archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

Triker Willow (TerraTrike Rover)

Here is a question and answer quick-story from Willow Wolf, owner of a 2011 silver TerraTrike Rover, single speed drive train, purchased through Hostel Shoppe of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Additional written commentary about this trike, its accessories, and usage can be found HERE.

1) Q: What kind and model of trike do you own? A: TerraTrike, Woof model.

2) Q: Why did you buy a trike? A: To ride man, ride.

3) Q: What do you like about your trike? A: Let me count the ways (okay, they’re a lot). It has training wheels (no falling off a bicycle). It has one mode – pedal a few yards, stop pedaling and spin your wheels (unless, of course, you’re on a downhill, then scream). ‘Cause sometimes it’s better than walking when carrying things or getting there quicker.

4) Q: How long have you owned your trike? A: A short span of my three-score.

5) Q: Would you recommend your trike to others? A: Yes, I would recommend it, why not?

6) Q: Is one speed sufficient? A: If you live in a flat-street smallish area and don’t need to go very far or very fast.

7) Q: Does the steering work well? A: So well I can be facing backwards in the blink of — oops, there I go. If not careful, I’d just go around in circles ’cause the wheels don’t want to get back to straight again without effort. They prefer to remain in the full turned position, which is great for someone who is tight on space.

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100_2396The Saia truck with the Rover inside

100_2397Last delivery for the day, one TerraTrike Rover recumbent tricycle

100_2399What it looks like when the box from Hostel Shoppe is opened

100_2401Just out of the box, getting prepped to roll

100_2402Next to an ICE Qnt trike

100_2408First ride on a pleasantly warm autumn afternoon in the Mojave Desert

100_2409Wide open vistas are the norm out here.

100_2413Dual Cateye Uno headlights – one for flash mode, the other for constant mode

100_2414The Hostel Shoppe box awaits recycling tomorrow morning – tough job getting it all in

sun city 24There are several trikers in this subdivision – quite high percentage actually

willow 010Dual flags crossed over wiggle in wind and really get motorists’ attention.

willow 005Radical Design frame pouch on mainframe for small items

willow 006Radical Design side seat pods for larger stuff

willow 007Hunter grocery bag holders – not recommended (grommet and strap custom to hold it up – flimsy)

willow 002Cute little bell to get attention, mostly of pedestrians

willow 004Rearview mirror

Willow Job 06Notice dramatic sag in Hunter panniers. Get another kind – not these.

Willow Job 03Going to a job on very cold early December morning

Willow Job 04Streets are empty of cars just after sun-up in this retirement community.

100_2411Traffic is often non-existent out here within the gated community.


NOVEMBER 26, 2015: Willow has upgraded her Rover recently. Here is the latest scoop! After a few years of riding this one-speed tricycle, Willow realized that she wanted to reach higher speeds now and then – with the former one-speed setup from the factory, Willow would “spin out” as her speed increased, meaning that she could not pedal any faster to achieve a higher speed. Solution? Install a SRAM three-speed internally geared automatic rear  hub, which senses the trike’s speed and adjusts the gearing automatically with no conscious effort from the rider. Now, if Willow pedals faster, the SRAM IGH will shift itself into the next higher gear, allowing her to pick up speed. If she comes to a hill, the SRAM hub will downshift all by itself. Cool!

The SRAM hub was purchased from Hostel Shoppe. Head mechanic Scott Christopherson installed it in a 20″ wheel, and shipped it out west for Willow. The new wheel easily slid into the place where the original equipment wheel was, with no need to even adjust the chain. The job was relatively quick for a mechanically inclined person, but not one to be tackled by most riders.

Willow’s Rover was also upgraded with three Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. The stock tires from TerraTrike were still serviceable, and had never had a flat (Willow rides only in a subdivision with perfect Home & Garden style roads, with smooth pavement and no bad spiky things in the road). She gave them to another trike rider in her subdivision as spares.

Over the years since first acquiring this TerraTrike Rover, the seat has slowly slid forward on the frame, due to a notable design flaw in the adjustable mechanism that allows for more than one rider to use the trike. When this occurs over time, the rear pannier rack, which is by design attached to the seat’s two rear support struts, angles downward in front more and more. It reached the point where the trike actually could not be ridden comfortably anymore. Keep in mind, that in 2011, brother Steve made sure the seat cam mechanism, which holds the seat in place fore and aft, was as tight as possible, just to make sure this did not happen. Well, it happens anyway, and after about three years, it was really quite a problem for Willow. The back of her head was hitting the pannier rack when brother Steve returned to remedy the situation.

