Why Ride a Recumbent Bicycle?


By Martin Neunzert – 

  1. You are out riding for the day with a good friend. You are on your recumbent trike and she is on her diamond frame bike. You notice her pedals match yours, so you ask, “Do you want to try the trike for a while?” What happens next?
    1. You get to ask: “Is that grin permanent now, or what?”
    2. You get to say, “You know, more people have been to the moon than have ridden a recumbent trike.”
    3. The last time you see her she’s a half mile ahead. You are left trying to figure out how to explain to her children she’s not coming back. Ever.
  2. Diamond frame cyclists will invite you, as a recumbent tricyclist, to go riding with them because:
    1. They know they can lean their bikes against your trike at breaks.
    2. They like the idea that people are looking at the trike rather than their spandex-stretching corporate-logo-festooned bellies.
    3. You can take awesome hub-level photographs of them, blurred with speed, without worrying about overlapping wheels.
  3. While out on your recumbent, you stop at a traffic light. A car pulls up next to you, the passenger rolls down the window and asks, “Is that CIA issue?” Your response should be:
    1. Stunned silence…
    2. Wait, what?
    3. Huh?
    4. Smile and wave and say, “Have a smart day!”
  4. You’re out riding on your titanium frame high-racer, on the local bike path, passing some cyclists, being passed by some cyclists. At the top of a rise, you see, in the far distance, a trike. You start hammering because trikes are slow, right? Pretty soon you’re passing everyone who passed you. After a half hour, you get pretty close. You notice:
    1. All your techy high moisture-wicking spandex clothing is drenched in sweat.
    2. You’re just about exhausted.
    3. He’s like, 70 years old.
    4. His battery pack.
  5. Diamond frame cyclists will never invite you, as a recumbent rider, to go riding with them because:
    1. You’ll be laughing as you get on your bike the second morning of a two-day fund-raising ride and they won’t be.
    2. They’ve seen horses that provide better drafting (wait for it…).
    3. You enjoy counting the number of times you hear “Trade ya!” toward the end of a century ride.
    4. Because their Lycra-clad asses, tight or not, are pretty much at your eye level.
  6. Your local mustachioed, coffee-drinking, tattooed and pierced bike mechanic does some work for you on your trike’s disc brakes. When you pick it up you ask if he took it for a test ride. He says,”I’ve never ridden a trike before.” Your response is:
    1. Seriously, dude?
    2. Dude, you should get out of the house more.
    3. You mean, since you were a kid?
    4. Man, do you do know it’s the 21st century?
  7. You might be a future recumbent cyclist if you’ve ever said to yourself:
    1. My hands hurt.
    2. My wrists hurt.
    3. My shoulders hurt.
    4. My neck hurts.
    5. My ischial tuberosities hurt so much I’m never getting back on that damn thing.
  8. You might be a future recumbent cyclist if you’ve ever said to a recumbent rider:
    1. I want one!
    2. I need one!
    3. Awesome!
    4. Nice bike!
    5. That’s a cooooool bike!
    6. Tight bike!
  9. The racer-chasers at your local bike shop won’t work on your recumbent or, if they do, they whinge incessantly about it. What must your conclusion be?
    1. They don’t yet understand a bike is just a bike is just a bike. Unless it’s a trike. Then it’s just a bike.
  10. You ride your trike to a get a pulmonary function test during which they determine your lung capacity and your lung’s ability to transfer oxygen to your blood (not for performance but because you almost died, twice, from pneumonia). Naturally, the test facility is at the top of a hill. You ask the technician if it makes any difference to the results if you exercise hard immediately before the test. She says:
    1. I don’t know, we’ve never had that happen before.
  11. You might be a wedgie if you’ve ever asked a recumbent rider:
    1. How do you steer?
    2. Are you relaxed?
    3. Is that easy?
    4. Is that hard?
    5. Ever fallen asleep on that thang?
    6. Where’s your TV remote?
    7. You’re missing something on that, aren’t you?
    8. (Pointing vaguely to the ground between the wheels): So, you don’t have pedals down there, then?
    9. Is that one of them self-driving bikes?
    10. (Pointing at the boom): Is that a rocket launcher in front there?
  12. You might be a wedgie if you’ve ever said to a recumbent rider:
    1. Oh, sure, anyone can do it laying down!
    2. You’re too relaxed!
    3. Tight bike!
    4. That is sooooo spooky!
    5. I like your car!
    6. Come ride in the skate park with that bike!
    7. There’s one of those professional bikes!
    8. Slow down, you’re going too fast!
    9. That’s a wicked bike!
    10. That’s literally a chair and a bicycle mixed!
  13. Which of the following items can recumbent trike riders pick up—without stopping—to make the world a better place for cyclists and motorists alike?
    1. Wrenches.
    2. Beer bottles.
    3. Screws.
    4. A ten-inch butcher knife.
    5. Nails.
    6. Wallets.
    7. Rocks, up to the size of a cantaloupe.
    8. Cell phones.
    9. A handgun.
  14. Recumbent cyclists encounter two types of people when out riding:
    1. People who smile and wave and say “Lovin’ it!
    2. Men.
  15. You might be a wedgie if you’ve ever asked a recumbent trike rider: Why do you ride that thing?
    1. It’s a total blast!
    2. It’s great exercise!
    3. Tricycling provides 50% better mental therapy than bicycling and 200% better mental therapy than unicycling
    4. Started with a blood cancer, tons of chemotherapy, then a bone marrow transplant, then pneumonia which would have killed me except for the high-dose steroids, then a stroke resulting in partial vision loss, among other things, then months of rehab punctuated by a fecal microbial transfer to combat diarrhea caused by C. diff from too many antibiotics, then another round of pneumonia with more high-dose steroids, all the steroids led to some death of bone tissue in one hip, then a total hip replacement, then a seizure resulting in continuous low-level dizziness. Why do I ride a trike? Because I can.
Martin Neunzert somewhere near Lake Powell, Utah (October 2011). Photo by Martin Neunzert
Part of the Uinta Mountains south of Evanston, Wyoming, beyond Martin Neunzert’s trike (July 2017). Photo by Martin Neunzert
Martin Neunzert on the Legacy Parkway Trail, Centerville, Utah. Photo by Arleigh Neunzert.


Martin Neunzert has been riding recumbents of all kinds for so long he says he’s forgotten what cycling pain is. When a bout with cancer nearly ended his life, he found a tricycle was a huge factor in allowing him to get back on wheels. His doctors and therapists credit his adaptability and determination to helping him make an almost full recovery. He hastens to note he is not nearly creative enough to make this stuff up; everything here has happened to him. Except the handgun. He found that on a mountain bike trail.

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