Tire Sizes and Wheel Size 650C vs 26″ (571mm vs 559mm)

This article will open your eyes to the problems/solutions for switching/selecting 650C Road Bike Wheels & Tires vs 559mm 26″ Mountain Bicycle Wheels & Tires.

In the world of Rode Bikes you’ll find dozens of opinion based articles around the issue of Road Bike 700C vs 650C wheels. These articles primarily focus on the benefits of one over the other in relation to rider size and aerodynamics. In the world of Recumbent Bicycles the issue has more to do with rider comfort and what comes specified on most pre-built high racers.

I’m less interested here in the aerodynamic argument of 650C vs 26″ and more interested in rider comfort and tire availability.

Before I get started it’s important to note that a 650C has a rim diameter of 571mm and a 26″ Wheel for our purposes has a rim diameter of 559mm. Thus for practical purposes the size of these two wheels rim diameter is only 12mm different. Thus they are very close to the same size. However they are NOT interchangeable. You’ll encounter some problems when you need to match your Brakes to the rims and try to source tires to meet your own cycling needs.

I am not about to get involved in the most minute technical issues here, I’m only going to cover the “surface” issues… should you desire to really dig into the “Problem” I’d suggest your first do some reading at Sheldon Brown’s site (Harris Cyclery). This information is very easily found by searching for Sheldon Brown in Google. Sadly Sheldon passed a short time ago so the status of his material being updated forward is unknown to me.

Back on point. There is another issue that comes into play with Recumbent Bicycle configurations and that is rim width. Many Recumbent Bikes feature a mix of Road and Mountain Bike components. Many road forks are not wide enough to comfortably accommodate wider 26″ rims (The brakes might not line up properly and may be too narrow to work with some 26″ Rims). So braking is definitely an issue.

Another factor is the ERD – Effective Rim Diameter. If a wheel is too tall it might rub on the Brake Housing or the Fork itself. This depends on the design of the Fork and Brake that is on your bicycle.

This information from Bikeman.com should shed some light on the ERD issue.

ERD, Center to Flange, Over Lock Nut….  All terms – measurements that help wheelbuilders determine the correct spoke length for a particular wheel.  Many of the on-line spoke calculators still require you to enter your own measurements, especially if you have an older hub / rim combination.  Ever wonder how to calculate these number on your own?  Here is a little info to get you started.

The measurement you aquire in the process can be used in conjunction with the DT-Swiss spoke calculator and the spoke calculator provided by Damon Rinard.  The other option is to take these measurements and email them to Bikeman with the following information.  We will need to know the number of holes your hub has and the lacing or number of crosses you would like the spokes to have.

We recommend using a few tools to help you with this process. A set of metric calipers will be enough to take the measurements from your hub. Precise measurement of ERD (Effective Rim Diameter) requires a rim measuring kit, like one from Wheelsmith . Bikeman offers both for sale.  The DT kit is a bit more cumbersome to use but is much cheaper and comes with a set of calipers. Click on the Products below to get details. Damon Rinards spoke calculations web site offers some alternatives to the rim measuring kits. Follow the instructions carefully if you go that route.

This doesn’t exactly make me want to jump in and build my own wheel set that’s for sure.

Back on point.  Rim width, Rim Height, Spoke length, Spoke Count – all issues with selecting the correct size wheels that need to be addressed BEFORE you can select your tires.

650C seems to be a bit of a dying breed for a very small niche of small roadies and Triathalon Competitors.  Even in the World of Triathlon competitors newer road geometry has taken a bite out of the 650C crowd.  With 650C wheels you may be limited to 23mm tires at high pressure.  I know there is the Terry Tellis 28mm that is mentioned in some Recumbent Forums but it’s not exactly the best option for many recumbent riders.

So this brings us back to 26″ – 559 Wheels which are readily available, but not always an easy task to select either.

With 559″ we have a whole new problem in the selection and purchase of Wheels/Rims.  Road bikes have 100mm front fork spacing… and so do mountain bikes and recumbent bikes.  Easy so far!  But when you get to the back wheel, the drop out on a Mountain bike is 135mm and a road bike is 130mm.  My recumbent is 130mm rear drop out, I’m not sure on most recumbents but if you check your own you are more likely to have a 130mm rear drop out than a 135mm rear.

So most recumbent bike riders who want to run 559″ will need to have them custom built because stock hubs for the rear wheel in the 559mm size will be 135mm.  In addition Mountain Bike hubs should have extra seals and “Beefier” axles adding weight to the equation – weight that is of no benefit to the Recumbent Rider who isn’t taking their bike off the pavement.

So what is the solution?

The solution is to talk to your Manufacturer to see what size wheels and which brakes will work with your Recumbent Bicycle.  In some cases all that is needed is a switch to side-pull brakes.  In others you may have the flexibility to adjust a V-Brake the 6mm up or down to accommodate either size assuming the wheel clearance is available between the drop out/forks.

You’ll save weight with 650C as most tires in this size are 190-250 grams vs 250-500 grams in the 559 size.  You’ll also need to run 650C tubes (Because they are much thinner (material thickness and width) thus saving more weight.  But you had better like the high pressure and road vibration which comes along with the light weight high pressure tires.

For me the solution is to have a custom built wheelset based on 17mm 559 rims and road hubs.  This will allow me to get a lightweight wheel, run 559″ tires from 1″ to 1.5″ (25mm to 32mm – yes I know not exact sizing but close enough) and run at a little lower pressure (Good speed and more comfort).

Light weight wheels will absolutely improve the “feel” of your bicycle.  Less rotational mass allows you to start up quicker and climb better.  At speed wheel weight makes little difference, but getting up to your cruising speed or if you ride on city streets and start and stop a lot a light wheel will really matter.

I like the Velocity Rims and the Mavic Rims and the DT Swiss rims – brands you may want to consider.  DT Swiss spokes or Sapim Spokes.  Hubs?  I just can’t really decide yet.  Velocity hubs are Formula OEM very lightweight (80 grams front) but cartridge based so not very serviceable.  I’m considering Ultregra Hubs… but there are so many choices.

For my rear wheel I’m seriously considering an Off Center design to compensate for the “Dish” (Spoke tension of drive side vs non-drive side) of the rear wheel.

