Comfortable and fast: the recumbent bike
You can tell simply by looking at a recumbent bike that it must be more comfortable than an ordinary bicycle, but few people are aware that – with a little practice – it is also easy to ride and can travel extremely quickly. The seating position reduces the air resistance which is otherwise caused by the upright body, by up to 30 percent. The stretched seating position and the smaller frontal area also create fewer braking air vortices; a clear advantage at higher speeds on the level and downhill. An electric motor, which is already integrated in many current recumbent models or can be retrofitted, can help uphill.
The idea of riding a recumbent bike probably came from French inventors as early as the 1880s. Before that, the revolutionary chain drive had been invented, which made the elongated vehicles with the pedals up front possible in the first place. The first mass-produced model in 1914 came from Peugeot, and in 1933 a French Velocar set the world hour record for bicycles travelling at over 45 km/h. In 1986, an incredible 100 km/h was achieved.
Recumbent bicycles have been tinkered with again and again, so that the enthusiast has the choice between numerous variants, which differ mainly in the sitting or reclining position. The most popular are the so-called short recumbents, where the bottom bracket is in front of the front wheel. They have a seat height of about 40 to 60 cm and offer a moderate back leaning angle of about 45°. The carrying capacity of the up to five attachable bicycle panniers is astonishing.
One problem remains despite all the sophistication: the low vehicles can easily be overlooked by motorists. The frequently encountered flagpoles are supposed to remedy this, but they are rather a temporary solution.