For our two-wheeled upright (diamond frame) biking friends, there are usually two questions that are asked of us. The first is the title of today’s post – “Why not a bike?”
The short answer is pretty simple. Riding a recumbent tricycle is just more comfortable. Imagine sitting in a recliner with your feet propped up in front of you.
Now all you have to do is add some pedals, some wheels and you’re cycling in comfort! Like this:
Now consider riding on a diamond frame bike with drop handlebars. You have a saddle between your legs and gravity is constantly trying to get that saddle into painful places. Padded cycling shorts are a great solution here for many.
Our friend gravity is also pushing down on your wrists and your hands may be at an extreme fatigue-inducing angle (BTW, I Fucking Love Science). Padded gloves and handlebar wrapping are required to minimize this pain, but really the only long term relief is getting your hands off the handlebars.
After a while, your back might complain some and over time, your neck might not be happy from tilting up to watch the rest of the world go by. The best solution for many is typically to get off the bike.
On our recumbent trikes, we really don’t experience any of these problems. At the end of most rides, we may be tired from the exercise, but for the most part, we don’t have body parts in pain. While riding, our heads are in an upright position, making it easier to enjoy the sights. We expect to average just over 50 miles a day on our trip, so we can cover over 4,200 miles in about three months. That’s a lot of riding, so comfort is going to be highly valuable.
Stability and safety
A necessary part of self-contained touring on a bike (I may use bike and trike somewhat interchangeably, so please get used to it) is carrying a lot of gear with you. There’s no exception for us. All of our camping gear, clothing, water, medical stuff and more have to go along with us … everyday. When we put everything together, that’s likely to add some 40+ pounds to our load. Nearly all of that will be packed into bags called panniers (pahn-YAY is the correct pronunciation in French, but we just say PAN-yers here in the US). With the inherent stability of our three-wheeled recumbent trikes, we can easily keep from getting off balance when starting, stopping, slowly grinding up hills and mountains, and get blown over by any strong side winds we may encounter (can you say Kansas?). Speaking of stopping (or starting) – for maximum pedaling efficiency, our cycling shoes are clipped to so-called clip-less pedals (a conundrum, right?), just like on a diamond frame. Stopping on a diamond frame requires you to either clip out one foot, or fall over. On our stable trikes, stopping just requires … stopping.
Adventure and versatility
A big part of touring is going to be taking our time to see the country that we are pedaling through, plus meeting people along the way. At a minimum. recumbent trikes are still unusual enough that they are natural conversation starter. The load carrying capability makes it easier for us to do a self-contained tour. One other thing that is often overlooked is the versatility of having a chair with you everywhere you go. We recently went on our first camping trip. As the sun was setting we momentarily thought about sitting on the metal benches at our campsite to enjoy the view, when the lightbulb moment happened for us. We sat on our trikes instead!
For more on the beauty of using a recumbent trike for touring, exercising, comfort, etc., visit the Trike Asylum page.
Keep on rolling!