And for me I’ll probably stick with a 32 spoke design as I’m not very keen on breaking a spoke when I’m out on the road.  I dread even having to change a flat (Not easy to flip my bike upside down and get it to balance).   My tire preference is the Durano folding tire at 250 grams.  I may give the Kojak a shot as well, but I understand they are not nearly as puncture proof.  My Schwalbe Duranos now have 900 miles on them and look almost brand new.  My Specialized “Fatboys” with the same mileage were coming apart at the seams and had small chunks missing in the tread!

So what has been accomplished in this article?  Well hopefully you now understand that there are many issues involved with Wheel/Tire/Hub/Spoke selection for the 650C vs 26″ debate.

Bottom line is if you have a high racer with 650C you’ll probably be able to run 26″ and vice versa but you need to make sure you’ve done your homework first.

Comments Welcome!

Cruz Bike Quest – Foldable Recumbent

From time to time I like to browse the manufacturer sites to see what’s new. While the Quest from Cruz Bike isn’t brand spanking new it’s new enough.

Before I forget. Cruz Bike – how is the headrest design coming along?

I’m always baffled by Recumbent Manufacturers that do not include Head Rests. It’s really not very comfortable to be in a reclined position for any length of time without one. But from viewing videos of these bicycles I’m not sure how they would implement a headrest on most of their models.

While I realize the Cruz Bikes are still a bit more upright than most recumbents coming out of Europe – the cool looking bikes – perhaps they are on par with the American Recumbents which seem to come in two flavors – old welded together multiple 10 speed look, or the “Broomstick”. I don’t know why American Manufacturers have not embraced the artistic lines and function of the European Bikes but they haven’t.

I’ve thought about picking up a Cruz Bike just to keep along as a guest bike so people can ride with me.  One big advantage is the adjustability of the boom and in this case the upright position.  The downside for me personally beyond lack of headrest is the weight. Seems like most manufacturers don’t like to discuss weight.

I’ll let you in on a bit of a secret that I don’t know if they have realized yet.  But it seems like the Cruz Bike would be the perfect bicycle to put a cheap electric hub motor kit on.  You know the kind that are designed to replace the front wheel on a mountain bike?  The kind that do not interfere with driveline chains and cassettes?  I’ve wondered how they would perform “pushing” the bike instead of pulling it from the front. This would make any of the Cruz Bikes a cool cheap electric motor assist bike. A electric hub wheel in the rear position on a Cruz Bike obviously wouldn’t interfere at all with the drive line, and you could just hit the juice when you wanted to get up to speed quickly or do a bit of climbing.  The disc brake in this case might be a bigger benefit. The weight of the battery would likely change the ride characteristics substantially however.  And how one would mount the battery is anther issue.  But it’s a thought.

Ah back on point or finally on point my intention was to write a short blurb about the Cruz Bike Quest.  It’s pretty cool looking and it folds!  However after watching the process of folding the word CUMBERSOME kept popping into my head, along with “they better have some extra seat bolts with every order”.

You can judge for yourself if the folding feature is a benefit for your needs.

And finally some general Quest Bike Model Design Information.

I don’t know what to make of these bicycles. I like the idea that they are front wheel drive which lessons the complications of long chains, but also makes me think of them more as hybrids than recumbents. It’s nice to see an Amercian company innovating and bringing to market comfortable bikes at prices that while not dirt cheap won’t break the bank for people who seriously enjoy riding.

PS: While the Microshift front derailleur seems a good choice for recumbent bikes with twist/grip shift, I don’t think many bike people would say their group set is equivalent to Shimano 105.

Buying Bicycle Parts Online – the Recumbent Experience

I’m getting the Recumbent Bike of mine ready for spring. I itching to get out and ride but it’s still just a bit cold. So I’m evaluating the upgrades I want to do to my bike – new wheels, crank set, brakes, etc. Then I’m putting those upgrades in line with my own economic reality to see what I can in fact “afford” to do and fighting my “wants” vs my “needs”.

So I’ve been doing a lot of online shopping and price comparison amongst the common sites – Treefort Bikes, AEBike, Price Point, Performance, etc. and the otherwise lesser known shops (There are a lot of online stores in other States) that I have not come across before. By simply typing a part number into Google Shopping you seem to come up with these places. And yes I do on occasion purchase from Hostel Shoppe for very specific items, but for my base components I tend to shop around a lot.

Unfortunately my online recumbent bicycle parts experience has been less than enjoyable. Because I’m a bit of a night owl that has a lot to do during the day I tend to shop at night. And as such I can’t just pick up the telephone and make a call (Who would answer?). So I rely on email to make my inquiries. Now mind you, I’m not as much of a shopper as a buyer, and I don’t write to shops/stores until I’m ready to buy – credit card at the desk side. And here is the kicker – I almost never get a reply! Once in a great while there will be someone on the other end who responds to my inquiries.

Now I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as many of these places are just small mom and pops with a pretty website. But if you are going to be in the business of selling parts to consumers might you take the time to actually respond to the consumers who take the time to use your website? It makes sense to me!

The other problem is shipping times.  I currently have an order in with a company in the Midwest (I won’t name them for now) and here I am 9 days in still waiting. They took my order, then took an additional 3 days just to process it. On the 4th day they finally got it out to UPS. My best guess is they don’t really stock anything, but just wait till they get the order then go out and source it.

The good news is that when I have ordered online I have usually received what I purchased, in good condition, and have not had to return any items.

I guess I should wrap this up… and I know there will be no bike manufacturing reps who read this – I wish there were… I would like communication to get better! I’m very disappointed in Bicycle Companies (Manufacturers not dealers in this instance) in general who make these nice looking websites then fail to have any way for consumers to get the information they need to make informed decisions. I can not rely on my LBS’ as they tend lack Recumbent Knowledge. Yes my LBS’ know next to nothing about Recumbent Bicycles. It’s an exercise in frustration to try and talk to these guys about anything Recumbent related. So I rely on online shops and manufacturers. I can’t tell you how many manufacturers have actually responded to any of my requests for information. Because the count is extremely low. I may as well just send my email directly to the trash bin.

And wouldn’t it be nice if Shimano would actually publish weights on their lower end group sets? And while they are at it – it would be even nicer if they would keep manufacturing 9 speed as in my view it’s reached the point where additional speeds really are no longer important. The masses of us are recreational riders – not racers. I need durability, light weight, and smooth shifting – not more gears.

Well I’m off. Rant over.

