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Cons of tadpole trikes?

Old 06-25-10, 12:53 AM
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wild animals
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Cons of tadpole trikes?

Hi everybody.

I made a similar thread in the recumbent forum, but I think that's the wrong place, since people there love their recumbents! I'm wondering about the negatives of tadpole trikes, and things to look out for or consider, because I'm already sold on the idea and don't want to make a $2500 mistake!

I have a ton of wrist pain (I have nightmares every night, and I wake up mad, because my body hurts and I just want to ride my bike, but my bike makes my wrist hurt) that goes into my arm and shoulders. So I need to get a bike that keeps my arms low with absolutely no weight on them.

I want to commute 22 miles round trip (mostly hilly backroads, but 4 miles total of highway shoulder), ride centuries and brevets (at least the shorter ones) and tour and camp for up to a week or so at a time.

Does that sound like the job for a tadpole? Since I am a bigger lady, will my legs tire from being out in front of me? Will my neck get a crink from leaning back so much? Does it hurt to run over potholes? Am I going to be useless going up 13% grades?

I'm not sure what all the considerations are for recumbents so I need to know the problems to look for. I just don't want to get my hopes all up and then buy a crazy-expensive vehicle and be bitterly disappointed. I have done that a few times and each time the bike has gotten more expensive and the pain has gotten worse. Thanks for any help!
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Old 06-25-10, 06:52 AM
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The biggest con I can see for a tadpole is the physical size of it. Harder to transport, harder to fit on the side of the road or through trail posts, and depending on the model, harder to see in traffic. All that having been said, I own a Sun Ez-1 recumbent bike and it's great, I can ride it all day in comfort. One thing i don't like about it is the balance, it's more difficult for me to hold a line while starting up or going slow, and in traffic this makes me very nervous. For our club rides, I've switched over to an old Fuji 10-speed--finally found a bike in my tall size--as we only ride for about 1.5 hours and I can tolerate the back and wrist pain for that short of a ride. The 10-speed is also 10+ pounds lighter than the recumbent, but if I had bought a better $$$ recumbent, bike-weight wouldn't be an issue. For any long rides I will either plan on taking my recumbent or plan in plenty of stops to stretch out my back and relieve my wrists. Oh, one thing, when dogs show up, I find my face much closer to the level of their jaws when riding my recumbent, it doesn't ruin the recumbent experience for me, but it's a factor none-the-less.
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Old 06-25-10, 08:00 AM
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I think that BPJ hit it on the head. At least where I live, there are wooden posts at the entrances to the MUPs; I can ride wetween them on my Surly, but a tadpole rider would have to dismount and lift it over. Not a big deal really, but that was the first thing that I thought of when I first saw them on the net. The width (Nearly three feet) would make it nearly unrideable, for commuting anyway, in these parts as there are no bike lanes and the shoulders go randomly from about 30 inches to 0"-3" for no apparent reason. They seem like pretty nice rigs, might even buy one some day, but the width just kind of scares me.
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Old 06-25-10, 08:21 AM
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In addition to what is said above, most tadpole trikes are rather low to the ground. Some people have trouble sitting down/getting up from one. You have to straddle the boom, hold on to the front wheels, and lower yourself to the seat. I've done it once while trying one out. I'd love to have one. My wife, on the other hand, would have trouble.

I love my recumbent two-wheeler though.
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Old 06-25-10, 08:39 AM
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I forget where I read it, but a guy went from a 'bent to a tadpole, and back to a 'bent. His issues were pot-holes, width issues, not being able to swerve around and miss stuff, the weight, and the only benefit he saw was no balence issues - and that was only a help at low speeds.

He felt the small gains of three wheels was far out-weighed by the hassles, lower speed, weight, etc...

Based on what you wrote, why not consider a 2 wheel 'bent?
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Old 06-25-10, 09:03 AM
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Have you already experimented with a 2 wheel bike that sits you up straight and has no pressure on your arms? Do you know what it is that is causing your pain? Arthritis?
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Old 06-25-10, 09:11 AM
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Since the OP mentions a hilly commute, I have to ask: didn't I hear that hills are more difficult with a tadpole, or perhaps any recumbent, than a regular upright bike?
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Old 06-25-10, 11:02 AM
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BigPolishJimmy: Those are some of the things I was worried about...I ride on a lot of narrowish country roads, and I worry about how far over I'll be able to get. But on a tadpole, I'd at least know that I'm not going to wobble into traffic if I'm starting up slowly. So that's good!

