Taking The Recumbent Exercise Bike Experience Outdoors

Taking The Recumbent Exercise Bike Experience Outdoors
NOTE: As with any exercise program, be sure to consult your doctor prior to performing any of the activities described within this or any other Bend It Cycling publication.

You have undoubtedly noticed that most good-sized gyms have at least 1 recumbent exercise bike. Everyone who has taken the time to hop on a recumbent exercise bike surely will comment that they are considerably more comfortable than toiling away for any extended period on an upright exercise bike. Not only are they more comfortable, but they are also safer on the joints and back. Here are just are a few reasons why:

1. Instead of having the majority of your weight supported by straddling a narrow saddle with your crotch on an upright exercise bike resulting in pain and or numbness. A recumbent seat allows you to distribute your weight a lot more evenly eliminating these pressure points and pain. For most, this is probably reason enough for you to make the move to a recumbent exercise bike!

2. Rather than hunching over forward with your upper body weight resting on your wrists and straining your neck and lower back, on a recumbent exercise bike your back is supported and you have no stresses imposed on your wrists!

3. Since your upper body is better supported on a recumbent exercise bike and you have more control over the pressure you are applying to your knees and feet, you are far less likely to tweak a knee or ankle by unintentionally applying lateral stress while pedaling. One significant way recumbent exercise bicycles reduce this stress is by not allowing the rider to stand up and use gravity to exert additional (and often erratic) pressure on the knees and ankles.

Considering all the benefits that gym-goers have already associated recumbent exercise bikes with, it’s no surprise that recumbent bicycles are becoming more and more of a common sight on America’s roads. After all, every benefit mentioned above carries over in its entirety from stationary recumbent exercise bikes to recumbent bicycles! But wait, there’s actually even more benefits that recumbents have over their upright counterparts once you take them on the road!

1. On average, a recumbent cyclist will experience less wind drag (by as much as 25%) compared to a cyclist riding an upright bicycle. This means that a recumbent cyclist spends on less energy fighting wind and can go faster (that’s right – faster) for the same amount of effort. As speed increases, the advantage only increases. To put this in perspective, if an upright cyclist and a recumbent cyclist were both traveling at 20 miles per hour on flat ground, the recumbent cyclist would be exerting the same amount of effort the upright cyclist would be using to maintain 15 miles per hour!

2. Recumbent bicycles have a significantly lower center of gravity and the majority of the rider’s weight is behind the bicycle’s center of gravity. The implications of these two truths are substantial.

Firstly, having a lower center of gravity than an upright bike means that recumbent bicycles are inherently less stable at very slow speeds (i.e. under 5 miles per hour) and more stable at faster speeds. Given a choice, I’m sure most of us would choose to be on a more stable bicycle at faster speeds since that’s when an accident is more likely to cause an injury.

Secondly, since most of the rider’s weight is positioned behind a recumbent bicycle’s center of gravity (CG) that means that you can fully leverage the braking power of your front brakes without worrying about being thrown over the handlebars. It is virtually impossible for the rider to “endo” (fall head first end over end) on a modern recumbent (short or long wheel based) greatly reducing the risk of traumatic head injury. As a side benefit, the view is also much improved in the recumbent position. There’s nothing like being able to freely and painlessly gaze at a clear blue sky or effortlessly take in the panoramic views while riding a recumbent.

The only characteristic of stationary recumbent exercise bikes that does not apply to recumbent bicycles is that they are not stationary. As trivial as this fact may be, it is probably the biggest reason why so many devoted recumbent exercise bike riders have not yet chosen to take the leap to recumbent bicycles.

Fortunately for anyone who has let this reason stymie their aspirations for becoming a recumbent cyclist, learning how to ride a recumbent is much, MUCH easier than many people think. The thought of learning how to ride a bike all over again as an adult is enough to make any cyclist break into a cold sweat. After all, how many of us remember how we learned it the first time?

If you would like to learn how to ride a recumbent bike, we’re here to help. Bend It Cycling will be releasing professional and comprehensive instructional videos on learning how to ride a recumbent bicycle this spring. What we’d love to hear from you is what concerns, fears, or questions do you have now that are standing between you and embarking on your recumbent cycling experience? Please send us an email at [email protected] today and let us know so we can be sure to cover it in our instructional videos!

Here is a sample of one of the topics our videos will cover!