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Recumbent bicycles are bicycles with the seats in a laid-back, reclined position.
A lot of people think a recumbant bicycle is a three wheel bicycle, but there are a lot of recumbent bikes with only two wheels.
Recumbent bikes are available in several different types, including long to short wheelbase, over-seat steering, under-seat steering, or no hands steering, rear and front wheel drive, and two or three wheeled versions. There are even recumbent mountain bicycles, designed for riding off and on unpaved roads, low and high riders, Tandem recumbant bicycles, and recumbent hand cycles.
Advantages of Recumbent Bicycles
There are several advantages of using a recumbent bicycle, including:
- Comfort – A recumbent riding position reduces strain on the back, neck, arms, shoulders, and hands of the rider. In addition, it reduces weight and pressure on the small sitting bones of the buttocks because the rider’s weight is distributed much more evenly. With added comfort, recumbent riders can usually rider for much longer periods of time making recumbent bikes great for long rides or touring.
- Safety – With a lower design, recumbent bicycles have a lower center of gravity, making them safer than a traditional bicycle. If a rider does get into an accident on a recumbent bicycle, the decreased distance to the ground reduces consequences of a fall or minor accident. Also, it would be very difficult to get in an accident where the rider would go head-first over the handlebars. Finally, if you choose a recumbent tricycle, balance is much less of an issue because they require virtually no balance.
- Ease of Use – Recumbent bikes are great for older individuals, young children, and people with disabilities because they are easy to use, especially three-wheeled versions. Recumbent bikes give new riders and non-traditional riders the confidence they need to begin cycling again. They are much less intimidating for first-time cyclists than a traditional bicycle.
- Speed – On declines, flat rides, or slight inclines, recumbant bicycles are faster than traditional bicycles. They are more aerodynamic, reducing wind resistance because the rider sits lower.
Disadvantages of Recumbent Bicycles
The disadvantages of a recumbent bicycle include:
- Balance – Due to the lower center of gravity, balance on a recumbent bikes is a little more difficult than a regular bicycle. Due to this fact, riding at low speeds with sharp turn is more difficult on a recumbent than a regular bicycle.
- Initial Start – Initial takeoff is generally more difficult on a recumbent bike, because the rider cannot use his or her feet to push off the ground. It doesn’t require a great amount of strength to get a recumbent bicycle started, but it does require practice.
- Hilly Rides – Recumbant bicycles are much more difficult to ride up hills than a traditional bicycle. Due to the declined seat position, different leg muscles are required to make a steep climb. In addition, a rider can stand on a traditional bicycle, employing his or her body weight to help during a steep incline. This cannot be done on a recumbent.
- Visibility – If you’re going to be riding your bicycle in a lot of heavy traffic, you need to consider the fact that a recumbent bike is often below the eye level of drivers, making them difficult to see. Combined with a wider turn base, recumbent bicycles can be more dangerous and more difficult to ride in heavy traffic.
- Price – Recumbent bikes are generally a little more expensive than traditional bicycles, ranging from 10 – 20% more expensive. If you’re on a budget, this is definitely something to consider.
Did you know...?
Did you know that recumbent bicycle designs have been around as long as the bicycle itself?
Once the basic theoretical work for the bicycle was completed in the 1860s, manufacturers began to offer up various possible designs for this new machine and the recumbent bicycle was one of the most popular designs.
Various publications from that era depict recumbent bicycles, showing that these bikes date back to the very dawn of bicycle history.
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Last Word About Recumbent Bicycles
Recumbent bicycles are a fun, comfortable, easy alternative to traditional bicycles, but they are not without disadvantages. If you're considering purchasing a recumbent bicycle, determine why you want to begin cycling, weigh the advantages and disadvantages, and get moving!