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Trike stability - please be kind!

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Trike stability - please be kind!

Old 10-09-15, 03:23 PM
  #1  
3wheelgranny
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Trike stability - please be kind!

I'm just a fat old lady. I've been using a recumbent EXERCYCLE regularly enough to feel that I could start biking to work (I'm a nanny). BUT we have very hilly, narrow roads in downtown Atlanta, and I have to bring a big old suitcase full of non-stop entertainment to work every day, so I decided that an adult tricycle (upright, single-speed 26" Schwinn Meridian with a large basket) would be the way to go. I can carry my gear, AND I'm planning to add an e-bike kit to it to help with those hills. Bike arrived yesterday, finished assembly today, took it for a spin around the block.

WHOA! I had NOT anticipated the high-crowned center of the road to be so destabilizing! These are old neighborhoods, and cars are parked on both sides of the narrow streets. Even staying in the center of one lane, I'm tipped pretty far to my right, and steering is very difficult. I had to brake and pull over numerous times to avoid hitting a parked car or swerving into traffic.

I had decided against a recumbent because of visibility, but now I understand the appeal. I went crazy trying to find a place where I could try out, rent or borrow an adult trike before I ordered one cold, but I couldn't find anything in the entire state of Georgia. So I went with cheap, and I'm pretty much stuck with it now.

I'm going to let some of the air out of my tires, and see if that helps (they are pumped up to 60#), but, any other advice?

I'm not interested in attaining great speed; I just want to be able to cruise to work and the grocery store (each about a mile away) and maybe open her up if I can find a bike trail that isn't populated by "serious" riders who sneer at the tubby girl on the wobbly trike.
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Old 10-09-15, 03:32 PM
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Well - that's a unique and interesting problem!

I don't think letting air out of your tires is going to help. And nothing you do is going to help with your vertical position on the trike - you're going to have to lean to the left to counteract the effect of the crown of the road.

But you could sort of maybe put your heaviest loads on the left side of your basket (maybe even hang something on the outside) to help with the handling some. And look for more horizontal surfaces.

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Old 10-09-15, 03:46 PM
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I will certainly be looking for the flattest roads I can find. Part of my commute to work will take me through a good sized park, which has paved pathways, although it is very hilly (once a lake bed). The hills are definitely less-daunting than the tilt of the road crowning. Ah, me! Practice, practice, practice!

Or I could move to Florida. Thinking about it anyway...
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Old 10-09-15, 05:15 PM
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My son has a 3 wheeler much like yours. Yes, they are extremely unstable, with a high center of gravity. Letting air out won't help, IMHO. Be careful on turns, as they will flip easily.

There are trikes with much lower centers of gravity, and 2 wheels in front, and there are 4 wheelers. These are generally expensive, but possibly you might find one on Craigslist.

I believe there is a person on this forum who uses one regularly. Perhaps that person will chime in with ideas.
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Old 10-09-15, 05:51 PM
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Road crown is an issue, even with recumbent trikes. You know that not all 'bent trikes are really low, right?



Adding a motor to a single-speed, instead of using multiple gears, seems like a strange and possibly expensive way to deal with hills.
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Old 10-09-15, 08:00 PM
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JMO, but adding some suspension to the rear wheels/axel may help a lot...
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Old 10-10-15, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by 3wheelgranny View Post

I'm going to let some of the air out of my tires, and see if that helps (they are pumped up to 60#), but, any other advice?

I've recently experienced what you're currently feeling about trike handling, but it DOES get better.

I bought a used, beaten down Worksman Adaptable for my son who doesn't balance well. In the process of rebuilding it over the Summer, I had a chance to ride it extensively.

Initially the handling is most upsetting, it wanting to pull to the right on the crown and also 'cause the left rear is the drive wheel. It's WAY different than the feeling of a bicycle. The good news is that with regular riding, I got quite adjusted to the feeling and am quite confident zipping along (OK, it's an SS so 8-15 mph) with only the left hand on the bars with a light guiding touch. Even cornering got predictable with minor weight shifting from me providing a secure feeling around turns at speed!

