An Holistic Guide to Recumbent Design

By Mark Stonich

Holistic: Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.

People often ask me questions like "What head angle should I use for my recumbent", as though there is a simple answer like "60 Degrees". The most important thing determining how a recumbent will handle is a combination of ergonomic factors. Your optimum head angle is whatever angle will place the steering axis the optimum distance from your shoulders. To determine this, many factors must be considered - Rider's physical dimensions - BB & Seat heights - Backrest angle - Handlebar width - Front wheel size and location.

My basic premise is that steering ergonomics can provide strong self-centering force, and good tactile feedback, make the bike easier to control, and easier to balance and maneuver. However, trail induced wheelflop degrades the handling of a recumbent that has steering ergonomics such as I will be advocating on these pages, by negating some of the self-centering and feedback. Many recumbent do not have ergonomics that provide positive feedback etc. and feedback is so important to a rider's sense of control that trail induced wheelflop is better than no feedback at all. This is why the myth that trail somehow "Stabilizes" a recumbent is so pervasive.

Over the next several months, I hope to organize my writings on these topics from many dozens of emails, articles and several web pages to expand this website into a complete guide. I will work first on the factors that affect handling and stability. This will be a living document, continuously updated. I'll be adding illustrations as time permits.

I'm very early in the process, and little is ready at this time. But I wanted to get something uploaded ASAP, as Dr. Bill Patterson is refering to this URL in the latest version of "Lords of the Chainring".

Contact data;
Mark Stonich
(612) 824 - 2372

Please check out my other site, the Minnesota Human Powered Vehicle Association Web Page. In the "Meetings" section, you will find many of the 300+ recumbents MnHPVA members have built.