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  1. #1
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    Exploring the world of recumbent "tadpoles" for my wife

    My wife was hit (in our truck) by an 18 wheeler a couple of years ago. It caused her a bevy of issues with her health and made her unable to do most activities, and she got NO exercise at all. I restored an old World Sport that my mother had and the S.O. rode it for a few months before her health deteriorated to a point she could no longer safely do so a bit over a year ago. She really enjoyed riding with me and our son, but due to continued malnutrition she has developed vertigo and passes out every now and again. This combination makes it impossible for her to ride the (two wheeled) bike she loves so much.
    She is not, and is never going to be in the condition to ride any significant distance again. Her condition is not going to get better, but she does need SOME manner of activity in order to help maintain a bit of muscle tone and circulatory and respiratory fitness. I am considering trying to find her a tadpole recumbent to use for neighborhood rides. My reasoning is that so long as we stay in neighborhood roads or MUP's that even if she has a "spell" and passes out that she should be able to safely drift to the side of the road and apply brakes before fully passing out or becoming too dizzy to hold herself up. It is my hope that getting her some aerobic exercise may help with these problems which cannot be getting better with all the inactivity.

    With all that said, I would like to get some advice and tips on where to start reading up on these machines. I will need something inexpensive and easy to operate. It is not terribly important that it be easily transportable, I have a p/u truck I can use to move it to locations we ride, or we can just stay in the neighborhood for her rides.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    It sounds as if one of the recent low-end high-seat models might suit your wife's needs and abilities. The trike forum at BentRider Online would be a useful resource. Though some very strong riders post there you will also hear from cyclists who are dealing with a variety of physical challenges.
    George
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  3. #3
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    Tadpoles are built with the seats rather low to the ground, and can be difficult to get in and out of. Delta trikes tend to have the seat somewhat higher off the ground.

    Deltas also have the ability to be hooked together, one behind the other. This way both people "stay together" but only one needs to pedal, they can take turns being in front, and they will both stop when either hits the brakes. You need two deltas though, not just one. And you might have to make the hitches yourself, since not all companies offer them. It's not a greatly complicated task though.

    Sun has some cheaper deltas and tadpoles, but even the lowest-priced trikes are up around $1000. http://www.sunbicycles.com/products.php?cl1=RECUMBENT Sun is dealer-only sales and doesn't give their MSRPs on the public website, so you'd have to look around online at what they're currently priced at.

    Sun also has the 'sociable' Quadri-bent kit from Blackbird Cycles, that joins two recumbents side-by-side. This is great for the riders but it is as wide as a car, and that fact can cause issues with where it is practical to use. It's also not a cheap option, as it would hit up around $3000 or so total.

    KMX has one cheaper tadpole, the Tornado, for $800 + shipping but it only has a 3-speed hub. http://kmxtrikes.com/models/tornado/
    It is easy to shift and three speeds could work okay for short / slow riding. The front sprocket can be changed inexpensively if the gears prove to be too high or too low.
    ,,,
    If she wanted more gears or a wider gearing range, to switch it to a 7- or 8-speed Nexus hub would cost $250-$300 more plus labor.

  4. #4
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    The LBS told me that they can get the Sun tadpoles, so I plan on giving them a look. I will be thinking specifically about the low center of gravity models. With the possiblity of passing out, I want her to be able to lay there safely w/o the possibility of falling out.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    The Sun tadpoles don't impress me. For a similar price you can get nicer machines from Performer and Trident, and even Terratrike. Even some of the 8 speed KMX models are a better option.

  6. #6
    Senior Member pick's Avatar
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    The COG of a trike won't prevent her from falling out while stationary...it (lower COG) does aid in slowing a roll over, however.
    car very lite dude
    back on 2 wheels - future Big Dummy pilot!!

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    Don't rule out a delta. Tadpoles are a barrel of fun if you ride fast.
    Try to stay in the lighter weight side, definately under 40 lbs.
    Plan on something that has low gearing, or budget to add low gearing.

  8. #8
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    I like the Performer trikes, but noted that they are having some manner of issue with thier website that won't allow you to see pricing. The only other place I have found anything about them is Utah Bikes. The Terra-Trike gets nice around that Tour 2 level, but the Rover just looks like junk to me. Similarly, all the ones I see with that adjustable boom setup concern me quite a bit. If the boom moves, its going to move, and squeak, and rattle..I think I would rather go with a fixed boom setup. The Catrike is by far MY favorite, just from looking. Of course, it is the highest priced bike I have looked at as well. The KMX carts look pretty good for the money, but that adjustable boom thing comes back into play. I noted that once you get around that $2K level (which is too much right now anyway) that the features start becoming pretty standard, and good, across most of the lines. The Greenspeeds (and etc.) are just too high priced for me to even consider looking at, unless I came across one used.

