's Forum Archives - General

Archive Home >> General(1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 )

roadbikes are slower than recumbents(38 posts)

roadbikes are slower than recumbentscyclist of all trades
Jan 27, 2003 5:21 PM
after a season of riding my new bacchetta giro 26/20, it's obvious to me that with the exception of long climbs and short sprints recumbents are faster. not only that but they are also far more comfortable and incredibly fun to corner on. every person that i pass(with the exception of those few elitist roady snobs) thinks the bike looks cool also. So I ask the question: Why are they so unpopular compared with upright roadbikes?

Most people do not know the history behind them, and it was when I found out the truth of the past it became obvious what the problem is. The UCI that most every roady hates is to blame. I submit that if it were not for them banning them back in 1933 this website would be called!

I hope more people who desire speed, handling and efficiency come to there senses. I have never had so much fun on a bike.

Jan 27, 2003 6:40 PM
i heard that onceishmael
Jan 27, 2003 6:43 PM
I thought it couldn't be true, I guess it is. And you say they're more fun too. I dont know what it is, maybe just asthectics or tradition, but they just dont look as "real" or something. I imagine you cant really weave in and out of traffic with one. Crashing probably isn't as bad though, atleast, as long as you dont crash into a car.

I dont think they would do well in races with bikes anyway. If they cant accelerate quickly or do hills they would only do well in time trials. If they were permited to race I think they would've gained more respect but still be concidered a lesser machine
thanks ishmael/ YIPEE guy-you are ignorantcyclist of all trades
Jan 27, 2003 7:09 PM
At least you have the guts to discuss and think about it. The previous post of yipee, shows nothing but ignorance. He's the type of guy that I love to pass and drop like a rock.

Actually the UCI banned them after a journeyman pro started riding a 'bent in european races and commenced to kicking all the other pro's rearends. They felt as though the bike industry at the time would be turned on the heads if the pros started to race bents.

It's not that they don't climb or sprint, it's just that they do not do quite as fast. If your 10 minutes ahead of someone else then it doesn't matter how fast they sprint.

I think the look of them would be considered cool, if they had been around all this time and had the chance to evolve like other forms of cycling.
faster, slower and ignorancecyclopathic
Jan 28, 2003 7:49 AM
'bents were banned because they're unsafe in pack, not because they were faster. Pretty much the same way as bullhorn and aerobars.

I've ridden with 'bents and though they're faster on flats, they aren't any faster over the distances 150mi+. Due to horizontal position guys end up bonking much faster and even if they had 1.5hr on you at 80mi mark you end up catching them 50-70mi later. You can check any double century or local brevet results.

Second even if recumbent may be 10min faster in time trail in draft permitted situation it would be hard to materialize as much advantage. If you ride UCI legal bike it isn't take that much effort to stay on 'bent's (or tandem's) wheel. The only time you risk to get dropped is on downhill, but you can still stay on if you have high enough gearing and ride smart.

putting question "what is faster" aside the coolest bike I've seen was Redundant a cross btw upright and recumbent. It had 2 pairs of cranks and transition from upright to recumbent could have been made w/o stopping. Strangely enough bike was USCF legal. No wonder his owner/builder/designer shined in local TT.
Go ride your Lazy Boy ;-) (nm)TREKY
Jan 28, 2003 3:51 PM
re: roadbikes are slower than recumbentsSteve Bailey
Jan 27, 2003 7:21 PM
>So I ask the question: Why are they so unpopular compared >with upright roadbikes?

I still ride my Vision R40 10-20 percent of the time, but can only partially agree that bents "can" be faster is some conditions, but in my experience, are generally slower.

As to the question you asked, I would guess that at this stage in their development, there are simply tons more DF bikes of all different types to choose from, and that makes it much simpler for the shops to stock a variety, which is important for them to make a profit. I also think that most shop owners have much more experience with DF's, thus tend to be more comfortable selling them.

As to what's better in the eyes of the public, I would guess that bents seem odd and are perceived as difficult to ride and/or as difficult to see when riding in traffic. I also think that benters are perceived as oddballs, where as roadies are more mainstream, which is important to many folks.

