Trikers, we've found, are a vocal group more than willing to share an opinion or observation. Happily for us, many of them have taken the time to type their observations of our products. These reviews cover how TerraTrikes line up against one another and against other trikes on the market. We believe an educated decision is always the best one, and encourage you to click each button below to get thorough, straight-forward reviews of our products. We hope it will help you find the perfect TerraTrike for your needs.
By Bryan J. Ball
Managing Editor - BentriderOnline.com
Posted on April 10, 2010
The Rover has been the target of a very aggressive and unique marketing campaign for the last month. TerraTrike’s numerous teaser pics and videos tossed around words like “Revolutionary” and “Game Changing”. Top TerraTrike dealers and at least one media member were even flown out to the company’s Grand Rapids, Michigan headquarters for a sneak peak of the new trike. Guesses on our message board ranged from a full suspension titanium tadpole to a cheap sub $500 delta. The actual trike is somewhere in between but definitely the lower end guesses were closer to the truth. Does the Rover live up to the hype? Read on to find out.
The Rover is definitely a pretty unique design. In its cheapest form the trike only costs $799 making it the cheapest high quality tadpole trike I’ve ever ridden. It’s 18” seat height is very high for a tadpole and makes it exceedingly easy to get in and out of. Its high-tensile steel frame uses a combination of square and round tubing that not only keeps the cost down but makes it more adjustable for leg length than any other tadpole on the market. It even fits children relatively easily. It also easily breaks down into a few small pieces that will fit into almost any trunk. It’s the first tadpole I’ve seen that uses no chain idlers at all. It has a 400 pound weight limit. Revolutionary? I don’t know but it definitely is poised to be a very high volume seller.
I can attest that the Rover does look a lot better in person than in pics and that the clean but industrial look does grow on you. I’ve also watched a few members of the Rover’s target audience try out everything that TerraTrike has to offer and walk away with two of these trikes. They never mentioned the looks. But… “Pretty” is probably a word that will not be tossed about much when describing the Rover. Much of this is due to the square main tube.
Square tubing usually equals cheap and to a point this is true of the Rover. Square tubing is cheaper to buy and easier to build with. Therefore it does play a part in the Rover’s low MSRP. However, I have to hand it to TerraTrike for making the most of the material’s attributes. The seat slides over a long area with a very simple seat mount that wouldn’t work as well on a round tube. It also makes taking the trike apart and putting it back together a breeze. And that big square tube does lend itself to all sorts of aftermarket shenanigans. Mounting accessories should be a breeze for anyone with half an ounce of ingenuity. And the trike’s modular design also means that this almost certainly not the last development we’ll see of this basic frame design from TerraTrike.
The Rover comes in two versions. The $799 three speed model uses the venerable, old-as-time-itself Sturmey Archer 3-Speed hub. The $999 eight speed uses the much newer Sturmey Archer 8-Speed. Both of these hubs are about as reliable as taxes. Both models come with Zoom disc brakes and a 32 tooth crankset.
As I stated earlier, the Rover is very easy to get in and out of. If you can get in and out of your average sofa, you can manage this trike. The bottom bracket is a few inches lower than the seat so numb feet and toes should not be a problem at all either. The Rover’s seat frame is the same as the one that comes on TerraTrikes other budget models but uses a different canvas seat cover. It’s not as breathable as the others in the line-up but upgrading is pretty inexpensive if that bothers you. Other than that, it’s just as comfortable as the seat on any other TerraTrike. The handlebars are also at a very comfortable height. Comfort and ease of use were obviously at the top of the Rover’s design priority list.
When you first stomp on the pedals of a Rover, the first thing you notice is… nothing. With no idlers at all, this is by far the quietest tadpole I’ve ever ridden. There’s a quiet whir from the chaintubes but even that is much quieter than usual since the lines are so straight. There’s also not much rattle from the chain or anything else when you hit a bump.
The Rover feels pretty stiff when pedaling hard although there is some flex from the seat mount. At 42 lbs, the Rover is hardly a featherweight and it’s not meant to be a performance machine. It’s definitely not but it did feel a bit quicker than I expected at first glance. The Rover is aptly described as “efficient” rather than “quick”.
With an 18” seat height this trike is also not going to set any records in the slalom but I have to say that I was quite impressed with the handling. Hardish cornering yields a bit of uneasiness but it definitely did not feel at all “tippy”. Extremely hard braking did lift the rear wheel but the adjustability of the trike does let you keep your weight relatively centered to keep this to a minimum. There was virtually no brake or pedal steer and the direct steering was smooth and predictable. In short, there is nothing that should surprise or frighten a first time rider one bit. The turning circle is also the tightest I’ve seen in a tadpole trike. I think that in day-to-day practice this stat is a bit overrated but the Rover can turn on a dime when called upon to do so.
In the past, I’ve not been much a fan of trikes with “only” eight or nine gears. I lived in the mountains. I didn’t know any better. Sales figures of recumbents and uprights alike indicate that hub gears are “the in thing”. Now that I live in a city with bike paths and not as many mountains, I find myself in my middle chainring 90% of the time and am much less down on these simpler drivetrains. I rode the 8-speed for this review and found the 23-72” gear range to be just about pitch perfect for this type of trike. It can get up most hills just fine and it was never meant to be a speed demon. It cruises along at 17 or so miles per hour quite comfortably and that will be just fine thanks. And especially for the first time trikers the Rover is aimed at, it’s pretty hard to argue with the simplicity and reliability of an internally geared hub.
And yes… It comes apart. It’s by no means a true folder but it can be broken down for transport and can fit into the trunk of almost any car. If you can do… well… anything around the house you can manage to break down a Rover.
All of TerraTrike’s stock accessories fit the Rover so it can be kitted out to fit most needs. It also ships with an eight-color sticker kit to personalize it however you see fit.
So there you have it… This is what we’ve all been waiting for. Is it a trike aimed at our core audience of enthusiasts? Not really but I could definitely see owning one as a commuter/utility trike. (It is very visible in traffic for a tadpole and well suited for city riding) Will it bring new masses to the market? I think so. It’s comfortable, easy to get in and out of, simple to operate, handles well, is well made, comes from a company with outstanding customer service and is relatively inexpensive. That’s a pretty good formula for something that is definitely, “very significant” if not outright “revolutionary”.
Highs – Good handling, Very quiet, Exceedingly useable
Lows – Looks may have to grow on you
TerraTrike launches new Rover tadpole
By Travis Prebble
Posted on April 11, 2010
After two teaser videos and a healthy dose of hyperbole, TerraTrike has launched its new Rover recumbent tadpole trike.
"The Rover is bringing triking to the masses!" states the product page at TerraTrike.
According to that page, the primary feature of the new Rover is its increased seat height, which is listed as "a full 4 inches taller than most other tadpole trikes on the market". The benefits mentioned are ease of ingress/egress and traffic visibility. The official spec sheet lists the seat height at 18.5 inches.
The new Rover also sports a quick seat adjustment clamp that expedites the sizing process within a certain range of x-seams while also allowing adjustment in the boom to reach the extremes. Or, as TerraTrike puts it, "go from your young child to Shaq sized in just minutes."
Transportation concerns have been met by a new segmented design that allows the Rover to be broken down into five pieces. According to TerraTrike, the assembly process should require no more than five minutes.
Other improvements include a smaller turning radius and a clean chain run (no idlers). Like the Path 3, the Rover sports internal hub gearing.
While full specifications were not available on the site at press time, the product page did mention the Rover is fitted with disc brakes, the 3 speed internal hub, uses a high tensile steel frame, and supports riders up to 400 pounds.
