Ride A Recumbent Bike!
Basically Bicycles is proud to sell a unique type of bicycle that offers a cycling experience unlike any other. They’re called “recumbent bikes,” which refers to their reclined, comfortable ‘La-Z-Boy’ riding position.
Gone are the sore rear end, the achy lower back, the numb hands and the stiff neck. Instead you pedal blissfully aboard a virtual rolling lawn chair. And, because you’re reclining, your perspective is completely new. Instead of hunkering over the handlebars staring at the pavement below, you look forward and up. You enjoy the scenery, watch clouds and birds and really see the countryside around you. Also, because you’re not bent over, you can really breathe deeply so you feel fresh and relaxed.
In fact, you’ll probably find yourself riding further than ever and finishing loops with no soreness and little fatigue. When you stop for refreshment on rides, you might even choose to rest while sitting on your recumbent bike, which is far more comfortable than the average picnic table or roadside boulder.
Don’t be fooled into thinking recumbent bikes are land yachts simply because they’re so comfortable, though. They’re closer to go-carts in the way you sit, feet out front, controls within easy reach. And, the ride is the next best thing to being able to whip around the house again on that Big Wheel you had as a kid. If fast riding is your thing, then you'll also appreciate the aerodynamic position and the options for lightweight carbon fiber bikes that take full advantage of the streamlined riding position.
With such impressive attributes, it’s no surprise that recumbent bikes and trikes are among our most popular bikes. So, we thought we’d put together a guide to answer some of the common questions about these bikes and trikes that offer comfort and performance. Be sure to visit our store to check out some in person and call or e-mail info (at) basicallybicycles.com if you have any questions or would like to arrange a test ride.
One of the fascinating things about recumbent bikes and trikes is the variety. There are long-, short- and medium-wheelbase models. You’ll find recumbent bikes and recumbent trikes that have handlebars in front of you chopper-style and those that have them beneath you! Recumbent bike seat designs vary, too, though all provide unparalleled support, adjustment and comfort when compared to the seats on upright bikes.
Just like there are upright bikes for a variety of purposes, there are recumbent trikes and bikes built for different types of rides. There are even tandem recumbents for sharing the experience with your favorite riding partner. A recumbent tandem bike’s spacious cockpit and ample throne are absolutely liberating—so much so that you can get people on them who might refuse to try a regular tandem.
Which recumbent bike design is best for you depends on the type of riding you have in mind, where you want to ride and what you’re looking for in a bike. For example, if you ride for fitness at a good clip, you’ll likely lean towards a quick-handling, medium- or short-wheelbase recumbent bike. If you’re more interested in sightseeing, you’ll probably prefer a more leisurely design, such as a recumbent bike with a longer wheelbase and lots of comfort built in (some models include suspension to absorb road shock).
Test riding some different recumbent bicycles and recumbent trikes is the best way to get a feel for how they differ and what you like. And keep in mind that, like riders of conventional bikes, many people who buy recumbent bikes eventually purchase a second one of a different design in order to double their fun and have a new type to ride.
Speaking of riding, it can take a little practice to become adept at riding a recumbent bicycle. As kids, most of us learn to ride on upright bicycles, not on recumbent bikes. Trying to ride a recumbent bike the way you ride an upright bike can make for a wobbly start, but most of our customers have the swing of recumbent bike riding in about 20 minutes.
When you try a recumbent bike, you sit lower, and it’s easier to rest your feet on the ground. Take advantage of this, but be sure to apply the brakes because if you don’t, the bike will roll backward, which makes it feel like you’re losing control. Before your first ride, just sit there for a bit with your back relaxing into the seat, and get used to the feel of resting your weight in the seat and holding yourself up with your feet while holding the brakes. This is the starting position and how you sit at stop lights.
To ride the recumbent bike, put your favorite foot onto the pedal, which should be at about 2 o’clock, and push off. Look up and out, NOT down! Looking down is necessary on a conventional bike, but not on a recumbent bike. Just look up or ahead and trust that the bike will balance, and you’ll quickly be underway and having the time of your life.
Once you’ve got the knack of balancing the recumbent bike, work on relaxing. This comes naturally because the riding position is so comfy, however, if you’re used to a regular bike you might tense up and wrestle with the handlebars the way you might on your upright two-wheeler. This is completely unnecessary and it will cause erratic handling on a recumbent bike. So, just release any tension in your upper body, and rest your hands gently on the grips and let the bike control itself, which it will do just fine if you let it.
It’s important to realize that you use slightly different muscles on a recumbent bike, which means that it takes most riders a few weeks of riding to feel strong climbing and working against headwinds.
You might actually feel stronger when you first get on a recumbent bike. This is the effect of having a seat backrest to push against. While this is one of the great features of recumbent bike riding, it can also lead to problems if you abuse it. If you push too hard on the pedals before you’ve built up your recumbent biking leg muscles, you risk injuring your knees, the same way you can riding a conventional bike.
