Touring on a Catrike 700?

An all-out speed Catrike. Its aerodynamic seating position, fast rolling 700c wheel and high gears, give it top performance.”   – The Catrike Company

North Oregon Coast25WARNING:

The following opinions and observations are those of a itinerant trike hobo, and may not reflect ideas popularly held by more respectable members of society.

Touring on a Catrike 700

by Trike Hobo

The iconic Catrike 700 was specifically designed with a single purpose in mind. From the ground up, this trike was not meant to perform any tasks other than one very focused objective. That goal was met successfully, and as a result, this trike has remained a clear leader in its area of application. All trike enthusiasts know what a Catrike 700 is designed to do, and for newcomers in the tricycle realm, just its appearance alone relays the message quite clearly. There can be no doubt. This ultra high performance trike was built for speed, all-out mind blowing speed, and it delivers in spades!

The triking world also realizes something else about the Catrike 700. You just don’t do anything with it that falls outside of its well defined niche. Breaking this unwritten rule is sacrilege, an affront to the original intention of this sleek thoroughbred, the ultimate disrespect of an undisputed monarch. To move in opposition to this powerful energy places the audacious violator into a world of verbal fallout, as onlookers surely think him mad. There is a price to be paid for stepping out of line. The world of humans prefers absolutes, and the Catrike 700 is about as absolute as things come.

If you wish to do anything other than speed around on day rides, while leaving the competition in the proverbial dust, then you simply get another trike in the first place. Get a workhorse, a trike that is suited for multiple utilitarian purposes, one that is as easy to get on as sitting on an office chair. A Catrike 700 is a vehicle one gets in, not on, similar to settling into a Lamborghini race car for the ultimate thrill ride. This trike was not designed to run shopping errands. It was also clearly not designed for cross country touring. For overland journeys, you want a multi-purpose machine that can handle whatever you throw at it, an indestructible triple suitable for pedaling around Planet Earth.

Wild Child 07Yet, this article is about touring on a Catrike 700, despite that dogmatic introduction just spewed forth. I am going to discuss here a maverick’s viewpoint, having used this trike for the very thing we all know it’s never to be used for, unless we have some loose parts in the head. My intent is to provide the thought processes of my mind that led to this decision, and offer my reflection on the result of this bizarre departure from accepted behavior. I tour on a Catrike 700. It works. But not without major caveats. This is most definitely not for everyone. In fact, it is only for a very select few who meet certain strict requirements, and are also willing to adapt the trike as necessary.

This is not about some elitist attitude, although I can see how it might be viewed as such by some. This is about real world riding, and using a lightweight single purpose speed trike for something outside of its original design parameters. Catrike never meant this trike for touring. They have other models for that application. This must be understood up front. This article is about a deviant behavior not sanctioned by the company, or the triking community at large. If you choose to tour on a Catrike 700, you must adapt accordingly, or risk putting your trike in jeopardy of failure. Can it be done? Yes. Is it fun? Sure is! Is it for me? Let’s explore the potential.

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Qnt SunriseMy former ICE Qnt trike – a utilitarian trike worth the money

For a little over five years, I toured on a workhorse trike, a jack of all trades machine that was relatively fast, fairly lightweight, and tough as nails. It was a nearly indestructible triple that could handle immense cargo loads, pull a heavy trailer, and always be counted on to get me to my destination. I was happy, not personally knowing from experience any other way. Sure, I was aware of other trikes specifically designed for other uses, but this trike could do it all, or so I once thought. Where did it fall short? Why did I abandon something I knew was working well? What did I seek that I finally knew I was missing?

Remember as you read this, that these are simply thoughts from the little irrelevant puppet show that continually plays in my tiny head during my sentient time here. I’m just sharing my weird ways of thinking. Nothing more or less. Perhaps the topic of this article may be helpful to you. If so, great. If not, no big deal. If you find yourself with similar goals to what I am about to share here, my thoughts may well help you on a road I have been traveling now since March 2014, when I bought a Catrike 700 speed trike … with one extra little goal beyond simply going very fast.

