Published: February 2015
Author: Rolf Garthus
Comfort Without Compromise
Shortly after switching from a road bike to a recumbent bike, in 1988, I was able to ride in complete comfort. There was no compromise whatsoever on the comfort issue. Riding with friends on their road bikes was also not a problem. There was no compromise in the speed and efficiency category. Not only did my riding increase dramatically but it was way more fun. You guessed it, no compromise on the fun either.
Many diamond frame bike riders think of comfort in terms of making riding “a little less uncomfortable”. A better saddle means that your butt doesn’t hurt quite as much or doesn’t start hurting for until later in the ride. Being properly fit means that hands, neck and shoulders are a little less uncomfortable. Some discomfort on a diamond frame bike is, to many riders, accepted as part of the experience. Has discomfort been preventing you from participating in those long ride adventures? Are you riding less than you used to? On a recumbent, you will find that your long ride adventures are not only possible again but that you may want to do even longer rides.
On a properly fit recumbent, nothing hurts. It’s way beyond making riding less uncomfortable. Recumbents are completely comfortable. Your butt doesn’t hurt; there is no pressure on your hands, arms, neck and shoulders. Your back is comfortably supported and you don’t have to contort your neck into an unnatural position to see ahead of you. Properly fit recumbents put every part of your body in a natural position that remains comfortable even after many hours of riding. It’s common for riders to increase their overall biking mileage after switching to a recumbent.
On a recumbent, your head is positioned naturally to look straight ahead instead of down at the road like it is on a road bike. This is not only safer because you see dangerous situations much sooner but it’s more enjoyable as well. When you go from a road bike to a recumbent you trade in a view of roads and ditches for a view of sky and fields.” No compromise on the view either.
Today’s well-designed recumbent bikes are faster than any diamond frame bike. Recumbent trikes aren’t as efficient as a good road bike. They are, however, about equal to the efficiency of a cross bike. If you are looking for a comfortable way to keep riding and want to keep up with a group of “hammer head” riding buddies, get a good high racer recumbent bike like a Volae Team. If you are more interested in riding recreationally at a slower to moderate pace a trike is an excellent choice.
“Comfort without Compromise” is a phrase that I coined in the mid 1990’s to describe my experiences riding recumbent bikes. During one of the early Midwest Recumbent Rally’s we had a display window using the “Comfort Without Compromise” theme in our store in downtown Stevens Point. Grant Bower from Vision recumbents saw it and asked if Vision could use “Comfort without Compromise” as their tag line. I gave him my permission. Sadly, Vision is no longer in business.
- Rolf Garthus