A lot of people may be surprised to know that folding recumbent bicycles have actually been around for a very long time. On records, some folding recumbent bikes had already been manufactured in 1892 and were known to the general public.
The users of old folding recumbent bikes then were nobility and people of incomparable wealth. In fact, recumbent bikes even set some speed records that remained unbroken for over 50 years until standard upright bike shattered the records in 1984.
According to the history of bikes, recumbent bicycles were banned by the Switzerland-based Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) in 1938 because of the un-sportsmanlike advantage they had over the more traditional upright bikes we all use today. So, it is important to know what happened to folding recumbent bikes after that. Well, unfortunately, the UCI ban knocked recumbent bikes sideways and made them unpopular for a long time after that.
Because people couldn’t race folding recumbent bikes at a expected competitive level, bike manufacturers then decided to stick to the market they knew well—which was producing the upright bicycles for their adoring customers. It wasn’t until almost 5 decades later that folding recumbent bikes started to slowly make a reappearance.
Recumbent bikes’ resurgence was indeed slow and discouraging, at times they were almost on the brink of falling back into obscurity. But in the last 10 years, bikers have been embracing the modern-day recumbent bikes, a change that has produced a great impression on the cycling world that more and more bike manufacturers are beginning to produce them. They are producing them in a fashionable way that compels upright bikers to have interest in them. This dramatic change has eventually created a new market for the folding recumbent bikes, and the market is expected to grow in the coming years.
As many riders rediscover the beauty and convenience of the recumbent form of cycling, there is every possibility that its market may rival that of the upright biking.
So, what are the main differences between a recumbent bicycle and the upright bikes?
This is a very thoughtful question for both experienced and newbie bikers. The answer, as expected, is logical. The major difference is, of course, the style of riding them. For folding recumbent bikes, instead of sitting upright as you would on a standard bike, you just sit in a reclined position having your pedals in front of you instead of under you. Because of this, your actual style of riding will change somewhat from the one you’re normally used to. It isn’t a difficult change though, because it is more of an aesthetics change than anything else. Getting used to one is very easy, all you need to do is to practice your new bike (recumbent) for some time.
Secondly, many people believe that recumbent bikes appear more like furniture than bikes. That may be true to some extent! They also do look more difficult to understand than any other practical machines. Riding a recumbent bike will make everyone to look at you as you go past. Despite their increasing popularity, folding recumbent bikes are still something of a novelty on the road.
It may be hard to believe that if recumbent bicycles are handled very well, they can go much faster than any other forms of bicycles! And you can see that they are very comfortable. And the comfort riders feel inside the recumbent bikes is mainly responsible for their high performance and highly competitive speed.
Expectedly, operating a folding recumbent bike requires some skills you can only acquire by practicing riding it for some time. As a matter of fact, starting, stopping and steering a recumbent bike are all a little bit different than they are on ordinary bikes. Though they are fun to ride, but you won’t master a master recumbent bike for the first time: continuous practice is needed. Do you know that the riders of recumbent bicycles are often said to have Recumbent Grin as they ride their machines?
The recumbent grin is actually a reference to the pleasurable feeling recumbent riders enjoy as they recline into their bikes with the absolute ease. This feeling has been compared to the same feeling pilots go through in small planes when they settle their planes in midflight! No wonder the fans of recumbent bikes are increasing in number because of the apparent good feeling they get from riding their recumbent bikes.
If you haven’t fallen in love with recumbent bikes after all the explanation given above, highlighted below are the 10 important reasons why you should buy a recumbent bike soon:
1 – You can break the rules
There are no strict rules while riding your recumbent bikes. Its design in the modern age is nowhere different from, maybe, over a hundred years when it was first introduced.
Recumbent bikes are not seen as professional bikes; hence, they may not be subjected to the same rules as road or mountain bikes. So, go ahead and break all the cycling rules, as long as you don’t harm yourself.
2 – They are fast
And that’s all the truth you need to hear about that. Except that your speed you go will depend on your own level of fitness. And most people find themselves go faster on recumbent bikes than on standard bikes. If you are outside of the recumbent community, you may not realize that recumbent cyclists have broken almost all biking speed records there are. This is a very true assertion! You probably won’t have heard about that because no official international cycling organization monitors the records broken by any bike that isn’t of traditionally shaped frame. So why are folding recumbent bikes faster? Because of their superb aerodynamics. The riders seating position offer a reduced target for aerodynamic drag, and thus wind resistance is automatically eliminated. Also, wind speed that hinders bike’s motion is less, closer to the ground and has almost no significant effect on the recumbent bikes’ speed. If you are looking to see aerodynamics in action, ride a folding recumbent bike.
