It can happen all to easily and so fast you can’t do anything to stop it. We may think we are safe because we have 3 wheels under us instead of just 2, but it just ain’t so. A tadpole trike can and will tip over quite easily. There are various factors which come into play that affect the stability of a trike. Two main things come to mind … 1) the center of gravity, and 2) the front wheel width (the distance the front wheels are apart). As to center of gravity the lower the seat is the lower the center of gravity is. Trikes with high seats are not nearly as stable as a trike with a low seat. Also carrying weight up high on the trike such as in panniers and worse yet … on top of a rear rack (luggage carrier rack) raises the center of gravity considerably. The higher the center of gravity to more easily a trike will tip over. It is best to keep the weight down as close to the ground as you can when loading it up with whatever you are hauling on it. If you have to haul stuff up high on a trike you should try to place only lightweight stuff up there.
The distance between the front wheels affects stability big time. The wider apart the front wheels are the more stable a trike is … the harder it is to tip it over. A narrow track trike will tip over fairly easy. Leaning into a sharp turn especially at speed helps reduce the likelihood of a tip over.
Another factor is weight distribution. A trike that has a seat which adjusts forwards and backwards on the frame can be a problem as moving the riders weight forward and back along the frame affects handling.
Here is a video showing a tip over. This rider was very fortunate as this could have resulted in disaster.
I have stopped this video numerous times trying to analyze what happened. It is rather difficult to see it as it is dark, but I am pretty sure that as the trike went into a sideways skid the rear wheel “caught” on a small rock or uneven ground and caused the tip over. Here are a couple of pictures in which I have placed red arrows pointing to the place where the rear tire slides around and catches on something. Where I have drawn the blue line also looks to be an unevenness in the surface of the dirt. This by itself could have been the cause of the tip over. It doesn’t take much to cause a tire to “catch” and tip the trike over.
Even though I can not pin point the exact cause of this tip over you have to admit that it happened quickly and once it started there was really nothing more she could have done to prevent it. She was doing the right thing as far as steering with the skid to control it. It was just a bad place for the skid to be occurring.
Here is another video showing a tip over taking place. Again, it happens so quickly.
I too have experienced tipping over more than once. One time while picking up trash along a local trail I was sitting still along an embankment I was reaching over toward the embankment to pick up some trash when my trike started to tip over. I tried to reach down to the ground with my hand to stop it, but I couldn’t and I not only tipped over, but I rolled on over partially down the embankment with my trike following after me and right on top of me pinning me down. It was a bit challenging to get out from under my trike and get myself back up to the top of the level ground up above. It happened right along the side of a busy road.I didn’t get hurt, but I sure was embarrassed. Fortunately my injuries have been few and minor. Obviously one can get seriously injured or even killed. Road rashes are quite common and they, of course, are painful.
OUCH! That hurts just looking at it.
So be careful while riding. We all want to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A FREE GIFT awaits you!
HERE is an article about a velomobile tipping over. It is interesting and informative as it analyzes the tip over explaining what happened. It applies to a regular tadpole trike as well.