Hot!Two Wheel Recumbents

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Mike Wilkerson
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2019/10/29 13:01:29 (permalink)

Two Wheel Recumbents

Sometimes, it's best to go straight to the source: customers. As we're all aware of the decline in the 2-wheel market segment, my question to you is this: what do you see as the major stumbling block(s) in the 2-wheel market? Is it lack of innovation? Are trikes so easy to ride that why bother with 2-wheelers? Is electric assist the next logical step in gaining back 2-wheel sales?
 
Keep in mind the above questions are only examples. I'd like your feedback, your friend's feedback, your bike shop's feedback- essentially anyone who is willing to give some logical and common sense answers to these questions. I'd also add that while small things may help (aesthetic items like seat covers, etc.) we're looking at big picture changes/innovations which might make a substantial impact. 
 
Looking forward to your responses!
 
Mike Wilkerson
Bacchetta
#1

15 Replies Related Threads

    Doc Dan
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/10/29 20:10:23 (permalink)
    First, 3 wheel bikes appeal to more people with more money: my generation.  Second, there was always a cultural resistance to recumbents.  I had it.  Old white guys with fuzzy white beards, fat bellies and a helicopter beanie.  Not `real' cyclists.  Second second ... the fact is that two wheel recumbents are simply not as maneuverable as diamond frame bikes.  How many 7 year old kids do we see storming around on a 2 wheel recumbent.  Fourth, if you're not going to go for a performance 2 wheel recumbent you're more likely to be persuaded to get a trike: casual, occasional recreation that doesn't require breaking both elbows.  Fifth, a local invitational recently made a big increase in participants by inviting motorized bikes.  Still ... only diamond frame bikes showed up.  One fellow showed up on a home built trike with four car batteries attached (he placed first, a'course).  
     
    Finally, it is no news that open road cycling is increasingly dangerous.  For both standard and recumbent bikes.  As for trikes ... a death wish.  
     
    Me?  I've elected against cremation so that I can enter eternity on my Ti Aero .... riding up hill.
    #2
    bentcyclist
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/10/30 09:41:40 (permalink)
    Outdoor recreation participation is declining in general. I’ve said several times that the trike is a better definition for a recumbent for the majority of riders that can’t or won’t ride a typical DF bike. Eliminating the risk of falling is a huge driver for those aging cyclists Interested in recumbents. Slap a motor on that trike and now you don’t even have to get tired. Motorized bikes and trikes are the next logical step to a human population heading to a future of non stop couch sitting. Most humans don’t want to sweat, so give them an excuse not to, then that’s where they will head. Why go outside, when you can sit on the couch; fire up the virtual reality room and experience everything life has to offer sitting in your adult diaper.
    post edited by bentcyclist - 2019/10/30 10:21:59
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    Mike Wilkerson
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/10/30 11:08:18 (permalink)
    Thing is, I can't argue with either of these two replies. They're both valid and well thought out and relevant. I think another stumbling block is the internet itself. Used to be that customers would drive hours to a shop and buy- there were no other options. Now, with the internet, it's become all about used bikes. The number of questions about used bikes we get is staggering, easily 70-80% of our calls. So, people are buying 2-wheelers, but they're buying used.
     
    Mike Wilkerson
    Bacchetta
    #4
    bentcyclist
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/10/30 13:05:44 (permalink)
    I’ll give a few more thoughts. You guys know I love Bacchetta. I’ve owned virtually every model you’ve made over the past 15 years. I’ve also owned Nocoms, M5CHR’s, Barons, etc. always looking for what I call practical performance improvements. For example, my M5’s were faster than my Carbon Aeros, but yet, I keep going back to Carbon Aeros simply because M5’s introduced too many annoyances. At 6 foot, I barely could ride one for fit. To ride it, I had to notch the boom and seat, go to 155 cranks and raise the seat angle, which together, offset the aero advantage I was looking for. The Carbon Aero has always been the closest to my Old Trek Madone. Light, fast and simple to ride and maintain.

    Having said all that, I can’t really say that my CA3.0 is all that different in ride experience versus my first CA1.0 or TI Aero. I appreciate the refinements over the years, but it still is a stick that I attach the same carbon seat, components and wheels. Therefore, there really is no great need to buy new, since I can just buy a used one from another owner for less than half the cost.

