Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Recumbent Bicycle (Bike) Terms

USS = Under Seat Steering

Many riders prefer USS because they find it more relaxing. Unlike many OSS bikes you do not hit your knees on the handlebars, even in turns. USS offers good upper body comfort and relaxation. You may need to get an accessory mount to hold a light or speedometer.

OSS = Over Seat Steering Recumbent. Also called ASS for above seat steering.

OSS handlebars provide a readymade place to put a light or speedometer. On some models you hit your knees on the handlebars when pedaling through turns. You can walk them around by the handlebars, handy for getting through a door.

LWB = Long Wheel Base (wheelbase) Recumbent, ~64″+

LWB recumbent bikes have their pedals behind their front wheel. THE pedals are lower than on SWB bikes. They are often preferred for touring. Their long frames absorb road bumps a bit better. LWB bikes can be bulky to store or transport, “U” turns can be awkward on some LWB bikes.

CLWB =Compact Long Wheel Base (wheelbase) Recumbent, ~50″ to ~63″ Pedals close behind front wheel.

CLWB recumbents are generally slower and not as maneuverable as SWB or as stable as LWB. This once common type has lost popularity and there are few offered these days.

SWB = Short Wheel Base (wheelbase) Recumbent, ~38″ to ~45″ front wheel behind pedals.

SWB bikes are my favorites. They are typically lighter, faster and certainly easier to store and transport. Their handling is nimble, sporty & maneuverable. Most SWB bikes climb better than LWB bikes. Most racing recumbents are SWBs. Some riders feel less stable and secure on SWB bikes. On some SWB models you feel bumps more than some LWBs.


Your X-Seam measurement is the best way to properly fit you for a recumbent bicycle. It is measured with you sitting flat on the floor with your back against the wall and toes pointing straight up ~ measure the distance from the wall to the bottom of your feet at your heel. This is your X-Seam measurement. Double check that there is not space between your butt and the wall!