eBent Recumbent Cycling

A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

The Bicycling Paradox: Fit Doesn’t Have to Mean Thin

with 9 comments

Roland - Columbia River 2006

Here’s nice article from the New York Times that explains why Industrially Sized riders like me don’t see the pounds fall away like I did when I was a runner. The article is “The Bicycling Paradox: Fit Doesn’t Have to Mean Thin“. This link requires log in at NY Times site, it is free but an inconvenience. If you do sign in, you might also want to sign up for their Daily News Email and Podcasts both are excellent.

What this article says is particularly true for recumbent riders, who tend to ride more, but are often less fit looking than the average Diamond Frame rider. Recumbents are more aerodynamic and typically require 20% to 30% less effort to ride at speeds above 12 MPH than diamond frames. So we can often surprise more fit looking riders, “The Recumbent Paradox?”

It also explains why bicycling, particularly Recumbent bicycling , works so well for older and heavier riders.


Written by Roland

July 18, 2007 at 6:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses

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  1. Absolutely! You and I might be mistaken for each other at a distance – even the yellow Slipstream is there. I have surprised a couple of doctors who told me I need to eat less and exercise more until I offered to take them on a Sunday morning ride. About 50 miles out they start to change their mind.

    Charles Stell

    July 23, 2007 at 8:38 am

  2. Charles, thanks for the good words.

    My new Doc is Austrian and tells me I should worry less about body shape and just stay off salt, keep exercising, and eat better. I am trying to find ways to stay fit during the Winter and get off of the weight and fitness winter/summer up/down cycle.


    July 23, 2007 at 8:49 am

  3. Thanks for the info. I am a 58 year old very out of shape (read pear) optician. I need to get into excerise/diet and I think the recumbent is the way to go. How would you rate your Longbike against a Rans StratusXp?

    Chris Sorlie

    September 2, 2007 at 4:06 pm

  4. Chris, I think recumbent riding will be great for you. Recumbents are easy on your body and fun to ride. You will have a blast once you learn how to ride a recumbent.

    Chris both are excellent bikes and Rans is one of the great recumbent marks. But neither is a bike I would recommend for a new recumbent rider looking for fitness.

    The Slipstream is a superbly made bike and a great self contained long distance touring bike. The downside for a new rider is that the quality comes at at price. It is also a very sturdy bike built to carry a heavy load and is a heavy bike. This a great bike for a cross county ride or a week long self contained tour but over kill for a new recumbent rider.

    I have never ridden a Rans XP so my comments are based on Bryan Ball’s review. This is a fast well built bike but not an easy bike to handle at the low speeds a new rider doing on climbs. I suspect this bike is a bit of a handful for a new recumbent rider but just the thing for an experienced fast rider.

    If you like above seat steering, there are other Rans models better suited . I would also take a look at the Sun EZ-1. It costs about 1/3 to 1/2 of the bikes you have mentioned and is a nice well behaved starter bike.

    Once you have spent some time riding and know better what you like that is the time to start looking at more specialized and expensive bikes. By then you will appreciate have a solid second bike that is fun to ride around town.


    September 3, 2007 at 8:33 am

  5. Roland, thanks for replying! I will look into the Sun Ez-1. I’m not sure if they are available up here. I have ridden a Giro 20 which I also liked. Faster handling but I think I could get used to it. I guess by buying a swb bent, I don’t have to spend additional money buying a special rack to transport the bike. I can see the wisdom of not spending a fortune until I am sure I will stay with it. (Couch potatoes aren’t known for staying on diets and excerise programs for lengthy periods of time. On the other hand, the writing is on the wall. I have to get out and exercise before my heart says otherwise!)
    All the above said, I saw a Longbike at the Bentride 07 in Hammonsport and it was impressive! Roland, I’m still at the info gathering phase of this. I will let you know what happens! Again, thanks for your expertise!


    Chris Sorlie

    September 5, 2007 at 5:33 pm

  6. Chris, different Recumbents have different personalities. There is a bigger range in Recumbents than in Diamond Frames because the design is not as standardized. Finding what works best for you is a big challenge for most new recumbent riders.

    The best bike is the one that is fun for you to ride. Most new riders aren’t quite ready for long distance touring. That is why I don’t usually recommend the great touring bikes to new riders. It isn’t that they aren’t great bikes, they are. But they are also long and heavy and hard to tote. However, they are very comfortable rides but not zippy.

    Most riders who stick with cycling build up a stable of bikes over time. Because some bikes are just better at some things than others.

    I have for example:

    1. Longbikes Slipstream for self contained touring.

    2. Sat -R Day folding recumbent for zipping around and carrying in the car or on trips. This is a fun bike for zipping around town.

    3. BikeE FX for riding dirt roads and when there is snow on the ground.

    I also have 2 Ryan Vanguards. These were my starter Recumbents. Plus a dirt Diamond Frame that I ride in the winter off road and a Cross that I lend to visitors.

    Find what looks like fun for you. It is hard for a new rider to judge what is comfortable and feels good. But you will figure that out after you ride a bit.

    Enjoy the Ride … Roland


    September 8, 2007 at 7:05 am

  7. Chris – there’s some great advise here! Do your research – there is a great book from the “Out Your Back Door” publishing on the history of the recumbent bike and a great source for the different characteristics of the LWB, SWB, CLWB, etc. with brand names as examples. Go to a local recumbent rally and ask lots of questions. A bent owner is always ready to talk about their bike and it’s a great place to test ride some of your favorite bikes. (example: Hostel Mid West rally in Stevens Point, WI; There are three each summer in Michigan, East Central and West). For me – I have a Rans V2 formula. There was a local bike dealer that handled bents and I went there and talked to the service manager. He adjusted a V2 and gave me a starter push. I biked the parking lot and was hooked. My research continued. I liked the idea of the USS bent. I called Longbikes, talked to them at length and soon after ordered a Slipstream. As mentioned earlier, both bikes are excellent, good workmanship and fun to ride. I’ve gravitated more to the Slipstream as my main ride. Reasons – USS and it’s just a joy to ride so relaxed. Do I do long distance riding- No (10-35miles). As often as I can. There is a learning curve for Starting and Stopping. You must plan ahead for stops so that you are in a proper gear to restart. I’m still learning this – I will break 1000 miles this year on the Slipstream. As far as cost – Longbikes is quality. If I pay that much for a bike – I better well use it. You will too. ENJOY YOUR RESEARCH AND THE RIDE.


    October 10, 2007 at 2:31 pm

  8. You’re so right in this post. I have the same opinion after 15 years experience with recumbents.
    keep cycling,

    wim harwig

    November 25, 2007 at 2:18 pm

  9. […] The Bicycling Paradox: Fit Doesn’t Have to Mean Thin « eBentChris, I think recumbent riding will be great for you. Recumbents are easy on your body and fun to ride. You will have a blast once you learn how to ride a recumbent. … Chris both are excellent bikes and Rans is one of the great recumbent marks. But neither is a bike I would recommend for a new recumbent rider looking… […]

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