Check Your Pulse When You Let Your Low Racer Loose!
Riding in flat or rolling areas, the low racer frame is generally recognized as being the fastest style out there, but in areas with long uphills and downhills, a high racer type bike will probably be faster. The low racer by it’s name, tells you why it is so fast! Low to the ground. That simply means less air drag to fight, and that means more energy gets to the back or front wheel, as the case may be.
The sticky point with low racer frames is they are complicated in their design and usually heavy. High racers, on the other hand, can be designed with very simple, lightweight frames. George Reynolds has done an excellent job with his Titanium T-bone.
Another thing, the twisting, turning chain line of the low racer is not as efficient as the simple, straight chain line of the high racer. All those twists and turns can slow things down on those uphill climbs. Lots of power is needed and even a little that is robbed by the chain makes a difference.
On flat or rolling courses, where you have short ups and downs, is where the low racer flies! Because of that low riding position to the ground and the reduced air drag, the difference shows up in a dramatic way.
The sports car of recumbent bikes, and just maybe of all bikes. The low racer can compete with the diamond frame for speed. Until such time as a head to head competition on a hilly or mountainous course takes place, it will be difficult to know which one would dominate. On flat or rolling roads, all bets are off!
Low racers are made mostly in Europe, some of which are imported to the U.S. Barcroft Cycles and Lightining have recently come out with their versions of the speedy two wheeler. The Barcroft Oregon and the Lightening U-2 are currently being offered to the public. Check out the review by Bryan Ball of Bent Rider On Line or BROL. Go tohttp://www.bentrideronline.com/FAQ/index.html and look for the link for “Bikes Reviewed.”
Tim Brummer of lightningbikes.com and his SWB bikes have won many tiles. The P-38 may be one of the best know of his creations. It is doubtful that any recumbent fan that has been involved in this sport for long, would not at least be familiar with a P-38.
Now Tim has made a modified version of the M5 from Holland called the U-2. The changes were to the chain line and the seat, plus a smaller front wheel. Reports say it makes the bike much more “streetable.”
But here comes the stuff that makes the difference. How fast is it? Again, reports have it in the low 20’s for cruising speed, and in the 30’s for sprints. This is on an unfaired bike! Can you imagine what it might do fully faired! Could you imagine the mid 30’s for a cruising speed? The possibilities are mouth watering!
Bill Cook has added the Barcrift Oregon to his lineup, and from the pictures it looks great. There aren’t enough ride reports circulating right now to give a good account of how the bike performs, but you may want to check out their website athttp://www.barcroftcycles.com This gives you an idea of what a low racer is and how it is different in design from all other recumbents. The low position of the frame to the ground reduces the amount of friction from air.
The stiffness of the frame sends more energy to the drive wheel making this style recumbent very fast. The seat is not always the most comfortable because of that stiff frame. Since there is no frame flex, you feel every bump and crack in the road.
Low racers are not always best for the road or touring. But some models are adaptable, and as reports go, are OK for regular riding.
Here’s a good look at a real hybrid in low racers, built by Rob English. On the Hachi Rob has been able to get an average speed of just over 30 mph with this bike unfaired, and 33 mph with a tail fairing. These are not official speeds, but just from some track tests. Looks different compared to some of the others. Rob’s bike has not gone into production, and there is not hint from Rob that it will.
Low racers are for racing, but there seems to be a demand for frame designs that might include suspension and more comfortable seats for those not so race minded. The question is, will there be enough demand to get manufacturers to consider making a change like that, even for a small number of riders? Only time will tell.