RBR Recumbent Bike Riders Inc | 1306 S Atherton St, State College, PA | (814) 234-4636

Recumbent Glossary

Above Seat Steering. Also worst abbreviation in the recumbent world. See also:

Aerobelly :: If you've got it, flaunt it.
Term of endearment for pudge common among recumbent riders who enjoy too much nutrition at rest stops. The round shape of the abdomen allows for smoother airflow around the body. Or so we claim.

Bar End Shifters :: Bar ends mount at the end of the grips and are great for vertical bar configurations.
Lever shifters that mount to the end of grips and often work well for the upright orientation of under seat steering.

Bent :: The shortened form of "recumbent". This is far too literal a representation.
Shortened form of “recumbent”.
Body Sock

Body Sock :: Makes waving difficult, but improves aerodynamics and insulation.
Cloth fairing used most commonly with long wheel base recumbents. Provides aerodynamic advantage as well as a layer of insulation during colder rides.

Boom :: Booms allow a degree of adjustment for x-seam lengths.
Length of frame tube that holds the bottom bracket and is nested within the main frame of a bike or trike. Often allows for adjustment of x-seam length by sliding the boom in or out of the frame tube.

CLWB - Compact Long Wheelbase :: The CLWB is a gray area. Some people define it by strict measurements, others by style/look.
Compact Long Wheel Base. Configuration in which pedals are closer to being directly above the front wheel. Also called Medium Wheel Base.
Cross Member

Cross Member :: Sometimes also called cross beam or cross arm but never Kris Kross.
The length of frame tube on a tadpole trike to which the front wheels are connected. So named because it crosses the main frame tube.

Delta :: Deltas typically feature higher seats and and tight turning radii.
Trike configuration with two wheels in the rear and one wheel in front.

DF - Diamond Frame :: The diamond shape is seen here highlighted in yellow.
Diamond Frame. Refers to the diamond shape of the frames of typical upright bikes. See also:
Direct steer
Direct Steer :: Note that the bars and riser are connected directly to the fork. Direct Steer :: On this Catrike trike, the steering arm is directly connected to the wheel.

Steering system in which the handlebar is directly connected to the steering pivot point. This also applies to trike configurations that essentially have two direct steering arms that are joined by a tie rod.


Fairing :: Fairings reduce wind resistance and chill during colder rides.
An attachment for reducing wind resistance.

FOG - Fat Old Guy :: We're not passing judgment. The guy referred to himself as fat.
Fat Old Guy. The stereotypical recumbent demographic, derived from the thought that recumbents appeal most to older gentlemen who may have perhaps let themselves go a bit. See also:

FWD - Front Wheel Drive :: FWD puts power in front of the center of gravity and reduces chain length.
Front Wheel Drive. Transmission system that drives power to the front wheel of a bike, reducing the length and complexity of the chain run.
Grip Shift

Grip Shift :: Created by SRAM and also commonly called a twist shifter.
Shifting system that incorporates shifters into the handlebar grips. Requires twisting the base of the grips around an axis to shift gears. Also generically called twist shift.
Hamster bars

Hamster Bars :: The close quarters of hamster bars feel a bit unnatural at first, but they provide a great aerodynamic profile.
Steering grips common on low racers that place the hands close together over the chest. Name is derived from the similarity between the hand/arm position and the image of a hamster sitting with its paws at its chest.
Heel strike

Heel Strike :: How to avoid heel strike? Make sure the foot on the inside of your turn is up when you go into it.
When the heel of the foot strikes the front wheel of a short wheelbase bike during tight turns.
High racer

High Racer :: Short and tall. Wheelbase and bottom bracket, that is.
A short wheelbase bike with 26″ or greater wheels both front and back.
Hot spot

Hot Spots :: Also called hot foot and results from prolonged nerve pressure around the balls of the feet.
Sensation of burning, numbness, or pain in the feet that results from a number of possible factors. Common causes are too high of a bottom bracket, too tight a pair of shoes, or too much flex in the shoe sole.

HPV - Human Powered Vehicle :: HPVs can be bikes, trikes, gliders, velomobiles, boats - if it runs on human power and gets you somewhere, it's an HPV.
Human Powered Vehicle. Any vehicle propelled by human exertion, even when assisted via electric systems.

Idler :: Used to guide chain over long transmission lengths. These idlers are from TerraCycle.
Pulley that provides a path for chain travel and, in some configurations, provides tension.
Indirect Steer

Indirect Steer :: Indirect steering bikes and trikes tend to smooth out the jolts in steering, but sacrifice a 1:1 steering ratio in the process.
Steering system that connects the handlebars to the steering system via a linkage of some sort.
Leg Suck

Leg Suck :: If this guy were on a bike, he'd be hurting. Actually, he might be hurting already.
Phenomenon in which the foot and leg are pulled back under the seat unexpectedly when a rider drops a foot to the ground while the bike is still in motion. Especially common on tadpole trikes due to the low seat height.

LWB - Long Wheelbase :: Long Wheelbase recumbents offer excellent high speed stability.
Long Wheel Base. Bike in which the pedals are placed far behind the front wheel.
Low Racer

Low Racer :: Low racers benefit aerodynamically both from the recumbent position and their proximity to the ground, where wind resistance is reduced.
A short wheelbase bike that is low to the ground and places the rider in an extreme recumbent position.

