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Google's Sergey Brin asked for recommendations on buying a recumbent. What factors should he consider when evaluating alternatives?

I'm thinking of getting a recumbent road bike even though +Dylan Casey will laugh at me. I would like to get a nice mix of performance, comfort and safety. So, probably 20'ish pounds, not too upright, not too flat, good visibility, maybe an optional fairing, ...

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2 Answers

My personal recommendation is to think about wheel base and where you want the steering. I hear that long wheel base is more stable and faster, but I chose short wheel base so I could load it on the bus rack sometimes. Above seat steering is more common and I think it's easier to learn, but I chose below seat steering because it seemed like a more relaxed position for my arms. As a bonus, I found that during a crash, below seat steering means that your completely above the bike and you don't get tangled up with it as you go down. I found myself sliding along the ground, all by myself.

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+1 Very good answer. I had to read it 3 times before I realized you had 4 good reasons in there... –  zenbike Jul 22 '11 at 6:03
    
I did think you had to wait some time before answering your own question? Or is that just to accept your own answer? –  zenbike Jul 22 '11 at 6:05
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Although this should be a given, ride the bike before you buy it. Not for 5 minutes in a parking lot, but for a real, decent ride. Any shop specializing in 'bents will understand that if you are making your first recumbent purchase, it's a leap of faith, and will be accommodating. That is also a reason to buy your recumbent from a specialty shop.

Credit for the following goes to @Don Kirby above, I'm including it here as well for completeness in one answer. If he wants to edit, and add the above paragraph, or similar, I'll delete this answer.

Think about wheel base and where you want the steering.

Wheelbase:

I hear that long wheel base is more stable and faster, but I chose short wheel base so I could load it on the bus rack sometimes.

Steering:

Above seat steering is more common and I think it's easier to learn, but I chose below seat steering because it seemed like a more relaxed position for my arms.

Bonus:

I found that during a crash, below seat steering means that your completely above the bike and you don't get tangled up with it as you go down. I found myself sliding along the ground, all by myself.

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True. There are so many different recumbent styles and so many different personal reasons for picking one or the other, there can be no "rules", really. It's ride it and see if it works for you. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 22 '11 at 11:19
    
Below-the-seat steering is at a slight disadvantage with respect to aerodynamics as it will make your silhouette wider. There's a reason all very race-oriented bents have praying-mantis-style handlebars. –  arne Apr 7 at 6:45
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