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Recumbents

casualguy939

Speeding Up
Jul 10, 2023
101
90
Not sure where to start really because the world of recumbents is so huge with numerous classes that at first seems difficult to get an idea of just how many there are. Throw in that there are so few recumbents in public compared with upright, or DF (diamond frame) bikes that it isn't easy to put them into their proper category.

First off, I am not that good of a writer, and I am not very organized, so I am going to keep it short and sweet in explaining recumbents how I understand them, and with enough of the basics that I hope gives a solid base to build from.

Types (From slowest to fastest, and 2-4 wheels)
Touring - Seat angles from about 30-50 degrees. Plenty of storage capacity. Probably the easiest kind to learn on because of the more upright sitting position. Because of the sitting position creating a good hip angle, these are also good at climbing. In stripped down form and aero wheels they are very fast, and in some cases might be just as aero (or more) as a rider on a TT bike. Some can handle trails with wider tire capability, and there are quite a few trikes being manufactured for this.

This bike is a RWD Azub, with a 26"/20" wheel set.
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Racing Recumbents - There are 2 main types. High, and low racers. In general these are classified as how high your butt is off the ground, and how high your BB (Bottom Bracket) is in relation to your seat height. This relation of BB height and seat height is important aerodynamically because if you can get your torso to pass through the hole that your feet are punching in the air you will be more efficient. Feet too high or low and it is a trade-off in speed or handling. There are racing trikes too.

The first pic is my Cruzbike V20, with dual 700c wheels and a 14L-16L rear storage bag. It is a FWD, MBB (moving Bottom Bracket) high racer. I can get my toes on the ground without sitting up.
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This is a VeloKraft Nocom, which is a RWD Low Racer. You can put your hand on the ground. Very fast bike mainly for straight line rides, but as you can see, there is chain rub on the front wheel that happens in low speed turns. Maybe heel strike in turns also depending on your cleat placement and shoe size. Neither of those is an issue at speed since you lean the bike to turn instead of turning the wheel. In climbs it has an advantage of better grip on the drive wheel but a weight penalty in a very long chain. On the flats, the weight only matters in acceleration.
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This is a FWD Low Racer. The pros and cons are opposite of the RWD VeloKraft above. Less chain weight, but more possibility of front wheel slip in climbs. Also you have to carry 2 different sizes of tubes.
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Partially Faired and Faired Recumbents - Various sizes and styles of tail boxes on the rear, or nose cones on the front that improve aerodynamics, and sometimes also serves as storage. Not something we see except online so they may look kind of silly, but as far as efficiency is concerned, they don't seem like they are human powered.

This is a fully faired Lightning F-40. It has a spandex style covering that can be removed easily.
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This is a partially faired Birk
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Velomobiles - 3 or 4 wheels with a full body fairing. Some include a hood that covers the riders head, making it not only faster, but the rider is virtually dry in rain. Quite a few companies are making them now, and they are not only efficient, their cost reflects it.

This one is a Bulk, a new company with what seems to be the most aero velomobile available now.
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Streamliners - Similar to Velomobiles, but only 2 wheels. Current World Record is 144kph (almost 90mph) under the rider's own power. Some are 1-trick ponies that only do 1 thing, which go very fast in a straight line, but not all of them are purpose built for Battle Mountain runs. Virtually all of them are one-off custom garage builds, but years ago there were a few that were produced in limited numbers.


Multi-World Champ Steve Slade's Beano (kevlar/carbon weave) and Russell Bridge's Snoopy (carbon fiber), 2 custom made circuit racers that lap almost everyone except the strongest velomobile riders.
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My personal favorite is the Coyote, and I thought I was going to be able to get the molds for it, but the guy who offered me the molds gave them to someone else suddenly when I was arranging pick-up, leaving me "WTFed?"
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Finally, the 1-trick pony Battle Mountain World Record holding bike ETA. A camera is attached so the rider can see where he is going on a small screen.
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If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me and I'll do my best to answer as fully as possible. And if you are interested in either riding together and/or trying out my V20 to see if it is something you might want to see if it fits you, I'll be happy to meet up for a test ride and to offer tips to make it smoother. I never got that option. I just thought "If those guys can do it then so can I" and bought my V20 used with no looking back.

Later I'll post some Strava rides, showing data that shows exactly how much power I used, the climbing, speeds and more that shows just how efficient it is, and other posts about why I bought a recumbent to ride when I am not on my road bike.
 
New video of the HPV in Austria that shows almost all of the bikes listed in my OP. Marco Ruga, the uploader built the bike he is riding in the video, and is known by almost everyone in the 'bent community. He is Italian, but you can click the CC for a translation.

