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A recumbent cycle is a bike that places the rider in a relaxed reclining position. For most riders, the good thing about riding a recumbent is that it is more ergonomic ; positioning the rider's weight more nicely by distributing it over many sq. feet of the back and bum. On a normal upright cycle, the body weight rests on some square inches of the sit bones, the feet, and the hands. Most recumbent models also have an aerodynamic advantage ; the reclined, legs-forward position of the rider's body presents a smaller frontal profile. A recumbent holds the world speed record for a cycle, and they were banned from global racing in 1934 for a mixture of tradition, safety, and industrial reasons. Recumbents are available in a good range of configurations, including : long to short wheelbase ; giant, little, or a mixture of wheel sizes ; overseat, underseat, or no-hands steering ; and rear wheel or front wheel drive.
A variant with 3 wheels is a recumbent tricycle. Recumbent bicycles might be classified according to their wheelbase : long wheelbase ( LWB ) models have the pedals found between the front and back wheels ; short wheelbase ( SWB ) models have the pedals in front of the front wheel ; compact long wheelbase ( CLWB ) models have the pedals either extraordinarily near to the front wheel or above it.
Inside these categories are fluctuations, intermediate types, and even convertible designs ( LWB to CLWB ) - there's no "standard" recumbent. The rear wheel of a recumbent is customarily behind the rider and is going to be any size, from around sixteen inches ( 410 mm ) to the 700c of an upright racing cycle.
The front wheel is sometimes smaller than the rear, though a number of recumbents feature dual 26-inch ( ISO 559 ), ISO 571 ( 650c ), or ISO 622 ( 700c ) wheels. Prominent among these are "highracers", for example the Bacchetta Corsa and Strada or Volae Team, or the "LWB-style" RANS Stratus XP. Bigger wheels sometimes have lower rolling resistance but a higher profile leading to higher air resistance.
Highracer backers also claim that they are steadier, and although bike stability increases with the height of the middle of gravity above the ground, the large range of recumbent designs makes such generalizations unreliable. Another virtue of both wheels being the same size is the bike needs just one size of inner tube.
The pivoting-boom front-wheel drive Flevobike racer with 700c wheels ( NL ) the most typical agreement is maybe an ISO 559 rear wheel and an ISO 406 ( 20-inch ) front wheel. The tiny front wheel and huge rear wheel combo is employed to keep the pedals and front wheel clear of one another, ignoring the problem called "heel strike" ( where the rider's heels catch the wheel in tight turns ). A pivoting-boom front-wheel drive ( PBFWD ) configuration also overcomes heel strike since the pedals and front wheel turn together. PBFWD bikes might have twin 26-inch ( 660 mm ) wheels or bigger. As with upright bicycles, most recumbents are rear wheel drive. However, because of the vicinity of the crank to the front wheel, front wheel drive ( FWD ) can be a choice, and it allows for a much shorter chain. One style needs the chain to turn a little to make allowance for steering. Another style, Pivoting-boom FWD ( PBFWD ), has the crankset attached to and moving with the front fork.
As well as the much shorter chain, the benefits to PBFWD are use of a bigger front wheel for lower rolling resistance without heel strike ( you can pedal while turning ) and use of the higher body when running or climbing. The main drawback to all FWD designs is "wheelspin" when climbing steep hills covered with loose gravel, wet grass, for example. This especially is affecting off-road riders, and can be ameliorated by shifting the weight forward, applying steady pressure to the pedals, and using tires with extra assertive tread. Another downside of PBFWD for some riders is a touch longer "learning curve" due to adaptation to the pedal-steer effect ( forces applied to the pedal can essentially steer the bike ). Noob riders have a tendency to swerve along a serpentine trail till they evolve a balanced pedal motion. After adaptation, a PBFWD recumbent can be ridden in as straight a line as any other bike, and can even be led correctly with the feet only.