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The Ultimate Aero Bike | The Weird World Of Recumbent Racing

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 comments on “The Ultimate Aero Bike | The Weird World Of Recumbent Racing

  1. I love how there's a guy with custom carbon fiber fairings and a carbon fiber helmet, along with a flappy plastic bag covering his head rest.

  2. See British Human Power Club on Facebook or website Can take a download sub for just £6 a year for which you get 4 newsletters. There are various levels and types of HPV racing, from the World Human Powered Speed Challenge in Battle Mountain, Nevada, to our more prosaic circuit racing. I would not have called the velomobile F1. 2 wheeled streamliners are usually faster, but usually not road practical. However, if you have lots of money, check out Peregrine on a Birk.

  3. To get an idea of how much faster recumbents are, you should have done a circuit on your Pinarello to get a base time.

  4. That was awesome!!! Here's idea…Why couldn't the UCI simply come up with…A Recumbent division???…Could you imagine 40 of these things on a velodrome is a 300 or 400 lap race???/ It would be like watching human powered Indy cars!!! A recumbent Paris-Nice??? A recumbent Paris-Roubaix??? You could have much longer stages in any stage race because of the speed…It would be a very cool thing to see….

  5. Good for them ! As much as I love cycling – and I do – these guys are doing their part to keep us “normal” riders thinking about the benefits of cross-pollination as necessary for the onward march of genuine innovation.

  6. Great video and excellent to see recumbents being given due credit. I joined a BHPC event earlier in the year for the first time and rode my UCI-banned TT bike alongside these amazing machines and was resoundingly beaten!

  7. don't forget you too can come and race at a recumbent event still a few rounds left this year

  8. Great to see lots of new members joining our Facebook group on the back of this!!

  9. You have the benefits of aero but you can't get out of the saddle and use your weight and in the real world you can't hop up or over obstacles which is something we take for granted everyday.

  10. That really makes me want to get an enclosed recumbent touring bike. Putting on good distance while being able to carry some gear would be awesome

  11. Well done James, steep learning curve, excellent results and your enthusiasm is contagious. Great editing, lower shots were the most satisfactory.

  12. I love these recumbent bikes and even tried to build my own a while back, with sadly poor results. Another great video from GCN and it is wonderful to hear some positive things about such bikes.

  13. Recumbents are not just meant for going faster than regular racing bikes, they allow rider to ride longer, further than regular diamond-framed bikes without the saddle sore, without the shoulder/neck or wrists pain.

    we got something similar in hong kong, a 24-hour race. and i actually raced twice for my company, and did win once. the track was a short 700m circuit and you have like 20 karts on the track at the same time so you wont go really fast. control is very very sensitive and very easy to roll a kart if you get too excited. great fun.

  15. That was on an old aluminum bike with a 20" front wheel. Imagine if he had recumbent legs and was on a carbon dual 700c bike!

  16. Please keep showing different styles and disciplines in cycling. Loved the big eyes shot when you closed the lid(?) on the 3 wheeled yellow missile.

  17. The bent industry needs this type of promotion. Now you need a celebrity riding one and go viral. It's still a long way from mainstream and the dream of lower prices.

  18. My neighbor rides a recumbent all around town, has full fairings and a pirate flag lol. He's literally crazy, but that bike always looked so cool to me.

  19. Great to give recumbent bikes some attention. I switched year ago and aside from mountain biking, it's my preferred bike.

  20. Really great to see GCN look at recumbents. It would be fascinating to have a programme testing these things vs. "normal" bikes in a range of conditions, e.g. finding out at what percentage slope the recumbent would start to be slower than the standard bike for fit riders (a series of races on GCN would be great fun!). As regards the TdF and other competitive cycling, clearly racing these things in a bunch would be a completely different sport from UCI road cycling, the ability to rapidly change direction and speed would presumably be much reduced with recumbents. So it's simplistic to say that recumbents are the superior type of HPV and that the UCI are just stifling progress, in many ways the standard road bike is just as "ideal" as the recumbent. But I wonder how much room there would be for improvement of recumbents if there was lots of investment in developing the tech as there has been with standard bikes. If weight is the main factor reducung their advantage on hills, how light could they get? In theory, could a recumbent be almost as light as a standard lighweight road bike? If not, why not?

  21. pedal prix in australia have been going for a long time. mostly school kids, but pretty fast ==>;

  22. Great video, James. As others have mentioned, I would have liked you to do a lap in a light aero road bike and compare the numbers.

  23. Finally a great vlog on Velomobiles and recumbents, and showing upright riders what human powered vehicles are capable of. Well done guy's it's nice to see more people flying the flag.

  24. @dallascyclist and @bicycle evolution sell these in the US. They're located in Plano, TX. I coached the owner to a World Record in the late 90's. He just set a TransCon, Trans Continental Divide Record (El Paso to Calgary), with about 370,000' of climbing.

    These things are amazing, and they're worth a look, especially if you value stability and comfort.

  25. Very enjoyable video and one I've been waiting for. A rounded and serious look at recumbent riding with an explanation of why they were banned and seemingly not "popular".
    Would love to see more, obviously, as so many people don't understand them and the benefits, or the negatives (there are always some).
    Also, as a Raptobike rider it was great to see it in the video, and yes it is like learning to ride for the first time again. Yes it is very, very fast and comfortable (makes me look fast around Castle Coombe and I'm not fit).
    Well done guys!

  26. Well done James, for getting used to the lowracer so quickly! The low centre of body weight makes for a lot of difference in balance, but once up to speed, it becomes easy. I can attest to velomobiles being great touring bikes. A full camping outfit fits inside and one has to restrain oneself not to take too much stuff along. The comfort is so good, that long multi-day rides can easily be managed. And they are soo much fun for racing.

  27. Are you going to go to Battle Mountain in Nevada for the real HPV racing experience? THe main event there this year is in the first half of September. On Google or your fav search engine look for "World Human Powered Speed Challenge 2019"

  28. I always wanted a recumbent bike except there are no bike stores in my area that well them! If I get one I want a aero dynamic one so it could fit a batmobile feel to it! I can go out decked out in my Batman costume and take pictures with the local community and the police! They love superheroes with fancy looking bikes!

  29. 2,280 meter course.

    Speeds (average from standing start obviously):

    Trike: 30.51 km/h (18.96 mph)
    Two-Wheeler: 34.65 km/h (21.53 mph)
    Quest XS: 43.24 km/h (26.87 mph)
    Milan: 47.78 km/h (29.69 mph)

    Fast hour-record for human powered vehicle (streamlined enclosed recumbent): 92.432 km (57.435 miles).

  30. Simply EPIC video “James” -Hank😃 great insight to this type of less unknow type of riding👌🏻 but can we get some more on TT bikes too??

  31. It always amazes me that people who live, eat, and breath cycling, have never riden a recumbent. But good to see an immediate appreciation of the capabilities. I will never ride a DF (Devil's Frame) again if I can help it.

  32. The World Human Powered Speed Challenge takes place in Battle Mountain, Nevada very year. That's where teams will be going for 90mph (the current record is 89.59mph).

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