Six months later, TrailBear reflects on his first trike and the lessons learned in an interview with himself.
@ Why did you switch from a diamond frame bike?
Comfort: The hope of riding longer with less discomfort.
I ride a Specalized FST xc Expert mountain bike. It is an elegant machine and optimized for trail survey work. However, I got tired of putting money into a growing collection of saddles. I could see no end.
I kept looking for something that would let me ride over 20 miles without feeling that I was sitting on a 2x4, on edge, and had been doing so for the last five miles. I never found it. As I ride solo, that 20 mile hurts too much range really limited my range. A ten mile Out N Back was it for the day. Time for a paradigm shift.
@ Did switching to a trike work?
Oh, YES! (Trike grin)
No more bike shorts with chamois. No more bike shorts, period. No more chamois. No more chamois cream. No more Monkey Butt powder or any of the things Roadies use to try to make the uncomfortable more comfortable. No more butt breaks. No more hurting. I can ride all day. Do 20 miles, no pain, do another 20.
No more awkward positions that numb the hands and crick the neck. My road bike was the worse. The Brooks saddle won the battle. The riding position meant that I had to peer over my glasses all the time to try to see something but peering over the glasses, I couldnt really see. The MTB was a lot better more upright position. It could go anywhere I could and lots of places I should not, but I still got numb hands.
On my trike I am basically sitting on a lawn chair with wheels. I have a great view of things as I pedal along, head up. Its a Rover, with comfortable upright seating vs. the street luge trikes where you lay on your back and pedal.
@ Was it easy to find your first trike?
No. It was a lot of work.
Due Diligence takes time. This was a new technology. There were few dealers in the LA area. The trikes are not cheap. I had a budget of $2,000 - $1500 for the trike and $500 for gear and bling. This was going to be a first trike a proof of concept project so I would not spend big dollars. I was at the bottom of the trike learning curve. If this trike went well, something more dialed in would follow next season.
The first step was to find the trike forums and start reading the mail. You have to learn the language and identify the issues. First cut: what is out there? I dug up the trike makers and studied their offerings. Then came the reality check: weight limits. A lot of nice looking trikes were sized for ectomorph riders. They were eliminated. By the time you get 240# of bear and a load of gear aboard, what is left? Better be something.
I studied the trike dealer sites. I printed out stacks of brochures. I found a local dealer that had some of the models I was considering. I got some test rides. I found you really have to sit in the trike.
One sit and I could tell that Cattrike was not built for bears. Two tries and I was sure. The TerraTrike Cruiser would have worked, but it was too low for someone with an iffy knee and a bit over my budget. I checked in with another dealer on the way north and tested the Sun, the Trident S-2 (too small) and a few others. I avoided the ICE way over budget, yet tempting. One trike I could not find to ride was the Rover by TerraTrike.
TerraTrike looked like a good builder. They had an excellent web site full of informative material. I watched all their videos. Their customers were very pleased with the service. They ran a forum and I picked up a lot of information there. The Rover part of the forum was getting way more hits and use than the other models there. Interesting. Smoke
must be fire there.
The Rover looked like it might work as a first trike. It had a high weight limit enough for bear and bling. It had higher seating better for the knee. It was affordable. There were a lot of Happy Camper reviews. There seemed to be enough demand that if it did not work, I could resell it easily. In fact, the local dealer could not get one in stock.
@ Where did you find your trike?
They have an excellent web site. They are a big dealer in many lines. Their customers like them. I could have them ship me a Rover for a price similar to what I would pay locally except there were none to be had locally.
When their Black Friday sale came around, I looked over the list and selected a Rover X 5 with 26 rear wheel and 27 speeds out of the UT Custom Shop. Bought sight unseen and without a test ride, which is certainly not the way to do it. I did it.
A week later there was a crate on a pallet in front of my garage. Unpack it, inflate the tires, check things and ride off for a short distance. Then go over things and do an alignment. That improved the steering at speed. Then learn how to steer a direct steer machine (small, delicate inputs). Put the helm hard over at speed and you will go tumbling through the brush.
@ How were your first rides?
I learned that the trike would work. It was comfortable to ride. It was easy to get into. None of that down, down, down, just a little more down to reach the seat. I had no pain while riding and no pain afterward. I could now ride longer and further. The concept was working just fine.
I learned that I did not need special bike clothing. My work shorts work fine. I wear them and a yellow safety shirt most of the time.
I learned that on a trike things will slide out of your pockets. There is a cell phone out there somewhere. The new one and other bit of pocket gear are put in the rack bag.
I learned that I had bought the wrong trike.
@ Bought the wrong trike?
Trikes with 26 wheels are not for geezers. Unless you know, from prior experience, that you are a speed demon, consider how you can climb hills. You can always coast downhill after you get up.
The X5 has a 26 rear. This increases the top end speed at the expense of raising the gear inch range. I found that a 24 bottom gear does not work if you have hills.
I have hills. In fact, there is a 10% grade in the street outside (as measured by an electronic level set to % slope). I was returning from rides and climbing that last slope out of the bay bottom in 1x1 with nothing in reserve. There were some bits of trail I would not try for fear of having to tow the trike back up while being passed by Roadies and dog walkers.
I consulted with Utah Trikes and solved the problem by installing 155mm Lasco cranks with smaller wheels . This brought the gearing down from 24 to 17 and I could do the same hills in 1x3 with two gears in reserve. Of course, there is a 15% slope on one trail that is at the max for this work around. Its a loop trail, so I ride it clockwise and the slope is now a 24 mph descent.
@ What was the right trike?
The Rover 8DL x 24 speed out of UTs Custom Shop.
The 8DL has 20 wheels all around. The gear range is 16.5 to 88.3 GI. Those are good numbers. The 8DL can handle steeper slopes. Remember a 24 bottom gear is bad news unless you ride on a pool table. Most of us cannot. Roadies can walk their bikes up steep bits. Trikers need low bottom gears because walking a trike is awkward. Trikers are supposed to be spinning up slopes that have Roadies walking (because at that speed they fall over). I tow mine stern first when needed.
The 8DL also has a second option. With Lasco cranks the gear range is 12.7 to 73.7. That is a very nice low end number.
@ What will your next trike be?
It will be a folder.
The trike project has worked out. Now I want to be able to travel summers with the trike. I want to ride in comfort all year long. That means a folding trike that will fit in the van - with all the other gear.
During the winter the Rover travels fine on day trips. I remove the ladder and can stow the Rover on the deck in the back of the van, leaving the rest of the tool buckets alone. When we are gone on a trip that deck has six totes on it and an MTB lashed to the port side wall. I need a folder.
Which folder is the question?
Probably either an ICE Adventure RS or an HP Gecko. The Gecko is new and unproved, but HP has a very good rep. There are a lot of various models of the ICE trikes out there and quite a few happy campers. I suspect there are a lot more ICE trikes than HPs. They both fold.
These I will test ride before plunking down X$$$.
The Rover X5 "Slow Bell" at South Lake, Woodbridge, Irvine, CA