A Bent Bike and smiles just naturally go together. Bet you can’t ride one without one!
Now comes the fun. You get to decide which type of bent bike is best for you. The best way is just like the title says. You try on shoes before you buy. Cars go for a test drive before you buy.
Take a test ride on a bent bike, in fact take several. Great recumbent shop owners know you need to pedal down the road or around the parking lot. So what do you look for?
Number one for many is comfort. Isn’t that what everyone says about bents anyway? It’s like a “lawn chair on wheels!” Fast bikes are what may be primary for some.
The good news is both can be had on a recumbent. The learning curve to ride one is short for most. See if you can keep that smile off your face the first time you go for a spin.
There are lots of recumbent equipment styles to choose from. The long wheel base (LWB) is considered to be the most comfortable of all. The comparison to a Lincoln Town Car would be good in the bike dictionary.
A short Wheel Base (SWB) is like the name suggests…shorter…kinda like me. This would be most like a sports car, where the ride is stiffer and “twitchier.” The Compact Long Wheel Base (CLWB) is somewhat like the medium size car, a blend of the two extremes.
There is Under Seat Steering (USS), and Over Seat Steering (OSS) or Above Seat Steering (ASS). That last term needed some explaining, just so you don’t get surprised thinking a personal reference is implied when you see it!
Many stores will have a rental program for bent bikes. There’s no better way to really know if you like riding a recumbent, than going for a 5 or 10 mile ride. The longer you sit in the seat the better to feel if it’s for you.
A charge of $25 for a day rental is common, and many will apply that to the purchase of recumbent equipment, if one is made in a short period of time.
Some cities have bike lanes and lots of them. The best place for new riders would be a bike trail. The only traffic you need to worry about will be walkers, runners, rollerbladers and…other bikers. No 4000 pound behemoths allowed on bike trails, so not as nerve racking as riding on the street for a newbie.
Equipment that you must start with will be a hydration pac or water bottles, a cyclocomputer and a helmet. Some models come without pedals, so be prepared to spend a few bucks for those. A kickstand is also optional for others.
It all depends on the retailer. There are mirrors, horns, bells, and all kind of gadgets you’ll want to add later. And don’t forget the spare tires, tubes, patch kits and a bag to put it in.
Even more important… 50 cents! Whatever the cost of a pay-phone is, just in case you don’t want to change a flat and need to call for bent bike roadside assistance. However, if you’re on a country road somewhere, a cell phone is an even better choice.
Sure beats walking 7 miles as I had to before paying my dues during “rookie” status. I never have figured how that 6 inch spike embedded itself in that skinny little tire. Ruined the tire too!
Take your time in choosing your equipment. Make certain it’s right for you. Once you have gotten comfortable riding a bent bike and feel confident on the road, there are many organized rides you may want to consider. But take your time. After all, this is supposed to be fun.