Cruising on a Recumbent
Back about 15 years ago my go-to bike was a recumbent. I found one (a “Rans Rocket”) that was really comfortable and rode it a lot for a few years. The main advantage of a recumbent is they can be much more comfortable than a conventional, or “upright” bike. More advanced versions of them with very laid back seats can be more aerodynamic, and therefore faster, and least on not too hilly roads. A disadvantage is that they can be more difficult to climb steeper hills on. After a few years the speed bug got to me and I sold my rocket for a higher performance model (a “Bacchetta Strada”). I buzzed around on that for a few more years, and did some time trials with it. But I was never as comfortable on it as on my rocket. When I discovered standing up to pedal on an upright, I thought that was comfortable enough and I no longer needed the recumbent , so I sold it.
But for the last couple of years I’ve been missing the relaxing feeling of a nice long cruise on a recumbent. This feeling was added to by how much I enjoy using my recumbent indoor bike. Unfortunately, Rans no longer makes the rocket or anything like it, but Bacchetta had another model, the giro, that is comfortable and fast, so I thought I’d look into getting one of those. Too my dismay I found that Bacchetta has recently gone out of business (they were acquired by Bent-up cycles, who plan on manufacturing them in the future, but for now there is a hiatus of new bike availability at dealers). My dealer suggested looking for a used one, which I was lucky enough to find on ebay. I’ve had it a couple of weeks and am loving cruising on it.
Road recumbents have always been a niche market, I’ve never understood why they didn’t catch on more. If you go to a gym where the cardio equipment is, there are a mix of recumbent and upright cycles, and usually it looks like more than half the people are using the recumbents. That is not the case outside, where recumbents are less than 1% of the market. One incident that is always cited as a factor is that the governing body of international bike racing, the UCI (Union Cycliste International) outlawed recumbents from racing in 1934 after the “hour record” for bicycling was broken on one. Serious bike riders want to buy the type of bikes they see their heroes racing on, and recumbents are excluded from this. I don’t see why that would exclude them from the market for hybrid or “comfort” bikes, which many people buy. They are more expensive because they’re made by smaller companies, but that would resolve itself if their were more sales and manufacturers could scale up. That is always a “chicken and egg” issue.
I can set up my upright bike with a good seat and be pretty comfortable, and standing up to pedal helps. But a bike saddle is kind of like a high quality padded bar stool. A recumbent is more like a reclining chair (“La-Z-Boy on wheels”).