The Ultimate Aero Bike | The Weird World Of Recumbent Racing

(air whooshing) – If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a lot of time training. You may have invested a lot of money into making yourself go faster. Maybe investing in some aerodynamic wheels or goin’ whole hog and investing in an aerodynamic frame. But what if you chuck the
rule book out the window and you, or went for something
not quite so conventional. (upbeat music) (calming music) Today we are heading up north
to a motor racing circuit which is normally home
to British motorsport and motorcycle racing. Today, however, engines are being replaced with human power. Welcome to Darley Moor. This is home of an event that the British Human
Powered Club are running. I’m hopefully going to get the chance to get in a bike that’s made for speed. Yeah, in a bike. (relaxing music) So what will I be riding in today? This is a recumbent bicycle. It is a bicycle where the rider lays back in a reclining position. This allows the rider to distribute their weight
across a large area, which in turn makes it more aerodynamic. This is a non-fed Rapto recumbent. One that you may be familiar with. Up front, there is a 20 inch wheel and an 70 tooth chainring. And at the rear we’ve got a 26 inch wheel with a standard mountain bike gearing. Then you move to this. This is the Formula One of recumbents, surrounded
by a carbon fiber shell which allows the rider to
travel at over 50 kilometers per hour at just 200 watts. This is exciting and something that I’ve never, ever, done before. (intense music) Before I get going on a recumbent, I think it’s best that I learn from one
of the professionals. So I’m going to need Barnie who is part of the British Human
Powered Club Association or club member and you’re going to talk me through, hopefully. – Good morning. – How to get me through
riding a recumbent and then to potentially racing one. – Yep, we are going to
set you off immediately. We will get you going.
– Okay – Tricycle. Guaranteed easy, guaranteed smile. It just goes where you want
it to go, simple controls. – [James] Yes, it doesn’t look like I can fall off that one. – At real high speed
you lift the wheel even idiots might be able to roll them. But I’m sure you’ll manage today. – Okay and then once
I’ve done that, if I can. – We’re going to introduce
you to my load racer. – Right. – So this is a little bit different. It requires balance
but you’re the cyclist, we know with a big smile you’ll
be happy, you’ll get away. It’s all sorts of different stuff that you’ve not experienced before. It’s got a tiller for steering. It’s got front wheel drive. It’s got a 70 tooth chainring. All of that seems foreign
to a normal cyclist. – Yes. – But this is that easy
and will get you going and we will have you smiling and riding by the end of the day. (techno music) – Alright Barnie, helmet is going on. I’m ready to go, I’m all yours. – Dead easy, so this
machine, sit in the seat. – Yep. – Handle bars which will
steer both front wheels. You’ve got a steering rod to each wheel. Conventional bicycle brakes, braking hoop in each wheel. That’s the left hand
brake, right hand brake. – Perfect. – You have thumb and bar end shifters so that’s your front neck
up here currently sat in middle ring which
will be great to set off and a rear mech here. Just a conventional
mount of thumb shifters. All we do, we will point it down this little side road here. One foot each side at the front, sit back into the bike, apply some brakes, look at where you want
to go and it’s away. You’ll be able to ride off down here and spin around through the cones, dead easy.
– Alright, first go. – Easy way back. – Sort of feels like
you’re in an arm chair. – Should be ready just to roll away. – Brakes applied.
– Brakes and off. – Off we go, first go on a recumbent. – [Barnie] Now give it some
stick and you’ll be able to get right through those cones. – Alright, I’m up to speed now. It’s a bit weird being
so far to the floor. (upbeat music) Kind of feels like I’m riding
a go kart, just pedaling it. The other one that’s terrifying is it’s the balance I’m
slightly worried about but let’s do it. I’m ready, just nervous. (upbeat music) Now, this looks like a
fair bit harder to do. – So, this, it’ll take a little bit of learning but we will get
you in, it’s no problem. The secret is to smile. – Okay. – So long as you’re enjoying it and smiling, you’ll manage this. – Okay, I’m a big smiler. – What we’ll need to do is we’ll need to lend you a pair of these elbow pads. – Right, I’m going to need these. – You’re going to need these. In the event you do fall off this, the first thing that’s likely to hit ground is your elbows. – Yeah. – Not a lot of any protection
