Lightning Recumbent Bicycles
The Lightning P-38 Recumbent
Except for bikes
with more extreme reclined positions, Lightning Cycle Dynamics builds some
of the world's fastest recumbents, and some of the best climbing 'bents
too! All Lightning recumbents have Over-Seat-Steering (OSS) and share a
similar short wheelbase (SWB) design. Riding a Lightning puts you in a
pretty aggressive stance, ready to power up the next hill. The Bicycle Man
is the largest Lightning dealer in New York State. We stock the Lightning
P-38, Phantom and Thunderbolt recumbents.
Note: We have the 2007 Lightning Phantoms on
Note: The Lightning Thunderbolt is permanently out
of production. We do not have any left.
2006 Lightning Phantom
are great fitness and century bikes. The first time I rode the Alfred
Century-Century, a "bent friendly" 100 mile ride (email me for local ride
info) on a Lightning Phantom I set a personal record for the course. I
broke my record again the next year on a Lightning P-38. I’ve ridden 100
miles faster with a Reynolds Wishbone, but never in as much comfort as on
a Lightning. Lightning bikes are also great for riding with traditional
road bikes. They are high enough that you can talk with upright riders and
climb well enough to keep up on the climbs. On the flat sections they are
certainly faster than traditional road bikes, you will just have to relax
a bit to have someone to talk to…
The Lightning seat
is one of my favorites; its nylon mesh and cantilever design provides
"passive suspension," absorbing road shock without an added weight
penalty. Riders over about 230 LB may have a durability problem with the
Lightning seat. Tim Brummer designed Lightning bikes to keep your weight
optimally centered between the wheels whether you are tall or short.
Instead of adjusting the seat, on a Lightning bike you adjust the bottom
bracket/pedal position (like recumbents from Haluzak, Reynolds and HP-Velo.)
Their optimal weight distribution and moderately short wheelbase combine
to deliver maneuverability and lively handling. "U" turns are pretty easy,
though you may have a bit of heel interference. Some riders find
Lightning’s high-speed stability a bit to quick, particularly on the P-38.
The P-38 is a bit more nimble and takes more getting used to at high
speeds. The adjustable bottom bracket makes adjustment to different riders
awkward; you sometimes need to change the chain length also. For owners
who want to share their bikes with riders of different height, there is an
optional chain tensioner available though I haven’t found this to be a
perfect solution. The P-38 is one of my favorite bikes; I sit high enough
to see in traffic, I’m very comfy and it climbs great! No recumbent will
be fast on your first ride. It will take a while for your muscles to
become accustomed to the different position and develop an efficient
pedaling cadence. After one month on a Lightning most riders equal or
surpass their old bike's performance. After two months of regular riding
they should be ready to climb as well as on their old bike. If you are
accustomed to mashing big gears on hills, you may need to learn to gear
down and spin.
Over the past 20
years, the Lightning speed advantage has been demonstrated in race after
race. In 1995 Lightning bikes won four stages of the prestigious
~2,000-rider Paris-Brest-Paris race. (The first recumbent bike to compete
in Paris-Brest-Paris was an Avatar 2000 currently in my collection.) This
speed advantage is largely due to the riders recumbent position, with its
lower wind resistance. Combined with the P-38's 25-lb. weight and stiff
bottom bracket; you have a pretty hot setup.
As with many SWB recumbents, your heels may hit the front wheel during
slow, sharp turns. This only occurs below ~5 mph and is less of a problem
for riders on the smaller Lightning sizes, which use a 16" front wheel.
With a little practice you can easily make a safe "U" turn. To make this
even less of a problem, pedal extenders are available. Because Lightning
bikes adjust the pedals rather than the seat to fit the rider this poses
less of a problem for tall riders. If you like lots of seat recline angle,
be aware that the range available on Lightning bikes is quite limited and
isn’t easily modifiable.
Tim Brummer designed Lightning bikes to last for many years of hard usage,
All Lightning frames are covered by a 5-year warranty. Tim's resume
includes: detail design of the Space Shuttle and B-1 supersonic bomber,
Composites Engineer for Hughes Aircraft, and launch operations for the
giant Titan rocket booster.
convinced that the recumbent is the bike of the future. It is comfortable
to ride for long periods, and it won't produce numb hands or crotch" - Dr.
David Smith, MD, Bicycling Magazine.
Ian Babbit headed west on his P-38
“I have a confession to
make; I have been cheating the whole trip. I am riding a Lightning P-38, a
recumbent bicycle. Instead of being hunched over the handlebars, I sit
back. Instead of cramming my body on top of a skinny seat, I sit in a
chair. I still have to pedal, but this bike almost makes it too easy. This
bicycle is completely different from anything I have ridden before, as if
someone took the complaints about bicycle comfort and actually listened to
them.” IAN Babbit, Portland ME to Portland OR on a P-38 towing a Burley
"My back keeps getting
better with the Lightning. I haven't been to the Chiropractor this year,
but my back feels better than it has in the last 30 years." - T. Johnson,