What's the deal with Recumbent bikes?

First off my apologies to WEBMASTERUSA as he just started a thread on what type of bike you like. Not trying to steal any of your thunder just wanted to focus on this recumbent bike fad.

So what’s the deal? Any Dopers have one? Are they really easier to pedal?

How’s the stability? I would think it would be much harder to control one of these bikes and certainly if a crash was imminent you would be toast.(Hard to leap off I imagine.)

They seem to be of equivalent purpose to an old “touring bike”. By which I mean they are good on pavement but that is about it.

They aren’t bad, but very pricy. My friend had one and gave it up as too strange to use in traffic. People were always slowing down to gawk and nearly making him topple.

The lower center of gravity does make it less stable.

They are great for people with bad backs or other medical conditions or people just tired of being slightly uncomfortable. They really aren’t that hard to control-- you just need to steer less, and capsizing isn’t really a problem as you just stick your foot down. It does work different muscles and is slower uphill as you can’t rely on your own weight to move the pedals. Clipless pedals help, as the usual weighted position that clip-strapped pedals fall into isn’t very easy to work into from behind, not above. Downhill or on flats they really cruise as they are very aerodynamic. I like the sort with under-the-seat steering-- much easier to control.

I don’t understand “under the seat steering”
Which wheel would it turn, and how would you grab whatever you grab? Is there a picture someplace to show what you mean, perhaps?
If you had the brand name, they might have a site.
Sorry for the questions, but I like the idea of an easier ride, and I am supposed to get more outdoors exercise. I live in a flat area, so hills and toe hooks don’t matter to me.

Ok, imagine that you are sitting in your recliner. Put your hands up in front of your chest like you are a begging dog-- above-seat sterring is similar to regular handlebar with an extra pivot and you steer from about there. Now, sit down again and put your arms to your sides, so that your hands are sort of at the sides of your hips-- with below-seat steering there is an apparatus under your seat and handlebars come up to your hands there. Both types steer the front wheel.
Try the home pages of Bike E, Rans recumbents, Bike Friday, Ryan recumb.s, or Vision recumbents and you can probably find pics. I’ve heard Bike E is the easiest for starters although I have never tried one.

I would like to echo what a few previous posters have said about the recumbants. Yes, they do look funny, and handle a little different as well.

But, contrary to what one poster said, because their center of gravity is lower to the ground, they actually are more stable than a traditional bike. However, as I’ve been told by a dealer of recumbants, they don’t turn as sharp.

And, it’s absolutely true what was said about the difference in pedaling. On an upright bike, you can use your body weight to pull you down under the influence of gravity to aid in climbs and some sprints. In the position you are in on a recumbant, you must soley rely on your hamstrings to get your pedals around the back of the stroke, rather than letting gravity help you round the bottom.

And, they are more difficult to ride in traffic on a recumbant, for the sole reason that you’re not as visible to motorists because of sitting down lower to the ground. To aid with riding in a lot of traffic, you’ll see lots of recumbant riders with orange SMV flags flying from the tops of their seats about 3-4 feet.

I feel myself slipping down the slippery slope of rambing. I’ll stop now.

Fanny May–

This link shows some recumbents. The second picture down is an example of under the seat steering.