My own experiences are that I'm faster on the DF in most conditions, a stiff headwind being about the only exception. I find that the Vision is not any faster on a downhill and is fact, a good bit twitchier (SWB/OSS), thus I don't ever feel as comfortable going as fast as I do on the DF. I'm also aware that my experiences are particular to the Vision and that bents all have different riding characteristics.

Note that part of my own experiences comparing DF's to bents are a result of my muscles having 14 seasons of training on a DF, with only 1-1/2 on a bent, thus I'm not sure I gave my muscles enough time to adapt to a different muscle use, thus the perception that I work harder to attain and hold a particular speed on the bent as compared to the DF.

Bottom line is that while bents make a good choice for someone who has a difficult time getting a comfortable riding position on a DF and/or has physical problems that make a DF painful, they are exceptionally comfortable, terrific on long flat rides, and are a ton of fun, they still climb poorly as compared to a road DF and have remarkably different handling and balance characteristics that can be slower to master. They are also a PITA to service and transport and make lousy mountain bikes.

Steve B.
Jan 27, 2003 8:08 PM
Showing up and calling people names probably is getting off on the wrong foot ("elitist roadie snobs"???).

Nonetheless, I have seen many a bent blow by me on the flats. They are signficantly faster there. They are also significantly slower climbing. They seem to lose more climbing than they gain on the flats. In every ultra event I've done where bents participate too, the bents are way, way back after a few hills. That's not to say an incredible rider wouldn't do better, but those are the observations I've made.

Bents don't play well with others. They don't appear to be as stable, and they aren't meant for drafting. Road bikes are better in both aspects. Also, some bents are so low to the ground they almost get run over by cars who aren't or can't see down that low. I was just talking to an ultra event organizer who almost ran one over in his own event. That's a legit fear.

To each his own. No need to feel superior or second class.

consider this....Bruno S
Jan 27, 2003 8:31 PM
'bents are more expensive and more difficult to transport and store. They may be more difficult to maintain too. Explanations of why they are not so popular.

I ride with a friend that has recumbents only and yes they are faster on the flats and low grade downhills. When the downhills gets too twisty the roadbike handles better because you can shift your weight in any direction and its wheelbase is shorter.
re: roadbikes are slower than recumbentswasabekid
Jan 27, 2003 8:33 PM
"Why are they so unpopular compared with upright roadbikes?"


The very people that you are trying to insult are the very same ones you want to impress and convince to advance your cause. How do you expect that to work?

Do us an honest favor:
Ride a 70mi reasonably varied (flat, rolliers & hilly) terrain, once on 'bent and next one on a roadbike, then tell us which ride was faster.

Cannondales are the slowest bikes! That's why they're BANKRUPT!philthy underwear
Jan 27, 2003 9:24 PM
'bent observationstarwheel
Jan 28, 2003 5:28 AM
I don't own a recumbent and have never ridden one, but I've got nothing against them. However, I have ridden on some extended bike tours in which there were a lot of recumbents, and I have observed the following things:
-- They are much slower on the hills, which is important if you live in a hilly area like NC. Almost all of the recumbents I have seen are in flat Midwestern states, which has to tell you something. I can't remember ever being passed by a recumbent, but I have passed lots of them, and I am no racer.
-- They are harder for cars to see since they are so low to the ground. Some 'bent rider mount flags on their bikes to improve visibility, but that must add a lot of wind drag.
-- They are awful to draft behind, not only because they block little wind but because they are twitchier and don't seem to hold a line very well.
-- Recumbent riders seem to have a lot of fun and appear to ride more for the adventure than for speed. They seem to be very comfortable for long hours on the bike, and the owners I have talked to confirm this. Most of the 'bent riders I have talked to bought their bikes because they couldn't get comfortable on conventional saddles and/or frames.

My conclusion: I would consider a recumbent for a touring bike or if I lived in a flat area with few hills, but I wouldn't expect to participate in many group rides unless it was with other 'bent riders.
'bent group ride = Bumper cars? nmSpunout
Jan 28, 2003 5:46 AM
Recumbents are cool...Uncle Tim
Jan 28, 2003 5:46 AM
...but they have their drawbacks, too.

