Vision Recumbents is out of business. Their assets were sold piece-by-piece at auction in March of 2004. There are many used Vision recumbents out there, they come up for sale pretty regularly. Before you buy one remember these details:
- If it has a 16″ front wheel and a 26″ rear wheel it is a small size frame. The small Vision recumbents were less stable than the standard size.
- Finding replacement parts like tires, chains etc is easy, finding parts made by Vision like USS handlebars and front forks for their USS bikes is difficult. Consider this before you buy a used Vision.
Advanced Transportation Products (ATP) built the Vision line of recumbents in Washington State. ATP went out of business in early 2004. Their corporate assets were sold piece-by-piece at auction in March of 2004. They had been the largest recumbent manufacturer still producing all their bikes in the US. Their line included the R-40, R-42 and R-45 rigid bikes; the R-50 series suspension bikes; the R-60 series high-racers and the R-80 series recumbent tandems. If you are looking for a comfortable, stable, USA made recumbent with Under Seat Steering consider the Linear Recumbents.
Most riders are very comfortable on the Vision seat. The Vision seat bottom a foam pad over a triangular sling. It works well for most riders but a few heavier riders really dislike it. I think it is one of the most comfortable, but I’m skinny. The seat back is breathable mesh and is fine for most riders. Some riders miss having a lumbar curve to support their lower back. Over all I am quite comfortable on Vision seats.
The Vision USS handlebars can be a bit awkward for two reasons:
- Many riders find the hand position to be a bit far back; these customers (the majority) prefer the hand position on the Linear Recumbents which have more adjustable handlebars with mountain bike type bar-ends.
- Vision USS steering has quite a bit of “tiller.” You steer by moving the handlebars from side to side. When you do a “U” turn on a Vision the handlebars swing sideways, one side disappears under the seat. To do a “U” turn you pretty much have to take one of your hands off the bars, most riders find this annoying. It is not as noticeable on their SWB bikes but gets progressively worse on their MWB, LWB and tandem bikes. Some Vision LWB and tandem owners never do a “U” turn. I can do a “U” turn on a Vision USS tandem in less than 3 lanes but it is a feat of balance requiring my undivided attention. This is not an issue at speeds over ~ 5 mph; you only turn that sharp at slow speeds (“U” turns & parking lots.) The sideward movement of the handlebars also stops you from adding bar ends to improve your hand position. The bar-ends would hit the seat, severely limiting steering. Other USS recumbents, like the Linear and Longbikes avoid this by using “indirect” or “linkage” steering.
Vision unsuspended (without suspension) SWB bikes climb pretty well. Most riders find the LWB Visions harder to balance at very slow speeds, like on steep climbs. This is especially true on a dirt road. Vision rear suspensions tend to “bob” with hill-climbing pedaling effort, making climbing harder. The newer R-50 series rear suspension bikes “bob” a bit less than the older 40 series bikes with rear suspension. The R-40 rear suspension bikes also flex laterally, making high-speed handling poor. Pre 1998 Vision SWB bikes were pretty unstable. In 1998 they lengthened their wheelbase about two inches, a great improvement.
On most Vision bikes the pedals adjust to fit your leg length like Haluzak and Lightning bikes. This helps keep the riders weight balanced between the front and rear wheel. In 2002 Vision introduced a new design with a quick release adjustment and automatic chain tensioner. This makes adjusting to different riders extremely easy on their SWB models. The MWB R-40 is more difficult to adjust because each time it takes two open-end wrenches to adjust the steering linkage. Most Visions also have two seat positions, for shorter or taller riders. The CLWB R-30 series is the exception. It uses the more common method: the seat adjusts, not the pedals.
If you are looking for a comfortable, stable, Under Seat Steering (USS) recumbent made in the US with good parts availability consider a Linear Limo or Roadster. More info on the Linear recumbents is here.