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Recumbent Vs Road bike comparison with metrics

Discussion in 'Recumbents, Trikes and HPVs' started by dodgy, 24 Jun 2008.

  1. dodgy

    dodgy Veteran

    Location:
    Wirral
    Hi all,

    Some of you will know that a while back I had a (very) brief flirtation with a rather nice Windcheetah Speedy. I only kept her for a couple of weeks before I decided it wasn't for me, but I'm still glad I tried it. I think of it as adding another paragraph to my cycling CV :sad:

    Anyway, at the time I was rather frustrated that there seemed to be almost no evidence to support which bike/trike was fastest over a given terrain or course. Yes there was lots of "oh you'll be faster on the downhills and slower on the uphills", but none of it was backed up with any evidence. So I had to more or less go into it blind.

    I've got some data that I collected on the Speedy when riding a familiar local course and it shows that overall, the Speedy was slower for me. I'm reasonably confident that with a little more recumbent conditioning, I would have closed the gap slightly, but not enough to make the trike my regular mode of day cycling.

    The course is rolling but not hilly, and I have data that shows given heart rate, elevation and speed of both bikes. The control road bike data was captured in February at a time when I consider my overall form would have been worse than the time I captured the Speedy data in May.

    The graphs are fairly busy, but if anyone wants them I could host some images to backup what I'm saying here.

    Please, I am not inferring recumbents are inferior in any way whatsoever, I am just trying to provide some material to help other people. It would be great if other riders could do similar comparisons on other courses to try and get an idea what is the optimum terrain for a recumbent trike.

    Course details:

    'Out and back' across Wirral to the Eureka Cyclist's Café.

    Length: 24.9 miles
    Accumulated ascent: 825 feet
    Accumulated descent: 825 feet

    Windcheetah (unfaired):

    Average speed 14.6 mph
    Average HR: 142 bpm
    Time to complete distance - 1h 41m 53s

    Road Bike - Giant TCR2 ridden on the hoods - (I never use the drops)

    Average speed 16.5 mph
    Average HR: 146 bpm
    Time to complete distance - 1h 30m 45s

    Both bikes had recommend PSI of 110 PSI in the tyres.

    Perceived exertion was much greater on the Windcheetah, and to be honest, I was looking forward to getting home, but that's probably just me getting used to it!

    I'll never know for sure if I could ever close the gap, but my gut feeling is no.

    Anyone else got any other comparisons? I can post evidence for the forum statisticians if it helps :wacko:

    Dave.
     
  2. Fiona N

    Fiona N Well-Known Member

    Your numbers are pretty similar to what mine were when I first got the Windcheetah - on a 40km course with lots of short (100 - 300m length) sharp hills, I originally took about 10 minutes longer than on my road bikes. But as you noticed, the heart rate was lower on the Windcheetah throughout and gave a lower exertion overall despite the slightly longer time.

    By the time I'd toured to southern France over the Swiss and Ligurian Alps and put in a tour in America the same summer (total distance on the Windcheetah was close to 10000 miles by this time), I was doing the 40km circuit in 1 hour 8 mins, or about 15 minutes faster than I've ever previously managed on the road bike. The extra touring fitness meant that my average HR was only slightly higher despite huge improvement in time. When I swopped to the road bike, the extra fitness brought the time down to 1'16 but this was pretty stressful with my HR often close to max on the short hills at the end.

    What I took from this is that it needs a lot of effort to fully adjust to the Windcheetah (or any recumbent) but once you've got there you'll have lost some of the 'fitness' to road bikes unless you consciously train on both simulataneously.
     
  3. Riding in Circles

    Riding in Circles Veteran

    Location:
    EDINBURGH
    It takes about six months to develop your muscle set to suit the recumbent so that needs to be taken into consideration.

    I cannot really give a comparison as such because I find wedgies to uncomfortable to ride after riding a trike for years, but I am faster now that I was when I was at my fastest on a standard road bike on average. I have a customer who rides both, he started slower on the trike (Catrike 700), but now after two months he is fairly equal, he is actually faster than before on his road bike but the same average speed as on the trike.
     