3 – Comfortable
Incomparable comfort recumbent bikes provide is probably the main reason that most bikers start showing more interest in them. No one can doubt that: recumbents are indeed very comfortable. Technically, all the weight in a recumbent bike rests on the seat you’re sitting on. You will notice that there’s little or no pressure on your wrists and arms, which is a wonderful experience really. In this position, there’s less chance of any stress-related injuries affecting your body. Let assume you ride 20 miles on an ordinary bike, the pain in your butt will make you feel like you have ridden 20 miles already. You’ll probably go to the rest rooms so as to lessen the chaffing in your inner thigh. But you won’t face such inner thigh chaffing on a recumbent bike. After riding a recumbent bike, you’ll just walk normally like you haven’t done anything.
4 – Recumbent bikes are safe
Yes, they are practically safe. Riding recumbent bikes are no more dangerous than riding any other type of bike. Because they have a lower center of gravity than normal bikes and lower to the ground, you will only have a small fall in case you tripped at all. And if you do crash, it’s your feet that will take most of the impact and not to your head, unlike when a standard bike crashed. It’s almost impossible to go over the handlebars in the event of a sudden accident while riding a recumbent bike.
Recumbent bikes are more visible on the road to other road users, especially car drivers! They can see more of your body through a car window than there is for a biker on an ordinary bike. This is because the larger part of your body will be directly in the drivers’ vision and you will unlikely be mistaken for just a speck on the road. Folding recumbent bikes also stop quicker than ordinary bikes, because your weight will be positioned directly over the rear wheel.
5 – Want to go uphill?
Recumbent bikes make it more comfortable for bikers to climb up hill. You don’t need to stand up on the pedals to get that extra power. And the muscles in your feet won’t be affected by cramps or other muscle contraction problems. However, you are likely to be slower than you might be on an ordinary bike. But if you have selected low gears, you will possibly be able to pedal your way to the top with absolute ease. Whatever happens, you will enjoy the rest of your trip as you roll downhill or sport “recumbent grin” on a flat surface.
6 – Less likely to get stolen
Don’t be afraid that your recumbent bike may get stolen: First of all, it is going to be hard for the thief to sell your recumbent bike to others. And he probably wouldn’t be able to ride it anyway because it is quite conspicuous!
7 – Come in different ranges to suit everyone
Folding recumbent bikes are available in different ranges: From the pro racer to the Trans America Tourer, there’s a recumbent for everyone! Many folding recumbent bikes are designed with only comfort in mind, while others are built mainly for performance. Here is the good news: whatever level you are thinking about getting involved in, you will find a recumbent bike that attends to your needs.
8 – It’s all about Fun
Folding recumbent bikes are obviously a novelty: they will turn heads wherever you go. People will point at you with excitement. Get ready to answer questions from everybody you meet on you’re the way. Everyone will wave at you as you go past with all pleasure. And that’s all wonderful, it increases the level of fun one has by riding on a recumbent bike. Remember that the closer you are to the ground, the faster you will feel you’re going. No words to describe the feeling as you pedal across the street staring at admiring faces.
9 – You will have a great view
This may sound quite funny to you! Because you’re lower to the ground, you will be able to see a wide view of everything around you. It’s all a matter of what you are interested in seeing. But on an ordinary bike, you look down a lot and won’t be able to see most of the beautiful views around you. Recumbent bike gives you the chance to keep looking up and taking in nice views. It’s like having a telescope in your hand. You will surely find it difficult to take your eyes off the beautiful things coming into your views!
10 – Recumbent bikes require different clothes
You must cultivate an elegant attitude of fashion while riding on a folding recumbent bike. Remember it isn’t a professional racing bike, you don’t have to put on a special biking suit to ride on it. And since you will be meeting a lot of admirers on the street, it doesn’t hurt if you can dress well, too.
All you need to remember is that the clothes on you must be loose enough so as not to hinder your pedaling. If you are wearing tight-fitting jeans that pulls on your leg muscles, you may soon get tired of the ride. How about wearing something sporty? It could be a combination of t-shirt on a sporty pair of pants. Don’t forget to vary the types of clothes you will be wearing. It would be great if you can wear something colorful; but this is not mandatory at all. All you need is something that is fashionable, comfortable on you and will not turn your biking experience into mourning.
As highlighted in this article, folding recumbent bikes have come to stay, and there is possibility that rich guys will be purchasing them to add value to their status. In the future, recumbent bikes may be accepted as racing or performance bike. This is truly a possibility as the market for folding recumbent bikes is increasing!