Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
MikeSSS   1 kW

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Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by MikeSSS » Nov 14 2020 2:29am

This year I've been on 3 different conversion ebikes for several hundred miles each, here's some observations.

First was a no suspension mid 70's bike that was muchly like a late 80's Hardrock Sport. I mounted riser bars with some back reach to get a more upright position and put on a wider C9 seat. This position was pretty good for riding but the seat was too high for stopping on uneven ground that has holes where you need to place a foot, I had a few falls when stopping. Eventually I lowered the seat to reduce falling but at the sacrifice of proper leg extension. The back of the thighs forced me forward on the seat because of contact with the wide part of the seat, resulting in less seat comfort. This rigid bike ride was too harsh. Total miles on this bike were probably 6 or 7 thousand over six years.

Second was a Jamis Hudson, a crank forward and seat closer to the ground bike, much like a Townie. Again I used riser bars with back sweep and a wide C9 saddle on this longer wheelbase, rigid bike. Because the cranks are less under the seat and farther forward than the first bike, there was less sliding forward on the wide C9 seat compared to the first bike and or other conventional bikes. It was easier to touch the ground, but not flat footed. Leg extension was adequate and it was easy to pedal hard and generate power. Handling was little different than normal bikes, even when pushed hard in cornering. Like a Townie, the Hudson carries a smaller percentage of total weight on the front tire and a higher percentage on the rear. Traction was not a problem for my direct drive front hub motor but is a problem on my wife's geared front hub motor on her Townie. Jolt from the front wheel, with its heavy DD front hub was very uncomfortable through the handle bars. Seat location is farther aft, closer to the rear axle and so jolt to the seat and spine was worse than on a normal bike. A cheap, simple suspension seatpost helped a lot. Standing over bumps was never a problem, even though the seat is farther aft from the bottom bracket than on normal bikes. I rode around 1500 miles on the Hudson.

Third is a 1997 Mongoose full suspension mountain bike, it was made for a rider leaning forward a lot seating position. A rear geared hubmotor is used, the rear suspension tames shock into the seat very well. The front suspension is stiffer but helps a lot. It's not plush ... until you ride off a curb and then it is just great. Going from crank forward to a more conventional crank location, much more under the seat, really aggravated the thighs forcing the rider forward on the wide C9 seat problem. I installed riser bars with back sweep and ride with an upright position on this FS bike. Crank to seat relationship is wrong for this rider position. But, full suspension is really nice. Because suspension sags on bumps, the bottom bracket is higher than on rigid bikes, if the seat is adjusted for proper leg extension, falling when stopped is a big problem, especially so off road on very uneven terrain and worse on steep and uneven climbs. As a result I've lowered the seat but now have too low seat to bottom bracket relationship and risk damage to the knees.

Present thoughts on an ideal bike, one that is low risk and capable of long rides. Crank forward really enables proper leg extension while being able to get feet on irregular ground when stopped. It also makes using a wide seat without slide forward problems possible, if there's enough forward in the crank forward. Suspension is a big deal in preserving your spine and joints, age happens. Suspension seatposts can work very well, so can suspension stems, I have a few thousand miles on suspension stems and they can help a lot, especially when using aero bars on a road bike. Dog Man Dan has done a great job explaining the advantages of a long tail rear triangle, specifically changing shock to the seat into a rocking motion of the whole bike.

So, here goes: Day 6 makes the Dream 8, it appears to be pedal forward more than a Townie and looks like it has the longest tail of any crank forward bike. It also looks like it has enough room for a Thudbuster LT suspension seatpost. The far crank forward allows the use of a wide seat and a seatback is an option. It has 8 speeds in the rear but looks like a three speed crank and derailleur can be fitted to the front. There is no front suspension though. Using a light rear hub motor instead of a heavy DD front hub reduces the need for front suspension, but doesn't eliminate it. This bike is pretty close though.

If the Dream 8 had front suspension, a longer tail rear suspension and three x eight gearing it would be close to perfect for a light geared rear hub motor.