So, we recommend using your gears instead of pushing against the seat. This ensures that you build good spinning and pedaling strength in your legs, that your heart and lungs are used efficiently and that you keep those precious knees safe.
It’s also wise to build strength gradually, riding fairly easy gears on flat to rolling courses first, and then gradually increasing the distance and hilliness of your rides. Before long, you’ll be fit enough to ride your recumbent bike everywhere.
Bicycling can be risky, so even on a recumbent bike or trike, it’s best to wear a bicycle helmet. For about the price of a decent pair of sneakers, a bicycle helmet might save your life.
Cycling shoes, too, can be considered safety gear for recumbent trike and bike riders. Because your feet are in front of the bike, you want them to stay on the pedals, especially when you are traveling at speed. Shoes that clip onto the pedals can help keep your feet where they need to be.
We think you’ll find that you get plenty of attention on the road due to the recumbent bike’s unique appearance. Most motorists haven’t seen recumbent bikes or trikes, so drivers are more likely to notice you. However, because some recumbent bikes and trikes are lower to the ground, you might wish to add a safety flag to attract attention in traffic. Blinking tail lights, good any time of day or night, and headlights can also make you more visible and are a necessity if you ride at night.
For riding in traffic, we also recommend getting a mirror. It’s difficult to turn your head and shoulders enough to see behind you on a recumbent bike, and a mirror or two will give you a good view of what’s going on. One of the nicest things about mirrors is that they let you know when the road behind is clear so you can use more of the lane.
Also, while it’s important to protect yourself with sunscreen anytime you’re outdoors, it’s especially important when riding a recumbent bike or trike. Due to the reclining seating position, more skin on your face and legs is exposed to the sun. To prevent painful sunburn, protect those areas.
Interestingly, some typical cycling gear is not necessary for riding a recumbent bike comfortably. You can ride in any shorts you find comfortable because the seat won’t cause numbness or pain. You may find you don’t need cycling gloves because little weight is resting on your hands. Jerseys with rear pockets aren’t necessary, and can actually irritate your back as you lean back on the seams. You will appreciate moisture-wicking fabrics, however, which keep you dry and comfortable.
FAQs about recumbent bicycles
Q: Recumbent bikes sure look so different; don't they require special tools and expertise?
A: Although recumbent bikes and trikes certainly look different, they are made up of readily available parts and are as easy to maintain and repair as any other bicycle. This means you won’t need any special tools to work on your recumbent bike and that any shop can provide service. Basically Bicycles, however, is New England’s leading recumbent bike dealer, and has been selling and servicing all types of recumbent bicycles since 1994.
Q: How do I carry my recumbent bike in my car?
A: Depending on the type of recumbent bike or trike that you buy, you might need to consider how you’ll transport your recumbent bike or trike. Long-wheelbase recumbent bikes, for example, might require a hitch- or roof-type vehicle rack. Some owners prefer to carry their recumbent bikes or trikes in the back of a van or pick-up. If length makes it difficult to use a particular vehicle rack or trunk, removing the wheels from the recumbent bike will often solve the problem.
Q: It looks kind of big; where will I store my recumbent bike?
A: Storage is usually as easy as with a conventional bike. We recommend bike hooks, which can be screwed into a stud or joist. Then, you can simply hang the recumbent bike from a wheel in a corner of the garage. Even if it’s a long-wheelbase recumbent bike model, it won’t take up much more room hanging like this than a regular two-wheeler. If you want to haul the bike up to the ceiling, you might like a ceiling mount lift that anyone can use to hoist a recumbent bike out of the way, yet accessible for rides.
Q: How are recumbent bikes and trikes on hills?
A: The only thing you can't do with a recumbent bike is stand up when climbing. Instead, you shift into an easy gear and spin comfortably up hills. Different recumbent bike designs feel differently in the hills, and we can point out the right model according to what you're looking for. Also, recumbent bikes aren't any different than regular bikes in that the more you ride in the hills the easier climbing becomes. If you are on a recumbent trike, there is no need to maintain speed to balance, so as long as you can pedal forward, you will get up the hill eventually.
Q: Can you carry gear on recumbent bikes and trikes?
A: Yes! It's possible to install a rack and panniers, and some recumbent bikes and recumbent trikes even offer custom bags for more carrying capacity. Several Basically Bicycles customers have ridden their recumbent bikes or trikes across the country. If you'd like to use your recumbent bike or trike for touring, we can help you set it up with the best gear.
We hope this answers most of the questions you have about recumbent bikes. Please call, e-mail or visit if you’d like to learn more about recumbent bicycles and trikes! As New England's leading recumbent bike dealer, Basically Bicycles has the expertise to guide you to the recumbent bike or trike that will fit you and how you ride. Visit us soon, and put a smile on your face when you experience firsthand the comfort and performance of recumbent bikes and recumbent trikes.