My first five years of trike riding and touring taught me many lessons, perhaps the most significant of which is that pedaling a tricycle over long distances and tall mountains for many days or several weeks is tough work, no matter how physically fit one happens to be. There is nothing easy about it, either physically or mentally. Ask those who have attempted it, but did not reach their intended goals for this reason or that. If you are going to tour on a human powered recumbent tadpole trike, you best make sure you are prepared for it ahead of time, and know exactly what to expect – well, you never will really know until you go, but at least certain understandings are in order for those who wish to avoid the school of hard knocks. I graduated from that school. I’m glad it’s over!

The school taught me several things: 1) Carry only the cargo aboard my trike that is absolutely necessary. 2) Weight is my adversary. 3) Avoid aspects of trike touring that cause injury to my body. 4) Enjoy the ride. There are more lessons learned, of course, but these four are pretty high up on the list of those necessary for graduation.

With each passing year and overland journey, I lessened my cargo volume, a slow process that I figured out just by continuing to ride out in the middle of nowhere. Each ride taught me that I really did not need this or that item, most of which are available on the road in towns. Each ride taught me that, because of the extra weight I was carrying, I was contributing notably to hurting my physical body, and that next time I had to lighten my load even more. Each ride taught me that I wanted to eek out all the physical and mental enjoyment of the journey that I possibly could, and part of that was to lay down some serious mileage now and then, especially if going across a broad expanse of relatively flat desert.

Overland journeys are not my only use of a trike however. Around home, I enjoy local day rides into the surrounding mountains, along the Pacific Ocean shoreline, and inland beside a beautiful river flowing to the sea. My trike needed to be more than just a single purpose vehicle that could do only one thing well. At times, for example, I truly enjoy moving my body and mind down the road as fast as I possibly can, both for maintaining and improving my physical fitness level (which I highly value), and for providing incredible adrenalin surges that leave me feeling exhilarated. I could opt to acquire two trikes, one for overland journeys and one for speed runs when my mind needs it, yet, my thoughts speculated that maybe I could fashion a solution to kill two birds with one stone, using common brutal verbiage understood by almost everyone.

Oh yes, one more thing! Regarding the fourth need mentioned above, to enjoy the ride, a trike pilot must necessarily be exceptionally comfortable, so I sought a trike that would provide maximum comfort while doing all the wide range of activities I demanded from it. Was my goal achievable?

I did not wish to prioritize one need over another. I wanted it all. In one trike! I could have purchased a multi-purpose trike that could do all things fairly well, but one thing I wanted to do really well would have suffered as a result. That thing is going fast, very fast, now and then when I get the itch. This need for speed is not an all-consuming quirk in my head, but when I want it, I must have it – simple. I was not prepared to compromise this aspect of my triangular enjoyment. Sure, I take road trips, but I also ride unencumbered in between those trips, and so I desired a wicked fast speed demon to satiate my addiction. I was brought up in childhood around really fast cars. But I don’t own a car anymore. The trike has filled that gap, in a way that I find far more rewarding, while improving my longevity.

So, my decision was to start with a high performance speed trike as my base, and do whatever was necessary to also use it as a touring machine – a touring machine that would be a real thoroughbred, a white lightning bolt that would deliver to me overland sensations never before possible. I wanted a super comfortable, easy riding trike that would take me over the highest mountains, while also transporting me at light speed across the open flats. I wanted to ride injury free, which meant my cargo model must be highly modified. Weight was now at the forefront of my thinking.

Enter the Catrike 700! This is a very well designed trike without compromise. It is lightweight, fast, and structurally robust. The seat is integral to the frame, which is what originally attracted me to Catrike back in 2008, rather than a clamped-on affair as seen on virtually every other trike available today. I can actually lift this trike, fully loaded for tour, by the seat, something that if attempted with many trikes might result in the seat breaking free of its clamping devices. Keep in mind however that this new Fast ‘n Light packing strategy I am using keeps the trike’s touring weight to less than 75 pounds, including cargo, so lifting by a frame integrated seat is no big deal.

