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I want to ride my tricycle I want to ride my triiiiiiiiiike
June 30, 2014 4:26 PM   Subscribe

You've almost certainly heard of bicycle racing, but how about tricycle racing? This three-wheeled sport can be found in the U.K. and Europe. These are full adult-sized tricycles, featuring 700C wheels and drop bars, but beware! They do not handle anything like their two-wheeled brethren.

Thrill to men (and women!) who hurl into turns, sprint and crash spectacularly. The 2013 world championships were held in Kent, England.

If you don't like racing, a pleasant trike tour may be in your wheelhouse.

Bonus pictures of vintage and new trikes here, here, here, and here.
posted by computech_apolloniajames (32 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's, like, 300% more wheels, how can you argue with that
posted by Wolfdog at 4:28 PM on June 30


It's, like, 300% more wheels, how can you argue with that

More like 50 percent more, no?

The recumbent trikes (low to the ground, with two wheels in front) seem like a smart design to me -- aerodynamic, stable -- but this looks like the worst of all worlds, which may actually be the point.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:36 PM on June 30


I'm going to say it here first: trikes will be the new fixies
posted by photoslob at 4:37 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


It's kind of weird that apparently no one has thought it would be worth putting fenders on those rear wheels.

Pray for their taints.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:40 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


The Reliant Robin of bikes.
posted by octothorpe at 4:42 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


I for one would love to see a bike with 300% more wheels!!
posted by shockingbluamp at 5:03 PM on June 30


It ain't no Bring Your Own Big Wheel (or recycling container, whichever)!
posted by rtha at 5:10 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Laugh-In reference. (starting at 8:19 if the timed link doesn't work)
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:32 PM on June 30


They're just like bicycles, but slower and harder to steer!
posted by emjaybee at 5:39 PM on June 30 [6 favorites]


Somewhat joking about the Robin but there does seem to be a weird british obsession with trying to make three wheeled vehicles when they're just inherently a bad idea.
posted by octothorpe at 5:59 PM on June 30


They aren't necessarily single wheel drive. Differentials for adult tricycles do exist.

It took me a while to figure out what it was the first (and only) time I saw one.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:08 PM on June 30



I for one would love to see a bike with 300% more wheels!!

Would you settle for 600% more riders?
posted by Wet Spot at 6:14 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


They're just like bicycles, but slower and harder to steer!

Hey now, don't sell them short; they're also more likely to crash.
posted by yoink at 6:21 PM on June 30 [7 favorites]


It ain't no Bring Your Own Big Wheel (or recycling container, whichever)!

i imagined in my head, and immediately had to go find on youtube the commercial for puppy racers 10/10 highly recommend lulz, would imagine again.
posted by emptythought at 6:24 PM on June 30


> there does seem to be a weird british obsession with trying to make three wheeled vehicles when they're just inherently a bad idea.

One really good reason for a trike is to provide a human powered vehicle for people who have balance problems (for example, inner ear damage). These are people who are perfectly capable of aerobic exercise, they just find it harder to stay upright without assistance.

Although a mixte setup for the front triangle makes a lot more sense than an old-fashioned top bar.
posted by ardgedee at 6:28 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I can't find any evidence of this on Google but my friend was telling me about a major biotech company (I think?!?) that had provided free trikes to get around their spread-out campus. They were a lot of fun to ride, apparently.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:41 PM on June 30


One really good reason for a trike is to provide a human powered vehicle for people who have balance problems (for example, inner ear damage).

Or age - my grandparents had a pair of these back in the 70's. They were built for comfort, not speed, and were pretty relaxing to casually cruise around on.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:01 PM on June 30


Oh, that Campagnolo differential... whoah.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:30 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Also, I've always kind of wanted to see races like the Tour de France opened up - I'd like to see categories for trikes, Alex Moulton style mini velos, converted mountain bikes, completely self supported randoneurs, unlimited class bikes with aerospoke wheels and full suspension setups...
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:02 PM on June 30


categories for trikes, Alex Moulton style mini velos, converted mountain bikes, completely self supported randoneurs, unlimited class bikes with aerospoke wheels and full suspension setups...

Velocipedes! Pennyfarthings! Chaos!
posted by emjaybee at 8:04 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I can't find any evidence of this on Google but my friend was telling me about a major biotech company (I think?!?) that had provided free trikes to get around their spread-out campus. They were a lot of fun to ride, apparently.--forme de poire

Google has bikes around its various campuses, but I don't think they have trikes (except for their streetview trikes). Trikes may make more sense. Some people have never learned to ride a bike, just as some have never learned to swim.
posted by eye of newt at 8:26 PM on June 30


They're just like bicycles, but slower and harder to steer!

haha only serious

Really, cornering looks awkward as all get-out. What is the theoretical advantage of the third wheel in this case? Especially since they don't seem to be any better at the two-wheeled variety in the category of not-crashing.
posted by dhartung at 8:29 PM on June 30


I have several friends back in Glasgow who are trike fiends. The discerning ones ride Longstaffs, which have two-wheel drive to the rear. Differentials aren't quite right, as they always drive the faster wheel, but you want the slower wheel to be driven on a trike for stability, so they use back-to-back freewheels to let the faster wheel slip.

Barrows (the old racing name for trikes) are by no means slow. Sure, sharp corners are difficult, but on the flat or uphill all your energy goes into propulsion, and none into staying upright. If your brakes are good enough, you can stop midway up a hill without disounting.

