This Cruzbike blog post talks about the new Union Cycliste Internationale’s manifesto, Cycling for All. Cruzbike’s Jim Parker says, and I paraphrase, that without recumbents in the conversation, the UCI’s manifesto is so much hot air because upright bicycles are structurally unhealthy for people – causing serious pain if used regularly, particularly in middle-aged and older cyclists. If the UCI is serious about “bicycling for all,” we must talk about place of recumbents in the cycling world.
Of course, I agree that recumbents should be in the conversation – indeed, I think that most riders would prefer recumbents due to comfort. In the car biz, top speed and hill climbing ability is not the only criteria for excellence – comfort, style, affordability, etc., play serious roles. The constant criticism of upright bicyclists about the perceived lack of hill climbing ability of recumbents is simply irrelevant to the “the all” in the bicycling for all. Most riders will never seek out ten thousand feet of climbing for a day’s ride, after all, and will go to great lengths to avoid that kind of climbing.