I'd keep those tire pumped to the top end of their inflation specs, and just go for short rides until you get more comfortable. It's probably not your Meridian, it's just getting used to delta comfort/industrial trikes. It's very cool, but quite different, once you've got more milage.

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Old 10-10-15, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by 3wheelgranny View Post

I'm not interested in attaining great speed; I just want to be able to cruise to work and the grocery store (each about a mile away) and maybe open her up if I can find a bike trail that isn't populated by "serious" riders who sneer at the tubby girl on the wobbly trike.
I think you'd be surprised at how many people either don't care about what you ride or would commend you for getting out there and doing something. You have a good plan, stick with it.

Keith
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Old 10-10-15, 07:39 AM
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Thanks, all. North Coast Joe, that's excellent advice, and pretty much what I have hoped will happen. Is your son doing well riding it? My husband bought our grandson, who has Asperger's (and, at 12, has never been on a bike of any kind), a regular 26" street bike, but it's clearly not something he can learn on. He's only 5 ft tall.

350htrr, I have thought about adding some suspension, but for now I'll just try to rebalance myself.

BlazingPedals, initially I ordered a 7-speed trike. After waiting almost a MONTH, and receiving only one "shipping delayed" email, I called the company and finally, after multiple phone calls (you know how that goes), learned that the trike was "LOST" in shipping, and that they couldn't imagine when they could get another. My next option of even 3 speeds was more than twice the price of the Meridian. I had been checking Craigslist and eBay everyday, and reading thousands of reviews. I have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, chondromalacia in both knees, will probably have to have replacement surgery someday, but couldn't afford the time off work now. I don't think I'm "cheating" by putting electric-assist on my trike. I feel like I'm just giving myself a fighting chance.
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Old 10-10-15, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by trainsktg View Post
I think you'd be surprised at how many people either don't care about what you ride or would commend you for getting out there and doing something. You have a good plan, stick with it.

Keith

Thankyou SO MUCH. I live in Hipster Central, and it is intimidating just going outside.
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Old 10-10-15, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by 3wheelgranny View Post
Thankyou SO MUCH. I live in Hipster Central, and it is intimidating just going outside.
Fake cool does seem to hate real cool. And you seem to be Real Cool, granny.
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Old 10-10-15, 11:00 AM
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Tadpole recumbent trikes are stabile for the same reason they are hard to get up from the seat ,

and a Porsche corners better than a pickup truck .. the Low center of Gravity..

High crown road ,( for drainage ), on a typical Upright trike, you may just have to lean towards the center of the road crown..


It would be a complicated and so a heavy thing, to have the whole thing perpendicular to the center of the earth
in spite of the road crown.

Maybe a gimbaled cup holder from a Boating store will have to Do. http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTYwMFgxNj...S6ELt/$_35.JPG

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Old 10-10-15, 02:15 PM
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Thanks for asking, Granny. The Worksman trike seems to do my son just fine despite his limitations, that's him pictured above. He's had a Summer of riding to the beach/convenience store/around the block and enjoyed it all. Perhaps a supervised trial on your Meridian would be in order before committing that investment for your grandson.

BTW, Worksman has a few disclaimer/info type announcements on it's website to inform everyone that delta trkes pull to the right in normal situations. Their website, worksmancycles.com, is worth a visit. They've been making trikes here in the USA since the 1800's. Their trikes are pricey, but well supported with customer info and parts inventory. I'm not an employee, or spokesperson, just a fan of well made stuff!
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Old 10-10-15, 03:19 PM
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3Wheel, you sound delightful - welcome to 50+.
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Old 10-10-15, 07:36 PM
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No sneers from here. There are enough couch potatoes for us to do that to.

