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Recumbents are for old people…They’re not real bikes…
These are the types of depressing messages that bounced around my head in the fall of 2013 as I sat across from my third physical therapist discussing how there was nothing else he could do for me and I should consider riding a different kind of bike.
A lot has happened since that idea was placed in my head and I believe it may be valuable information for a few of you dedicated road cyclists out there who are struggling with your own bodies in rebellion. Happily, I’m still putting at least 3,000 miles a year on the road and I’m still leaving all my work stress on the pavement – a critically necessary process for me and my family.
Amazingly, I’m doing much better than just getting in miles. I’m still watching my data on Strava, still pushing myself for new PR’s, and occasionally I’m getting into some top 10’s on certain segments. In short, I’m still having every bit as much fun exploring the mountains and farm roads of Maryland perched upon a miracle of physics and machinery.
My intent for this site is to share some facts, based in cold, hard data, for those of you that may have to be considering an alternative to the standard upright road bike. Take comfort, my friends. Your life on the open road is not over, you just need a slight change of perspective and geometry. Believe me, it’ll be worth it.
Just finished building the latest addition to the STABLE and just had to comment on the amazing Encore. When the Bacchetta CA2 first came out, we raved about its "magic carpet" ride....smooth and quiet. After 3 years on the CA2, I have to say the Encore has that beat. This bike is rock solid and silent. JS missed the mark in only one way.....the name should have been "Stealth".
And, the Encore fixed a couple of things I have learned to live with on "stick" bikes over the years....
Heel strike has always been an issue to live with and work around. I have yet to find a situation where my size 11 shoes interfere with the front wheel...amazing! I no longer need to plan my turns and gingerly coast through low speed maneuvers. The interference just is not there.
Second, a greasy chain rubbing on my leg was a given on the CA2. We referred to it as "badge of honor", but it was annoying. That was not a problem with my M5, but with stick bikes....always was. But, by moving the idler to the front of the seat, the Encore chain drops down sooner and I have yet to get a greasy leg! I ride in WHITE leg coolers, something I would never do previously on a stick bike.
And as most everyone knows, the Triple J handle bars are quite the trick....infinitely adjustable to allow for most any body shape, including my 10 deg. scholiosis. Properly dialed in, and shin strike, over reaching, and vision problems are non-existent.
While my Encore won't replace my M5 race bike, with its 11-speed Q-Ring
drive train, this will be my Mountain Goat and Brevet Beast....the stable has to have the right tool for every job!....No compromises!!!!
Ok, enough raving.....Thanks for the great bike with amazing features, JS! Bravo Encore!!! Love this bike!
As an update, after a couple of weeks and about 500 miles, I have yet to get a greasy leg or experience a heel strike...and am still quite impressed!
California, Age 53
...if a bike that's designed by John Schlitter had to be good at one thing, and one thing only, don't you think it would be descending? Hell yes! I'm not a “go for the gusto” descender.., but even I can feel it – very intuitive, comfortable cornering. When I can feel counter-steer and be happy about it, it's a hit out of the ballpark.
We race-tested the Encore 20's at the Silver State 508, which was our first training race for RAAM. We held
off a strong 4-man recumbent team for over 480 miles, proving the E20 to be a more than capable machine.
The major highlight was watching Bill descend off of Carroll Summit. It had been a tough go to get up there,
and a smaller, fresher racer passed him shortly before the summit. Not every bike+rider combination can pull
back a 2 minute gap in 4 miles of descending – but if you had to bet on someone who wasn't John Schlitter
doing that, smart money says that they'd better be riding one of his bikes.
If you are even remotely interested in ultra marathon cycling or performance recumbents in general, you’d have to have been living under a very large rock to have not heard of John and Jacquie Schlitter. John was one of the founders of Bacchetta, has competed in Race Across America (RAAM) multiple times and has more race wins than you can
possibly count. Jacquie ain’t no slouch either. She has also competed in RAAM and has held numerous distance records. Now the human powered racing world’s power couple has teamed up with industrial designer and fellow long distance cyclist, Julien Mauroy, and put their talents towards creating their own brand. Their first offering is the Schlitter Encore.
Schlitter’s mission sounds like an impossible one. They set out to make a custom carbon fiber highracer that was fast, versatile and cost about the same as the average aluminum recumbent. Oh… And they came up with a new cockpit design that no one had tried before while they were at it. That’s a very tall order for your first time out, but they’ve done it.
