What determines speed capability … how fast you can go? Well, certainly there are various factors to take into consideration. The most obvious factor I would think is the rider … what they are capable of physically.
Another factor is weight … both the weight of the machine one is riding as well as the rider’s weight and any extra weight one might carry along.
Yet another factor is gearing. For higher speeds one needs taller gearing as a rider can only pedal so fast.
Of course, there are other things such as air resistance (even with zero wind), head wind, and terrain (level vs. uphill, paved vs. unpaved, etc.). These are all contributing and limiting factors. But lets say that one is riding on level ground which is smoothly paved and there is no wind whatsoever … meaning that there are no factors in that last group which effect the outcome of the speed obtained.
What else effects the speed? What has been left out? What about the tires? Do they make a difference? Of course they do! They can make a considerable difference. As is the case with many things tires are a science in and of themselves. The engineering and design of tires matters a great deal if one is out to get the most speed possible. TESTING has been done to determine which tires perform best. This testing was conducted with bicycle tires such as those which are used on a diamond frame road bike. That being said, understand that when we are talking about tadpole trikes the exact same tire isn’t likely available for our recumbent trikes. Very few tires listed in the TEST RESULTS are tires we can run on our trikes. In fact, I think there is only one although I am not certain about that. That being said, much of the test results doesn’t apply. And that being said, still we can glean some useful facts and understanding about this subject. It is about “where the rubber meets the road”. 🙂 The two main things I noted in this are: 1) air resistance (mainly the rider’s body going thru the air) is the number one factor followed by 2) the rolling resistance of the tire. And they report that “narrower is not necessarily faster”.
As to air resistance we have a definite edge over the “roadie” and the more “recumbent” (reclined) we are the more advantage we have as air flows over us much more so and easier than the roadie. So that leaves rolling resistance to deal with. This is something which has been discussed a fair amount in the past. Tires do vary in the realm of their rolling resistance.
Can recumbent tires compete with those tires listed for the road bikes when it comes to rolling resistance? I can’t answer that, but my guess is probably not … not when we are talking about the really high scoring tires. Most of us on tadpole trikes are running Schwalbe tires. In this test the only Schwalbe tire listed which is available for our trikes is the Durano and it scored dead last in the test results.
I would further guess that somewhere testing has been done and the results are available for tires used on recumbent bikes and trikes. Perhaps if one could find such results they could be compared and we could know where we stand as far as the tires we have to select from for our trikes. I think it is a no brainer when it comes to which machine is faster on a level smooth surface with no wind … the road bike will easily win over a tadpole trike. And why shouldn’t it? It has nearly everything going for it … much less weight and less rolling resistance with only two wheels. A bicycle (not the rider’s body) with two wheels in line (one behind the other) has less air resistance than a trike with three wheels … none of which are in line with the other. Each wheel has it’s own rolling resistance added to the equation so 3 wheels have more rolling resistance than two.
Those who are interested in obtaining the fastest speed they can out of their trike seriously look at tire choices, ways to reduce the weight, etc. And then there are those like myself who could care less about all this. We are just out to enjoy the ride and hopefully …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’