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My P-38 maiden voyage: WOW!

What an INCREDIBLY fun/agile/comfortable!

My 2002 P-38 arrived, and I needed to do some minor surgery before comfortably taking off. My peddling arc is too wide for the standard bar, so I found a temporary used RANS handlebar at a "not-so-Local-BS" to create the clearance I needed. There are no bent shops within 75 miles of here.

Given bar end interference I decided to use some components I had taken off of another bike. I was thinking about using Paul thumbies, but didn't yet know what bar I was going to ultimately end up with. I took off the bar end shifters/XT derailed and put on SRAM derailer and grip shifts.

Am intrigued with the setup I saw Zach Kaplan use with Bachetta tweeners. I'll take plenty of time to look into some other options....for now this temporary RANS bar is fine.

All of this pre-op fun helped to make this 2002 P-38 my own bike......felt great! I put on my eggbeaters and took off.

Wow....what a GREAT bike this is....just felt like I kept smiling. The frame has great balance with the center-of-gravity playing a major role. Having built kayaks, I once designed an anthropomorphic skin-on-frame Inuit style kayak where the COG was correct. This frame felt very similar to paddling that kayak (in terms of balance/response)...just naturally suited for me. Tim was brilliant in keeping the COG/seat stationary on these frames.

The ride was steady though readily/consistently responsive with an amazing turning radius. I had ridden a V-Rex/Rocket in the past and somehow this frame does it far better. I had no concerns about heel interference. It is interesting, as there is a very solid and predictable feel on this frame....which enhances trust.

I felt like I had many miles on this bike, so I can imagine how much better it will feel as I add on the miles. I could begin to sense how comfortable this bike will be on lengthy rides. Although responding like a "sports car" (compared to my Easy Racer LWB), it did share many of the solid/comfortable "touring car" characteristics of my LWB which surprised me.

I was surprised at how comfortable the frame was over the typical road bumps/sewer covers. I put new tires on: 406 Kojak and 700 x 28 Specialized....both at 90 psi. This frame felt very forgiving. I'll want to get some more information about the positives/negatives regarding the suspended front curious.

Thanks again Joel for a great Archives on this Forum...has been really helpful/fun reading.
Look forward to getting out there again today....

Hi again Bob,

Glad you are having fun with the bike, and thanks for the kind words regarding this site. The Lightningriders site has not exactly set the cycling world on fire. But it is appreciated by a select group of recumbent connoisseurs, and that makes it worthwhile.

Most recumbent riders are looking for a bike that has a comfy seat, is easy to balance and ride, and does not cost an arm and a leg. I am in sympathy with them about all these things, and I want them too. However I want still more. The quality of handling - the distinctive "feel" of the bike as you take it through the turns, and lean into them - is important to me too, and the Lightning bikes deliver on this in a way that most other recumbent bikes don't. Getting the front-to-rear weight distribution just right - the Goldilocks seating position - is an important contributor to this. Many very popular recumbent bikes from Bacchetta, RANS, and Volae - the so-called "stick bikes" with sliding seats and fixed position cranksets - cannot give almost all riders the right position for correct weight distribution.

Some riders luck out if they have the right ex-seam, but most have to accept a compromised fit. Diamond frame cyclists spending thousands of dollars on a new bike would not tolerate this hit-or-miss approach to bike fitting. But lots of recumbent riders accept it. There is a high racer bike called the Metaphysic that has attracted a following on the BROL site. It has a sliding crankset like the Lightnings, which is good. Though it only comes in a grand total of one frame size. Not so good.

Sometimes I think that the cycling world - even including the recumbent segment - is driven more by fashions / marketing than good engineering.

Some tips regarding your Lightning bike:

1) Keep an eye on the seat mesh tension. If the mesh gets too loose, it can rub against the rear tire behind you and the chain idler below you. Tighten it up if needed.

2) You can easily lose water bottles held below the seat if you go over a big bump. I think Tim Brummer suggests using a water bottle holder called the Specialized Rib Cage.

3) If the pavement gets rough, try leaning forward to de-couple your back from the seat back. This makes bad roads more tolerable. Lean back against the seat when the road becomes smooth again.

4) Brummer offers a little trick when climbing very bad hills: use your arms to push your legs down, alternating from left arm to right. I know this sounds weird, but it really does help when you are running out of steam.

Keep playing around with the handlebar type and position until you get the bike dialed in to your pleasure.

Safe riding,

Yup....loving the handling/comfort of this bike. Just decided to really clean up the frame and upgrade components. Plan to remove the dirty and partially raised protection tape and replace the decal as well.

I ordered a longer handle bar from Tim Brummer. The mesh seat is grease-stained and has new mesh is on the way as well. Will use the plastic ties and take into account your alerts Joel. Will go back to the bar ends as well and put back a Shimano RD on the bike.

I use those Specialized holders on my LWB....they are great....already using them on the P-38. No problema with falling out!

Interesting idea using my arms to help out on hills....will check it out. And yes....the back de-coupling works out well with the LWB as well....all great tips.

With the total frame rehab and some upgrades....the bike is starting to feel like mine already.
Thanks again,


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