5 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Recumbent Trike

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Before purchasing a new recumbent trike it is important to consider the different factors that make these types of trikes unique. Consider what your needs and goals are before your purchase: are you looking for speed, comfort, ease in transporting the trike to-and-from trails? Are there medical factors to consider such as back or neck pain, or are you seeking more stability and balance than traditional trikes? There is a type of recumbent trike for you no matter what your needs are.

Types of Recumbent Trikes

First things first, to know which kind of recumbent trike is best for you it is important to know the different types of trikes available. Recumbent trikes have a seated-back position, with legs in front of the rider, opposed to the seated-upright position of a traditional bicycle or tricycle. There are two main types of recumbent trikes: Delta and Tadpole.

Delta recumbent trikes have two wheels in the back and one wheel in the front. The front-wheel does the steering for these trikes, which can make them easier to steer around smaller spaces compared to other styles of recumbent trikes. Delta trikes are heavier and have seats higher from the ground than other lighter designs of recumbent trikes, which can make it easier to get in-and-out of.

Tadpole Trikes have the opposite of Delta wheel positions with one wheel in the back and two up front. Tadpole trikes are designed to be lower to the ground and allow for more speed with smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic frames than their Delta counterparts, which makes them popular with people who are used to traditional trike speeds. These lighter frames can also come in foldable models, making for easier storage and transportation to-and-from trike trails. Tadpoles do not steer in small spaces as well as Delta trikes, but are better for speed.

There are also other types of recumbent trikes that are made with these styles such as racing trikes, recreational trikes, or even tandem trikes.

Pros of the Seating Position

The laying-back-feet-first position offered with recumbent trikes shakes up the traditional cycling position with some great benefits for the body and for safety. 

  • The lying back position is more comfortable for your back, especially for extended time. This causes less hunching and less back pain. 
  • The position allows for a more neutral neck position, keeping the neck and back straight. This causes less strain on the neck as well as creating more visibility to view surroundings while riding. 
  • Wrists also benefit from this position as there is less weight and strain on them from holding handlebars out in front of you.
  • The wider seats make for more comfortable sitting, causing less strain and pain to the rider while giving more stability. 
  • The lower seat provides a better center of gravity for the rider, creating a safer ride with less chance of tipping over. This also makes them very safe for the rider.

It should also be noted that for some the lower seats may be difficult to get in and out of compared to other trikes. For those who have difficulties sitting or standing from lower seats, or are concerned with low seats in general Delta model trikes are a great option because the seats are higher off the ground and wider, providing easier access and more stabilization.

 Aerodynamics

The distinct design of recumbent trikes allows for different travel than traditional trikes. There is less wind resistance with a recumbent’s low-to-the-ground design and reduced exposure, creating an aerodynamic ride. This is true for all recumbent trikes but especially the Tadpole models, which are smaller and lighter. After a rider gets used to the difference of riding a recumbent trike, they can reach faster speeds than those on traditional trikes. Recumbent trikes can reach great speeds with less effort.  

Physical Exertion

Though recumbent trikes can go faster, the design also requires less physical exertion due to the leg positioning compared to traditional trikes. This means recumbent trikes can reach greater speeds with less effort from the rider.

Recumbent trike rides can be considered less of a work-out for some because less effort is put into the same speeds and distances, while others consider this a great advantage to trike travel. Depending on your goals with cycling, recumbents can be a great option for accessibility to cycling and for distance riders. 

Customization and Accessibility

On top of the different designs of trikes, recumbent trikes are easily customized to meet the rider’s needs and can be adapted for any rider to enjoy cycling. For riders who want to take their trikes off road, larger tread tires can be added to allow for easier trail riding, a trend becoming more and more popular. Rear cargo packs are another popular add-on, allowing for storage space in the back of the trike to store emergency supplies, outdoor gear, and other things to make for a better ride, which has created the growing community of those taking their recumbent trikes for longer overnight trips. trikes can also include flags to add visibility, mirrors to allow riders to see around them with more ease, extra water bottle cages for easy access, and seat cushions for added comfort. Also, power assists and electronic shifting are becoming more popular add-ons; these electrical pieces can increase speed and give boosts in needed moments, like taking on hills and assist in changing gears seamlessly. Other options include handcycles and or other adaptive trikes to ensure cycling enjoyment for everyone.

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