My longest ride lately is 50 miles, limited by crotch pain, the right bike could remedy that.

When your crotch is gone but you wanna ride on in, no pain

Just remember this fact, that you want your back in, no pain

The crotch don't like, it don't like, it don't like, no pain

OK, what frames, bikes and riding positions work for you. Please mention your approximate age, riding terrain and miles per ride.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by Balmorhea » Nov 14 2020 3:26am

Day 6 Dream 8 won't help with ride quality, unless that's about picking up a hot new octagenarian ride with your sweet geriatric bike. A ride position like that prevents you from standing up on the pedals when things get rough. And standing up is the best strategy when things get rough.

I find my own personal sweet spot for being behind the pedals enough for comfort and above the pedals enough to stand up on a moment's notice is a 70 degree seat angle. Not too surprisingly, that's more or less the historical median since the advent of the safety bicycle. I mostly use handlebars in the range of 3" above seat level, and I always use a pretty wide saddle.

There's a relationship between handlebar height (relative to seat height) and seat tube angle. The more you pitch your torso forward towards low-set handlebars, the more it makes sense to pitch the pedals back with a steep seat angle, to maintain a reasonably open angle at the hips. You see this in all kinds of bikes-- triathlon bikes where the bars are low and the back is kept as level as possible and the seat tube is nearly vertical, all the way to Dutch bikes where the bars are set close and high, and the seat angle is slack. The Electra Townie and similar feet-forward bikes represent a step beyond Dutch bikes in this regard.

In practice, I think Dutch bikes will continue to stake down the reasonable extreme to how laid back a practical bike gets, because that formula was arrived at over a long period of time by people who ride quite a lot, slowly, in normal street clothes and rain gear.
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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by dogman dan » Nov 14 2020 6:51am

You just explained why I got a welder and started experimenting.

I never got around to one of the projects I had in mind, making this one into a longer tail, or at least putting a cheap steel rear pivot shock from an old mtb on it.
6-1-2015 Re bike with dd hub..JPG
6-1-2015 Re bike with dd hub..JPG (177.75 KiB) Viewed 1139 times
I liked riding this bike a lot, but it just hammered my old long ago injured back. I gotta be able to put more weight on the pedals, even on a longtail.

We copied this bike very closely, when building the frame of Amberwolfs SB cruiser trike, which did have a much longer tail.

Sounds like you'd be happy though with a lengthened pedal forward of any kind. If you slide forward on the seat, you just have it tilted a bit too far nose down. To get your feet on the ground, you just get off the saddle. But I dig it what you want, I really liked just relaxing in that semi bent bikes seat and putting feet flat on the ground at stop signs.

There is a bike, cant recall the name, that is semi recumbent, and has a rear shock.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by MikeSSS » Nov 14 2020 11:39am

Bike E is the one, it has rear suspension. A rider living nearby has one with a rear hub motor and a 20 ah battery. He rides pretty fast and told me it works very well. His longest ride, if memory serves, is around 70 miles. Like Dogman's black bike in the pic, the bike E rider can't unweight and stand on the pedals. I'm thinking the rear swingarm on a bike E is steel, if so it would be a candidate for lengthening the tail.

It's surprisingly easy to unweight and stand on the pedals when riding a Townie or Hudson, though it doesn't look like it would be. I have not ridden a Day 6, so I don't know about unweighting on that. Townies are available with a front suspension fork and three on the front, add a Thudbuster LT, rear hub motor and it would be pretty close but still lacking a suspended long tail. At this point, there just is not an ideal bike for comfort and distance.

