For those unfamiliar with tadpole trikes they are basically a pretty stable vehicle and a lot of fun to ride. They have been compared to riding a go cart or driving a sports car. As neat as they are I would not go so far as to say that they handle as good as either of these two examples. A tadpole trike can and will tip over a whole lot easier than a go cart or sports car. A go cart is quite low to the ground and has a pretty wide wheel base width so they are quite difficult to tip over. They just slide if and when traction is lost. A tadpole trike will slide a little bit if it is pushed hard enough but you can’t depend on this to happen. If an outside tire should suddenly “catch” the trike will start over. It may only go up in the air a little ways and come back down, but again I would not count on this. It could just as easily go on over. So unless you are one who has mastered balancing and riding a tadpole trike on two wheels it is not a good idea to tempt fate.
So what is a rider to do? We all want to have fun, right? Well, maybe not everybody. I am sure there are many who simply don’t ride that fast to begin with or if they are approaching a turn faster than they are comfortable with they slow down so they can safely negotiate it on three wheels. But for those who like the thrills a tadpole trike can deliver there is a solution … Leaning in Turns. Just make certain you lean to the correct side. This may sound ridiculous but it needs to be said as there are those who have not understood this and have leaned to the opposite side. Needless to say that is flirting with disaster. A word of caution … make sure that while leaning in a sharp turn at speed you don’t find yourself dealing with things such as trees, fence posts, etc. Your face and shoulder is no match for them. We have one particular turn on our trail system I ride where I have to be sure to get my body back over in normal position on the seat just before I reach a wooden fence and the first fence post. Depending upon your speed and the severity of the turn you can …
lean just a little …
or lean a lot …
… as much as is needed if some real “hot doggin’ ” is going on.
Riding fast around a turn results in lots of “tire scrub” so don’t expect to get maximum life out of your tires if you do this.
This video shows how to lean into a turn at high speed to help the trike to negotiate the turn without tipping over.
A comfortable tadpole trike, a shady trail to ride and ice water … what more could a guy want? No, no women and no alcohol … we ain’t going there. Summer weather has arrived here in Indiana and it is hot and a bit humid. So my riding has mostly been on the Maumee Pathway which is my favorite trail to ride among those we have. It also happens to be the most shady so it really helps be more comfortable. It is only about 5.5 miles long so we ride back and forth on it to get our daily milage in. Lately for me that has been 20 to 30 miles depending upon how my knee joints are doing.
The Maumee Pathway runs mostly east and west along the Maumee River. Here is a map of it:
and a satellite image …
Ah yes, the life of Riley … kickin’ back, enjoyin’ retirement … got it made (in the shade) ! I just hope Riley doesn’t show up and ruin it all. I really can’t think of what else I could ask for … maybe this ? …
Yeah, I know … that’s going a little too far, huh? Well, ya’ can’t blame a guy for trying. Besides, it’s motorized so that disqualifies it. But it is a tadpole trike!
Here are a few pictures of the Maumee Pathway:
Now I ask ya, doesn’t that look inviting … especially on a hot summer day? Actually this
picture doesn’t show all that much shade. Some places (much of it in fact) is quite shady.
Riding along thru a shaded trail like this is great indeed, but it is not without a downside. I am talking about dealing with insects … especially mosquitoes and deer flies. If you stop the mosquitoes find you quickly and are relentless. Riding along at least 6 mph or faster normally remedies the problem with these critters. Not so with deer flies as they can fly much faster. You either have to ride like the wind as they say or do what I do … keep your eyes open for them and make sure they don’t land and bite. Their bite hurts and continues to. Swelling often occurs in the bite area. They ain’t no fun at all.
And here is a video I made up last year in early Spring when no leaves were yet on the trees (consequently there was very little shade).
I hope you have at least one place you can ride to escape the hot sun and humidity. Be sure to keep hydrated regardless of where you ride. And …
X seam … what is it? I am sure many of you know the answer to this, but for those who don’t it is according to definition:
“A person’s X-seam is a measurement related to the person’s height. It is measured from a sitting position, and is the distance from the lower back to the soles of the feet. X-seam measurements are used for sizing (recumbent) bicycles and ultralight aircraft.” source – Wikipedia
Yeah, so what? What does this have to do with tadpole trikes? Well, it is like this. I am sure we have all seen bicyclists who ride diamond frame bikes with the seats down way too low where their legs do not extend to near straight as they pedal.
