Gear Guy

What’s your problem with recumbent bikes?

Why display your ignorance on recumbent bikes? Everyone with first-hand experience on these now thinks of you as an ignorant fool. "Save your hate mail"? Well, quit displaying your obvious ignorance, basing your assessment on the experience of some third-party rider. And, if recumbents are really slower (according to your uninformed belief), how many upright bikes own land speed records? Have you seen many uprights hitting speeds of 81 mph on level terrain with no wind? I've only seen videos of recumbents doing that. Two of my six bikes are recumbents, so I know what I'm talking about. However, I don't own any airplanes, so I wouldn't try answering a question on airplanes. Bet you would. Brian Albuquerque, New Mexico


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Actually, quite a few recumbent riders chimed in on this one, many of them taking issue with me in the spirit of healthy debate but hardly describing me as an “ignorant fool.” Certainly, I know enough about recumbent bikes to know exactly how to get people such as yourself riled up, which of course was my intent.

Anyway, go back and read the column again. I offered plenty of reasons why recumbents work well. And of course I know that recumbents hold speed records that can’t be matched by uprights. But, those are in ideal conditions with specially designed bikes. In the real world? Well, I think about the “recumbents are faster than upright bikes” canard whenever I pass one, which is basically every time I see a recumbent on the road. That’s true in the hilly Seattle and Olympic Peninsula areas where I bike; certainly, the same might not apply in the pancake-flat Midwest.

I admit I did offer a completely unscientific, impossible-to-support assertion: Specifically, that most recumbent riders secretly hate their bikes but feel stuck with them because of their investment. Thing is, no recumbent rider will readily admit that. But while I should have perhaps substituted “many” for “most,” I stick to it. I’ll even go so far as to concede that the same could be said for upright-bike owners who’ve shelled out the big bucks for a bike that’s perhaps uncomfortable and hard to figure out.

I am curious about a few things, though. Why are almost all recumbent riders men? Some women must ride them, but I’ve never seen one. And why do all those men have beards? I suspect there’s something going on that is sociological, as well as technical, among those who are fond of recumbents.

Let the dialogue continue…