This Catrike 700 is the ultimate touring trike for my needs. My radical experimentation has presented me with superb comfort and speed out on the open road, making overland journeys much easier. Which would I rather drive across the United States: a Corvette or a truck? I’ve owned two Corvettes during my former automotive life, and there is no doubt which I prefer for the long haul – might as well have fun and remain comfy out there! Life is too short to relinquish simple pleasures!

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North Oregon Coast31Hey, I think it still looks might racy, even with the bags and fenders!

The way I am using this trike may be seen as an unacceptable compromise in the minds of many trikers, who believe I have ruined a perfectly incredible speed trike, taking away its perceived dignity by hanging bags on it, and running tires that actually provide riding comfort. I have encountered much resistance to my incursion into the unthinkable. Well, so be it, but my experience has allowed me to see the adventure of the open road in ways not understood before! Not only does the Catrike 700 tour, it does so very well – IF the rider adapts to the idiosyncrasies presented by the trike. Only a tiny handful of riders will be willing to do what is necessary. Adapt or perish. I have adapted, and am loving it!

On to the caveats, those things that need attending to if you are even remotely considering a Catrike 700 to serve both as a thrilling day ride speed machine and an overland journey transport platform. We may as well begin this discussion with the trike’s engine, for without the proper power plant, the rest of the experiment is doomed from the start. You can modify the trike all you wish, but if the engine is cast iron instead of aluminum or titanium, the vehicle will suffer, and not deliver what you expect. This is sensitive ground for many, but to ignore it is to ignore the most critical aspect of touring on this trike!

I am speaking here of the pilot’s fitness level, which often corresponds with the pilot’s bodyweight. Specifically, I am speaking of riders who are obese or otherwise carrying an observable amount of unhealthy bodyfat about their bones. My bodyweight is 160 pounds (72 kilograms), and I maintain a muscular and fit body. Even at this bodyweight, a rider who rode behind my Catrike 700 on a recent trip informed me of a very slight lateral motion of the trike in the rear, and wondered if my rear wheel might be loose (it wasn’t). Of course, the rider’s bodyweight is not the only weight consideration here, as the cargo definitely comes into the picture, especially since it sits higher on the 700c rear wheel structure, but the human body is the first facet that we are examining.

This trike functions best, and will last the longest, when it is not overloaded. Catrike recommends a total load limit for the Catrike 700 of 275 pounds (125 kilograms), above which it is assumed that things like cracked frames and other ills will be experienced. So, the company itself is saying that this limit is fine in their opinion. Since nearly everyone out there who purchases a 700 uses it only for riding other than overland journeys, it can also be speculated (probably accurately) that this number will reflect the bodyweight of the rider, and since few, if any, Catrike 700 riders are 275 pound muscular bodybuilders who could win the Mr. Olympia contest, the most likely scenario is that Catrike expects obese folks up to 275 pounds might be riding their speed trike.

Can it be done? Sure. But keep in mind that even an obese Catrike 700 rider is sitting very low to the ground, and in front of the rear wheel. Does this affect the lateral movement of the trike’s frame as each foot pushes the pedal each revolution? Yes, it does, and this deflection will be absorbed by the rear wheel in some form, perhaps the spokes, which, common sense tells us, will be far more pronounced the heavier the load. A Catrike 700 will receive less wear and tear, or abuse, by a 140 pound rider than a 275 pound rider. Of this there is no doubt.

