One of my crazier ideas has been to own a recumbent. A recumbent is what you call a bicycle that lets you settle onto a broad wide seat with your back against a backrest. Your feet are ahead of you on pedals stuck out in front, your head is up, and you cruise the world looking for people riding 'wedgies' which is what recumbent riders call folk on normal cycles. When you find a wedgie rider you take on an extra-relaxed looking pose and glide past them while whistling to yourself showing them how little effort is involved and how great your cycling pleasure is, just to wind them up.
Mt Airy Cycles
By letting my fingers do some walking through the Yellow Pages and some cycling magazines I had identified Mt Airy Cycles as a suitable place to see and try some different models of recumbents. The shop was supposedly out in the country, which meant you ignored the motorway beside it because it didn't exit anywhere within a mile or so. But having left the motorway and doubled back on a side road, I knew I was close when I saw this sight ....
So I pulled into the car park and strolled over to the shop, pretending not to look like a potential customer. That lasted until I stuck my head in the door and spotted one of their new bikes. "Made in Czechoslovakia", a man said, "where a company manufactured these penny farthings for the world market". Suitably impressed I took its picture. Well, I would have been skeptical too, if someone had told me they had seen a new PF in a bike shop!
Back outside again I started checking out the models. The second bike in the line-up below looked great, felt light, had no price tag and turned out to be the owners machine. It was light because it was a top-end model with a titanium frame. Sigh, US$2,000 range.
The first bike in the line-up was in the US$500 league so I averted my eyes from titanium and checked it out instead. A similar one (below) was a little more pricey but was a lot lighter. It turned out that the EZ1SC (Super Cruzer) model had a steel frame (cheaper) and the EZ1SC-Lite had an aluminum (US spelling) frame (more expensive). I saw that the EZ1SC was priced at US$529. One of my wants was to do cycle touring so I was also checking the capability for carrying panniers, water bottles and spare parts.
I learnt that those two bikes were long wheelbase models because the front wheel was ahead of the pedals. They also had 'chopper' style handlebars. Along the row a bit was a short wheelbase bike which had the pedals ahead of the wheel. They also had a tandem, short wheelbase, under seat steering model.
Well, I tried riding a few bikes around the car park. That was interesting, but no way to assess an expensive purchase. I intend to come back here some time and hire a bike for a weekend. That should at least tell me if I can fit it in my car to transport it! I also found that bikes were being auctioned on the Internet at much lower prices than new costs.
2022: Well, I ultimately returned to Mt Airy, found a way to transport a long-ish bike on my car bike rack, then purchased a Burley Canto long wheelbase recumbent. Hours of fun ahead for me, with a vision of featuring one day in a road race like this gent ...
Burley discontinued manufacturing recumbents in 2006, but their cycles are still well respected products, see The Bicycleman's website article.