    So John comes out with the new a Freestyle bent stick with all the latest refinements in the road bike world. Honestly, I just couldn’t get excited about it. I already know that the aluminum frame is going to give me a harsh ride over expansion joints. There is nothing I see in the design that is going to make me faster,so why give up my Carbon Aero? And it is still over 26 pounds.

    So what would excite me as an aging performance enthusiast? I want my new two wheeler to go faster. I want it to leverage air drag reduction, so I can whoop that 30 year old on the $10k road bike. I also don’t want to give up comfort and fit. Why not make a better fitting M5CHR? Make it carbon fiber, make it lighter and figure out how a guy 5’10” to 6’ can ride it. Figure out how to make the Carbon Aero or Pelso 5 to 8 pounds lighter. Stop trying to sell me bents that weigh 26 pounds plus when I wan to ride with road cyclists on 16 pound bikes. Stop telling me there is no difference. Trust me, there is. Integrate the seat for look and power transfer. Hide the cables. Make the stays wider for more modern tire widths, Stay more current with road bike changes. Net, offer me a speed bent that has the speed of an M5CHR and the light weight of a sub 18 pound Carbent. Talk to Morciglio and Malric about what makes a bent fast and stylish. End of the day, touring and casual riding will be overtaken by e bikes and bents. The platform the motor connects to is less important. Many of us buying used is because we are seeing the same old two wheel bent recreated over and over. Transfer the Carbon Trike wow to the two wheel Aero and make the reasons obvious. Blow us away with something Zockra like. A super light weight Zockra with innovative styling and obvious speed improvements is the equivalent with what you did to the world of trikes. Call if you want me to test ride it 😃
    post edited by bentcyclist - 2019/10/30 13:36:07
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    Doc Dan
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/10/30 13:32:57 (permalink)

    Bents, for me, are not about beating upright cyclists in terms of speed or climbing.  Speed and climbing is 99% the physical capabilities of the cyclist.  That being said I believe that what I've done with my Ti Aero, CA2 and CA3 makes the `stick' bike more aerodynamic than the S curve bents.  The `S' adds to the drag, whereas with my modifications I don't have the `S' or drag.  The tiller and Polk gunner seat make my modification to the B' bikes superior across the board.  
    post edited by Doc Dan - 2019/10/30 18:12:48

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    bentcyclist
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/10/30 13:41:01 (permalink)
    Dan - platform makes a difference for most of the performance riding out there. Yet, I can’t find a platform that puts it all together. I’ve owned and weekend warrior raced all the popular bents out there, and no one has put it all together. What you do on a bike is amazing, but it’s not what most of us do. Most of us weekend warriors deep down are looking for that road safe speed machine for 20 plus mph speeds over a 20 to 50 mile group road ride whether we ride solo or with the group.
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    bentman1953
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/10/30 14:57:05 (permalink)
     
     
    1.)  More Trike sales mean less two wheel sales.  (Too much market overlap.)
     
    2.)  Uncomfortable DF bikes spurred recumbent sales. Now with carbon fiber bikes with relaxed frames the DF bikes are giving recumbents a run for their money.
     
    3.)  Price. If you want to try out mountain biking, an entry level, new Trek can be had for $500.00 or less. Entry level recumbents are roughly 3 times that amount.
     
    4.) Marketing. When customers go to a bike shop to purchase a new bike, almost none of them have even considered a recumbent. Recumbents are not on most folks radar.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    #8
    Doc Dan
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/10/30 21:52:03 (permalink)
    # 1 didn't apply to a solid Texas trike champ.  He found the trike limiting and just went up to a 2 wheel bent.  Killed it at the recent Texas Time Trials on his 2 wheel machine.  My guess is that there is no `principle' or trend in this.  Just something that will happen.  
     
    # 2.  upscale CF diamond frames may have weight and a few other things going for them.  Except they have: saddle sores, Shermer's neck, agonizing shoulder soreness and numb wrists and hands for days or weeks.  No matter how you slick up a diamond frame all the downsides still remain.  
    post edited by Doc Dan - 2019/10/30 21:55:43
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    bentman1953
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/10/31 07:23:53 (permalink)
    On #1, I don't know this for a fact, I just know it's true, that more 2-wheel recumbent riders have gone to trikes than trike riders have gone to 2-wheel bents.
     
