Short Wheelbase Recumbents Are Just Like The Sports Car Of Recumbent Bikes.
Short wheelbase recumbents are really catching on. More and more you see them, as many experienced riders keep looking for the “Nirvana” in recumbents. What is a short wheelbase recumbent and what makes it different from a long wheelbase? Since pictures are worth 1000 words, let’s start with one!
The Speedmachine pictured above is crafted in Germany by HP Velotechnik.
One of the big reasons riders like SWB recumbents is…easier to transport. With a wheelbase like the Queen Mary, the LWB always poses a problem with storage and transport. If you’re a homeowner with a garage, and have a pickup or a van, those two things aren’t a problem. Apartment dwellers, town home owners, well storage is a different issue.
The learning curve on the SWB is a little longer than the LWB because of the way different pedaling position. Getting the feet up to a level with your head, in some cases, is just a little new for most of us. Even if it is just chest high that is a huge change. It really gets tricky when you come to a stop and have to get the feet down quick. Then it’s taking off with one foot on the ground, almost like doing the “splits” on a bike! So not many start out with a SWB, because that’s just way too different.
For handling the short wheelbase is great. Going around tight corners, short radius turns, pedaling uphill, are where the SWB just gets goin’. As for speed, the SWB does not lack in that department. In fact, keep in mind SWB frames are used in the fastest bikes on earth…the Streamliners.
The SWB also looks pretty slick dressed up. With tailboxes, front fairings, color coordinated rims and spokes, you can get some serious looks. Add to that a carbon fiber frame or Titanium and you can get some serious prices. Together this can add up to a serious ride!
Short Wheelbase recumbents come in many different shapes. How different? Well, you may have the style that has a large rear wheel and smaller front wheel. Or, you might prefer the two small 20” wheels. The newest design offers twin 26” wheels. Much has to do with the pedals clearing the wheel as well as the chain. Take a look at the three different styles.
The Bacchetta Strada is made in Florida and is a twin 26″ wheel SWB.
The M5 is styled by the Dutch. While they tend to be on the heavy side, they are not too concerned since not too many hills exist where they ride. Notice the M5 is much lower tothe ground and also uses the larger rear wheel.
The Bacchetta Giro 1 has the larger rear wheel and smaller front wheel.
The way the short wheelbase rides has much to do with the wheel configuration, and we haven’t even mentioned underseat steering (USS) or above seat steering (ASS). The steering choice of seasoned riders will be USS, because of the more natural position of the arms and hands. Those who prefer the more aerodynamic position will want the ASS.Because the weight is spread more evenly on the short wheelbase it does offer very responsive and sometimes twitchy steering. But isn’t that just like a sports car?
Let’s not forget the biggest reason people ride these bikes in the first place…comfort! Are they any better? Well now that will surely depend on your body configuration and seat adjustment. In plain words….seat on the saddle! Ya gotta ride it before ya buy it! Buying before riding is just asking for disappointment. Go with you own opinion, and not some other persons experience. YOU have to feel it. Reading a ride report by someone else is not the way to buy one of these. No matter how adjustable, components, tires, even seat materials can make a huge difference. You put out some serious coin for one of these, so it should be what you want and not another’s idea of what’s good.
A short wheelbase recumbent will probably not be the first recumbent you buy. It is much more likely to be the second or even the third. Just because you get one, don’t think it will be the only one you ever own. If most of us had the economic means we would have more than one car. Don’t even think it’s any different for these bikes. Once you experience the comfort and outright fun, you’re gonna want more than one!
You know, I can talk about these incredible bikes till the cows come home, but that won’t get you any closer to one. Maybe you think this is some great, even interesting stuff to read about. It might even excite you a little bit. If this gets your adrenalin flowing even a little, you have no idea what the real thing is like. When was the last time you did something that made you smile form ear to ear? Come on…fess up! When was the last time? Do you even remember? Well, why not make it tomorrow! How’s that for a challenge?