For the most part, you can use whatever bike components you want on your recumbent. Of course you should stay aware of compatibility issues in wheels, headsets, brakes, transmissions, and drivetrains as on any bike, and consult with a mechanic before buying replacement parts. There is no problem using clipless pedals on recumbents, and you can use whatever pedals you like. We encourage you to get familiar with starting and stopping before removing the stock pedals.
You, or your preferred local bike shop, should be aware of these differences:
Frame and frame specific accessories:
Of course the frame is different, and the seat parts, many steering parts, and sometimes the front fork, are manufacturer-specific. In some cases a part is borrowed from other applications (such as the seatpost clamps used on many steering risers). But mostly you should expect to get such parts from the manufacturer or from shops like Easy Street who are familiar with these items. Also, accessories that are designed to mount to the bike frame (including computers, dynamos, kickstands, frame pumps, and racks) might have incompatibilities with your recumbent. It is best to confer with an experienced recumbent mechanic before buying such items. Easy Street stocks lots of items that we know to work well with our bikes. Water bottle cages are not a problem on most makes.
Cable length and cable management:
Some recumbents require tandem length cables on rear brakes or shifters. We have plenty of these at Easy Street, but if you are sourcing parts from elsewhere, make sure they keep some of these in stock. Cable management, or how the cables are routed and secured, varies with each design. Good cable management is one of the subtle benefits of well-engineered recumbents. The design must allow for size adjustment while still keeping cables in place., Cables should stay out of the pedals and chain, and should not bind in sharp turns. Guide tubes supplied with linear pull brakes may not direct the cable housing appropriately, but these are easy parts to bend or replace. Be aware that less experienced shops might route cables incorrectly, leading unnecessary noise, wear, or brake seizure during turns.
Chain management and cross-gearing:
Two to three regular chains are needed to equip a recumbent. You just buy chains and rivet several of them together using the standard procedures, tools and materials for working with bike chain. No special chain or links are needed. Rollers and tubes used to guide the chain are used on some models, and these parts are usually manufacturer specific. Chain management parts are the only system that is truly peculiar to recumbents and not found on other bikes (except for downhill bikes). A benefit of the long chain is that cross gearing is not a problem on properly built recumbents. Nor are recumbents too fussy about proper chain line.
Recumbent wheels are built just like other bike wheels, using the same hubs, shorter spokes, and smaller rims. In many cases, BMX specific rims and tires are suitable for recumbents. This doesn’t mean they are optimal, though. True recumbent wheels have more narrow rims and mountain or road bike hubs.
Some people express reservations about the smaller wheels on recumbents. For the most part, smaller wheels are not slower because such bikes are built with larger gear ratios, resulting in a range of gears similar to other bikes. People pushing for highest possible speed (at the expense of other factors) opt for larger wheels. The lower angular speed at the hub gives less rolling resistance. Larger wheels also make for a higher sitting bike, meaning tougher starts and stops, and a taller aerodynamic profile. Smaller wheels are stronger and have less mass (relative to how fat the rim and tire are), meaning faster acceleration.