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Test ride a Lightning in central Florida?

I am considering buying an R-84, but have no experience riding a recumbent 2-wheeler, much less any Lightning. Of course, I want to have a reasonable expectation that the bike will work for me before plunking down such big bucks for it. I ride a Windcheetah Hypersport and want to add a 2-wheeler to my stable. I would be very grateful to anyone with any small Lightning who would be willing to coach me and let me have a thorough test ride. It would need to be a small as I am only 5'4" with a 36.5 X-seam.

I live in The Villages, Florida, which is in central FL. I'd be willing to travel a reasonable distance to meet the generous owner of a small Lightning.

I'd be willing to pay for the privilege, or share a good lunch with you at the restaurant of your choice.

I have been riding a lightning for many years. I'm 5' 6" I live in BONITA SPRINGS I'm away for the next six months but would sure like to coach you when I return DOUG DANIELE

Hi Doug,

Thanks for the reply! Are you already away from Bonita Springs? If not, my wife and I are planning to be in Venice for the Sharky's Beach ride on April 27th. We'll be arriving on April 26th. If you're not already gone, we could visit with you, before we check in at our hotel on the 26th.

FYI, we have very good friends living in Palmyra in Bonita Springs. We will be having dinner with them on April 26th.

Regardless of how it turns out, I am very appreciative of your generous offer to coach me!

Well, I am going to get my chance to try to ride a Lightning bike this Friday, 5/9/14. It will be a new large P38 at Ride N Roll Cyclery in Largo, FL. Because it is too big for me, I will be bringing a pillow to close the size gap. I'll be trying it on the nearby Pinellas Trail. My expectations are that I will be wobbly, at first, and will get the hang of it, shortly. I intend to do the Flintstones technique to start with, and gradually progress to eventually pedalling. I know that I will need to relax my grip, which will be a challenge.

I welcome suggestions from any members who recall their learning techniques when they were newbies.

Hi Chazz,

1) Have the shop insert the crankset boom as deeply into the frame as possible. You want to have a slight bend in your knee when your leg is fully extended.
2) Have the shop position the seat in the most upright position. There is a very small amount of seat angle adjustment possible.
3) If the frame is still too big for you, maybe a piece of foam or a pillow of some kind that fits behind your back (but not under your butt) will push you forward some and help.
4) Bring along some pedals and shoes that you are comfy / familiar with.
5) Basically, just go slow and take it easy. Try to relax your upper body and lean back into the seat. Lightning steering is very sensitive and a small touch on the handlebar will yield a large change in your direction.
6) Have the shop put the bike into a medium / low gear, keep one foot down on the ground, and place your other foot around the twelve o'clock position. Maybe get a little push off from the shop person, and off you go.
7) Wear gloves to protect the skin on your palms. If you happen to have a pair of elbow guards - like the ones used by skateboarders - wear those too.

This is all stuff you likely already know, but I thought it would not hurt to run it by you anyway just in case.

Good luck with your test riding, take it one step at a time, and don't get too frustrated if it does not come quickly and naturally to you.

Then again, it might be as easy as eating a sandwich. Write back and let us know how your visit and test riding go. No big deal if you keel over a few times before getting the hang of it. I know that you have Windcheetah recumbent trike experience. Do you have any other recumbent two-wheeler experience, or will the Lightning be your first recumbent bike?

Good luck and safe riding,

Thanks for the tips, Joel!

I got my test ride on a P-38. However, this model was the midracer, with the more laid back seat. I needed a couple of pillows to reach the pedals. I could easily reach the ground with my feet. I wished they had the mesh seat, because I wanted to see if my feet reach the ground as easily. I was able to ride the P-38 after about 5 to 10 minutes of trying. I liked it, but still mulling what to do, if anything.

I know that the R-84 is a little lower (which is a good thing), but I'm wondering if the mesh seat's shape will allow me to get my feet down, as I've heard some comments on BROL that it's the shape of the seat, rather than the height, that sometimes hampers getting the feet down.

Hi Chazz -

What you heard about seat shape affecting your ability to get your feet flat on the ground is true. BOTH seat shape and height are important. Just because the mid racer seat allowed you to get your feet down, it does NOT mean that you will be able to do this with the mesh seat. The mesh seat will make getting your feet down more difficult. You still might be able to plant your feet if your ex-seam and flexibility allow. Only trying it out would determine that. What is your ex-seam? Are you fairly flexible at the hips? Inflexible? Something in between?

I think you need to ride a Lightning bike with a mesh seat BEFORE ordering an expensive carbon fiber R84. Have you tried posting a note on BROL asking if any Lightning riders in Florida would let you take a test ride, preferably on a medium sized bike? Riding a Phantom with the mesh seat would give you a good basis for comparison too.

In a nutshell: the fact that the mid racer seat worked for you does not mean that the mesh seat will also be to your liking.

They are two different things.

Good luck, and keep trying,

My ex-seam, per Lightning method, is 39; inseam is 28; flexibility is average, for a 64 year old. I did post on BROL, with no luck. I had more luck here with one gentleman offering assistance, but he's out of the area for at least 6 months. I won't rule out the mid racer seat as an option, as I liked it, once I got used to it on the test ride.


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