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Get Bent with Reclining Cycling

By Christopher Ashley

Forget about UCI-approved bicycles – lie back and relax as we demystify the world of recumbents.

One of us

This walk-through of the excellent Catrike 700 demonstrates that fans of ‘bent cycling are just like the rest of us chain-greasers. Bentheads are just as fond of carbon, and they like valuable performance-enhancing components. Most importantly, they love talking about their rides.

Weight and wheels are important – especially as the three-wheel option offers serious performance enhancements. Unlike upright trikes. You may lose some of your turning circle, but a trike is undeniably more aerodynamic than even the best Tour de France TT bikes.

Another love

It’s easy to sneer at anything weird or different – so you must admire the JaYoe nation whose mission statement is about embracing different experiences. A recumbent is definitely that – check out this video where they visit a ‘bent shop for the first time and fall in love with the vehicle.

Matt and Ryan visited the famous Bent Up Cycles in North Hollywood to consult the gurus of all things supine. Among the more unusual discoveries of how unflattering the laid-back pose is when it comes to your gut. But one thing’s for sure – JaYoe fell in love with the ‘bent experience.

Bike vs trike

It’s easy to make any cycle aerodynamic – it’s the rider’s body that ruins the profile. So, a supine position makes it easier for the designers to reduce the aerodynamic profile – and a recumbent bicycle is, arguably, more aerodynamic than a tricycle.

For bike’s centre of gravity to sit as low as a trike’s you’d have to make an impractically long vehicle – so recumbent bikes are usually higher off the ground than trikes, and the payoff is handling that’s twitchy enough… that it’s like learning to ride a bike for the first time.

Trikes can climb

It’s a myth that trikes can’t climb – they can. At least as well as the rider can. Sure, you can’t rest your quads by jumping out of the saddle to use your calves and glutes – but you do have an ace up your sleeve. Check out the climbing in this promo video from ICE.

A good seat on a recumbent, like racing seats in a sportscar, will hold your body firmly in place. This reduces stress on your core and gives an efficient transition of power from your legs to the pedals. But if you also have a strong core – imagine the gains.


So now that we’ve established that ‘bents are efficient and fast, it’s worth noting that they’re very adaptable. If you don’t have the use of your legs but still fancy a cycle, just reposition the trike so the two wheels are at the back and the single wheel at the front. And let all hell break loose.

We do not condone the completely irresponsible behaviour of either cyclist, but if you want to see how fast a ‘bent can go – look no further. Think you might want to try a recumbent? Go sleep on it. I give it a week before you want to give one a test-ride.