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Tell me about my Lightning Stealth

I just bought a Lightning Stealth off of ebay over the weekend (for $280). I would more about the bike, like what year model it is. I think it might be a 1999 model, but I am not sure. It has 7 speeds in the back, and I read somewhere that the 2000 had 8 speeds. And it didn't really seem to match up with the description of the 1998 components.
You can see a picture of it here:
I am guessing it is the larger sized model, since it seems to fit me, and I am a touch over 6 feet.

Also, is there somewhere I can get a manual for it? Maybe download it? I can see how to adjust the seat position, and it looks like I can extend the cranks out. But I have no clue as to what the proper position should be.


Hello RJ-

1) A $280 Lightning Stealth? You made out like a bandit.

2) The Stealth was made from the late nineties to the early 2000s, when the name changed to Phantom. I think someone complained to Lightning about name copyright infringement, which led to the name change. Your bike looks like something from the last half of the nineties, but I could not narrow it down any more than that.

2) If you are a bit over 6 feet tall and it fits, it must be the larger frame size.

3) I do not think any manual was ever created for the bike.

4) The seat moves back and forth on a "saddle", and the crankset boom moves back and forth too. So you have a nice range of adjustment. The seat can also be tilted backward and forward to some degree, though if you tilt it too far backward your thighs will strike the seat's forward cross tube. The usual advice regarding adjustment is too adjust the cranks in much the same way you would with a traditional upright bike: so that there is a small bend in your knee when your leg is fully extended.

5) Some friendly advice: keep a close eye on the tension of the seat mesh cords. If it gets too loose, the seat fabric can rub against both the rear wheel in back, and the idler wheel below. Definitely not a good thing. You may need to periodically examine and tighten the cords to avoid these little problems. Also, make sure your water bottle holder under the seat clasps the water bottle tightly. If the fit is too loose, the bottle will bounce out of the holder when you go over a big bump in the road.

6) The Stealth / Phantom is a very nice bike, with nimble handling and an excellent seat. It weighs a few more pounds than the Antelope-like P-38, but the handling "feel" of the bike is very similar. Think of it as a working man's (or working woman's) P-38: most of the performance at a greatly reduced price. I have been riding one for about seven years or so, and it has served me faithfully.

Safe riding,
Joel Dickman

The title of the auction was simply "recombent bike". And even in the auction description he mispelled recumbent. And it was limited to local pickup. So I was bidding against a small number of people. I only found it because I was searching for bikes for sale that were local. The bid was only $103 before I sniped it in last 15 seconds.

No manual? Hmmmm. Well...I guess I can't remember getting a manual with my mountain bike when I bought it new...

From your comment in #4, it sounds like I can tilt the seat back so that the front of the seat comes off the frame? So the front part of the seat frame doesn't need to rest on the bike frame?

I will check the seat for tension. There was a cheap plastic bottle holder on the bike, but I removed it. I will go buy a nice aluminum mountain bike style cage. They hold the bottles pretty firmly.

I haven't even ridden the Stealth yet. I just picked it up yesterday. I am guessing I am going to be dumped on my butt a few times or more. My main bikes now are a 1990 Trek 1000, and 2007 Diamondback Sorento. I also have 2000 Trek 700 that I converted into cyclocross bike.

There are no dates, or serial numbers stamped ont he Lightning bikes? If I listed the components, would that help identify the model year?

Thanks Joel!

You should be able to find a serial # on the rear dropouts. If you give this number to Lightning, they can date the bike more exactly. Not that it matters whether it is a 1997 or a 1998 or whatever. Very small bike companies like Lightning do not really have annual model changes. The exact mix of components is likely to change according to the availability and price of stuff at the time of sale.

You may find it easier to adjust to the bike than you expect. The Stealth is very comfortable on longer rides, is fast on the flats and downhills, and should climb decently. When everything is properly set up, and you are riding on a nice smooth road, you can get a wonderful magic carpet feeling that is not obtainable on a traditional upright bike.