Chris0: Yeah, the width seems like one of the biggest issues. Luckily I don't have to squeeze through the barrier on an MUP. But that's only because we don't have an MUP. heh

dcrowell, what do you love about your recumbent? What do you dislike, or did you have to adjust to? I'm open to the idea of 2-wheelers but I don't want my arms up in the air if they don't have to be, and I don't want to fall over on hills or at low speeds near traffic. There are so many kinds of recumbents that I'm a little overwhelmed!

Peter, I will! I will try some at the shop. A trike sounded nicer to me because I spend so much time on hills, and I'm not a natural climber or fast in any way. You've brought up great points, especially since I was already wondering how hard it would be to not run things over when I'll have 3 times as many wheel lines to watch for. Apparently it's hard. Dang.

2manybikes: The OT I saw told me my pain is from hypermobility in my joints. For instance, I can touch my thumb to my forearm, and bend my fingers back really far. She said this makes me have to work harder than the average person to do everyday things.

I have a Jamis Aurora light touring bike, and the handlebars are above the saddle, but it's still killing me. I'm not sure which kind of upright bike to look at that will be comfortable over 100-mile days, because most really-upright bikes I see are comfort bikes, and I usually hear that "comfort" bikes are only comfortable for 15 miles tops. I had a Bianchi Milano that was too big for me, but I was indeed upright, and that is where the pain started. That was when I couldn't open the front door on my house because my hand was too weak from cycling damage. I would be interested in hearing about any bike that is good for huge distances but also keeps weight entirely off my arms! I'd prefer to stick with DF 2-wheelers because that's what all my gear is for. Any ideas?

sstorkel: I have heard that hills are slower on all recumbents, going up, but on trikes you can just stop and rest or pedal more slowly, while on bikes (recumbent or DF--don't ask how I know!), you have to maintain a certain speed or you'll fall over. But I'm not sure because I've never ridden a bent on a hill or otherwise!

Thanks so much for the help, everybody. Hearing about the downsides is always so much better BEFORE you spend the money
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Old 06-25-10, 11:07 AM
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My wife has a tadpole Catrike and loves it. She can't ride an upright bike due to some injuries. Hills are a problem -- slow going and you really appreciate having some low gearing. Low to the ground is also an issue - I find her bike more unnerving to ride with traffic around compared to my diamond framed bikes.

If you decide to go with a tadpole, I would keep an eye on the forsale listings over at https://www.bentrideronline.com/ and pick up a used one within driving distance of your location. That is what we did -- let someone else take the $300-500 hit and if it doesn't work out for you, reselling for what you paid should be pretty easy.
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Old 06-25-10, 11:10 AM
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Thank you--I will!

When you say hills are slow-going...how slow do you mean? I usually ride at about, say, 14mph on a relatively flat road, and then go up a moderate hill at around 8mph. I know this isn't scientific but do you have any way of guessing how much the trike slows her down? I'm not sure if I can test-ride on hills, especially if I buy used.

Also do you think that adding wacky windsocks and things like that makes a big enough difference to keep you safe?
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Old 06-25-10, 11:18 AM
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PS: BentRider Online reviewed this trike which folds and goes in the trunk!: https://www.bentrideronline.com/?p=3688
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Old 06-25-10, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by wild animals View Post
dcrowell, what do you love about your recumbent? What do you dislike, or did you have to adjust to? I'm open to the idea of 2-wheelers but I don't want my arms up in the air if they don't have to be, and I don't want to fall over on hills or at low speeds near traffic. There are so many kinds of recumbents that I'm a little overwhelmed!
I love the fact that it's very comfortable. I'm not sure if having your hands up for an over-seat steering bike like mine would be a problem. You don't put any weight on them. On the other hand, there are some underseat steer bikes (LongBikes comes to mind, I'm sure there are others)

My Agio is a long-wheelbase bike. It's fairly stable at low speed, and very stable at high speed. You'll wobble a bit when learning, but it doesn't take long to adjust. Go ride a few. I was in love with mine after a spin in the LBS parking lot, but a good shop should be able to let you take one out for an hour or so.

So, test ride a trike, a bike, USS, OSS, and make your own decision.
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Old 06-25-10, 01:56 PM
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Roger! I tried yesterday but I ran out of gas and traffic was so bad that the store closed before I got there. Whoopsie! I will go within the next couple days. So excited!
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Old 06-25-10, 02:30 PM
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the terratrike Rover is also a taller tadpole that breaks down for transport:

https://www.terratrike.com/rover.php
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