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Hoping to purchase

My husband and I would like to get a couple of recumbents, possibly trikes or not? I know we need to try riding them first but I would like to get imput on some of the best bents in the lower price range.

We have been invited to do a 100 mile ride in Nov. We would love to start doing things like that, so we want a bike good enough to last and not want to trade in right away.

Where we live is almost all hills right out the front door. No bike paths unless we drove to one, all streets.

My husband has a bad back, 4 spinal surgeries, fusions, etc. to date. We're hoping that a bent will be more comfortable to ride.

Any help will be welcome and Thank you in advance.

Hi Sherri - If you have a shop selling recumbent bikes that is not too distant from where you live, try test riding as many bikes as possible. Trikes too. Keep an open mind, and try to get a feeling for the differences between long and short, low and high, cheap and costly. There is no good substitute for extended test riding.

A recumbent club or riding group is another great resource. Many riders will be happy to let you take a spin on their machines.

Of course, getting the chance to ride lots of bikes before purchasing may not be a real possibility for you. Maybe you live someplace where there is no local shop or club.

If you want to get your feet wet without spending big bucks, the RANS Rocket and RANS Tailwind are two bikes that often turn up on the used market at low prices. The Rocket is a short bike, and the Tailwind is a long bike. They are both good quality machines, and can often be found used for around five or six hundred dollars. Sometimes less. The short bikes tend to be more nimble handling and are easier to store and transport. The long bikes usually have a smoother ride though.

Regarding hill climbing: in general, recumbent bikes are slower than traditional upright bikes in climbing steep hills. You have to gear down and spin up hills, and this may take some practice. Even if you have a recumbent that is especially good at hill climbing - such as a Lightning P-38 - you will probably not climb steep hills as fast as you would on a very light road racing bike. But the recumbent has compensating strengths: superior comfort, and greater speed on the flats and downhills.

Cannot give you good advice regarding trikes, as I don't have much experience with them.

Hope this helps a little.

Safe riding,
Joel Dickman

Thank you for all of your very helpful information. Do you think it would be silly to start out with a more expensive bike in hopes that you're going to love it and then not have to upgrade later? we might have to drive a bit to find a club but probably no more than an hour or so.

What do you think of the Tour Easy or the Javelin? So many to choose from, you really have been a big help though and we definately will test ride.

Sherri

Hi again Sherri,

1) Glad to help out with advice.

2) If you can find a recumbent riding group that is about an hour's drive away, I think a visit to a group ride would be an excellent idea. Just call ahead to make sure the group is actually riding, and anticipates your visit, so you do not waste a trip. Try to take test rides on as many different machines as you can. The bike you think you will like may not live up to your expectations, and the bike that looks really weird may turn out to have the best ride. Try to keep an open mind... but not so open that your brain falls out.

3) Regarding buying a more costly bike versus a cheaper one: I would start out with a decent quality bike, but not something titanium or carbon fiber. Middle level components rather than Dura Ace or the like. If you buy a used bike, you can get something of good quality without spending a huge amount of cash. If you decide you are not in love with the first bike you buy, you can often sell it used for a price close to what you paid for it. Then you can start the whole process over again!

4) The Tour Easy bikes are very nice. The company has been around for awhile, and their bikes have a loyal following. They are user-friendly for recumbent newbies, but still are a favorite among long-time riders. The Javelin is very new, and I have not had a ride on one. It looks promising. My girlfriend rides a Tour Easy that I built up for her.

In addition to the RANS Rocket and RANS Tailwind I suggested earlier, the Lightning Phantom (called the Stealth in years past) is an excellent choice among short bikes, and can sometimes be found used. The Bacchetta Giro is another good choice.

5) Recumbent bikes are NOT one size fits all. It is critical to get a good fit. Since your husband has back problems, pay particular attention to the quality of the seat and the seating position (upright, laid back, or in between). I like seats with a lumbar curve to support the small of my back, such as the Lightning seat. But you and your husband might like something very different, such as a hardshell seat.

Recumbent bikes have a much wider range of basic design than traditional upright bikes. This makes picking one to buy somewhat confusing. But it is also fun to try all the very different styles of bikes with their own individual "feel".

Good luck,
Joel Dickman

Thank you for so many helpful details. I can't wait to try out some bikes and start riding. Unfortunately we have endless hills where we live but we hope to start out slow and gain endurance with time. lol, could take a while but it sounds like a fun way to get into shape.

Your advice will help tremendously and is much appreciated.

