The following are some of the drills I give customers (and myself), for refining the coordination required to confidently handle a Cruzbike.
The payoff is that these drills will help make the hand-foot coordination second nature more quickly than if you simply spend your time riding down the bike path.
Guiding Principals and Tips for getting the most out of the drills.
Press with your feet, pull with your hands. So, you will pull with your right hand while you press with the right foot, then you will pull with the left hand while you press with the left foot. Got it? This is as opposed to pressing with the right foot while pressing with the left hand. I know the “official” Cruzbike instructional videos show an open handed “pressing” technique for beginners; I teach a pulling technique. We’re both right but I find it easier for me to pull against the bars and that’s how I teach others.
Concentrate on coordinating a brief moment of “punctuated thrust” between your foot (pressing) and your hand (pulling). Continue a very tight mental focus on that coordination while doing the drills. For a while (how long varies by individual), you the rider may need to think a lot about the coordination. After a while, it will become second nature.
Make everything other than the coordination as easy as possible. Bring the seat to the most vertical position possible. This makes it easier to balance.
Wear reasonable shoes. Don’t try and learn with toe clips or sandals.
For all the following, first ride with two hands, then ride one-handed, alternating left and right. When riding one-handed, switch from left to right hand on the bars after every 10-20 pedal strokes. The exact number doesn’t matter; you simply want to make sure you’re working the same amount on both sides.
Bike speed is slow during the drills. Although your cadence will often be fast, ride at a low comfortable speed for all drills. In fact, your riding speed under all conditions should always be “comfortable” and under control. Never, ever ride a Cruzbike (or any bike) at a speed beyond where the coordination feels comfortable and second nature. Take this advice seriously. Your welfare depends on it.
While doing the drills, your aim is to be perfectly in control of the steering, always. This means there is never a moment where the bike is in control of you as opposed to vice versa.
Do the drills both laying back in the seat as well as sitting up straight, with your back off the seat.
The goal is to build your coordination between the motion of your feet and your hands. Keep pushing at the limits of your coordination by increasing the speed of the cadence from slow to “too fast.”
These sorts of drills are not unique to Cruzbikes. Every recumbent rider can benefit from them. For the record, standard frame riders who want to ride well do drills like these as well.
– Slalom “S” turns: pick a comfortable slow speed and maintain it. Make slalom “S” turns beginning with narrow turns and then gradually get wider till the turn is exaggerated.
– Figure eights and double figure eights. Maintain perfect control, pedaling continuously.
– Figure eights: open circles, decrease the radius with each circuit till you can’t go any smaller.
– Cadence/coordination: Begin riding at a moderate cadence, gear up and ride with a very slow cadence. While maintaining speed, gear down to easier gears, maintaining speed while increasing the speed of your cadence, keep gearing down while increasing cadence till you can no longer maintain the coordination between your hands and feet.
– Create an obstacle course on the ground, whether it’s by choosing marks on the pavement or dropping your hat and gloves in a pattern. Challenge yourself to ride the course, changing cadence from slow to ultra fast as you ride. Adjust the course, continually making it more challenging.