KICKING THE TIRES (buying a used trike)

am sure many of us who are old enough remember when it was somewhat common when looking at a used car to kick the tires … or was it? You can read about it HERE. I am not writing about buying a used car but rather a used trike. And kicking the tires certainly is not part of the process. I use the term only to imply that there are certain things one should look at and look for to ensure the trike is a good and safe purchase worthy of your money.

Some things are obvious while others are not. Many people may not even think to check out things which are quite important. Depending upon the age of the trike and the use it has had there are some things one would and should expect to find. The condition of the tires is one such thing. Tires can be replaced easily enough, but if the tires are worn out the price of the trike should reflect that as the new owner will have to invest money for tires. The same is true of several other things and that is why it is important to take a close look. If a used trike needs a lot of maintenance and parts the asking price should reflect this and allow for it. So here is a list of some of the things to look for/at:

TIRES – Speaking of tires in addition to observing how much tread is left on them one should check for cuts, bulges,  and the condition of the rubber as far as weather checking/dry rotting.

WHEELS – The wheels should be in good condition running true as they are spun around. The spokes should be fairly snug and evenly adjusted. They should all the there (none missing) without any sign of bends in them. Look for damage to the rims such as flat spots where the wheel was ran into curbs, pot holes, etc. and was damaged as a result.

BRAKES – Most trikes have disc brakes. Check to be sure they work properly and are adjusted so that they grip well and don’t allow the trike to roll when applied. Look down into the caliper to see how much wear is on the brake pads. If they are badly worn then this will be more expense the new owner will incur. You can figure about $40 for new pads to replace them on  both wheels. The brake caliper is rather expensive if it has to be replaced. The Avid BB7 caliper can be found online from about $60 to over $100 each.

CHAIN – A trike requires about 11 feet +/- of chain. That is about 2.5  to 3 times as much as a bicycle. The chain wears out so one should check for wear. The chain should be checked on how it “fits” on the sprockets. It should be tight and not wallow around or able to be lifted up off of the sprockets much when pulling on the chain away from the sprocket. The chain should be clean and lubricated … not dry and rusty. All the links should be free (move without binding) as the chain revolves around the sprockets. If the chain shows neglect and has these problems then I would say that the current owner has not taken care of the trike and it might be best to look for another one. Of course, depending upon what else is going on the trike might still be ok and worthwhile just so long as the price is right.

SPROCKETS – The sprockets should be in good condition without noticeable wear. If they are worn replacing them along with the chain will be costly, especially if you have to pay labor in addition to parts for a mechanic to do it.

CABLES – The cables should all look good and work well. Braking and shifting should be smooth and move readily and freely. There should not be any freezing or sluggishness. There should not be any sign of fraying going on. Of course, a part of this is the SHIFTERS.

FENDERS – If the trike has fenders they should be in good shape and solidly mounted. If not, replacing fenders can be expensive, especially if you buy those provided by the manufacturer of the trike.

BOOM – Sometimes the boom is shortened to accommodate shorter riders. If it has been shortened and you are a tall person this is something to be aware of as a shortened boom may no longer be long enough to extend out properly to accommodate you. If this is the case a new boom will be required.

HEADSETS – The headsets can be out of adjustment or parts worn and in need of replacement. Again, this can be a bit expensive, especially if it is necessary to pay labor charges for a mechanic to do it.

STEERING LINKAGE – The steering linkage should be in good shape with no sign of wear and looseness. The toe in should be checked, especially if you buy the trike. Improper toe in settings will effect handling and tire wear.

AXLES – The axles should be in good shape without wear and sloppiness.

FRAME – The frame just may be the most important part of the trike and it is very important to check it over thoroughly including the bottom side. Look for any signs of cracks or broken welds. Sometimes the broken welds can be difficult to spot if they are in their early stage. You have to know what you are looking for to spot problems. Here is a picture of a broken weld in it’s early stage.

cracked frame (weld) 001

Most used trikes being sold are in pretty good shape and have many more miles of service left to offer a new owner. I would just caution everyone by reminding them of the saying … “buyer beware”. We must look out for our own interests. If a used trike needs money invested in it for these things I write of then the seller should be reasonable and adjust the price accordingly. If they are not willing to do this then I would not deal with them. As they say, there are other fish in the sea.. Whatever you buy here is hoping that you can …



for a very long time.

FREE GIFT awaits you!


Tadpole trikes are ever increasing in popularity as the word gets out about them being so comfortable to ride as well as fun to ride. And safe to ride must be tossed in there as well. They are not inexpensive to purchase however. Many people choose to go the route of buying a used one as they are a less expensive route to go and most of the trikes are in very good condition. I started riding a tadpole trike back in November of 2007. At that time I rarely saw any used tadpole trikes for sale. As the popularity has grown now I see quite a few available. There are several different resources available to check for used trikes. Some owners who are selling their trikes are only wanting a buyer who will come to them to make the purchase while other owners are willing to ship the trike.

A word of caution here for the seller — make sure you have the money in hand and it is good money before allowing the trike to leave your presence. By “good money” I am talking about the fact that even a cashier’s or certified check can’t be trusted these days as they are often counterfeited and used to swindle unsuspecting sellers out of their item(s). The seller assumes that since they were paid with a cashier’s or certified check it is safe and they are guaranteed their money so the allow the item(s) they are selling to be taken away or shipped out only to find out days later that the check they were given is no good. This happens a lot on dealings on Craigslist. It is best to play it safe and wait however long it takes to find out if the check was good or not. Craigslist offers some saftey tips on their website. And there are other similar resources offering advice. HERE is one of them.

I have a page created on this blog for USED TRIKES 4 SALE which lists several resources. I am not going to repeat them here. With the help of the internet many people are listing their trikes online so it is an excellent place to look. Of course, the internet is vast so there are numerous resources online. Some are better than others. Some trikes are priced quite low while others are priced rather high. Some times buyers have got great deals making most of us quite jealous. 🙂

We all have our own financial limitations and capabilities so not everybody can afford the higher quality trikes. We just have to do the best we can.  I will say this … buy the best trike you can afford. Buying certain lower cost trikes isn’t usually a very good idea. Most people who buy “entry level” trikes soon regret it and are not satisfied with what they bought. Even if the trike itself satisfies them as far as its quality the most common disappointment is lack of sufficient gearing. If you buy a trike and then start trying to change it upgrading such things as the gearing it gets expensive in a hurry and the bargain is no longer such an attractive deal. You can invest a lot of additional money into such a trike and in the end you still have an entry level trike which lacks the quality of some of the others they could have been bought initially … and probably for less than the money to do the upgrade.

There is an old adage … “BUYER BEWARE“.  Most people selling their trikes are no doubt pretty honest. However, there are no doubt some who are trying to sell one and not disclosing something significant … like perhaps a damaged frame such as a hairline crack (in or near a weld usually) or a misaligned (bent) frame due to some sort of accident which occurred in the past. It is important that the wheels are in good condition as they are expensive to replace. The same is true of most of the components such as shifters, derailleurs, brakes and the like.

Some sellers are offering trikes with some to many accessories included. Keep in mind that if you have to add these on to the trike you buy you are talking quite a bit of additional money. So if you are fortunate to find a trike that comes with such accessories at a decent price you are ahead of the game.

As with most things common sense and wisdom go hand in hand. You can find a tadpole trike out there. They are available. I wish you well and many fun safe miles on whatever you end up with.


FREE GIFT awaits you!