BikeWagon Customer Service

First off I’d like to say Thank You to Mark H. at BikeWagon for taking the time to not only reply to my questions about a Crankset and Tools, but to actually reply to each question then reply again after I sent follow up questions.

This is the first Online Bicycle Store to actually respond entirely to my inquiry. I don’t know if this is the norm for every person at BikeWagon but if it is then they are really doing something right. For me this is a big deal because I can’t always get away during the day to call Bike Shops so most of what I do is in the evenings or at night after they are closed.

I had never heard about BikeWagon before this past week. Then I looked them up on Google and found some good replies in Bike Forums.

So I decided to do some shopping on their Website. The BikeWagon website can be a bit slow at times, and they are not always the cheapest on smaller parts, but for Cranksets and larger parts you really should check them out before you buy anywhere else. Plus they have a flat rate $5 shipping charge on items under $75 and if it’s over then it’s free.

Normally I wouldn’t take the time to write out something like this, but in this case I feel it’s warranted. Nice to know there are Bicycle Retailers that really will try and help you out.

BikeWagon is located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Recumbent Bike vs Upright

This article is for people who have questions about Recumbent Bike vs Upright Bike

For as long as I can remember I’ve had bicycles… everything from the old hand me down beater, to 3 speed, to Schwin 10 Speed Road Bike, Hard Tail and Fully Suspended mountain bikes, and now recumbent bikes.  I’ve ridden all types of bicycles so I’m in a pretty good position to evaluated the different characteristics and pros and cons.Most people looking at Recumbent Bicycles are not new to cycling but because Recumbent Bikes are so scarce in the United States and most Cycling Shops don’t carry Recumbent Bikes there is little information on what people who are considering adding a Recumbent to their cycling experience want to know.  People in this position want to compare Recumbent Bikes vs Upright Bikes.

The Recumbent Bike vs Upright Bike

First off it’s important to note that comparing and Upright in the sense of riding position alone to a Recumbent Bike isn’t really possible without actually experiencing the different positions in person by riding.

When you are on an upright bicycle you assume one of two positions:

1. The hunched over,  seat up your butt crack position of Road Bikes or Mountain bikes

2. The upright arms in front of you cruising on the beach position of comfort bikes.  Comfort bikes are heavy and slow for the most part so people choose road bikes or mountain bikes.

A BETTER ALTERNATIVE:  On most recumbent bikes you are in a more laid back, more reclined feet out in front of you position. The differences are not subtle, they are huge.  Recumbent bikes position your spine for comfort. You can enjoy your cycling experience so much more when your head is upright and you are not in pain.  And you don’t have to sacrifice speed on flat terrain, although most recumbent bicycles are not great hill climbers.

There are actually two positions for Recumbent Bicycles.  The first position is much like any ordinary comfort bicycle except your feet are a little further out in front of you.  This type of position is typical for long wheel base Recumbent Bikes from manufacturers like Sun Bicycles or Easy Racers.

This Photo Shows Recumbent Riding Positions

Recumbent Bicycle Riding Positions

Note the extreme postion vs upright position

Photo Source:  Recumbents.com

In this photograph you can see an extreme laid back position for the first cyclist on his Recumbent Low Rider vs the more upright and relaxed position of the second cyclist on the long wheel base recumbent bicycle followed by the Velomobile.

Most riders starting out with Recumbent bicycles will choose a bicycle like the long wheel base pictured. They are fast enough for most recreational riders, easy to steer, and extremely comfortable. This type of recumbent bicycle handles much better than low racer bike pictured.  But an experienced cyclist on a low rider recumbent can go very very fast on flat terrain.  How fast?  So fast that all the major speed records for cycling are held by recumbent riders.  I’m not going to get into the specifics other than to say as speed increases above 25mph wind resistance and areodynamic drag really kick in.

Because your feet are flat on the ground and you are sitting it’s easy to start and stop.  If you ride a comfort bicycle you can easily ride this type of recumbent bicycle.  The extreme laid back position of the low racer recumbent pictured here is not the kind of bicycle you want to use to learn how to ride recumbent bikes.  At slow speed low racers are very “twitchy” and if you are not experienced you’ll probably just fall over.  These low riders are for more experienced riders who want to go fast and have open roads to ride.

So back on point.  When you are riding a recumbent bicycle you typically have 2 positions – upright with your feet forward and below your hips, or reclined with your feet forward and above your hips.  A mid racer or high racer bicycle will retain the riding position of the first rider reclined with feet up.  Although there will be varying degrees of seat height and crank height.  Keep in mind when you feet are up in the air it can create circulation problems in some individuals which result in numb toes or soreness.  Personally I even encounter this from time to time after years of riding.

Another thin to consider when you have your feet in front of you and up in the air is that you don’t crash head first when you crash, you tip over.  At high speed this can result in some pretty serious leg injuries especially if your feet are clipped into the pedals.  Yes I’ve crashed, but not at high speed and while you are crashing you don’t have time to release your feet from the pedals most of the time.  I’ve never had my feet not release after I hit the ground and I’ve never been seriously injured on my Recumbent.  I have taken some pretty bad falls while being launched over the handle bars from my Mountain Bikes.  So this is a consideration for people who ride in traffic.  And yes I do ride in traffic and I do ride with my feet clipped into the pedals.  My preference for riding is to use Mountain Bike shoes and clips.

Enjoying the Experience – Recumbent vs Upright

I have loved my mountain bikes.  I have fond memories of flying down stairs, curb jumping, single track, gravel roads, cutting across just about any terrain and just going wherever I wanted to ride.  I can’t do this on my recumbent – it’s a road bike.  I have to be more selective of my routes, I have to ride on pavement or very hard packed surfaces (Recumbents set up for touring can handle different terrain than my bike).  Having said that I experience a whole new level of enjoyment on the Recumbent Bicycle.  I ride past people grimacing in pain all the time on their Road Bikes.  They are all hunched over with a 1″ strip of synthetic leather poking up their hiny, they just look miserable.  They are looking mostly down at the road and a few feet ahead of their path.

On the other hand I have a clear view in all directions, I’m completely relaxed and have that big shit eating grin on my face all the time as I pass them.  Now when I say pass them I’m mostly talking about riding by in opposite directions.  I’m not a racer, but I can ride fast when I want to.  On the flats I usually cruise along about 18mph.  An upright road bike being ridden by a recreational rider will be about this same speed.  I could go faster if I wanted to pedal faster but what it the point?  I’m not in any pain riding, I love the experience and I cruise around for fun.  I’m in no rush to get from point A to point B.  Most of the roadies I see are out there in all their tights trying to go as fast as possible all the time.  I don’t really get that, but it is what it is.

