"USS" Recumbent History -
from Linear Recumbents
Linear wasn?t the first recumbent bicycle with Under Seat
Steering (USS.) That distinction goes to this 1905 English bike. You can see
from this 1905 review, it was comfortable and easy to control.
"THE LATEST IN CYCLES" (1905) "
A novel bicycle has been built in London which has
been pronounced "as comfortable as a rocking chair" and which
shows remarkable mechanical ingenuity.
This new machine is fitted with an anti-vibrating
easy chair-like saddle which affords wonderful relief to a tired back
and which proves a luxury when coasting down long hills. The ladies'
machines are meeting with particular favor. They are of exactly the same
construction as are the machines built for the men. The illustration
gives some idea of the comfort found in these new bicycles. Besides the
chair like saddle, the machine has another improvement. Note the
position of the handlebars. They are almost directly under the saddle.
It is this arrangement that enables the woman to ride the diamond frame
with ease. The steering gear is under perfect control and it will be
seen that a smaller circle can be described on this machine than on any
The first machine of this make was built by P.W.
Bartlett, of Richmond, England, for a Java resident. He was so pleased
that he has now placed an order for twelve more of the same
construction. The weight is somewhat greater than that of the
light-weight racing machines, but as these bicycles are built for
comfort and not alone for speed this is no detriment. The cost is the
same as of any other high grade bicycle."
Click Image for Enlarged View
This bike, from 1905, is one of the first USS (Under Seat
Steering) recumbents I know of. It may also be the first "production"
recumbent bike in history. Notice the rod steering linkage, still popular on
USS recumbents. You can see that using a 26" rear wheel on a CLWB (Compact
Long Wheel-Base) bike raises the seat considerably. I wonder why the woman's
model was more popular. How did they get on and off with the long skirt of
The Bicycle Man also maintains a selection of
parts and accessories for
Linear recumbent bicycles.