I've opened the door to trikes in the search for my first bent. Unfortunately, I'll run into the same problem(ie dealer proximity) and probably worse as far as selection goes.....so I'll need as much info as possible before I strike out this spring.
My first question; Could someone lay down the different types of steering as well as the advantages and disadvanges of each? I'm hearing about direct, indirect, different linkages etc. Anything that a first time trike buyer should be aware of. Thanks
Also,any brands that steer exceptionally well, or is steering a nonissue for the most part?
I have a 2005 Catrike Road, which uses indirect steering. I've riden many trikes (WizWheelz, Ice, Catrike, Greenspeed), some with indirect, some with direct. First they all steered very well and I found no problems with any of them. Catrike is now using only direct steering which mounts the handlebars directly on the kingpins of each wheel with a tie-rod connecting the two wheels. Provides very good steering, you get lots of road feedback thru the handlebars. Indirect basicly has a center pivot on the frame for the handlebar to mount on and then two tie-rods, one to each wheel. Again, very good steering on all the trikes I've riden. I have read were some trikes from a number of years ago have some issue with steering at highter speeds, but now I think the type of steering really is a non-issue. I think how the trike fits you, seat comfort, adjustability, are bigger issues.
By wear, I assume you mean on the tires, there is no difference. Both methods need to be set up correctly so they have the correct amount of toe-in, but if set correctly there is no difference. This is the same as your car, if the front-end is not in-alignment, you tires will wear faster. I've set the toe-in on my trike and have not had any problems with it coming out of adjustment. Indirect is slightly harder to set since you have 2 tie-rods, and adjusting the tie-rod affects only one wheels vs direct where you adjust the single tie-rod and it changes the toe-in for both wheels at the same time. But this is not something you do very often, not even yearly unless you are really riding bad, rutty roads that would throw all adjustments off.
I'm not a trike rider but I'll chime in anyway! Virtually all the trikes I tried several years ago suffered from not enough trail. In a parking lot they were marginally OK, but get them going and they wanted to dart off into the ditch at the slightest finger movement. One guy in the club had a Windcheetah, and he actually unbonded the front end - knuckles? - and pivoted both front wheels to give him about double the normal trail. He claimed that made it much better. Last year I rode a Catrike, and it handled much better than earlier test rides, so maybe the standards for geometry are maturing.
As far as wear, ball joints and universal joints can be considered wear items, but they're not rocket science to replace. At worst it'd be a once-every-few-years winter maintenance item, just like repacking bearings.