Lightning Riders


While Lightning's website - - is the best information source on Lightning recumbent bikes, it lacks a moderated forum where Lightning riders - and would-be riders - can freely exchange ideas. Recumbent sites with forums exist, like But why bore all the non-Lightning folk to tears with endless writing about our favorite recumbent marque? We need a place of our own. Especially when the weather gets brutal and riding time is restricted. A rough winter is a good time to blab about cycling and rebuild your bike.

Curious about recumbents, and considering a Lightning? Want to modify a Lightning, or fix a problem that puzzles the local wrench? Post your questions here, and draw upon the collective experience of other cyclists. Got something Lightning-related to buy or sell? Let us know. The discussion can range freely, as long as the focus stays on recumbent cycling generally, and Lightning bikes in particular. Just one ground rule - the credo of Human Powered RaceAmerica (HPRA): 

                                                         "Go fast, have fun, promote technology, don't be an ass." 

Differences of opinion are fine, trolling & flaming are not. Who decides which is which? Me. My name is Joel Dickman. I've been riding recumbent bikes for over thirty years. I'm a long-standing (sitting?) member of the Lightning tribe, but new to running a website, so please cut me some slack when technical problems happen. Pictures of Lightning bikes - especially bikes that are distinctive - would be fun. Snap away and send them in.

If you want to post notes on the forum, you need to:

1) First sign up. Just follow the steps. It is easy. 

2) Then email me your chosen USERNAME, along with the approximate date when you signed up. If you don’t send me an email telling me your USERNAME, you will be blocked from posting notes. You can read, but not write.

3) Once I get your email, I will unblock you. Then you can post, hopefully early and often. Why the complex sign-up procedure? It is the only way I can prevent the forum from being ruined by spambots. My apologies for the inconvenience. 

Email me at

(The 3 F40 riders pictured above are Greg DuVall, Tom Howe, and Gerry Pease left to right, at Playa del Rey, California.)

Links Page

 Sheldon Brown's article on Recumbents

 John Schubert's 1986 Road Test of the P-38

Tim Brummer: P-38 Design History

RECUMBENT RACING - Pat Kinch talks to Richard Grigsby

Lightning Progress - An HPV Development Case History - Tim Brummer 1995

LIGHTNING P-38 REVIEW - Becky "Arellcat" Taylor

The Development of Modern Recumbent Bicycles - David Gordon Wilson


Hardshell seat option available on new Lightning bikes - Interbike Show 2010

Side view of carbon fiber hardshell seats on new Lightning P-38 and R-84 bikes - Interbike Show 2010

Close-up of new hardshell seat mounting on Lightning P-38 - Interbike Show 2010

 Another close-up of hardshell seat mounting on extremely purple P-38 - Interbike Show 2010. This bike is presently owned by Zach Kaplan's wife. 

New upright portable electric-assist bike to be sold by Lightning - Interbike 2010


New outrigger wheels transform the (previously) two-wheeled Phantom bike into a 4-wheel Quad-cycle - Interbike 2010


New Phantom quad-cycle with outrigger wheels - looks like it can be retro-fitted to existing 2-wheeled Phantom bikes - Interbike 2010 - Photos poached from Travis Prebble's Recumbent Journal website:

2007 Lightning R84 carbon fiber bike, made from new molds. Lighter weight than in previous years, with Lightning carbon fiber crankset .

2009 Lightning R84.

2009 R84.

R84 rear view.

R84 boom with Lightning carbon fiber compact crankset.

R84 rear suspension. 

R84 rear brake.

R84 front suspension fork.

Barclay "Beetle" Brown's R84 with roadbike-style drop handlebars, brifters, and a GPS device.

Pete's highly-modified R84 with 24" (ISO 520) front wheel and titanium fork. 

R84 owned by Mike Jones.

R84 with tinted large Zzipper fairing.

Wally Kiehler on new Lightning R84 carbon fiber bike.

2007 Lightning Phantom, with new seat mesh and chain idlers. (This is a new version of the bike called the Stealth some years back.)

Larry Guevara's Phantom with Blue Angel paint by Spectrum Powderworks.

Hansi's 26.45 lb. (with mirror) new Phantom with light parts.


A certain former U.S. president tests a Lightning Phantom recumbent.

Peder Torgersen's Phantom with Streamer front fairing and tailsock. 

Peder's Phantom with bodysock.

Peder's Phantom with home-brew Coroplast full fairing.

Original version of the Lightning Stealth (later called Phantom), late nineteen eighties.

Lightning X-2.

