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  1. #1
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Bike or trike for dirt/gravel roads?

    Not talking about technical single track mind you, but curious as to whether a LWB, tadpole, or a delta would be the wiser choice for less than smooth asphalt.

  2. #2
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    I've successfully ridden many miles of flat, unpaved roads on both SWB and LWB bikes. As long as the surface isn't too loose (think deep gravel) and you're not trying to set speed records, you should be fine.
    Jeff Wills

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  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    there are full suspension quads..

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    I've had pretty good luck on hard dirt with a V-Rex, when it's not too loose. I think appropriately wide tires on any bike will help a lot, 650X23s aren't going to work.

  5. #5
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    Purpose built would be something like a Lightfoot Ranger (which will also do singletrack). I'd think any trike with larger tires would work fine- the wife takes her Greenspeed Magnum off road all the time chasing the kids. As long as the front tire isn't too lightly loaded (some LWB's) they all work on dirt.
    Lightning P-38 / M5 M-Racer/Ryan Vanguard

  6. #6
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    That may be a good place for the new fat tire TerraTrike.

  7. #7
    sch
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    Agree LWB very unstable on any looseness under tire: low loading hence low grip means easy dig in and
    slide out with any turning of FW. Even uprites can go down on gravel at low speeds (higher the speed, the
    less stable)and their FW is almost directly below the steering axis compared with bents other than bacchetta
    classic types. Pure straight line is fairly stable with any bike but no one rides straight off road or at low
    speed.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    http://rothrockcyrcle.wordpress.com/2012/08/

    http://rothrockcyrcle.wordpress.com/

    In trikes, I'd go with a Hase Kettweisel with a differential and the fattest damn tires I could fit on the back.

    In bikes, I find my Giro 26 works very well on gravel roads and double track with 1.75" tires at an appropriate pressure:




  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    I do short jaunts off pavement with my Catrike Pocket regularly, and that's running Marathon Racers. In the past I've done similar things with a Vision R54 and a Challenge Mistral (not at the same time, of course).

  10. #10
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    One of the main considerations that pushed me toward a trike instead of a bike were stability issues on all surfaces. I've ridden over everything that I had the clearance for. This year I changed from a 20" rear wheel to a 26" which has made things much easier with the idler higher from the ground. It's been nice riding through the winter, even over rutted ice which would have been disaster with my old trike. When touring this year, I won't have to worry about it when I tackle fresh grated roads with loose rocks the size of pigeon eggs.

    Bikes generally do have better clearance, I'll admit. There've been cycle paths next to roads that I couldn't ride because the snow plowings to either side of it left too little space for the width between my front wheels.

  11. #11
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
    In trikes, I'd go with a Hase Kettweisel with a differential and the fattest damn tires I could fit on the back.
    Or a Steintrikes Mad Max

    Last edited by delcrossv; 03-28-13 at 09:26 AM.
    Lightning P-38 / M5 M-Racer/Ryan Vanguard

  12. #12
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by delcrossv View Post
    Or a Steintrikes Mad Max
    Traction on gravelly, muddy hills would be my concern. The 2 RWD delta has abundant traction in such circumstances. Also, if you get the Hase with an IGH, ground clearance is superb.

  13. #13
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
    Traction on gravelly, muddy hills would be my concern. The 2 RWD delta has abundant traction in such circumstances. Also, if you get the Hase with an IGH, ground clearance is superb.
    True on the clearance but you can't beat Stein's suspension. A diff. is really nice when it's slick on a delta but I'm not sure that it's not solved inherently with the tadpole configuration (driive force is on the centerline). Either would be great fun for "off roading", but if it's gets so muddy/loose that you'd need 3.5"+ tires, you wouldn't want to be there on a trike anyway IMO.
    Lightning P-38 / M5 M-Racer/Ryan Vanguard

  14. #14
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by delcrossv View Post
    True on the clearance but you can't beat Stein's suspension. A diff. is really nice when it's slick on a delta but I'm not sure that it's not solved inherently with the tadpole configuration (driive force is on the centerline). Either would be great fun for "off roading", but if it's gets so muddy/loose that you'd need 3.5"+ tires, you wouldn't want to be there on a trike anyway IMO.
    Having experience with a 2WD Kett and two different brands of tadpole (Trice and Logo), the difference is traction is huge. There's really no contest. I could ride up hills in 5 inches of snow on the Kett. I would lose traction on the same hills that merely had a little fine gravel on them (from wintertime anti-skid treatment) on the tads.

  15. #15
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    If you're not going up large grades, you can try converting a mountain bike with a Cruzbike conversion kit. People have ridden off-road successfully with these, but being FWD and with the weight distribution, steep/slippery inclines will be problematic.
    http://Charles.Plager.net
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  16. #16
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
    Having experience with a 2WD Kett and two different brands of tadpole (Trice and Logo), the difference is traction is huge. There's really no contest. I could ride up hills in 5 inches of snow on the Kett. I would lose traction on the same hills that merely had a little fine gravel on them (from wintertime anti-skid treatment) on the tads.
    More weight over the rear wheels on the Delta?
    Lightning P-38 / M5 M-Racer/Ryan Vanguard

  17. #17
    Senior Member Steamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by delcrossv View Post
    More weight over the rear wheels on the Delta?
    Yes, I think that is the reason it has more traction.