By all measures, it appears that TerraTrike has created a trike squarely designed to fulfill the needs of the casual, possibly new to recumbents, rider. The wide range of rider sizes (both height and weight) supported means that a market previously served by trikes such as the Sidewinder and Sun EZ-3 USX HD will now have a much lower priced alternative. It remains to be seen how the new seat height compares to the likes of the Cycle Genius Phoenix or the HP Velotechnik HS seat, but it is safe to say that the price difference will have many people looking favorably at the Rover.
2010 TRIKE OF THE YEAR
The TerraTrike Rover isn’t the prettiest trike that came out in 2010. It’s also not the most technologically advanced. However, the simple fact that it is a truly good trike available at a price point that was complete unheard of a year ago, makes it an easy choice for Trike of the Year. The Rover handles well, is easy to get on and off of, comes apart for easy transport and is highly customizable… all for a starting price of just $799. TerraTrike reports that a vast majority of Rovers are being sold to first time recumbent riders. And they’ve sold A LOT of them. Will this be a trike we look back at and call a “game changer”? I don’t know… But I do know that it is very worthy of this award.
TerraTrike Rover Tandem Review
By Greg Tanner - DisabilityReports.org
The TerraTrike Rover is a great option for people with slight to moderate disabilities or who might require some level of assistance. The standard single Rover offers an accessory feature which transforms it into a tandem unit. The feature can be removed and turned back into a single unit when the tandem feature is no longer desired. (It is advisable to work with an authorized dealer for both adding and removing of this feature to ensure proper fitting of the components and rider seating).
It features a higher seating option than their other recumbent models which provides better visibility and is great for riders who find it difficult lowering into position (assisted or through individual effort).
We reviewed the Rover Tandem 8‐Speed with the IPS (independent pedaling system). This option is a great addition for riding pairs in which the back seat rider aka "the stoker" may not be able to keep speed with the captain. It allows the stoker to rest where needed and moderate their level of exertion so as not to over‐due it. Our reviewers loved the solid and secure feel of the steel frame and the remarkably tight turning radius. The 8‐Speed system is straightforward and easy to use for both newer riders, as well as, more experienced riders. This is the perfect choice for easy cruising around town on relatively flat terrain. The seating space and angle are easy to adjust for maximum comfort and efficiency. This is one of the most affordable Tandems on the market, with a clean look, easy operation, and fun to ride!! If someone you know has lost the ability to safely ride an upright traditional bike this could just be the solution to get back to the basics of enjoying the "freedom to ride".
We highly recommend working with a local dealer who specializes in recumbent bikes, specifically TerraTrike's. We found our local dealer "Laid Back Cycles" very adept at handling special needs adaptations i.e...seat harnessing systems, single hand dual braking options, peddle options to support riders who don't have the same range of motion in both legs...etc.
For the more hard core tandem riders looking for a tandem ride that is a bit easier to transport, a little lighter, a more robust breaking system, and offers more speeds to better manage a varied terrain you might want to check out our review of the TerraTrike Tandem Pro.
Overall we found the TerraTrike Rover Tandem to be a wonderful choice for a low cost, well designed, fun ride for people with slight to moderate disabilities. Your doctor or physical therapist may prescribe riding as part of your ROM (Range of Motion) exercise program, and as a result it could qualify as a medical tax write off (consult your tax professional).
TerraTrike Rover Tandem
By Bryan J. Ball
Managing Editor - BentriderOnline.com
Posted on September 8, 2011
TerraTrikes entry-level Rover has been an unmitigated success. It’s sold in huge numbers and has brought a lot of new riders into the recumbent trike segment. It’s also proven to be a very adaptable design that has spawned several rather major modifications. The most major of these is TerraTrike’s $899 tandem attachement. I got a chance to try one of these out with my son recently. We didn’t ride it long enough for a full on review, but I thought I’d share what we learned here.
At first glance, the Rover tandem looks like… well… a Rover tandem. The tandem kit retains the same square tube, industrial look of the single. I don’t think that anyone will ever call it pretty but it works. I didn’t have a scale handy but when we moved the Tandem around I found that it didn’t feel nearly as heavy as I expected it to be.
My stoker was my 12 year old son. He’s about 5’2” and around 90 pounds. I’m 5’11” and about 200 lbs. We both fit on the Rover Tandem just fine with plenty of room for adjustment either way.
Once we got suited up and rolling, my son and I both quickly realized that this is not a very fast trike. That said, I can honestly say that I’ve never really been on a tandem trike that I would qualify as “fast”. On the upside, we did notice that the handling was very good and the turning circle is phenomenally tight. The Rover Tandem can easily do a u-turn in spaces tighter than most single trikes can.
The stock 8-speed drivetrain is fine on a single Rover but you’ll be looking for a lot more gears if you plan on horsing a heavy tandem up and down any real hills. That said, Parker and I did get the Rover Tandem up to the top of a rather large one. Going back down was the highlight of our Rover Tandem test ride.
The GPS read a max speed of 42.1 mph. I can say that the Rover Tandem handled just fine at that speed. It wasn’t as rock solid as a Greenspeed GTT but it was more than adequate. However, when it came time to stop at the bottom one glaring fault became apparent. The Rover’s stock brakes are simply not up to this sort of abuse. They work great on the single but they barely got the Rover stopped in time. We survived but larger rotors would be a very good choice for this trike.
And of course the biggest selling point of the Rover Tandem other than its price is that it can be added to an existing Rover and that same trike can be converted back into a single. This isn’t a quick process but it can easily be done in an afternoon.
Despite the flaws, it’s pretty hard not to give the Rover Tandem a thumbs up with a few caveats. If you’re looking for a cheaper tandem to ride on flatter bike paths on a Sunday afternoon, it’s impossible not to recommend the Rover Tandem. Ditto if you have a special needs rider in mind. The Rover’s square tubing makes it very easy to modify for that purpose. Just know that if you have any serious riding in mind, you’ll want to upgrade the drivetrain and brakes. Which is fine really… You can sink a grand into upgrades and still have a tandem trike that costs $1600 less than the next least expensive option. And by the way… That $4600 tandem is also a TerraTrike.
The Terra Trike Rambler – to Buy, or not to Buy? That is the Question!
By Larry Varney
Co-Editor - BentriderOnline.com
Posted on September 21, 2011
I have not seen a more eagerly anticipated trike – posters on our forum greeted the anouncement of its impending release with cheers, and each subsequent delay with jeers. Finally, it is released. Some early adopters have already received the trike, but many more are pestering dealers with questions about details, how it differs from existing TT models, and how long before there are more in stock for test rides and possible purchase. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one for a review. Well, make that two! And my conclusions? Was it worth the wait? Should you consider the Rambler? The answer is: Yes! And No! Turn the page for more.
The first thing you will notice when perusing the Terra Trike website is that there are several models of the Rambler. Four, to be exact. I was able to ride and compare the Internal 8 Speed and the Base 24 Speed. Both have features in common, as well as some significant differences – and the latter mostly involves, as you might expect, the gearing.
The Ramblers share the basics:
- Wheelbase Length: 38.5 inches
- Overall Length (medium): 67.5″
- Track Width: 30″
- Overall Width: 33″
- Bottom Bracket Height: 12.25″
- Seat Height: 15″
- Total Weight: 37 lb.
- Combined Load Limit: 300 lb.
- Turning Circle: 10′ diameter
The Internal 8 Speed has an 8 speed hub, with a gear-inch range of 24 – 80, while the Base 24 Speed, with its 8 cogs and 3 chainrings, boasts a range of 18 – 90. The former has the Zoom mechanical disc brakes, while the latter boasts Bengal mechanical discs. Can you tell the difference between these two brakes? I couldn’t! But the gearing is another story, which leads to my first recommendation.