Sandro Bollina's well-used Lightning X-2. In 1999 Sandro did a 58.13 second standing start kilometer at Interlaken, Switzerland with this bike. This may be a world record.

Sandro's bike again. (HPV racer on left unidentified).

Lightning X-2 leaning into a turn.

Lightning X-2 head-on. Note the NACA ventilation duct in front of the windshield.

Lightning X-2 opened up.

Sandro's bike lying on side.

Lightning X-2 riding by on a bike path by canal.

Sandro getting the checkered flag at the finish line.

Sandro's bike after a serious crash. Sandro survived, but the fairing may need replacement

Gary Bernstein's new P38 before being enclosed in an F40 fairing. This bike marks Lightning's 30th anniversary of building the P38. Thirty years is an admirable record for any bike manufacturer, particularly a recumbent builder.

Gary's 30th Anniversary Lightning bike in full F40 dress.


Purple P38 with mountains of France in background.

Ben Treen's P38 with Mueller Windwrap front fairing and rear Aerotrunk.

Glen Graham rides a P38 with a new & transparent large Zzipper fairing.

P-38 with large Zzipper fairing parked in a snow bank.

Bill's Lightning P38 with small Zzipper fairing.

Rylee happily cruising on her small Lightning P-38.

Michi on new Lightning P-38 midracer.


Becky with new P38, "like a gazelle". A real beauty. Bike's not bad-looking either.

Becky's bike with Streamer front fairing & Tailsock rear fairing.

Carol Shaw's (now Ken Iisaka's) 1995 P38. (A thanks to Zach for the correction!)

Larry Guevara's Lightning Voyager with aero panniers against Golden Gate Bridge backdrop: two outstanding examples of engineering.

Larry's Voyager again. Note the U.S. Air Force-themed custom paint work.

Carl's Lightning bike in original red finish.

Carl's bike with new metallic blue paint.

Ben Fox's first P38 (of many) with Shockster rear suspension, smaller Zzipper fairing, and Aerospoke wheels - 26" rear, 20" front.

Ben Fox's more recent P38 with Terracycle fabric rear fairing and ISO 451 20" front wheel.

Ben Fox's vintage 1980s P38 frame stripped of paint, serial #071. The seat is steel and permanently attached to the frame.

Ben's vintage frame with new red paint and some updated components. Note the seat attachment.

Ben's frame ready to ride.

Home-brew aluminum tail fairing framework courtesy of Paul W.

Paul's framework covered with fabric. In testing, the fairing did not increase his speed. Back to the drawing board.

P38 with Mueller Windwrap front fairing and cloth bodysock.

Kenneth Evans' old Lightning P38 with HED aero wheels.

Building a Lightning P38 frame.

Tim Brummer, designer and builder of Lightning recumbents.

Close-up of S & S frame couplers on a P38 Voyager.

P38 Voyager - travel version of P38.

Lighting Thunderbolt - no longer being made. Lightning's least expensive bike.

Mike Kapala's Lightning Thunderbolt. Higher seat & shorter wheelbase than P-38 & Phantom.

Susan Reed putting big miles on her P-38 with HED aero wheels. Susan recently completed her second cross-country PAC tour.


Fast Freddy Markham in Gold Rush races Carl Sundquist in Lightning X-2.

Dennis Taves' modified Lightning P38 with rear suspension and mid-drive. Notice there is no rear derailleur.

Chris and Alyce Broome with Lightning tandem bike. Visit Chris's website at for more pictures.

Chris & Alyce Broome with Lightning F40-inspired Coroplast full fairing on a P38.

Chris Broome on wife Alyce's Lightning P38 next to Subaru Outback car.

Chris on Bram Moens' M5 low racer next to Subaru car. Which bike would you prefer to ride in heavy traffic?

Tyger (the racing maniac) Johnson and Lightning F40 with modified tail.

Tyger Johnson / F40 picture with a full canopy over his head.

Lightning P38 with mid-drive added.

Close-up of mid-drive.

Crash Dog's Lightning P38 with carbon fiber mid racer seat.

My (Joel Dickman) P38 with Turner hardshell seat minus fairing.

"Retro" P-38 with Easy Racer-ish seat & Campy components owned by Jeff Wills.

Underseat steering on an older P-38. Tim Brummer built this as a one-off long ago.

Underseat steering viewed upside down.

Detail of underseat steering rod on modified P-38. The bike also has a Rohloff internally geared rear hub instead of derailleur

Lightning Stealth (earlier version of the Phantom) converted to underseat steering by Dave Forestieri with parts from a Haluzak bike. Dave also took the photos.

Close-up of underseat steering conversion to Lightning Stealth.

