There are alot of choices out there when it comes to Recumbent Trikes. The material below can help to inform you decisions. Please note, this guide focuses on Tadpole Trikes. Tadpole trikes have 2 wheels in the front, and one in the back. It close cousin, the Delta, has one wheel in the front and 2 in the back.
This information isn’t presented as the gospel. It is merely a collection of recommendation that we have learned over the years, presented in a way that we hope you find informative and helpful.
Type of Riding
As with any bike that we are discussing with anyone in the shop, we first try to get to the heart of the riding you are looking to do. Here are some common types of riding that we talk to customers about in the shop when it comes to trikes.
General Fitness: There are many options in this wide-open category…we would consider a bike with a 26” rear wheel which has the most versatility.
Touring/Adventure: For this type of riding, you’ll need a trike that is stable and is able to achieve low gearing
Adaptive/Rehab: Stability and ease of entry/exit are biggest considerations. Also, consider models with suspension to increase comfort.
Stability/Safety: For riders with stability and/or balance issues, we recommend a trike that has stability as its #1 feature
Since we are discussing Tadpoles Trikes, the wheel configuration is 2 wheels up front, and one trailing in the back. This rear wheel is the ‘drive” wheel, under power from the drivetrain. It goes without saying that the 2 upfront wheels will be the same size (generally 20”/406). The following is a break down of common rear wheel sizes
Lowest gearing available
Overall bike stability
Tire standardization (just need 1 tube/tire type)
Great for touring and heavy loads
Lighter wheel overall
Strongest wheel (shortest spokes)
Large tire selection (road/offload)
Low gearing available
Perfect “do it all” solution.
Great for higher gearing
Faster, more ground covered per revolution
Modern wheel size
Many tires available
Light wheel due to modern materials
Bike such as the ICE Trike All-Fat actually have 3 26” wheels. Check it out here.
Suspension can certainly lead to a smoother ride, but is heavier and adds cost to your ride. Some bikes have suspension at the front 2 wheels, so have it on the rear drive wheel, and other have suspension at all 3 wheels (in the mountainside world, we call this “Full-Suss”!). Check out our Trike Spec Sheet to view models with this configuration.
Most trikes use either disc brakes or drum brakes Front brakes on the 2 front wheel are the same type (disc or drum) and do most/all of the stopping. The brake on the rear drive wheel, if any, is generally considering more of a parking brake or are seen on bikes that are designed for high speeds..
Drum Brakes: Drum brakes are reliable, low maintenance and aerodynamic with very little of the brakes mechanism out in the wind as it is all encased in the hub shell. The long lasting brake shoes can go tens of thousands of miles between replacement and require very little maintenance other than some cable adjustment as they slowly wear down. Ideal for fully loaded touring and have great stopping power especially for heavier riders and for people looking to do a lot of touring with heavy camping loads
Disc Brakes: Disc brakes have more outright power than drum brakes and are lighter weight. The trade-off for this extra power and lower weight is more frequent maintenance and slightly worse aerodynamics. The pads will need to be replaced more often than the drum brake pads with a life of 2-5 thousand miles being expected depending on riding conditions. We recommend disk brakes for riders who like to go fast.
Check out our Trike Spec Sheet to view models with various brake set-ups.
The drivetrain represents the motive power of the trike and includes the shifters, cranks, derailleurs, chain and cassette. Like bikes, there are a myriad of options here to suit various price-points and functionalities
Wide Range: In-Progress
Narrow Range: In-Progress
Check out our Trike Spec Sheet to view models with various drivetrain set-ups.
Portability is especially critical to our customers here in Brooklyn. Generally, people buying local from us wont be able to just walk out of their home and ride. It usually involves a car transport to a trail head.
Where Do I go to Ride?
So, where do you go to ride your new trike? Locally in NYC, there are many parks and trails that will work. Here are some of our favorite protected bike routes:
Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway
The Rockaways (Board Walk and Nature Preserves)
Hudson River Greenway, Manhattan
Central Park, Manhattan
South County Trailway (start in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx)
As always, keep an eye on Trike.NYC’s Group Ride Schedule.
Brands We Carry at 718
The constellation of brands that we carry at 718 is ever-evolving.
Trike.NYC is a riding and enthusiast group focused on our enjoyment of riding recumbent trikes. This space will look to incorporate news about rides and products.