 
That is 1 sexy bike Mr. Roo, and that seat cover makes it dead sexy. I have my mind set on a FWD with disc brakes just like yours for my new project which will be something like Russell's Snoopy.

Posted today...
 
And if you are interested in either riding together and/or trying out my V20 to see if it is something you might want to see if it fits you, I'll be happy to meet up for a test ride and to offer tips to make it smoother.
That's a very generous offer. It's not one that I'll take up, because I have little space and probably I already have two bikes too many, as well perhaps as other factors. But it interests me. "Fits" here might have the general meaning of "suits", but it might instead refer to dimensions. It makes me (idly) wonder: If two riders, each of standard proportions but one 160 cm tall and the other 190 cm tall, like the same model of recumbent, how will the pair they buy differ from each other?
 
No worries Microcord. Even if you don't have an intention to buy one I'd still be happy to meet up for a ride and for you to check it out. Yeah, "fits" was a broad term to include "suits." Most riders take to the FWD MBB system, but not all. The ones that don't probably have limited flexibility issues, or maybe even injuries that somehow just doesn't feel right, especially in low speed turns where the outside leg feels stretched if the rider's foot is forward in the pedal stroke. If this is the case, then it is possible for them to not get that stretched sensation just by putting the outside foot closer to them in the pedal stroke in a low speed turn. This comes naturally with wheel time, but some riders give up early without giving themselves the chance to get accustomed to it.

As for height differences, my V20 has the small chain stay. It is 19.5" from the dropouts to the BB. I am about 176cm. I believe there is a "M" and an "L" chain stay for taller riders up to about 6 feet 5 inches but the chain stay options available will fit anyone from 157cm - 194cm. Actually, some riders choose a longer chainstay to get their feet a little higher so they are a bit more aero by not having their feet hanging too low, or their knees protruding too high above their head.

The boom is adjustable to move the BB closer or further to match the rider's X-seam, and the bars can be moved closer or further to clear up space for the knees, and to get your hands in a comfortable position. I like to ride with my arms relatively straight so I can pull on the bars for higher power output, however when cruising at a slower pace I can put my hands closer to the bar clamp to get my forearms into the windshadow of my thighs and out of the airflow. I have a Deda Tribar on my V20 now with SRAM AXS Wireless Blips and Campagnolo CF (carbon fiber) TT brakes, but V20s come with a flared drop bar that your current road bike groupset and wheels will fit on. As a matter of fact, a standard road bike groupset will fit on at least the V20c (newest model), a V20 like mine, an S30, and S40, as well as many earlier models.

I'd have to double check the specs on the V20c though but the older models like mine (simply "V20") are 100/130mm wheels, disc or rim brake compatible.

The V20C is 100/142mm. The "C" in the model name means that the front triangle (boom, forks and chain stays) is carbon fiber so the V20C is a bit lighter.
The rear wheel (non drive wheel) is 100mm rim or disc brake, but the front wheel (drive wheel) is 142mm disc only.
 
It has been a while since I last did a proper 100km workout with as little time stopped as possible. Lately I have been doing quick 25-50km rides instead when I should be building endurance. When the temps aren't so high, doing 100km is not a problem, especially when it is on flat Arakawa. However, when it is 30C or higher I stop at 1 of the fountains every so often to get my top and bottoms, my gloves, my mask and my skullcap wet and then let evaporation do its thing.

For today's ride, my only real plan was to finish 100km without getting heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and I think I was... I am sure I was successful in avoiding the latter. A quick check of Accuweather's radar to see if there were any clouds coming, no luck. A quick check of Timeanddate's site to see how strong the wind was estimated to blow through the afternoon. +20ish kph. Then a quick check of Windy to see which direction I could expect the wind to blow and kind of predict which sections on Arakawa were going to be pretty fast because of the tailwind. I had no lofty goals of Top Tens or KOMs because I felt I should conserve my power for the 2 round trips to the Bay from Ukimafunado, which would include 2 headwind trips down the river from the 25km marker, and my power meter numbers haven't been as high as a few months ago.

After dousing myself and talking with the landscaper for a few minutes at the hut near the 25km marker, I headed down the river towards the Bay. For the first couple of kilometers my legs were complaining about the 150w, so remembering not that far back when I averaged 207 watts for 4 hours, I figured I wasn't going to let my legs off easy. "You want to complain about 150w, I am going to set 180w for the average power over the 100km and we'll see if you complain."

So, I bumped it up and despite what I saw online about the headwinds going towards the bay, my speed into the wind in most sections was a lot better than I expected at that power. For some sections I was holding 190w because I knew that once I turned around and got a tailwind, I knew I was going to conserve energy for another decent speed into the wind.

