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  1. #1
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Tadpole Vs. Delta - advantages-disadvantages?

    Could someone please provide an unbiased comparison of the relative strengths and weaknesses of both delta and tadpole style trikes? I'm sure some magazine must have done such a writeup, but I haven't found one yet. I keep seeing delta trikes without front brakes - why? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Shaman's Avatar
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    I would invite you to search Bentrider Online (BROL) for this question. It has been discussed to death and it all comes down to what you are more comfortable with. You won't find to many unbiased opinions as very few have or had both.
    Today is a great day to ride!

  3. #3
    Senior Member geebee's Avatar
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    I have both, a GS GT3 and a homemade ultra low delta. The following is from a post I made on BROL.

    "It depends to a degree on whether you intend to ride fast and want good stability or whether you are more concerned with an easy to get on/off seat and a tighter turning circle?
    I have both but my delta is lower and thus more stable than any delta you can buy. Basically unless you can't get down to the seat on a tadpole it's the better trike (flame suit on).
    Reasons being, a massive range of choice across all price ranges, no common prodution delta will be as stable, a tadpole if ridden at 40 mph down an average quality street will bounce around and feel twitchy especially at first but will also feel stable, try the same on a delta and it will be less twitch but the bouncing will feel like you are unstable even though you are not, a tadpole will out brake a delta unless the delta has all 3 wheels braked reason being weight transfers to the front wheels under braking assists a tadpole and does the opposite to a delta, extreme speed cornering on a tadpole will result in minor under steer the same in a delta will result in over steer (under is accepted as safer and less likely to result in a crash) but this last bit is probaly irrelevant as I would assume that most production deltas would not corner fast enough to have this occur.
    Just my opinion based on real world riding but biased by the fact I live in a very hilly area (trikes are fast downhill) and like to ride and corner fast."

    The no front brake delta is I feel to make the trike easy to use, a front brake will require modulation as a bike does, where as with twin rear brakes you can just grab a handle flat out with zero concern about anything untoward happening but it also means that at speed you are loosing a large chunk of braking force due to the weight transfer.
    Another Brol post quote.
    "My delta with rear only brakes exhibits zero brake steer at any speed so I don't think the Anura is missing anything there.
    On steep high speed downhill runs, the rear only brakes on the delta are better than any df but can't touch a tadpole in anyway, my brakes are sufficient if I desire to lock up both rear wheels on the delta but in the above senario the weight transfer greatly reduces the traction.
    I was nearly cleaned up by a car not giving way and misjudging my speed in the above senario last weekend and had time to think "sh..t, can I slow down enough, I wish i was in the tadpole" followed by "I may just fit a front brake to this trike" whilst trying to stop and change direction, a Low C of G is a wonderful thing.
    A front wheel brake is a great feature for hilly riding and is a major plus on the Anura.
    If you ride slow, on the flat and not in traffic it is probally not as important."

    For ultimate performance buy a tadpole for all else which ever you prefer.
    My delta has a 5" seat height and basically can hang with my GT3 but if you are in a life threatening position as stated above the tadpole would be the weapon of choice, but my delta is good fun, performs well and cost next to nothing to build, forgot to mention its as ugly as hell.
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    Delta for seat height and carrying capacity, tadpole for riding hard and fast. The two deltas I've test ridden were both more oriented for utility service ie replace the auto for trips to the grocery

  5. #5
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Thanks for the input - I'll also check out the bentrideronline site. Second question - given the (severe) weight transfer to the front under braking conditions, why do trike makers bother to put brakes on the rear at all? It would seem that tadpoles do 99% of their braking with the front two wheels, and I'd expect that deltas would do at least 95% on their (single) front wheel. With these ratios, it seems that rear brakes are just needless complication & weight?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Shaman's Avatar
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    You will not find rear brakes on tadpole trikes for normal braking. They actually become dangerous as the rear will come around if you try and use them hard. What you will find on some tadpoles are "drag brakes" for long downhills normally for touring or tandems (just to lighten the load on the main brakes). You will also see them on KMX Karts since they double as "stunt karts" where a rear brake gives you the ability to do stunts.