The other posters have pointed out the obvious disadvantages (slow climbing, hard to draft, twitchy handling, rear view issues, etc) but there is one major disadvantage not mentioned yet:

You can't jump obstacles. If you're zooming down hill and come upon a big obstacle of some kind, jumping is not an option. The recumbent guy has to take it head on and hope for the best.

All in all, bents are still cycling. If you want to ride a recumbent, do so, but don't get superior.
Alas they do not work on our rides at all.MB1
Jan 28, 2003 6:21 AM
Generally on our rides we are going to be riding on dirt for at least a few miles-not a good place for recumbents at least as they are currently designed. In addition the lower head height that 'bent riders have reduces the views of the beautiful scenery that I enjoy so much.

Of course in some places on some rides 'bents are faster than standard bicycles. Some 'bent riders are faster than some other cyclists. Some aren't.

The bottom line is that we are all cyclists trying to find enjoyment and peace in what we do. To try to compare your enjoyment to someone elses enjoyment ignores the commonality we all share as cyclists.

love and happiness
re: roadbikes are slower than recumbentsohmk1
Jan 28, 2003 6:27 AM
why do you care if more people "come to their senses." That is an elitist view as well. I like the fact that bents are sort of "underground."
It's like a great secret. So please don't let the word out.
yeah, but you still look like a dork!(nm)merckx56
Jan 28, 2003 6:47 AM
Different types of rides for different types of people.MR_GRUMPY
Jan 28, 2003 7:13 AM
Recumbent riders are not the same as bike riders. They think just a little different.I would like to say that they are just strange, but then I think what the general public thinks of bike racers.(Really strange)
Before we all start pointing fingers at each other, try to put yourself in the other persons shoes. Yes, road cyclist like to put other people down, and yes, recumbents look a little strange.
Ps. Each side of this discussion is allowed to think that the other side is nuts, but try to keep it to yourself.
Different types of rides for different types of people.CFBlue
Jan 28, 2003 7:28 AM
Gee, Grumpy, you take all the fun out of it :-)

After almost 300 miles of bent riding I can say there is for me, one big difference between ridng any of my uprights and any my bents. I have almost never finished a 50+ mile ride on the upright and not been glad it was over. Proud of my accomplishment, yes, but glad to be off the bike. So far the two fifty mile rides on the bent were too short, I just don't want to get off. I don't take breaks unless I need something off the bike. I just sit there is abject comfort and spin those pedals enjoying watching things go by, not the pavement 6' in front of me. Average speeds are very close, and the bent is getting faster becasue I am getting used to dealing with it.

Just too much fun to be legal
FC508 records: race bike=28 hrs; bent=41 hrs nmDougSloan
Jan 28, 2003 7:20 AM
FC508 records: race bike=28 hrs; bent=41 hrs nmCFBlue
Jan 28, 2003 7:49 AM
Doug, what is this reference to? Not being big into the racing scene, this is a very obscure reference, and I'd like to learn more

Jan 28, 2003 7:53 AM
Furnace Creek 508 -- 508 mile / 35,000 feet climbing solo race in southern California deserts:

I did it once solo and once as a 4 man team.

re: FC508cyclopathic
Jan 28, 2003 8:29 AM

you should come by to NY and ride Quadzilla sometime. THough it is shorter (400mi) and less climbing (27,000') according to people who ridden both it is a harder ride. No big climbs like FC508, just many small/steep.

here's the link:
More record data for Dougohmk1
Jan 28, 2003 8:05 AM
The following speed records were broken using M5 Recumbents:

World record 1 hour gentleman unfaired
June 3 2000: At the one hour race unfaired during Cycle Vision (Lelystad, the Netherlands) Leo de Nooyer from Middelburg establishes a new world record by riding 53.44 kilometres. Despite a hard wind of 4 Bft!

World record 1 hour ladies unfaired

June 3 2000: Therese Schuit from Oost-Souburg (Netherlands) sets a new world record in the one hour race by riding a stunning 46.42 km with her titanium M5 Low Racer.

World record 100 kilometres gentleman faired
100 kilometers: 1 hour, 23 minutes en 46 seconds, by Bram Moens in September 1997, with fully faired M5 Low Racer. Location: testtrack RDW in Lelystad, Netherlands.