on there so generally, most of us race in the club
with a bit of body armor on. And it just helps. Means you’re not so
nervous of falling off. – Right, I’ll get these on then, mate. – You get those on and then we’ll talk you through getting the bike going. Got you padded up.
– Yep. – If you apply the right
brake before you drop in. – [James] Right brake. – [Barnie] Seat over. – [James] So step over.
– Yep, sit in the middle of the seat–
– Slide in. – Slide in.
– Slide in, it’s comfy. – Relax, happy. – I’m relaxed, nervous, but happy – What we do is we start
with, you’re right footed? – [James] Yep. – [Barnie] With the right pedal freewheel. What we need you to do is to pick something up in the distance.
– Okay. – Telegraph pole or a tree.
– Yep. – We need you to look up at that and with a good, confident
push off with that foot. Don’t worry too much about getting, get yourself a really good push, release the brake, go and smile. – [James] Alright, here it goes Barnie. – Big smile. – Be ready to catch me. (nervous noises) Okay, it’s quite difficult. It’s a lot more difficult than it looks. You’re looking, yeah, okay one more go Barnie, you ready? – Yeah, we will do this. – Second is a charm, isn’t it. – Don’t absolutely
worry about your pedals. They’re obviously looks just off you go and away, yes, smile.
– I’m smiling. – [Barnie] Smile, smile. – [James] I’m smiling
but I’m not balancing. – [Barnie] Look where you
want to go, now smile. Look up, that’s it, through you go. – Crashing, crashing, alright. – Look up. – Smiles applied. – Aim for the camera. – Aim for the camera. (intense music) (guitar music) – [Barnie] There we go,
racing start mastered. – I’m getting settled in now. – Yep, well, you’ve got
the racing start mastered. You look like you happy. – I’m definitely happy.
– You’re smiling. This smile isn’t coming off my face. – You’re getting the speed up. I think it’s time we put you in the one lap time trial and the result of that is, so long as you complete
the one lap time trial, you’ll be ranked as a British Rider in the Recumbent Racing
Championships this year. – I want to do well. My competitive nature is in there. I’m fighting, I’m ready to go. – Nice big, long stretch,
you’ll be loving it. – What speeds you reckon
we’ll make on those? – I reckon you’ll be lucky if you make 20 miles an hour
because you still a bit wobbly and a bit nervous.
– Yep. – This bike, usually makes speeds about 25 in a one lap time trial. – Alright. – Other guys are going to
be doing 40 miles an hour. – Okay. – Something to aim for in the future. – Middle of the pack, middle of the pack. (relaxed music) – So Barnie, we are sitting
here watching the racing, but, why, recumbents are the fastest
bikes in the world, right? – Yep. – So why are they not
in the Tour of France? – They’ve been banned by the UCI and it’s a ban that goes back to the 1930s when it was proven that amateur riders could
ride as fast as the pros if they took aerodynamic advantages and we just continued to accept those aerodynamic
advantages and have fun. – So is the triangle, like the diamond shape traditional bike, that is the UCI rule isn’t it? – [Barnie] UCI rules very very strict about the diamond shaped bicycle and we accept anything. – Yeah. – People do come in and
race UCI bicycles here and you may see some today. But we also accept tricycles, bicycles and primarily the recumbent
position, lying down, where you cut through the
air a lot more easily. – [James] I know I’ve
just had a little go on it and they are incredibly quick for the same amount of power put out on a traditional bike. I’m going a lot faster in a recumbent. But then it goes from
the one I’ve learned on, which is the non-fed, then we get the fed, the streamliners and that way
is a whole different beast. – Whole different game and
the work that we are doing with London South Bank
University at the minute. They’re looking for speeds
of 90 miles an hour. – 90 miles an hour? – Off power output of 350 watts. (techno music) – [James] The course I am taking on is a 2.2 kilometer circuit. It’s made up of three tight corners with a pretty tough
uphill head wind section on that back straight. So how fast can I go? Alright, we are going
to put all my training to good use now on a time trial on three different bikes. I am going to start off with a trike, then Barnie is going to set me off. I’m ready mate. – Three, two, one, go. – We’re off, we’re off, slow start. – [Barnie] Pedal, pedal. (upbeat music) – Alright, next up, is