I readjusted the seat and pannier rack interface to proper angles, and then used vice grips to give a bit more bite to the cam mechanism. But wait … there’s more! Just to seal the deal, and finally overcome this design flaw, I used a hose clamp over a piece of inner tube rubber, and cranked it down plenty tight, right in front of the seat sliding tube, so that there is no possible way for the weight of a rider pushing down on the seat for a few years to cause the seat to slide forward every again. These next four years should now unfold with the seat remaining right where it now sits.

I suspect this may have been redesigned by TerraTrike since the design’s first introduction to the market, as folks who are not mechanically savvy would not know how to fix their seating angle (Willow had no clue what to do, thus it waited all this time until my next visit to get fixed). This is marketed as a trike for the masses, and while it is readily fixed by me and others who have some mechanical ability, the majority of people who are not capable of assessing and fixing the situation are just left hanging  out there with a compromised trike. Willow lives at least 10 miles from a bicycle shop, does not have a vehicle to take her trike there for repair, and essentially is on her own, so a well designed tricycle is important in her situation.

Willow Rover Hose Clamp

Viewed from the front of the trike looking rearward, a piece of inner tube rubber keeps a super tight hose clamp securely in place. Against the back of the hose clamp rests the seat assembly, which can no longer slide forward over the years. Yes, it looks rather hokey, but since the original factory design came up way short, a jury-rigged solution was necessary.

Willow Rover Hose Clamp (1) Willow Rover Hose Clamp (2)

Willow should not have this annoying problem ever again!

Another design manifestation Willow finds annoying is how the trike’s direct steering, when turned to lock while turning a sharp corner, essentially falls into the position, and requires a concentrated effort to return to a forward facing position for riding straight after the turn. Other Rover riders have noted this issue, and even a few Catrike riders have complained that the steering wants to remain stuck in the turning position. This seems like it may be an inherent manifestation of direct steering. I have ridden Willow’s Rover several times testing this, and sure enough, the wheels most definitely stay cocked all the way right or left, unless the rider forcefully returns the wheels straight. Here is a photo showing the wheels in the locked right position:

Willow Rover Steering IssueThey would remain in this position without concerted effort to straighten them. A trike with indirect steering, by contrast, will essentially right itself without effort from the rider.

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Here are three photos following up on the prior post about Willow’s Rover. A second hose clamp was added to back-up the first, as a “just in case” measure – this due to the fact that Willow is physically unable to fix this ongoing issue if it happens again. I want to make darn sure her seat permanently remains right where it is this time around!

Rover Hose Clamp 1

This first image is looking back towards the rear of the trike from the cross member, and shows the distance between where the seat clamp is supposed to be, and where it ended up after 3 years of riding, which was right up against the back of the angled cross member tubes. Notice the scuff marks on the top of this section of square tube frame, where the seat clamp damaged the paint on its forward ride to the angled cross members. In 2011, when Willow first got this trike, I tightened the TerraTrike seat clamp as tight as humanly possible, but I did not invoke the use of pliers. A viable solution to this issue would be if TerraTrike had a hole and pin system where the seat clamp was unable to migrate forward over time. In November 2015, I used pliers to tighten the seat clamp more than one can do with fingers alone. I then had to gently tap the cam lever shut with a small hammer, as it required more pressure to shut the lever than I could bring to bear on the butt of my hand. Still, I wanted another fail-safe measure as back-up so Willow would never again have to deal with the seat 8 inches too far forward for her leg length.

Rover Hose Clamp 2

Notice the two hose clamps now tightly in place over a thick section of inner tube to prevent any forward movement, just in case my tightening of the cam lever failed to do the job. You may probably notice if you look closely the tiny ding marks on the outside of the cam lever from the small hammer I used to gently close the lever.

Rover Hose Clamp 3

Here is a photo from the right side of the frame, directly under the leading edge of the recumbent seat, showing the two hose clamps around the inner tube rubber. That is a chain tube I am holding up so you can fully see the hose clamps, both of which were tightened with a large screwdriver with all the force I could muster to get the round clamps to conform to the square trike frame. It would be inconceivable to me at this point that Willow’s seat could ever migrate forward again! We shall see …