It appears that there are three problems with your trike. The first one is the weight of the trike. Tricycle World lists the specifications and says it is 77 pounds. That's a lot of weight to pedal down the street and there is absolutely nothing that will fix this problem other than finding a lighter trike. It's more than twice the weight of most of the horrible bikes sold by places like WalMart. The second is having only one gear. There is a reason why so many of us older people were ecstatic when 10 speed bikes hit the market in the late 1960s. It meant you could make pedaling much easier when starting out or going up a hill and then shift to a higher gear when you got going (or downhill). It sure made riding a bike a lot more pleasant. The last is the high center of gravity. It does make the trike a lot more tippy. When I first started to ride recumbent tadpole trikes, there were some bike paths that would give me the willies because they were pitched to one side to allow rain to run off. After I rode them a while I didn't even notice that they weren't flat. That might be the case for you too. You just get accustomed to steering so that you go straight. The other things can't be solved.
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Old 10-12-15, 07:08 AM
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Some pretty good advice here, so far, especially from VegasTriker. I doubt that unkind remarks will be thrown out by the 50+ group. And there is most likely no need to be concerned about what the hipster crowd thinks, you are what you make of your self. Our daughter lives in Atlanta, near the Cabbagetown section, and I have been pleasantly surprised at how nice and courteous the young folks can be, especially towards people like yourself. Yep, some true asses will be most anywhere you go, but there is always the few idiots to make things interesting. Karma will get them their comeuppance.

And, don't feel like you are "cheating" by adding a power assist to your trike, do what works best for you and allows you to enjoy, not dread, your rides and commutes. These trikes are difficult to master, those that race them have my up-most respect for their skill. I don't imagine suspension would help much, as said, its the single driven wheel that makes them difficult to master. An English firm makes what amounts to a posi-traction drive system, but it probably costs more than you paid for your Schwinn, and is intended for serious racing and sportive riding when attached to a bespoke racing trike or adapted diamond frame trike.

As well as the good advice here, you might try posting about your problems with the trike in the Recumbent Forum, even though yours is upright. The folks there are knowledgeable about the mechanics of riding them, and can offer you some things to help out your riding. I suspect that getting experienced in riding, and developing some fitness will make a big difference. Best wishes on your new adventure, stick around the 50+ Forum and join in with us. Its a great group of folks here, save the few trolls that pop up, just ignore them when they prairie dog about something.

Bill
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Old 10-12-15, 12:34 PM
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Battery range and battery types

If you do add electric assist to your trike, be sure to specify a large enough battery so that you never "run out of juice" as the added weight of the electric motor and battery pack will make your already heavy trike very tough to pedal without using the assist. The seller should be able to tell you how far you can go on a charge based on using it with your 77 pound trike.

There are two kinds of battery packs available, lead-acid (like the automotive kind) and lithium ion batteries. Li-ion batteries are more expensive to start with but they are much lighter for the same electrical capacity and will recharge many more times than lead-acid batteries. Once you select the motor that is designed for a lead acid battery, you can not easily convert to using it with Li-ion batteries after the fact so you have to make that choice when you buy the assist.
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Old 10-13-15, 11:46 AM
  #18  
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Serious riders would never sneer at anyone on a bike path. Maybe some wannabee who thinks he's cool might, but who cares what they think?

I'm very interested in hearing what works for you. I toyed with getting my mom a trike a while back, even got a Schwinn Meridian that needed some work (wheels, actually, which would cost more than the trike did so I sold it). I rebuilt an old cruiser for her but she's not riding it. And she's afraid to try a trike because of the issue you're having and because of its width on city streets.
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Old 10-13-15, 06:23 PM
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Hi granny.

A trike like yours handles a lot differently than an upright bicycvle. The biggest problem with your trike is the design. Two wheels in back is a more unstable design than two wheels in front but it's MUCH easier to design a steering mechanism for the two wheels in back as well as costing a lot less to manufacture than if the steering was for two wheels up front. Another thing about a trike like yours is that you can't lean it like you can a bicycle. this leaning becomes instinctive on a bicycle.