When I get back from my rides my back is usually a little warm and sweaty from the reclined position on my bike.  For this reason I wear polyester cycling jerseys and stop now and again to cool it down a bit when it’s hot.  In cooler weather this is an advantage and helps keep you warm.  So it’s give and take depending on the temperature.  But the great thing is when I get home my butt isn’t sore, my back doesn’t hurt and I can resume my normal daily activities.  In the past when I returned from my Mountain Biking escapades my butt bone (That’s the medical term) would be sore, and my neck would be aching.  I loved the ride, but paid the price later on.  There were days I’d want to go and ride again but didn’t want to have to go through the sore butt pain.  Those days are behind me!  No special padded bike tights required now!

Recumbent bikes give you a new freedom to experience the joy of cycling, without the pain.  I’ve seen people in their 60’s and 70’s enjoying recumbent bikes (Usually men, as it seems to be a male centric endeavor).  So just because you are older doesn’t mean you can’t ride… you can.  In fact recumbent bikes are the perfect bicycle as you age.  Better yet why not consider a recumbent tricycle.  With a trike you don’t have to worry about balance issues and you can just stop and rest all comfy in your seat when the need arises.  Its’ win/win.

Recumbent bikes are great for all ages!  One caveat – if I had children below the age of 12 I’d want them on an upright simply so they can maneuver better and cars can see them better.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit by people on cell phones and driving or pulling out of parking lots and only looking one direction.  When you are on a bike you have to be careful of drivers, when you are on a recumbent you have to be extra careful because you really can not maneuver as quickly.  It all depends on the type of recumbent you are riding and the position of your feet.  With my bike I don’t steer it as much as I “Pilot” it.  You do a lot of leaning and subtle motions in your turns as opposed to outright steering.

Well I know this is not the end all most conclusive article you’ll read comparing a recumbent bike vs upright but I hope it has somehow helped those who are considering a recumbent bicycle.  If you can find one to test ride that fits your body geometry I think you’ll be hooked.  This is the most enjoyable and pain free experience on two wheels under your own power.  Recumbent bikes are not great climbers and can be really hard on the knees in hilly areas so keep this in mind.

We have an entire section here at Recumbent Bicycle Source listing links to manufacturers for you to explore.

Happy Riding!

If you have comments regarding Recumbent vs Upright Bikes please feel free to leave them below.  You can also leave questions and I’ll try to answer them time permitting.

M5 Bike Seat Bracket Sheared Off

M5 Ti ShockProof Bike Troubles

This one is a head scratcher.  I was riding the other day and felt the seat just drop.  Fortunately no accident.  I stopped and lifted up the seat cushion thinking maybe I just needed to tighten the screws (A recurring problem due to location and vibration).  Unfortunately I was not so lucky.  The mounting bracket for the seat had completely sheared off.

This bicycle has a total of just over 3,000 miles on it… but it is 10+ years old now.  I’ve replaced many components over that time period for both comfort and usability.  The wheels and brakes it came with were not very good.  So I expect to do maintenance and upgrades… which I do.  I figure I’m very near $6,000 invested in this bicycle now.  I sure didn’t expect any of the frame components to fail.  And there are no other cracks on the frame anywhere.  One of the things that impressed me about this Bicycle when I first got it was how clean the welds were… and still are.

What’s interesting here is the M5 Weld didn’t fail… the metal itself just sheared off.  I suspect there are several reasons for this.

  1.  The metal is pretty thin overall and mounted at a slight angle to the frame so when the seat comes down on it the transfer of forces goes through the metal at a slight angle instead of vertical.
  2.  Holes are drilled into the metal to allow cables to pass.  I always hated this as it also has worn the cable covering off.  It just seems like “After thought” Engineers.  There seems to be a lot of “Just use a Zip Tie” Engineering in the recumbent World.
  3. There is nothing to absorb the shock on the metal when you hit a pothole or object and your weight bounces up and then back down.  And for the record I’m less than 200lbs.

Anyways enjoy the Photos of my freshly disabled M5 Ti Shockproof below.  It is what it is… nothing lasts forever.  And while I want to get a Trike… they are just too dangerous on the city streets where I usually end up having to ride until I can get access to paths.  I’m scared to be too low to the ground… just last year a recumbent cyclist in the area I was riding was killed when a Truck turned a corner and ran right over him.  The driver said he didn’t even see him.  I believe he was on a small wheeled Sun or Clone of some type.

Once again looking hard at Azub… would probably already own one if I could get myself in a shop where I could actually see one.  Not really excited sending off a pile of money and then hoping everything just works out.

Another Angle of Broken Brackets

Another Angle of Broken Brackets

Broken Bracket Again

Broken Bracket Again

broken seat bracket 1

Sheared off Seat Bracket

Broken off Edge Remains on Tube

Broken off Edge Remains on Tube

You can see here where the holes were drilled

You can see here where the holes were drilled

Rose City Recumbent Bikes Trikes Portland Oregon In Store Visit

Rose City Recumbent Cycles Portland Or In Store Visit

Thought I’d write a short note about my recent visit to Rose City Recumbent Cycles  in Portland OR on Powell Blvd.

I’ve never been there before, but I called ahead a few days prior to my visit to see what they had in Stock. I talked to “Jonathan”. Good guy, very knowledgeable and pleasant on the Telephone… and even more so in person. He said they had a Bachetta Giro 20 and a Bella both in stock, both bikes I wanted to ride.

So a few days later I got the chance to visit.

When I got there I had a little trouble finding a place to park… very limited parking and I had to walk a block or two to get there. They are on the South side of the road. Very plain looking building at ground level on the sidewalk. Very nice once you enter… and excellent displays of the bikes/trikes they sell.

The first thing I noticed was the Fat Tire Ice Trike… geez… drool worthy. But I was there to look at Bachetta. If you hit their Webisite (Rose City Recumbent Bicycles DOT com) you’ll see they carry ICE, TerraTrike, Cruz, Trident, Bachetta, Lightning, Performance, and Rans. They had mostly ICE Trikes, Cruz Bikes, and Bachetta. The website is pretty plain, but the store is really nice. There is a small area behind the store and adjacent to it that you can test ride. They had at least one representative of all the brands. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Small Shop… good guys… and it appears they do a lot more volume than one would expect. Turns out the Employees are former Coventry Cycles Employees… and have been in the Business a long time. Very knowledgeable and I felt right at home. Every time I go to a new city I try to visit a Recumbent shop if I can find one. Definitely one of my best experiences. Did I say good guys already?