Okay, so I have some thoughts gleaned thus far about this weight thing. My current rolling weight is no greater than 235 pounds, and may be closer to 230 pounds (104-106 kilograms). By rolling weight, I mean everything that I am pedaling down the road, which includes the trike, all its accessories, the rider, the bags, and the cargo. Everything! My current rolling weight is 40 pounds (18 kilograms) below Catrike’s recommended maximum weight load for the trike. In other words, they are saying that a 275 pound man can ride this trike. For such a man, with no touring gear attached, and the trike stripped of all accessories, his rolling weight would be about 309 pounds (140 kilograms). Could this theoretical man tour on a 700? Absolutely not, because even if he had only 35 pounds of cargo, he would be 35 pounds over the Catrike recommendation, and his rolling weight would be roughly 344 pounds, placing an incredible amount of stress on a trike not designed for it.

On my former trike, with its 20 inch rear wheel, my panniers and trunk were much lower to the ground, and the wheel was more stout. It had 36 spokes, whereas my 700c wheel only has 28 spokes. With the 20 inch rear wheel, the center of gravity of the rear cargo is considerably lower than on this Catrike 700, where the cargo sits much higher in the air. The higher the load, the more lateral sway will occur with the wheel. Imagine placing your panniers 10 feet in the air above the wheel, to put this in perspective – in such a case, the trike would be swaying wildly with each thrust of the leg against the pedals, and the trike could end up tipping over. Yes, this is highly exaggerated for clarity, but that’s the idea as I see it.

So, we are looking at weight as a prime consideration for anyone contemplating a 700 for a tour. It’s a combination of rider and cargo, both important factors in the viability of this trike for touring. This can be examined from many angles. Here is one way of seeing it: Using the 275 pound weight limit imposed by the company, and assuming the rider has adapted to packing only the absolute essentials in his cargo to remain light, we can figure he has no more than 35 pounds of gear on board. This would mean that he could theoretically weigh in as much as 240 pounds (108 kilograms) bodyweight. But even this is not entirely accurate, as the trike’s accessories (fenders, racks, bags, mirrors, GPS units, etc.) do add weight themselves, which could come in somewhere between 6-10 pounds (2.72-4.5 kilograms), so the heaviest a rider could safely be in this example is 230 pounds (104 kilograms).

If we use upper limits as the measuring rod for what is possible, we are examining the upper reaches of what the trike will endure during a trip. That is to say, we are stressing this trike to its absolute maximum limits, which, of course, will prematurely wear it out while placing huge stresses upon it. Personally, I would rather not be rocketing down a steep mountain at 50 miles per hour in curves, realizing the lateral loads coming to bear on the rear wheel mechanisms and spokes. I prefer to exist far below these maximums, extending my trike’s useful life considerably in the process, and widening the window of my own personal safety. If this trike is experiencing lateral flexure with my current weight statistics, imagine what it does with riders carrying much observable bodyfat and heavier cargo loads.

I have witnessed heavier riders, and the lateral movement is much more pronounced, as is the sideways force when cornering at speed, such as in a downhill run. I have followed a fellow Catrike 700 touring rider on flat pavement, for example, and each time he exerted force against a pedal to move the trike forward, the rear reacted accordingly. He weighed about 220 pounds (99 kilos), and his cargo probably came in near 50 pounds (22 kilos), for a total load weight of 270 pounds (122 kilos), so he was 5 pounds below Catrike’s recommended upper limit, but Catrike’s calculations do not assume a rider loaded for a tour, with cargo placed up high around the rear wheel, which adds more stress to the situation. I recommend certain limits be considered if you wish to tour on one of these trikes.

Let’s look at another scenario. If a rider weighs 175 pounds (79 kilos), this theoretically means that he can carry 100 pounds of cargo (45 kilos) in his panniers and trunk, and still be within Catrike’s upper weight limit for this Catrike 700. We may all see this differently, but the thoughts bouncing around inside my head are throwing up red flags like crazy here. This is dangerous and will destroy the trike long before it would otherwise wear out. What we can supposedly do is often far afield from what we should do for common sense.