If you ride in primarily flat areas, and seldom push the limits when it comes to top speed, then the 8 speed may be the Rambler for you. However, if you are surrounded by significant hills, like I am, then you should skip that model and take a closer look at the 24 speed. In car racing, it is often said there is no substitute for cubic inches. In riding bikes up hills, the same can be said for gears. The more, the better, and the lower the granny, the better you will like it.
There is one other factor to consider: weather and riding habits. If you regularly ride in conditions that most sane people would avoid, if you commute rain or shine, summer and winter, then the internally-geared hub deserves consideration. No more worries about gunk getting into your derailleurs – a better foul-weather commuter would be difficult to find.
OK, let’s take a ride on these trikes. As you might expect, they both handle the same. One thing that surprised me: I expected them to feel just like their sibling, the Rover. Close, yes, but the Rambler handles better, perhaps due to it’s lower weight, as well as some other relatively small differences, that seem to add up to a noticeable difference.
The turning circle is a very sharp 10 feet. It’s sharp enough, that if you are moving along quickly and abruptly turn sharply, you might just get the trike up on 2 wheels. This is to be expected, really, with such a turning circle, combined with a relatively high seating position. I would suggest that all riders familiarize themselves with just what combination of speed and turn will get that wheel up. Start slowly, then gradually increase the speed and the turn, to get used to just what combination will get you bicycling, and how to react when/if that happens.
One thing I have noticed about trike riders who buy models with variable recline angles of the seat (50 – 65 degrees here) is that many start out in the most upright position, and then later you’ll see that they have reclined to what is usually more comfortable, the most recline. As you might have noticed, even the most extreme is really not all that much. Many offerings from other companies exhibit a much more serious recline, often in the mid-20′s or even less.
So what does that mean to you? Not much, really. The seats are comfortable, the most laid-back position is beneficial, getting more weight onto your back and off your butt, but there is one other result: less aerodynamic benefit. At lower speeds, such as mid-teens and below, this is not a big deal. Higher than that, into the 20 mph range and above, then it does play a bigger part. The bottom line is that if you want to cruise with the big dogs at high speed, you are going to be working harder because of that rather tame recline.
There’s not much you can do to improve the aero of this trike (not helped by the wide positioning of the hands on the grips, either) – but there is something you can do to make any of the Ramblers go faster: change those tires! The standard tires are CST 20×1.75, 40 psi. Yes, 40 pounds per squre inch! At lower speeds, this is nothing to worry about. In fact, the lower pressures do make for a bit more comfy ride. But at higher speeds, you are going to be working harder, simply because there is more rolling resistance with those tires. Terra Trike offers an upgrade to Schwalbe Marathons. Their 100 psi results in a performance improvement that is noticeable, and well worth the $39.95 cost.
It’s bottom line time: in keeping with the title of this review, should you buy a Rambler? Perhaps. If you have some difficulty in dealing with getting on and off the relatively low seat height of many trikes, then yes, put the Rambler on your short list of trikes to try. If you’re a real hammer head, liking nothing better than showing roadies the back of your jersey, combination of relatively low top gears and modest seat recline angles, then perhaps the Rambler is not for you. But, if you’re quite happy with speeds a little less extreme, if you’re more of a tourist than a racer, then by all means consider the Rambler.
One other factor that may influence your interest: the price. Terra Trike historically offers good trikes at bargain price, and the Rambler is no exception. The 8 Speed Internal starts at $1399, while the Base 24 Speed is just $200 more, at $1599. My advice: unless the weather-protection of the internal hub makes a big difference to you, I would suggest the latter model is a better choice. Go for the upgraded tires, too. And while you have your wallet out, consider getting fenders, too: you’ll thank me when, not if, you get caught out on a rainy day.
Pros: Price, turning circle, adjustability for riders of widely differing heights
Cons: Aerodynamics, standard tires
TerraTrike Announces New Trike Named Rambler
By Travis Prebble
Posted on April 8, 2011
In celebration of TerraTrike’s 15th anniversary, they have promised to release 15 new products this year. Their latest offering is the brand new Rambler recumbent trike.
With its sleek styling, higher seat, round tubing and adjustable seat, the Rambler is the love-child of their popular Rover and Cruiser models, taking the best of both and creating an exciting new trike.
The Rambler starts off with a newly engineered "crossbow" style frame thats adds even more stabilty and comfort. Fabricated from round chro-moly steel tubing with an adjustable aluminum boom the frame is sleek and stylish. TerraTrike then gave it a new “Coffee Shop” color scheme of an asparagus green color with custom color decals so you can customize your trike to your liking. Custom colors are also available for an additional charge.
They’ve kept the direct steering and comfort-grip horizontal handlebars of the Rover design, but shortened the overall length and wheel base more similar to the Cruiser.
However, the most exciting feature of the Rambler is its gearing. Available as an internal 8 speed, externally derailluered 24 or 27 speed and features 4 different component levels.
“The Rover was, no doubt, very well received in the market, and we were very pleased to see the trike helping so many new people get into or back into cycling. But, there were still a lot of people asking for something similar but with a more refined design and more gearing, so we created the Rambler.” says Jeff Yonker, Marketing Director at TerraTrike. “We think this design combines all the great features of the Rover and Cruiser and then takes it to the next level.”
The Rambler also comes with a new improved TerraTrike adjustable seat. Recline adjustments from 40 to 90 degrees allows the rider, not the manufacturer, to set the angle at which you feel most comfortable - and at 15" high, it's still a full 5" taller than most trikes. Similar to the Rover, the seat also slides along the frame allowing for quick adjustments for riders with similar leg lengths. This trike is easy to get in and out of and adjusts in seconds.
Because of the design, it has a very small turning radius (in most cases even shorter than a standard upright bicycle). You can take your Rambler into places that had never before been accessible to trikes. They’ve also included locking brake levers as a standard component so you'll stay put once you get to where you're going. No more rubber bands or velcro straps!
Renie Rates Rover v. Rambler
By Irene King
Posted on October 20, 2011
TerraTrike describes the Rambler as the “love child” of the Rover and the Cruiser. Since I’ve been fortunate enough to ride all three, I have to agree.
I am brand new to recumbent triking, and I was fortunate enough to be able to ride a loaner Rover while I was waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the release of the Rambler. I took a few days to compare the two of them, and the following is my assessment of the two trikes.
While the Rambler definitely looks like a deluxe model of the Rover with its crossbow design, high seat, and horizontal handlebars, the Cruiser DNA isn’t readily apparent … that is, until you get it on the road.
First, the initial differences between the Rambler and the Rover are subtle. While the handlebars are horizontal (which my wrists love), the Rambler has a locking brake and the Rover has Velcro. Both work. The new padding on the handlebars is much better than the plastic that was on the 1st Gen Rover.
The Rambler is slightly lower than the Rover, but even side by side, this difference is not readily apparent. The Rambler is about four inches shorter in length, which is more apparent when viewing casually. Although the Rambler is a tiny bit narrower, it has an appearance of a wider stance, but I’m sure that’s due its overall smaller dimensions.
The mesh seat on the Rover has a tighter weave than that on the Rambler; however, the seat on the Rambler has the look and feel of higher quality. Its material seems to be more “breathable,” but at the time of this writing, I couldn’t readily tell the difference while riding in moderate weather.
According to the specifications on the TerraTrike site, both 8-speed trikes have 32 tooth chainrings. However, at 42T the Rover’s chainring on this particular trike is larger than that of the Rambler which gives it a higher low gear than the 32T which comes stock with the IGH (Internal Geared Hub).