World record 24 hour gentleman faired
24 hours: 1021,359 kilometer, ridden by Axel Felau on May 5/6, 1995 with M5 Low Racer and M5 Carboné fully faired.
World record 12 hour gentleman faired
12 hours: 607,617 kilometer, ridden by Axel Felau on April 14, 1995 with M5 Low Racer and M5 Carboné fully faired.
World record 1000 kilometres gentleman faired
1000 kilometres: 23 hours 21 minutes en 34 seconds, by Axel Felau on May 5/6, 1995 with M5 Low Racer and M5 Carboné fully faired.

World record 1 hour gentleman Handbike unfaired
36,847 kilometers, by Kees van Breukelen in 1995, unfaired two-wheeled, arm-powered.

World record 1 hour gentleman faired
One hourrecord: 77,123 km, by Bram Moens in 1994 with fully faired M5 Low Racer. Location: testtrack RDW in Lelystad, Netherlands. Record is unbeaten untill 1996.
Other records & achievements
Non stop race Trondheim - Oslo: 13 hours, 46 minutes, by Bram Moens in 1997, with fully faired M5 Low Racer.
European record 200 metres sprint, flying start: 72,4 km/uur, by Bram Moens with unfaired M5 Low Racer in August 1992. Location: Yreka (USA) on an altitude of 1000 metres.
no doubtDougSloan
Jan 28, 2003 8:24 AM
No doubt they are faster in some circumstances, particularly a track. In the "real world" where most of us ride, though, things are different.

Actually, Michael Secrest has the 24 hour record:

Michael Secrest, Phoenix, AZ; 26 Apr 90 drafting 18-wheel truck Motor Speedway, AZ: 1216.81 miles (1958.2 km) / 50.70 mph ave.

maybe, butRJF
Jan 28, 2003 7:30 AM
Hey, if you like a recumbant, god bless you. They have zero appeal to me -- to each his own.

I wonder where you can get some cleats installed on a pair of Birkenstocks, though. ;)
and don't let that ponytail get caught in the rear wheel nmDougSloan
Jan 28, 2003 7:42 AM
I think a recumbant would be a great commuter...joekm
Jan 28, 2003 8:03 AM
Comfortable, easy to load, and faster (on the flats anyway) than road bike. Although, I understand they don't climb as well.

I've often though there should be a recumbant racing class using four man teams instead of the typical nine. Then again, I also think a male/female tandem class would be neat as well.
So, why is it that.....Alexx
Jan 28, 2003 8:07 AM
...every club ride I've ever been to, the 'bents are always bringing up the rear?? Granted, a couple of them are encumbered by the extra weight of tools, hydration systems, and waist-length beards, but geez-the first hill, all the 'bents get dropped big-time.
Thanks to all for discussing this topic....cyclist of all trades
Jan 28, 2003 8:34 AM
i will concede:
1. you can't jump things-as a long time mtb racer, this one bugs me a lot.
2. hills and sprints are slower
3. everyone should enjoy what they ride and not feel superior. I wrote the 1st entry to inspire discussion, but those "few elitst roady snobs" do exist and they are like racist of born agains.
4. drafting a bent sucks. only if you are an upright however. generaly, bent riders should stay away from upright pace lines because they don't fit in.

i will not concede:
1. bents being slower in a good overall 70 mile ride. if there were more fit bent riders that cared about speed they could easily draft each other and keep up with the really fit guys riding DFs.
2. the whole transportation and difficult to see spiel. if anything cars would notice something different up ahead and be more aware.
3. the "looking like a dork" comments. like i said the only people i've ever heard say this a those few"elitist roady snobs". they know who they are.

in the end, enjoy what you want. just be open minded. I questioned this road vs. bent idea, because it's clear to me that the appeal of the sleak roadbike is a lot about speed, and i noticed my speed on the bent was really fast in most situations. My eyes were opened this last year after 14 years on uprights and just one season on my bent. I can't wait for another 1-3 years after I have developed the muscles for the bent like I have for the DF. It will also be interesting to see the evolution of bents happen. when they start to weigh closer to what the DFs weigh, the climbing times will improve.
Thanks to all for discussing this topic....wasabekid
Jan 28, 2003 8:54 AM
Your reply shows rationality and reasonableness. However, your unwillingness to concede the 70mi "overall terrain" ride is not justifiable because you are changing the parameters that I specifically designed to be constant: YOU- the rider. Not a strong bent rider vs. weak roadbike rider or vice versa -- but you.