This is a major no no when cycling yet so many do it. Riding a tadpole trike is much the same as our legs should be nearly fully extended as we pedal. Knowing our X seam is the means a mechanic has in setting up our trike to “fit us”. Of course, it can also be accomplished by our simply sitting on the trike while the boom and pedals are adjusted in or out to accommodate us.
You might ask … why can’t the inseam measurement be used? That’s a sensible question. It sure seams like this would work. But wait … there is a problem. We are not all the same. Our bodies differ considerably from one another. We come in all different sizes and shapes. Two people may have the same inseam measurement but their bodies are not at all the same. One my be quite thin and the other might be quite “large”. One might be much larger in the butt compared to the other. You can readily see where this inseam measurement isn’t going to tell the story … won’t work. X seam comes to the rescue. Here is a video explaining how to determine the X seam.
Having the X seam adjustment set correctly is important. Having one’s legs nearly fully extended while pedaling provides maximum efficiency in propulsion as well as maximum benefit to your body while exercising.
Here is a video produced by Utah Trikes which shows and explains about moving the boom in and out and the resulting chain length/rear derailleur effect.
I have also made the adjustment according to the instructions below and found that it worked fine and came out correctly.
With the rider properly seated on the trike seat (with his or her back and butt all the way back against the seat) place
the rider’s heels on the fully extended pedal and move the boom out until the leg is straight. Tighten the boom
in this position. Now with the ball of the foot on the fully extended pedal the leg should be nearly straight
but not quite. There should be just a very slight bend left in the knee joint which proper.
I was just going thru some old email and discovered several of my original tadpolerider blog articles among them. So I decided to do what I could to “repost” them here on this blog. They had images and videos embedded in them which I had no way of copying and pasting so unfortunately they are missing which means the articles are lacking much from what they originally were. Never the less, the text and links are available. Perhaps someday if I have the time and ambition I will try to do what I can to add images and videos … although I might not be able to find all of them again. Anyway, HERE is a link to the page I have reposted them on. This is not all of the articles from my original tadpolerider blog, but it is all that I found I still had emails concerning.
Utah Trikes is one of the prominent trike dealers in the United States. They are well known. They sell and ship out trikes all over the nation. They are also rather unique in that they offer some pretty extensive customization. They even have some of their own innovations such as “quads” and “beach/baja trikes”. Their workmanship looks superb. Looking at their customizations one would think that the trike manufacturer’s factory built the trike instead of a trike dealer. Their shop looks impressive … a small factory.
please note that I have edited this article to correct some things I had wrong which were pointed out by PonderosaCycles in comments they made
PoderosaCycles of Italy has launched their flagship Poderosa HP8 urban recumbent trike. It most definitely is different looking. There is no denying that. It kind of reminds me of some of the Italian shoes I have seen.
I don’t know if the handlebars are adjustable or not, but in this picture it looks like the rider’s arms are stretched out full extension in order to reach and operate this trike. I would think that would be rather uncomfortable. Hopefully they do adjust as one’s arms are much more comfortable with the upper arm down at their side like is found on most tadpole trikes.
The overall width is reported to be 32.67 inches. The seat height is 18.5 inches making for good visibility but poor handling compared to a trike with a lower center of gravity. Some people prefer/need this feature as a low seat is too difficult for them to get in and out of.
The boom height is quite low in comparison to the seat height so when pedaling the legs are headed downward instead of out in front or even upward as most trikes are designed. These things might very well be attractive to some riders who for one reason or another have problems with the seat/boom position of most tadpole trikes.
