My Progress

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A tale of two bikes

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.


  1. Next time, do that comparison on a Hill Torture day...

  2. I find this sort of thing always breaks down to apples & oranges though. Not just with the bicycles; riders are at completely different effort levels and this has an impact too. Or as you put it, your results may vary. :D

    For me, I would probably love a recumbent. My area is fairly flat and I tend to stay seated for sprinting and climbing. I probably should have bought a recumbent as my first bike!

    That being said, this year I am really loving riding in groups. Most of those groups are looking for regular, DF bikes with racing handlebars.

    My slowest bike, my mountain bike, becomes my fastest bike in Canadian winters when it's equipped with studded tungsten carbide tires.

    Even amongst similar bikes there are differences. My endurance road bike is really comfortable on long rides and handles climbs alot better than my flat out race bike.... but that racing bike is a thrill to ride over shorter distances!

    And I can't scoff at my hybrid either. It may be steel and weigh a ton, but its also the most convenient to hop on and go to the local pub for beer and wings.

    The best bike to have is all of them.