Not octo yet, 5.75 years to go, not planning on getting there either. That said, racking up a last American century ride (or two or three) would be nice. I just don't want to do that with burning boots and blazing saddle.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by donn » Nov 14 2020 12:58pm

MikeSSS wrote:
Nov 14 2020 11:39am
Bike E is the one, it has rear suspension. A rider living nearby has one with a rear hub motor and a 20 ah battery. He rides pretty fast and told me it works very well. His longest ride, if memory serves, is around 70 miles. Like Dogman's black bike in the pic, the bike E rider can't unweight and stand on the pedals. I'm thinking the rear swingarm on a bike E is steel, if so it would be a candidate for lengthening the tail.
I can't imagine that it would help to modify the rear swingarm, but I guess you never know until you try it. I personally am just delighted with my Burley Limbo, which is kind of a similar but larger 26/20 configuration, with rear suspension. The tail lengthening I'd wish for is the upper suspended frame, so there'd be a place there to carry stuff, but that's a minor thing, someday I'll figure out a reasonably sturdy rack extension. The closest current production bicycle I know of is the Canadian Maxarya Ray.

While I'd like this bicycle on its own, too, and I have another non-electric recumbent that's the only other bicycle I ride, the addition of a motor really resolves the recumbent's disadvantage that you can't stand on the pedals. The ideal electric bicycle.

The "crank forward" design looks like a severe ergonomic compromise to me. I'm not a competitive rider at all, but it's interesting to hear from competitive riders because they need a good design, and I sure don't hear about them riding those things. I do however appreciate a seat position well above the cranks, like there's a happy medium here.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by MikeSSS » Nov 15 2020 1:53am

The Limbo and the Ray 2 look very interesting, both have rear suspension. Rear suspension really tames the additional shock caused by having a rear hub motor. A suspension seatpost can provide some rear suspension effect.

The two bikes you mention look like they would work very well with a rear hub motor.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by Stealth_Chopper » Nov 15 2020 7:52am

I think:
There's no substitute for starting with full suspension, which transmits less impact to your hands, wrists, butt, AND feet!

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by MadRhino » Nov 15 2020 8:40am

Stealth_Chopper wrote:
Nov 15 2020 7:52am
I think:
There's no substitute for starting with full suspension, which transmits less impact to your hands, wrists, butt, AND feet!
+1

I would add that there’s no substitute for proper riding position and balance. Any derivative is a compromise to achieve a specialty, at the cost of poor general handling.
Make it fool-proof, and I will make a better fool.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by donn » Nov 15 2020 11:15am

In a recumbent design, the farther out the front wheel, the less suspension matters out there. There are a few recumbent trail riding nuts, and they sometimes rig up front suspension, but on the road ... I have sometimes found that I've been riding around with the front tire practically flat, there's so little weight on it. Weight is all on the rear. When I bought my motor, I put it on a classic recumbent, but quickly decided I'd enjoy suspension. I have a whole lot of sketches sitting around contemplating a front suspension mod, but once I had the bicycle ... meh, no need at all.

(And then the mechanics of front suspension is awkward for them - for off road, I think "above seat" steering is universal, and the typical "direct" above seat steering combined with a long wheelbase means the head tube and fork have to be tilted at an unusual angle. Sometimes they use the usual telescoping forks, but I've seen pictures of a sort of hinged fork that apparently flexes at the crown. In contrast, long wheelbase recumbents for road riding may have handlebars under the seat, with a linkage rod driving an ordinary fork.)

The BikeE has rear suspension, as mentioned above - but only on some models, so that's something to look out for

Some recumbent designs are available from the factory with front suspension, but they're short wheelbase designs, where your feet are in front and the wheel is under your knees. I've never ridden a short wheelbase. These days they're popular among recumbent riders, usually with a very reclined seat position, not so much like the "lawn chair on wheels" that I favor.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by kcuf » Nov 15 2020 5:27pm

tried everything

went fat tire years ago



10-13psi soak up harsh pavement

nothing complicated or too costly


good shocks/forks expensive

and sucks mounting battery


limited tire tread choices tho

vee rubber makes rib tread for felt


low pressure fat tires

handle all terrain


stepper seat post

offers both lo/hi position


still fat and happy
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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by dogman dan » Nov 16 2020 6:56am

Re reading your first post, it does sound like your biggest problem is moving your favorite , but sucking, seat from bike to bike. Its too fat for a really long ride.

