Skip to content
Using Trails

Considering a Recumbent Bike? Here Are Some Tips to Keep in Mind.

By: Jack Kurrle
February 15, 2022

Ohio's Camp Chase Trail | Photo by Associated Press
Ohio's Camp Chase Trail | Photo by Associated Press

Read this blog in Spanish.

Special shout-out to Jack Kurrle, one of our readers, for sending us these great tips for those looking to acquire a used or new recumbent bike! We’re publishing them here in honor of Celebrate Trails Day!

I [currently] ride a recumbent trike with 20-inch wheels …. I also rode a two-wheeled recumbent for many years.

Before recumbents became popular, I rode a standard 27-inch-wheel-sized bike …. Why did I change? Recumbents have a more comfortable seat in my estimation. That’s what prompted me to write this. Your body needs to keep moving.

Jack Kurrle on his recumbent bike in 2020 | Courtesy Jack Kurrle
Jack Kurrle on his recumbent bike in 2020 | Courtesy Jack Kurrle

Some tips to keep in mind if you are thinking of buying a two- or three-wheeled recumbent:

  1. Is the recumbent dealer [or used recumbent you are considering] close to your home? Recumbents are longer and may not fit in your car or SUV; thus, the dealer will charge to pick up and deliver.
  2. Does the dealer offer a two- or three-day return policy so you can ride it a few miles at home rather than just around the parking lot?
  3. I would suggest you use cleated pedals—with road shoes with recessed cleats. Caution: Riding without cleats—you [risk] your foot coming off the pedal and dropping to the road …. (If this happens on an upright bike your foot should not touch the ground if your bike is set up correctly.)
  4. Seat height—try getting to the seat and sitting down, and then getting up and away from the trike. What did you step over before you could sit down? How high is the seat above the floor/ground? If chair height at your home was only say, 10 inches above the floor, would you be happy with that height?
  5. Seat material should be breathable and weatherproof. Can it be replaced?
  6. What is the angle of the seat back? Can it be adjusted?
  7. Is the seat adjustable to your leg length to the pedals?
  8. [Are all] wheel and tire sizes the same or do they vary? [This information will be important for repairs and replacements.]
  9. Recommendations: Tail and headlight (rechargeable), speedometer, helmet, rear-view mirror on helmet; panniers, water bottle, tire-repair kit, tire pump.

RELATED: “It’s a Scorcher Out There!” Quick Tips to Stay Hydrated on the Trail

RELATED: Useful Biking Gear for Trails—Plus a Few MacGyver Tips

Jack Kurrle
Jack Kurrle

Jack Kurrle is a retired tool & die designer who lives in Michigan. To date, he has ridden more than 90,000 miles.

Donate today!


Everyone deserves access to safe ways to walk, bike, and be active outdoors.