Ground Hugger


Own the bicycle that sparked the recumbent's return

The design on which the new XR2 is based.   It is one of the most thoroughly proven recumbent designs around.  It's introduction  helped spark the modern revival of the recumbent bicycle. It was featured in Popular Mechanics magazine
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Plans include a 3D model in rhino format, 2D drawings in DWG, DXF, and PDF formats, as well as the manual in PDF format.


This unique human powered vehicle was developed and patented in the mid 1960s, and first introduced as “Ground Hugger” in a special plans offering by Popular Mechanics magazine. Ground Hugger’s sleek lines and elegant mechanical design captured the interest of bicycle manufacturers and enthusiasts, worldwide. But the benefits of the recumbent were not widely understood, and it would be another 10 years before recumbents reached even low-volume production. Due to today’s popularity of recumbents, the original Ground Hugger plans have been updated and republished.  And we’ve also developed the Ground Hugger XR2 – a computer-engineered carbon fiber machine utilizing the latest in cycling design and componentry (click image above).

A major benefit of a recumbent is the awesome power that a rider can deliver to the pedals. Nearly everyone has enough strength in their legs to lift up to twice their own weight, and some of us can lift as much as three times. A recumbent provides the rider with something to push against (the back of the seat), so total leg power can be delivered to the pedals. In contrast, a conventional bicycle limits the maximum push against pedals to roughly that of the rider’s weight. This, in combination with its inherently lower frontal area and reduced air resistance, is responsible for the recumbent’s greater speed. The speed record for a recumbent is over 65 mph. In addition, a recumbent naturally positions the body for improved blood flow because the heart does not have to work against gravity.

Safety in the event of a spill, and virtually zero stress on arms, hands, and low backs are other advantages. The attribute that receives the most accolades from new riders, however, is also the most difficult to justify in practical terms. The sheer thrill of gliding along at 30 mph just inches above the ground puts Ground Hugger in a class of its own. It’s a sensation that has to be experienced in order to be fully appreciated.

Riding a recumbent is an entirely different experience. One’s sense of balance has to be reoriented to the new seating position and close proximity to the bicycle’s reaction point. Because the ground is a bicycle’s reaction point, the conventional riding position high above the ground translates into greater lateral distances between opposing lean angles, which means slower reaction times. A recumbent reacts more quickly because of the rider’s low center of gravity and close proximity to the ground. New riders initially sense this quick reaction time as instability.  But it’s a matter of retraining one’s sense of balance – about 15 minutes, depending on the person.

Early versions of Ground Hugger were equipped with the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub; the type with a built-in coaster brake.  Plans also show how to install calipers brakes, lightweight crank and head sets, and a multi-speed derailleur system.   The original frames were built of inexpensive mild steel tubing.  But the frame can also be built of thin-wall 4130-N or aluminum tubing to keep the weight down.  The cost to build Ground Hugger will depend on the type of components and materials you select, and on whether you purchase new parts individually or buy a used bike and take the components from it.  So the rock-bottom cost-to-build will be on the order of $200 (mild steel frame with parts from an old bike).  But a high-performance multi-speed road bike with a 4130 frame and new high-end components will cost much more – depending on the materials and components you select.

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