archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

Triker Mark (Catrike x2)

Mark Rackow really knows Catrikes … very well, in fact! Why? Because he owns two of them, for one thing, and he even owned another one before these – well, the 700 was upgraded to a newer model, so it’s part old trike and part reborn trike. He owns a Catrike Expedition and a Catrike 700. Mark has his own trike website, which is read by many three wheeled enthusiasts, called My Bent Up Cycling Journal, which you don’t want to miss. Of course, a portion of what he has there is now appearing below to whet your appetite and send you over to his website. From fellow trike pilot Mark, comes the following ideological musings and meanderings for your enjoyment:

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Mark Rackow WebsiteClick the image to go there!

Mark Rackow Catrike 700 Mark’s new 700 (20 inch front wheels)

Mark Rackow Catrike 700 16Mark’s old 700 (16 inch front wheels)

Mark Rackow Catrike 700 20Anybody want one? Well, Mark has had two, and also happily owns an Expedition for long hauls.

I live and play in Southern California. Born in 1953 (you do the math) I’ve had joints repaired more times then I would like to remember and a heart attack. I’m not going to sit on a sofa with a remote control in my hand and watch life go by. I created my blog in July of 2009 to share thoughts and information about recumbent cycling as others have shared with me. Also I’ll take an occasional detour into family, hiking and useless musings.

Why I Blog

This quote is from an active poster on a recumbent cycling forum in response to a poster who said that he didn’t get blogging.

“Seems to me, these have to be desperately lonely people who are seeking solace in convincing themselves that someone out there actually gives a rat’s patoot about their pathetic little lives.”

My first thought about this comment is how ironic it is coming from a person who is actively posting their thoughts about life on an open forum. I guess this person feels that their life is an exception and is worth a “rat’s patoot.”

In a follow up post the person quoted here confessed to having a bad day when these words of wisdom flowed through their keyboard. However it did leave me with asking myself…why do I blog?

When I entered the world of recumbent cycling I needed information. I found various personal journals, blogs and forums provided me with what I needed and wanted to know. By reading through the wealth of information I no longer felt like I was the only crazy person who wanted to ride a recumbent trike. I was not alone in this small but passionate niche known as recumbent cycling. Reading about the joys, trials and pains of other folks in my small new world of laid back cycling helped me to more appreciate my joys and accept my trials and pains.

I’ve been a private person all of life but I soon felt compelled to share what I knew and felt about recumbent cycling and to share some more personal parts of my life. I share with the hope that others may find some benefit from what I have to say just as I found benefit from what others have to say about their life.

We are a social creature and each of us interacts with others in a way that is comfortable and meaningful. Blogging is just one way many ways to share information…information is the power to make thoughtful and educated decisions. It’s up to each individual to decide what information is relevant and honest.

Mark Rackow Catrike ExpeditionThe other Catrike, for long trips – the Expedition model

Catrike 700 / 20 vs Catrike Expedition

Let’s get to the bottom line first…If I could only own one Catrike and had to choose between the 700 and the Expedition it would be the Catrike Expedition. It’s simply more versatile.

That being said here’s a little more detail about how I feel about both the 700 and the Expedition. Both trikes are solid, built to handle tough riding and backed up by Catrike costumer service. The 700 and the Expedition are both stable at speed and share the same handling characteristics.

Catrike 700 / 20 (new for 2013, 700 with 20″ front wheels):

The 700 is an awesome trike, it looks fast and is fast. It’s a ride best suited for getting an adrenalin fix. The 700 should be kept light and geared for speed on the flats and downhill runs. Grinding up long roads with extreme grades takes some effort, but then there is the sweet downhill. Exceeding 40mph on a downhill is par for 700. The fun comes trying to find a road that is long, steep, reasonably straight and has good pavement so the 700 can show it’s stuff going over 50mph. I do suggest when exceeding 50mph that you are acquainted with the road so there are no surprises and wear a helmet! On the flats I generally pass more DF (diamond frame) riders then pass me. In recent memory I don’t recall ever being passed on a downhill. Even the young, fit and properly attired lads with advertising plastered over their lyra bodies fade away in my rear view mirror. Riding a 700 is a prescription for an old fart like me to feel the thrill of an endorphin induced high.

That endorphin high comes at a price. The 700 is a hard ride that given the conditions of some our streets it can shake your fillings out. On long rides the seat being laid back at 25 degrees can become uncomfortable. I don’t consider it a touring trike by any stretch of the imagination. The 23C tires (if you want speed) are going to get flats. The skinny 23C’s trade puncture protection for performance. Of course some of these setbacks can be mitigated with different tire selection and putting a rack on (which at did at one time) to carry more stuff. You can also load it down with other comforts but then you might as well get an Catrike Expedition.

Catrike Expedition:

Ahh my faithful and trusted ride. The Expedition is a versatile ride. It can be setup to ride fast or loaded down to tour the world in comfort laid back in it’s 37 degree reclined seat. Keeping the the Expedition light and adding high performance tires would bring the Expedition close to matching the the performance of the 700. I prefer to ride in comfort when not screaming down a hill on the 700. I’ve loaded my Expedition up with Marathon Plus tires all around, heavy duty rack, rack bag and panniers, extra tools and other goodies that give me confidence that I can survive the apocalypse with nothing but my Catrike Expedition.

Another benefit, for me personally, I’m inclined to enjoy the world around me more as I meander with Betzi in tow and on a solo ride. The 700 makes me feel like I have to ride hard and fast whereas the Expedition is telling me to take it easy and smell the roses. Trike, body and mind are about 20% slower when riding the Expedition compared to the 700. Also the Expedition is geared for climbing and not speed. But even on this beast I still pass my share of DFers and that’s a fun blog post for another time.

The only addition I would like to see in the future is a fully suspended Expedition so it’s versatility can be enhanced by giving it the ability to go off road with comfort.


If I could only own one trike it would be a Catrike Expedition.

Mark Rackow Catrike Expedition 2A fine touring rig!

Mark Rackow Catrike 700 in parkA fine speed machine!

Mark Rackow wife & sonCarrie and Byron, wife and son of Mark

Mark Rackow & sonMark and Byron

Mark Rackow Catrike 700 with Dana LiebermanDana Lieberman, owner of Bent-Up Cycles, has Mark’s updated 700 frame. Dana essentially took Mark’s older 700, swapped out much of the running gear onto this new frame, and transformed the trike into the newer model. Mark says if he had to do it all over, he would have been fine with keeping the former 700 with the 16 inch wheels, but he is happy with the new one.

Mark Rackow on hill Mark riding up his hill with the dog.

Mark RackowA nifty way to attach extra water on a Catrike. Hey, if you want one of those neat “Free On Three” patches, there is a link in the sidebar to your right – just click on it (either that, or click HERE).

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Mark Tracy Rackow is also an accomplished player of the flute. Below is his CD of Earthy songs.


a natural rhythm flute CD by Mark

Inspired by nature and its natural rhythms, my Native American flutes are my voice. My music is a symbiotic evolution of my thoughts, feelings, and convictions. Through my music I honor the sacredness of the Earth, its creatures and the oneness of life.  Being of English, French, Cree and Cherokee ancestry I am truly blessed with the wisdom of many cultures. A time must come when all peoples can live in peace. For if we fail this we fail ourselves and what is left is uncertain.

Sidebar Mark Tracy CDClick image to hear Mark’s music!

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Mark Rackow 700 on road