Another option is the Newton configuration, with two wheels at the front. They look neat as a tandem.

The Vestas wind turbine factories in Colorado use trikes to get around, and move smallish supplies and materials.
posted by scruss at 9:17 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


Trikes have been used for transport in large factories for a long time, you can even buy them from Mcmaster-Carr. I like the idea of the dual front tire cargo trike, you can also get a four wheeler.
posted by 445supermag at 9:55 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Also, I've always kind of wanted to see races like the Tour de France opened up - I'd like to see categories for trikes, Alex Moulton style mini velos, converted mountain bikes, completely self supported randoneurs, unlimited class bikes with aerospoke wheels and full suspension setups...

Isn't there some politics about recumbents in racing ? looking it up (wiki):

...

To demonstrate the speed of his recumbent bicycle, Mochet had the design ratified by the UCI and UVF and enlisted cyclist Francis Faure, a Category 2 racer, to ride it in races. Faure was highly successful, defeating many of Europe's top cyclists both on the track and in road races, and setting new world records at short distances. Another cyclist, Paul Morand, won the Paris-Limoges race in 1933 on one of Mochet's recumbents.

On 7 July 1933, at a Paris velodrome, Faure rode a modified VĂ©lo-Velocar 45.055 km (27.996 mi) in one hour, beating an almost 20-year-old hour record held by Oscar Egg, and attracting a great deal of attention.

When the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) met in February, 1934, manufacturers of 'upright' bicycles lobbied to have Faure's one-hour record declared invalid. On 1 April 1934, the UCI published a new definition of a racing bicycle that specified how high the bottom bracket could be above the ground, how far it could be in front of the seat and how close it could be to the front wheel. The new definition effectively banned recumbents from UCI events for a combination of tradition, safety, and economic reasons.[2]

...

posted by sebastienbailard at 10:56 PM on June 30 [4 favorites]


In Japan I sometimes see the kind of three wheel that Greg_Ace linked to. Used by old folks that need the extra stability and ease of three wheels. Never seen the streetbike version, though.
posted by zardoz at 11:10 PM on June 30


See also, Archibald Sharps Classic book "Bicycles and Tricycles" from 1896 - avaiable in full online:
https://archive.org/details/bicyclestricycl03shargoog
Chapter 15 contains inspirational Tricycles.

I love all forms of human powered transportation, the more variety, and the more options the better.
posted by Drew Glass at 12:56 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


My grandmother had a tricycle. It wasn't for racing but I spent many a summer riding the shit out of that thing all over her Florida town of endless trailer communities, usually doing a crazy two-wheeled side wheelie.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:08 AM on July 1


I'm moderately fascinated by the dynamics of three-wheeled vehicles. A couple of years ago I picked up a motorcycle sidecar rig and learned to ride it. It is sufficiently different from a two-wheeled motorcycle that I refuse to let anyone else, even people I trust with my other bikes, ride it. Ever.

In order to turn a two-wheeled vehicle, you actually turn the front wheel away from the direction you want to go. This is called countersteering. To turn a three-wheeled vehicle, however, you point the wheel in the direction you wish to go. This is pretty straightforward until the sidecar rider flies the chair (which is a normal, expected event) at which point the rig is a two-wheeled vehicle again and the steering reverses until you set the car down. In addition, the bike is powered but the hack (usually) isn't. This means that when you're on the gas the bike tries to pass the sidecar, and when you roll off the gas the sidecar tries to pass the bike. This means that the rig is constantly slewing left and right with throttle input.

Three-wheel trikes are increasingly popular, especially among older motorcyclists. I have grave misgivings about trikes. Remember the three-wheeled ATVs of the early 1980s? The US government decided that 3-wheel ATVs were too unstable to be sold to the public. The 100+ hp street-legal trikes sold today have the same inherent instability, and they are marketed to older riders who may not have the physical strength or mental dexterity to ride them safely.

Newer on the market are reverse trikes, such as the Can Am Spyder. Reverse trikes have two widely-spaced wheels at the front and one drive wheel at the back. Though the Spyder relies on a lot of modern electronics (power steering and traction control) to handle properly, it was engineered from the start to be what it is. It is stable and predictable, and the rider's biggest problem is hanging on to the thing while it's pulling Gs.

I'd never given a thought to three-wheeed bicycles. I may have to have one, just to learn to ride it.
posted by workerant at 5:50 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


Three-wheel trikes are increasingly popular, especially among older motorcyclists. I have grave misgivings about trikes. Remember the three-wheeled ATVs of the early 1980s?

In the 1980s I lived in a small town with a lot of three wheelers, and I can remember all of the fatalities and injuries. I cringe when I see the motorcycle trikes (usually Goldwings or Harleys with double tires in the back) going down the highway, because of exactly that lack of stability. Some at least have a wider axle in the back, but some are so narrow that I would worry about even normal curves.

The Can Am Spyder, though, I really want to try.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:20 AM on July 1


I'd never given a thought to three-wheeed bicycles. I may have to have one, just to learn to ride it.

Check out the hammerhead winter trike, a weld-it-yourself reverse trike that's good on snow, ice, and slush.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:32 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


I've ridden a recumbent trike, quite a bit. It's a hoot. I've descended hills on it faster than I have the huevos for on my conventional racing bike.

But racing on upright trikes? I recognize there's a medical case for it. But some of these guys seem to be doing it just as a way to make their lives more difficult.
posted by adamrice at 6:41 PM on July 1


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