Dumb Question - Bent Handling ?


Ride It Like You Stole It!
South Manchester

I've been a roadie for 21 years, done TT's mainly, some road races and done the MTB'ing thing - and some mad stuff like up Snowdon in February (it was a nice day).... but I know bob all about 'bents'.

I know how 'normal' diamond frame bikes handle but how do recumbents compare - I've never ridden one, I know they are faster on the flat, but how well do they do bends and how are they in traffic ?

You have a low'ish centre of gravity that helps, but on a road bike by transferring weight to the 'opposite' pedal you can lower your balance massively...

Just very interested ? Couldn't justify the space in the garage though....

I have just managed to convince the wife I need the third road bike (excluding the mtb commuter) in 12-18 months time that will be a Dura Ace/C Record thing !

Johnny Thin

New Member
Have you looked at the FAQs available? Kinetics and bicycleman come to mind.

I find them safer in traffic - less far to fall but still good visibility if you have about a 50cm seat height.

They're supposed to be much faster round bends but I've always been a coward.


Rider of Seolferwulf
South London
My Hurri goes like stink around fast bends. The handling is pretty neutral in that the bike won't automatically go back to vertical on it's own after the corner, you have to steer it back upright. Most upright bikes have to be held down into the corner a little. The steering is incredibly quick, a few times when I first got the bike I'd lean faaaar too much into medium speed tight turns, and have to flick the bike back upright again. Whilst that means you have to concentrate, it's great if a driver strays into your lane and you can just flick the bike out of the way.

I ride it loads in traffic as most of my riding is commuting in London. It's not hugely different to commuting on the fixed gear. The main differences are that on the bent you get seen slightly more often, drivers give you a little more time and space, filtering is slightly less easy, and a few T-junctions are slightly more difficult to negotiate because your head is further back than your feet. The disadvantages are really only quite small, though, and more than made up for in terms of comfort and the easy speed of the 'bent.

Of course, given that the range of different types of bent's, the range in handling is pretty big too.


Über Member
Plus you can keep pedalling around bends :blush: And those with suspension also allow faster cornering speeds on rough (= most?) roads too. Finally, if you do have to stop quickly, the low CofG combined with a disc braked 406 wheel really does the biz..
The recumbent position does make it difficult to 'look over your shoulder' without doing an ab curl each time, but a mirror is your friend here. I find that I'm more relaxed in traffic on a 'bent with a mirror than a DF bike without, as I can constantly see what's going on behind.


One of the best things about recumbents is the handling! They are much more exciting than uprights - perhaps something to do with being closer to the ground, but swooping through curves on a recumbent feels like piloting a fighter plane...

On the Kingcycle, the steering seems to be principally for dodging potholes. For normal curves and corners, it's enough just to lean. With a little experience this becomes second nature. It's not the easiest bike to handle at very low speeds while climbing steep hills, but low speed stability is greatly dependent on the front tyre; with a Conti Grand Prix (28C) it's twitchy, while with a Vredestein S-Licks it's almost too stable, to the point of feeling sluggish. I have yet to find the ideal front tyre.

The Challenge Fujin SLII is the best steering recumbent I've ridden. It's stable down to walking speed, but also at high speed. It's beautiful. And it weighs <19lbs, unlike most recumbents. It's about as low as a bike can be while remaining practical for road use, and it only costs £2000 (which might sound like a lot of money, but how much is a TdF replica?). There are other "glamourous" bikes in the same class, like the Velokraft VK2 and the FWD Cobra Royale. I came to recumbents from a background rather like yours, fossyant. I urge you to at least try a modern, refined recumbent before you lay out all that dosh on another upright - you might just change your mind. And that would open up a whole new world :blush:


BentMikey said:
...Of course, given that the range of different types of bent's, the range in handling is pretty big too.
Quite so (though I reckon Challenge have got recumbent steering geometry and weight distribution absolutely nailed now).

The choice of handlebar makes a big difference. My preference, so far, has been for the "open cockpit" design which mimicks upright steering in that you turn the bars around the steering axis. Many recumbents (particularly the faster ones) are fitted with "hamster" bars, which act more like a tiller in that they move in a side-to-side arc. Then (generally on more sedate bikes) there's underseat steering too - great for relaxed touring.

Fiona N

NickM said:
Then (generally on more sedate bikes) there's underseat steering too - great for relaxed touring.

I would have to query this - my Speedmachine has USS and we don't believe in sedate :rolleyes:

I absolutely agree with the comments above above 'bent steering - variable depending on the make/model but when you get one that you get on with the experience in fast corners is just pure adrenaline. I'm a fast, confident descender on an upright (trained by Italians in the Alps) but given a choice between an upright and the Speedmachine, well there is no choice really unless you want to stay with the bunch. Last March in Mallorca, there were a lot of very startled roadies (and some surprised motorists too) on the descent from Lluc - blown away sums it up nicely.
I have aa idea the recumbent acts like a big spoiler and the faster you go, the greater the downpressure so you never get the 'about to lose contact' feeling that I've had a few times on a upright at 90+kmph. At this speed, the SpM feels like it's on rails.

Try a recumbent - it'll change the way you think about bikes even if you never become a diehard 'bentrider (I still really miss riding fast uprights - back problems mean it's not a long-term option)

Andy in Sig

Vice President in Exile
The best description of the difference in handling which I read is that you steer an upright with your shoulders and a recumbent with your bum. I've got a USS Street Machine and the feeling of security and control on downhill bends is a lot higher than on an upright.
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