trike tip over

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.

leaning in turn reduced

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.

trike tip over red arrow

trike tip over red arrow 2

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.

skin abrasions from tip over

OUCH! That hurts just looking at it.

So be careful while riding. We all want to …


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.

Author: Steve Newbauer

I have a few current blogs (tadpolerider1, navysight, truthtoponder and stevesmixedbag) so I am keeping busy. I hope you the reader will find these blogs interesting and enjoy your time here. Feel free to email me at tadpolerider2 at gmail dot com (

9 thoughts on “TRIKE TIP OVER”

  1. Roy N Sabolevskysays:
    January 31, 2022 at 1:22 AM
    Re tip over:

    This is the secret no one talks about. The uninformed believe that it cannot happen. I know it can and is highly likely under hard breaking or a panic stop. Locking the front wheels at speed will throw the rider out of the trike . The recumbent rider cannot use body English the way an upright rider does. Hanging a motor on the boom lowers the speed when this can happen.

    We talk about flags, helmets ect. There should be more awareness of the tipping potential so new riders can make a calculated judgment instead of blissfully ridding into potential injuries.

    Thank you for your article.

  2. In both video’s it was most definitely fault of the rider, then the trike.. In the first video the rider goes into a sideways skid but not the fault of the trike, But the rider..! It is because most folks are looking for the reason on the ground that they miss the actions of the rider as she is going down the hill… They’re both out having fun, and videoing some trial shots as they are coming down a moderate hill, when the rider squeezes the left hand brake and not both or just the right break, more likely due to she is having fun.. If she had been a more skilled rider and I’m not saying this to be offensive but because I have been trained in my life in engineering to be totally observant and not focusing on just the one thing.. Here is the example we had been watching to see if it is an obstruction on the trail, ( and I don’t mean by the videographer shooting the ride for whatever their personal reason and not to watching for screwups…! ) So as I had been saying she squeezes her left hand break, and when she does this the weight of the bike and the rider go into a sideways slide, this all occurs because of that magical force that is what holds this planet together gravity, and gravity is as good for the planet in so many ways but when not respected can bring you back into focus and teach you that it is a force to be reckoned with.. ( Sorry I really was not trying to coin that phrase, but really does apply..) and when she sees that the trike is going faster into this slide she again squeezes the left hand break hoping to control the slide but by that time it is to late and the force of gravity takes hold and her rear wheel slips over the hill causing her to topel over… And you the viewer is looking for that rock…! Thank goodness no broken bones this time…!
    In this second video again it is not the fault of the trike, and not because his center of gravity is to high.. It is really a lot simpler in this video.. As you are watching as he is going along expecting to see some abstruction but it is just not there, it is the error of the rider and not the trike at fault or his center of that wonderful magical force of gravity, but yet gravity is in another way working in this window in which I almost missed my self ( Thats right I’m not perfect, but boy oh boy wouldn’t I like to be.. ) But back to the video at hand, this gentleman is going along thinking that his video my just whined up being, May be an Oscar…! Who knows…? But for some reason maybe for something a little more dramatic in his video, but for whatever reason this gentleman deveates from the main path as you will not doubt see now that I brought it up, and veers left to a much narrower path in which the right tire has no room to travel along on the ground and is momentarily riding through the air and not the ground…! Hence gravity takes over again, and his trike lurches forward and down and eventually flips, not the trikes fault he brought it there and not the trike acting on its own… thats right guys and gals, I know you would have figured it out yourself, but I am one of those pain in the backside sticklers for detail.. Sorry…! Also I don’t know about you but I think that the camera set up was not meant to be slung over the side attached to the trike.. But that needs to be addressed another day…! And maybe by someone more qualified than I…!

    1. I just want to make it clear that I am in no way implying that the trike is at fault in either of these tip overs. It usually is the fault of the rider. My point is that trikes will tip over fairly easily and we need to be aware of this. She was an inexperienced trike rider … first time out on one … and I did see that she applied the left front brake earlier on in the video. However, upon close exam of the video I could not see that she applied either of the brakes just before the roll over thus causing the tip over. It looked to me that her hands remained around the handlebar grips. I think the accident happened because she went into a slide and the rear tire “caught” suddenly and flipped the trike over … just like I said. And yes, going into a slide like she did is not the fault of the trike, but rather can only be blamed on the rider. Too much speed going into a curve on dirt … the rear wheel lost traction and slid out.

      1. I to had not intended to make you sound that you personally had blamed, the trike for that accident.. It was not my intention to make any one the heavy by my comments… It most certainly was an misfortunate accident, that I am just glad that the injuries were small, and maybe by discussing them, that by the comments made, we would be aiding someone else from making the same mistakes….! If I had made it sound that you blamed the trikes, I do emphatically apologize for anything that may have been misconstrued by my comments… I say this sincerely, and with total respect to you and this website…..

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