By Lucas Freeman on MARCH 21, 2012 |


A Unique Cycling Option in Bend

A new bike shop has come to town, though it’s owner has been here before. Inspired by Bend Velo’s appeal to the niche market of commuters, Mark Waters decided to open a shop to target what he hopes is a growing population of cyclists who want to ride comfortably and in the reclined position.

Backcountry Recumbent Cycles – Quick Facts


Business: recumbent bikes and trikes, sales
& accessories
Address: 550 SW Industrial Way, Suite 104, Bend, OR. 97702
Phone: (541) 323-3460

Backcountry Recumbent Cycles carries recumbent bikes (two wheels), trikes (three wheels) and velomobiles for touring and commuting. Mark Waters, store owner, has lived in Bend for just about two years now; it’s a home-coming of sorts from the time he worked as a ski lift operator for Mt. Bachelor in 1978. It was the back country snow and mountains as well as family ties which brought him back after living in Colorado, Vermont, and Florida among other places.

Part of what he loves about Bend is its cycling culture. Motorists will often defer to cyclists on the roadways, which he feels makes Bend unlike most other places he’s lived.

Mark Waters | Photo © Lucas Freeman

Given the chance, Waters will regale a visitor with the pleasures of long bicycle tours. But there was one thing he discovered the hard way; upright riding was becoming impossible for him. He has a genetic hand disorder, which was exacerbated by pressure exuded during tours on upright bikes, and required surgery to repair. His doctor recommending he either give up cycling or go fully recumbent. He’s done a tour from St. Augustine, FL to Pittsburgh, PA on a recumbent bike, and plans one from Bend to eastern Montana and back this summer.

Waters shrugs off the most common objections people have about recumbent bikes and trikes, that they’re too slow. Most trikes and recumbent bikes have a lower profile, thereby cutting down on wind resistence. As proof of their speed, he cites the fact that recumbents have been banned from UCI (International Cycling Union – the world cycling governing body) sanctioned events because they were labeled as cheating; they were too fast.

“They’re a blast downhill.”

Roll Over America Ride
Summer 2011
  • 4 dozen riders in velomobiles
  • 3,400 miles in 27 days
  • Averaged 130 miles per day
  • Might take an upright rider
    rider 3 to 4 months for a coast
    to coast tour

He’s clocked over sixty miles per hour on his return trip to town from from Mt. Bachelor.

While Waters admits they’re slower on climbs, they’re superior to most upright bikes on flats and descents especially when you add a fairing to further reduce air drag.

He sees growth potential in this segment of the cycling world because recumbents, with their reclined sitting position, take pressure off a rider’s neck, shoulders, hands, and pelvic bones which seem a growing point of concern among riders of the Baby Boom generation.

Not a Batmobile

“Velomobiles are like bobsleds with wheels,” according to Waters. When seen in person, you understand why. They’re so sleek and streamlined they bring to mind experimental cars you might see on a test track in the salt flats of Utah. In reality, a velomobile is a trike with a specially outfitted fiberglass hull.

  • It's what helps break the headwind and makes you faster;  the clear fairing seen here on this recumbent bike.
  • Inside view of a Quest velomobile: cycle computer, steering, battery pack, pedals.
  • Built for touring, this GreenSpeed is outfitted with rear racks for carrying panniers.
  • Backcountry Recumbent Cycles carries an array of recline positioned bikes.
  • Built for touring speed: Quest velomobile.
 The Quest, one of the fastest velomobiles on the market today, can cost the same as a small car. While that price-point might be a deterrent for some, for others its a purchase they’d happily make to climb back into the saddle and road tour under their own leg power.

The market for more conventional recumbents is in the neighborhood of $2,600, and right now Waters says it’s being dominated by trikes. Testing riding one, the feeling of being low to the ground can take some getting used to, but their handling and quickness can reshape preconceptions about their on and off-road capabilities.

[Backcountry Recumbent Cycles is located at 550 SW Industrial Way, Suite 104,] in Bend. They bring a welcome bit of diversity to the local cycling marketplace especially given that they are one of only a small hand-full of Quest velomobile dealers in the country. Their grand opening  [was] March 31st, [2012.]