Published: February 2015
Author: Rolf Garthus
Why a Trike?
Modern recumbent trikes are not your Grandmother's trikes. These revolutionary machines are built for efficiency and are, by far, the fastest growing category in recumbents. The “recumbent trike grin” always appears when people test ride a trike. There is no discomfort anywhere and balance is a non-issue. It’s like driving a really efficient self-propelled go cart.
Personal experience with the products we sell has always been part of our mission at the Hostel Shoppe. Our experience adds to our understanding of the product and equips us to serve you better with more accurate information. So when recumbent trike sales began to increase, Barb and I realized that we need to start riding trikes to see what it’s all about. Oh sure, we had taken short test rides on a trike but we hadn’t made a recumbent tricycle part of our recumbent fleet. At the time, we rode our Volae Recumbent bicycles all the time.
Finally, at a Catrike Rally in Winter Garden Florida, we had an opportunity to ride nothing but trikes for a four day stretch. We loved it! Within a few weeks, we both added trikes to our recumbent fleet. Our trikes account for a larger portion of our total miles each year.
As we started mixing recumbent trike rides in with our recumbent bike rides, we realized that we were having two different experiences biking. Both were fun and the variety added to our mileage. Then, one day while riding my trike, I met a friend on his mountain bike. Usually he would be on his road bike but not this time. It hit me like “a ton of bricks”. Of course; conventional bike riders frequently have both a mountain bike and a road bike. Two different experiences turning a crank. We now had the recumbent equivalent of this.
Initially we found that the trikes were great for riding around town, riding on trails or riding anywhere that involves a lot of stopping and starting. While this is true, we have since found other situations when we really like the trikes. The bluffs along the Mississippi in western Wisconsin offer some of the best biking in the State. However, steep climbs are common in the bluffs and we can climb anything easily on our trikes. We just gear down and pedal up the hill with no worries about balance. 100% of our effort goes into climbing and no effort is expended on maintaining balance. Also, on occasion, we run into a stretch of gravel road on top of the bluffs. With the trikes we fearlessly ride through it with no concerns about crashing. Finally, there are times when we just want to cruise easily around the countryside and enjoy the scenery. What do we take? You guessed right, we ride our trikes.
Recumbent trikes are available in either a delta configuration (two wheels in back) or tadpole configuration (two wheels in front). Each style has its advantages. Delta trikes are easier to get on and off. In addition, they can be joined together to make a tandem. In fact, we have had trains of up to 5 delta trikes all joined together at the Midwest Recumbent Rally. The tadpole configuration seems to be a bit more efficient. This is probably due to the drive wheel being centered behind the load and to better aerodynamics. Both are surprisingly stable in the corners. A word of caution: You can tip them over in a turn a speed so wear a helmet and take it easy through the turns on the descents.
If you are looking for your first recumbent, plan to ride leisurely and value the “joy of the ride” more than speed, a trike is a great choice. Perhaps, however, you already own and enjoy riding a recumbent bike. In your case, consider adding a trike to your stable. We’re betting you will find many occasions where you thoroughly enjoy your trike.
- Rolf Garthus