Let me cut to the Chase.

The Bella was sold so I didn’t get to ride it. But I did ride the Giro 20 AT I believe with a Recurve Seat and it was a pretty good experience, but the seat wasn’t quite right for me (I’m very used to a hardshell seat). Nice bike. Next I got to ride a Lightning P38 with a custom wheel set and a FSA Crank. While not night and day the Lightning P38 was very sweet in comparison to the Giro 20. It just felt so much more responsive and I liked the seat so much more. But it’s also DOUBLE the money… and probably worth it.

Finally I got to ride a Cruzbike… just the base model (They had the faster models but I didn’t want to take up all their time). Wow… the feeling on the Cruz Bike is so different. Definitely an acquired taste and to be honest not to my liking. But that’s what they ride.

I feel like I’m writing a book report… and NO I don’t work for these guys and have never even been there… but this is one of the best Bike Shop experiences I’ve had. I can highly recommend that if you have access to Portland check them out. The P38 is something I really want now… but to be honest I think at the price point I can see myself in an ICE Trike. And for those of you who like a little help up the hills they had the Bafang Electric Kit mounted on one (I didn’t ride it) and it looked right at home on the Trike.

Hope this helps someone who wants to find a nice shop to try out a lot of great recumbent rides.

Sorry I didn’t have my camera with me so I didn’t get any photos.

Highly Recommended

M5 Shockproof Ti 559

Review: New M5 Shockproof Ti 559!

Original Date of Review: July 19, 2004

Shockproof Ti 559 Photographs on bottom of this page.

As much as I would like it to be lighter and a better climber I still stand by my statements that the construction is top notch. This bike is exceptionally well built (but you pay the price in weight). I still hate the brakes – yuck! They slow you down, but don’t stop you on the hills. On the flats the brakes are adequate.

This is a fun bike to ride, gets lots of looks, and I like the color scheme with the Titanium/Black. In hindsight I wish I had opted for the 650c wheels and less spokes. I think a little faster wheels would help some in climbing. I’ve logged a couple of hundred miles now so I’m pretty comfortable even at slow speeds. Yes it can be twitchy and you can get some heel strike, but I wouldn’t hold that against the bike; it’s what you get with the “low racer” design. So overall I think it’s a solid bike, I just don’t think it’s worth the price I paid.

If you can buy the frame separately you might consider this as an option to build up your own quasi-fast around town fun bike. Definitely get the carbon fiber seat, build your own wheels, and spec your own component group. I’d also advise you have an experienced technician help with the assembly and tuning. Well I’ve pretty much said all I can about this model. Caveat Emptor – enjoy you’re ride!

Update: August 6, 2004


I took the bike for it’s first real climbing test – an 8 mile climb up a canyon with a 2 to 3% grade, and the last 2 miles at about 6%. This bicycle is just too heavy to be a good climber, all the road bikes were passing me. I maintained about 10mph on the lower part of the climb and it was all I could do to keep about 6 to 7mph on the upper. And I’m not tooting my own horn, but I’m in hella good shape because I ride on average every other day and already have hundreds of miles on my mountain bike logged this season. So if you want to go fast in the flats this is a good bike, but if you want to climb with it you will be disappointed like I am. One MAJOR reason I bought this bike was for it’s low weight (billed as 24.5lbs, but actually 33lbs). So I guess I’ll get a Trek 5200 for climbing. Yes I’ve heard all the stories how recumbents can climb, but if your idea of climbing is 2 to 4mph in granny gears then I guess you are right. But if you want to maintain a reasonable speed then I’d opt for the road bike. How many of you ride centuries anyways? Most of you probably ride 5 to 20 miles for recreation and fun.


I have spoken too soon about M5’s service. I guess I was excited to be part of the recumbent world. Shortly after my comment about good service I received a bill from Federal Express for additional charges. Turns out nobody ever informed me of these charges and M5 who said the shipping was inclusive is now refusing to step up to the plate and honor their word BUT BRAM DID KEEP MY MONEY PROFITED AT LEAST $300 ON THE SHIPPING. Fed Ex never informed me of any extra charges either – otherwise the bicycle would still be at customs – I WILL NOT BE SCREWED FURTHER BY BRAM MOENS OR FEDEX.

I paid $600 US and the actual shipping according to a Fed Ex rep was about $300. So M5 banked $300 profit off of my ignorance. I’ve learned my lesson, buy from a local dealer and make sure you know exactly what you are getting for you money. I guess my good service prior to this invoice was based on the fact that they had gouged me so hard in shipping. Did they think I wouldn’t find out? But what can you do? Some dealers are honest, some try to take advantage of you. It was my fault for wanting a bike I couldn’t buy here. In the future I’ll make due with the best American Made product I can find. PERSONALLY I WOULDN’T PURCHASE ANYTHING FROM M5 AGAIN, BUT YOU’LL HAVE TO DECIDE FOR YOURSELF.


Wow! That’s the feeling I have now after returning from my first full-blown ride. But about an hour ago my first impression was – ought oh! What have I done. So lets step back to the beginning. I’ll spare you all the reasons why I made the move to a recumbent, lets just say the time was right. I have other bikes which are quite nice in their own right.


After researching for a couple of months everything I wanted in a Recumbent I selected the M5 Shockproof Ti 559 from M5 Ligfietsen! I wanted the dual 26″ wheels and there were not many bikes available with dual suspension and dual 26″ wheels. The suspension ruled out Volae, Bachetta, and Rans. I choose the Ti Version because I wanted lighter weight (too bad it isn’t really light like it’s billed to be). So I committed and sent off an email to M5 which was answered quite promptly by Bram Moen. A note to website owners – YES PEOPLE REALLY DO BUY BIKES THEY FIND ON THE INTERNET. You (the reader) might be surprised to know that many of the dealers/manufacturers I contacted via E-mail never responded to my inquiries. They must have too much business? IF A DEALER IS GOING TO POST A WEBSITE AND AN EMAIL ADDRESS DON’T YOU THINK THEY WOULD BE ADVISED TO ANSWER THE EMAIL? I thought so… anyways back to the Shockproof Ti 559!.