My recommendation, perhaps totally subjective because I have not conducted any scientific laboratory type experimentations under controlled conditions with sensitive measuring equipment, is that a rider should be no heavier than 175 pounds bodyweight and carry no more than 35 pounds of cargo weight if he is planning on riding a 700 on an overland journey of any duration. That is a total rolling weight of about 245 pounds (111 kilos). By contrast, consider a 140 pound (63 kilos) rider with 30 pounds (13 kilos) of cargo. S(he) will have a rolling weight of roughly 205 pounds (93 kilos), about 70 pounds less than the company’s load limit. Again, this is just my brain talking, so take it for what it’s worth to you. I could be way off the mark here. We all make our own personal decisions in life, and are willing to take our own personal chances with them.

This is an incredible touring trike for me, and when I get home from a tour, I simply strip it down (removing fenders, bags, rack), and I have that original high speed fire breathing dragon I loved at the beginning. Actually, by having a rolling weight of about 235 pounds, this is as close as I have yet come to riding unencumbered on a trip. My goal is to travel with as little stress on my body as possible, at a high level of enjoyment, and this comes about by triking with the lightest weight possible. I am achieving this goal, and on the Catrike 700, I am closing in on what I see as touring perfection.

* * *

North Oregon Coast09Fast on pavement doesn’t translate to fast in sand! I carried it out here! (Columbia River)

Well, that was certainly a long winded examination of rider bodyweight, but there is more to adapting to this trike as a touring platform. So, assuming that you are a physically fit rider with an acceptable and healthy bodyweight, what other modifications need be accomplished on this trike?

For starters, use only Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. Not only do they provide you a significantly smoother riding experience than the stock Schwalbe Durano tires, they will keep you flat free 99.99% of the time. I have never had a flat on a tricycle, and I have always used these tires, right from the start. Spend the extra money to do the tires right – don’t cheap out here. Normal cheap tires go flat all the time, and not always do you have plenty of road space to safely change them. And, believe it or not, flats also happen in driving rainstorms when the wind freezes your hands before you can even dismount the tire. Keep your journeys safe and fun! Get the best tire for touring.

Catrike sends the 700 out the door with a front crankset of 30-39-52, assuming that all their riders will be using this trike for its intended purpose (speed) on essentially flat ground. For touring, two of these chainrings work just fine, but the third is far removed from what reality on the road demands! Even for folks living in moderately hilly locales, taking only fast day rides with no baggage, the small 30 tooth ring is too high, and will eventually cause knee or joint injures from the repetitive stress of having to mash the pedals to make it up the inclines. I tried a 28 tooth small ring in place of the 30, and while I was successful at making fairly steep mountain inclines unloaded, it was more stress than it should have been. Had I been loaded with cargo, it would have been out of the question.

Prior to my first overland journey on the 700, I replaced the 28 with a 24 tooth ring, and installed a Granny Guard from Hostel Shoppe to keep the chain from overshifting onto the inside. I now run a 24-39-52 combination, which works just perfectly for my abilities and rolling weight. The jump up from the 24 to the 39 is 15 teeth, on the outer limits of clean shifting, so the Granny Guard was an essential addition for road trips. One 700 rider who has also tried touring has found that the 24 was not low enough for his abilities and weight, and would have been helped with a 22 tooth small ring instead. Of course, when you go that small, it means a 17 tooth jump up to the 39, which is definitely not recommended. If a rider opts for super tall or short gearing at either extreme, all the rings must be taken into consideration if one wishes to avoid faulty shifts that damage the chain and rings.

In the rear I am running the stock Catrike cassette, with 11-36 cogs, and coupled with the 24-39-52 front crankset, I have no complaints whatsoever. The new Catrike 700s are 30 speeds. I have climbed long and steep grades and have been perfectly comfortable in the process. I recommend this combination if all else is within limits discussed in this article, which includes your bodyweight. I have no additional need for internal hubs to increase my gearing range. Besides, internally geared hubs would be a heavy component.