Here are some of the specifications on this trike:
6.5 inches of ground clearance
24 inch wheels on the front and 28 inch wheel on the rear
frame is aircraft construction grade aluminium alloy, TIG-welded
BENGAL Mechanical Disc brakes on front and a V-brake on the rear
hardback aluminum seat
8 speed using an 8-speed Shimano Nexus rear hub.
comes with front and rear lights, mudguards
Black, White, Blue, Red, Orange
price is approximately $3047
Who knows? It may have people standing in line to buy it. But it sure is different! That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. 🙂
Folding trikes have been around for a number of years and most certainly there is a need for them as not everyone has a means of hauling a trike which doesn’t fold to a smaller size. I have to admit there are times I wish my trike folded as I would love to be able to haul it in our car instead of having to drive the pickup truck. As a weldor/fabricator I have my thoughts and concerns about folding trikes. Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea … the concept, but having the frame fold creates areas where there is a chance of problems developing. When it comes to trike frame design Catrike’s “space frame” most impresses me among all the trikes out there. It is all one piece making it super strong and practical. There is nothing to move allowing inefficiency, or to make noise from movement or to come loose or to wear. It is simply the best way of designing a trike frame hands down. When you start adding in anything which takes away from this problems follow. Hinged seat backs, removable seats, seats that adjust forward and backward (or any other direction), suspension, etc. all invite various problems to develop. One thing that almost always occurs is the generation of annoying embarrassing frustrating noises. And that is just on a non folding trike. Adding hinges in the frame so that it can fold can quite possibly bring on some of these things I just mentioned. That is the way I see it.
That being said, still the concept of a trike which folds is appealing. Until fairly recently folding trikes required that the seat be removed in order to fold it. Some even involved removing wheels. I don’t claim to be an expert on folding trikes (or even on trikes for that matter), but to the best of my knowledge and understanding there are at least 3 (well almost 3) manufacturers now offering models which fold without having to remove the seat. I am for that as it is quite practical. Again, in my opinion, having to remove seats and wheels is a real pain. The 3 trikes I speak of are: Evolve, Catrike Trail, and HP Velotechnik Gekko. Catrike announced that the Trail Folder was coming out this year, but I haven’t heard (read) anything more about it since it was first made known so I don’t know what is going on. The last thing I saw was that it is coming out sometime this Spring. Well, Spring is pretty well over and Summer is almost here (5 more days) … and still no Trail Folder has emerged. Here are images and videos of these 3 trikes:
Catrike has finally started selling these and they sell for $2750.
sorry, no videos of the Catrike Trail Folder available at the time of the writing of this article
HP VELOTECHNIK GEKKO
If I were looking into a folding trike to buy I don’t think I would consider any other trike but one of these … for the reason I stated … practical simplicity. We are talking about just a few seconds time to fold and unfold these trikes vs. several minutes with those where the seat has to be removed and put back on. Just removing and reinstalling the seat would be too challenging for some riders, especially if they have physical limitations making it difficult or impossible to get down and work under the trike to reinstall the seat. Some seats are not all that easy to reinstall compared to others. For anyone who is mechanically challenged this could be a serious matter. And dealing with removal and reinstalling wheels … forget it (I say). For me personally I think I would go with Catrike as their design just looks the best to me. The Evolve has its seat “on the ground” when folded and that concerns me. Both the Gekko and the Catrike Trail Folder have small wheels on the back of the seat frame so their seats don’t sit on the ground at all. Of course, the main purpose of these wheels is to allow it to be moved about without having to lift it. I like that idea … especially as I get older.
I mentioned the seat sitting on the ground being a concern. Another concern is the seat frame. Folding and unfolding a trike frame can result in messing up the physical appearance of the frame when it gets “abrasions” from the ground. I have seen it happen very quickly on a brand new folding trike. It is a shame to see this damage occur. To my way of thinking thought needs to be given to such things when the folding trike is designed and built as this should not happen. Of course, it is up to the individual person as to what measures they take or don’t take to help protect the trike during the folding and unfolding process. My point is that some designs are more difficult to deal with and prevent this from happening.
Anyway, here are some other models which fold. This may not be a complete list of such trikes but it will give you an idea of what is available. And to the best of my knowledge every one of these require that the seat be removed in order to fold it.
HP VELOTECHNIK SCORPION FS
Whenever complexity enters the design and construction the result will be an increase in cost. So if we want a folding trike we will pay extra for it. Of course, hauling a trike in a car that gets 40 plus mpg vs. hauling it in a truck that gets 15 plus mpg one could recoup the difference in cost rather quickly I would think … especially at today’s gas prices. Of course, if you can ride back and forth from home rather than haul your trike you can save a whole lot of money. And just think of all the extra exercise you’ll get!
Recently I had a minor accident while out riding. I knew better but I did a foolish thing. I was riding on one of our local trails and entering a boardwalk making a sharp 180 degree turn onto it. It had rained earlier and the boardwalk was wet. When it is wet it is very slippery. I am very well aware of this.
