Reading the various bike forums there is an eternal debate that rages between the people who ride upright bikes and the people who ride recumbents. Both sides are well entrenched and in some discussions have devolved into trench warfare akin to Verdun in World War I.
Being the odd one out in that I ride and enjoy both types of bikes I decided to settle the debate at least in my mind.
Last Monday, I took my Specialized Allez out for a good hard perceived effort. As it was my early morning ride before work, my time was limited so I kept my course short and over well known routes.
Please note, I was using a very subjective measurement in my perceived exertion, without a power meter, it's difficult to quantify the actual workload.
Here is what I and the Allez turned in for the morning.
An 18.5 mph average over 16.3 miles. A fairly respectable average for me on the upright. I wasn't slacking during the ride and kept the workload fairly high to maintain a solid, "perceived exertion" level. I did catch a break on a couple of stop lights that were green on the route.
The next day, I took my recumbent out for the same course. My recumbent is a Bacchetta Carbon Aero II. I already know it's a fast bike as I've turned some great times on it. I went out over the same course I had done on the Allez with the goal of maintaining the same perceived exertion level as I did the previous morning.
This is what I and the CA2.0 turned in.
The CA2.0 had me riding at the same level at a 19.7 mph average over the same 16.3 miles. I did not however catch the same breaks at the stop lights as I had the previous morning. And not being one of "those damned cyclists" who run red lights, I had to stop and wait, then get going from a dead stop. Had I caught the lights, the difference would have been even greater.
I think at least for me, the results speak for themselves. The recumbent with the much better aerodynamic position definitely yields benefits. Your results however, may vary.