If you are bordering on the heavy side of things, either with your bodyweight, or your cargo, or both, you have a relatively inexpensive option of a custom wheel build. You can replace the stock 28 spoke rear 700c wheel with a 40 or 48 spoke wheel, which, in my mind, would strengthen the rear end of things, perhaps reducing the lateral movement of the trike. Even lighter riders could do this upgrade if desired. I have opted to try the stock 28 spoke Velocity wheel to see how it goes. If the first trip is any indication, I would say that for my weight considerations, this wheel works just fine. Remember, my total rolling weight lies between 230-235 pounds (104-106 kilos), which includes the trike.

Touring trikers need fenders on a trike if they prefer to remain drier in rain storms. And make no mistake about it. If you are going to tour, you WILL be riding in the rain at one point or another! Fenders add weight, albeit not much, but a lot of little “not much” adds up to quite a bit. Fenders keep the rooster tails, all three of them, down to a manageable level, and keep the panniers and trunk from getting sprayed under pressure. When your tour is over, simply remove them for fast day rides intended on impressing normal mortal cyclists.

You are going to need a headlight, taillight, and rear rack to hold the panniers and trunk. Headlights and taillights are relatively lightweight. Choose what works for you. Rear racks vary all over the map regarding design, material, and construction. You can have a single tier rack or a double tier rack. On a single tier rack, your top trunk and your side panniers must all use the same bar for mounting, which means that depending on what trunk/pannier combo you choose, you could have yourself a problem of fitting them together. Not all trunks and panniers play well together on a single tier rack – best if you can figure this out prior to laying out the cash.

I opted for a simple single tier rack on this Catrike 700, and it works for my simple trunk/pannier combination. I recommend a double tier rack (more costly) because you can mount any trunk and panniers together because they each use a different bar on which they mount, so there is no conflict with the mounting hardware or mounting mode. Regardless of which rack you choose, it is imperative that you opt for ultra light panniers and trunk to adorn it.

My top trunk is an Arkel TailRider, one that I have been using since I began overland journeys, and one that I highly recommend to any trike pilot, even for day rides. This trunk has 11 liters of volume, and is one of the lowest and most streamlined available. It sits much lower than many standard rack trunks, such as the Lone Peak or other boxy and high trunks. The TailRider expands out horizontally when really filled with a lot of gear, thus not raising the center of gravity like traditional trunks do, where the weight goes up, not out. Arkel is a Canadian company.

The side rack panniers are Arkel Dry-Lites waterproof panniers, weighing in at an amazing 14 ounces (397 grams), and they roll up into a small space when not in use. There is no heavy hardware to slow you down either. These mount saddlebag style, over the top of the rack, with Velcro enclosures. This mounting makes it problematic to then mount the TailRider, as you have to feed the TailRider’s four straps around a tight pathway to get a satisfactory grip, but once on, neither bag comes off. I leave my bags on the trike at night for two reasons: 1) my small NEMO Obi one person tent is not large enough to hold them while I am sleeping, and 2) it’s simply a hassle to reattach these every morning. Since all my food supplies are contained within OPSAK odor proof bags, my trike and bags are neutral to nocturnal invaders like raccoons.

This rear trunk/pannier combination is truly feather light. The bags on my former trike, which were Arkel GT-54s, weighed over 6 pounds for the pair (2.72 kilos), which is roughly five pounds more than what I have back there now on this 700. As you can see, simply by your choice of bags, you are making sound decisions on keeping your 700 lightweight. It ALL adds up, and ALL makes a difference, regardless of what any seemingly insignificant little item may weigh by itself. How many of us actually consider the cargo bags into our weight equation? Well, it does matter!

The Arkel Dry-Lites waterproof top loading panniers have a total volume of 28 liters (1708 cubic inches). These bags are the roll down top variety of dry bag, so some volume is lost depending on how far they are rolled down.

On the sides of my pilot’s seat are Radical Design side seat pods, at 25 liters volume (1525 cubic inches). On one side I place my sleeping bag, and on the other, I place my tent and sleeping mattress. This gets the weight of those items down very low to the ground, helping to keep the center of gravity lower, as opposed to many cyclists you see who strap their tents and bags up high off the rear rack somehow. Strapping things to the bags on the rear rack is most definitely not recommended for anyone who wishes to tour on a Catrike 700!