Dear John and Jacquie,
I am very pleased with the Schlitter Encore you built to my preferences, size, and riding habits. Your attention to detail pays off regularly as I ride further, faster, and with far more comfort than ever before – in less than two months on the bike. The pleasure I derive from every ride defies description.
Let me tell you why.
You see, I will be seventy-five in a couple of months. While I’m in excellent health for my years, it is no surprise that in place of quickness and power, there are intruding aches, pains, weakness, etc. These things knock on my door and work against the cycling Shirley and I do to sustain (and improve) our overall quality of life.
Enter the Schlitter Recumbent!
Yesterday I rode a Fifty-Fifty. That is, fifty miles for our fiftieth wedding anniversary. That ride doubled my previous vertical bike PR, because, on the Vertical, after about a half an hour, my shoulders ache, hands go to sleep, and stiff neck protests against the bending needed to look up at the road to ride safely. In other words, cycling was painful and unsafe. It required constant shifting of the upper body (to relieve stress), and that drained energy, power, and speed.
But, not on my Schlitter Encore 650!
I ride in a resting state. My body is comfortable and well-supported. I can watch the road ahead, behind, and to the side where, a couple of days ago I saw two beautiful deer. Neither do I have to make forced movements to relieve aches. In such state, all power is focused through the legs to the pedals. My strength, speed, and distance have significantly increased, and yet, I know it’s only the beginning. But, as much as I enjoy the speed, the most important thing is that pleasure and safety are greatly improved. It is no stretch to think that very soon, the miles I ride will only be constrained by the time I have for the day. Already I can easily ride for two hours if I want.
I am confident that a cyclist of any age would reap these same benefits, but especially men and women in their forties, fifties, and beyond. I would urge anyone approaching the golden senior years, who likes to ride but cannot do so with complete comfort, to call for an appointment to see what John and Jacquie Schlitter can do for them.
On my part, I just want to thank you for the careful design, construction, and fitting of your bicycles; and also for your generous friendship. Not only do I now have a place where my family and friends can buy great bikes, but also where they can be sent to owners where the highest level of personal integrity comes free of charge with every visit.
Thank you, J & J.
Happy Schlitter Encore Owner
I love cycling! For years I was an equestrian and absolutely loved the excitement I felt every time I climbed on the back of my horse. About 10 years ago, I discovered, that while I fell off of my horse just as easily as I ever did, getting up required a lot more effort and longer recovery periods. So, at the tender age of 52, I decided to give up horses and move to cycling. For the next eight years I rode DFs and got as much of a thrill out of the bikes as I used to get from riding my horses. I also rode tandems for awhile and found those to be very cool - imagine, able to go distances at half the effort - sometimes it didn't even feel like you were pedaling - -but you were getting to your destination - and always with a smile.
Two years ago, I began to have problems when riding. I was having severe pain in my hands and my wrist and shoulders. I tried new bikes, professional fittings, PT, etc. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and regardless of how much therapy, pain pills, or anything else I tried...it seemed cycling was going to be a thing that I could no longer enjoy. About a year ago, I decided to try going the "recumbent" way. My first purchase was a long wheel base, aluminum frame, that weighed about 45 pounds. I loved it! I could ride in comfort, at last. No longer were my hands and wrist aching after short rides. I went on a few rides with my local bike club, smiling the entire ride, and told a friend "I'm having fun!!!" The only problem was...I was being left way behind by my riding buddies on their DFs. Hills were absolute killers...but, still I was having fun.
October, 2017, I decided to bite the bullet and find myself a good quality, carbon frame recumbent that I could ride that would help me keep up with the crowd. I began to search and talked to people in the recumbent world. I was almost sold on the Bacchetta Aero, when a friend asked if I had seen the Schlitter Encore. Thus began a "love affair." I contacted J&J and made an appointment to go down and test ride a few bikes. My eye was on the Encore, but I tried 4 or 5 different bikes, the Aero included. The difference between the Aero and the Encore was so very small that the decision came down to the difference in price and the beauty of the Encore. I'm still learning how to ride my "wild beast" but I can say that each and every ride has been absolutely amazing! I can now take turns with my buddies leading and they have to work to keep up. No more pains. I'm able to ride faster and further than ever before. My decision was the right one and I look forward to many, many more miles on my beauty. Thanks for making such an amazing machine!!!