I didn't think the foam helmets and seizure-inducing neon spandex could look any more ridiculous rolling down the road, yelling at cars to get out of their lane, and then cutting into traffic at will when it suits them, but the Bird of Prey Bicycle proves ridiculous can go at least one level higher. Why fly down the road like an eagle in a bubble of self-entitlement seated upright when you can do it in the actual position the great winged beast assumes?
The Bird of Prey is a semi-prone bicycle that allows cyclists to pedal as they would swim (or, the company points out, as Superman flies) except with their heads positioned forward at the road ahead instead of up their...uh, downward. In this swimmer's position the rider supposedly has a 6-strong set of advantages over upright and recumbent bikes. These include:
- Aerodynamics. Bird of Prey positioning reduces wind resistance. At 22MPH or more, the company says you're using 80% of your effort just to fight the wind while seated (or, more likely if you are or have seen a cyclist, bent forward and balled up on your handlebars) and this drag increases in proportion to your speed.
- Swimmer's Positioning. Freestylin' on land gives you access to more muscle power. Bird of Prey riders are saddle-supported at the hips, and can push and pull on the bike's pedals with fully extended legs, almost as if they were running horizontally.
- Low Center of Gravity. In addition to cutting better through wind, Bird of Prey's laid-out style helps it cut better around corners and "through difficult situations with other bike riders." Riders have more control with smaller movements.
- Gearing. With a 60-tooth rear chain ring connected to a 36/11 cassette, Bird of Prey says it out gears all upright bicycles. It has both high speed and low mountain bike gears.
- Safety. You'd think if you crash on the Bird of Prey you'd have high-speed headbutting a car or the ground to look forward to, but they say the bike's low positioning close to the center of the front wheel ensures you will not go over the handlebars in a panic stop. You'll just...stop. And slo-mo tip over sideways, hopefully adding to the vast archive of great YouTube videos.
- Comfort. This is hard sell for me. Having that little scoopy saddle holding up, and probably digging into my entire gut does not look comfortable. That Bird of Prey call it a "catcher mitt" doesn't help. They go on to explain the supports are soft and covered in leather, and include elbow supports at the front aero bars as well. Feet clip in to standard pedals. Then: "You have to ride the bike to understand how comfortable it really is." Well, BoP dudes, if you want to send me a sample of your $4,200 Superman bike I'll be more than happy to tell you if it stretches my backbone and removes the spinal compression that makes riding an upright bike so uncomfortable for others. I'll race my friend Cornelius on his ElliptiGO.