the two wheeled, unfed. – Three, two, one, go. – Alright, we are off, up a gear. (upbeat music) Right, second lap done with a time of 3.57. It’s a lot faster and I was just getting
a hang of the cornering. It does put a smile on your face that I have to say is really, really good fun. Right, next it’s the streamliner, the fastest of the lot. (upbeat music) This is a fully encapsulated,
carbon recumbent trike. It’s a velomobile. It’s got two 20 inch wheels in the front and it’s got one 26 inch on the back. The drive chain goes under the chair. It’s got a fairly conventional mountain bike gear system with twist shift. And then on the top, you got a race hood to
keep it really aerodynamic. You’ve got this little, flip up to keep with the ventilation because trust me, those things get pretty hot inside. But to me, it looks like
a big yellow missile. So when we started getting into the interior of this, it’s got to be one of the
most perfect touring machines. Cause you can fit and store so much kit and even food in the
back there, in the tail. And then when we look at the front here, you’ve got indicators,
you’ve got even a horn and to the side, you’ve
got your light systems and your bike computer. But it’s similar to a
canoe but on land I guess. It’s amazing. If I break it, I pay
for it, that’s my rule. (laughing) – [Bystander] You’ll be
fine, it might be a bit warm. – So there’s–
– Okay. – Shoulder pads here that you can lean on. – Lean on, yeah. – And elbow pads there. – Boy, it’s nice being clipped in. – [Bystander] With the
race cap, you just need to stick the velcro down. – Yeah, right, velcro. – [Bystander] The velcro under there. Yeah, it just sticks underneath. – It feels like I’m getting
in a World War 2 bomber. It feels like I am going to
be shot out of a submarine. Roof closed, it’s a bit
surreal being in such a small capsule-like machine
but it is an amazing feeling. Alright, let’s have
our first go, shall we? (intense music) – Okay James, ready for this one? – Yeah, I’ve seen this
in the Tour de France and I never thought I’d get
the chance to get in one. It is quite surreal being
in this little capsule. – [Barnie] Yep, this
is and you saw how fast it went alongside the
Tour de France riders? – Yes. – [Barnie] Need to remember you’ve got three big corners here. First one is downhill so as
you ease off the pedaling, there’s no air breaking. This thing will keep
flying through the air at whatever speed you’re at. Just take it easy. You got the big hairpin. Go wide on the big hairpin and when you come into the
final corner down here, you should have the opportunity
to really power up, yeah? – Alright, I’m ready Barnie. – It’s not yours, it’s been crashed, it’s been raised, it’s been rallied but we don’t want you to
do either of them, okay? – No , I’m ready to go, mate. – [Barnie] So, are we ready? – [James] Set me off. – Three, two, one, go. – I am off, off the start
line, slow to start. (intense music) – Picking up some good speed here now. (intense music) (spectator yelling) – Wow, Barnie, that felt a lot quicker. – [Barnie] Three minutes, 10. – Is that fast? – [Barnie] You have 47
seconds quicker than you were on the two wheel rapto. – 47 seconds, that is incredible
the speed you can make. – [Barnie] Yeah. – And its more when you’re
up on top of the pedals and you’re on top of the speed, you just keep going. – [Barnie] Yeah. – Just incredible.
– Just through the air. – That is amazing. At the end of the day I got to go in the fastest recumbent there and wow, it was fast. I got it up to 60 kilometers
per hour, nearly rolled it. But let’s keep that one quiet. But with all of the time trials done, I think we should have
a look at the results. Alright Barnie, thank you so much for an amazing day. What are our findings? – Well, you did well. Amazed that you managed to learn and pick it all up today. But on the un-fed trike,
four minutes 29 seconds. On the un-fed two wheeler
which was a real skill to learn, three minutes 57. – [James] That’s not bad. [Barnie] Then what you
compare the yellow missile with quatro, three minutes 10. – [James] Getting better. – [Barnie] But on the real
fast, flatland performance on the white Milan, two minutes 52. – So just shows what aerodynamics can do. – Fantastic performance
and on behalf of the club, I would like to present you with one British Human
Power Club racing jersey. – Oh, I feel a part of the
crew, thank you so much. Well, if you enjoyed this
video as much as I did, make sure you give it a big thumbs up. Massive thank you to these guys, the British Human Power Club. I hope to be back soon. But if you want another video, why don’t you click on Barnie? – Cheers.
– Cheers, buddy.