But do not expect climbing on steep hills that matches a road racing bike. Despite what some recumbent evangelists maintain, recumbent bikes do have weaknesses, and going up long steep hills is one of them. Prepare to gear down and spin, and get used to watching your friends on light road bikes get up the steep hills faster than you.

But if they have more miles per hour on the big hills, you will get more smiles per hour over the whole ride. When you do a very long ride, they will be getting off their narrow racing saddles and rubbing their butts... while you contentedly remain resting in your full mesh seat.

Safe riding,
Joel Dickman

I agree with all those great previous posts. I have a 1999 or 2000 Stealth and have put about 2700 miles on it
in the 7 years of riding & love the handling/feel of this
bike. Tires make a HUGE difference (especially the front for handling)in how this bike will ride.
I have the Large
frame my front tire is 20" x 1.35"(406-37mm) Primo Comet Kevlar, the back tire is 26" x 1.35" (559-32mm) both tires at 100 PSI. The bike originally came with regular(non-kevlar) Primo Comets of the sizes listed above. I tried wider front & back tires Avocet Fasgrip 1.5" and the bike handled like a semi-truck -- unreal the difference. Went to thinner Continental Grand Prix 1" rear, 1 1/8" front & kept blowing the tires with double puncture (snake bite)hole in the innertube from 1 1/2" high pothole/curbs. So I went back to the orginals but with Kevlar belt which means much more durability / all the great handling just like originals, a little more rolling resistance but have not had a tire flat in
3 years but still be carefull over the curbs ---slow down. You got a great BUY ! Good luck !

Congrats on the sweet buy! Hopefully, it's in good condition. I've had my Stealth since 1996, but I just recently signed up on this Forum.

I do have an owner's manual. I can scan it and send it to you. Just reply to my e-mail below.

The seat position will take some tweaking on your part. It shouldn't recline so far that your hamstrings are pinched at the bottom of your pedal stroke (or rub the back tire!). It should not be so far forward that the seat frame rests on the monotube. I have mine about 1" above the frame. I also cut a short length of foam pipe insulation and taped it to the seat frame to prevent rubbing, especially when I lean forward.

Good luck with your new (to you) 'bent. I love my Stealth, and will ride it 'till it dies. I've done several modifications over the years including fenders, rear rack and multiple componenet upgrades. If you'd like pics or more info, just ask.

Happy riding,
Steve in Albuquerque

WOW! That is one of the best recumbent deals I've ever seen! That said... I have to disagree and say that this is a small/medium. It looks like a 349mm front wheel in the pic. I sold A LOT of Stealths/Phantoms when I worked at a recumbent shop in 1998-2000 and a small/medium would "fit" people up to 6'2" or so but wasn't ideal. If it was all we had in stock, we'd let larger riders test ride the small to get a feel but then we'd order the larger version. Cracking good deal though!

Bryan J. Ball
Managing Editor
'BentRider Online

I have never ridden a recumbent before. At the request of a friend, I video'd my first attempt. I posted the video on YouTube:

I don't think I did half bad. The steering is very different from a traditional bike. I think I need to adjust the distance to the cranks. Maybe in or out, or maybe they right now? On a regular bike, I can just measure my inseam, and multiply it by .883 and be pretty close. Is there an equivalent method for a recumbent?

BTW, I looked on the dropouts, and didn't see a serial number. I didn't remove the wheel though.

See, you didn't dump the bike. At least not on camera!

The serial # should be there someplace. Maybe it is covered up with dirt.

As far as adjusting the distance from the seat to the crankset, just go with what feels good to your legs. Or try using the same numerical formula you use for your upright bikes, at least as a start.

Let us know how your recumbent adventure develops.

Keep the rubber side down,
Joel Dickman

Thanks Joel! I am looking forward to taking some long rides.

I pdf'd mine - can e-mail it if you send me your addy

I have stubby legs, so I use the 16" (ISO 349) wheel on my Stealth. The Primo Comet Kevlar is a good tire, and I have many miles on them, with very few flats (also using Mr. Tuffy liners).

But I guess I'm getting old... I prefer the cushier ride of the Greenspeed Scorcher to the Comet.

Safe riding,
Joel Dickman


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