trike vs. bike climbing hill

We hear it all the time … “Recumbents Can’t Climb!”. I challenge that statement. If we are talking about climbing hills which are not very challenging than certainly a DF bike can climb up the hills faster. Most of the modern day DF road bikes are extremely light weight so they are extremely easy to pedal. They should be faster. And besides the weight difference they have much larger wheels/tires which means they have less rolling resistance. And only having two wheels instead of three also means less rolling resistance. I mean … they have everything going for them on hills that are not too challenging.

Of course, most of us know who wins going down them. It’s bye bye roadie.

trike climbing hill behind 2 DF bikes cropped

When it comes to more challenging hills and two wheels whether a standard DF bike or recumbent neither can compete with a tadpole trike. They will have to resort to dismounting and walking their bikes up (unless they are unusually gifted in their sense of balance at very low speed) while those of us on tadpole trikes who have proper gearing and are in good enough physical shape can prod along up the hills at a snail’s pace if need be. We can even stop and rest in comfort if needed and start back up again without having to put our feet down or get off.

trike climbing hill cropped

Yep, as long as we don’t lose traction with the rear drive wheel we can ride right up steep hills so slow one would have to “set stakes to see if we are moving”. You just can’t do that on a diamond frame or recumbent bike. But you gotta have the gearing to do it. On the newer 10 speed rear cassettes (30 speed trikes vs. the older 27 speed) they usually come with 34 tooth cogs. My 27 speed came with 32 tooth, but I changed it to 34. I am so glad I did. Truthfully I would like to have even lower gearing available for hill climbing.

trike climbing hill 2

A factor I have not yet touched on is leg muscle power and the difference between a DF bike and a true recumbent bike or trike. With a DF bike the rider can stand up using their body weight to help push down on the pedals. That is something that a recumbent rider can’t do. But wait … there is something a DF bike rider can’t do that a true recumbent rider can. We can take advantage of our strongest muscles … our legs. A diamond frame bike rider does not have the ability to use their leg muscles to the extent that we can. That’s because they don’t have anything behind them to use to push against. We have our seat backs and so we can use our leg muscles to push against the seat back and put far more force on the pedals. If a DF bike rider tries this all that will happen is they will raise their bodies up into the air off of the seat.

**true = where the boom height in relation to the seat height has the legs and feet out in front and not down in front

So yes, there is some truth to recumbents can’t climb but there is the other side of the coin as well. It is all a matter of perspective. I wouldn’t trade my tadpole trike for a box car full of the best DF bikes if it were a matter of what I ride.  RECUMBENTS CAN CLIMB!

coil of rope

BTW- If you are riding with others and struggling a bit going up a hill you can always ask them to throw you a rope. The problem with that is they might not have the other end attached to their trike … instead they might just throw you the entire rope. That is the way it would work with my riding buddies. 🙂 Hey, what are friends for?

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 (@gmail.com)


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