100 Replies to “The Ultimate Aero Bike | The Weird World Of Recumbent Racing”

  1. Hey GCN! Have you heard of the ASME (American society of mechanical engineers) HPV (human powered vehicle) competition??
    It's where colleges from all over the USA design, build, and ride all sorts of pedal powered machines. 2, 3, and 4 wheels. Tandems, recumbents, and anything else you can imagine.
    My team from Grove City College built a 4 wheeler that could be pedaled with your hands or feet.
    Check it out!

  2. In Australia (mainly Victoria and South Australia) we have a large recumbent racing program mainly aimed at Schools, (though us parents also get to have some fun riding as well). Races range from 6 hours to 24 hours in teams of up to eight riders. Many schools buy there trikes in kit form so the kids build them and some schools design and build the entire trike from scratch. It's a fabulous program.

  3. Have you heard of the international pedal Prix race in Australia.

    You should check it out, it has school kids and adults racing in those trikes except there made a lot better.

  4. Finally. GCN got past the put downs and had a go 😉 well done! Great video! I ride everything btw – road, mountain, fixed, recumbent (and including electric unicycles 😎)

  5. Very interesting. I enjoyed that. Barney came across as a great teacher and a nice bloke, exactly what I would need for the nervousness.

    I'd love to have a go on one of these contraptions one day. Seems like a lot of fun (even with compulsory smiling at the beginning.)

  6. Really cool. Still, it must be my local guys are just riding slower trikes. There’s one guy on my commute I see everyday on the 14th street bridge (in Wash DC) that is on a two wheeler and seems to approach ‘triangle’ bike speeds. Otherwise, they’re pretty pokey, in my experiences.

  7. حلقه مميزة الشكر لشبكة الجاريات على إثراء المحتوى بالترجمة

  8. Imagine your life culminating into riding bikes marginally faster than someone else that does nothing but ride bikes

  9. I would like to start calling them slingshots, to differentiate them from the other wheel configuration. They have already started doing this with motor bike. Anyway I just think it sounds cooler to say I am riding a slingshot, instead of saying I am on a Tricycle…. I guess when you were younger you could have said, you were carrying your "slingshot" on your "tricycle"… ;P

  10. For anyone interested, with my DF bike I averaged 18 mph for my rides of 20-40 miles in length. When I got my recumbent, a CarBent Raven, it took me a little bit to get used to the new riding position but I was able to maintain 22 mph all day. It felt kind of like a train, was a little slower getting up to speed but once there it would hold that speed without much effort. Little undulations in the road would let me accelerate 1-4 mph faster, which would take several hundred yards to taper back to my 22 mph cruse. Rolling hills are a blast, push on the downhill getting up to around 40 and coast over the top at around 30 and push downhill again averaging 33 mph for miles. Lots of fun.
    I would love to see recumbents allowed in a race with pro's. The dynamic of the race would change so much.

  11. I'm surprised they didn't have him clip in on the trike… the connection to the pedals for safety and for push pull on the pedals for efficiency and more power!

  12. I wonder if you use a complex pulley system (of course gears and all that) that makes use of more of the power

  13. Riding a recumbent bike does put a smile on your face. Much more relaxed drive and you can actually see more from the seated position of a recumbent. Downside…they do not climb steep hills as easily but they will climb. Second, car drivers may not notice your lower profile so a flag and lights are a must. Great video ! Cheers.

  14. How is the stream-liner doing on an uphill? Because it looks heavy and its weight can be a big disadvantage on an uphill. Let me know. Thanks.

  15. Don't know if I'd feel safe on a high speed decent.
    They may be faster on the flat and easier on the butt, but not great in a traffic situations because of the lower seating and visibility.
    Would definitely consider owning one, but with electric pedal assist, a 2- wheeler you could really relax on, do some touring and smell the roses.

  16. Very nice. Now you are regular recumbent biker 🙂
    Im from Czech Republic and own and ride Azub 5 swb recumbent bike (Czech top product, travel model) for 9 years. At the beginning I also looked up and learned about real history of cycling, for example here:
    and here:
    Now I know from my own experience that recumbent cycling is future of cycling himself. Is much more natural and healthier. The production of these bikes is in a heyday that other people have no idea, for example here:
    I ride my bike a lot like never before (48 years, vegetarian, healthy mind and no diseases). I am happy to have recumbent cycling as a big hobby and I am still studying the news.
    Many thanks for video.

  17. finally a quality pro vid on bents, most of the stuff on the net is just as bizzare and fringe as the people that ride them, this little vid was nice to watch! Thanks

  18. What if it rains when your in that bike there is no windscreen wipers and you don't want the window open at the speed your traveling at

  19. What are these people saying? Their accents, whatever they are, Limehouse? are SO heavy it's impossible.

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