The bottom bracket on the Rover is 13 inches, and it’s 12.25 inches on the Rambler, which at first glance, gives the Rover a higher bottom bracket. However, just eyeballing them side by side, the bottom bracket seems equal in proportion on the Rambler, and I’m sure that’s because of its lower height. They both sport straight booms, which restricts the ability to recline, but fits perfectly with the lower bottom brackets of both trikes.
Both trikes I'm comparing have 8-speed Sturmey-Archer IGHs. I have both outfitted with Crank Brothers pedals. The Rambler has Big Apple tires, and the Rover has the stock tires installed.
I rode both trikes primarily on residential streets, but because some of the areas in my extended neighborhood are somewhat rural, I also rode them in dirt and on packed pea gravel.
Due to the 42T chainring, I never use higher than 3rd gear when I start off from home in the Rover. I usually use 4 on the flats, and crank down to 2 or even 1 on the upward sloping grades that make up my extended neighborhood. Even with the extra required effort, the ride is like sitting in an office chair and pedaling.
The Rover was never designed to be a “performance” trike. I’ve gotten left in many a bike’s dust, and have been ecstatically happy to keep up with joggers. My weekend rides are long, not in distance, but in time because the Rover just isn’t a speedy trike. It is an SUV and rides that way. I wish that it had Big Apples installed, because then the only thing that would be missing is a cup holder and a remote.
The difficulty comes when there are hills to climb. I try very hard not to mash, but even then it’s slow and physically taxing, especially when the rider’s “engine” (body) is out of shape. It can be done, but you can’t be in a hurry. “Hurry” and the Rover climbing hills just don’t go together! Anyone who can lower the GI on a Rover will be rewarded with a good, dependable trike that he can take anywhere. Fortunately, my neighborhood is made up mostly of sloping grades, which has made learning how to pedal uphill a relatively easy task. "Real" hills (or overpasses) will throw in more difficulty, but a fitter body on a properly geared Rover could do it, I'm sure.
Downhills are no problem, of course. It's that whole gravity thing. Crank up to 8th gear if you really want to pedal or just let ‘er roll!
In spite of having about 90% of the same features as the Rover, on the road the Rambler is a completely different animal. This is where the Cruiser DNA really shines.
Although I adjusted the seat at the same recline angle as the seat on the Rover, it “felt” more reclined. This is where you can feel that the Rambler is lower in height than the Rover. While pedaling on the Rover feels like an office chair, pedaling on the Rambler feels closer to a chaise lounge.
I started off at 4th gear and only shifted down to 3rd on a slope. Not only was climbing easier, but I noticed that my cadence was faster. Maybe it was the new Big Apples, but there was no “drag” when pedaling. Of course the road bikes still passed me, but it took them longer to do it.
Handling is very similar to the Rover, and I’m sure that’s due to the direct steer. However, I found that the Rambler has a “sportier” feel while riding. It’s not something that I can really describe, but it feels a little more like a sports car and less like a “regular” car.
While I’m talking about steering, I can say that both trikes – especially when going downhill on a smooth road – ride like they’re on rails. The direct steer is absolutely rock solid at speed, even if it requires a little more effort when going slowly. For someone who’s a new trike rider, this gives me extra confidence that the wheels won’t suddenly take off in another direction without any feedback from me.
I have never felt any tippy feelings when turning corners with the Rover. With the shorter body and lower height of the Rambler, I didn’t feel any concern about rolling over, even though I turned corners at a slightly higher speed. Understand that “higher speed” is relative since I’m very careful while out in traffic.
The one thing that I notice with the Rambler that I really like is a faster takeoff from a standstill. Maybe that’s due to the lighter weight, but I felt far more comfortable in traffic knowing that I could make a faster start and have a little more maneuverability than with the Rover.
When doing my usual ten-mile loop, I notice that I’m able to complete it in a lot less time than I have when riding the Rover. Lighter weight, faster cadence, and smaller chainring all contribute to a faster ride, I'm sure.
By the way, I found that the ride was very similar in many aspects to the Catrike Villager. While the Villager is a lighter trike and a little lower to the ground, the Rambler’s direct steer characteristics reminded me of my test ride on it.
While I’m not a weight wienie, I can appreciate the lighter weight of the Rambler. This lighter weight, along with the lower height and shorter length, translates into a trike that’s easier and more fun to handle on the road.
At first glance the Rambler’s overall looks are indeed similar to the Rover. It doesn’t give the appearance of a performance trike, but the Cruiser influence is felt in the actual riding, even if not in the looks. The lower stance, the ability to power up hills in spite of the 24GI limitation, its maneuverability, and its relatively low price justifies the Rambler’s position as an above-entry-level trike. There’s even more power in the 24- and 27-speed models for those who prefer derailleurs.
Its weight limit is 100 pounds lower than the Rover, so it won’t fit the big guys who are trying to get into shape. However, it’s ideal for someone who’s looking for something that will last, has a sporty look, and whose upgrade possibilities are limited only by imagination and budget. The fact that it has a lifetime warranty on the frame is a real incentive to own one.
As someone who is trying to get into shape and who is a former jockette, I find that the Rambler is absolutely ideal for my needs. I love the look, the price of the 8-speed was within my budget, and the fact that it came with many features that I would have paid for as options on another model (locking brake, IGH, etc.), made it a smokin’ deal for me.
At the risk of incurring the wrath and ire of Catrike fans, I will say this: For those who are looking for a lightweight trike with an adjustable seat and can’t afford the Villager, please test ride the Rambler. At hundreds less, I think you will find that it will stand up in overall quality and features, and you will be out riding that much sooner.
TerraTrike Tour II and Tour II 26
By Bryan J. Ball
Managing Editor - BentriderOnline.com
Posted on March 21, 2012
TerraTrike Tour II and Tour II 26
By Bryan J. Ball
Managing Editor - BentriderOnline.com
Posted on March 21, 2012
About this time last year, TerraTrike’s model line-up was approximately as long and confusing as a Leonardo DiCaprio film. There was the Rover, Rambler, Path, Cruiser, Tour, Zoomer and Tandem. To make matters even more complicated, most of those models were available in several different trim levels. This was all fine and good when TerraTrike was a smaller manufacturer, but now that they’ve grown into the largest recumbent company in the country, something had to change.
The Path, Cruiser and Tour all used pretty much the same frame so combining those three lines into one seemed like a pretty logical step. That basic design has been around for a decade and a half so it also seemed like a smart to make a few updates. And thus was born the Tour II.
The Tour II’s frame shares the same frame geometry as the outgoing Path/Cruiser/Tour models. However, some bits of the steering linkage have been changed to improve the trike’s turning radius. It’s still made of chromoly steel and has the same mesh seat that comes on all TerraTrike models. When I heard that this project was coming, I expected that TerraTrike would go with a sliding boom but they chose to remain with the current three-size system. However, they did make one major change in the area of size adjustment. The new sliding seat mount is infinitely easier to use than the old bolt-through-the-hole seat mount. It also allows much more fine adjustment. The old Tour was one of the most difficult trikes to adjust on the shop floor. The Tour II is now one of the easiest.
In order to cover all of the pricepoints that were occupied by the Path/Cruiser/Tour trio, the Tour II comes in three different specs starting with a $1399 8-speed model and culminating in the $2399 blinged out Pro Model. I chose the $1599 Base Model for this test. Last year this would have been a Cruiser which has always been one of my favorite TerraTrikes.