When I was doing long rides a lot, I searched hard for an ideal seat. It had to be a bit fatter and cushier than a road bike or MTB seat, but not as fat as a cruiser seat or it would rub my thighs too much. The kind I found ideal was a bit hard to find, but eventually one would turn up on e bay when I needed one for another bike.

And for that 70 miler, not being pedal forward was a key feature. For me at least, you still need to ride like a normal road bike. The main reason you can stand that road bike seat is you don't put much more than 25% of your weight on it. Your weight is on the pedals. My back pain was the main thing that made pedal forward bikes impossible for me, on a ride over 10 miles.

But I'm kind of long legged, and not all that fat. I'm overweight, but only about 190 back then. So not having that much weight on the saddle in the first place because I'm riding like a roadie and standing the pedals makes it easy to unsaddle and put a foot on the ground when I have to stop. And on those 70 mile rides,, there is no stop signs for 70 miles out here in the west.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by donn » Nov 16 2020 10:41am

dogman dan wrote:
Nov 16 2020 6:56am
So not having that much weight on the saddle in the first place because I'm riding like a roadie and standing the pedals makes it easy to unsaddle and put a foot on the ground when I have to stop.
Well, I think that's how you do it, normally, on a bicycle.

Motorcycle, you put your leg out from your seated position.

Bicycle, you step down off the saddle, and back up when you're under way. Of course not on my bicycle, but it's more problem than a virtue - the step-back-up part of the program, on a common "diamond frame" bicycle, is also where you
  1. balance on one foot on one pedal while you leave the ground on the other foot, which ... I'm not sure exactly how it works, but it feels like a kind of 3 point balance, much easier than the two point balance I need to establish while starting off from a sitting position, and
  2. put your weight on the drive so you can exert the initial force necessary to take off, much easier on your knees than what I have to do.

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dogman dan   100 GW

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by dogman dan » Nov 17 2020 7:52am

We all have our individual physical limitations. Mine were not too overweight to stand the pedals all day, but too weak to pedal hard even 10 min. I just had no problems with unsaddling to stop. It gets much harder on a pedal forward, but with pedal forward you should be able to flat foot at least on one side while sitting.

Pedal forward just killed my back, that's why I could not ride the bent very far on local shitty pavement. But my main point is that I had to weld up a custom longtail frame before I could say my bike truly fit my body, and its physical limits enough for 60 plus miles. Other bikes I could stand for 60, but not more. That custom bike I could ride 80 miles.

But things change, I got much healthier over ten years. Then my favorite bike burned my garage down. Currently I love to do 250 mile days, on a BMW touring motorcycle. :roll: It was just easier than starting over with the touring e bike thing now that I have the strength to ride a big motorcycle, and gas is under two bucks. And its pretty comfortable, at least for the first 4-5 hours anyway.

Still have a nice longtail cruiser e bike, but my last battery just conked out. I'm back to pedaling bikes with my new health for now.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by HK12K » Nov 17 2020 4:42pm

I picked up a Giant Revive for commuter duty. It's extremely comfortable, I'll give it that. Pedal forward but can still transfer weight onto them when necessary. Not the most aerodynamic seating position of the semi recumbents but good visibility. Have only had it for a week or so and am still getting used to the handling but not bad all in all. Gets a lot of positive feedback from random people as well.

This one came with a 24v Hilltopper kit installed. Underwhelming compared to my Raptor with QS205/Max-e, but it gets me around with minimal effort. Albeit kinda slowly. A battery and controller upgrade should pick up the pace a bit though.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by neptronix » Nov 17 2020 8:20pm

Semi recumbent/CLWB is the master race of all bikes.