    On #2, I live in an area where a large number of serious riders have tried recumbents and rejected them for uprights.
     
    So I questioned, over the summer, a couple of the most recent riders to reject recumbents. The first guy I talked to is a strong upright rider, his bikes get the best of everything. He bought a new, Carbon Aero and decked it out with full Dura-Ace componentry right down to the wheels. He bought the bike for temporary health issues. When his health issues subsided he went back to an upright.
    Why?
         1.)  He said that hills are a problem. Every hill has to be thought out as how to get up it. (I concur, hills that seem like Mt Everest on my bent are almost an after thought on an upright.)
         2.)  Starting on a hill is a real killer vs an upright. (You know it's true.)
         3.)  Bents don't pace well with uprights on hills.
         4.)  Bents don't lend themselves well to group rides. The experience is not the same. (You can't discount the social aspect of bike riding.)
     
    The second rider I talked to is an extremely fast upright rider. He bought a Corsa for health reasons. Again when those reasons alleviated he went back to uprights. Why?
         1.)  He would concur with everything previously mentioned.
         2.)  He hated mixing with road traffic or stopping and starting while riding through the city. (I look at Doc Dan's Carbon Aero and I drool because I know what I could do with that bike. However, I'd be terrified to ride that bike through busy traffic, in cities, starting up a hill etc.)
     
    The bottom line is this: Recumbents solve a lot of issues but have unique issues of their own.
     
     
    #10
    tojesky
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/10/31 18:59:57 (permalink)
    Very good observations and comments here.
     
    1.  I agree that the recumbent market is limited and trikes compete with bikes.  So as trikes increase, bikes decrease
     
    2.  The old race car adage, race on Sunday, sell on Monday.  No recumbents in racing means no visibility in sales on the following week. Also it is a chicken or the egg with bike shops. When asked about recumbents, they say no one asks for them.  It is marketing. If you don't have recumbents or do not push them if you do, then they will not sell. People on the trails I ride often ask if I made this bike myself, they never saw one before.  But then they say they'll stick with their "regular" bike when the learn only one bike shop in Houston sells them.
     
    2a.  Get UCI to allow high racer bents on the time trial stages of the tours and you'll see a big increase in recumbent two wheel sales.
     
    3.  Yes, it is harder to start on a hill and to some extent climb.  But in watching the pro bike races, most upgrade riding is done in a seated position. Obviously there are exceptions like Contador who stood on his pedal uphill most of the way.  But Froome and others are seated most of the time.
     
    4.  Local riding with frequent stops can be an issue. I don't ride streets that often but when I do, I don't have an issue starting. But it is flat in southeast Texas!!
     
    5.  And yes, develop some improvement in the high racer design and you'll see sales of two wheel bents increase. Mike, you are right, I tell people interested in my CA2 that Craigslist and BentRider are a good way to get a good bike. And there are plenty out there.  Not much has changed and a new drivetrain or wheelset are not that expensive when starting with a preowned bike. Especially if you want to try it for a while.
     
     
    I have a 2013 CA2.0 that I bought new and have almost 40,000 miles on it.  I have changed wheels from original to some better quality Eastons and Vueltas. But each of those wheelsets have nearly identical 20,000 miles and are treating me just fine. I have no intent of getting a CA3 - that would not give me anything more than what I already have for the most part.

