archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

What should I consider when choosing a new trike?

A. One big clue to choosing a good trike that will last many years is to look at which ones are selling consistently well. If a company is producing inferior trikes, sooner or later their business will dry up. They can only cheap-out for so long before the word gets out. With today’s internet forum groups on cycling and trikes, the word of an inferior trike will spread like wildfire, and people will stop buying from that company. Buy from one of the known reliable companies that stands behind its products with excellent customer service. The preferable method to choosing a trike is to go to dealers and actually ride the ones you are considering. If you live in a very large city, this is possible, but not guaranteed because trikes still are hard to find relative to bikes. If you live in a small town like me, you’ll likely have zero opportunity to ride them first, and so must rely heavily on what you can learn online and from other riders.

If you do have the opportunity to personally examine a trike, look first at the welds. If the welds are sloppy looking at all, with gaps, unevenness, and weld splatter, keep looking. Stay away from companies with poor weld quality. Welds from a top quality company are virtually flawless. Also study the paint quality. It should be smooth, glossy, and give the appearance of depth. Assuming you find two or three companies that meet your standards, tell them what your main use of the trike will be, and see which of their models they recommend. If you do that with three companies, you should end up with three different trikes to choose from, which will be made easier if you can at all see them in person.

Ten things to consider: 1) Can I get into and out of the trike easily for my physical abilities? 2) Is the gearing suitable for the terrain I’ll be spending most of my time riding? 3) Is the seat comfortable enough for me? (hard to tell if you can’t take it on a long ride). 4) Are the handlebars well placed for my body structure? 5) What is the warranty? Three years? Lifetime? 6) What do other owners of the trike report on internet forums regarding customer service after the sale? 7) Are the welds and paint impeccable? 8) Are most parts commonly found at bike shops for easy replacement? 9) If having the trike shipped to you, does it come pre-assembled, or do you have to have a fair degree of mechanical savvy to put it together? 10) Is there a return or exchange policy if you didn’t get a chance to see if first, and end up not liking it?

There are a lot more factors to consider of course, so hopefully readers will add comments of their ideas that were not discussed here.

View of some exhibitor booths prior to public showing

A recumbent convention is a great place to get some ideas right from the manufacturers!

 The annual Recumbent Cycle Con is an excellent place to start! The 2017 Recumbent Cycle-Con Trade Show & Convention will be held October 6 – 8 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Ave., Oaks, PA 19456. Get all the details HERE.


3 responses

  1. Frank_V

    Another important factor to consider for most of us is budget. Let’s be honest, trikes (and recumbents in general) are not the cheapest bikes on the market and the prices are often what hold people back. I was on a budget too but knew that, due to physical issues, a trike was the only way to get back to cycling. I went for a Trident although most reactions and reviews on the web were about Trident being an entry level, low budget, beginners trike. But the dealer here in the Netherlands (Jouta) convinced me the Trident is a trike that can take a lot and is reliable. And most importantly, within my budget! Up till now, he was right! I don’t think I’m gonna regret buying a “low budget” trike, even though most people on the web would advice to spend more.

    March 18, 2017 at 9:02 pm

  2. armadillozack

    I don’t believe that spending more is the answer, however I do know that a majority of recumbent trikes do cost more when looking at it’s components compared to that of a lesser value trike.. It does not mean that the lesser costing trikes are inferior to a higher costing ones, only the use of other components which cost more, or less depending the manufacturer… Now that we have gotten components out of the way, you must look at the trike’s frame to which your components are assembled.. You start looking at the frame and you want to see how much it weighs, and then what it’s welds look like, as well as in some areas you need to see if was assembled with 1 or more pieces of steel, and if it is a chrome molly steel, of which you may have to ask the dealer as most people do not know the differences in the two.. First chrome molly steel tends to be lighter in density, then ordinary high tinsel strength steel.. Secondly chrome molly’s make up is different in it’s molecular state which is higher in carbon gives more strength then high tinsel steel.. There are more difference’s but non that are needed to add to this comment, and other remaining factors that are.. When looking at the frame you must look at it’s welds, do they look neat and uniform, or just ruff shot, which makes for a more scar looking weld, because this is very important.. When riding a trike it takes on a lot of different stress loads which inferior welds will have a tendency to crack because there was not a solid bond between metals.. Their could be other reasons for a weld to crack, but there is no way of really knowing them by just looking at the frame.. Bends in the tubing can be another way for the frame to fail, but you may not able to see them, because when making the bend we are creating heat and are stretching the metal which has a effect on it’s tubular thickness as well as it’s strength in comparison to other parts which have not been bent… But this mostly happens when the manufacturers have chosen to use cheaper metals to manufacture their trikes… We could go on all day discussing the differences between trikes, but those differences are easily seen by a buyer in most cases.. As I’m sure there are other opinions out there as to how to look for a trike when going out to buy one, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a few that I may have left out, But I was trying to focus on the bigger ones…! I only hope that this has helped someone who is getting ready to buy their first new trike…!

    March 19, 2017 at 4:39 am

  3. Mary

    In order to save money in the long run you should consider the type of riding you plan to do both in the beginning and in the future if possible. That way you can get the best trike the first time. Will you be riding around the neighborhood or touring? Do you like to go fast? Will you need to transport your trike; in which case weight and folding capability are important. Where will you store them? I’m on the second floor and have to carry mine up and down the stairs. Trying to consider all aspects of owning a trike may help you get the right one the first time.

    March 19, 2017 at 7:15 am