After a process of about 6 weeks of writing back and forth (It was not a great experience for a person like me who has many virtues, patience not among them). I’m not sure they (Bram) thought I was a serious buyer. I had difficulty with my bank trying to do a wire transfer – In fact they said they could, but failed to be able to do an international wire transfer correctly. So I ended up putting the bike on the Visa Card. And was told my bike was on it’s way.

The next series of frustrations began. I received a telephone call from my Sister telling me that there was a package for me from FedEx that was being held for some reason. She gave me a telephone number and a lady to call. I called and of course received “voice mail”. Yikes I thought, this is going to be another hurdle. Fortunately she called back within the hour. Due to the Homeland Security Act here in the USA my bike was being held while until I filled out the necessary Import Paperwork. Yikes how long was that going to take? I downloaded the application (Adobe Acrobat Format), and emailed it off. Surprise – next day my bike arrived! The funny part (in hindsight) of the story is that FedEx didn’t know how to contact me, so they opened the telephone book for my City and called a person with the same last name, who turned out to be my uncle. He in turn called my sister, who called me. Lucky? NOPE! Written in BIG BLOCK LETTERS right on the top of the box was my Telephone number! How FedEx missed that I’ll never know!


As adults we sometimes forget the pure adrenaline rush, exhilaration, and excitement of childhood Christmas’s. Can you remember the first gift you got that just totally fulfilled your expectations. You knew you were going to get it and when you did, you were just totally into the moment? Hold on to that feeling, you may experience it again if you get one of these bikes! That’s the feeling I had RIGHT UP UNTIL THE POINT I OPENED THE BOX! Yikes pieces of bubble wrap and tape everywhere. The tape was rather hard to get off in places (i.e. the carbon fork). The Shockproof was too large to ship assembled, so it had to be disassembled into component pieces in order to ship across the pond.

So what I had on my living room floor was a dozen or so very nicely wrapped packages of Shockproof Ti component parts “mostly” assembled. No problem I figured, I’ve put together a few bicycles in the past. This was a little different though. I quickly pieced together the pieces that made sense from the photograph of the bike. I got everything mostly together except for the derailleur adjustment before I encountered a major problem. (Pictures of the M5 TI 559 Shockproof including how it was packaged are available below).

I didn’t know exactly where washers went on the bolts, but I worked through the process. The problem was the front brake pad was rubbing the rim. So I spun the rim and it still rubbed. I was not very happy! No matter how hard I tried I could not adjust the Teckro Mini V brake on the left front side for the life of me (More on this later).

The Tech (At M5) that installed the brake had cut the wire so short that I it had no play. But that was only part of the problem. Turns out the bigger problem was the wheel simply was not true, and aggravated the whole situation. Now you would think (Or at least I would think) that someone at M5 would have taken more time to make sure these “little” things didn’t happen on a bicycle shipping so far. But they didn’t.


Now I’ll be the first to admit I am NOT the world’s best bicycle technician, but I’m not bad. I can do most maintenance tasks, but I leave the big stuff to the shop technicians as I do not have the tools, nor the desire to delve into the world of bike building. Having qualified my bicycle skills in this manner I must now admit that after my frustrations with the brakes, and my burning desire to ride the darn thing and not just look at it – I took the Shockproof 559 Ti into a local bike shop. I called 5 shops and finally found one willing to do the simple things I needed to “fine tune” the assembly (Adjust brakes, derailleur, etc.). But before we talk about the bicycle shop experience, lets talk about that darn wheel that wasn’t true!

I also sent my untrue wheel off to Dave Thomas at Dave’s Wheels. I learned of Dave’s services by reading the wheel reviews at Mountain Bike Review (MTB Review). After so many glowing reviews how could I go wrong? So I phoned up Dave and explained the situation. He told me it wouldn’t be a problem, but he was in Colorado for the summer (Not Arizona). I needed to ship him the package and enclose a check for $35 ($25 for the truing and $10 to cover shipping – turns out shipping was $8.80 so he was right on target). I have never met or spoken to Dave before, but I figured it shouldn’t be a problem. So I sent the wheel off, and a week later it came back perfectly true! That’s good service, and he even dismounted and remounted the tire for me because I was too lazy to do that! Good deal, if you need custom wheels you might want to give him a call!


After 5 calls I found a shop and a competent sounding technician – “Derek” who was willing to take the time to answer all my questions, and also agreed to adjust my bicycle while I was there right in the shop. The other technicians I called didn’t sound competent and didn’t understand my need to be there during the adjustment of the boom, etc.

In the span of about half an hour I had my derailleur adjusted, and the front brakes adjusted. Derek removed the weird (That’s the description I’ll use) nut on the top of the left pad and replaced it with a more common nut from a set of used Tecktro Brakes he had in the shop. He also had to replace the cable as it was too short (as previously mentioned). Total damage – $30 USA for the “tune up” and $5 USA for the brake cable. Not a bad deal for same day service while you wait. I was so happy I immediately took my Trek Fuel 98 in for a broken spoke problem. DEALERS – ANYONE CAN SELL A BIKE, BUT SERVICE WINS CUSTOMERS. Okay I’m preaching – lets ride the darn thing!


Ought oh! What have I done? What have I gotten myself into? Have I made a huge financial mistake? With basic black Shimano 105 components (See full M5 Shockproof Component list below) but it was more than $4,000 USA after shipping! That’s a lot to me considering the middle of the road component package (I was, and am a little envious of the Bachetta Aero because it is so much lighter, and comes with all High End components for about the same price). I figure I got the same basic deal any other customer would have received – not counting being screwed on the shipping.

I began to pedal – I have only ridden one other recumbent before this one – a Sun something or other with a cushy seat and a low bottom bracket. It was really easy to ride, but very mushy slow feeling. This new Shockproof 559 felt entirely different. My first impression was “this feels kind of squirrelly”. Due to my inexperience and slow speed stability problems I almost crashed before I was even out of the driveway. I had trouble starting… but I just kept pedaling, and at 6 or 7 miles per hour the stability improves drastically.

Even so my first mile or so was scary stuff! I thought for sure I was going to crash again. I applied the brakes – SQREECH! So loud a car that drove by with it’s windows down gave me a strange look. Perhaps the brakes need a while to “break in” (pun intended). I kept pedaling. Now I must say I’m a experienced rider (Just not recumbents). I’ve been on a bicycle for as long as I can remember and never had a problem with any bike as far as handling and balance are concerned. This was a different experience. I kept pedaling. I got more and more comfortable.

