Judy got a new bike a few days ago. She has needed a new touring bike for some time as we sold her old touring bike, a Flevobike Oke-Ja, three years ago before we emigrated.
The Oke-Ja was, well, OK, but to be fair it's only a middling recumbent. It was one of those bikes with the pedals lower than the seat. This makes them very easy to ride, and particularly easy to get on and off. However, they are not really comfortable except for very short distances. The Americans have a term for this: "recumbent butt." Many people try to counter it by replacing the seat cushion (often more than once). We did the same with the Oke-Ja. A friend of mine went through different seats on a BikeE. The problem is due to the position with the feet too low and the real solution is to ride a bike on which the pedals are higher. This is more daunting for beginners, but you get used to it and it's really much more comfortable in the longer term. It's also more aerodynamic. If you're not particularly interested in speed, note that this means you make better progress - especially into headwinds.
We've tried a couple of other things out over the last couple of years, including some trikes a few months back, but really the best option for most people most of the time is a bicycle. They're a bit more efficient, they take up less space and they're mechanically more simple.
I work for Sinner, so of course we looked at the Sinner line-up. I mostly ride a Mango myself these days, but Judy really wanted an open recumbent. She has always preferred above seat steering, and wider mesh seats over narrower hard seats (they're usually a better choice for women and for more "full figured" people) so this narrowed down the choice to the Spirit.
Arjen set up a Spirit for Judy to borrow for a very pleasant ride in May and she got on very well with it. With help from my colleagues I secretly organised a similar bike - in Judy's preferred red, and surprised her with it on the day of a recent cycling event in Groningen.
Sinner bikes are sold complete. Both a front and rear light were included, as was a computer, a kick stand, mudguards and a rack. The standard tyres are of decent quality (Schwalbe Marathons), the brakes are also decent quality Shimano Deore. All these things come with the bike, nothing needs fiddling with beyond setting the bike to the correct size. When we picked it up, Judy rode it home from the shop. I think is good that Sinner makes no pretense of a lower than realistic weight in the spec sheet, by weighing a bike which doesn't include "optional" extras which you'll have to add anyway. These are bikes for "grown ups". For people who want something solidly engineered, on which everything fits, everything works, and on which you'll be able to ride for many years.
I've added three things to the bike. A Busch und Müller Cyclestar mirror, which is essential on a recumbent, a good quality frame lock, and of course a basket. I make baskets for all types of bikes, including recumbents.
The Spirit is a great bike. All the details of the design are improvements over my own two wheeled recumbent, a Pashley PDQ. In comparison, the Spirit wins with front suspension, much better rear suspension, better engineered special parts such as the pivot on the steering, and much better quality rack and mudguards. I think it's also a bit faster - the seat can be installed more reclined for a more aero position, and the larger rear wheel rolls better (while occasionally people make silly claims otherwise, rolling resistance of wheels is always inversely proportional to radius). As a result, fitted with similar tyres, the Spirit has about 15% lower rolling resistance vs. the PDQ with its two 20" wheels. Judy's not bothered about speed, but if I leave the Mango at home and ride the PDQ with her then these difference between the bikes help to keep us matched. We suffered from the opposite effect when Judy had the Oke-Ja as it was obviously less efficient than my bike. The Spirit is better for marital harmony.
The new bike is a success. Such a success that just one week after she got it, Judy was confident enough to come for the first time on one of the Sunday morning rides of the local recumbent riders, and to ride further in a day than she's ever ridden on any other bike before - 101 km. And all that without a complaint about discomfort beyond tired limbs:
Why choose a recumbent as a touring bike ? Well, they're ideally suited. They're remarkably comfortable and you get to look straight ahead and see where you're going. I've made all my longer tours on recumbents.
Many Sinner customers ride their new bikes directly home from the shop. Last December one of our customers made a particularly impressive first journey.