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Recumbent What IS that thing?! Recumbents may be odd looking, but they have many advantages over a "wedgie" bicycle. Discuss the in's and out's recumbent lifestyle in the recumbent forum.

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Old 04-05-07, 05:38 PM   #1
BikeZen.org
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3-wheel 'bent FAQ

These are just THE QUESTIONS. I look to y'all for THE ANSWERS!

3 basic question:

1) What are the key 3-wheel recumbent choices? (name and definition) [Trike, tadpole, ...others...]

2) What are the key decision variables among these choices?

(For 2-wheel bents, I'm familiar with OSS/USS, short/long-wheelbase, 20/26/700 wheels front/rear, and different USS configs [praying mantis/superman], plus the millions of other decisions that apply for "all" bikes (internal hubs, Q-rotors or not, lighting, tires, etc. -- not relevant to this discussion).

3) How does one choose one 3-wheel recumbent (see your answers to question #1) over another? That is to say, are there specific factors that GENERALLY recommend one of the choices over another? (For help with sample factors, see below.)


In case these questions are too broad (I know they are!), my criteria are (in order):

1) fit (I am 5'11" 150#) and comfort (cool, comfortable seat please). [I know this is very subjective, and I will try before I buy, but general advice is appreciated.] FYI: my current 'bent is a Challenge Seiran, which I like because the seat is solid (so I can push against it) but comfortable (it uses a closed-cell foam pad, vents, and a spine-shaped base).

2) stability at high speeds on suboptimal concrete roads (no bouncing side-to-side, pedal/brake steer, or chattering teeth, please)

3) durability and repairability (no weird breakdowns, odd spokes etc.) -- I plan to do 1200k RUSA rides

4) manuevurability in traffic (I will use it to commute to work, just like my old bike)

5) speed (I like to go 20mph for 2-3 hours at a time without killing myself -- my best century is just over 5 hours)

6) weight (I will occasionally need to lift it on/off my car rack -- so 34-36 lbs without gear is about the max)

7) looks (no homemade stuff for me -- I can pay for "cool," but not "awesome" -- translation: no WindCheetah Hypersport, unless it's an incredible deal)

I'm interested in a "safer" bike that I can ride in nastier weather, including sandy, rainsoaked streets. I put knobbies on my 2-wheel 'bent during the winter months, but still didn't get to ride nearly as much as I had hoped, mainly due to the sand factor. This really is a year-round hobby/commute for me, and knobbies just don't do it.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-05-07, 08:40 PM   #2
aikigreg
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Given your requirements, I'm going to go out on a limb and say either the greenspeed X5 or the catrike speed is your trike. I've never ridden the speed but I placed 3rd in an HPV trike race and 2nd in a time trial on the greenspeed. Very fast, comfy, handles great, and even folds. Both trikes are nice and light, and on rides I was able to keep up with fast 2-wheel bents no problem. The lowracers still outclassed me by a mile, but I stayed ahead of the rest of the pack.
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Old 04-05-07, 08:54 PM   #3
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[QUOTE=BikeZen.org]These are just THE QUESTIONS. I look to y'all for THE ANSWERS!

3 basic question:

1) What are the key 3-wheel recumbent choices? (name and definition) [Trike, tadpole, ...others...]

2) What are the key decision variables among these choices?

(For 2-wheel bents, I'm familiar with OSS/USS, short/long-wheelbase, 20/26/700 wheels front/rear, and different USS configs [praying mantis/superman], plus the millions of other decisions that apply for "all" bikes (internal hubs, Q-rotors or not, lighting, tires, etc. -- not relevant to this discussion).

3) How does one choose one 3-wheel recumbent (see your answers to question #1) over another?

It would take all night to describe all variations, so I will try to make long answers short!

1). 2 back wheels & 1 front: delta. 2 front wheels & 1 back: tadpole *Both* can: fold for transport, come as tandems, be suspended front//back, disc or drum or C brakes- front/back on 1,2, or 3 wheels, have long/short crank arms, have knee savers, have a full velomobile body. Deltas are better for comercial- hauling, turn sharper. Tadpoles are great for slalom or faster turns.

2). Height, weight, length, width, OSS, USS, brakes, tires, price - in short; what you prefer!

