Seeking Recumbent Bike Advice (Lightweight, Comfortable) and Info on "Bigha" Controversy?
July 27, 2004 2:07 AM   Subscribe

The "Bigha" recumbent bike advert on the MeFi front page. I spent hours researching it and got excited about a "bent". More inside.

My question is, what brand recumbents should I look into? My priorities are: occasional riding on flat paved surfaces such as rails-2-trails, light weight, comfortable. Things such as price, speed, style are secondary.

After reading all about the Bigha and being sold on the idea I checked out Google and found out this is probably the most controversial bike in the recumbent sub-culture. It is seen as the Hummer of the bent world, really exspensive, for posers who don't know anything about bikes and really heavy. I'm not sure how much of that is true and how much is flack for being "diffrent", people who ride one have good things to say, but basically it is not the right bike for me as it is too heavy. But they did sell me on the idea of a recumbent. Any suggestions?
posted by stbalbach to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
It's heavy and expensive, partly by virtue of all the uneccessary accessorization tacked onto it. It's sales angle is the usual "high tech" re-invention of something that should be mechanically simple that people in the bike industry love to indulge in. Their marketing is sharp, so they'll probably do very well. Just don't try to push one up any kind of a hill and I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

For what it's worth, in terms of quality v. price amongst the more mainstream brands, I think Optima and Burley are both worth a look. I was sorry to see Vision went out of business. They were really good value; too good, perhaps.
posted by normy at 6:05 AM on July 27, 2004

By the way, if budget really isn't a concern, a Windcheetah is by far the most lust-worthy recumbent out there.
posted by normy at 6:45 AM on July 27, 2004

The Bigha (apparently descended from the BikeE) really is heavy and spendy. I'm sure you could do better. might be a good starting-point to educate yourself on the market. The IHPVA operates a number of mailing lists where you can chat with others about the subject.

Recumbents, as you may have noticed, come in a much wider range of shapes and styles than diamond-frame bikes--you've got long wheelbase vs short, over-seat steering vs under, high seating position vs low, different wheel sizes, trikes (which have several different typologies as well), and so on. It might be worth it to scare up a dealer and try a few before committing.
posted by adamrice at 8:00 AM on July 27, 2004

apparently descended from the BikeE

Rumor has it that some local bike shops are very annoyed to see Bigha emerge, following the sudden demise of BikeE - after they were left holding a bunch of unsupported BikeE stock and having to honor warrantees by themselves to save customer goodwill.
posted by normy at 9:17 AM on July 27, 2004

If you want a low-end bent to get your feet wet, tour easy designed an 'ez cruiser' with nice frame geometry that is being manufactured in Taiwan. They can be had for $300 on Ebay.

I didn't realize that Vision went out of business, they were great. Also you might want to google "recumbent cyclist newsletter" and look at the sample issues for reviews, as well as the recumbent news group, which appears to have been somewhat overrun by a couple of blabbermouths.
posted by mecran01 at 9:36 AM on July 27, 2004

Before you buy anything make sure you get a substantial test ride or two. I lusted after a recumbent for a few years until I got to try one for a weekend. I took the large sum of money I was going to plonk down on a RANS Rocket and put it on a chi-chi touring bike instead. I've never regreted my choice.

That's not to say that a recumbent is not for you, but do try before you buy.
posted by bonehead at 10:22 AM on July 27, 2004

Yeah, the bighas are kind of mocked in the cycling community, usually due to the weight, but I think the target rider of it isn't anyone in the cycling community (i.e., normal people). I've gotten to talk with the founder of bigha and asked him point blank why the bike weighs about ten pounds more than other similar recumbents and he said he wanted to make a bike that was bulletproof and could handle anything, and be as comfortable as possible.

Personally, I like that the bighas use a full sized wheel in the back, as I'm often riding on bike lane-free roads, visibility is key for me. While I wish it weighed 30-40 lbs instead of 50, it has been indescructable so far and it's quite comfortable. I'm working on a review that I'm writing up on my site, probably going up later this week.

I looked at a lot of recumbents and right now you can find some amazing deals on old BikeE models on ebay. If you looking for a new one, I'd suggest cannondale or burley models. Remember that all recumbents are on the expensive side due to the low sales and custom nature of their frames.

Also, I would definitely say try before you buy. You'd be surprised how weird they feel at first, how crappy they feel going up hills, but eventually how comfortable they feel when you've gotten used to them. Also, at least with my bigha, the bike requires a really weird set of muscles. While most of my cycling to date has built up my quads and calves, riding in a horizontal position mostly uses my glutes and hamstrings on the back of my legs to push the bike around. Also be wary of "recumbent butt" which is poor blood flow in your ass due to the way you sit and the work your butt is doing. If a recumbent isn't fitting right, you may end up with numbness in your butt and exhausted legs.
posted by mathowie at 10:51 AM on July 27, 2004

Some more info here
posted by scarabic at 12:17 PM on July 27, 2004

The only recumbents I've ever liked were short wheelbase with under seat steering. Anything else feels especially retarded. But then again, I actually like the feel of a Selle Italia Flite betwixt my asscheeks.
posted by blasdelf at 9:14 PM on July 27, 2004

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