Since the Tour II comes with such a wide range of component choices, I won’t get into every little detail here but I will say that the Base Model’s 24-speed MicroShift drivetrain and Bengal disc brakes all worked without issue. You don’t see a lot of MicroShift components out there but they all seem to work great. Other than the shifter action being a bit on the heavy side, it all felt just as nice as anything from SRAM or Shimano. My only real gripe with the components is the same one I’ve had with TerraTrike for a long time now. I just don’t see why they continue to insist on putting 40 psi tires on most of their trikes.
I also ordered our test trike with the optional 26” rear wheel extension kit. I’ll start this review with the more common 20” stock wheel set-up and then review the 26” version at the end.
When you order a trike direct from TerraTrike it arrives fully assembled. All I had to do was cut open the box, lift it out and ride away. Everything on the trike was perfectly adjusted. It couldn’t be easier and the shipping isn’t even that expensive.
The Tour II comes in a bright yellow color that is quite eye catching and really seems to fit the trike well. It also comes with three different colored sticker kits. Silver, Blue and Brown. This is something that TerraTrike is doing on a lot of their trikes now. It’s cool in that it allows owners to personalize their machines a bit. However, I really wish that the Tour II came with black stickers to match the ones that are already on the trike.
I’ve always thought that this particular family of TerraTrikes were very comfortable. The Tour II is no exception. The seat adjusts to a wide variety of angles, is plenty wide enough for most body types and breaths very well. The frame is compliant enough to soak up most smaller bumps without rattling your teeth and the controls all fall readily to hand.
As I mentioned above, TerraTrike made a change to the Tour II’s steering linkage to allow a tighter turning radius. This was a much needed improvement. The Tour II still doesn’t exactly turn on a dime but it’s now much more in line with those of the competition. The steering feels a bit lighter overall but the change didn’t seem to effect the high speed handling at all. The Tour II is a very easy trike to handle up to about 25 mph or so but does require your full attention over 35 mph.
The Tour II isn’t marketed as a performance trike. It says “Tour” right in the name, but I found its speed potential perfectly acceptable in my day-to-day usage. The Tour II does have a lot of idlers and I’m sure there’s some loss in driveline efficiency but everything runs smoothly and relatively quietly.
TerraTrike does offer a full line of accessories to go with the Tour II. You can order racks, fenders, seat bags, panniers, flags and a host of other goodies right from the company. Since this frame design has been around for so long, there are also a slew of aftermarket upgrades available.
So is this old bird totally modernized? Not completely. There’s still a bit more brakesteer than you find in some trikes and there are still a lot of chain idlers. But the Tour II is definitely a much more viable contender than it was last year, especially when you look at the prices of the lower end versions. It’s not easy to get a high-end 24-speed trike at this price. You also can’t find a company with better customer service reviews than TerraTrike. The Tour II is also a stout, well crafted platform that’s well worth upgrading later on if you so choose.
TOUR II 26
As I said before, I also asked TerraTrike to send me the 26” wheel upgrade for our test trike. Installation was shockingly simple. TerraTrike even provided a pre-cut length of change that was the perfect size to make up for the trike’s additional length. The whole process took less than half an hour.
I reviewed the old Tour with the 26” kit a couple of years ago and liked it a lot more than the standard 20” trike. The effect on the Tour II was pretty much the same. I really feel that it makes a good trike even better. It’s rolls faster, is more stable at speed and (in my opinion) looks better than the stock version. You do lose a few gear inches on the low end, but that’s a small price to pay.
The Tour II 26 isn’t exactly a wedgie-hunter when it comes to performance but it’s pretty quick for a trike. It definitely was fast enough to make me one of the more rapidly moving entities on the bike path.
It also makes the Tour II a bit more comfortable on rougher roads. Bumps that made me wince with the 20” wheel were much less spectacular with the 26”.
The only downside I found was that if you use the 26” rear wheel, lay the seat all the way back and put too much stuff in the seat bag, it may rub a bit.
The price of this substantial upgrade is between $145 and $214 depending on which model of Tour II you have. Unless you really need the lower gear inches of the 20” wheel, I’d say that this upgrade is a no-brainer.
TERRATRIKE TOUR II
Highs – Much improved over older models, Very comfortable, Great bang-for-the-buck
Lows – 40 psi stock tires, Some aspects still a bit old school
TerraTrike Unveils New Tour II
By Travis Prebble
Posted on November 14, 2011
The New Tour II is an upgrade to the platform which included the Path, long-time best seller Cruiser as well as the original Tour models. TerraTrike earlier this year discontinued both only to now be rolled into the new Tour II.
The new Tour II will feature the same award winning frame design along with a few new twists. Standard now on all models are the locking ProMax brake levers as well as a new tighter turning radius and still featuring linkage steering. It also comes standard with the new sliding seat bracket that is currently being used on the Rambler model. This allows for quick adjustments between riders of similar leg length and gives the seat a sleeker look.
The new Tour II will come in the popular Sunset Gold color and ship with 3 different decal colors for customization - Silver, Brick and Blue. It will also be available in four different component levels starting at $1399.00.
“The Path, Cruiser, and Tour have all been rolled into one model now”, says Jeff Yonker, Marketing Director at TerraTrike. “This makes it much less confusing to the consumer and streamlines our line now to where we have only four different model plus our Tandem - The Rover, The Rambler, The Tour II and the Sportster - Each available in three to four different component level packages.”
“The Tour II is the culmination of 15 years of refinement to the platform that started it all” says Yonker. “With the new improvements, it’s ready to take on another 15 years.”
The Tour II will be available in four different component levels beginning in December of 2011.
By Larry Varney
Co-Editor - BentriderOnline.com
Posted on January 12, 2012
One recumbent trike manufacturer that has seen much success in recent years is TerraTrike. Part of the reason is price: the Rover opened up an entirely new entry level trike pricepoint. And yet, some people wanted a little bit more – and then they unveiled the Rambler. Both of these trikes offered features that many buyers wanted, especially a comfortable ride on a trike that did not force them to squat very low. Yes, both trikes have been big hits, and while many of the more vociferous owners rebelled against any talk of “performance” – after all, they were riding them for far better reasons than “speed” – there were some out there who were thinking, how nice it would be to have the no-squat attribute with not just a bit more speed, but considerably more. In fact, these buyers would be willing to pay more, too. The result? Come join me in a ride on the new TerraTrike Sportster.
The Sportster is undeniably a TerraTrike. It caters to those riders whose primary concerns are ease of entry and exit, coupled with a low bottom bracket and a seat that doesn’t have them straining to hold their head up. When you sit down on this trike, you aren’t looking at the road ahead between your knees. The variable recline angle of the seat ranges from the modestly laid-back angle of 40 degrees, to a nearly upright 70. And you may be forgiven if you think: this is just another TerraTrike – what’s the big deal? Start pedaling and shifting, and you’ll find out!
Let me be clear about one thing: this is not the fastest trike I have ever ridden. The hands on the grips are off to our sides, and combined with the recline angle, we present a pretty big target for the wind. But even with that, this is a very quick trike. I was impressed! Shifting up through the gears (8 cogs and 3 chainrings; this is the basic model, there are others with more), the acceleration was noticeable. Toss in indiscernible brake steer (Bengal disc), and a turning circle that is among the best I’ve encountered, and you’ve got an enjoyable, fast ride. Not the fastest, but hardly slow. The direct-steer was precise, it tracked well, and while I prefer to have my hands and arms in closer to my body, the position on the Sportster was comfortable. I would not have a problem taking this trike out to do a century.