Disc brake fork on a Lightning P-38, May 2012. The fork looks much more beefy than the standard Lightning racing and touring forks. 

Creative routing of a V-brake noodle to avoid interference problems on a P38 lugged crown touring style fork.

Howard Gilbert's front caliper brake modification with noodle.

Howard's modified handlebar arrangement: reversed stem and swoopy Mungo handlebar.

Rick Martin shortened the bottom of his Lightning P38 seat by removing two inches of tubing on each side, inserting dowels, and covering the joints with sleeves and JB Weld adhesive.

Close-up of shortened seat base on Rick's bike.

Eric Warp's "Warp Drive" faired P38, made from Coroplast and Zzipper bubbles.

Perry's "rideable egg" homebrew fairing with Zzipper bubble front.

Paul Gracey drag-racing his black Coroplast-bodied Lightning F40 at Battle Mountain Nevada 2010.

Lightning X-2 fairing.


Lightning handcycle in full fairing, with pilot Jon Franks.

Lightning handcycle.

Lightning handcycle.

Lightning handcycle in action.

Doug Grosjean's new Lightning F40 year-round commuter.

Doug's F40 again.

Lightning F40 and P38 side by side.

F40 without Spandex mid and tail covering.

Wally Kiehler's F40 minus Spandex cloth mid and tail section. Note the storage container behind the seat.

Wally's bike fully clothed.

Wally with F40 street streamliner next to racetrack streamliner at 2009 Ford Human Power Challenge.

Wally enjoying the Ford test track.

F40 unzipped.

Joe Martin's flaming F40.

Gerard racing his F40.

Gerard's bike underneath the blue fairing.

Carl Murdock's clean & tight Lightning F40.

Rear view of Bill Hannon's F40. Bill recently did a 3 hour 56 minute century ride at Black Bear, Michigan on this bike. Bill is 67 years old.

Ken Leibold takes a winter ride on his F40.

Carl's F40.

Lightning P-38 with 20" unicrown racing fork. Note the extremely tight clearance between the fork crown and the tire.  A lugged crown touring fork with room for larger tires and a fender is also available.

Older (bottom) and Post-1996 (top) Lightning P-38 frames. Note the ovalized cross brace between the twin top tubes of the newer bike. This was added to the large and extra-large frames in 1996. Medium and small frames lack the brace. Not sure of the age of your bike? Serial numbers should be somewhere on the rear dropouts. The newer bike also has the new style mesh seat. 


White Lightning - Abbott prize-winning bike - first HPV to exceed 55 mph. Don Guichard, Butch Stinton, Tim Brummer, Jan Russell, Chris Dreike left to right. Stinton & Russell were the pilots, with Guichard, Brummer & Dreike designing and building.

Bram Moens' M5 low racer modified by Lightning.

Rear view of Lightning-modified Bram Moens M5 bike owned by Joe Giannone.

Tim Brummer on U2 time trial bike. Lightning no longer sells this bike due to changed USCF rules after Tim's 2005 Moriarity New Mexico ride.

Bram Moens' M5 low racer modified by Lightning.

M5 low racer in full carbon fiber fairing. The forward visibility of this bike is compromised. It is beautiful, like an aquatic animal.

M5 "number 7" fairing on low racer.

Aurelien Bonneteau with new home-brew unfaired recumbent hour record attempt bike, April 2012. Note the shoulder clamps built into the seat.

Aurelien Bonneteau's new hour record attempt bike again. The faired pedals have created a controversy within the World Recumbent Racing Association regarding the classing of the bike as unfaired.

Aurelien's controversy-generating pedal fairings: they provide fairing for both the pedals - part of the bike - and his feet, which are parts of his body. The former is allowed in the WRRA unfaired class, but the latter is not.  

May 25, 2012: Aurelien goes 56.597 kilometers / 35.168 miles in one hour on an enclosed velodrome track, beating Chris Boardman's 1996 record on a conventional upright bike. 

Current (8/3/2011) fully faired recumbent hour record holder, the Eiviestretto. Co-builder Damjan Zubovnik is pictured, but Francesco Russo (not pictured) was the pilot. Francesco went 56.914 miles (91.595 kilometers) in one hour. Note that this bike places the pilot's head in the front of the fairing, looking through the clear windshield with the aid of a mirror. 

Wally Kiehler's F40 next to Chris on carbon fiber low racer.

Tim Woudenberg in Lightning F40 and Michael Wolfe on Bacchetta Aero starting the 2006 Furnace Creek 508. Both Tim and Michael set recumbent records in their respective classes.

