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R-84 tire options

I am curious about the tire options for the R-84.
What are the widest tires that both the front and back wheels can take?
And, what tires do the R-84 riders prefer?

When I did a bit of research, the only thing I could find was a comment by Peter Stull (Bicycleman):
"The R-84 20” front fork has very little tire clearance. There are very few tires that I know of that will fit in this fork, both are fast, neither is particularly durable."


Hi Bob,
Older Lightning P38 bikes were offered with two different forks: the touring fork, and the racing fork. The touring fork gave you room for medium sized tires as well as skinny ones, and could often also be used with a fender. The racing fork was skinny tires only, with no room for fenders. The R84 fork is like the P38 racing fork: skinny tires only, no fenders. Tires like the Schwalbe Durano, Stelvio, and the like. You max out at around 28mm width or so. On the rear, there is a lot of room between the chain stays for fatter tires. But the bike is intended to be used with road bike style caliper brakes, and this will impose a limit on tire size. I am not sure how large you can go in back, but would be surprised if an ordinary road caliper brake could accept something much bigger than 30mm or 32mm maybe. No room for a rear fender unless you get creative and split it into pieces with home-brew attachments.

The R84 is intended to be a super light racing recumbent bike, so I guess the tire size limitation and no-fenders approach is in keeping with that. I like keeping my options open, and prefer bikes that give me wiggle room for fatter tires if I so desire. I guess it depends where you ride: if your local streets and paths are smooth as a baby's butt, go with the skinniest highest pressure tires you can find. If you sometimes ride on rough pavement, the racing tires will beat you up. Another consideration is resistance to punctures. I hate fixing flats, so I prefer Schwalbe tires with puncture-resistant belts. Even if I sacrifice some speed, I like not having to fix flats and not having to worry about high-speed tire failure going down a long hill. Crashing at high speed can ruin your whole day.

Naturally, other riders who are less lazy about fixing flats and less risk-averse will use the lighter racing tires. I have not tried the newer tubeless tires offered by Schwalbe. They might offer both puncture resistance AND super low rolling resistance, the best of both worlds.

Safe riding, and stay healthy,

Many thanks Joel!
I am going through the "which Lightning bike should I purchase process". I have ridden many LWB/SWB bents over the past 25 years, usually fixing up used ones, enjoying riding and then checking out a different ride. Due to a physical issue, I need to sell the Encore20 that I have thoroughly enjoyed riding. I have used wide tires on the E20. I narrowed down the characteristics of the next and hopefully last bike that I am looking for. I enjoyed riding a P-38 years ago, then selling it to check out a high racer. My list of priorities that I am looking for in a bike has lead me back to Lightning.

I am looking for the following characteristics: light weight, comfort, maneuverability, 'climbability' and the ability to ride fast. I have no plans to carry excess gear for days of travel. I had focused upon the P-38, however am beginning to think about the R-84 as well. The weight of the bike is important to me when lifting, as I have a shoulder issue. Obviously, weight is relevant when climbing as well. I am 5' 9" and 225 lbs right now, and dropping. Will be back to a comfortable riding weight of 195-205 this Fall.

I was asking about tire sizes, as I was initially looking at a P-38 ROX model, with plans to use larger tires to provide more comfort. However, I really like the idea of riding a racing (road bike) with narrower tires if the R-84 suspension does the job well. For years I rode Durano's on my GoldRush, as well as on other bents.

Having experience with Lightning bikes, I'd appreciate any suggestions/issues to be aware of as I decide between the two bikes. I'd like to approach talking to Tim on Wednesday with as much knowledge of the two bikes and the reasons for choosing one of another.
Also, with the knowledge you have of these two bikes.....if you were going to purchase either there something you would definitely be thinking about that you hadn't thought about when initially purchasing the bike?

Many thanks!

Hi again Bob,

You are trying to figure out which Lightning bike would best fit your needs. All the Lightnings - from the Phantom to the R84 - share a very similar frame geometry and seat. I do not know whether or not you have any riding experience on any of the Lightning bikes. Some friendly advice: get some Lightning saddle time in BEFORE worrying about which model is best for you. Saddle time on ANY of the Lightning bikes will help you clear the most important hurdle: deciding that you like the seat, body position, and handling of the Lightning design. If you DO like the way any of the bikes feel in testing, sleep on it. Ride again. Make sure that the bike feels right to you. Even the more modestly priced Phantom will give you a pretty good approximation of the big-bucks R84 in overall "feel". If you are 5'9" tall, you could likely ride either a medium or a large P38. Depends on your ex-seam. A large Phantom would probably fit better than the small.

Lightning might be able to help you track down a Lightning bike owner local to you who would be willing to let you borrow a bike for a test ride. Say thanks with a six-pack of some decent imported beer.

Just a thought. Do this before spending the big bucks on an R84.

Safe riding,

I absolutely agree with you Joel.
There is nothing like riding a bike a few times at least to get a feel for the bike.

The good news is that I owned a P-38 years ago and liked it. I was a good bit younger and figured then was a good time to check out a high racer....which I did....and sold the P-38.
So, fortunately.....I know that I will like the bike.
At this point, I am gathering data to figure out what direction to go.....P-38 or R-84. Right now the decision is really based upon the characteristics I mentioned rather than whether I will like the bike.

Thanks again Joel!

What I actually would like to know is the following.

How would one compare the following bikes, both with a suspension fork?

The comfort/suspension effect of a P-38 ROX with a 26 x 2.5 tire VS. the comfort/suspension effect of the R-84 with rear suspension built-in with a 700 x 32c rear tire?

Hi again Bob,

1) The P38 Rox with a Lightning suspension fork will cost around $4270 plus tax and/or shipping. The R84 with a Lightning suspension fork comes to about $5880 plus tax and shipping. Around $1600 extra for the carbon bike.
2) With the Rox, you can have your choice of tires. Skinny, medium, wide. You can also have your choice of tire PRESSURES. Pumped up hard as a rock for perfectly smooth pavement, or with significantly less pressure for bad roads and trails. The Rox is more adaptable to your specific riding environment and personal comfort preferences than the R84. Decrease the pressure of a skinny racing tire too much and you will get pinch flats. Medium width and fatter tires are far more forgiving of lower pressures.
3) The carbon bike will be lighter. How much lighter? Don't know exactly. Likely six or seven pounds lighter. Brummer would know. This might matter if you have trouble lifting things. It will matter if you are a skinny competitive hill climber, but you are not. I think the importance of light weight - for most ordinary cyclists like you and me - is exaggerated.
4) The carbon bike will have nicer components. But the Rox components will work fine too.

Like I said earlier in the correspondence, I favor bikes with enough wiggle room to accept tires of different widths. I briefly had a high racer bike that only accepted narrow high pressure racing tires. It was a pleasure on recently paved roads. It was a pain in the ass on roads and paths in poor condition. I sold my high racer bike. There are some high racers that have room for fatter tires. I suspect they are easier to live with. But I like the more erect seating position of the Lightning and Easy Racers bikes. Better for situational awareness and peripheral vision. No more high racers for me.

Another option for a rider with a special interest in smooth riding is to put a Shockster rear suspension on a P38 or Phantom.

Good luck on your choice. All the Lightning bikes are excellent in their own ways.

Safe riding,


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