I usually take this curve fairly fast when it is dry, but knowing the boardwalk would be slippery I slowed up some. I just didn’t slow up enough and upon reaching a certain point I realized I was going too fast. I attempted to brake but only slid as I had absolutely no traction. The tires immediately locked up up sliding across the wet wood. I just went straight forward crashing into the side boards of the boardwalk. I hit it fairly hard. Fortunately I didn’t get injured any whatsoever. I can’t say the same for my trike however. But again, fortunately the damage was quite minor and easily repaired good as new. All that happened is my aluminum guard on my largest sprocket in the front got bent out in one spot.
The image below shows this boardwalk. The red arrow shows the path I took. The green arrow shows the path I was trying to take.
This sort of scenario can have a different result so we need to be aware of it. A few years ago my one friend I ride with did a very similar thing on a dry boardwalk trying to turn 90 degrees while going too fast. He also hit the sideboard. He broke his ankle and was laid up for a few months healing. Another time he experienced a crash when his left front tire climbed up the sideboard and flipped his trike over on its side. It more less threw him out onto the boardwalk. He hurt his back and shoulder that time. So what I am trying to say is we need to be careful riding our trikes as it doesn’t take much for things to get out of hand. Riding a tadpole trike is a lot of fun. Getting injured isn’t!
Here in Indiana we have a saying … “If you don’t like the weather just wait a short while and it will change.” Now I know that this saying is not native to only Indiana. In fact, it is very common many different places. When it comes to outdoor activities it can be interesting and challenging. I try to keep informed of the weather forecast and plan accordingly as far as my riding. And we know that the weather forecasters are most accurate and we can totally rely on their forecasts. I find it amazing that the local television stations each have their forecasts and they are all different from one another. And none of them are usually anywhere near as accurate as the Weather Channel or NOAA Weather. I am puzzled over how they come up with their forecasts which are so much different than these I have named and other similar ones. Other than the local weather radar I don’t pay much attention to the local forecasts. I usually use Weather.com on my computer.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like getting caught out in the rain while I am out riding. It is no fun at all! It is bad enough when you are close to home but if you are a distance away or on a long journey it can be quite miserable.
Rain is usually the most common weather element we deal with. Wind can be a bit challenging but certainly it is not nearly as bad for recumbent riders as it is for those riding a conventional upright (upwrong as I prefer to call them) bicycle. A moderate wind can feel quite good but certainly it can get to the point where it is noticeable even for a recumbent rider and can start tiring a person out if it lasts long enough.
High humidity can be challenging as can heat. Of course, the combination of both makes it worse yet. When it comes to heat and humidity I choose to avoid it if I can. Lately the high daily temperatures here where I live are in the low to mid 80s. That is already way warmer than I like it. I am limiting myself to riding on just one of our local trails which is mostly shaded and far more comfortable to ride than others which don’t offer nearly as much shading from the sun. However, even riding this particular trail involves some parts which have no shade. And getting back home from the trail involves riding mostly in the sun when the heat has already climbed considerably high if I stay out even until noonish. I know some like it when it gets into the 80s and 90s, I much prefer the 40s and 50s for cycling. I ride in a short sleeve shirt and shorts in those temperatures and it feels great to me.
Anyway, in the summer time when the heat and humidity enter into the picture I try to get my ride in early in the day and get back home to “beat the heat”.
Of course, if it gets too cool then there is another concern … snow instead of rain. As far as precipitation falling I would much rather deal with snow so long as it isn’t sticking to the ground and accumulating. Either one (snow or rain) can be challenging trying to see if we don’t have some means of keeping it out of our eyes.
Accumulating snow is no fun at all … especially not when riding a trike as they don’t roll very well thru snow. Even a bicycle has its limits. Just ask this guy if you can get him dug out.
We can make our plans based on the best information we have available. But sometimes things just don’t work out and we find ourselves dealing with nature. And we may find ourselves remaining out there longer than we anticipated being out … seeking shelter waiting for the weather to improve.
