Recumbent Biking

Linear SWB Recumbent The Iowa Flyer
Linear SWB Recumbent

As a kid growing up in the 1980's, my bike gave me my first taste of freedom. It opened up my world from just my street to my neighborhood and beyond. I could ride around all day, wherever I wanted, as long as I was home when it got dark (it was a different time). As I grew up (literally in this case) normal bikes just didn't fit right and became pretty uncomfortable. When I was a Sophomore in high school I kept growing, topping out at 6'6", so my department store mountain bike just wasn't cutting it anymore and some of the magic had worn off.

Thankfully in the summer of 1995 my dad took me to the bike store where we test rode a goofy looking bike called a recumbent. I'll never forget figuring out how to ride it in the parking lot at Mill Race Cycles in Geneva, IL. I was instantly in love with it, unfortunately however, my dad bought it for himself!

That summer since he had to work, I borrowed it every single day and would ride as much as I possibly could. Finally he threw in the towel and, much to my shock and surprise, bought another one for himself and gave me that one. That was my first real bike - an Iowa built Linear long wheel base (LWB) recumbent bike. Since 1995 I've probably racked up thousands of miles on it, and it still hangs in my garage today.

Benefits of Riding a Recumbent

I've been riding a recumbent bike since I was 15 or so, and I honestly can't imagine riding a standard bike ever again. Comfort is the biggest benefit of riding a recumbent - you're in a much more natural position, so your neck doesn't get sore, nor do your wrists, shoulders, or most importantly your butt. Having a fully padded seat with a mesh back means miles and miles of easy riding with no saddle sores.

The view is fantastic - this may sound odd, but being upright and not crooking your neck, you just soak in the view. Having the handlebars under the seat means there's almost nothing in front of you, just miles of bike paths.

Linear Recumbents are also surprisingly portable. The LWB Limo frame folds both at the front fork and rear wheel, so if you take both wheels off you can fold the main beam down with no tools at all. The entire bike can be broken down in a matter of minutes and popped in a trunk, setup is just as quick!

It's also a smile machine - people love seeing me ride by. I get loads of waves and smiles, and if I'm stopped I get questions about the bike. It certainly is an ice breaker, and I'll talk to whoever is curious about it.

My original bike - Linear LWB Recumbent The Beast

Bought brand new back in 1995, I've put a few thousand miles on The Beast. I rode the Fox River Trail every nice day in high school, going from St Charles down to Aurora and back. It really is built for long comfortable rides - I took it on my first official tour from Madison, Wisconsin down to Yorkville, Illinois, about 180 miles over 3 days.

Linear LWB Recumbent The Beast
Linear LWB Recumbent

My new bike - Linear Sonic SWB Recumbent The Iowa Flyer

In the spring of 2021 I found short wheel base (SWB) Linear listed at a local bike shop and it was too good of a deal to pass up. While it's not quite as stable as the LWB I find the riding position a more comfortable, plus it's a tad quicker and is few pounds less, so it has become my primary bike as of late. I've made some upgrades and equipped it for multi-day touring adventures (see below).

Linear SWB Recumbent
Linear SWB Recumbent

Touring Setup

I love going on multi-day rides, packing everything I need on the bike and heading out on my own. Here's a rundown of everything use to support my tours.


I have a pair of 20L Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic pannier bags where I can stow most of my gear - camping stuff, clothes, food, etc.. When not touring I have the Commuter Insert on one side just to keep some sense of organization, and the Packing Cubes in the other where I typically will keep my tools. On the back of the seat I have a Recumbent Backpack Seat Pack from Lone Peak Packs. It's meant for more modern recumbent trikes but I can squeeze it on the top of the seat. This pack gives me storage for smaller personal items like electronics, a small pouch for my Adventure Cycling maps, as well as two much needed water bottle holders. The Linear is a great bike but has limited options for water storage.