In my former slow and heavy packing strategy, I carried two 100 ounce Camelbak water bladders behind the trike’s seat, two 24 ounce water bottles on the trike’s mainframe, and five more water bottles in the trailer. Water weighs more than 8 pounds per gallon (3.78 kilos), so you can see that I was crazy back then. Well, I may still be a bit off my rocker, but at least I’m making some progress (at least in my mind, anyway). Nowadays, I carry only three 26 ounce Specialized Purist water bottles, and have found that as long as I refill them whenever the opportunity to do so arises, I am fine. Three bottles are usually more than I need if I am diligent about refilling. Water makes a huge difference for touring on a 700 – keep it minimal!

By now, you get the point of where my head is regarding touring fast and light on a Catrike 700. If you are going to ride one of these speed trikes on tour, it is absolutely essential that these guidelines be followed or simulated closely using other countermeasures to offset the weight nemesis.

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North Oregon Coast283It’s still a fantastic and very fast trike, even when lightly loaded for tour!

SUMMARY: Your mantra must be Fast ‘n Light for touring on a Catrike 700. Do not overload this trike, either with your cargo or an overweight body. This trike is not designed for touring. You are exploring realms outside of the parameters set by Catrike, and you do so at your own risk. If this wheel flexure issue finds you worried, it should. Overloading this trike, either with cargo, yourself, or both, will lead to a premature demise of the rear wheel, and failure of the wheel at speed coming down a mountain is not what you want to happen!

If you weigh more than 175 pounds bodyweight (79 kilograms), do not attempt to use the Catrike 700 for touring. In that case, opt for a trike that does not have a 700c rear wheel. Even a 26 inch rear wheel will not flex as much. A 24 inch is better yet, and as your weight increases, the 20 inch rear wheel is the best option. Gearing this trike appropriately for climbing hills and mountains is essential if you wish to maintain the integrity of your knees and joints. With its 700c rear wheel, getting the gearing right is absolutely critical. The 700c wheel, which seems to be the main issue with this as a touring trike, also allows you to fly along on your tour like you’ve never done before, covering ground at lightning fast speeds, so this is indeed one fun machine!

Modify your front crankset to 24-39-52, and use a Granny Guard from Hostel Shoppe to prevent overshifting. Retain the rear cluster of 11-36 as comes stock on new Catrike 700s. Keep your rolling weight no higher than 250 pounds (113 kilos). This includes the trike, the pilot (you), all accessories, the cargo bags, and all the cargo. If your body is overweight with visible fat, get that big issue squared away long before you attempt a Catrike 700 touring experience. If you are heavy, but it is a fit and muscular weight (you are a bodybuilder), adjust your cargo weight so as not to exceed a rolling weight of 250 pounds. Also, opt for a custom rear wheel build with either 40 spokes or 48 spokes, depending on your body’s weight. Only lightweight riders (160 pounds or lower) should stick with the original 28 spoke Velocity wheel from the factory (remember, this is for touring – around town riding excepted).

Only physically fit people should ever consider this trike if they wish to tour on it. Riding around town and on day rides is one thing, but touring overland on a Catrike 700 is another. Weight must be minimized for this speed trike, and this begins in earnest with the body of the pilot. Adding cargo changes the entire picture! And riding down mountains at high speed overloaded with rider and cargo can be very dangerous if the lateral loads finally exceed the structural ability of all the components designed to keep you safe. I suspect that few overweight riders will even contemplate this trike for touring.

Use only Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. Not only do they provide you a significantly smoother riding experience than the stock Schwalbe Durano tires, they will keep you flat free 99.99% of the time. I have never had a flat on a tricycle, and I have always used these tires, right from the start. Spend the extra money to do the tires right – don’t cheap out here. Normal cheap tires go flat all the time, and not always do you have plenty of road space to safely change them. And, believe it or not, flats also happen in driving rainstorms when the wind freezes your hands before you can even dismount the tire. Keep your journeys safe and fun! Get the best tire for touring.