    2013 CA2.0 - 700c
    2014 ICE VTX+
    2013 Invacare Force G hand cycle
    2006 Corsa  (Sold July, 2013)
    #11
    La Tortue
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/11/03 10:23:19 (permalink)
    Thank you for asking. This isn’t intended as an insult, merely my optic as to what started the decline of the two wheeled recumbent market. In the early 2000’s Bacchetta’s “Big Blue’” race team was out and about, the Claxton ride, for example. It was a beautiful site to see 50-60 recumbents at a local ride having a blast. Also, the locals discovered recumbents weren’t as slow as they had been led to believe. Recumbents were proving they were a force to be reckoned on the track. They were breaking road records and pro rider Phil Gaimon even wrote an article in Velo News about fast guys on recumbents. This didn’t translate to money for the companies but it did give the recumbent manufacturers a larger target base to work with. Then it was decided to drop the performance arena and simply target the already existing recumbent riding base. Well this base is 15-20 years older and now a trike looks mighty fine to them. Your customers today are exactly the same people you had 15 years ago. As these folks get older, your base is getting smaller not growing larger. You aren’t getting any new blood. You guys deserted the performance side of recumbents and one only has to look at Cycle-Con for proof. A visitor there would surely be led to believe recumbents are designed primarily for old guys with beards and sandals. Have you looked at your Team Bacchetta page on this site? Honestly, I think it hurts you more than helps. Using a race page over 12 years old is a bit stale. Basically I’m saying you aren’t targeting the base that would buy a two wheel recumbent today.
     
    Another market that you have missed is the virtual market. Briefly, there are tens of thousands of non-cyclists flooding into this market. A cheap Bacchetta recumbent trainer mount would be great to introduce this new base to our side of cycling. Then when they decide they want to take their new learned hobby outside they will naturally go buy a recumbent. The other day someone very well versed in the recumbent industry said to me they couldn’t see why anyone living in Florida would be interested in a smart trainer. I thought, “hill training!” A smart trainer is perfect when it's deathly hot outside. I was really surprised this person wasn’t aware of the huge number of Floridians who are currently doing just that. Then it occurred to me he was fixated on only one target base. One which despises computers and not really into the performance side of things. Do you know how many of your customers Zwift? Why not consider forming a Bacchetta virtual racing team to enter into this new and huge new market?
    post edited by La Tortue - 2019/11/03 10:25:02
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    BlazingPedals
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/11/08 16:49:56 (permalink)
    Just a 'what if' question... What if someone developed a recumbent avatar that could be added to Zwift? Would it increase 'bent visibility in a positive way?
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    Doc Dan
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/11/09 08:24:46 (permalink)
    Good idea.  But I question if that would have much of a beneficial impact.  After the first few times on Zwift with the upright avatar I just forgot about it.  
     
    I think Mark's invitation to a recumbent `rally' at Sebring is a useful marketing tactic.  Like so many things, socializing is a profound motive for people's behavior.  .... Except for me.  
    #14
    bentcyclist
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/11/09 09:09:33 (permalink)
    It’s important that niche players like Bacchetta and others keep active involvement with their loyal base of users through social media and recumbent involved events. It’s almost like for the past 5 years or so, 2 wheel manufacturers went to sleep when the trike craze took over. Hard to get it back, but maybe the resurgence of involvement and visibility will rekindle interest.
    post edited by bentcyclist - 2019/11/09 09:10:55
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    La Tortue
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    Re: Two Wheel Recumbents 2019/11/09 16:49:20 (permalink)
    BlazingPedals
    Just a 'what if' question... What if someone developed a recumbent avatar that could be added to Zwift? Would it increase 'bent visibility in a positive way?


    It's already been done but ironically it was a trike.  A couple years ago for some special day Zwift placed everyone on a big wheels trike.  Zwift will add a recumbent avatar one day but right now the number of recumbent riders is minuscule.  They have a jogging clientele that's huge compared to the teeny-tiny recumbent groups on the platform.  The good news is the DF riders on Zwift totally accept recumbents without any reservations.  The trick to visibility is in your name or your team affiliation box.  For instance, Jasons goes by "Recumbent Dork" while most Cruzbikers have the "Cruzbike" tag association in the team box.  This readily ID's the recumbent rider and all you have to do is listen in to one of our team races to see how effective and conversation generating this is.  Jason is exceptionally good at this.  Its very common to get respectful recumbent questions from the DF members.  Essentially recumbents fit into the WRTL TTT format perfectly with the DF riders.  No mess, no fuss just good old fashion team building.  In my opinion, it's the best doorway into DF acceptance.  I've watched for 20 years recumbents trying to get the respect from the elite DF racing crowd with very little gain.  Zwift is closer to being the DF working class, a larger much more inclusive group, and much more likely to try a recumbent.  
     
    post edited by La Tortue - 2019/11/09 18:56:40
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