Thank you, Ron and Sherri Cox

Hey Ron & Sherri,

Most recumbents have triple cranksets, but they may not have chainrings appropriate for very hilly terrain. Likewise the gearing on the rear cassette. If you have lots of hills where you live, get something like a 11t-34t rear cassette and mountain bike triple chainrings (42t-32t-22t) in front. This sort of gearing will give you more of a fighting chance to get up the big steep hills without getting off the bike and walking.

Even if the bike does not come with this kind of gearing, it is not expensive to switch out cassettes and chainrings, and the lower gearing will make hill climbing easier for you.

A climbing trick I found on the Lightning website care of Tim Brummer: hold onto the handlebar with one hand, and use your other arm to press down on your knee when climbing! Sounds strange, but I have tried it and it really does help some. Alternate which arm does the steering and which arm does the pressing on the knees/thighs. In effect, you are recruiting a bit of upper body muscle to help your tired legs.

If you plan to ride with a group of people of similar fitness level, and you are recumbent while the bulk of the riders are on upright racing bikes, reconcile yourself to losing the other riders on steep hills. But you may be able to catch up to them on the flats and downhills.

Safe riding,
Joel Dickman

ok, I did it. My husband bought me a bike today, it's a Rans Stratus, It was the last one the shop had and they aren't making it anymore, hope that's not a bad thing? It's the emerald black color. It is really comfortable and we both learned to ride it easily. I tried a trike and that was fun but felt too low or heavy for me. My husband is out riding my bike right now and it adjusts to fit either one of us in seconds. After a few weeks we'll find him a bike (save a lil bit). I hope my decision was a good one, what do you think? Is there anything that I should know? He just got home and got a flat tire already!

Your info on climbing hills will be put to good use, if you're ever in so cal, I'll be the one with her hand on her leg, lol, as for the gears and numbers and shifters-that I'll pass on to my hubby! way over my head, hahaha

So, what do you think? Did we do good or not so good? oh, we paid 1700.00 for the bike, but I can't find it online to know what they were going for so???

Hey, have a great day

Hi Sherri & Ron,

Congratulations on the new bike! The RANS Stratus is a very smooth riding recumbent, with a nice cushy seat. In some ways it is very similar to the Tour Easy bike that my girlfriend rides. The ride quality is the recumbent bike equivalent of driving a Cadillac.

So yes, I think this is a good choice.

The price you paid may have been close to the norm for a new bike, depending on how the bike is equipped. It is kind of like getting a new car: air conditioning and a fancy sound system boosts the price. With bikes, better parts and accessories do the same. RANS is continually experimenting with variations on the basic theme of long recumbents, so I would not worry about your Stratus being a discontinued model. It is an excellent bike, especially for someone new to recumbents.

If you and your husband are riding the bike and enjoying it, I would not worry about the price. Think of it as an investment in your health, both physical and mental.

Regarding flat tires: there is a wonderful tire made by Schwalbe (German word for "Swallow", the bird) called the Marathon Plus. It is extremely puncture resistant. Costs a little more than some other tires, but avoiding the headache of fixing flats on the road is well worth a few extra dollars.

One more little tip regarding the Stratus: take extra care when turning sharply on a wet or sandy surface, especially at higher speeds. The front wheel of your bike is lightly weighted, so it can slide out if you lean over too far on loose or slippery surfaces. All the long recumbent bikes are like this. It is something you will get used to.

Good luck with the new machine, and safe riding,
Joel Dickman

Thanks for sharing your wealth of information with us. I'm gonna get a couple of your recommended tires, I definately want to save the frustration of flat tires.

Double thanks for the cornering info, I'm totally against falling off my bike, yikes :)

We still need to get another bike, I did find a new, but gently used TE, it was only test rode by customers at a store but I may have lost the stinkin site, lol

Do you like the TE better than the Stratus? is that a dumb question?

Hope you and your girlfriend have a great weekend

Sherri

1) They are both nice bikes, and people have been happily riding both for decades.

2) If I had to choose one over the other, I would prefer the Tour Easy. I like the handling quality of the Tour Easy more. And the paint on the Tour Easy bikes tends to be more durable than the RANS paint.

3) But the Stratus has two advantages over the Tour Easy: a) the ride is noticeably softer, and b) it is less expensive for a similarly equipped bike. The difference in new price is often reflected in used prices as well.

4) If you are not trying to win races, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire can save you a lot of tears when riding someplace with little bits of broken glass on the road. Be sure to get the model called Marathon PLUS. The same company makes a bunch of different tires also called Marathon this and that. It can be confusing.

Safe riding,
Joel

Thank you Thank you!

I already looked them up on the web and I'm going to order some, I'll make sure I get the Marathon Plus. And I researched some battery powered lites and found an article on the Princeton tec quad, it's inexpensive and suppose to put out a good amount of lighted area.

Hope you had a great weekend, Sherri

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