eBent Recumbent Cycling

A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Why I Ride a USS LWB Recumbent

with 3 comments


Long wheelbase recumbents (LWB) are heavy and underseat steering (USS) doesn't let you use your arms on hills. With those disadvantages, why are USS LWB Recumbents so popular for cross country rides?

The simple answer is that they are comfortable, can carry a heavy load, and are reliable. Plus they have a relaxed feel and provide a great view of what is around you. Let me expand on that a little to give you a better feel for what I mean.

Loaded touring is not fast so feeling relaxed and having a good view is important. Many bikes do not handle well when you load them with 60 ponds of gear and then ride in the rain and pick up another 10 pounds of water. A frisky or quirky bike can be fun on a day ride but after a week on the road toting your camping gear this is not what you need, you want to relax and enjoy the ride. After you have ridden for a while a LWB USS Recumbent just seems to become part of you. The shifting and turning just happen without thinking. You can let your mind wander if the road is quiet and enjoy just being there. They just handle whatever comes along quietly and predictably, no surprises.

Being able to relax while you ride make the miles go much better. On a long tour, the aches and pains build as the miles accumulate on many bikes. If you are relaxed and comfortable, yes, you may be tired at the end of the day but you aren't hurting. You get off of the bike and are ready to enjoy being where you are. Your knees may feel tired but your neck and hands don't hurt, your body feels good.

With a LWB Recumbent, you always have a comfortable seat with you. If you stop somewhere to enjoy the view, you already have a comfortable seat. I also think that USS besides giving you a great view of the world lets your arms and shoulders relax. You don't get that tension between your shoulder blades that you get when driving a car.

One of the reasons I ride is the joy of discovering and exploring new places. With a LWB USS Recumbent, their great low speed stability lets you hover and enjoy the view. You don't zip around a new town but you leisurely explore it at a pace that lets you talk with the people you meet.

This pace and style is not right for a lot of riders. But if you have ever snorkeled or scuba dived, you know "The faster you go the less you see." This is also true of Bicycle Touring.

Final Thought

I thought of trying a recumbent for years before I actually bought one. I was finally forced to try a recumbent when the pain in my hands and the cramp between my shoulders made riding unbearable.

Two years before I bought my first recumbent, I had switched from a Trek 520, a steel bike, to a Canondale T700 with an aluminum frame. The stiffness of that Aluminum frame just seemed to tear up my 50 year old body.

When I got my Ryan Vanguard, I felt like a kid learning to ride a bike. I wobbled around the neighborhood learning to ride again (see Learning to Ride a LWB USS Recumbent), grinning, and enjoying every moment. I was a little frustrated by my old habits and lack of recumbent muscles. At the end of the week, I started riding from my home, Dover, NH, to Bar Harbor, Maine about 250 miles.

That trip opened a new world of cycling to me. Cycling at a slower pace but cycling with my eyes on the world not the road. My thoughts were "Why did I wait so long?"


Written by Roland

June 11, 2006 at 9:03 am

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Hello,
    Just read your article in the ebent. Great job! We live in Rye just down the road from you. I too started riding about a couple of years ago. Do most of my rides along the coast and it always amazes me how people can put up with the traditional dimond frame ride that can only give you pain. It actually hurts to see some of these folks sitting on that tiny saddle. Anyways, when we close shop here at our motel, I have quite a bit of free time ( my wife works full time in Portsmouth). If you happen to be planning any sort of tour or ride would you be interrsted in another rider tagging along?


    John Hoyt

    John Hoyt

    June 25, 2006 at 9:44 am

  2. John

    I am temporarily without a recumbent bike. I just finished packing my Slipstream to ship to Seattle on Monday for Northwest Tour and my Vanguard is in South Georgia. I’ll be leaving 7/5 but will be back the first of August. I can’t predict how I feel after that ride.

    We should try a coastal ride together to see how our riding styles match up. I may be way too slow for you. But I am always interested in touring. Right now my only plan is to try to stay in shape for a Cross Country Ride next summer and to do that I try to keep touring locally as long as I can.

    I suspect your season frees up in late September or early October. I would definitely be interested in an October Tour.



    June 25, 2006 at 12:50 pm

  3. Hi people
    I was not able to buy a lwb bent in this area so I built one, The ride is great, no pain between my shoulders, and most upright riders only see the back of my seat for a short time. I’m using 52-13 top gears with 27×1.25 tires.
    I liked this bike so much that I built a second one, the first one has over 800 km on it in one month!
    the second one gets riden more by my son than me.
    I have just finished a lwb bent delta trike, took it out for the first time tonite it will run my old 10 speed upright and I am 55 yr old and 3 months past a heart attack!
    Bents rule!
    I plan on selling the plans for the trike online and will add a link to a websits later.

    Rod Shears

    August 21, 2008 at 8:45 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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: