eBent Recumbent Cycling

A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Learning to Ride a USS LWB Recumbent

with 9 comments

HistBentCartoon.gifSome thoughts on the transition from riding a diamond frame to a LWB USS recumbent:

1. Stop pulling with your arms. Yes, this was useful on your other bike but it is not useful if you have under seat steering. Learning to relax your arms and upper body is a key to comfortable riding.

2. Yes, you need to spin like Lance. Spinning saves your knees and gets you up steep hills. I know you think you were spinning on your old bike but you have just moved up to the big leagues of spinning. 80 revolutions per minute is OK but you should be shooting for a 100 now. You won't be able to stomp on the pedals and go over a hill for quite a while.

3. Be patient with yourself. You are leaning to ride again. This is the time to feel like a kid and enjoy every moment of this new experience. Old roads will look new and old pains will slowly go away soon you will be riding pain free.

4. Muscles develop slowly so be patient. It takes about a year for your unused muscles to develop. So don't be discouraged if your knees are telling you that this is enough for today and it is not what you wanted to do. Just marvel at how good you feel when you are on the bike and that when you get off only your legs are tired. There is no back, neck, hand, or butt pain.

5. Slow speed stability takes a little practice but will come fairly quickly. This is an important skill for climbing steep hills. You will be practicing it but practice is more fun if it is done before you start that mountain tour. Falling over even if your friends aren't there is no fun.

6. Yes, big heavy recumbents can climb mountains but not usually fast. Out of the box most bikes are not any more ready for the mountains than your beginners knees. XT Mountain Gearing (22 on the front and 34 on the back) will do it just fine if you have learned to spin and you are patient.

7. Climbing mountains on a LWB recumbent is a time to enjoy nature. You will be surprised at all the things you can see as you zip along at 3 1/2 MPH (remember, I said low speed stability would be important). You can observe the birds circling above and wonder what type of predator they might be. Or, you can watch ants as they build their mounds along the side of the road. You will learn to love the mountains not just because of the view but because no one can believe you made it to the top.

8. LWB recumbents become a force of nature as they descend. They are the closest that most of us will come to riding a luge. Now you will value that long wheelbase and plush ride. Yes, they are stable and fast on descents, but as you approach the sound barrier caution is advised. It is also nice if you have kept your brakes adjusted and are able to stop before entering the intersection with a red light at the bottom of the hill.

9. Nothing is hard if you aren't in a hurry and Nothing destroys a good ride like time pressure. Try to let those other thoughts slide away as you ride and enjoy the moment.

10. While you are riding occasionally look up at the sky and remember that your world is not the road. The road is under your tires. The world is out there in front of you waiting to be enjoyed.

11. Each season especially your first, miles will come before speed. I know this is the opposite of your experience riding a diamond frame. But the miles come from relaxed, pain free riding and speed comes as your new recumbent muscles build. The speed will seem to come slowly, but it will come if you ride.

12. When the ride is over, just sit for a moment in the seat of your LWB USS recumbent and think how comfortable it feels. Notice that your neck and hands don't hurt. Remember all of that you have seen now that you aren't looking at the road as you ride. Smile to your self but don't tell your friends, I am not sure it would be as much fun if they weren't suffering.

Also, see Why I Ride a LWB USS Recumbent 


Written by Roland

May 22, 2006 at 5:37 pm

9 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Thoughts On: Learning to Ride a LWB USS Recumbent

    Musing about learing to ride a long wheel base recumbent with under seat steering after years of riding a diamond frame


    May 22, 2006 at 5:52 pm

  2. I am considering a return to bike riding after a few years off. I stopped because riding the upright had caused damage to the circulation and sensation in a special place. I used to ride at least 100 miles a week, and usually more than 200. I tried a short wheel-base with oss today, and after a few attempts was able to stay up on it, though not very well. I don’t think that I could start on a level surface, and definitely not an incline at this point. How much practice before I can take on a normal bike ride? I am 53 – does that make it less possible to “relearn” bike riding. Should I even bother trying to learn this?

    Peter Strandjord

    July 15, 2007 at 1:40 am

  3. Many of us started riding recumbents in our 50s because of physical problems. For me it was the constant pain in my hands even when not riding that convinced me to start riding at recumbent at 50, over 12 years ago. You at at the perfect age to start, just don’t expect all of the pain to go away right away. You body may need some time to heal. It was three years before my hands stopped hurting.

    One of the joys is learning to ride a recumbent. SWB are a bit tricker to start with than longer bike because steering is so quick but most folks feel pretty comfortable after about a week of daily rides. This will make you feel like a kid again, every ride is a new experience, old roads are new and new roads are an adventure.

    But it will take much longer for your recumbent muscles to develop (about the same amount of time it takes a weight lifter to delop new muscles, about a year) and for you to truly master slow speed handling. My wife, Jeanne, picked it up immediately but it took me a few months.


    July 16, 2007 at 1:30 pm

  4. I am 54 and have just started riding a short wheel-base with OSS (HP Velotechnik Speedmachine). Never ridden a recumbent before and it’s a tough learning curve. I have to plan my routes to avoid steep climbs and hill starts and feel power-less due to using different muscles. Sadly not enjoying the experience much at the moment but I suppose it’s early days. Anyway, Peter you’re not alone!

    Kim Martin

    July 31, 2007 at 4:54 am

    • I was 61 when I took my first ‘bent ride at a dealer’s. It took me all of about a mile to feel reasonably comfortable on a LWB USS model (Vanguard) – the first one I tried. Then I got off of it and tried an OSS model (Tour Easy), and almost lost control from what seemed like very twitchy (compared to the Vanguard) steering. Trying a short wheelbase OSS model seemed even more twitchy. Got back on the Vanguard and felt right at home. Placed my order for a new Longbikes Slipstream shortly afterwards.

      I hadn’t put more than 100 miles a year on a bike for maybe 15 years – the conventional styles were just too uncomfortable. I had the Slipstream for less than a year when I rode my first (ever) Century on it (in a mountainous area, no less). I had pretty sore legs when it was over, but nothing else was even uncomfortable.

      I always thought bike riding was a neat idea, but the actual experience was always miserable, and I could only get enthusiastic about doing it again if I hadn’t done it in awhile. Now I smile when I sit on my Slipstream – riding has finally become fun.


      December 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm

  5. Keep spinning – it’s worth it!


    July 31, 2007 at 5:51 am

  6. Kim, it takes a while to get your recumbent legs but it will happen.

    Right now you are learning how to stop so you can start again on an incline and how to ride slow. You are also learning what spinning is really about. Just avoid pushing too hard on climbs and hurting your knees or back.

    It is like learning to ride, try to enjoy feeling like a kid again.

    Just try to relax and enjoy the view for a while. Remember it is all easy if you aren’t in a hurry.

    Enjoy the Ride … Roland


    July 31, 2007 at 9:29 am

  7. What is a good LWB USS bike to purchase?


    September 14, 2007 at 4:15 pm

  8. Lee there aren’t many LWB USS bikes available. The Longbikes Slipstream and the Linear are the only ones I think are still available. I have not seen the new Linear but have ridden the old design and was not impressed.


    September 16, 2007 at 7:50 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: