Now I ask ya … are you direct or indirect? Some of you I am sure know the answer to that question while others probably do not. Those ‘others’ probably don’t have a clue what I am talking about. We’ll remedy that pronto. I am talking about the type of steering your tadpole trike has. Direct steering means the “handlebars” come directly off of the kingpins (the axles the front end has to turn to steer). Here is a picture of an ICE VTX with direct steering. I have marked the various parts (green lines are the handlebars, red lines point to the kingpins, yellow lines point to the tie rod which connects both sides together so they work together). Direct steering is called direct steering because it is direct. The handlebars connect directly to the kingpins so that they turn directly in response to the input of the handlebars.


Indirect steering is altogether different. The handlebars pivot on an axis thru the frame under or just in front of the seat. A plate of some sort (they vary) is attached to the axis so that when the handlebars are turned the plate turns with it. Attached to the plate is linkage which goes over to one or both kingpins to turn them. Here is a picture of a TerraTrike Tour with indirect steering. I have identified the various parts in it as well. Of course, the blue line is the handlebars. The green line is the axis (the pivot point) of the handlebars.  The yellow lines are the tie rod linkage connecting the  plate on the handlebar axis to the kingpin axis.


Both systems work, of course, but they are not the same. Direct steering is more sensitive and “direct”. Indirect steering is less sensitive and not as direct. Some people like one better than the other. I myself prefer direct steering. Often direct steering trikes turn sharper than indirect steering. Some indirect steering trikes have a much larger turning radius. Again, I personally find this unacceptable. I want my trike to turn sharply when needed. I don’t like having to stop and back up … going back and forth trying to get turned around a sharp corner. That is ridiculous in my opinion … poor design engineering.

I have ridden various trikes with both types of steering input. As to the matter of indirect steering I will say this … not all trikes are created equal. That is to say I found some quite objectionable and others quite satisfactory. Some I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy as the saying goes.

As to preference on these two types of steering, some object to the direct steering saying it is too sensitive and “twitchy” … making it dangerous at higher speeds. I am sure I speak for many when I say it is all according to what you get used to. I have never had an issue with this in all the years I have been riding tadpole trikes. And I am sure many others would say the same thing. But, hey, I don’t much care what others prefer. If you like indirect steering that’s fine with me. If you prefer direct steering you’re my kinda guy (or gal). 😉 

There is an option that can be incorporated to make direct steering less sensitive. A stabilizer bar can be used. Here is one added to a KMX trike.

Hopefully by now we can all answer the question … are we direct or indirect? Whichever you are …


FREE GIFT awaits you!

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 (


  1. Is that an aftermarket direct steering setup on the VTX? I don’t recall direct steering as an option when I bought mine.

  2. Great topic Steve…! I’m a direct drive rider, and I like the control of the direct drive.. I feel it is less to go wrong when it most counts.. As well as being less to have to maintain in keep proper wheel alignment… But as Larry I too would like to some day experience how the other side rides, but only with indirect drive… And if Larry is monitoring this topic for it’s added comments, I hope that he will grace us with a few photos of his new ride when completed… I always like to see other new creations when designing is being done as the engineer part of me will always be curious to see how others envision the better product, or at least in which they are more comfortable with…
    Armadillo Zack

  3. Good article Steve. I am a indirect steering guy. I like it because the vibration seems to be less as well as the steering is not a sensitive. My TerraTrike Tour II handles nicely at higher speeds, such as going down hills. But I do think it is what you are use to. I am in the process of planning a trike build. At present, the plans I am patterning my trike after is direct drive. So unless I change my mind I will get to try direct drive.

    I enjoy your post keep them coming.

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