What Are Recumbent Trikes?

Recumbent trikes (not to be confused with upright “adult trikes”, or “Granny trikes”) are pedal powered tricycles designed with comfortable seats that allow the rider to sit in a reclined position for better aerodynamics and all-day riding if desired.  Because of their added bulk and weight, trikes are a little slower than their two-wheeled counterparts.  That doesn’t mean trikes can’t be ridden fast, though.  For example, any rider who can pedal an upright (or “upwrong”) bicycle 20 mph can normally ride a recumbent trike 17-18 mph.  You’re using different “muscle groups”, though, so don’t be concerned if you can’t reach your top speed immediately when you stard riding a trike.  The more you ride, the easier it will be to ride fast.

But virtually anyone can ride a recumbent trike.  There’s no learning curve in riding. The only minor learning curve is in shifting gears and using hand brakes if you haven’t already learned these skills on a bicycle.  But it is not difficult to learn to shift and brake.  (Learn these skills before going on a long ride by yourself, though.)  Recumbent trikes are easier to ride than bicycles, and with so many types, brands, and styles, can be adapted to any use or purpose.  In fact, while admittedly slower, it is actually easier to climb hills on recumbent trikes than on standard bicycles.  The fact is, a standard bicycle must normally be ridden at least 3-4 mph or you fall over.  A recumbent trike, however is basically a tripod.  It won’t fall over even at zero mph.  It’s also possible to flip a recumbent trike, but not likely.  On some models you may get one wheel slightly off the ground for a second, but it takes some effort to do that intentionally, and it is not recommended.  Riding too fast while making a sharp turn can result in a spill, but ordinary, safe riding will not tip the trike.

A bicycle can be ridden faster uphill, but riders typically stand on the pedals to add power to their pedaling.  That is a very inefficient use of the rider’s strength and power, and the standard bicycle rider is more tired than the recumbent trike rider after a climb.  Since trikes are normally equipped with MTB gearing with a lower gear range than standard bicycles have, shifting to a low gear will allow the trike rider to spin the pedals (cranks) and move forward at a lower speed, but more easily than on a bicycle.

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