that TREK has discontinued the R200; as yet, recumbents aren't mainstream enough to make a go of for a major manufacturer like TREK.  My feeling is that they deserve a presentation by someone very familiar with the product, an advocate as it were, and truth is, the typical bicycle shop doesn't seem to do very well when they stray from the conventional configuration.  Not all; some, particularly in the Midwest, have done very well with recumbents.  Could have to do with the nasty hills in our area?  I've also noticed more recumbents in areas where there are more recreational bike paths.  --Mike--]

--Mike--

If you've been trying to figure out how to mount a cycling computer to your R200 recumbent, here's one way.  We used a special adapter normally installed on tri-bars to hold a computer, and spaced it out a bit from the R200's handlebar "stem" so the computer wouldn't run into it.  Make sure to leave plenty of slack cable to allow you to fold down the handlebar for carrying in your car etc...otherwise you'll rip the