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Older P-38

Is it worth considering buying an older P-38? I’ve seen one advertised, but waiting to hear if it’s still available, and condition, price etc.

It doesn’t have the brace in front of the seat, the stem is silver, and I think the seat frame is grey. Presumably it’s quite old, and maybe not compatible with more modern components, so I’m wondering if it might be more trouble than it’s worth. Are there any pitfalls to be aware of?

Considering a new P-38 starts at $3,100 how much are these older ones worth – less than $1,000?

Thanks for any info.

It all depends on a) the price of the used bike, b} the overall condition, and c) the quality of the components.

The frames and seats built before 1996 are less robust than the ones built after. That does not mean you should not buy one, but it does mean you should not pay as much $ for the pre-'96 machine. You need to very carefully eyeball the area around the headtube for hairline cracks. Likewise the area around the seat, and the seat frame itself. These are the Achilles heel spots on older P-38 bikes.

I would not worry about component incompatibility though. The key question is the integrity of the frame.

There are some recumbent riders who really do not put big miles on their bikes. Some of them are serial recumbent collectors, experimenting with many different styles of recumbent without ever really using a particular bike very much. If you can buy a used bike from one of these riders, you can often get something that is near-new at a bargain price.

There are other riders who beat the living snot out of their bikes. They are heavy, strong, and ride huge miles. They ride through harsh winters and subject their bikes to road salt and the like. They ride over curbs, potholes, and generally treat the bike like shit. You do NOT want to buy a used bike from one of these riders! You will get something that is close to being used-UP, not just used.

It is not always easy to determine which sort of bike you are dealing with when buying used. Some sellers are honest, and some are not. It is going to be especially tough to make an informed buying decision when you are in Scotland and the seller is somewhere in the USA.

Because the Lightning P-38 bike is so much fun to ride, it often falls into the group of bikes that are really used a lot. But not always! Some people just do not like the mesh seat. Others are not discerning enough to recognize a genuinely superior ride, even if it bites them on the ass.

Suppose you found a seller of a pre-1996 bike in the USA who you trusted. Suppose that the seller very carefully inspected the frame in the areas specified and determined that the bike was OK. Suppose that you were sure that you were getting the correct frame size, and that the price was within reason. Then I would go ahead.

But as you undoubtedly learned in your bad experience with the ti frame, it can be a jungle out there. Caveat Emptor and good luck hunting.

Safe riding,

Hi Joel

Thanks very much for yet another extremely helpful reply. Having only seen a photograph of it, I don’t have any details on the bike as yet – I don’t even know its size. However, I think the seller is to be trusted and would be able to assess the frame for damage. Hopefully I’ll hear some more within a few days, and with the information you’ve provided I should be able to decide if it’s worth pursuing.


Oh well, it turned out to be a medium, which is too small for me


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