Power System & Electronics

Power is essential for multi-day tours, and when you're hopping from campsite to campsite where you can't recharge overnight, you need something more than a battery pack to get you by. For that reason I had a Shutter Precision SV-8 dynamo hub built into a new front wheel, paired with the Sinewave Cycles Revolution USB Converter that's mounted to the front derailleur post, providing me with power to any USB devices as long as I am traveling more than 3.5mph. I do also carry an Anker 325 Power Bank for charging overnight or other devices as I ride. Recently I purchased an Anker SOLIX 30W Solar Panel, which I had originally thought of mounting to the back of the bike to catch some rays while riding, but I quickly realized that it would just be too much to hang off the back end, so I use it for supplimental power at camp.

Another challenge of riding a recumbent designed before mobile phones is where to mount my iPhone. I absolutely love Peak Design's products so I was overjoyed when I found out they make a smart-phone case and mount combo. I use the Everyday case for iPhone paired with their Creator Kit Mount - the design is absolutely amazing, using strong magnets the phone just snaps in place, no fidgeting with arms or levers. To get the phone off, simply press one of the buttons on the back while tilting the phone up and it pops right off. Totally secure, and simple to use. I'll never use another mount. Previously I had it mounted to the deraileur post up front, but I wanted it closer to me and more out of my line of sight while riding, so I am now using a custom 3D printed mount attached to the main beam just in front of my seat. Many thanks to CJ Hoyle for designing it and being kind enough to send me the plans for free!

For recording my rides and making YouTube travelogues I went with the Insta360 One X2 action camera. I chose the Insta360 over a GoPro because I like that it records everything around you and then you go back in post and choose where the camera "points". A clamp with the standard 1/4" mount screw on the derailleur post allows me to attach the standard Insta360 invisible selfie stick, this way I can just reach forward and click record. If I want to get more cinematic shots I have the Extended Edition Selfie Stick which extends from 14" out to a ridiculous 9.8ft - this allows me to get the camera pretty far away from the bike, creating almost drone like footage. For additional shooting with my iPhone I purchased a DJI Osmo Mobile SE phone gimbal.

Tent + Sleep System

I picked up a KAZOO backpacking tent from Amazon, which is lightweight and packs down nicely, although I do wish the poles were shorter when folded, but it gets the job done. I don't want to drop $400 on an ultralight tent to save a few grams and a little bit of space in the pannier. I'm 6'6" so it is a tad tight but I fit, I only need it for sleeping anyway. For sleeping, I went with a Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus Sleeping Pad, the Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow, and a Kelty Cosmic 40 Down Sleeping Bag from REI. I never camp in extreme conditions, so my sleep system works great, the pad is surprisingly easy to fill up and comfortable, while the pillow shockingly packs down smaller than a soup can and weighs next to nothing.

The Mad Dash - Madison WI to Yorkville, IL 2021

I took my first official multi-day bike tour back in October of 2021 and absolutely loved it. It was a major challenge, but so much fun. I camped each night and despite some planning oversight, the tour went great. You can read about the trip here. I'm going to repeat the ride this August but get an earlier start so I don't have to scramble so much.

The Grand Tour - Chicago to Washington DC

The next big trip is coming next year - I plan on taking two weeks riding from Chicago to Washington DC, mostly following the Adventure Cycling Association Chicago to New York route. I'll shove off from Buckingham Fountain in the Loop, heading down through Indiana, across Ohio, sneaking into West Virginia, then up into Pennsylvania, linking up to the GAP and C&O trails, finishing at the Washington Monument in downtown D.C. I have the route plotted and the overall plan nailed down, but am finalizing the details. As I get closer to the ride I'll start posting more details.

Time till departure:

Cycling Blog Posts


Madison WI to Yorkville IL Bike Tour 10/29
Linear LWB vs SWB 07/01
Why Recumbents? 01/22

Linear LWB Recumbent Linear LWB Recumbent Linear LWB Recumbent Linear SWB Recumbent riding at Peck Farm Park, Geneva, IL Montrose Wisconsin Linear SWB Recumbent on Lake Shore Drive Linear SWB Recumbent on the Fox River Trail Linear LWB Recumbent