Get Bent! Recumbent that is! The Fun Way to Ride a Bike!

Man on Recumbent Bicycle\Exercise is essential to fitness and optimal health. My exercise of choice is cycling so I want to share it with you and how it can help you. I can no longer ride the bicycle due to the potential risk in jarring my degenerated neck and making it worse. This was a big blow to my fitness regime as I love the sport of recreational cycling. The photo pictured here is of a friend on his carbon fiber “Carbent” brand recumbent bicycle.

Recumbent Bicycle Riding for Health and Fitness

Prior to my neck injury I was a cycling fanatic. I still am. If you could see the pleasure and smile on my face as I ride you would understand. I have full Doctor and Physical Therapist permission – actually encouragement to get back on the bike! It’s hard but I am trying my best to work myself back into shape through cycling.

Cycling and Back and Neck Injury am I crazy?

Nope! Perfectly sane (well at least in my own mind). And I know what you must be thinking – back pain, neck pain, and riding a bicycle do not mix! And you are right and wrong. You see I do not ride an ordinary bicycle. I ride a recumbent bicycle! Because I am so passionate about riding I created a site to list all the manufactures of Recumbent bicycles it’s called Recumbent Bicycle Source. I would encourage you to visit and learn how comfortable riding a bicycle can be. And if you are worried about your age or balance you are worrying needlessly, because you can buy a recumbent trike!

So what is a Recumbent Bicycle?

Simply put a recumbent bicycle is the most comfortable bicycle made. Instead of the traditional “Diamond Frame Wedgie”. I bet you can guess why they call them Wedgies! That’s right it’s that tiny piece of leather, plastic, or whatever it’s made of that is wedged tightly into your private parts. In the bicycle world they call this a seat. In my world I call it a torture device! After years of pounding my body on a Mountain Bike (Wedgie seat) I decided my body was ready for a smoother more comfortable and pleasant cycling experience. So I researched and invested in a Recumbent Bicycle.

Many think of a recumbent bicycle as a “Lawn Chair” with wheels. If you are old like me you might remember having a plastic “Big Wheel” as a child. Yes it’s kind of like that. But until you have ridden one you just can’t know the freedom, fun, and pure excitement of cycling pain free! Many of the Recumbent Bicycles and Recumbent Trikes really are that comfortable. Some of the higher performance style “bents” are not as comfortable, but still light years ahead of the old diamond frame bikes.

You rest your back comfortably in a nice wide seat eliminating the need for padded crotch shorts and special gear. Your head and neck are upright eliminating the awkward (and dangerous) head forward position traditional bicycles cause. It’s very bad for your posture to be bent over and then force your head up so you can see.

Cycling and Safety

“Bents” as they are affectionately called are actually much safer than traditional bicycles. Because you ride closer to the ground if you do crash you typically slide on your side as opposed to being thrown over the handle bars. I have crashed on some slick pavement in the rain (I got caught in a summer downpour a mile from home) and I just skidded. There is some danger of leg injury if you crash at high speed (and always wear a helmet regardless of type of bicycle), but it’s much less than on an upright. There is also some danger that cars will not see you as easily because you are lower to the ground so invest in a bicycle flag and perhaps a helmet mirror (The small mirrors that attach to your helmet and look kind of like the Dentist’s mirror). Ride at your most comfortable pace and get out and enjoy cycling again.

What about performance are they fast?

Guess what? The land speed record for a bicycle was set on a specially modified recumbent bicycle (Just over 80mph!). Once you get above 20mph your body position and wind resistance will play a significant role in how fast you can go. Recumbent Bicycles allow you to ride just as fast if not faster than on an ordinary bike! In physical terms it takes an exponential amount of effort to increase even a few extra miles per hour because the wind is making you work so much harder. On a recumbent your body (Aerodynamic Profile) causes much less wind resistance so you can go faster with less effort.

In fact on my bike I have little or no trouble keeping up with the “Bike Jocks” (You know the guys all decked out in $100’s of dollars worth of special clothing). And I’m not a spandex kind of guy. I like to wear regular clothes, I like to ride for fun. I usually cruise along at 16 to 18mph. On my highly specialized Mountain Bike (which I no longer ride) it was a chore to maintain 15mph on the street. So I actually go faster with much less effort now! In fact it’s sometimes fun to pass them just to see the looks on their faces. I can go as fast as 30mph on the flats for about a mile before I get so tired I have to slow down (well at least I could when I was in shape). Try that on an upright!

Have you ever seen a smile on one of those “other” guys faces? They look like they are in pain all the time – because in a sense they are… their bodies are in awkward and uncomfortable positions. They have all the gear but are they having any fun?

Why Do Recumbent Bikes Cost so Much?

This is the only downside, they tend to cost a bit more. They use the same components as “ordinary” bicycles, but there is more material and more design issues to get the geometry just right. But the real culprit is there is such limited supply (few manufacturers) that they have to charge more to stay in business. And the quality of the average recumbent is much better than an average diamond frame bicycle.

Happy riding!

Posted by on Jul 11th, 2008 and filed under Exercise / Fitness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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