:thumb: They usually have 20" wheels so you can run motorcycle tires if you want for super duper flat prevention.
:thumb: Anyone familiar with riding an upright bike can easily learn how to ride one.
:thumb: ~20% more aerodynamic than an upright. Go faster per watt and further.
:thumb: Your body weight rests on your butt and back, just like a car. Massively more comfortable than an upright.
:thumb: Most semi recumbents put you at the height of a car, which = nice visibility.
:thumb: Does not have a negative stigma associated with it - actually some people think they're cool.
:thumb: Models with rear suspension have awesome ride quality and stability.

Downsides? they can be a pain in the ass to convert and they often have weird proprietary parts.. but not all of them. They also tend to take up more space.

I went semi recumbent after 20 years of upright riding and have never looked back.
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My first major build: 1.6kW 8T MAC motor on a Trek 4500 MTB.
Monster MTB: Leafmotor 1500w @ 4kW on a Turner O2 full suspension.
The monster scooter: Heavy duty Cannondale semi recumbent - under construction.
Blue Dream: Maxaraya FS semi recumbent and high efficiency mid-drive - under construction.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by Balmorhea » Nov 17 2020 9:42pm

neptronix wrote:
Nov 17 2020 8:20pm
Semi recumbent/CLWB is the master race of all bikes.
Clearly. That's why it has prevailed in the consumer marketplace and in cycle racing for such as long time. The wide adoption of CLWB bikes by military forces surely didn't hurt.
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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by neptronix » Nov 17 2020 9:53pm

McDonalds has the best burger for sale because they sell the most of them too, right?

:mrgreen:
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." - Dalai Lama

My first major build: 1.6kW 8T MAC motor on a Trek 4500 MTB.
Monster MTB: Leafmotor 1500w @ 4kW on a Turner O2 full suspension.
The monster scooter: Heavy duty Cannondale semi recumbent - under construction.
Blue Dream: Maxaraya FS semi recumbent and high efficiency mid-drive - under construction.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by neptronix » Nov 17 2020 9:56pm

Also the reason they never made it in sports is because the racing organizations banned them ( and any other major aerodynamic aid ) because recumbents and superman bikes are too fast :lol:

The recumbent ban happened in the 30's.. look it up :wink:
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." - Dalai Lama

My first major build: 1.6kW 8T MAC motor on a Trek 4500 MTB.
Monster MTB: Leafmotor 1500w @ 4kW on a Turner O2 full suspension.
The monster scooter: Heavy duty Cannondale semi recumbent - under construction.
Blue Dream: Maxaraya FS semi recumbent and high efficiency mid-drive - under construction.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by donn » Nov 17 2020 11:11pm

Well, they have been excluded from racing, and that could have made some difference in popularity 50 years ago when people thought racing bikes were cool. If they'd really been excluded just because they were too fast, though, they'd be more popular than they are. I believe part of it is actually that they're going to cause a lot of crashes if they mix up with a pack of aggressive racers. Whatever. In any case, whatever their merits as a human powered vehicle, put a motor on them and they really shine.

I don't know if there's any particular reason the CLWB format is superior to regular LWB. On the down side, CLWB often have 16" front wheels, so the crank doesn't have to be too high; but the slightly shorter wheelbase may be a little more maneuverable. The problem with LWB designs is that none of them have rear suspension. If I were 1) more ambitious, and 2) thought I could join aluminum box frame members, I'd think about lengthening a BikeE on the front and going to 20" front wheel. I'm sure I've seen pictures of this, but have lost track of it.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by markz » Nov 17 2020 11:27pm

Compact Long Wheelbase (CLWB) looks like it would be interesting to ride. I've always been a fan of the Townie type bicycles.

Ideal bicycle for me would be a fat bike cruiser style with 4" between bb and wheel, having 3x7 drive train, suspension fork, normal qr dropouts. I'd install 24"x3" rear and 26"x2.50" front and a really good quality springy seat.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by Balmorhea » Nov 18 2020 3:05am

neptronix wrote:
Nov 17 2020 9:56pm
Also the reason they never made it in sports is because the racing organizations banned them ( and any other major aerodynamic aid ) because recumbents and superman bikes are too fast :lol:
But... 'bents win all the major cycling events! Of the many major cycle manufacturers, the most reputable ones all make recumbents as their flagship models.

