Photo by MJ Klein
I love to ride bicycles. The problem is that I am too big for conventional type bikes. I own a Giant mountain bike, and while where is nothing wrong with the design of the bicycle, I am in quite a bit of pain and discomfort after about 15 minutes on it. Therefore, I cant ride it for very long. Plus because I can’t ride for very long, I don’t ride it very often either because it’s not worth the effort to take it out for 15 minutes. This means that I haven’t been enjoying bicycle riding as much as I would like to because basically I hate riding my diamond frame. The design just doesn’t make any sense for me. I want something different. Something comfortable and something that I can put a lot of distance on and not cause problems that outweigh the health benefits of riding.
My friend Kevin Kao makes recumbent bicycles. In simple terms, this design allows the rider to recline and pedal with the feet forward (and usually) pedal with the feet roughly at the same height as the hips. The seat on a recumbent bicycle is actually a seat (as opposed to a saddle on a diamond frame) and is designed to support the riders weight. The riding positing of the recumbent allows the rider to lay back, in a manner of speaking. There is no pressure on the handlebars (my main problem) and one doesn’t have to ride hunched over with the neck craning up in order to see ahead (another of my problems).
I’m also too large for nearly all recumbent designs. Actually, I’m too heavy, I should say. But, there is one design that I can ride, and it’s an absolutely blast! Here it is:
This is a recumbent tricycle of a design known as a “tadpole” which refers to 2 wheels up front.
For some reason, recumbents are looked down up by “real” bicycle riders, and as such, there is a great deal of folklore about recumbents, and most of it pure bull I might add. One of the first things you will hear diamond frame riders say is “You can’t climb hills on a recumbent.” My response to that would be “Neither can you.” This is because diamond frame riders stand up when climbing hills, and use their body weight and gravity plus the additional power derived by pulling up on the handlebars. You can’t stand up on a recumbent so you have to use your muscles to push against the seat. You most certainly can climb hills on a recument, and the rider who does so, does it on sheer muscle power and not by using their weight on the pedals. One could argue that the recumbent rider gets where he is going based on his ability to power the bike directly. The truth is, there are very many strong recumbent riders who keep up with diamond frame riders rather easily. But the best part of hill climbing is that you will beat the pants off your diamond frame riders on the way down because of the superior areodymanic positioning of the recumbent rider. The Wikipedia article gives further information in a very balanced manner. I recommend reading it.
I saw quite a few models, and it was great being around so many cool bicycle designs. I saw some top-secret new product designs that I can’t tell you about yet, but someday soon!
This is Mr. Kevin Kao talking business with Hui-chen.
This model sports fenders and a versitile accessory holder, shown here with a bottle holder on the right side as viewed from the cockpit.
The other side sports a GPS (yeah!) and a mirror (this shot is reverse angle). Notice the disc brakes. Each brake has a lock for parking. One of the great things about riding a trike is that you can just park it on the side of the road and take a break without taking your feet off the pedals – it’s that comfortable.
I had a lot of fun riding these trikes and I hope you enjoyed reading about them too!