I’ve mentioned comfort and speed, two pluses for the Sportster. Another is ground clearance. At 7 inches, this is the trike I would pick for traversing grassy fields, loose sand, and crushed limestone trails. Combine this with a seat height of 14.5 inches (bottom bracket, too), and you have a very lofty perch, There are some potential drawbacks to such a “tall” trike: stability in tight, fast turns. I have mentioned the turning circle (12 feet in diameter). A trike this tall, with a track of just 34.25 inches, can result in a lifting of an inside wheel. I do want to point out that this lifting is not abrupt, and you really do have to be either very tall, or almost deliberately turning so fast and abruptly, that you want to raise that wheel – which I did, of course. In anything approaching normal riding, this didn’t happen. And when it did, it was very mild and easily controlled.
The attention to detail on the Sportster is good, as are the components. As mentioned, there are other models that cost more, and the components are a bit higher in grade, as you would expect – but this lowest-cost model is nothing to turn away from.
I wondered at various times just what was making this trike faster than other, similar TerraTrikes. The weight is in the mid-30′s, which is good but not the complete explanation. I won’t claim to know completely just how they made such an improvement, but part of it may be due to the angle of the chain to the first idler. In prior TerraTrikes, that angle is quite extreme, with the result that power is being lost while pedaling. On the Sportster, that angle is much less severe. Toss in the larger rear wheel, and the result is a fast trike.
My bottom line opinion of the TerraTrike Sportster? Aerodynamics of the seating position keep it from being even faster, but only the real performance nuts will have a problem with just how fast this trike is, and it’s definitely a spirited trike. With a granny of 25 inches, you won’t have trouble with most hills, unless you are weighed down with a touring load that is probably twice what you need. A top gear of 118 inches is quite good – if you find yourself “spinning out” on flat ground, you maybe want to look at some of the other variations of this model. Regardless, give this newest TerraTrike a good look. It may just be the TerraTrike you’ve been hoping for.
Pros: Comfort, speed, ground clearance and price
Cons: It is possible get an inside wheel off the ground, in “spirited” riding
TerraTrike Unveils New Tour II
By Travis Prebble
Posted on November 14, 2011
The new Sportster combines the Zoomer and Sport models in to a sleek new design. It’s aluminum frame, direct steering and artisan build quality is the culmination of their 15 years experience with trike design.
With a wider track width and longer wheelbase, the trike was designed to go fast.
“This trike is definitely a speed demon”, says Jeff Yonker, Marketing Director at TerraTrike. “We started with a no-compromise approach to design and have come up with a trike that not only accelerates faster, climbs better and maintains high speeds easier than any trike we’ve ever ridden, but is also a beautiful work of art. On top of all that it’s completely built in the USA.”
“If your goal is to simply move as fast as possible under your own power, then look no further. This is the supercar of trikes, and a complete thrill to ride” says Yonker.
With this announcement TerraTrike has also discontinued the Zoomer model.
The Sportster comes stock with a 26” rear wheel and will be available in four different component levels beginning in Fall of 2011. TerraTrike is taking pre-orders now.
TerraTrike Tandem Pro Review
By Greg Tanner - DisabilityReports.org
If you are looking for a Tandem Trike that is light, sleek in design, fun to ride, and offers more gearing options so you can more easily traverse a wide range of terrain this trike is definitely for you. This Tandem is an excellent option for riders with balance or stability issues or other physical limitations. Not to mention it is a real "eye turner".
The light chromoly frame, breathable mesh seats, easy gearing and ability to be adapted make this ride the Cadillac of Tandems. The Tandem Pro sits lower than the Rover, more like the TerraTrike Tour that we reviewed. Although the seat is a light breathable mesh material, the seat provided phenomenal stability and steadiness, not to mention easy adjustability for seat angle and peddle distance for our different reviewers. We did not test this model with the IPS (Independent Pedaling System) although we highly recommend it for anyone with physical challenges that might possibly impact endurance, strength, range of motion, or pedaling speed. It is simply an excellent option to allow the stoker the flexibility to moderate their pace and exertion without impacting the captain. The Tandem Pro is simple to assemble and disassemble for easy transport in a minivan or small SUV. We loved this feature as it makes it easier to transport your trike to many more destinations for riding.
The seat sits lower than the Rover; its features and build are much more like the TerraTrike Tour. The lower seat provides a better center of gravity and more stable ride, especially on hills when turning or descending with some decent speed. Although we found the stoker seat a little small; its angle is easily adjusted which seemed to do the trick.
Work with a local dealer who specializes in recumbent bikes, specifically TerraTrike's. We found our local dealer "Laid Back Cycles" very adept at handling special needs adaptations i.e. seat harnessing systems, single hand dual braking options, peddle options to support riders who don't have the same range of motion in both legs...etc.
Both the Rover Tandem and the Tandem Pro allow people with physical limitations and their riding companions to enjoy the "Freedom to Ride" while also enjoying the physical nature of riding.
The Turning radius of the Tandem Pro did not seem to be as tight as the Rover 8 (as the TerraTrike Tandem Pro is a bit longer), however, we felt the Tandem Pro offered even greater stability for riders with increased physical challenges, especially in the area of upper body strength and core balance.
Tandem Pro is the more expensive option, but with its sleeker design, lighter frame, better braking and gearing systems, it is a great option for any disabled riders. Your doctor or physical therapist may prescribe riding as part of your ROM (Range of Motion) exercise program, and as a result it could qualify as a medical tax write off (consult your tax professional).
A quality recumbent trike fit from your authorized dealer is just as important as a quality trike or bike. If you're not fit correctly, you're more than likely not going to enjoy your new ride. We found the local TerraTrike authorized dealer "Laid Back Cycles" in Fair Oaks CA to be passionate about recumbent trikes, and even more passionate about giving riders with physical challenges the "freedom to ride". Since 30‐ 40% of their customers have some sort of physical limitations they seem determined to work with most any limitation to see how they can provide an option to overcome it and get you out there riding.
I Love A Parade
By Larry Varney
Co-Editor - BentriderOnline.com
Posted on September 18, 2003
There are things in life that we regret doing, but there are also those things that we regret not doing. One of the latter for me the Fourth of July Parade in Carmel, Indiana in 2002. Mike McDowell of Valley Bikes in Carmel had announced it on the web, inviting everyone to stop by his shop and participate as a group.
This seemed like it would be a fun thing to do. And, there would be the bonus of stopping by his store. There are three types of stores that I love to wander around in – computers, books, and bikes. Toss in the fact that this is a bike store with lots of recumbents – and quite possibly more recumbent trikes on display than anywhere else in the country – and, it’s located literally beside a rail-trail that makes it great for test rides. So, it’s hard to believe that I passed up the chance to participate.
So when the word went out about this year’s parade, I made plans to attend. Those plans looked like they were going to be for nothing when I found out that I would be heading north into Michigan to pick up a WizWheelz TerraTrike 3.4 and a late-prototype WW tandem trike for testing. It seemed like it was going to come down to a choice between attending the parade or picking up the test trikes in Michigan.
I was talking to a co-worker about this problem, and he suggested that I drive up to Michigan the day before, the 3rd of July, rather than Friday the 4th. I hadn’t realized that we had both days off for the holiday! So, off I went on Thursday, six hours from my house to the WizWheelz factory, chat with Ike Trikeman about the trikes, current and future, take some pictures – especially of the fenders, just to prove to people that yes, WW is going to be selling front fenders for their trikes – then head southwest for about 4 hours to Carmel, just north of Indianapolis. Lots of driving in one day, but that night when I finally went to sleep in the Red Roof Inn, I was happy: my van contained the new WW TT 3.4, and the even newer tandem trike – and, I was going to be in the parade!
