TIP OVER … HOW SAFE ARE 3 WHEELS?

Mr Bean has got quite a few laughs out of the little blue car that tips over so easily.

Every once in awhile the subject of tipping over on a tadpole trike comes up and there are always those who want to argue that a tadpole trike is quite stable and hard to tip over. I say hogwash! Tadpole trikes are very easy to tip over. I don’t understand why they think otherwise. If three wheeled vehicles are so safe why are not more of them built? Why don’t we see race cars and other 3 wheeled competition vehicles? So I ask ya … when is the last time you saw a 3 wheeled vehicle in NASCAR racing? You might find one in some sort of clown event being used to get a laugh or two. Have you ever watched motorcycle sidecar racing?  The passenger has to keep repositioning himself hanging way over the outside to keep the motorcycle from tipping over. The sidecar is specially designed and built for the passenger  to hang on.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Why did Honda drop the 3 wheeled ATV and replace it with a 4 wheeled ATV? And why were there so many lawsuits against Honda over deaths and injuries involving 3 wheeled ATVs? The reason is simple and obvious … THEY TIP OVER!  They are not stable. They are not safe.

Yes, most of these 3 wheeled vehicles have the single wheel in the front like a Delta trike which we know tips over easier than a tadpole design with the single wheel in the rear. The same is true of cars. A tadpole design in cars is more stable than a Delta design. Never the less, they will tip over. Here is a tadpole style car showing the inside front wheel lifting off of the ground going around a corner and it was not going very fast nor did it suddenly turn causing this. The driver did not suddenly shift his weight causing it. It simply lifted the wheel.

I speak from experience … lots of experience. I have tipped over on my trike numerous times. It has mainly been while riding on uneven surfaces both on road and off road riding. I have tipped over sitting still. So when someone tells me that they have never tipped over on their trike I just accept it believing they lived a charmed life or don’t do much of anything on their trikes which so readily brings on these tip overs.

I am not trying to say that riding a tadpole trike is unsafe. If I believed that I would not be riding one. It is most important that you know and understand that tadpole trikes can tip over and learn to know their limits so you don’t end up a victim and receive injuries.

I will say this … I would love to have these outriggers on my trike to prevent it from tipping over easily.

Hey, …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

FREE GIFT awaits you!

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ANALOGY OF A CRASH … SOMETHING TO BE AWARE OF

 

Although this story is about a velomobile we all need to remember that a velomobile is a tadpole trike with a shell around it. That means that what happened to this velomobile can happen to a tadpole trike. I have written about trike tip over before.

These videos point that out. This was an accident and accidents do happen. I have had several accidents on my tadpole trike. Fortunately I am still here to talk about it. BTW, rumble strips are very dangerous for small lightweight vehicles including bicycles and motorcycles. At the end of this video I will relate the story of another velomobile that encountered rumble strips.

Back in the summer of 2011 a group of velomobiles (mostly from Europe) rode from Portland, Oregon to Washington, D.C. This organized ride was called ROAM (Roll Over America). There were about 50 velomobiles involved. They came thru Fort Wayne, Indiana where I live and stayed overnight at a local city park at a campground. I went there to see them and meet some of them. I wrote up an article on my Tadpole Rider blog. While talking with some of the riders I learned of one of them that had their ride cut short way back in the western U.S. when going 70 mph downhill and flipped over suddenly when it hit rumble strips. These European riders knew nothing of rumble strips as they don’t have them in Europe they said. This was a very unfriendly introduction indeed. The velomobile involved in this wreck was hauled on a trailer the rest of the way.

The good thing about this was it was only the outside of the velomobile that got “road rash”. That body protected his body. If he had been on a regular tadpole trike he likely would have had an altogether different outcome. It could have been not only road rash but he could have slid right into or under the passing truck.

Yes, sliding around sideways and suddenly have the rear tire catch regaining some traction can easily result in a violent tip over. As the saying goes … Been There, Done That … and I am not anxious to repeat it. Try to be careful out there. We all want to be safe and …

ENJOY THE RIDE!

FREE GIFT awaits you!

TRIKE TIP OVER

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 …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

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.