3). Side by side comparison if possible, trying several if possible, but trying to steer clear of trike addiction is VERY hard. Like a Lays potato chip commercial- I couldn't stop at just one!

countersTrike
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Old 04-06-07, 06:03 AM   #4
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Aikigreg's answer sounds pretty good. According to a current forum post on BROL the Greenspeed will have a lot smoother ride than the Catrike speed although the new 700 maybe a bit better than the speed in the ride department and its getting good reviews. If you will be doing long distances don't dicount the advantage of the same size wheels all round (1 tube/tire fits all)
Either way you will tend to bounce around a bit more than a 2 wheeled bent, I have a bad concrete road locally and it is fine on my GT3 until you are getting above 30~35 mph (down hill, the engine is not that good ).
You will find reviews of a range of trikes on BROL (www.bentrideronline.com) the older reviews are under the extra button at the top of the page.
If you will be transporting the trike by car it might be worth checking out folders unless you have a larger car or a small one that can handle a long trike.
Steering wise a direct steering trike has the grips/bars connected directly to the king pins, indirect will have tie rods connecting them to the kingpins, direct will be quicker and probally take a touch longer to adjust to, indirect will be a touch slower and more adjustable to where your hands can go.
Bar end shifters are the only way to go on a trike but that is just my opinion although alot seem to share it.
Tadpoles are where you will want to look as it sounds like you like to push your rides, as performance deltas are few and dear.
Most of the answers you asked for come down to personal taste/choice.
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Old 04-06-07, 09:44 AM   #5
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Yeah - tadpoles only for sped. It was a Catrike 700 that beat me in the race He was MUCH lower to the ground than I, had wheelfairings and the whole bit. Plus it was my first time on a trike and he was an experienced HPV racer. But he still would beat me anyway, just maybe not by such a margin
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Old 04-06-07, 01:30 PM   #6
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It seems the Greenspeed X5 and Catrike Speed are top contenders. What about the Challenge Trike or the ActionBent Tadpole?

name-------lbs---track---width---front/rear--clearance-seatAngle-Cost-Notes
GS X5------37----29.5----31-------16/16-------2.6-------30-----3245-Folds
Cat Speed--29----27.5----31.5-----16/20-------2.0-------31-----2350-Light & Low
Challenge---31-36--?------?--------20/26--------?----30-37,37-43-3500-Wing shape
AB Tadpole--37----32-----20/26-----6+----------?---------?------1400-Cheap

More Questions:
-- Other than the Challenge, which trikes have adjustable seat angles?
-- The tadpole seems remarkably inexpensive. How's it stack up against the X5 or Catrike Speed?
-- Does a bigger rear wheel necessarily mean a softer and faster ride?
-- Is low clearance an issue when you hit speed bumps or potholes?

Last edited by BikeZen.org; 04-06-07 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 04-06-07, 08:30 PM   #7
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I'm still very new to bents (especially trikes) myself, but I'd be glad to add my thoughts. First off, though, I saw your other thread and am very sorry to hear about your accident. Staying upright was one of my top priorities when choosing a 'bent because I have some health issues that could be made much worse by a fall, so I went with a trike. I tried a delta Sun, because that's what my LBS had, and hated it- it felt very unstable even at low speeds and was pretty sluggish. I'm not a fast rider by any stretch of the imagination but I want something I can grow with, so to speak. I looked into the Greenspeeds but even just sitting in them (GTO and GT3 I think) I wasn't comfortable. I know a lot of people love them and say they're great, but it was just my personal preference. I wanted a narrower, harder seat.

After asking around and doing some research I ended up buying an HPVelotechnik Scorpion tadpole.

Things I love about it:
-Carbon fiber "BodyLink" seat, adjustable in many directions/angles (fit was a huge priority because I have sciatica).
-Upgraded pad; the Airflow cushion is very cool and comfortable.
-Suspension for the seat; this is one of the features that quickly sold me. I've been over plenty of bumps and bridges very comfortably and am quite happy to have it. I've ridden over speedbumps without any clearance issues but haven't pushed it yet.
-USS
-Disc brakes on both fronts, independently operated (though there's an optional single-hand actuated system) and a parking brake. I haven't felt any brake steer.
-SOOOO much fun!! I see why people say trikes are addictive. I have a blast riding this thing; it turns very quickly, has a turning radius of 12'9" I believe, and stops on a dime.
-Handlebars are adjustable fore and aft so you can get pretty comfy.

Weight before adding rear rack and fenders is about 37 lbs. but it's easy to pick up. We barely managed to fit it in the car, but we have late 80s/early 90s Toyota Supra liftbacks and there isn't much room. The front wheels come off very quickly. Also, there is a folding model for '07 but I don't know the price. It has 20" wheels all the way around but I don't know enough to know if that's a good or bad. It also has grip shifters instead of bar-end but I don't mind them. It's also a beautiful trike and has a nice powder-coated finish.

Dislike:
-Price. At $3k with no accessories/options, it was a lot. I know there are FAR more expensive trikes out there, but we initially wanted to spend about half that. However, the comfort justified the price and I love it. It also appears to be much more well-made than the cheaper trikes and has a 10-year frame warranty (at least).

http://www.hpvelotechnik.com/produkte/index_e.html if you're interested.

