Chasing recumbents

tangentially related to road dropper post discussion. anyone ever try chasing recumbents, especially those with a good fairing, on flat ground? it’s embarrassing how much more efficient they are than a race bike. i’d very roughly estimate that you can save 50W-100W @ 50kph by bringing your saddle down 2" and forward 2". position isn’t as efficient for generating power but it you wouldn’t need as much.

Expensive though, knee replacement is between $30-$50,000. Road position is always a trade off between kinesiology, power production on a variety of different gradients, and handling.

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I find the typical road position is optimized mostly for climbing. But if on the drops trying to hold 40k+, it would be better with the saddle lower and forward. The faster you go, drag scales up non-linearly. And at some point the trade-off increasingly favors low and compact over generating power. Eg. note success of compact sprinters.

This is one of the benefits of a more midfoot cleat position, it allows for a lower saddle position that gets you lower overall.

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That does sound like a very rough estimate, all right.

Bents will leave you way behind, but also part of that is that their draft is too low to benefit you. I presume a bent drafting me gets something from being behind my legs, but I get nothing from my torso being behind the void above them.

I’ve found that I climb quicker than a bent, but the bent will dust me on flats. I have no comparison on a technical downhill, but suspect the upright cyclist has the advantage there. And I know which I’d go for riding in city traffic.

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There was an ironman specialist that had documented his experience using smaller and smaller cranks, using bmx cranks at the beginning. My recollection is at some point he settled with something like 120mm and using a custom bike with a special bb drop he found out any power lost by limiting leverage was more than make up by the aero benefits.

Sadly I can’t find the link anymore.

Yes usually a recumbent alone is faster than one cyclist but not necessarily faster than a peloton of cyclists, even if only a handful of them are taking turns.

It is like when you are riding with someone using a Tri/TT bike, you quickly find out you are benefiting much less of the draft than someone riding a regular road position.

Recumbents are actually less efficient than “wedgie” bikes but they have much lower drag (lower CdA) which gives them a big advantage at speed on flat ground.

Everywhere else, they suck.

“But if on the drops trying to hold 40k+, it would be better with the saddle lower and forward”.
I think that depends to some extent on the hip to knee length. Might not work for folks with a longish hip-knee length.
Nonetheless, an extremely interesting series of posts.

I think this is common place with a lot of fitters hence the prevalence of short stubby saddles, zero setback posts w/ saddles railed forward, and shorter cranks. Works well for crit racers and flatlanders but obviously not the most flexible position for climbing. Sorry maybe I was misinterpreting the question and was under the impression you were talking about using droppers to lower saddle position on the flats. Those recumbents are hysterically efficient, chased a 70 year old guy in a t-shirt and shorts on one of those things and was certainly in the hurt box.

sort of a re: all to various comments. yes, definitely recumbents aren’t what i would choose to ride, for safety (visibility and maneuverability) foremost among many reasons. but consider them as at an extreme end of a continuum of positioning favoring low and compact vs power generation. it really works and the faster you go the bigger the pay off. all other examples cited are different marks on that scale, dropper post on a road bike included. i think if a dropper, then it should come forward as much as it drops. this is the road dropper perhaps, for aero. compare to the mtn dropper for technical shredding. and the sloping top tube now enhances too.

There’s no benefit to a dropper going forward, aero or otherwise. It would make the pedaling position worse as compared to an equivalent drop without forward motion and offers nothing else… on a mountain bike, you might gain some additional tire clearance and ability to more easily get off the back on downhills but it would wreck your weight distribution and your front wheel would just push.

i think moving forward helps pull your arms in tighter, head lower and more open hip. like how compact sprinters get down on top of their bars. mtb - just get the thing out of the way.

I’ve been on some casual everybody and anybody rides with recumbents. Every single time the recumbent was a pain because it would be so slow up any sort of grade. Not just slower rider slow. Like “oh boy…” slow.

sure once it goes up hill, no more benefit, only detriment