Trikes are extremely stable. Unlike traditional two-wheeled bicycles, which require constant attention to balance and coordination, trikes require no attention to balance all. The three wheels on the trike provide three points of balance that hold the vehicle perfectly level and stable at all times. When coming to a stop, rather than having to put feet down on the ground to balance. The trike rider simply stops pedaling and applies the brakes.
Unlike two-wheeled bicycles, which require a substantial amount of power to climb hills and still maintain enough speed to remain balanced, trikes can shift to a gear ratio that will allow you to steadily and relatively easily climb an incline. While the trike may move more slowly up a hill, there is no need to maintain an optimal speed and you can simply keep pedaling at ease until you reach the top.
According to ICE Trikes, at 20 mph the majority of the energy a rider expends on a traditional bike is used to overcome the drag of wind resistance. The low profile of a trike significantly reduces this resistance, which can make a trike faster on flat terrain than an upright bike. Fitted with an aerodynamic fairing, a trike can travel even faster.
Adult trikes are more capable of accommodating a range of riders with specific needs. Many people who have physical challenges or disabilities may find a trike to be more accommodating than a two-wheeled bicycle. Trikes can be modified to allow persons who are paraplegic to use hand cranks rather than foot pedals. Individuals with balance or visual issues may also find a trike easier to ride. Older people who may not feel comfortable on an upright bike may take to a trike with great ease.
Types of Recumbent Tricycles
The tadpole tricycle and the delta tricycle are the main types of recumbent tricycles. Typically used for more challenging rides, the tadpole tricycle has two front wheels and places the rider in a more reclined and aerodynamic position with hand controls by the rider’s thighs. Delta tricycles have two rear wheels and are usually cheaper than tadpoles. Better suited for shorter rides, delta tricycles are larger and place riders in an upright seated position, making them easier to get in and out of. Hand controls can be located by the rider’s thighs or raised to the level of traditional handle bars.
Recumbent tricycles place riders in a semi-reclined position that is more anatomically correct then standard bicycles. The size of the recumbent tricycle’s bucket seat creates an even distribution of body weight across the buttocks and back. This keeps the arms, hands, shoulders and neck in a relaxed and aligned position. Sitting upright allows the lungs to fully expand and the legs to fully extend and flex. This neutral position minimizes the strain on the back, neck, hands and joints. The larger bucket seat also relieves the chronic compression of the perineal nerve and does not aggravate chronic prostate problems.
Who Can Benefit
Due to the reclined riding position and the stability provided by the third wheel, recumbent tricycles provide bicycle enthusiasts of all ages and abilities a safe, low-impact aerobic exercise that is great for improving physical fitness, physical therapy and cardiovascular rehabilitation. Recumbent tricycles can be safely used by those living with nerve disorders, balance ailments, multiple sclerosis, ALS and Parkinson’s disease, amputees and those who have had traumatic brain injuries, heart attacks, strokes, spinal fusions and knee or hip replacements. Furthermore, the bucket seat can comfortably accommodate overweight people who want to bike their way to a healthier lifestyle.
Recumbent tricycles tend to be safer than conventional bicycles. Since road bicycles are designed to distribute the weight of the rider over the pubic bone and hands, they place riders in a hunched position that forces the gaze down. This can lead to neck pain, cervical spine strain and compression of the perineal nerve. The downward gaze also makes it difficult for riders to continually scan the road for potential hazards. Recumbent tricycles, on the other hand, place riders in a neutral, forward-facing position which allows riders to comfortably scan the road for hazards.
Center of Gravity
Another benefit of recumbent tricycles is their low center of gravity. Traditional bicycles are not nearly as stable as recumbent tricycles and tend to have a higher center of gravity. This combination increases the likelihood of headers or crashes occurring and resulting in injury. Since recumbent tricycles place riders closer to the road with their feet in a forward position, riders are less likely to hit their heads in the event of a crash.