Having ridden a trike like yours a few times I recommend keeping the tire pressure up to reduce tire 'squirm' which will make the trike feel even more unstable as well as make it harder to pedal. i found that leaning tthe upper bodycan dramatically improve the stability of your type of trike. Riding it a lot will allow you to adapt to it. just keep the speed down on tthe corners. as another poster mentioned keep cargo weight to the left (high side of the road). As well, try to keep as much weight in the front end of the basket as that will help too.

Ride trike and enjoy.

Cheers
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Old 10-13-15, 10:56 PM
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I was wondering if it would be okay to mention the possibility of a tadpole tricycle design, where the two wheels are in the front, which is more stable in turns and such...
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Old 10-13-15, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by 3wheelgranny View Post
I have to bring a big old suitcase full of non-stop entertainment to work every day
Mary Poppins! Is that you?
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Old 10-14-15, 05:08 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by raceboy View Post
Mary Poppins! Is that you?

Yes, it is I! I never go out without kid-heavy phone and iPad, chargers, play doh, play doh accessories (the good stuff), crayons, glue sticks, childsafe scissors, stickers, coloring pages, my slippers, my lunch, sunscreen, tennis balls, table tennis balls, wet wipes, and a plethora of goodies fetched from the local Dollar Tree. Oh, and Benadryl. Loads of Benadryl. (IT'S A JOKE, GUYS!)

Thanks again, all, excellent advice and ideas. My second ride was twice the length and I handled it much better, but surely anticipated the ebike kit's arrival by the last hill. Ebike will - I think - give me more confidence regarding taking up so much of the road, as I'll know I can compete with the traffic in the short term and get out'the way when I cross to the park.

IF I find myself riding and enjoying this cycle as much as I hope to, I can certainly anticipate upgrading to something a bit sportier next year. Maybe I won't NEED electric-assist by then!
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Old 10-14-15, 05:15 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
If you do add electric assist to your trike, be sure to specify a large enough battery so that you never "run out of juice" as the added weight of the electric motor and battery pack will make your already heavy trike very tough to pedal without using the assist. The seller should be able to tell you how far you can go on a charge based on using it with your 77 pound trike.

There are two kinds of battery packs available, lead-acid (like the automotive kind) and lithium ion batteries. Li-ion batteries are more expensive to start with but they are much lighter for the same electrical capacity and will recharge many more times than lead-acid batteries. Once you select the motor that is designed for a lead acid battery, you can not easily convert to using it with Li-ion batteries after the fact so you have to make that choice when you buy the assist.
Yep, VegasTriker, I'm savvy enough to know that Li-On was definitely the way to go, and I've ordered the 12-mile battery. That might not sound impressive to any of y'all but my commute is only one mile, so prefectly satisfactory for the time being. I'm still hoping to live a lot longer than I could expect an SLA battery to last, and the weight/space was definitely a consideration.
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Old 10-14-15, 05:18 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
Some pretty good advice here, so far, especially from VegasTriker. I doubt that unkind remarks will be thrown out by the 50+ group. And there is most likely no need to be concerned about what the hipster crowd thinks, you are what you make of your self. Our daughter lives in Atlanta, near the Cabbagetown section, and I have been pleasantly surprised at how nice and courteous the young folks can be, especially towards people like yourself. Yep, some true asses will be most anywhere you go, but there is always the few idiots to make things interesting. Karma will get them their comeuppance.
Bill
I can WALK to Cabbagetown, Bill, and often do! I'm in Grant Park, just the south across I-20. My son and his fiancee live in the Old Fourth Ward, which is just t'other side of Cabbagetown.
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Old 10-14-15, 06:16 AM
  #25  
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We will be up there this weekend to see our daughter, and her new condo. No riding, unfortunately, its strictly a "mom needs a daughter fix weekend," and that is fine with dad, too. that is a nice area where you live, we have wandered around up there a few times.

Best wishes on the trike, just take it a few miles at a time, and don't try to rush things, getting used to the handling quirks is all a part of the game.

Bill
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