Offering an effective way of getting around for those in need of a little assistance, adult trikes are much like standard bikes. They have the same types of wheels as standard models – there’s just one extra! Depending on the type of trike, you’ll find the extra wheel at either the front or rear of the seat.
Tricycles - Brake it down
According to road traffic regulations, all bicycles must have two independent brakes. As these separate breaks can’t be placed on different wheels for tricycles, they’ll always be found on a singular wheel. You can however find tricycles with hub brakes and disc brakes.
There are two main configurations for tricycles:
Delta - One wheel at the front, two at the rear
These trikes are very agile and easy to mount, which makes them well suited to wheelchair users. Delta models also boast a complex gear system. However, this type of tricycle is less stable when taking corners at speed.
Tadpole - Two wheels at the front, one at the back
On the other hand, whilst the Tadpole has a simplistic gear system, which is less desirable, it’s a more stable trike. As the seat is between three wheels, it’s very difficult to tip. Unlike the Delta, in a Tadpole you know exactly how wide you are as your widest point is always in front of you, rather than in the rear. There’s also more room for luggage on this version.
How safe are tricycles?
Although trikes benefit from the extra stability of a third wheel, corners can be difficult to manoeuvre for the same reason.
Tricycles are more liable to tip when taking corners, but this is easily counteracted by taking extra care and exercising caution.
As the Tadpole configuration tends to offer more stability, they’re better positioned for corners than Delta trikes. On the other hand, Deltas tend to be more manoeuvrable.
Whichever type of trike, you should still consider the speed that you can safely take corners with.
To start, take corners slowly and carefully. Increase your speed slowly and diligently. You’ll soon learn which speeds are safely manoeuvrable for your trike. Just be sure to try this out well away from other vehicles until you’re comfortable with your trike’s limits.
There’s no greater risk to using a tricycle than a standard bicycle, as long as you take extra measures to remain mindful of your width, use the correct hand signals and take corners with care.
Types of trikes
Just like any other type of bike, there several different categories of tricycle.
As it says on the tin, these are tricycles that can be folded into a more compact form. Designed with easier storage in mind, folding trikes can be taken on public transport and stored in smaller spaces.
Folding trikes can be extremely useful, especially for carrying cargo. However, the benefits will vary depending on each user’s level of mobility. Whereas public transport accessibility may be useful for some, it won’t be as big a benefit to all.
Electric-assisted bikes are revolutionising cycling. Opening the joys of cycling to a wider user base, the same can be said for electric tricycles or ‘e-trikes’.
If you struggle to pedal a regular bike over long distances, and need the added stability of a trike, you may also need a helping hand for steep hills.
Assistive motors take some of the pressure off of your legs, giving you a little boost. Given that tricycles are often heavier than standard bikes, the motor can make all the difference.
In a recumbent trike, you’re positioned lower to the ground and the pedals are in front, rather than beneath. With this set-up, the trike will be more stable at speed and taking corners, though the exchange is that they’re harder to mount than other types of trike. These trikes are ideal for people with muscular or health problems that prevent them from riding in an upright position.
How much do trikes cost?
Good quality tricycles tend to cost more than an equivalent-quality bicycle. An entry-level trike should cost from £400 to £1,000. At the other end of the scale, top of the range trikes can exceed £2,000.
Is a trike right for you?
If you are a keen cyclist but have trouble with injury and pain riding a traditional bicycle, switching to a recumbent trike could keep you going for longer. The different riding position relieves pressure in key areas of your body and focuses the load towards your legs.
Similarly, if you’re older, experience health issues or have a disability that prevent you from riding a standard bike, you should consider a trike.
If none of the above applies to you, you may still find a trike helpful for the stability. However, if you’re able-bodied and injury-free, a traditional bicycle may be better suited to your needs.