Good luck and I wish you the best in your recovery.
Serena
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Old 04-06-07, 08:53 PM   #8
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You may want to consider a Catrike Road with a Velokit. The Road weighs in at about #30, it has 20" wheels all around so you don't need to deal with different sized tubes, and it's easy to add accessories to. A used one in excellent condition can be picked up for about $1500. The Velokit (shown in my avatar) is another $875 brand new, but it provides excellent protection from the weather and can be removed from the trike, rolled up about the size of a sleeping bag, and tossed in the back of a car in 10 min. It weighs less than #20. If it's 35 and rainy, I wear a short sleeve jersey, a windbreaker, and I don't need booties, warm socks, or anything beyond thin gloves.

I also have a Seiran, though I have the SL. The Road has a mesh rather than a solid seat, but I find I can move mine right along for long periods of time. I drop roadies all the time, including on climbs. 20mph is a sustainable pace on a Road for extended periods of time, though it is not the fastest trike out there.
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Old 04-06-07, 09:59 PM   #9
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wow I had no idea the x5 was so heavy - it really flies along effortlessly!
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Old 04-07-07, 01:48 AM   #10
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The challenge trike, it looks pretty but boy does it seem to lift a wheel easily.
Thread link with 2 small videos http://www.bentrideronline.com/messa...hallenge+trike
Low ground clearance in use is not an issue.
There is constant debate about big wheel small wheel, the answer is undecided
The ABT gets better reviews than its price would lead you to expect.

A fairing on a trike is brilliant, free speed. Mine is also in my avatar cost about $105 au, ugly, ultra light and significantly faster than a bare trike and wind helps instead of hindering.
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Old 04-09-07, 06:20 AM   #11
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Get a Catrike 700.
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Old 04-10-07, 12:19 AM   #12
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I still love my Actionbent Tadpole... And cheap was a very good deal (less than you listed). You obviously know your bike stuff so working with an importer shouldn't be an issue. If I were to consider an "upgrade" I wouldn't look anywhere else except Greenspeed, ICE, and maybe Catrike... But it would take a lot of convincing for me to give up my ABTT. If money is no object, look around for an ICE to testdrive.

If you're just trying to figure out if a trike is your type of ride... the ABTT is a good choice as resale on these trikes is 85-90% of new. That's hard to do with any of the higher $ models. So having said that, you probably want to search the used offerings as well.
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Old 04-10-07, 11:20 PM   #13
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boosteddreams: Thanks for making my trike buying decision harder! I read about the Scorpion and love the sound of it. I'm particularly impressed with the way the suspension is isolated from the main tube, so pedaling hard doesn't affect it. (That was a niggling concern with my Challenge Seiran.) I also like the sound of seat angle that can change on the fly with a single lever. Is it really as easy as the website describes? I've kind of dreamed about being able to choose a more upright angle in heavy traffic with little shoulder, and a seriously laid-back angle for other riding. With my Seiran, I had to schooch up or down slightly on the seat to get the angle right -- or spend 20 minutes with an Allen wrench!

However, I'm a little concerned about the bike's weight -- on LONG rides, a few extra pounds can really add up. (I weigh 145-150.) What's the Scorpion weigh?

Has anybody seen the Scorpion Fix in person (pictures here)? It's a foldable Scorpion -- supposedly down to a size that fits in the trunk (boot) of a Smartcar (one of those funny European ultra-compact cars)! That would definitely simplify transportation to the RUSA rides...

Unfortunately, regardless of what I pick, I'll have to wait a few months before I can test anything. I'm waiting for bone to grow back on my left hip... On the plus side, I've got time to do LOTS of research. Keep those great ideas coming!
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Old 04-11-07, 10:11 AM   #14
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The only concern I'd have with the foldable scorpion is that it sits so darn high off the ground. I'd be way worried on a high speed downhill curve. Stability is not only a 'hugging the road-factor' but a road condition-factor as well. A little bump on the inside wheel could have disasterous effects on a taller trike.
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Old 04-11-07, 08:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikeZen.org
boosteddreams: Thanks for making my trike buying decision harder! I read about the Scorpion and love the sound of it. I'm particularly impressed with the way the suspension is isolated from the main tube, so pedaling hard doesn't affect it. (That was a niggling concern with my Challenge Seiran.) I also like the sound of seat angle that can change on the fly with a single lever. Is it really as easy as the website describes? I've kind of dreamed about being able to choose a more upright angle in heavy traffic with little shoulder, and a seriously laid-back angle for other riding. With my Seiran, I had to schooch up or down slightly on the seat to get the angle right -- or spend 20 minutes with an Allen wrench!

However, I'm a little concerned about the bike's weight -- on LONG rides, a few extra pounds can really add up. (I weigh 145-150.) What's the Scorpion weigh?
You're welcome. To tip the seat back while riding you just reach back, loosen it, and the weight of your back on the seat pushes it down. To bring it up you have to loosen it, then bring your weight off the back and pull it up. It weighs around 37 lbs. or so according to the site; mine has a rear rack and fenders so it's a bit more. It's definitely worth considering IMO- I'd offer to let you try it out but you're a bit far.
Serena
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