Well, that didn't happen, and TBH I really can't recall me ever taking it easy with a tailwind on any bike. The first 50km round trip took 1H:23M or so, and looking at the clock at the fountain with a promise to be home at 6pm I didn't have much time to douse myself again and repeat the ride and keep the promise, so I didn't twiddle my thumbs at the hut with the landscaper as usual. The trip up the river had almost a perfect wind direction to have some kind of tailwind the whole way. I think 1-2km of it was a bit of a headwind, but the rest was a pretty good tailwind, so it was very smooth and fast.

Looking at my power numbers on the way to the Bay again, I knew 180w average power goal was gonna hurt if I could even do it. 2km before I got to the Bay I saw a rider heading upriver. I thought "He's 4km ahead of me, I am tired and heading into the wind. Even if he is going all the way to the 25km marker I am not going to be able to catch him." 1km from the Bay I saw another rider heading upriver. He looked pretty fit, so I hoped he was going to go all the way to the 25km marker. I took note of what he was wearing because I thought I might have a chance to catch him.

I stopped at the turnaround point to make a short call, and send a quick LINE message that I was at the Bay and that I should be arrive at Ukimafunado in about 40 minutes. While I was writing that message another guy who I actually stopped and talked with in July started back up the river. The 2nd trip up the river was fast, but not nearly as fast as the 1st. I averaged 172w from start to 75km, so I tried to not lose those 2 watts to keep it a clean 170w for the 100km.

I caught the guy that I met in July in a few km, but I don't know or even think I caught the guy who had a 2km headstart. He may have gotten off the river at any point, but at least he gave me something to chase. I stopped at the benches at the 25km marker to hydrate and cool down, and the guy I met in July pulled up and we chatted for a bit before each rolling our separate ways.

Here is the ride....


On virtually all my rides in which I ride into the wind and with the wind equally without much stopping in the middle I add my CdA in the title to show just how aero I was, the power and the speed so anyone can get an idea about what to expect if they ever decide to flip off the UCI and come to the dark side ;)

Edit: I had a few sections where I was putting out about 300 watts, but I can only imagine what kind of speeds the "thoroughbreds" would be posting on any of the racing 'bents with their 300w FTPS. That would be absolutely sick.
 
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Yesterday's ride.
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I had planned on an easy ride to build base miles and work on endurance, but the legs were feeling good and I was a bit peeved at doing rides in the 150-175w range recently. So, I pushed a bit harder. The ride was from the 25km marker on Arakawa to the Bay and back with 1 stop for a drink. I am enjoying the bike but itching for some more speed so I need to find a welder and either a fiberglass or carbon fiber guy to build my Streamliner. If I can get it built I won't be flying up and down Arakawa like a madman except for the occasional "clearing out the pipes" when there is no other people in sight. But I would love to get it built for ultra endurance races such as the Trans Am Bike Race (TABR), the Race Across AMerica (RAAM) or other similar races. Maybe even take it out on the tracks if I can get permission.
 

Turn up the sound.
New member of the 85mph club, Francois Pervis at 85.87 mph (138.19kph) wind legal run at Battle Mountain. He is now the French National Record holder, the European Record holder, and is the 2nd fastest human ever.
 
I can probably do the welding myself but I have found that I can save quite a bit of time and money by using the rear triangle and the lower part of a tandem frame along with fabricating the front. The rolling chassis will look something like this before I fabricate a body.
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View attachment 39838
The chain line will be different, the small idler pulley in the back on the bottom near the rear wheel will be a stepup gearing so I can run a 53/39t chainring and a pretty standard 11 or 12-speed cassette to allow me to be able to hold about 50kph at a 90rpm cadence.
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Also, instead of a tiller steering that requires a lot of horizontal space I will be using a steering shaft. Doing so will allow me to keep the body narrow and more aerodynamic.
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On the bottom I plan on using a lever activated telescoping landing gear so that when I stop it won't tip over.
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I'll make the seat angle a little higher than the rider in the picture for a few reasons. A higher seat angle helps increase the power output availability, it improves the field of view, it allows for a 20-30L seatbag to connect to the seat.

Without a body, this "low racer" is probably 1-2kph faster than my V20 "high racer." With a body it is probably around 8kph faster. When finished, I wouldn't be surprised if it is 10kg heavier than my current bike, which will make it worse at climbing. Additionally, it is going to be a handful in crosswinds. But on the descents, and the flats it is going to be a bullet. Most of the design cues are going to come from the Coyote...
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With the body, rain and the elements are not going to be an issue, especially if I can enclose the wheels in carbon fiber shrouds. To help assist with cooling I will incorporate NACA ducts to improve internal air flow in front, a headlight and camera, and outlets in the rear where I will install bright bike lights, and another camera.
 