    I have discovered one major problem with looking at all these tadpole trikes. Now I want one.
    It appears that the closest place around that stocks (any of) these is either in Decatur (which I don't recall seeing any in stock there, will have to call) or Warner Robbins. My LBS mentioned being able to order only the Sun models. For the price, I would be hard set to purchase the Sun CX over the TT Tour 2 simply due to weight, so I think they are going to lose out on my money this go round. I have found a few used ones online that might be worth going to ride on if the owners don't mind, by way of window shopping....won't actually have the cash in hand for one of these till around tax time, if then, so I have the time to look around and become more informed.

    Thanks much for the helpful suggestions so far.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by punkncat View Post
    I like the Performer trikes, but noted that they are having some manner of issue with thier website that won't allow you to see pricing. The only other place I have found anything about them is Utah Bikes.
    RBR,Recumbent Bike Riders (www.rbr.info) and Boomer Bents (http://www.boomerbentsandbikes.com/) are US dealers.

    RBR just became a dealer very recently. The Elita/Tiagra 30speed equipped aluminum framed trikes run about $1600.

    No matter what trike you end up with, consider rigging up some kind of seatbelt for your wife. Also, if it has front fenders that would be good - they will help protect injury if she were to slump over onto one while still moving a bit.

  10. #10
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    I had already considered a few safety devices being built into the seat, if it is feasible to do, like a five point belt. I know it sounds extreme, but her passing out is completely random, and I don't want her falling over, or into the wheels as you mentioned. She has shown an interest in the electric assisted trikes so that she could go with us on more lengthy rides. I am concerned a bit about whether that system has a pedal/spring such that if there is no feedback (something being held down or on) that it would simply shut off. I wouldn't mind there being some manner of failsafe on the braking system either, so that it would pull the right front brake if some other action wasn't being taken to slow and pull the trike off the road.
    Something else I looked at where the tandem recumbent tadpoles and delta's that would allow her to ride with me, and not have to be so concerned about losing the pilot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by punkncat View Post
    ... She has shown an interest in the electric assisted trikes so that she could go with us on more lengthy rides. I am concerned a bit about whether that system has a pedal/spring such that if there is no feedback (something being held down or on) that it would simply shut off. ...
    BionX would be the electric motor setup for that. It works by only helping when there's tension on the chain from the rider pedaling.

    The brake that works automatically is normally termed a 'dead man's brake'. I've never heard of one for bicycles.


    The tandem deltas would cost money, but would cover both these issues at once. Plus they can be used separately whenever the desire arose.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    The tandem deltas would cost money, but would cover both these issues at once. Plus they can be used separately whenever the desire arose.
    That's how me and my wife roll. Hase Kettweisels - like the green one my wife is on in this pic, can be fitted with harnesses. Hase has all kinds of special needs and adaptive cycling accessories.

    Another good form of tandem would be a Hase Pino like tandem Or the much less expensive one by Performer (only about $1500);





  13. #13
    I am the Snail~! Peter_C's Avatar
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    Well I have a Rover 8-speed and like it a lot. TerraTrike is in MI, their trikes come with a lifetime warranty, and prices start in the low $900 buck range. As stated above, BROL is the most active trike forum I know. There are multiple tadpole trikes with seat heights +16", and the Rover is 18.5".

    "Lightfoot" in MT custom makes trikes, including special seating, etc for those with balance issues. While they are more spendy, you may want to at least check them out.

    The neat thing about a tadpole that fits you well, and that focuses on comfort, is you can get a trike that has all-day comfort, that will keep your knees and hips at less than a 90 degree angle (9 knee surgeries, left knee replaced, right hip replaced, etc), which is very good for rehab. Going to clipless pedals will keep the feet from coming loose, and there are many other things you can do depending on the trike you get for her. I was riding (slowly) less than four weeks after my hip replacement. While I do not know what her issues are, there is a large amount of riders on BROL that are past 'perfect health' - so I am sure you can get most, if not all your questions answered there.

    FYI - TerraTrike is offering a 30-day test ride, if you don't like it, ship it back for a refund.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by punkncat View Post
    If the boom moves, its going to move, and squeak, and rattle..I think I would rather go with a fixed boom setup.
    Many 2-wheeled recumbents (including mine) also have adjustable booms, and squeaking or rattling is just never an issue. It would be like a properly fitted metal seatpost on an upright squeaking or rattling, and I haven't heard of anyone mentioning that as a problem.

  15. #15
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Recumbomatic View Post
    Many 2-wheeled recumbents (including mine) also have adjustable booms, and squeaking or rattling is just never an issue. It would be like a properly fitted metal seatpost on an upright squeaking or rattling, and I haven't heard of anyone mentioning that as a problem.
    That is good to know. Thanks for letting me know.

    That Performer 27 sp is a very attractive bike for the price and components.
    Last edited by punkncat; 11-18-11 at 11:21 PM.
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  16. #16
    I am the Snail~! Peter_C's Avatar
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    Be sure to look at the height differences between the seat height, and the height of the BB. Most riders looking for comfortable and relaxed prefer the BB to be at least 3-4" lower than the seat.
    Peter_C
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  17. #17
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Im sure a trike would be a great thing for your wife. I guess I might suggest a Terratrike Rambler. It is a nice looking trike with its round tubes. Also the seat is higher and would be easier for your wife to get onto, and off of.

