Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ergonomics key to popularity of unusual bike style

The ergonomic design of the recumbent bike ...

"Bicycling is fun. It's a great form of aerobic exercise. Lee County has hundreds of miles of available bike paths. And long summer days beckon even the working class among us.

Speaking of work, Friday is National Ride a Bike to Work Day.

But wait! From the not-so-fast department we must note bicycling's downsides: Sore necks, shoulders and wrists are common side effects of bicycling.

And then there is the risk of sexual dysfunction.

Jim Parker, a North Carolina doctor, cites studies that showed about three hours a week astride a traditional road bike seat led to a significantly increased risk of erectile dysfunction in men, and numbness in women. The problem stems from nerves and blood vessels in the perineum being squished against a traditional bike saddle.

Parker, and thousands of other cycling enthusiasts, think they've found the answer to those problems in recumbent bikes - those sometimes low-slung, sometimes elongated cycles that sometimes come in three-wheeled versions. Or not - there are a lot of variations with common themes.

Recumbents (nicknamed bents) have much larger, padded seats with backrests that take the pressure off shoulders, wrists and hands - three of the main points of support on traditional road bikes. Bent bike riders also don't have to crane their necks upward to see the road, so they have a much more comfortable view of the passing scenery, in what Parker calls the TV-watching position.

"They're the best bikes ever," said Fort Myers attorney Kim Hart, 57, who often rides his recumbent to work - a 5-mile jaunt down McGregor Boulevard.

"I recommend them to everybody," Hart said of his long-wheelbase Easy Racer."    (Continued via The News-Press)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Recumbent Bike - Ergonomics

Recumbent Bike

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