I got an understeering short wheel based recumbent, a Jet-Stream two from Actionbent. I had a lot of difficulty even starting on the thing at first. I found it difficult to balance in that position and push forward on those high pedals. But I’ve since gotten better. I’ve found it requires a good push to get up to speed quickly. I’m still not good enough at it that I feel comfortable doing it regularly, especially on rough terrain, tight areas, and among other vehicles.
I had a lot of trouble steering the thing as well. My cousin Paul rode it for a bit one night, and pointed out that it has very noticable counter steering. On the upright bicycle, I’m quite used to the movements needed to make this work, so I don’t even notice it. The recumbent has me positioned very differently relative to the wheels, so it’s much different. On the upright I can easily lean to affect the steering. I’ve found that if I lean my back forward off the seat so I can tilt it, turning is much easier and I can take some quite tight turns. I couldn’t even do a U-turn in a two lane road at first, but I might be able to do it in one lane now.
I still have trouble staying straight on this bike. The handlebars don’t seem to be as easy to hold straight as on an upright bike. I still have to rest my arms on them as in a normal bike, but if I make small movements in my arms, it will wobble the bike a bit. This may seem as if it’s the same as on an upright, but I find I really have to put some effort into holding my arms steady. This can tire out my arms quickly. I’m going to have to experiment with different things, such as different handlebar positions and ways of holding the bars.
Recumbents are supposed to be faster than upright bikes in general because of better aerodynamics. Thus far, mine seems a lot slower than my upright. They say these bikes use different muscles. It certainly seems to hurt the tendons on the front of my knees if I try to push. Hopefully this is what’s making me go slow, and once I develop the recumbent muscles I should be able to go faster. I have seemed to be able to accelerate pretty quickly, which is good.
I’m not comfortable enough to ride the bike in traffic or for long distances yet. I’ll keep on doing short trips here and there, and hopefully I’ll soon get as comfortable on it as on my normal bike, perhaps even more so.