Crank-forward bicycling.

Discussion in 'General' started by fitmpg, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. fitmpg

    fitmpg Well-Known Member

    Hello all. Just wanted to tout crank-forward bike riding as an alternative to conventional diamond frame bicycling. It's so much more comfortable for those of us who are getting a little older... Call it semi-recumbent bicycling. Rans offers probably the best line of bikes in this genre. Check out their website at I just picked up a used "Citi" model.
    Others include, but are not limited to, Electra Townie and Trek "Pure" series.
    I'm enjoying bike riding again!
  2. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Good for you. I'm strongly considering a crank forward as my next bike too. I looked into recumbents a few years ago (and found the Bacchetta Giro to be the best of the bunch for my needs) but the slow hill climbing was just something I couldn't get over. I'm slow enough on the climbs as it is!

    Crank Forwards solve the climbing problem, and from my test ride a few weeks ago they actually seem to climb better when seated than diamond frame bikes. Overall the riding position seems more efficient for long rides (when comfort issues start to pile up) than a DF. I still like to stand when climbing at times, which is why I would go for either the 700X or the Dynamik, but either way Crank Forwards are an awesome and underrated solution.
  3. Yaris Hilton

    Yaris Hilton Half a Bubble Off Plumb

    I rode a RANS Stratus for 6 years. It was a wonderful bike!
  4. Sledge

    Sledge I like owls with captions

    Semi-recumbent also means semi-not-recumbent which is of course a bad thing :D

    I have a Bacchetta Giro 26 and it's the best bike I've ever owned.
  5. fitmpg

    fitmpg Well-Known Member

    One can stand to pedal on the "Citi" and "Street" as well. A very nice, nearly new 700X which I almost bit on in Alfred Station, New York. A few add-ons and they want 1100.00 for it. I'll be happy with the "Citi," though I'll probably end up owning several Rans bikes!
  6. Yaris Hilton

    Yaris Hilton Half a Bubble Off Plumb

    I bought my RANS 15 years ago, but they were good people to deal with. I'm glad to hear they're still doing well.
  7. sno779

    sno779 Well-Known Member

    A lot of people blame the bike for slow climbing performance. I think it's mostly the rider. Did you see that the 4 rider RAAM was won this year by a team of men riding Rans XStream recumbents. They were ahead in the climbs and flats....Louis
  8. NiHaoMike

    NiHaoMike Well-Known Member

    A good hybrid will rocket right up those hills. Electric motors have excellent torque over much of their design speed range.

    What could get interesting is a recumbent with HSD. Especially one that can be expanded for multiple riders. (In that case, the split motor/generators would be MG# where # is a number and the direct motor/generator would be MGW.)
  9. Yaris Hilton

    Yaris Hilton Half a Bubble Off Plumb

    I can tell you from experience that the "recumbent hill climbing problem" is mythological.
  10. Shiba3420

    Shiba3420 Well-Known Member

    Yea I never understood it. I had more power because I'm solidly lodged between the seat and pedals, so I can put more power to the ground that the standing person. However, there is a danger that you can push too hard and run out of strength. Also, starting from a stop on a recumbent is much more difficult than a tradtional bike, but more because of balance than power.
  11. jsmithy

    jsmithy Well-Known Member

    Slower up hills on a recumbent is certainly true for most people. The danger of mashing pedals with your back pressed against the seat on a recumbent up hills is damaging your knees. In my experience, similarly capable riders on a DF are faster up hills than those on a recumbent. You have to spin a little faster to protect those knees.

    Being able to stand up on a bike like the Citi is definately helpful.
  12. Yaris Hilton

    Yaris Hilton Half a Bubble Off Plumb

    Standing is great for a short burst up a short hill. You don't want to do it for long.
  13. abcdpeterson

    abcdpeterson Well-Known Member

    My Wife just got a used recumbent bike, and we finaly took a weekend bike vacation with it. she loved it.

    She just shifted into LOW for the hills and went up slow. she is not one for pushing it hard anyway, so going slow up hills was just fine with her.
  14. Yaris Hilton

    Yaris Hilton Half a Bubble Off Plumb

    That's the way to do it.
  15. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    I think we need to be careful about extrapolating from our own experiences and assuming that what works (or doesn't) for us will be the same for everyone else.