I decided to take one of my longer “usual” loops around town. About half an hour into the ride I felt pretty comfortable on the bike. However, I am still not all that comfortable with the handle bar position or the shifting. I’ve never been a fan of “grip shift” shifters. Hopefully I’m not violating some trademark there, perhaps it’s twist shifters. And the braking does leave something to be desired. I find myself anticipating stops much more than on any other bicycle. I would have loved a disc brake option but that adds weight. Weight is bad? Isn’t it? Maybe not.


Weight! I put my Trek Fuel 98 on the Bicycle shop scale (An electronic hanging scale designed for weighing bicycles). This looked like a quality scale and it read 28.6 lbs. Right on! It’s the largest frame they make 21.5″ and full suspension, so I knew the scale was accurate. I next put the Shockproof TI 559 on the scale expecting to see about 27lbs. Wow was I shocked (no pun intended). 33lbs 2 ounces. I did a slight double take. The M5 website lists this bicycle at 11.5 kg (25.4lbs) with Shimano 105! Now I expected my bike to be heavier as I had more spokes in the wheels, and the TI rack – I figured 27lbs would be about right. NOT EVEN CLOSE! This bike was a full 6lbs heavier than that!

I guess there really is some truth to weight not being as important in the recumbent world. Just a word of warning with any bike, if you care about weight, buy from a dealer (In this case I had no choice as there were no dealers in the USA) ) and have them weigh the bike with the accessories you want already installed. I’m definitely happy with the bicycle and will be keeping it as my main ride for some time to come.

More about the weight: Yes it’s heavier than I expected, but it doesn’t feel super heavy. It’s hard to explain you just have to ride it. In all fairness to M5 I did spec the bicycle a little “heavy duty” – but not 8 extra pounds heavy duty, just extra spokes – 36 spoke wheels.. And as stated earlier the build quality is impeccable.

The Shockproof Ti 559 bike can be made lighter with higher end components: carbon seat, Dura-Ace, etc. – But even so I don’t see how you could possibly get it down below 28 to 29lbs. 33lbs is what it weighs in the configuration I recieved. I didn’t realize I was getting the Fiberglass seat and not the carbon fiber seat. I guess I had “sucker” written on my forehead.


Scary at first for those of us with limited recumbent experience. It’s my understanding slow speed handling is not a strength of any recumbent design. But even a person of average balance and skill will quickly become accustomed to starting and stopping. After you get the knack of starting and you get up to say 5 to 8 mph the handling improves exponentially! This bike feels like performance machine right up until you need to climb something steep! If you ride in the flats you won’t be disappointed with the performance.

I opted for the Specialized “Fatboy” tires. These are fast easy rolling comfortable tires (I have them on my spare mountain bike). A seasoned recumbent rider will probably take to this bike faster than I did, but I’m catching on quickly. It’s slow speed handling isn’t great (as mentioned above this tends to be the case for recumbents in general), but at speed (and I’ll report the actual speeds after I hook up the computer and go on several rides) it handles pretty well. I am a little concerned about low speed stability from the very narrow handlebars. I understand the ergo/aerodynamic ramifications. It’s a fair tradeoff, but slightly wider bars in my opinion would add to the feeling of stability. I also found my wrists getting a little uncomfortable, and I wasn’t about to take my hands off the bars. Knowing this I think bars that are about 2″ wider on each side would add tremendously to the “feel” of stability for a recreational rider like myself, while the racer will probably want to keep the tight aero bars this shipped with this bicycle. Catch me in a month or two and I’ll probably be saying “Boy I’m glad I have these narrow bars, I wish I could go faster!”.

While riding (even on my very first ride) I was amazed at how much difference the riding position makes not only to comfort (I like the M5 Seat – I have a very long back and the large seat fits me well, if anything it might be 1 or 2 inches too short, but it feels good) but to the speed you can attain and more importantly maintain in a headwind. It is so much easier to pedal into the wind. I noted a rider about 300 yards ahead of me riding into the wind on his upright road bike, and within about 5 minutes of casual pedaling I had closed at least a hundred yards on him. This bike may be too much for your riding goals, style, or budget, but recumbents in general will open your eyes to how much easier it is to ride in the wind. The shockproof 559 Titanium excels in a head wind! I think my first impressions were based a lot on fear of the unknown and as I ride this bike I’ll like it more an more.


Sexy is local slang we like to use among friends to describe things which are “cool”, “innovative” and just easy on the eyes. This bike has all of that! I didn’t mention that I’m fairly large at 6’4″ and about 210lbs. I felt very much at home with the dual 26″ and really liked the M5 Seat (I’ve said that twice now!). This bike feels very fast to me! It’s SEXY! But I just can’t get over the weight because I have to do a lot of climbing where I live. This is a good bike for people that don’t have to climb.


There are very few options in the dual 26″ recumbent market right now. I wanted and got dual suspension. The ride is firm yet forgiving, when I push hard on the pedals the seat provides the support I need to really accelerate. The seat is comfortable for my body (although a headrest would be nice) but it did seem to get a little bit hot. I left a trail of sweat on the nylon covered foam pad. I would sacrifice a little aero for the more secure feeling wider handle bars would bring – although not full on wide like the “tweener” bars on other bikes. I really like the fact that my knees are nowhere near hitting the handlebars. I did rub my right leg slightly on occasion against the chain housing. And while this bike is not perfectly silent the chain noise didn’t bother me much, I could barely hear it. I usually ride with my MP3 Flash Player (iRiver) and ear buds so I couldn’t really tell. I set the volume very low so I can hear traffic. I just like the rhythm of music when riding it helps me keep a nice smooth pace. And a final thought about low speed handling. Yes it’s possible to have “heel strike” but only at very slow speeds and relatively sharp turns.

Good – Benefits

  • Performance: Fast, Fast, Scary Fast on the flats and downhill!
  • Sexy looking.
  • Top quality welds, stiff yet forgiving. This frame will be around 200 years after I’m 6′ under. I just can’t impress upon you enough the quality of the frame, and overall “feel” of this bike.
  • I was happy with Bram’s willingness to take the time to answer my questions and work with me through the minor glitches. I’m sure an authorized dealer and dealer assembly would have avoided the problems I had.
  • Great Website – Love the information on Energy/Speed expectations.