Also, the most capable and experienced people in the cycling field all ride recumbents, because they're the best. It really should go without saying.
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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by ZeroEm » Nov 18 2020 3:53am

Recumbent is the only way I can ride for more than a few miles, back issues. Still need to get off after 4 hrs, a wider seat and more padding would help. Need to figure out far back i'm reclined but need to look down my nose to see my CA3. Here is two that I think about the most for 2 wheelers.

This would be mostly for road riding, thinking a front wheel drive would make room for batteries, but not sure.
high-racer-recumbent-front-wheel-drive.jpg
high-racer-recumbent-front-wheel-drive.jpg (202.4 KiB) Viewed 795 times
I think this guy has figured it out. Again for road riding 4 hrs or 50 plus miles.
IMG_3027.jpg
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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by Pentti M Reku » Nov 18 2020 9:30am

Best bike is the bike that suits the riding you do and your abilities and limitations. I used to ride 40+ km round trips every day in semi urban environment, so I ended up choosing a high racer style recumbent with 26" wheels.

Due to poor roads and need for carrying loaded panniers it evolved into an e-assist full suspension bike with 2.4" tires. Pretty comfy and fast, but not very practical on shorter rides because you need cleated shoes. City riding and frequent stopping are a bit hassle too because of the riding position.

Nowadays I pretty much mostly ride few km to nearest supermarket so no need for e-assist or even a recumbent. But if I were to choose one, 20" wheeled full suspension CLWB could be pretty high on the list.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by neptronix » Nov 18 2020 11:43am

Balmorhea wrote:
Nov 18 2020 3:05am
But... 'bents win all the major cycling events! Of the many major cycle manufacturers, the most reputable ones all make recumbents as their flagship models.

Also, the most capable and experienced people in the cycling field all ride recumbents, because they're the best. It really should go without saying.
I know you want to yank my chain. But i'm posting this for anyone else interested in learning.

Recumbents were banned by the UCI in 1934 when an average rider was repeatedly clobbering everyone.
That's why you never see a company make a flagship recumbent bike and you never see one in a race.

Major cycling organizations have banned basically every aerodynamic aid under the sun, and also any bike design that puts the rider in a more aerodynamically favorable position than a roadbike. So the average joe has never seen a recumbent bike, a velomobile, a Graeme Obree superman bike, etc in a bike race.. on television or in a in-person race.

Imagine this - if car racing organizations had banned Mustangs, Porsches, Corvettes, etc. What would the sales numbers look like for these cars if they were still produced.. would you even know what these cars are?
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." - Dalai Lama

My first major build: 1.6kW 8T MAC motor on a Trek 4500 MTB.
Monster MTB: Leafmotor 1500w @ 4kW on a Turner O2 full suspension.
The monster scooter: Heavy duty Cannondale semi recumbent - under construction.
Blue Dream: Maxaraya FS semi recumbent and high efficiency mid-drive - under construction.

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Re: Your thoughts on frames and riding positions?

Post by donn » Nov 18 2020 1:07pm

neptronix wrote:
Nov 18 2020 11:43am
Imagine this - if car racing organizations had banned Mustangs, Porsches, Corvettes, etc.
I guess it's hard for me to imagine in a useful way. I don't know, did people use those cars in organized races? Who cares? Well, here I am riding recumbents, so maybe I'm the exception that proves the rule. But the problem is that honestly, in my experience, they aren't noticeably faster; depending on the terrain, they may be slower. HPV speed records, sure, with somewhat extreme vehicles; those things couldn't realistically participate in a road race whether banned or not. The ordinary run of the mill recumbent bicycle has the primary advantage that it's like riding a lawn chair on wheels, which is comfortable and fun.

Now put a motor on them and they are significantly more efficient, as an order of magnitude more power makes wind resistance a much larger factor.

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