    That said, my experiences have been:
    - Due to my dimensions I'm a slow climber even on upright bikes, and I'm quite a bit slower on all the recumbents I've tried. I've heard some longtime 'bent riders say that's only because I haven't developed the muscles for it, and that may well be so.
    - I never liked any of the LWB 'bents I test rode. Others love them.
    - Of the SWB 'bents, I greatly preferred the Bacchetta Giro 20/26 over anything else I tried. The 26/26 model wasn't out yet, but I got foot numbness with the other high-BB 'bents that I tried, so I'm not sure it would work for me. If I were getting a recument now there's no question I would simply get a Giro 20/26 and be done shopping.
    - On a CF bike, I climb as fast or faster when seated than when on an upright bike -- and a LOT faster than on a recumbent.
    - It may be possible to stand out of the saddle on a Citi/Fusion, but I was not able do so with any kind of stability on the Fusion that I tried. I was able to do so on a Hammertruck, which has the same front end geometry as the Dynamik/700x.
    - As a longtime singlespeed mountain biker, I am able to stand out of the saddle for extended periods, and the ability to switch back and forth between seated and standing every couple of minutes greatly improves my time up the hill.

    Those are my experiences. Your mileage may -- no, will -- vary. Others may not have the same experience, but that doesn't make my experience wrong.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2009
  16. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    By the way, I'm not ready to buy a CF yet, but over the next few months I'll be doing some experiments with my existing bikes to see how moving the saddle (and, of course, handlebars) way back works for me on longer rides.

    Last night I took a Thudbuster seatpost (a parallelogram design where the saddle moves back as much as down on compression, not the telescoping kind of seatpost), removed one of the two elastomers and installed a shorter bolt. This places the seat clamp nearly 3" behind where it would be on a conventional seatpost, putting me close to crank forward territory. I'll start doing some commuting and recreational riding on this setup and see how I like it.
  17. abcdpeterson

    abcdpeterson Well-Known Member

    Speaking about seating position (upright or crank forward).
    Proper seat distance from the pedals Makes a huge difference.

    When using your toe (and ball of your foot) to push the pedal your knee should be only slightly bent once you have pushed the pedal to its furthest position.

    To short of a distance:
    If you can touch the ground while sitting on the seat of an upright bike your bike is NOT adjusted properly.
    Pedaling without enough leg extension is hard on your knees and will tire you out sooner.

    To long of a distance:
    If when pedaling your leg goes straight (knee no longer bent) you will not be getting good force on the pedal, and you will tire sooner.

    Using the toe and ball of your foot to push the pedal will also allow you to use your calf muscles to help pedal. Note: it will feel odd if you have always been pedaling with the bottom/arch of your foot. Your calf muscles may even get sore until your used to pedaling with your toes.

    My wife did not want to believe this, even with a friend of ours with bad knees told her the same thing.
    She just would not let me to put her upright bike seat high enough. When she started riding the recumbent she wanted the seat at the distance she was used to. When we went on our 1st long ride with the recumbent I did not say anything until she started getting tired, then I suggested we move the seat back a bit. After a few minutes of pedaling she let me know the extra leg extension was helping a lot. She was pedaling easier and her knees had stopped hurting.
  18. JusBringIt

    JusBringIt Be Inspired

    You are exactly correct and this is true in all senses.

    Different bikers however, have different setups, even if they're the same height, build and weight.
  19. Yaris Hilton

    Yaris Hilton Half a Bubble Off Plumb

    There's an old formula for upright bikes to set seat to pedal distance: Measure your inseam height. Stand with your feet flat on the floor, push something like a ruler between your thighs against the wall behind you and pull it up against your groin. The height of the ruler above the floor is your inseam. Multiply that by 1.74. Turn your crank so the bottom pedal is in line with the seat tube. Adjust the seat so the distance from the seat top to the pedal is your calculated distance. Always worked perfectly for me. Most people set their seats too low. Can't get the most efficient power out of their quads, and they grind their knees. Parents forget to raise their kids' seat heights as they grow. That's why you see kids going down level streets standing on the pedals. Too hard to pedal sitting with knees bent.
  20. abcdpeterson

    abcdpeterson Well-Known Member

    cool, I may just try that math and see how close I come to where I have the seat set now.

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