Bad – Downside

  • Unless you are experienced in recumbents you may choose bad components for the money. Hopefully you’ll find a dealer you can trust. Don’t buy direct unless you want to be screwed.
  • I still don’t like the brakes! I don’t think I’ll ever like these brakes, but they will stop you once you get used to them, but they are nothing special. If you are going too fast you’ll need plenty of room to slow down before stopping.
  • Handling is a little “Twitchy” – this is a cyclists bike – not Grandpa’s campground cruiser material and definitely not something you are going to teach the kids to ride on.
  • I’ll probably do something stupid and die on this thing due to the tight handle bars (I’m already getting a false sense of security as I get comfortable on the bike which is followed quickly by extreme fear when something goes even a little awry. Steering is NOT forgiving.
  • It’s heavier than I expected for Titanium (but rock solid construction).
  • No dealers here in the USA. This (as I now know) is not a good choice for casual bikers, but if you have good balance, want to go like hell, and have everyone look at you with envy – go get one! or Buy mine! Bram is NOT concerned in the slightest about making good on promises. Customer support is terrible.


  • Frame – M5 Titanium
  • Fork: Carbon Fiber – Mfg. ?
  • Rear Shock: DNM – DV22
  • Steering – OSS Scary Tight Bars
  • Seat – M5 w/nylon covered foam pad
  • R. Derailleur: Shimano Deore black
  • F. Derailleur: Shimano 105 black
  • Shifters: SRAM Rocket
  • Crankset: Shimano 105
  • Wheelset: Custom Aero M5 36 Spoke
  • Hubs: Shamino 105
  • Brakes – Tektro Mini V
  • Weight: 33lbs 2 oz (15kg) w/Ti Rack

Note: Please feel free to link to this review as you see fit, but please don’t copy it or repost it without permission.

Shockproof Ti 559 Pictures

Box Contents

M5 Shockproof 559 Box Contents

M5 Shockproof 559 Box Contents


Ti Dropouts

Ti Dropouts


Handle Bars and Shifters

Handle Bars and Shifters

Boom Welds

Boom Welds

Boom Welds

Fork Dropouts

Fork Dropouts

Fork Dropouts

Frame Pivots

Frame Pivots

Frame Pivots

Left View

M5 Shockproof 559 Ti Left Side View

M5 Shockproof 559 Ti Left Side View

Right View

M5 Shockproof 559 Ti Right Side View

M5 Shockproof 559 Ti Right Side View

Stock Pedal

Stock Pedals

Stock Pedals

Ti Tubing

Shockproof 559 TI Tubing

Shockproof 559 TI Tubing

Carbon Fork

Carbon Fiber Fork

Carbon Fiber Fork

Front View

M5 Shockproof 559 Titanium Front View

M5 Shockproof 559 Titanium Front View

Rear Shock

Rear Shock Absorber

Rear Shock Absorber

Rear Derailleur

Rear Derailleur

Rear Derailleur

Rear Brake

Rear Brake

Rear Brake

Ti Rack

Titanium Rack

Titanium Rack




Front Brake

M5 Shockproof Front Brake

M5 Shockproof Front Brake

Specialized Fatboy Tire

My Experience with Specialized Fatboy Tires

Note:  Photos of Specialize Fatboy Tires Below

Specialized bicycles calls their “Fatboy” tire a “Performance Road” tire. At 26×1.25 for 559rims these are a pretty good choice for mountain bikers who want to ride the asphalt. These are a pretty good choice for middle of the road 559 Recumbent trainers.

I’ve ridden these on both my mountain bike and my recumbent. They definitely fill a bit different depending on the type of bicycle you are riding. On the Mountain Bike they feel a bit unstable to me and I’m not that comfortable on them… however on the recumbent they feel just about right and seem to handle better. Probably just my perception as on the Mountain Bike I am much higher in the air and used to wider tires with a lot more grip.

At 390 grams these are fairly light wire bead training tires. The tread is a bit stiff, but inflated at about 85psi they offer a fairly smooth ride… pump them to 100psi and the ride gets noticeably harsher, but they do roll a lot better.

The Fatboy Tire is 60 tpi nylon with Specialized Flak Jacket sub tread. In the 1,300 miles I put on them on the Recumbent I did not encounter a single flat. However in the photos included below you will see I had a pretty bad puncture that extended through the tread. This occurred on the front tire. Fortunately I also had a thin liner in this tire courtesy of the technician who trued my wheel. Saved me a long walk home!

Having ridden several brands of tires in the 26″ size on my mountain bikes over the years I’d say Specialized makes a decent tire for the money. Nothing terribly special about these (pun intended). The tread is a bit hard but rolls well but the casing on the rear tire is beginning to separate. On smooth asphalt barring accident or misfortune you might be able to push these to 2,000 miles. They retail for about $25.

If you have actual experience with these tires please feel free to comment. Please refrain from posting opinions of these tires unless you have experience with them.

They are not the easiest tire to mount, but there is a solution to that which I have also reviewed – Kool Stop Tire Bead Jack

Fatboy Tire on Rim

Specialized Fatboy Tire Mounted on Recumbent Rim

Tread Puncture on Fatboy Tire

Puncture Failure in Tread (Sharp Rock)

Specialize Fatboy Tire Puncture

View of Puncture from Inside Tire

Sidewall separation on Fatboy Tire

Sidewall Separation on Fatboy Tire

Continental Race 650 Bicycle Tubes

Continental Race 650 Bicycle Tubes

I’ve been running these on my recumbent 559 under by Fatboys.  I love them!  They are about half the weight of the Hutchison tubes they replaced.  The Race 650’s are 26×1 and will work with 559’s.  I even had them a bit over inflated in the Fatboy’s with no problems.  At 75 grams these are very light tubes in comparison to the alternatives!  You can’t go lighter in this size for 559 at this price!  The other advantage is they are available with 60mm presta valve stems for tall road rims.  I don’t know what else to say about the Continental Bicycle Tubes… they do a great job at low weight and moderate cost.  I paid $7.50 at a local bike shop.  Cheap tubes are in the $4 range, but are much heavier and I would have to use extenders to make them work on my bicycle.  Definitely recommended.

Contiental Race 650 Bicycle Tubes

Race 650 Bicycle Tubes w/60mm Presta Valve Stem