Recumbent bicycles have the pedals out front, allowing the riders' bodies to lean back in the seat for a more natural posture, a more comfortable ride and a more aerodynamic vehicle. However, the steep prices of new recumbent bikes have prompted handy prospective riders to look at building their own.
Why a Recumbent?
Most people start pedalling on a tricycle, and a recumbent bike mimics a trike's front-wheel drive and comfortable seating on two wheels to create a powerful and fast vehicle. Like tricycles, recumbent bikes are safer and more comfortable than upright bikes. However, they are also more difficult to ride (especially uphill and in tight manoeuvring), are more difficult to see by other riders and cars, do not fit into regular stands or car bike racks, and are from 10 to 15 per cent more expensive.
Kit Vs. Scratch-Built
For prospective recumbent bike builder who can weld, websites such as Recycled Recumbent or the book "So You Want to Build an HPV" offer advice and plans for the scratch builder. For those who can't weld, then a kit is the best way forward.
Building a recumbent will save the rider more than half the cost of a new, bottom-of-the-line bike. The price of an assembled recumbent bike begins at about £455 and rises rapidly past £4,550. Kits, on the other hand, cost around £260 (riders ought to be prepared to spend additional dollars for donor bicycles and parts). Those who can weld and have access to free frames and parts can put together a workable bike for less than £162.
Kits: Conversion Vs. New
Kits come in two forms--one style converts an existing bike into a recumbent while the other provides a set of purpose-built recumbent parts for assembly. The conversion kits rig a new crankshaft and pedals atop the front wheel and add a comfy seat to a standard bike frame--the version from Cruzbike costs £260 via its website in 2010. A complete kit from LaBent by LaDue builds a bare frame from parts of two bikes and costs £260 on its website in 2010 (plans are an extra £22). All require the level of mechanical adeptness and toolkit appropriate for the standard Christmas Eve bike assembly project.