And hopefully the situation will improve quickly and not worsen. Indeed it can get downright nasty out there …
To the best of my knowledge there are 6 natural orifices on/in the human body where foreign objects and worse can gain access inside the body. The mouth is one of those. And so I say “it pays to keep your mouth shut”. While out riding the other morning I apparently took something in thru my mouth that didn’t agree with me. It caused me quite a lot of discomfort including a lot of nasty coughing. I don’t know for sure what it was but my guess is some “cotton” from cottonwood trees as it is that time of year and that nasty messy stuff is all over the place. Most everybody I know is in full agreement with me … we don’t like these messy trees. For about 2 to 3 weeks at this time of year it literally “snows” this white stuff and it is hard to avoid it while riding along. One can easily suck it up the nose, get it in the eyes, and, of course, in the mouth if the mouth is open. I am a mouth breather much of the time as I can’t breathe well thru my nose. This is a problem I have dealt with all my life.
I am looking forward to this “snow” ending as I don’t like dealing with it. Of course, cottonwood trees are not the only concern out there. Swallowing insects is not something I relish either … not even if they are accompanied by my favorite condiment. (It might help though!) It is no fun having them go up inside the nose either. In case you hadn’t noticed it is pretty hard to close off the nose and prevent this from happening. Most definitely having a bug go up inside your nose will get your attention.
I never asked him but I assume Steve Greene (Trike Asylum blog) dresses like this:
for a reason … and my guess is the reason is to keep out unwelcome guests. 🙂 Of course, maybe it is to keep the sun and wind off of his skin … or a combination of both. Steve, feel free to jump in here and straighten me out on this. Please correct me if I am wrong. (37 mph? I am impressed! Not bad for an old fart!)
Good for him if he can handle that garb, but I would be most miserable. I couldn’t breathe for starters and that is a pretty important matter. I need as much air movement on me as I can get. Even in 40 degree weather I could not stand to have clothing on me like that. So I guess I am stuck with dealing with bugs, cottonwood “cotton”, etc.
One of the guys I usually ride with is a “birder” (a person who has a considerable interest in birds and as a hobby studies them and observes them). A couple of years or so ago we were riding along and stopped so he could observe some birds. As I sat there waiting for him I happened to look upward just slightly. The next thing I knew I felt something in my mouth. Not knowing at that time what it was I spit it out and reached up with my hand to wipe my mouth. I brought my hand away from my mouth and noticed something white on my finger. If you haven’t figured it out yet I had just been the recipient of a gift from a bird flying over. Fortunately I had water with me and was able to rinse my mouth out quite well.
Right now you may be thinking that’s TMI (too much information). But hey, there has to be others out there with the same problem.
As is often the case I came across something while looking for something else. Here is a rather unique design for a trike transportation system.
It looks like it would do the job alright and have minimal effort involved other than having to lift and manhandle the trikes. The only way around that is ramps or a hoist of some sort … or maybe just get the wife to do it. 🙂 Oh, I am in trouble now!
Some folks are interested in tandem bikes and trikes. Anybody who has looked into buying what few tadpole tandem trikes are manufactured will probably come away with a case of “price sticker shock” as they are very expensive.
The least expensive tandem tadpole trike available I know of is from Utah Trikes. They offer a tandem trike which they have created themselves by modifying an existing KMX Tornado tadpole tirke … http://www.utahtrikes.com/PROD-11617621.html The price starts at about $4000. It features an independent pedaling system.
Probably the lowest cost tandem trikes factory manufactured comes from TerraTrike. They make both a tandem model (Tandem Pro) as well as a tandem kit option for their TerraTrike Rover trike … http://www.terratrike.com/tandem.php Their tandem trike sells for about $5000 ($5400 for the independant pedaling system).
One website states: “You have a choice of either a standard tandem drivetrain or an Independent Pedaling System, which allows either rider to coast while the other pedals. Unless you have a special need for an IPS we typically recommend getting a standard drivetrain, as it is much more efficient. Pedaling in sync is not nearly as difficult as new tandem riders imagine, especially on a trike.”
I don’t know as I would go along with that. I think having the ability to rest while your partner pedals is quite practical so long as there isn’t cheating going on. 🙂
The TerraTrike Rover tandem kit sells for about $2100 ($2400 for the independent pedaling system).
Trident sells their Chameleon for about $6000 … http://www.tridenttrikes.com/chameleon.htm It is an interesting concept … a regular single tadpole trike which makes into a tandem trike. Of course, you would have to have a place to store the add on section when not using it.
