"You Can't Have Just One"
In 2009 I was looking for a used RANS Tailwind for my wife as a surprise, and I found one offered by a Bob Liro on Craig's List. The bike turned out to be a terrific find, for Bob had maintained it impeccably, added goodies like lights and computer, upgraded some components and polished it to within an inch of its life. I couldn't even find any wear on the tires. What was even more impressive, however, was his collection of more than a dozen bikes, from a beach cruiser to a tandem recumbent trike, all in the same condition and hanging on the walls of his backyard "shed" like impressionist paintings in the Louvre. I got a great kick out of this, and I know other bike lovers will, as well. I interviewed Bob via email this year.
What was your career before you retired?
Bob: I was an industrial equipment maintenance manager for an e-commerce company.
How long have you been biking?
Bob: I rediscovered the joy of cycling in 1998 and in 1999 it was one of the things that helped me cope with the loss of my mother.
How much do you (and your wife) ride now?
Bob: I try to do as much riding as time permits. In 2008 I managed 1600 miles, having taken a part time job as a combination product/portrait photographer in 2009 I was unable to log as many miles. We’ll see what we are able to do this year with better time management; my goal is 2000 miles. My wife will average anywhere from 500 to 800 miles a season.
Do you ride with groups, or just yourselves?
Bob: When I’m not out checking out the countryside by myself we ride with a small group of close friends.
What kind of riding do you do, now and in the past?
Bob: Recreational riding, especially rail trails, is responsible for about 95% of the miles we put on the bikes.
When do you ride ?
Bob: Typically, being in a Northern state, we’ll ride as soon as the weather breaks in March and continue through to early December. I have been known, though, to get the recumbent trike out in the snow to do some “cookie cutting” on occasion.
What bikes do you have in your collection?
Bob: We have an eclectic array of bicycles that we have accumulated over the years from a 1975 Schwinn Varsity, which I rescued from the trash collector, to a 2009 Cycle Dynamics Lightning P-38 recumbent. The bikes, past and present:
Pair of Western Flier road bikes (these go back a few years as our first adult bikes);
Schwinn World Traveler lady's bike;
Ross Men's road bike;
Schwinn Sierra GSX men’s hybrid bike;
RANS Wave (our first recumbent);
RANS Tailwind compact LWB recumbent;
RANS Rocket SWB recumbent;
Yet another RANS Tailwind (it was difficult going back to just one);
Burley Canto convertible wheelbase design recumbent;
RANS V-2 LWB recumbent;
Triclops tadpole trike;
Comfort Cycle delta trike;
Yet another Comfort Cycle delta trike (we discovered we could join them in a tandem array);
RANS Fusion crank forward (my wife's discovery);
Micargi stretched beach cruiser;
RANS Zenetik (I had to have a crank forward of my own - it's fast);
Trek 7100 lady's hybrid;
Giant Simple 7 lady's beach cruiser;
Terry Solstice lady's WSD (women’s specific design) comfort bike;
Raleigh Marathon MIXTE road bike (converted to a comfort bike);
Raleigh Marathon men's road bike (may get converted to a comfort bike);
Schwinn 1974 Varsity road bike;
Cycle Dynamics Lightning P-38 short wheel base recumbent (the fastest recumbent I've owned and a great hill climber).
Which do you ride most and why?
Bob: I became acquainted with recumbent bicycles in 2000 and they are, by far, my favorite ride. For those folks that are not familiar with this design, a recumbent puts the rider in a reclined position in a seat with a backrest. The crank set is placed in front of the rider with a long chain running to the rear wheel cassette gears. Imagine sitting in a reclined easy chair with pedals attached to the footrest. Recumbent bikes come in a variety of basic styles: long wheelbase, compact long wheelbase, short wheelbase and two types of tricycles - Delta and Tadpole. Short wheelbase bikes are probably the most bizarre looking because the rider is actually pedaling in front of the front wheel. Delta trikes have one wheel in the front and two in the back; Tadpoles have two wheels in the front and one in the back.
The main reason for my enthusiasm about the recumbent is that you can ride so much longer with little or no pain. Due to the “heads up” riding position there is no stress on the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists and most importantly the backside. This allows the rider to concentrate more on his surroundings and get so much more out of a workout with no debilitating effects.
Another non conventional style of bike that my wife and I thoroughly enjoy is the “crank forward.” This style of bike keeps the rider in a more familiar upright position but with the pedals well in front of an imaginary vertical line drawn from the wider than usual seat, the result is the relief of all stress from the riders “sit bones” and soft tissue.
When did you start collecting and why?
Bob: I did not consciously intend to build a collection, I just accumulated a number of bikes over the years. Recumbent riding has been compared to potato chips or pistachio nuts “you can’t have just one”. I like to tinker, so if something interesting comes along I just have to try it out. Thus was the case of what I call “The Limo.” It’s a factory built stretched beach cruiser style of bike complete with balloon tires that I felt compelled to buy and customize. Other acquisitions I have to blame my wife for. One was a Terry WSD or “women’s specific designed” bike that she had an interest in, so I restored a nice used one for her. Another style she liked was a “MXTE”. This type of bike is an old European unisex design with a steeply sloping top tube that extends to the rear drop out, this allows a very strong bike to be built and still be lightweight. Many women riders have converted these, primarily road bikes, to upright comfort bikes. My wife’s sports a nice wire basket for library runs.
What does your wife think of your hobby?
Bob: She is very supportive.
When did you build the “museum” addition to the garage?
Bob: When my wife decided we had run out of room in the garden shed.
Any new bikes in mind for the future?
Bob: My newest bike was the P-38 last year, so I think I’m done for a while. But ya never know...
Bob tells me that his collection waxes and wanes as he finds new prizes and needs to fund their purchase by turning over a couple of older bikes. So if you're ever in the market for a bike (particularly a recumbent) and you come across one offered on Craig's list by Bob Liro, take my advice and snap it up!!