    On flat ground, weight distribution on a Hase Kett is something like 85R-15F (or perhaps 80R-20F).

    Whereas a tadpole is more like 33R-66F (equal weight on each wheel).

    Of course, any trike gets even more rear biased as the slope increases, but the delta starts out more rear biased and has some advantage.

    On a delta with a differential, there might be some ancillary benefit from having two drive wheels. During moments when one tire has less traction, torque transfers to the wheel that has more traction. It's not clear if the Hase differentials are truly limited slip or not, but even if they aren't, in practice there seems to be enough drag in the diff's gears that at least some torque transfers to the wheel with more traction. All I truly know is the functional result - I was repeatedly amazed as to what I could climb on the Kett. It helped that I had a 13" low gear too. Nice even application of power was possible even when going very slowly.

    Here was the trike I used to have. (it was my wife's trike in the summer, and I rode it in the winter a fair amount).

    Imagining that the rider's center of gravity is near to their navel, you can see how rear biased the weight distribution is. Even the trike's COG is back pretty far on a delta. Compare the location of the rider's COG to where the front and rear axles are. 85-15 is probably a pretty fair estimate.


    [IMG][/IMG]


    Last edited by Steamer; 03-28-13 at 03:50 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    In the video posted by delcrossv, did you see how much the frames flexed in those slow motion jumps?

  19. #19
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    In the video posted by delcrossv, did you see how much the frames flexed in those slow motion jumps?
    I didn't see a lot of frame flex. I did, however, see a lot of suspension movement, which is the point of the Steintrikes Mad Max.
    Jeff Wills

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Not talking about technical single track mind you, but curious as to whether a LWB, tadpole, or a delta would be the wiser choice for less than smooth asphalt.
    I think it really depends on how agressive a rider you are.

    If you like to get on the back trails like the smoother rail-to-trails rides and don't go too fast or ride too agressively, anything with good wide tires will do.

    If you like to ride faster and more agressively then a good mountain bike is in order.

    If you want to take longer slower (except downhill) rides such as day long tours on back roads or trails then a tadpole is ideal.

    For example, I want to be able to get back up on the John Wayne trail and ride through the back trail for 50 miles or so on the weekend on a beautiful clear day. My tadpole will allow me to be looking around without worrying about balance or deep pockets of gravel. It is just a whole different expereince.

    They are very cool, mine has a 90 gear setup so I can take any hill.

    I for example just purchased a tadpole because I want to get back on the trials and see the sights as I ride and my DF just forces me to keep my head down looking for those deep pockets of gravel and dirt that could throw me off the bike.

    I have ridden and test ridden many tadpoles and they are my first choice now although I do like to get out on my DF touring bike which is an Myata 1000 (I call her 'old love') and just tear on down the road.

    Not sure that helps but good luck.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Tandem427's Avatar
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    I like trikes and they have their place, but consider that on rougher roads it is easier to ride the smooth line with two wheels inline than it is with three separate tracks. With three wheels you have to either try to straddle the hole or obstacle between a front and rear wheel or go around it.

  22. #22
    Senior Member osco53's Avatar
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    Give this a look see ,, http://shop.terratrike.com/Fat-Tire-...p/tt800174.htm The Video Is worth your time XD
    Scott Spark 760, Tour Easy LE, Sun EZ-3 sx

  23. #23
    Senior Member Tandem427's Avatar
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    Rough road (washboard?) - Suspension or taller tire better than small tires.

    Gravel - Wide tire, knobby like a mountain bike tire.

    Dirt road, cars(?), maybe in the wind, thinking here about dirt blowing along the ground - the higher your head, the better. I've been on my Greenspeed GTR tadpole trike when dirt was blowing, didn't like it at all. You get hit by all the bigger pieces when you are low to the ground.

    Dirt road with rain turning to mud - an wider tire better than a narrow tire.

    A full-suspension trike or quad with big, knobby tires would be a lot of fun. I like the Utah Trikes quad but it needs full-suspension in order to keep all four wheels in contact with the ground.

    I went with the Lightfoot Ranger Bigfoot last year and rode it on the gravel and dirt trails all winter long. The fat tires smooth out the bumps and have great float and traction on snow and mud as long as it doesn't get too deep. The only thing missing that would make it better is a rear suspension.


  24. #24
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    NO CONTEST HERE. With my Scorp FS on a steep gravelly hill in Vermont, I slid into a ditch and had to walk here up over a half a mile. With my Hase Lepus delta trike with Differential I scurried up the road like a mountain goat. Tadpoles are near useless on some steep gravel roads, and in some icey and muddy conditions, whereas the Lepus eats the same conditions for dinner.

  25. #25
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Since going to bents both bike and trike I have pretty much given up on riding on dirt or dirty crushed limestone trails. Cant say I miss them much. When it is really dry the limestone trails leave you bike nearly white, and the rider too. I can live without that.

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