One solution is to build your own. Atomic Zombie to the rescue … as they offer plans you can purchase to use in accomplishing this task.
They feature disc brakes on the front wheels and a rear caliper brake. Of course, you could modify the build plans and have a disc brake on the rear also. Personally that would be my choice along with a separate caliper brake on the rear for a parking brake only.
From their website …
“If you have been looking for a fun and comfortable way for you and your riding partner to get out and enjoy the open road, then our DIY tandem trike plan is just what you need. Atomic Zombie plans are designed so that anyone with basic skills and tools can follow along and finish the build, keeping costs to a minimum. For only a fraction of the cost of a factory produced trike, you can build your own high quality recumbent tandem tadpole trike.”
One set of plans costs about $18. If you have the ability and means you could save yourself a ton of money making your own. Again, HERE is a link to their website with plans for a tandem tadpole trike.
Keep in mind that tandem trikes are huge so there is no practical way to haul them on/in most vehicles shy of breaking the trikes down. And that opens up a can of worms as most tandem trikes are not made to be practical in breaking them down and putting them back together. I can only say to you what I have read others saying about the matter as I don’t have any personal experience with any tandem trikes. Making a regular tadpole trike fold up for transport is challenging enough and only recently have a few manufacturers come out with designs that are relatively quick and easy to fold and unfold. I would think trying to accomplish this same feat with a tandem trike would be most difficult and impractical.
Here is a unique build … set up for three people. It is a quad (4 wheeler) however and not a trike. Notice that the middle and back seat are positioned off center outward in as are the pedals. This quad appears to be a modified KMX tadpole trike customized by Utah Trikes.
There is one other option in design which would most definitely make for easier communication between the two people. However, this trike design has one obvious problem and concern … overall width. This is another custom modification by Utah Trikes. They used a TerraTrike Rambler tadpole trike.
If you have the need/desire for a tandem tadpole trike these are some options.
Watch your language! Actually it would be more accurate to say watch your “terminology” but I thought the former would be more attention grabbing. 🙂
What I am getting at is the matter of speaking accurately and being understood correctly. I am all the time reading or sometimes hearing others refer to a tadpole trike as a bike (or bicycle). Obviously that is quite incorrect. A bike has two wheels. A tadpole trike has 3 wheels as does any trike/tricycle. Bi/by means two and Tri means 3. That hasn’t changed. I understand that there are times when it is probably easier to simply refer to a trike as a bike/bicycle. I am talking about when we are speaking to others “in passing” (quickly mentioning something about our mode of transportation and then departing them or at least moving on to another subject). Very few people know what a tadpole trike is if we were to tell them we rode or are riding one to get there. I agree that if they really aren’t interested and there isn’t time or reason to go into detail it is simpler to just say bike/bicycle and let it go at that.
There are other times, however, that it would be much better to not use bike/bicycle when referring to a tadpole trike. I have a simple solution I use. I have a picture of my trike set as wallpaper on my cell phone screen which I can quickly and easily show others so they know what I am talking about if I say tadpole trike. And usually I hear back from them when they look at the picture … “oh yeah, I have seen those before” and everything is cleared up quickly. This picture below is not very good quality but it is of the screen of my cell phone showing the picture I am speaking of:
So saying bike/bicycle instead of tadpole trike is one of those things many are all too guilty of. I am continually seeing trikes advertised for sale where the ad reads “trike bike” or “trike bicycle”. My question is … which is it? Is it a trike or is it a bike? It can’t be both. Again “bi” means two and “tri” means three. When I am talking about my truck I don’t say “car truck” or “truck car”. That’s ridiculous, yet people say trike bicycle all the time.
Another common error we make is saying “recumbent trike” and leaving it at that. The problem with this is that there are three kinds of recumbent trikes … tadpole, delta, and what I would classify as bordering between a delta trike and a “Florida trike”. Here is a picture of one:
I guess one could classify it as a delta trike but it most definitely is not in the same class as the ones like I am most familiar with. For those who don’t know what a delta trike is here is a picture of one:
So when we are talking about a tadpole trike it would be most accurate to say “recumbent tadpole trike”. This may all seem trivial to you but I think it is important to communicate clearly so others know what we are talking about. Besides it just might impress them that we know what we are talking about. 🙂