Wednesday, January 20, 2010


What is a recumbent? Here is a picture of the one I ride. It's made by a German company called HP Velotechnik.

These bicycles are nothing new. They have been around since the late 1800's. What makes the recumbent unique is that its design is not a cookie cutter standard like the traditional diamond frame bike that is familiar the world over. Recumbents are available in different wheelbases, wheel size and wheel combinations. For example my bike has a 20" front and and a 26" rear wheel. Frame geometry varies wildly as well as the amount of recline of the seat and steering controls.

My HP has what is called Under Seat Steering (USS). This is my favorite feature and was one of the reasons for my choosing this model. USS allows my arms to rest comfortably at my side. In colder weather I need only a light pair of gloves and my hands seem to stay much warmer than when riding my upright bikes. I have an unobsructed view of the road ahead and In my opinion it just looks cool. The only downside to USS is an increased turning radius.

So what's the conspiracy? I don't know if there really is one. I just wanted a catchy hook for my blog. In my 33 years of riding bikes I have ridden a century (100 miles) and quite a few metric centuries (100 km) on diamond frame bikes. If I am going to be on the bike for more than an hour the recumbent is my choice. I have often wondered why there are not more of these great bikes being ridden. In the last five years I have noticed more and more 'bents and trikes out on the rail trails so I think people are starting to see the light. Or at the very least their butts feel better after a long ride.


  1. I'm surprised that the chain tube seems to bend the chain. Doesn't this cause you to lose power, or the tube to abrade?


  2. Hi Nick,
    Sorry I didn't notice your comment down here. Yes I was skeptical of routing the drive chain through these tubes at first. After looking around I saw that many builders use the technique. The tubes are made with Teflon and are pretty slick. I asked about wearing them out and how easy it would be to replace them and was told yes you can replace them. The tubing is sold by the foot. But don't worry about it will take quite a while to wear them out. I am sure a little power is lost but I can't feel any difference between this bike and my first bent (Cycle Genius ALX20) which had straight runs between the chainrings and cog. The nice thing is the tubing keeps you clean when mounting/ dismounting. You can hear a very faint whirring noise but thats about it. Also look close at the pic- the top run of the chain that carries all the force is relatively a straight shot. Just behind the air shock is an "idler wheel" that runs on a bearing and the chain runs in a groove on this wheel. The idler keeps the chain in line and quiet. The Cycle Genius had maybe 5 feet of chain and it would really slap about when on bumpy surfaces. Not so on the HP. Check out some of the recumbent trike designs online and you will see some extreme chain routing using the tubes.

    Thanks for posting and stop by again. As we get into spring I will shift over to more cycling related posts.