Bob Fourney on Lightning F90 during 1998 solo Race Across America attempt.

Wally and Bob in matching Lightning F40 bikes, Waterford Michigan 2006.

Doug Grosjean and Bob Krzewinski after century ride.

Tyger Johnson and Richard Nicodemus (Resquiescat in Pace) at Northbrook Illinois HPV races.

P38 set up for mountain & hill climbing in South Korea owned by Joe Imms.

Ian's P38 with trailer.

Charles Dibella's Stealth set up for touring in southeast Asia. Visit Charles' website at

Andy Goetz's P38 with Xtracycle rear cargo-hauling attachment. 

Andy's P38 pickup truck bike again.

Lightning F40 receding into the distance. What a beautiful planet! Let's avoid turning it into a giant toxic waste dump.

Bob Krzewinski (right) and Wally Kiehler (left) with Bob's F40 after his November 2006 hit-and-run encounter with a motorist.  Bob escaped with minor injuries (note cast on his arm), but his Lightning bike was trashed.

Bob Krzewinski (fully recovered) racing his F40 in Michigan.

Lightning carbon fiber crankset with bottom bracket.

Lightning cranks with bottom bracket, chainrings, and mounting hardware.

Imitation is the sincerest flattery: Easy Racers Aptera & Woodside J-Dart Pro bikes. Both lack the twin top tubes of the Lightning original. If you are going to copy, copy the best.

Richard Myers' Challenge Jester enclosed in a Lightning F40-inspired nosecone & bodysock fairing. Richard raised the seat of his low racer in order to see over the top of the fairing. HPRA benevolent dictator Garrie Hill stands against fence.

Another shot of Richard's bike. Garrie Hill created the carbon fiber nose fairing, and Richard crafted the Spandex bodysock and tail framework. 

Rear view of the Banana bike.

Rotator Coyote, built by Steve Delaire, owned by Dean Pederson. The fairing was based on Gold Rush Colorado molds, with a titanium front-wheel drive sub frame. This bike was damaged in a crash with a motorist a few years back, and is presently awaiting a re-build.

Three Battle Mountain streamliners - Coslinger Special, Kingcycle Mango, and Sam Whittingham's record-holding Varna bike (82.819 mph) left to right.

Sam Whittingham pilots Varna Diablo streamliner at Battle Mountain Nevada.

World record-holding Varna Diablo, designed and built by Georgi Georgiev, and piloted by Sam Whittingham. 

World Human Power Speed Championship streamliners & riders - Battle Mountain, Nevada 2010.

Simon Sanderson's 25.3 pound front wheel drive streamliner. "Amanita Virosa" is a white poisonous mushroom also called "destroying angel."

 More Destroying Angel photos can be found at:

Simon Sanderson going topless in Destroying Angel.

Birk Comet with strange integrated helmet fairing.

Helmet-faired Birk Comet again. Remember the science fiction film Alien?

Peregrin fairing on Birk Comet owned by Glen (aka stix) of Brisbane Australia. Glen also rides a Lightning F40 built around an R84 bike.

Peregrin on Birk two

 Perergrin on Birk three

Peregrin on Birk four

Peregrin on Birk five

Feel the need for speed, but lack deep pockets? Lee Wakefield built this fairing out of Coroplast plastic sheets at minimal cost.

Lee's homebrew Coroplast velomobile again.

Another example of Lee Wakefield's craft: Coroplast body on Challenge Fujin bike.

Lee's bike again.  How did he do it? See

Greg Kolodziejzyk's "Rocket" tilting delta trike velomobile.

Greg's tilting velomobile from another angle.

 Greg's velomobile.

Lightning F40 bike compared to Quest velomobile trike (Thanks to Carl Murdock for the photos.)

Lightning F40 and Quest velomobile from the front.

F40 and Quest again.

WAW velomobile owned by a rider with a sense of humor.

Quest velomobile (fully-faired recumbent tricycle) with shark paint.

Quest velomobile with Escher-themed paint.

Flaming Mango velomobile - professional vinyl wrap application.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park contemplating a velomobile. (Chris Malloy)

Oops! That's a Lockheed P38 Lightning, not a Brummer P38 Lightning. 

The pictures below are of my kid, Andreas Fernandez, riding in a sidecar attached to a Lightning Phantom recumbent. A big THANKS! to Tim Brummer, who designed and built the sidecar, and Brad Teubner who contributed the bright orange nosecone. I (Joel Dickman) rolled a sheet of coroplast into a tube to create the body and did the art deco-ish flame decoration. Andreas is severely handicapped,  loves going for rides, and especially likes going over the bumpier parts of the roads.














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