What I'm willing to concede is that you will only get stronger as you put in more 'bent time. But whether you will be a better 'bent rider than a roadie... this I would really like to know.

So in any event that you get there please provide us a good honest report.


Let's see. Heavier, more expensive, less visible to drivers...Lon Norder
Jan 28, 2003 9:12 AM
can't stand up for extra power, very slow uphill, harder to transport, can't bunnyhop over obstacles...
Let's see. Heavier, more expensive, less visible to drivers...ohmk1
Jan 28, 2003 9:52 AM
There seems to be a misunderstanding...
More expensive? Than what a Serrotta Ottrot?
Harder to transport? I don't get that one. There's some long wheelbase bents and 3 wheeled bents, but even they can fit on either a roof rack or rear rack.
Heavier? What's the typical touring road bike weigh, with racks, fenders, etc...
Less visible to drivers? I got hit by a car, on a perfectly clear day while riding my litespeed. Drivers seem to give bents much more room as they drive by.
Yes, they are slower uphills, but not very slow-again this depends on the rider. Remember, most bent riders, are doing it because of comfort, and fun. In this the recumbent is reigns supreme.
As for bunny hopping, in 18 years of riding my road bike, I have yet the need to bunny hop-where do you ride?
Let's see. Heavier, more expensive, less visible to drivers...Lon Norder
Jan 28, 2003 10:55 AM
A decent entry level recumbent is more expensive than a decent entry level regular bike. It's economy of scale. There are no recumbent makers that rival Trek, Cannondale, etc. in sales volume. Almost all are boutique.

A sub-20 lb regular bike is the norm. The recumbents I've picked up seem at least 25 lbs, maybe 30.

Bunnyhopping can save your rear when potholes or other stuff on the road catch you by surprise. In the last two years I've bunnyhopped over two water bottles that were dropped in front of me. Plus, bunnyhopping over cattle guards is fun!
Nothing against them...getoffmywheel
Jan 28, 2003 9:12 AM
The aerodynamic properties are interesting. Wonder how they would top out indoors? I've run into a few on occassion, some like the comfort and some get into racing and appreciate the performance. I talk to just about anyone on the road. But to me they are just a novelty. They don't belong in group dynamics or in UCI events. I have no problem having sustained efforts with the folks that ride them on occassion to see who gives out first.

Don't come on a roadbike site and make generalizations about "traditional cyclists" who work hard training, and are fast and confident enough to kick your ass on the open road.
they do hold some record, but in modified fashionniteschaos
Jan 28, 2003 12:10 PM
The land speed record for a bike (not drafting) at almost 80mph is held by a fully inclosed recumbant. The one-hour distance record is also held by a fully faired recumbant. I wonder how one would do in the Bike Ride Across America Race. I also guess that thier prowess on the flats is why they are so popular in Florida.

I've seen a few in Atlanta around the perimeter, but never in traffic with the 'uprights' along side me. And again, I know this isn't everyone, but you need to get the loud guys off those things because most of (80% I'd say) of the guys I have seen on a 'bent were fat. And all that I've seen were graying. Not that being an old cyclist is bad, but most of the 'bent riders I have seen have been yuppies, ponytails included.

You want respect, start getting more involved in racing. I don't believe fast until I see fast. When I ease by someone that says his bike is faster than mine, my responce is always, "Not while you're on it." But that goes for everyone.
Bigwheels rule.lonebikeroftheapocalypse
Jan 29, 2003 7:33 AM
Greenmachines were pretty neat too. Doing a powerslide while laying flat on your back was awesome. Nothing went down a flight of stairs like a Bigwheel. I want to see any of you roadbikers/bentriders do that.

I'm all about the front wheel burnout! (nm)niteschaos
Jan 29, 2003 9:52 AM