  4. dodgy

    dodgy Veteran

    Location:
    Wirral
    Thanks Fiona, I think your final sentiment is spot on. I simply don't have the time to be optimised for 3 different styles of riding (I also ride offroad) so had to make a choice.

    Great bits of kit though (the Speedy)!
    Dave.
     
  5. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Location:
    York, UK
    I have to say, since I don't race and have no interest in racing, I frankly couldn't care less which is faster!

    I do know that I'll descend a hill much faster on my trike than on my upright two wheelers, just because it's more stable and I have less fear! Of course I probably climb a little slower, but I reckon the screaming descents make up for that!

    And at the end of a long day, I'd rather have taken a few minutes longer and not have a sore arse...:smile:
     
  6. dodgy

    dodgy Veteran

    Location:
    Wirral
    Each to their own, I also found the sweaty back on the trike really uncomfortable for me, it was horrible sat in the cafe while my back was soaking wet :smile: I reckon the trike would be comfortable on an all day ride from an aching muscle point though, but to be honest, I don't really get aching muscles on my road bike, even on the longest rides, perhaps I'll revisit the whole recumbent thing when I'm a bit older.

    Dave.
     
  7. Riding in Circles

    Riding in Circles Veteran

    Location:
    EDINBURGH
    I have a mesh seat so not a problem.
     
  8. dodgy

    dodgy Veteran

    Location:
    Wirral
    Yep, I would have thought mesh is the way to go. As you know, it's a solid back on the Speedy, though I imagine someone could fabricate a meshed design for it?

    Dave.
     
  9. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Location:
    York, UK
    Ah of course, being a lady, I don't sweat, I glow...;)
     
  10. byegad

    byegad Guru

    Location:
    NE England
    I'd just like to say this comment is the best aurgument EVER for recumbents and it's nice to have it put in such a ladylike way too!!:smile:;);)
     
  11. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    Location:
    South London
    That's an amazingly small difference considering you hadn't acclimatized to the trike! I seem to remember it took me 2000km before I felt up to speed on my Hurricane. I believe recumbent trikes are slightly slower than recumbent two wheelers, all else being the same.
     
  12. dodgy

    dodgy Veteran

    Location:
    Wirral
    I think almost 2mph is quite a difference, put it this way, if I was to do a hundred miles into Wales which I do fairly often, the Speedy would have added on at least one hour.
    One thing I didn't point out is that the road bike stats above were taken in February, and I'm now doing that distance at more like 18mph average. But in the interest of fairness, I took the February stats because it was the exact same course and that is the last time I'd done it.

    Who cares, I'm sure (positive in fact) that we're all happy with our bikes/trikes. I didn't want this to turn into an upright vs recumbent thread (which I've pointed out several times already), I really just wanted to provide some useful metrics for other would be riders. Ultimately, if speed is of no importance to you, which is obviously true for at least some of the readership here, then buy whatever is comfortable.
    I value speed highly, but appreciate not everyone does. Now if there was a way of measuring comfort between the two, that would be another thing ;)

    Dave.
     
  13. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    Location:
    South London
    Oh, I'm not pounding upright bikes, I like my uprights as much as the recumbent. I am a good 3-4mph faster on the Hurricane though, which is a very heavy bike since it's an old model. I'm sure the difference would be considerably more if I had a new superlight model, given that I live in Kent.
     
  14. dodgy

    dodgy Veteran

    Location:
    Wirral
    Don't worry Mikey, I didn't interpret your post as pounding uprights ;)

    Dave.
     
  15. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Location:
    York, UK
    I'm sure if I was capable of any appreciable speed, I'd value it. But I'm most capable of pootling between cafes, so it doesn't mean so much!:smile:

    (I should say, my trike gets very little use, because of storage issues. Most of the time I'm upright, and just as slow and pootley...;))

    The comfort thing is important though. After 68 miles on the trike a couple of weeks ago, (my longest ever, on any bike!), I was tired, and I had a touch of sunburn on my thighs, and a little twinge in one knee. I'm sure on my upright, I'd have had all those, a sore bottom, stiff shoulders and wrists and neck. It is hard to quantify of course, but you can't beat a recumbent in those terms I think...