    As for delta trikes and brakes... almost every state or local ordinance requires at least two brakes just in case one fails. I suspect that the weight distribution on most delta trikes are biased to the rear enough that the rear wheel braking is quite sufficient.
    Today is a great day to ride!

  7. #7
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaman
    ...I suspect that the weight distribution on most delta trikes are biased to the rear enough that the rear wheel braking is quite sufficient.
    One would think that, but a recent magazine review I read stated that their experience was that not only did the rear wheels on delta trikes lock up and skid under heavy braking but also that the stopping distance (for a rear-brake-only delta trike vs. a front-brake+rear tadpole trike) was approximately a third longer. Despite the "normal" weight distribution for delta trikes, the weight-transfer to the front is inevitable under braking conditions.

    The above seems consistent with the physics. Since the front wheel does most of the braking (regardless of number of wheels and regardless of wheel arrangement), it seems that a dual-front-disc, front-wheel-only pair of brakes would provide both redundancy and superior stopping distance. Of course, this is just theory and I could be wrong...

  8. #8
    Senior Member Shaman's Avatar
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    Agreed... just get a tadpole; problem solved!

    Seriously, I guess I'd want a Delta to have both front and rear brakes. In this sense, they would be no different than a DF.
    Today is a great day to ride!

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    Brakes need to be equal to the performance of the trike. I wouldn't think that I would routinely break into the double digits on a delta, especially if I had a load of groceries or my dog on board. So I am not surprised that a delta doesn't have the sheer stopping power, and it may not be possible to get it, I don't know.

    On a tadpole where I am often riding between 18 and 25 mph, and faster down hill, I want brakes that stop right now with good modulation and w/o the potential of a stopee, the lifting of the rear wheel. My Windcheetah fits that bill, my RS24 less so and the Catrike I used to have did not.

  10. #10
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by cfblue
    ...lifting of the rear wheel. My Windcheetah fits that bill, my RS24 less so and the Catrike I used to have did not.
    How interesting! What is the difference between the Windcheetah and the Catrike that makes the first so much more controllable and less likely to endo? Is it the brake-type, the modulation capability, or the weight-distribution? Thanks!

  11. #11
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    This very question resulted in a rather humerous exchange of emails between me (tadpole owner) and a friend in Milwaukee (delta trike owner). He referred to tadpole trikes as dork trikes and I retalliated with delta trikes being granny trikes. Eventually he came around and actually tried riding a tadpole trike. Dork or not, he is now a tadpole owner. I've let quite a few people try riding both of my trikes a 2003 WW 3.4 and a 2001 Greenspeed GTO. I'd say the biggest downside of a tadpole is the inability of a lot of people to get back out of the seat. I've had to physically haul a few back out of the trike because they simply could not get back up on their feet.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Shaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasTriker
    ...I've had to physically haul a few back out of the trike because they simply could not get back up on their feet.
    That was a lame excuse to stay in the trike for another round!
    Today is a great day to ride!

  13. #13
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    How interesting! What is the difference between the Windcheetah and the Catrike that makes the first so much more controllable and less likely to endo? Is it the brake-type, the modulation capability, or the weight-distribution? Thanks!
    Without looking at specs, I'd guess weight distribution. On my Cattrike Road, doing an endo is a piece of cake.

    Having said that, you have to jam the brakes at speed to do this and I wouldn't recommend doing that on any kind of bike unless you want to crash.

  14. #14
    Approaching Nirvana megaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek
    On my Cattrike Road, doing an endo is a piece of cake.

    Having said that, you have to jam the brakes at speed to do this and I wouldn't recommend doing that on any kind of bike unless you want to crash.
    I've rolled my Catrike over due to taking a corner to fast, but I never done an endo. Twice in the past month I've locked up the front brakes in a panic stop and I haven't lifted the rear wheel off the ground. But there may be couple of reasons for this. I locked them up at about 15 to 18 mph and I leaned back in the seat. I left black skid marks and one guy said he didn't think I could stop that fast. I've read where an endo is fairly easy to do if you lock the brakes up between 5 and 10 mph, and you don't lean back.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."
    -- Albert Einstein

  15. #15
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    At least one model of KMX Karts can take a roller on the bottom bracket so you can hit the brakes to flip it up and then roll on that and the two 'front' wheels.

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