Mashing :: Sure, wrong mashing, but you get the idea.
Pushing hard against the pedals and providing only a power stroke. See also:

Moving Bottom Bracket. Commonly seen on Cruzbikes, MBB simply means that the bottom bracket is not in a fixed position.
Multi-Use Path, sometimes also known as Multi-Use Trail, is any provided path for the use of cyclists, pedestrians, dog walkers, quad wheeled baby conveyers, and joggers. Any of whom will likely not notice you’re coming up behind them at a higher rate of speed.

OSS - Over Seat Steering :: A more aerodynamic arm position for those that prefer it.
Over Seat Steering. Steering mechanism is above seat level, though not necessarily directly over the seat.
Pedal Steer
A slight side-to-side motion caused by pedals that are placed far to the front of a bike or trike. Most commonly seen on short wheelbase bikes and tadpole trikes. Also associated with mashing.
The expansion/contraction of a recumbent riding group as they climb, crest, and descend hills.

Recumbent :: Let's go down the checklist for whether or not it's a recumbent. Reclined seat? Check. Okay, done.
Bike / trike on which the rider rests in a mostly reclined position wherein the upper to lower back is supported and the feet are placed forward.
Recumbent Butt
Pain or discomfort felt by some, usually on more upright recumbent seats, in the gluteal muscles.

Recumbrage :: Recumbrage is especially strong on the internet where the goal is to write more than anyone else in order to beat your foes into submission.
Strong reaction of recumbent riders to dismissive comments from those who find bents bizarre or illogical. We have to admit we made this word up. But the scenario is quite real.

Riser :: Helps your grips riser to the occasion. Ouch.
Length of bar that connects the front fork to the handlebars.
Rear Wheel Drive. Most bikes and trikes follow this setup. It simply means that the chain runs to the rear wheel for power transfer.
Rear Wheel Steering. Commonly found on the now discontinued Sidewinder tadpole trike, the rear wheel pivots to provide steering control while the front wheels provide power.

S&S Coupler :: Used for easing travel with recumbents as they enable frame segmentation.
Coupling system that allows a bike to be broken down for transport and storage. Requires a special wrench and is incredibly handy for tandem tadpole trikes.

Sociable :: Sociables mean never having to smell the farts of the person up front.
Tandem bike that seats riders side by side rather than front and back.
Applying force to the pedals throughout rotation in order to facilitate smooth pedaling and reducing the fatigue possibly caused by mashing.

Superman :: They both stretch their arms out in front. Both wear tight clothes. But only one has kryptonite allergies.
Arm position reminiscent of Superman’s forward arm reach while in flight. The position is driven by OSS bars that require nearly full arm extension for reach. “Superman” refers both to the reach and to the style of bars that require it.

SWB - Short Wheel Base :: Short wheel base often also means high bottom bracket.
Short Wheel Base. Bike configuration in which the pedals are placed to the front of the front wheel.

Tadpole :: 1 wheel in the back, 2 wheels in the front, 3 times the fun
Tricycle/trike configuration with two wheels to the front and one wheel to the rear. Named for the head and tail shape of amphibious tadpoles.

Tandem :: It takes two to make a trike go right. It takes two to make it outta sight.
By strict definition, a bike or trike that allows for two riders. However, tandem is also used when discussing bikes that fit more than two passengers.
Also known as “tiller effect”. Common on long wheelbase and low rider bikes, tiller is the movement of the handlebars side to side in order to steer because of their distance back from the turning axis.

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The adjustment of the distance between the front wheels of a tadpole trike, measured from rim to rim at both the front and back of the tire.

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The coupling of multiple trikes together to form an ad-hoc tandem. Hase is famous for their 400 trike train. We’ve had a few of our rally attendees form a much smaller, though no less formidable, version.

Trike :: Three wheels are all you need for a day of trikin' and some low rider speed.
Three wheeled recumbent. Also known as “tricycle”.
Tweener bars

Tweener Bars :: Tweeners are very awkward until they're properly fitted to your arm length and pedal stroke.
Over seat steering handlebar especially common on Bacchetta bikes that places the knees between the grips at the height of the pedal stroke.

USS - Under Seat Steering :: Let those arms hang low. Very relaxed, but creates more wind resistance.
Under Seat Steering. Steering mechanism is below seat level, though not necessarily directly under the seat.

Velomobile :: Well now, aren't these two stunning specimens of velomobilery?
An enclosed human powered vehicle made for aerodynamics and cycling in a variety of weather conditions.

Wedgie :: Oh Dilbert, your insights are without equal!
Disparaging term for either a traditional upright bike or the person that rides one. Refers to the impact of a standard bicycle seat upon the backside of its rider.

Wedjudice :: It's not pretty, but it's real.
An adverse judgement or opinion formed about recumbents by a wedgie rider without knowledge of the facts
Wheel Flop
The tendency of a wheel to “flop” to one side or another as it begins to turn.

X-Seam :: Don't be a dummy. Measure your x-seam accurately.
Sitting length from the heel of the foot to the small of the back. X-seam is used to determine boom length or seat position on a recumbent to best suit the rider.