Recumbent bike that climbs fast

Review and photos of the new S40

Introducing our newest model in the Cruzbike line-up, the S40. This is a refined lightweight performance bike, but with a more upright backrest angle than both our our record-setting V20 and it’s predecessor, the S30.I’ve ridden the bike here in flat lands of eastern North Carolina and in the hills of eastern Tennessee. This bike is equally at home in both settings.

I’ve ridden the bike here in flat lands of eastern North Carolina and in the hills of eastern Tennessee. This bike is equally at home in both settings.

Design highlights

The S40 uses the same power train as the V20, except we have widened the fork crown to take larger tires. The beautifully hydro-formed aluminum frame is also made from the same mold as the V20. The S40 is compatible with a variety of wheel sizes when using disk brakes, or 700c wheels and rim brakes. It comes with a headrest, which some customers may prefer not to use. Configure the S40 as a gravel/endurance bike, or a sleek and sophisticated touring or commuting bike. Put on skinny 700x23c tires and challenge your roadie friends for the KOM on their favorite Strava segment.

The re-designed handlebars are lighter than earlier handlebars and deliver a wider grip for better control and faster climbing. The bars also have more swept-out space for knee clearance.

We have also upgraded the Chainstay/BB interface making this bike compatible with more cranksets than ever before.

One other significant design improvement is that the front edge of the seat pan is adjustable. Some people may prefer more or less forward extension of the seat, and now this can be customized for a more comfortable ride.

The ride

So how does it ride? On the descents, it felt the same as my beloved V20, which is not surprising considering that the wheelbase, trail, and head-tube angle are almost identical. Cornering felt smooth and natural, also like the V20, except for the more upright position of the body, which makes it easier to see farther around corners, but has a slight cost in aerodynamics.

While sailing down a hill is fun on almost any bike, wait until you rocket UP a hill on the S40. With your back pressed into the more upright frame, and the wider bars linked to the V20’s famously stiff drive-train, the bike leaps up the grades as responsively as any bike I’ve ever ridden… even better than my V20. You put the power in with your legs and your upper body and you can feel the energy surge through the cranks. This is Cruzbike’s best climber, period.

What about long rides? For me personally, I would install the headrest if I planned to go for more than an hour ride. I prefer the free feeling of no headrest for shorter rides, and my neck doesn’t fatigue without a headrest under those circumstances. Regarding suspension… there is none and I didn’t miss it. The fatter tires soak up the bumps comparably to the S30’s elastomer/titanium/CF chainstay suspension system. This change makes the bike simpler, less expensive and lighter.

Who is it for

Who would want this bike? Any fan of the Silvio/S30 and anyone who has ever considered the Vendetta/V20 but didn’t want to lay back so much. Now there is no excuse. Get an S40 while they are still in-stock. Oh yeah, what about the name? The “S” refers to the fact that this bike falls under the “Silvio” family of Cruzbikes, based on its high-end frame and more upright backrest angle. The “40”  refers to the backrest seat angle.

Standover height: (the height of the seat above the ground) is 24 inches with the 700x32c tires.
Weight: The weight of the fully-built bike will range from about 22 lbs to 30 lbs depending on component and wheel/tire choices.
X-seam range: approximately 35 inches to 48 inches (about 5’2″ to 6’5″ body height).
Weight limit 250 lbs (rider + cargo).

Accessories and options:

All of the accessories designed to work with the V20 headrest will work with the S40 headrest. There is a VERY COOL “Easy Reacher” under seat rack made by TerraCycle specifically for the S40 (photo below). This will take a set of panniers or allow attaching batteries or other cargo in an ideal low and center position. If you prefer a more traditional rear rack, the Axiom Journey Adjustable 2429 works beautifully (with small modifications to the rack mounts).

