How do Lightning bikes climb?

Voyager rider Timothy Chance keeping the diamond-frames in his rear-view mirror.

We’ve been explaining the benefits of the Lightning design for years, about how the frame geometry, weight distribution and stiffness all work together to produce the best performing recumbent bicycle made today. Here, we’ve collected some quotes from the people who know best, the riders and racers who have made Lightning their bicycle of choice.

“Knows how to climb. All Lightnings ascend nicely. The only recumbent that I dared take up Smith Grade.” — Jim Langley, former BICYCLING Magazine technical editor.

“On grades up to 6%, I climb faster on my Lightning than on my road bike. Also, the road bike doesn’t have a noticeable advantage unless the grade is greater than 10%.” — Peter Penseyres, 4 times RAAM winner

“The Lightning is much faster in rolling hills than my road bike.” (He also pretty much repeated what Pete said above) — Bob Fourney, 3 times RAAM winner

“This bike (Lightning R-84), accelerates and climbs great!” — John Howard, Twice Olympic team rider, Ironman winner

Sugarloaf Mountain

“I’m including a shot of one of my cycling routes here in North-Central Florida. The hill is known as ‘The Sugarloaf Mountain Wall’ and it goes straight up for 615 ft. This is where I consistently drop DF riders and Bacchettas on the climb. This route is one of the reasons I’m so fanatical about getting my R-84 ‘dialed in’ perfectly.” — Ceb Blankenship

“I just purchased a used 1998 P-38. It definitely climbs better than my Tour Easy.” — Kip Milam, Chehalis, WA

“Just completed a 19 day tour of Switzerland on the Lightning. I cranked up five major Alpine passes in three days.” — Johan Ritzler, Germany

“Halfway up Valle Crucis and Beech Climb in Virginia, I once passed two upright riders spinning their way up the almost vertical climb to the top.” — Ceb Blankenship

P-38 Voyager rider Timothy Chance thinks he has proven that “the P-38 is a better climber than most diamond frames.”

“This summer I made a four days tour in Switzerland, and I climb a 2,400m (8,000 foot) high pass, name Nuffenen, the highest in Switzerland. The difference of altitude was 2,000m (6,500 feet), and for the last 9 km, the slope was 12%! I even pass two upright bikers in the last part! The downhill run after the pass was fabulous. In was 40 km long with sometimes a speed of 80 km/h (waaahuuu!). The P-38 was very stable and I feel secure on it.” — Gerard Kloos

“I have done some comparison climbs on a local 18% grade, .8 miles long. On my R-84, it took just under 8 minutes.

“On my 25 pound mountain bike, with bar ends and 100 psi road tires, it took about 9 minutes, and my heart rate was slightly higher.

“Then I took the Thunderbolt up; the times were about the same as with the mountain bike. I have done this test a number of times, with similar results.”

Tim Brummer

See our climbing video here.