Sad news came from the United States. The world of recumbents has lost another significant figure. Dick Ryan was a minority partner in Fomac Inc., the company that produced the not-so-successful but iconic LWB recumbent Avatar, and owner of the successor company Ryan Recumbents, responsible for the much more successful Vanguard bike. Dick has passed away on June 20th from Parkinson’s disease.

Born in Boston in 1936, Dick Ryan spent his childhood in the suburbs of the city. Like any other child, he used bikes until he could drive.  Bicycle provided him with a means of exploration and adventure. At the tender age of nine, he embarked on a remarkable 29-mile journey from Arlington, Massachusetts to the New Hampshire border, much to his mother’s dismay.

While his formal education only extended to the sixth grade, Dick Ryan’s diverse career path eventually led him to the bicycle business. Prior to his foray into the cycling industry, he held various jobs, including working as a typesetter at a rubber stamp manufacturer. Ryan’s interest in telescope building eventually led him to a high-tech company specializing in precision microphotolithography equipment. It was during this period that he encountered Dick Forrestall, a tool and die maker, who had a business with Harald Masejewski in which they imported bikes from Europe to the USA and later started producing the Avatar 2000 LWB recumbent. Dick got a 5% share in Fomac Inc. which he once said: “They gave me 5% of the company in exchange for working, basically. You know, “Work for nothing now, but if this thing takes off…” 

The goal really was to find an investor or interested parties among the big cycling companies to buy the whole project and develop it further. So the Avatar 2000 wasn’t really a bike that was going to be mass-produced. It had a lot of intricately machined parts and took an infinite amount of time to produce. So they were only able to produce 140 of these bikes in two years. Even so, the Avatar 2000 is considered by many to be the first modern commercially produced recumbent bicycle, and it is almost certainly the first LWB with under seat steering that was produced in the USA. However, the sale of the company to a large bike player never happened and it was eventually bought out by Dick Ryan. 

1990 Ryan Vanguard
Source: Peter Stull’s wonderful history collection of recumbents (

His goal was to make the bike much simpler, but even so, the whole recumbent project was more of a hobby than a business, and Dick had a real job on the side. Gradually, however, progress was made, Dick even employed his son to learn to weld frames, and eventually, they produced some 1200 Vanguards. The company made bikes from 1990 till 1999, when Dick sold the company to Longbikes, but later got it back in 2000. Since then, Dick Ryan was not involved in the bicycle business and hardly rode a bike since then. Kelvin Clark from Angletech not only wrote an interview with Dick for RCN in May 2000, but also met him in 2021 and wrote a short one for as well. The interview done by Kelvin is absolutely fabulous. Read what Ryan thought about the reasons why recumbent bikes haven’t caught on yet, his opinion on bike dealers, and how he thought the recumbent bike world would evolve in the coming years. All this in 2000, when modern brands like HP Velotechnik, Catrike, AZUB, ICE, and others were just getting started.

Dick Ryan is sometimes called the Godfather of modern recumbents, but he didn’t like it. It is also less known that the Ryan Duplex was the first commercially produced recumbent tandem (some 250 ever made), and hardly anybody knows that Ryan Recumbents were also producing delta trikes. The fun fact is that Rolls Royce complained about the RR logo of Ryan Recumbents, so Dick had to change the logo into one R only. 

Useful links: 

Ryan Owners’ Club

Avatar 2000 – the website dedicated to the legendary recumbent