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Wow! 😲 What a project. Looking forward to seeing how it comes along.
Thanks Pedalist. The recumbent projects take a while and come off kinda weird because we can't just go the Trek store and buy parts to bolt on. There were a few kits available years ago for people who can weld and had enough bike parts around to chop up and scavenge. These days almost all Streamliners are one-offs.
Some are hand-laid carbon fiber like the under-seat steering Snoopy.

Russell testing after finishing the lower half...




I can't imagine how fast a rider with a 300 watt FTP would be in any of those, but it's gotta be close to 60kph.
 
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Looks like there are going to be 2 streamliners instead of one. 1 in the US being built by my brother, and 1 here being built by me with the same specs and dimensions so that I can train on the one here, and race on the 1 in the US. The seat height, bottom bracket height, wheel base, seat angle, type of seat, wheel size, steering type, body shape and window type will all be the same so there is as little learning curve as possible. Seeing as how tandem frames are quite cheap in my hometown area it is affordable to have 2 instead. The stepup gearing will be similar to this but with a 3x chainring instead of a cassette. A single tube like this is too springy, so that is why I will go with a modified tandem frame, but to get the aerodynamic shape I want I need to go with a long wheel base recumbent like this. That beach chair seat might seem comfortable, but I will go with a carbon fiber seat that is more stiff such as the one in the pic of the green and white bike above (short wheel base). Additionally, the fork angle will be more upright so there is less wheel flop.

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If anyone is looking to ride a recumbent in an event, you can use them for Sunday's Seaside Classic here in Kashiwazaki June 30th 2024.

Here is the strava of a guy who did that this year (he rode a road bike for Saturday's Mountain Classic)

Screenshot_20231223-134105_Strava.jpgScreenshot_20231223-134045_Strava.jpg


I recently acquired a recumbent from the same guy and will add it to the rental fleet here if anyone is interested in trying it.

Next summer's Seaside Classic takes in a different route incorporating two short 1km unified grade climbs with long straight descents which should be fun on recumbents.

Andy

 
Thanks for posting that Andy. Decent amount of climbing on a 'bent in my book for 100km. Out of curiosity, what kind of 'bent did you get from him?
 
Thanks for posting that Andy. Decent amount of climbing on a 'bent in my book for 100km. Out of curiosity, what kind of 'bent did you get from him?
The climbing figures are misleading. The start and goal was Takayanagi village, 25km inland from the sea with an elevation of 100m, so a false flat of 0.4%. A leisurely downhill, relatively flat coast with two small climbs and a leisurely uphill back inland.

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However, this year's course will have 3 x 100m bumps in the middle of the course so it may be trickier on a recumbent.

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The recumbent he gave me is apparently more of a "toy" than a serious machine. Not sure of the make. I did a quick spin of the car park before locking her away for winter.

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But it fits in well with the other bikes I have (cross bikes) which are aimed to introduce / reintroduce people to the joys of cycling.

Info on the guide rides for beginners is here.

Cheers, Andy

 
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Not quite breaking news, but a sort of update. I am heading back to the US for almost 3 weeks, and during that time my brother and I will be working on the rolling chassis from a tandem bike for my Streamliner project, and try to get as much of it done before I return to Japan mid March. The aluminum option is roughly ¥150,000 before we start any modifications, and the titanium option is just over ¥300,000. However, the titanium option comes with Chris King hubs, a good Ultegra triple, 10-speed cassette, a Chris King headset, and rim brakes on heavy duty rims (to carry the extra weight). The Ultegra triple is good because it will allow me to run a step-up gearing from the crankset. Most streamliners run anywhere from an 80 to a 100 tooth chainring so that they won't be maxing their rpms on the flats. The step-up gearing will let me run a chain from the 54t cranks on the BB (Bottom Bracket) to the smallest 26t ring on the stoker's cranks that will be under my back. Another chain will run from the stoker's 54t ring to the rear derailleur, which will essentially double the size of my 54t chain ring that I am pedaling, effectively turning my 54t into a 108t chain ring. It is not the most efficient or lightest way to lower my rpms, but it does work. If 108t is too much, I can run the chain from the stoker's middle ring to the rear derailleur instead, which I think is a 40t, and that will give me the equivalent of something around an 80t chain ring. I am an American so don't ask me to do the math right now ;)

Here is the titanium tandem so you can see the starting point.
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From there with a hacksaw, an electric grinder, a welder and elbow grease will produce something similar to this but with a longer wheel base...
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When the body is added, it should look something like this...
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With the drive train running as efficiently as possible, it should be able to run at 50kph at 180 watts or so at a comfortable rpm and heart rate. I hope.
 
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