Question: Do you have any fit tips for riding a recumbent? — Christine R.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I don’t have experience with recumbents, so I took your question to Andy Pruitt, director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and author of Andy Pruitt’s Medical Guide for Cyclists. He works with recumbent riders in his practice.
Andy notes that hip position can vary because of the range of recumbent designs. Still, he attempts to make sure that a rider’s knee bend at the farthest point of the pedal strike (dead bottom center for upright bikes) is similar to that for a regular road position.
This means a knee bend of about 25-30 degrees as measured with a goniometer (similar to a big protractor). Without this instrument, you can check leg extension by pedaling with your heels. When doing so, your knees should straighten at DBC but you shouldn’t be twisting on the seat to maintain contact.
Also, if you were to look down on a recumbent rider so that you could watch leg alignment during pedaling, the hip/knee/foot should be in a straight line. The knee should have minimal movement inward or outward during the pedal stroke. Leg extension and cleat position play key roles here.
Basically, Andy says, a recumbent position from the waist down is the same as on an upright bike, just at a different angle. In this respect, there is little difference between the two types of bikes.
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