I’m getting that expensive itch… (updated 5/7/04)

Is there a Bacchetta Ti Aero in my future? Bacchetta Ti Aero

One thing about switching to a recumbent bike that surprised me was that it took a few years to retrain my muscles to the new position. I was used to standing and powering my way up hills, and liking it. Changing position also required changing techniques, and hills are now a matter of spinning at 100-110 rpm to compensate for the loss of raw, stomp-on-the-pedals power. I’ve since read that this transition period is typical.

Now I find that my BikeE feels like a beginner’s bike. Which, to be fair, it is–its Compact Long WheelBase (CLWB) design is ideal for riders more used to the feel of an upright bike. When I first made the switch, I test rode a bunch of bikes, but I only felt safe and in control on the BikeE. The Under Seat Steering bikes were scary to ride. Now it feels like my bike is holding me back. At 42 lbs, it’s twice the weight of a good upright road bike. With its 16″ and 20″ wheels, it will never be a fast bike, or feel stable at low speeds. And even when I’m at my end-of-year conditioning, I’m still maxing out at 16mph averages instead of 19. I miss going fast!

5/7/04 update: I realized I didn’t say much about why this particular bike has caught my attention. For the benefit of any budding ‘bent riders out there, or for the merely curious, I wanted to say more.

There are three reasons this is a superior bike, perhaps the best recumbent made today. Four, if you consider a titanium frame to be better than aluminum or steel (and who doesn’t?). The Bacchetta Ti Aero is a “high racer” design, which is different from a CLWB in several ways. First, it is much more aerodynamic, because the rider’s legs are in front of the body instead of down near the road catching the wind. And the arms are out straight, not curled up in the “begging hamster” position common to many Short Wheel Base (SWB) Over Seat Steering (OSS) recumbents. The aero carbon fork and the aero wheels and spokes also reduce wind drag. Second, it is much lighter than my 42 lbs. BikeE; at 22 lbs, that’s a lot less weight to be hauling up hills. And finally, the 650mm, 145 psi tires offer much less rolling resistance, and more gyroscopic stability, particularly at low, hill-climbing speeds.

I have already linked to a BentRider Online review of this bike. I rarely read BRO, but I do read and subscribe to Recumbent Cyclist News, an entertaining, very readable, low-budget labor of love, and excellent source of ‘bent information. At the RCN site you can request or download a few sample issues, including RCN 073 (requires a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader), which reviews the Bacchetta Ti Aero, Strada, and Giro. Bob Bryant, editor of RCN, raves about the Bacchetta line, and has continued to pile superlatives on the company, even in the current issue.

Yesterday I picked up my BikeE E2 recumbent tandem after it was tuned up at Bicycle Bob’s. I talked to Bob, and he’s going to see if he can get me a Ti Aero to try, and see what he can do on the price. Will I like the very laid-back riding position? Will I drop almost $3900 on a new bike? What am I, nuts? That’s more than I made all last year at my part time job!!

Stay tuned!

Update 2/19/2008– Unfortunately, Recumbent Cyclist News has ceased publication. I feel sorry for the publisher, Bob Bryant, and all the ‘bent riders who no longer have his voice speaking for us.

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