Recumbent 2-wheelers come in two main categories.  Long wheelbase (LWB) bikes have the front wheel out ahead of the crankset (the pedal assembly).  Short wheelbase (SWB) bikes have the crankset out ahead of the front wheel.

LWB models tend to have more upright seats and lower cranksets (but not always).  This makes the bike easier to get the hang of.  The fact that the bike sprawls out to make room around you makes them more accessible as well.  When we teach people how to ride we start them on LWBs.  The LWB models we stock tend to be casual cruisers.  Sportier models exist, but for fast riders we stock short wheelbase.

SWB bikes are lighter and more compact.  They are more reclined and thus more aerodynamic.  They are often harder to steer through a tight turn because your legs can conflict with the front wheel or handlebars.

Most of our bike sales nowadays are SWB.  LWB bike sales have dropped off.  People who don’t mind a few extra pounds for the sake of an easy ride tend to get trikes.  People who want to keep up with their road bike buddies tend to get short wheelbase models.

There are a few subcategories of SWB and LWB bikes.

Under short wheelbase, most common are high racers, distinguished by have two large, equally sized wheels, usually 700c or 26″.  They are the most reclined, and benefit from the larger wheel’s lower angular velocity at the hub.  You need to be taller to ride one of these, but we have sold some with paired 24″ wheels.

Low racers have the typical small front wheel, large rear wheel combination of other SWB bikes, but the frame is made to set the ride as low as possible.  Steering is sometimes restricted because the chain runs beside the front wheel, but low racers are so optimized for speed that they aren’t concerned with such niceties.  We don’t carry any low racers at this time, not since Catrike quit producing the Musashi.

Lightning makes a bike they call a Mid Racer, which is basically a P-38 SWB frame with a reclined shell seat.  This term is not generally used in the industry or recumbent press.

Under long wheelbase models, medium wheelbase has come to represent long wheelbase bikes with linkage steering and a more vertical head tube angle.  (There is absolutely no reason why you need to understand those terms, but you might.)  They are a more complicated design, but easier to ride and more versatile in how they can set up.  We don’t carry any MWB bikes, not since Vision quit production of the R40 back in 2002.

Compact long wheelbase bikes were quite the rage back in the 1990’s when everyone seemed to be making one.  Now there is just the Sun EZ-Classic representing this type.  They had smaller wheels and the ride sat more over the rear wheel, instead of a larger rear wheel that the ride sat in front of.

Overall we don’t have very many bike models, as they have fallen in popularity compared to trikes.  However, we do stock recumbent 2-wheelers and stock a variety of them.

Types of riding

We also classify recumbents by how they are used. We find this classification more useful to people shopping for them.

Fast bikes are mainly short wheelbase.  Bacchetta models are reclined and aerodynamic, giving a speed advantage on descents and into the wind.  The unique Lightning P-38 is faster off the line and in a climb, built to give leverage on the pedals.

Casual bikes sit higher and more upright, with a lower crankset for easy stops and starts.

For more serious fitness, touring and commuting use we have Sport-touring bikes.

Folding bikes and suspended bikes (that is, bikes with shock absorbers) focus on all models with these upgraded, price-enhancing features.  These may also be casual or sport-touring bikes.  Fast bikes wouldn’t have these features, which add weight.

Electric assisted bikes exist, but since nearly any bike can have an assist added this isn’t a separate category.

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