Riding an adult tricycle can be one of the most fun activities for people who love biking, but can no longer handle a traditional bicycle because of joint and muscle issues.
At the same time, tricycles can make great commuter bicycles because of their ability to carry tons of groceries and work supplies without losing their balance.
However, having a third wheel can be daunting for people who are used to riding bicycles and have never tried to ride a tricycle.
The lower center of gravity, wider wheelbase, and the recumbent position on some tricycles all make riding a tricycle very different from riding a bicycle.
In this article, we’ll cover some tips and tricks on how to make riding your adult tricycle safe and fun.
It may seem surprising, but getting on and off the tricycle is often one of the things that people find the most tricky about these cycles compared to bicycles.
The seat is typically lower than on a bicycle, and you cannot tilt it towards you as you would on a bicycle.
Instead, the best way to approach getting on and off a tricycle is to hold both of the brake levers tight so that the bike can’t slip away under you.
Only let go of the brakes once you are firmly on the tricycle, then use a foot on the ground to help you gain some momentum without grinding your knees on the pedals.
One of the biggest choices you’ll need to make when choosing a tricycle is whether you’ll opt for a model with an upright seat, similar to a bicycle, or for a model with a recumbent seat.
Upright seats can make riding a tricycle much more like riding a bicycle without the worry of falling over when you stop or lose balance, but it can also grind on your knee joints similar to a traditional bicycle.
Riding recumbent, on the other hand, requires getting used to an entirely different style of riding – but one preferred by many people who face knee pain.
If knee pain isn’t an issue for you and you already know how to ride a bicycle, consider sticking with an upright seat since it is typically easier for cars to spot these tricycles and you’ll have an easier time working the pedals.
Unlike bicycles, tricycles do not like to be on edge.
As soon as you lean into a turn enough to lift one wheel off the ground, you are in danger of tipping over.
For riders who are used to bicycling, not leaning into turns will feel foreign and may take some getting used to.
However, it is essential that during turns you keep your weight centered and as low to the tricycle as possible to keep all three wheels grounded.
Tricycles also have a relatively wide turning radius compared to bicycles thanks to the wider wheelbase, which takes some time to come around especially if you only have steering in the front wheel.
One of the major advantages of tricycles over traditional bicycles is that because your weight is lower to the road, there is little to no concern that the bike will tip backward when climbing uphill.
Also, you don’t have to worry about keeping a minimum amount of forwarding momentum up the hill to prevent tipping over at extremely slow speeds.
This means that you can use the brake to stop whenever you need a rest without worrying about hopping off the bike and that you can put the bike in your easiest climbing gear and make your way up the hill as slowly as your body requires.
Unfortunately, tricycles are also typically heavier than bicycles. So, if you know what gears you typically ride your local hill with, you may need to take off a few more gears when approaching the same hill in a tricycle to account for the extra mass you’ll be pushing.
Something that most new tricyclists don’t think about until a road hazard pops up in their path is that a tricycle has three distinct wheel paths, in contrast to the single wheel path found on a bicycle.
This is because the rear wheels are located to either side of the front wheel, such that the ground that each rear wheel travels over will be different from the ground that the front wheel traveled over.
When maneuvering around obstacles, this means it is much harder to swerve safely around them without moving the entire tricycle out of their path.
The solution? Ride more slowly whenever on unknown roads and always look ahead of you to spot potential hazards early.
Many roads are cambered, or tilted, however slightly so that water and other debris will run off of them to the sides.
Although this can be noticeable on a bike, it is typically not an issue since you can typically tilt your body against the road’s tilt.
However, a tricycle necessarily has a flat wheelbase and cannot be tilted without threatening to roll over – a dangerous situation.
This means that when riding cambered roads, you are likely to acutely feel the slant and to feel like you are constantly turning in the downhill direction of the chamber, usually towards the curb or ditch.
To counteract this, you will need to be turning the tricycle uphill slightly constantly – a small movement, but something that you will need to get used to whenever riding a tricycle.
Riding a tricycle has some advantages over riding a bicycle, but in many ways, it is also a different experience with different challenges and solutions.
While this article can prepare you for some of these differences and offer tips and tricks on how to deal with them, the best way to learn the sport of riding an adult tricycle is to get out on the road and ride.
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