World-record holder Maria Parker putting the S40 through its paces on a dawn training ride:

World Record Holder Maria Parker riding the Cruzbike S40

Those are 700x32c tires and there is still some room for a fender or even fatter tires:Cruzbike performance recumbent road bike

This S40 has the Ventisit cushion upgrade and front and rear TRP Spyre disk brakes with 160 mm rotors:
Cruzbike Recumbent Road Bike Climbs Fast

Stunning graphics (choose silver, green, blue or orange) make this bike a functional work-of-art:Stunning recumbent bike - Cruzbike S40

The critical numbers that help determine comfort and great handling characteristics:S40 Performance recumbent bike

The S40 as configured in the photos above is built with SRAM Apex brifters, crankset (50/34), and front derailleur. The rear derailleur is the long cage SRAM GX. The cassette is 11×36. Brakes are TRP Spyre with 160 mm rotors. The wheels are 36-spoke deep rim made by Velocity. The tires are Ritchey SpeedMax Comp 700x32c with max PSI of 75. The total weight of this build, including the pedals and mirror is 28 lbs., 5 oz.

The stock wheels/tires/rotors etc. in the photo below weigh 9 lbs., 5 oz. For a complete 22 lb. road-bike build, start with a lighter group set, rim brakes,and lightweight wheels/tires.

Richey wheels on the Cruzbike S40

This solidly-built underseat rack by TerraCycle is the perfect compliment to the S40:


A bike this good takes the work of a lot of people. The groundwork of Tom Traylor and John Tolhurst form the basis of such a fast and practical FWD bicycle. The people who contributed to the functional and aesthetic improvements in this model include Robert Holler and Jonathan Garcia of Portland, OR, who tweaked the geometry and tested the prototypes. They firmly concluded it’s the fastest climbing Cruzbike (or any recumbent) they have ever ridden; our designer Jacob Bouchard, an innovative problem-solver who puts all the ideas down into beautiful 3D drawings and works patiently with our manufacturers, and, two Parker women, my wife, Maria, and my daughter, Lucia. They ride our bikes, love our bikes, and help make it all happen. Great job, everyone.


Find the S40 at


  1. So much fun to see the brand evolve. The S40 design is sort of a ‘wish list’ of all the features I would ask for…not that I’m giving up my V20! Great job…I think y’all have another winner!

    1. I agree. It is a great bike. In the above review it says 700x32c + fenders. If 26inch wheels how wide can the tires be? 1.5, 2.2, etc. and still get a fender in there?

    1. Yes. Many Cruzbike owners use indoor trainers. Attach the trainer to the Cruzbike front wheel, just as you would normally attach the trainer to the rear wheel.

  2. Great looking bike! Question: can the S40 be set up with a triple crank using a standard, square taper bottom bracket? What’s the smallest size large ring that can be used on the triple? Most of my riding is in the mountains…..

  3. One of my concerns would be “recum-butt”. Generally, 30 degrees). With a hard shell seat, has anyone verified is this is/is not an issue with the 40 degree seat on this model? For my part, at >30 degrees, I could only ride 1 hour before experiencing this and this fact would be a deal-breaker.

    1. Hi Jeff,
      I don’t know of any widely accepted rules about getting “recumbent butt” (a pain in the gluteus muscles due to the muscles working under the pressure of the body’s weight).
      I didn’t get it on the S40 after a 3-hour ride, but everyone is different. I think your weight, conditioning level, and riding technique will have a lot to do with it. What kind of cushioning you use may also help or hurt the situation. If you prefer to recline at 30 or less degrees, then the V20 would be a better choice for you.

  4. If I set it up like a road bike using 700C wheels and rim brakes, would I still need to use 135 mm disk hub for the front wheel?

    1. No, the disc hub would not be necessary if you want to run rim brakes. A 130 mm or 135 mm non-disc brake hub would be fine.

    1. I like your question. I am interested in cross country touring, and for that low enough gearing to haul the bike, panniers, and me over a substantial hill without having to get off and push is important. For loaded touring the recommended range of gear inches is 18-100. However the above setup is 25.5-122.7. This is more for racing than touring.

      In addition to the possibility of making a low range MTB gear setup, has anyone considered trying the Pinon 18 gear set up. It has from 16.7 – 104.8 gear inches. This is more than enough to tackle the ups and downs of any mountain roads. Would that be a possible option in the future?

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