    Also the price point on the Rambler is excellent for such a good quality trike.
    Last edited by rydabent; 11-19-11 at 08:49 AM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member PaPa's Avatar
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    Sorry, I do NOT agree with the tadpole approach for a person in such an unpredictable condition. Two issue come immediately to mind;

    1. The infamous 'Leg Suck'. A condition when a foot drops off the pedal and is dragged under the front axle. Short of physically securing her feet to the pedals, the risk (a VERY serious risk) is still possible. All it takes is once, and she could easily be on crutches the rest of her life. Clipless isn't foolproof, especially for those who cannot properly adjust them, and learn the proper release motion.

    2. If she ever becomes completely unconscious, how will get her home? Independent tads don't tandemize or tow very well.

    I'm not a Sun advocate, but under the circumstances given, I suggest you look for a used Sun EZ-3 (better yet, a pair to connect in tandem as Steamer suggested). Craigslist is often flooded with'em, and can be frequently had for half the price of a Rover. Start here:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&s...e+Search&gbv=1

    The second budget approach is to build.

    I have less than $500 in the delta pictured below - which includes the electric assist w/lithium batteries.



    Last edited by PaPa; 11-20-11 at 12:58 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaPa View Post
    Sorry, I do NOT agree with the tadpole approach for a person in such an unpredictable condition. Two issue come immediately to mind;

    1. The infamous 'Leg Suck'. A condition when a foot drops off the pedal and is dragged under the front axle. Short of physically securing her feet to the pedals, the risk (a VERY serious risk) is still possible. All it takes is once, and she could easily be on crutches the rest of her life. Clipless isn't foolproof, especially for those who cannot properly adjust them, and learn the proper release motion.

    2. If she ever becomes completely unconscious, how will get her home? Independent tads don't tandemize or tow very well.
    These are very good points. But I do think the leg suck issue is addressed quite well by clipless pedals. What lingering problem would persist by using them? None that I can see. The unclipping 'thing' isn't an issue on a trike. You typically clip in once and clip out once on a trike ride, at the beginning and end. Its not like you do it all the time, and assistance can be provided if need be at each of those instances.

    As for getting her home without her being able to pedal much (not necessarily during a black out of some kind), yeah- some form of a tandem is the only real way - and ideally the tandem would have independan pedaling system so her legs would not be required to move in such instances. A pair of deltas is the ultimate in IPS.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Check out the Trident Trikes Stowaway.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

  21. #21
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    They can be pricey (most everything is custom), but Lightfoot Cycles has a lot of different ways to deal with various levels of ability: http://www.lightfootcycles.com/trailertrike.php

    FWIW: one local couple has a son who's severely disabled (cerebral palsy, I think, along with other conditions). Nevertheless, they take him on rides on a trailer-trike behind a Kettweisel with electric assist. They cover some impressive distances.
    Jeff Wills

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  22. #22
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    The passing out generally only lasts between a few seconds to a minute and a half or so. One of the reasons I have been considering a tadpole is how low some of them are. Additionally, with her already reclined I am hoping that it will help keep the episodes down. It doesn't always happen standing, but at least with her already laying back there should be nowhere to fall. I will be using toe straps so there are no issues with feet falling off pedals, already thought of that.

    The issue I am coming across right now is actually finding one to ride. None of the shops nearby carry anything as the price point and floor space required are high. All of the local shops are "Sun dealers", which I am under the impression that everyone is or could be. No one carries any of the nicer 'bents in a tadpole, and she would definately like to ride before buying. Looks like we will have to make a road trip one afternoon and go to one of a couple of places a good way up the road and let her try some things out. Given that we don't actually have the funds to buy right now it will give us time to look and educate ourselves about the various makes and models before we pull the trigger.
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  23. #23
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    If you can get down to S. Florida, try Atlantic Bicycle.

    http://www.atlanticbicycle.com/produ...x?categoryId=1


    Or maybe Power On Cycling, near Knoxville, TN. http://poweroncycling.com/

  24. #24
    Senior Member toolbear's Avatar
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    The Terratrike Rover is a good entry level machine. Quite comfortable and the seat height is similar to that of a folding chair. TT is a good company to deal with. They have excellent customer support.

    You need to insure that you have LOW gearing, so the single speed model that you mod to a DR system might be one approach. Why pay for an 8 speed IGH that is not low enough for hills?

    <http://www.terratrike.com/

    For reading up, go to Utah Trikes and browse their articles and offerings.

    <http://www.utahtrikes.com/>

    To find the trikers, come over to Bent Rider On Line and read the mail. Tell them your problem and you will get all sorts of solutions and suggestions.

    <http://www.bentrideronline.com/messageboard/forumdisplay.php?f=13>

    FWIW, I test drove a Sun. Did not buy it. Don't see many at BROL. Word.
    TrailBear

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