My friend Walt Smith also attended the parade. He’s a lot like me – almost any excuse to go to a bike store is a good excuse, and he was interested in the tandem trike as well. So, he was my stoker. The recumbent group organized by Valley Bikes was huge – there were at least two or three dozen of us out there. Most people brought their own recumbents, but Mike offered his trikes and 2-wheelers for those who wanted to use this opportunity to ride something new. The weather was warm and sunny, the crowd was loud and appreciative, and I had my first chance to ride the WW tandem trike. This was one weekend that I wasn’t going to wind up regretting some things that I hadn’t done.
When I got home I began testing the two WizWheelz trikes in earnest. The 3.4 report is elsewhere in this issue. The tandem proved to be very popular – I know several couples who are interested in recumbent trike tandems, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to compare my observations with those of others. I love it when people agree with me, of course, but it’s often insightful to examine those cases when they don’t.
One of those volunteer couples was David and Karen Martin. They are both strong riders, have ridden tandems before, and an interesting twist was that they are upright riders. Not only was I going to hear what they thought of the tandem as a tandem, but also what their feelings were about recumbents! Incidentally, I had given them one of those single-use cameras so that they could have people take some pictures of them on the tandem, but later I found out that the camera was faulty – the subjects showed up when you used the flash, but were almost completely invisible otherwise. And yes, all of their pictures were in the daytime, without flash.
They made several rides over the following few weeks, with the longest being about 60 miles. I suspect that they would have wanted to keep it longer, but Karen was heading off to France – she was on a tour that included climbing Mt. Ventoux! And I was anxious to get it back and do some more riding myself. So, let’s talk about the tandem.
Two things you notice immediately: this is a long vehicle. (Since this was a pre-production unit, the exact specifications may not be the same as the current, shipping models. Please check with the WizWheelz website for exact weight, measurements, etc.) And, the paint. It is a deep, dark shade of red, and everyone who saw it loved it.
Some people have asked how I manage to transport it. Ignoring the obvious “just ride it”, I found that putting it in the rear of my regular-sized Chevrolet Venture mini-van was not a problem, so long as the rear seats are removed. I discovered that I could leave the boom on, as well as the rear wheel, and all I had to do was remove the bolts holding the rear seat “stays” so that the seat would swivel forward, then roll the trike in so that the rear wheel was between the two front seats in the van. I even had room left over the TT 3.4 and my luggage for the weekend.
The tandem is quite similar in construction to the 3.4. But just lengthening the boom and adding a second seat wouldn’t have made for a very stable mount. So, upon closer inspection you’ll notice where WizWheelz has “beefed up” the tandem. I’ve included two pictures that show in particular the cruciform fronts of both trikes.
You’re probably thinking, yes, they’re similar but different, but how did it ride? To put it simply, great – but not perfect.
The seats are comfortable enough, but I think they either need to have a stiffer bottom or be elevated just a bit more above the boom. On some bumpy stretches of road, you could feel that boom. Of course, a simple solution for those who encounter this relatively minor problem would be to insert a small piece of foam rubber underneath the seat, or just a pad of some sort on the seat itself.
And speaking of seats – right now the tandem is constructed so that small, medium or large people – as measured by their x-seams – can be accommodated in the captain’s position, but the stoker is limited to small and medium. If you’re nearing six feet or above, you may find the rear seat to be a bit cramped. If you’re considering this trike – and from what I’ve heard and read, many people are – check with WizWheelz to make certain that it will fit.
Out on the road you notice one thing that is common to almost all tandems: they’re heavier than a single bike or trike, and that’s noticeable when climbing long or steep hills. On the flats, it’s not really much of a concern. This tandem will move along at a pretty good pace. There is no independent pedaling option, so you’ll have to coordinate your efforts with your partner.
Speed is one thing, but how about stopping? The disc brakes are more than up to the task. There’s nothing quite as reassuring as knowing that the brakes will not only stop you very quickly, but they’re not going to be bothered by rain or heat-induced fade, like rim brakes are.
One of my concerns about the tandem were the idler wheels. The chain passes on the underside of the idlers in both directions, and it seemed like there was a lot of friction. I’ve been told by WW that new idler wheels are on the way and will ease my worries. I would think that independent idler wheels for both directions of the chain would be a good idea.
My first attempt at turning this tandem was in a small parking area behind Valley Bikes. And, let’s just say that while you do not need “40 acres to turn this rig around”, you won’t be doing u-turns on bike paths. On the road the turning circle is quite adequate for 90-degree turns. Let’s face it – this is a long trike! It’s on a par with other recumbent tandem trikes. And, check with WW again on this: word is that they’re working on something that will make the turning radius much sharper.
There are provisions for two water bottles on this tandem. Perhaps I drink more than most people, but I’d like to see at least four. But with two seats you do have the option of adding at least one bladder, so that will help. And for carrying that bunch of stuff that I seemingly can’t live without, I recommend getting a rear rack as well, though WizWheelz does make a nifty bag that will hold your essentials – and maybe a bit more – and it fits on either the back or the underside of the seats.
As I mentioned in my review of the TT 3.4, there are provisions for inserting a flag into the seat frame. One will fit in either the left or the right side – or both. And in this case, you could have four flags mounted! The provided flag is the same, stylish-but-invisible flag that is issued with the single trike.
Everyone who rode the tandem enjoyed it. Like any tandem, it takes some getting used to, what with the increased weight and turning circle as compared to singles, and you need to work on communicating with your partner. But when you’re out on the road, it’s really enjoyable. I can understand why some people prefer the “freedom” of riding on their own, but now I can appreciate just how much fun it is to literally ride with a companion, and not have to worry about either having to slow down or speed up because of that other person. Throw in the tandem-specific benefits of having someone taking care of monitoring the cue sheets, handing the captain things to eat or drink, and so on – I can see where I would enjoy riding a tandem. And a tandem trike – what more could someone want!
Bottom line: I highly recommend this trike. If you’re thinking of getting a recumbent tandem, it might be worth your while to check with WizWheelz about a test ride – you may find that a trike may suit you better than a 2-wheeler. And if you’re already a trike fan, compare the price and features of this tandem trike with others on the market. I suspect that one of the first questions you’ll ask is how soon can you expect delivery!
Highs – Price, Handling, Paint and general appearance
Lows – Turning circle, Seat bottoms, Drivetrain friction, Flag is difficult to see from the rear
By John Axen
Posted on June 2004
Unless you have been stranded on desert island for the last couple of years I am certain you have noticed the popularity of recumbent trikes has been phenomenal. They allow people with physical limitations or balance issues to enjoy the benefits of getting out in the fresh air and riding with other cyclists. Then there are those of us who have no limitations, other than mental, who are totally fascinated by recumbent trikes as well.call it the "Big Wheel Syndrome". I was always envious of the little kids roaring up and down the sidewalks on their big wheel trikes because they appeared to be having so much fun. The fact that I was fully grown limited any participation. Whatever the reason, recumbent trikes are definitely "in"!
Recently, there have been two trends that have captured the attention of trike enthusiasts all over the world. The first trend has been focused on simplicity such direct steering and lightweight frame materials. The second trend has been the development and increasing numbers of recumbent trike tandems. I am not certain who built the first trike tandem but up until recently there were just a couple companies offering them. The most recent entry into unique niche is the American made TerraTrike Tandem from WizWheelz and we have had the opportunity to play with it for the last couple months.
Once the TerraTrike Tandem was delivered I took the time to take a walk around it and appreciate the craftsmanship and components. Yes, I truly had to walk around its 121.5 inch length and 35 inch width while it took up half of my two-car garage! The frame is constructed of large diameter 4130 TIG welded tubing and coated in a flashy metallic red with just a hint of gold flakes. Like the TerraTrike singles, the seat frames are separate from the main frame and are secured by a single bolt and a pair of adjustable seat struts.
