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Explained...Recumbent Bicycles: Faster And More Relaxing

Aug 17, 2007
Many bike speed records have been broken by recumbent bikes. Recumbent bicycles were banned from international racing in the year 1934 and they hadn't seen widespread use until toward the end 20th century.

A recumbent bicycle is a kind of bicycle which places the rider in a seated or supine position and rarely, in a prone position.

Recumbent bikers hold many world speed records for human powered, non-paced types of races. Interestingly, tricycles actually fall into the recumbent bike category and for whatever reason are generally accepted into the main 'upright bike' category.

Recumbent bikes are typically classified further by the size of their wheelbase. There are long wheelbase recumbent bikes (LWB), short wheelbase (SWB) recumbent bikes, and (CLWB) compact long wheelbase recumbent bikes.

Each of these types of recumbent bikes also have somewhat different positioning of the pedals and wheels as compared to the seat. With long wheelbase recumbent bikes the pedals are located in between the seat and the front wheel.

Compact wheelbase recumbent bikes have their pedals either above the front wheel or very close to it. And short wheelbase recumbent bicycles have their pedals in front of the front wheel.

Recumbent bikes have several advantages over upright or traditional bikes. Some of these differences are described below:

Health

Recumbent bikes encourage a posture that reduces strain on the body. This makes them great for longer trips. When a bike is comfortable for long periods of time it makes sense that we're likely to bike farther, right?

A big plus is lower body circulation too. In a recumbent bike our legs are positioned at nearly the same height as our hearts, thus reducing hydrostatic pressure and the heart's job of circulating blood through those areas.

Stability

Recumbent bikes are much more stable for obvious reasons: with some there are more wheels! Also, recumbent bikes are situated closer to the ground.

Variety

When choosing a recumbent bicycle, riders have many more varieties to choose from than with traditional upright bikes. There are all kinds of variations and degrees of uprightness from which to choose.

There are some disadvantages as well. For one, recumbent bikes don't allow riders to change positions, such as standing on an upright bike while going down a hill. And you'll have to boost a whole new set of muscles. Recumbent bicycles use different muscle groups to power the bike than do upright bicycles.

Unlike upright bikes, there is a subculture of recumbent builders who design and build home-built recumbent bicycles. Many times these are assembled of parts from other bicycles, particularly mountain bikes. The frame designs may be as simple as a long steel tube bent into the appropriate shape to hand-built carbon fiber frames. For a good many builders, the engineering of the bikes is as much of a challenge and fun as riding them.
About the Author
Bill Wallmuller aka Mr. Merokee is the founder of Merokee Enterprises and is active Web site development: http://www.merokee-bicycle-guide.com/recumbent_bicycles.html
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