This document well describes the benefits of a direct-drive recumbent. Is there any carbon-frame recumbent, commercially available, that implements all its recommendations.

And what are the pros and cons of having no handlebars like this ?

from https://plus.google.com/photos/105494140459386547812/albums/5834519374023595473?banner=pwa

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    Now that there's an answer, it's a little late to split it up; but in the future please post multiple questions as separate questions.
    – jimchristie
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 17:25
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    The creator of the no handle bar bike linked makes no practical claims for the design. "The main purpose was to take a concept to some lengths away from normal and see if one could learn to ride it."
    – JP May
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 17:57
  • Look at Kervelo, they plan to sell their awsome bikes soon. kervelo-bike.com
    – Marc
    Commented Dec 2, 2017 at 9:56
  • If you look very closely at the bike stand at the front, it appears to be designed to swing under the wheel and become the handlebars, ending just in front of the pivot point. So it's not really a 'no handlebar' bike. :) Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 11:33

5 Answers 5


I have built a direct drive (geared) recumbent mostly according to Garnet's specifications. The centerpiece is a Pinion gearbox that conviniently has a lot of gears (needed for a recumbent) and an internal freewheel (Pinion still recommend an "extra" freewheel in the backwheel for normal bikes - probably because the chain otherwise would keep turning when coasting...). The gears 8 to 18 is usable and the speed with nr 18 can easily be over 50 km/h. The riding position is so comfortable I really cant understand why the design hasnt conquered the World. Riding slow in Town is not a problem, no wobbling at high speeds, no numb feet, because of to high crank position. Pinion has seen it but they are busy with the market introduction of their normal bikes. It´s not for sale. Theres a Little film my son put on instagram #hubcycle.enter image description here

  • That's a nice looking bike, how well does it handle low speed maneuvering when you need to turn the handlebar significantly?
    – Johnny
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 16:33
  • Thanks Johnny! Low speed handling is like a MBB recumbent -the outside leg gets a bit stretched! When turning the wheel can interfere with the leg. But after some getting used to it´s surprisingly easy to handle. I would say I need a turning diameter of 4 meters, to maintain stability. Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 13:15

To the best of my knowledge there are no suitable direct-drive hubs available commercially, which means that there are no bikes sold that use them. Schlumpf make a unicycle direct drive hub that offers 1:1 and 1:1.55 gears, but for a recumbent bike those ratios would be ridiculously low. Also, it's obviously fixed gear so without a freewheel it would be even less useful on a bike.

You may be able to convert a standard hub gear to direct drive, using a larger axle and feeding the drive through the centre. Hubs are designed to have drive from one side, and pedalling torque is quote large so this would probably involve a major redesign of the hub (I suspect this is why so few people have built them). Another problem is that hub gears are designed to have 2:1 or more gearing up from the chain drive before the hub. So once you got it working, you'd have lower gears than you expect. Using short cranks is a partial solution to that at best, but it's the only thing I can think of that might help. Greenspeed suggest that 100mm cranks are quite usable with only a slight loss of power (but higher rpm = lower gearing needed)

Your second question, about having no handlebars, is much easier to do. Most front wheel drive, moving bottom bracket bikes can be ridden hands-off, and it's relatively easy to learn to ride without the handlebars at all. The problem is that most countries require bikes to have handlebars (it's an offence to ride without holding them).

One problem I see with the design you link to is that it's partially rear wheel steered. That will affect stability (making the design somewhat harder, but if you're buying one they've already solved that problem). But it will also affect turning. To turn away from something, the rear wheel must move towards it. All rear wheel steer vehicles suffer from this problem. One partial solution is to use a tadpole tricycle configuration, so that the rear wheel is between the front wheels and thus can move sideways as far as one front wheel when turning away from a kerb or other barrier. For a bicycle, the solution is to stop and lift the bike away from the barrier. The problem is that if you run up next to a barrier at speed it may be difficult to stop without hitting the barrier. That's annoying if it's a kerb and you end up sliding along the footpath, but can be dangerous if it's a wall or hedge.

With unusual bikes that someone is selling, I find it's helpful to ask how much someone other than the inventor has ridden one. If they've sold a few and someone has ridden a couple of thousand kilometres on one, then great, it's probably usable. But if it's a great project by one person and you're going to be the first real customer... be very careful.

  • @nui So the question boils down to weather there are any geared direct drive hub commercially available. If people have thought of it so far back, I think it must be commercially available. Check [Figure 4. Manifestation of the hub] (ihpva.org/HParchive/PDF/hp49-1999.pdf) that is used here Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 0:10
  • @nui and this:--Russian CVT & Direct-Drive Recumbents Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 0:18
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    @AyanMullick that Russian CVT link has prices on it, so even it it seems to be 15 years old you might be able to buy one. But a lot of stuff like that amounts to "the inventor made one and tried to sell them, but failed". I don't recall seeing anything like that in all the marketing stuff that a friend gets from Taiwanese suppliers, but they get a lot of stuff so it's easy to miss things I'm not specifically looking for.
    – Nuі
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 1:35
  • [citation needed] for the claim that "in most countries... it's an offence to ride without holding [the handlebars]". Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 16:52

Sounds like what you are looking for is a Python recumbent - front-wheel or direct drive hands-free cycling. A Google search of 'python recumbent bike' gives you lots of resources to pour through, although very, very few of those are commercial. Pythons are usually relegated to the DIY hobbyist cycle-riders. But it's a fun venture! I was involved in building a bamboo Python years ago with a French colleague - great fun learning how to ride it.


I also have built a direct drive geared bike.


But am interested how Joakim managed to modify the Pinion gears to fit them in the hub?

Could NuVinci CVT be modified for the purpose?

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    Welcome to Bicycles @comfybob. I'm guessing that you are the author of that blog; if so you should say so explicitly. Your post is asking a question (or two) - you should either use comments for that (when you have enough rep ), or post you own question.
    – andy256
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 2:34

I will await the recumbent version of MC2 bike.


I have been in contact with them. They are launching in Jan '05 and the recumbent form will be available in a subsequent version.

  • Jan '05? That has come and past... years ago...before your post. :) Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 8:56
  • Any update on this?
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 16:03

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