The TerraTrike Tandem has under the seat bars and center point steering by way of tie rods to the spindles. All three 20 inch wheels are built by Velocity, with Shimano cable operated disk brakes on the front. The cranks are FSA Gossamer Tandem triple 32/44/55t and FSA ISIS bottom brackets. The drivetrain is a combination of Shimano Dura Ace, 105, and LX components while the cassette is the Shimano 11-32t, 9-speed. I did not measure how many miles of Sachs PC59 chain was required but it must be considerable. Alloy brake levers and Shimano bar end shifters complete the controls. Our tandem came with IRC Metro tires but the specs now call for Kenda Kwest recumbent tires. By now I am sure you realize that this is a proven package of components. Let's see how they function as a whole.
Because the TerraTrike Tandem arrives at your doorstep fully assembled all you have to do is air up the tires, adjust the seats and bars before your first ride. Just setting up the chains alone could take hours so you have to be happy about that! Let me share something with you about tandem setup. After 34 years of riding all types of tandems I have learned that if you have a happy stoker you will be a very happy pilot. An unhappy stoker can make your life as the pilot quite miserable. So, you want to make sure your stokers position is properly adjusted first! Simply remove the single bolt that holds the seat to the frame and move the seat to the position that gives proper leg extension. Be careful to keep track of all the washers and replace them exactly where they were. You can make fine adjustments by the angle of the saddle as well. The last thing you do is set the angle of the rear bars to the most comfortable position and you will have a happy stoker!
As the pilot your set up procedure is nearly the same but even more crucial in terms of access to all the controls. You don't want to be searching for shifters or brake levers when the going gets tough! A good sturdy mirror is important and many tandem pilots use either eyeglass or helmet mounted versions. With both you can sneak a glimpse at your stoker and see if there is a smile back there. The TerraTrike Tandem comes with a pair of simple platform type pedals which may be adequate for riding around the block but I suggest you install your favorite pedals. Mount a pair of bottle cages and you are ready to roll!
In one of our earlier issues we reviewed the 3.3 version of the TerraTrike single which we had an overall good impression. We did have some issues with the seat but I am pleased to tell you they have changed the shape just enough to make it much more comfortable. I was very thankful as I had rubbed a couple of raw spots on the back of my thighs and was not looking forward more raw meat! While sitting stationary all of the controls are easily reached and feel quite natural. The real test is out on the road.
My son, Seth and I navigated the TerraTrike Tandem out of the garage the street and we aimed it in a straight line before settling into the seats. There is a reason for this. A wheelbase of 92 inches and a total length of 121.5 inches does not allow for sudden slow speed maneuvers. In fact, we soon discovered that the sharpest turns require a 16 foot radius. We could not do a U turn within the width of our own street! Once seated, feet secure in our clipless pedals, and mirrors properly adjusted, we headed down the road. It was immediately evident that this tandem likes to accelerate even though it weighs in at 60 pounds. Before we got to our first turn I goosed the disk brakes a few times to scuff the rotors. Initially they feel solid but the stopping power increases as the glaze worn off the rotors. We both thought was great that neither of us had to remove out feet from the pedals at the stop sign we did not have to balance the trike. was surprised that it did not take much effort to make that first 90 degree turn even though it does require more real estate than our two wheeled tandem. You simply have to pull out ahead a little bit before you tighten your turn in order avoid running your stoker up against the curb. Keep your stoker happy!
After a couple of blocks and running through all of our gear range, which taps out at an anemic 102 inches, we caught up with a few of our fellow recumbent riders. Although it took a little bit more effort than a two wheeled tandem, we were able to keep up with them. The TerraTrike Tandem has a fairly sturdy feel to it even while under heavy pedaling and takes up the imperfections of the road quite well. We both thought the drivetrain to be a bit noisy but considering the length of chain and the number of idler wheels just to keep the tension I guess it isn't that bad.
Nearly 7 miles into our ride and climbing our first short but steep hill we had a mishap. Halfway up a ramp two of our idler wheels decided they wanted to go their own way and flew off the tandem! This was bad! Here we were stopped in the middle of the hill, facing uphill, and trying not to roll back down! One of our friends held us in position as we dismounted and then we picked up the tandem to take it to the side of the trail. Once the wayward idlers were retrieved we discovered that they had been installed backwards and had no way keeping the rubber part of the wheel attached to the cartridge bearings. After reinstalling all of the idlers the proper way and re installing the chains we were off again. Starting off on a hill isn't so bad on a trike but it definitely was not as fast as our two wheeler!
It did not take long to recover from our little mishap and soon we were wishing for bigger gears on the flat sections. This tandem likes to fly! Although our first ride did not take us into the mountains we did get up to 35 miles per hour on one short descent and the TerraTrike Tandem felt quite stable and tracked in a straight line. In fact, I prefer how the Tandem handles over the 3.3 and 3.4 single models. I felt their wheelbases to be on the short side and a bit skittish at speed. The 92 inch wheelbase of the TerraTrike Tandem definitely tames the beast.
During those initial rides we found that we had a difficult time navigating the entrances and exits of our bike path system. We had to dismount and carry the 60 pound behemoth through the access gates. This is no problem for a couple strong guys but may pose a problem for a child or small lady. We realized one more problem as we rode the bike trails. Quite often other riders would pay so much attention to us that they would veer off the trail. Fortunately no one was hurt!
Once we had become accustomed to working together on the TerraTrike Tandem we ventured off the trails in favor of a more challenging route. As I had previously mentioned, the Tandem gets up to speed quite well on the flats. When we began to gradually climb we felt no noticeable major frame flex but we were aware of the drivetrain noise. This was no problem as we rode into the first major climb as our labored breathing soon masked whatever noise came from the chains! We were in the last gear, crawling up the pass, and thankful we could concentrate on pedaling and not balancing! At 60 pounds you will never set any speed records on mountain climbs. At the summit we began to roll down the other side with apprehension as this was the first major descent of any distance more than a hundred yards. I have to admit that I did not let our speed get over 37 miles per hour because we had 4 miles to descend and I was not sure how the Tandem would handle. Because of its length it does have some delay in responding to slight control inputs and you can get into a sway situation if you are not careful. I decided that our maximum comfortable speed should be 35 miles per hour as I felt I had fairly good control and could favorably react to most situations. I think we both had dry mouths at the bottom of those long hills. Admittedly, we have descended those hills much faster on our two-wheeled tandems.
After riding the TerraTrike Tandem for a while I would like to share our impressions. The overall performance was quite good once I adapted to a very long trike. It rides quite smoothly, shifts and brakes well, and has relatively good comfort. Even though we never experienced any major frame flex we both felt that the seats had some minor side movement. Check your drivetrain often and carry the proper tools for repairs on the road. You will also want to have your wheels checked for proper spoke tension and make sure they are true, especially after you have some decent mileage on them. Here is perhaps the most important consideration before you purchase you own TerraTrike Tandem. You must have accurate X-seam measurements for both you and your stoker. There are 3 boom sizes available for the captain and 2 different sizes for the stoker.
If you order your Tandem with a boom that is too short you will be sitting on the support tube for the stokers cranks and that is not comfortable. Another thing to consider is how you might want to transport your trike tandem. It will fit into most vans and even in some of the minivans if you remove the rear wheel. You can even carry it on a roof rack but that requires two strong people to muscle it up there. If you and your riding partner would like to spend some quality time together and don't worry about speed records the TerraTrike Tandem from WizWheelz could be a decent choice. There are other tandem trikes available that may give slightly better performance but at $3,999 and fully assembled to your door, the TerraTrike Tandem is a good value.