My Recumbent Bikes
Over my years of bicycling I have moved from traditional bikes to two wheeled recumbents to trikes. Although I move back and forth between two wheel recumbents and trikes, what I enjoy in both cases is their comfort and the view of the world they provide.
My first recumbent was a BikeE purchased in 1999. It did not take me long to abandon my diamond frames—I was hooked on recumbents. Wanting more performance, I replaced the BikeE with a Burley Taiko in 2002 and the rest of my recumbent history is shown below.
I purchased all the bikes shown from Bent-Up-Cycles and found Dana and his staff to be very knowledgable and a delight to deal with.
I purchased the Reynolds T-Bone in June of 2004. It is fast and comfortable and I like its feel and looks. Over the years I have made many modifications. It's final configuration had disk breaks and Rotor Q-Rings. As of 2016 it was retired as I have been riding my trikes exclusively.
The disk brakes allow me to have three sets of wheels that I can exchange depending on my mood. The sets include 700cm (Gold), 26 inch (Orange) and 24 inch (White) wheels. The 700cm wheels are the lightest and fastest. The 24" wheels with 1.5 "Kojak tires provide the softest ride and are best for climbing. The 26" wheels are a compromise between speed and climbing and I love the color.
The T-Bone with 700cm wheels weighs 26.6 pounds without the yellow bag. The bag with 2 tubes, multi-tool, 2 tire levers, pump and pouch with miscellaneous supplies weighs 3.13 pounds. Adding a filled water bottle at 1.5 pounds produces a total bike riding weight of 31.23 pounds.
After trying for many years to talk Janis into riding with me, she finally agreed to the purchase a tandem bike so that we could ride together. We settled on a pair of Kettwiesels that would allow us to ride either together or separately. We received the trikes in February of 2007. Janis loves the trikes. The photo was taken during our ride on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes with Ralph and Kathy.
I was excited about the Kettwiesels because I had wanted a trike for a long time. I found the Kettwiesels to be great trikes that are fun to ride and very maneuverable. They are ideal for riding on Rails-To-Trails trails and where shorter distances, a relaxed pace and watching the world go by are priorities. My Kettwiesel is outfitted with a Schlumpf Mountain Drive.
I took possession of my Catrike Expedition in 2008 and have been delighted with its comfort and speed. I have taken the Expedition on week long supported trips with Adventure Cycling and found it to be an excellent trike for this application. It climbs slowly but without stress and really loves to go down hill. It out coasts traditional bikes. The Expedition is outfitted with Rotor Mountain cranks (46, 34, 24) and an 11-34 cassette.
The Expedition with 35mm Kojak tires, fender, side bags, bar ends and mirror, and bottle gage weighs 36.61 pounds. Typically the bags contain 3 tubes, multi-tool, 2 tire levers, pump and pouch with miscellaneous supplies that weigh 2.51 pounds. Adding a filled water bottle at 1.5 pounds produces a total bike riding weight of 40.62 pounds.
The ICE Vortex moved into my garage in May of 2012. It is beautiful to look at and fast enough to keep up with my friends on traditional bikes except when climbing. It provides a very laid back riding position with the seat at about 28° off of horizontal and is the major factor in its speed The Vortex is outfitted with Rotor Q-Rings (50, 39, 27) and an 11-36 cassette.
The carbon fibre seat presents a harsh ride on rough roads but fits me beautifully and its stiffness means that no pedaling power is lost to seat flex.
My Vortex with 28 mm tires, a rear fender, 2 aluminum bottle cages, computer mount, light mount and Radical Design seat bags weighs 32.3 pounds.
The Lezyne computer, Lezyne pump, Lezyne rear light, cell phone, 3 tubes, patch kit, 2 tire levers and a Lezyne multi-tool adds 2 pounds. The filled water bottle adds another 1.5 pounds. This produces a total bike riding weight of 35.8 pounds.
Some Comparative Notes
Each bike has qualities that make it desirable in specific situations. The first thing I learned is that I prefer to climb hills on a trike. The primary reason is that falling over is not an issue at slow speeds. Although climbing on the T-Bone is a couple of miles per hour faster, it requires considerable concentration to maintain balance at speeds of 5 mph or less. Therefore, climbing on a trike with its lower gearing takes less energy and is more relaxing and enjoyable.
When speed is the issue there is no substitute for the T-Bone. Based on exerting a similar effort on the flat this translates into 21 mph for the T-Bone, 19 mph for the Vortex, 18 mph for the Expedition and 14 mph for the Kettwiesel.
The Vortex is the most comfortable. The carbon fiber seat's angle, shape and size provide long term comfort. The liability of the carbon fiber seat is that it transmits more road vibration to the rider than the other seats. The Vortex's steering is light and precise.
Bike Web Sites
Trike purchasing require decisions in the following areas:
- Tadpole versus Delta
- Direct Steering versus Indirect Steering
- Adjustable Seat Angle versus Fixed Seat Angle
- Same Wheel Sizes versus Different Wheel Sizes
- Fixed Frame versus Folding Frame
- Suspended versus Unsuspended