Lightning R-84 Recumbent Bike

Black Lightning R84
Lightning R84

Lightning R84 Recumbent Bicycle

Lightning strikes again with their lightest recumbent bike, the handmade carbon fiber R-84. At 20 to 22 pounds, the R-84 is by far the lightest rear suspension recumbent made. At $5400 to $9530 (in 2020) it is one of the most expensive too.

In 1999 Bob Fourney on a full faired R-84 (aka F-90) was the fastest recumbent rider in Europe’s prestigious Paris-Brest-Paris ride, beating thousands of diamond frame bike riders. Paris-Brest-Paris is one of the longest-running bicycle events in the world, a 750 mile non-stop round trip from Paris to Brest and back. Bob and his fully faired R-84 finished in 47 hours 17 minutes! He came in 19th overall out of 3,800 riders! The riders in front of him mostly rode as a group, cutting their wind resistance and upping their speed. Averaging almost 16 mph for the 750 miles Bob was the fastest recumbent rider that year. He was almost 18 hours ahead of the second-place recumbent!

Built for comfort and speed, the three-pound frame is aerospace grade carbon fiber, titanium, and oversized aluminum. The seat is positioned a bit lower than the Lightning P-38 for a slightly greater aerodynamic advantage. This is a high-tech thoroughbred recumbent for the enthusiast. It is not a rugged workhorse.

The R-84 20” front fork has very little tire clearance. There are very few tires that I know of that will fit in this fork, both are fast, neither is particularly durable.

The R-84 is Lightning’s fastest bike on hill climbs. Because of its rigid, lightweight design, the R-84 will outclimb the heavier F-40 but on flatter terrain the fully faired F-40’s aerodynamic advantage will make it faster than the R-84.

If you ride in the flats and don’t want to deal with the F-40 fairing a recumbent with more recline will outperform the R-84. Bikes like the Schlitter Freestyle- race setup; Bacchetta Carbon Aero 3.0 and Cruzbike Vendetta V-20 are in this category. The extreme answer is to add an F-40 fairing to an R-84, this is called the F-90. Ordering the custom made R-84 usually takes ~3-6 months, sometimes longer.