If you cannot lift your Catrike 700 comfortably off the ground, and stand holding it at waist level, while fully loaded for your tour, then you are overloaded and need to rethink what you are doing. You should be able to lift it up and set it on a picnic table, and then take it back down to the ground under total control. If this is not possible, your 700 is simply too heavy, and you are not ready to use it for touring.

Be safe. Don’t push the margins of weight maximums. Enjoy the ride. Stay ultra light. And most of all, remember, when you want to kick this puppy into high gear to blow off those diamond framers, this trike will allow it if you have the engine to maintain it! It’s all up to you …

Yee Haa

North Oregon Coast238Rain happens! Get a KOA cabin in Oregon for $65 (includes the lodging tax).

Wild child 82Fully loaded for tour, it MUST be this easy to lift and hold! Otherwise, don’t go.

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2 Responses to Touring on a Catrike 700?

  1. jon daniel says:

    hi steve really enjoyed reading about your first 700 tour. definitely a major evolution from the ice days with real tangible benefit gained carrying a lower cargo weight. how did you find your overall speed enjoyment increase on the hills and flats . i know you dont use a gps etc. but your daily mileage and perception of effort must have changed for the better. you and your knees must have felt a lot happier toting this lighter load . do you think you could do a big tour on wild child with confidence.?? are you now considering the rear wheel and getting a higher spoke count???? the live wheel issue of the rear 700c appeared for me on my 1000klm audax and i had to adjust the mudguard to stop the rubbing. my wheel is 32 spoke.i am soon to attempt some local trike touring of my own inspired by you. i just need to get my hands on some red radical design side pods to complete my cargo. i will not be using the catrike 700 though as i am 81kg and 185cm tall. i have a greenspeed gto with a base weight of 17kg . however i will be copying as much as is possible your mantra of light as possible. how did you find riding with an adventure cycle group??? i will definitely apply your lift and hold or dont go rule but i might need to lift some weights with my puny arms first ha ha.

  2. Trike Hobo says:

    Howdy Jon,

    Okay, for your questions: My overall speed is most definitely way up, and way easier at that. When the urge or terrain indicates quick transit time, this 700 readily makes it possible. Hills are also easier, due to the much lighter load. This was the most fun and easiest riding I’ve ever done, thanks to the trike and light cargo weight. I only had one 60+ mile day on this trip, when I rode solo. The other four days I rode with two different people, thus the lesser distances. I generally ride farther each day when solo, but I enjoy company and stopping at coffee houses with partners. I never have had an issue with my knees while touring, even when doing so with heavy loads (a lifetime of weight lifting has helped), but I used to get hot spots on my feet (agony), and those are now a thing of the past with my new Fast ‘n Light ideology. Yes, I would take Wild Child out on an extensive overland journey in a heartbeat, with no reservations whatsoever – this five day test trip has shown that the ideas work out on the road, both the speed trike and the very lightweight cargo load. I will remain with the 28 spoke count Velocity wheel in the rear, because my bodyweight of 160 is not over-stressing it (unlike a bike with two wheels, a trike distributes the load over three wheels, thereby lessening the load over a bike). Radical Design bags are always a keeper for me! I love them, and have used them on every trike trip I’ve taken. I have the pair with 25 liters volume (sleeping bag in one side, tent in the other). It was fun riding with the Adventure Cycling group – they found my little trike and low height fascinating. Of course, they were all riding unencumbered, with no panniers or extra weight to slow them down. With the 700 and this light mantra of mine, I can actually do pretty well being part of the group (on prior rides, there was no way I could maintain with these guys). It would be fun to ride with such a group on Wild Child with no cargo load myself! Then I could really fly. Yep, the true Fast ‘n Light test is lifting your fully loaded trike up onto a picnic table (all by yourself with no straining)! If you can’t do that, you are not yet ready to join the Fast ‘n Light Corps of lightning pilots. See ya’ …

    steve

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