Everything you wanted to know about going feet first
And possibly some that you didn't want to knowAre those things hard to ride?
Are those things safe?
Are those things fast?
Do they do hills?
Let's start at the start
Riding a recumbent is different - d'oh - no, really, new riders find that they use different muscles but on the whole, trikes place less pressure on vital bits, less strain on wrists and arms and 'bike bum' is a totally different issue than that the rider of an upright bike - sometimes called a 'wedgie' - experiences, on a trike it's far less painful
All those who ride any type of bike - including motorbikes - know that bike safety is a relative thing: flesh & bone doesn't fare well against metal, so bike safety for the most part involves defensive strategies to avoid being hit by another vehicle
Responsive handling, sprint speed and visibility are three of the main strategies bike riders use to avoid tricky situations, and 'bents are good at all three. Being lower to the ground than uprights, the visibility of a 'bent is often questioned but the seeming vulnerability is in fact something of a positive - most drivers respond to something unusual by giving it a wider berth
This is a hotly contested issue. Sure, recumbents hold a lot of human-powered speed records including the BIG one... 110.5 kilometres per hour on a bike! That's 68.7 miles per hour !
But what about 'real world' riding?
Just how fast any type of bike is not only depends on the mechanical efficiency of the bike, how aerodynamic the bike + rider profile is and so on, but also on the physical capacity + efficiency of the rider. So, in the 'real world' the How fast is the bike? question is probably better expressed as How fast are you?
Though, all other things being equal, an upright diamond frame is probaly faster overall simply because they usually weigh at least half of what a trike does. But just try and catch a trike on a downhill...
Recumbents are often heavier than uprights and as you can't stand in the pedals to climb a hill, 'bents are often seen as being slow up hills. But the real question is How do you do hills? If you ride hills well, then you'll ride hills well on a 'bent too, if not, you won't
Just watching a rider slogging up a hill is tiring no matter what type of bike they are on, most riders are trying to do the same thing, keep their cadence (the number of pedal turns per minute)up as high as they can. Recumbent riders seem to find it physically easier to do this, they just sit + spin, push back into the seat and try to spin the pedals as fast as they can. A rider on an upright often finds that they have to stand in the pedals and pull the bike from side to side to acheive the same outcome but it's just not as efficient, they are using more energy
Still, no matter what type of bike you are riding the best part of riding a hill is going down the other side and on the descent it's no contest, a 'bent is faster