cycling · fitness

Catherine and Pata test ride an adult e-trike and aren’t pleased

While I was visiting my family in South Carolina last month, my cousin M asked me if I knew anything about adult trikes. She was thinking about getting one for noodling around her neighborhood; she liked the idea of the extra stability of the third wheel, and the setup seemed well-suited for fun and safety.

I’d never tried one myself, but I’ve certainly seem them around, mainly in beach resort area paths. In fact, I once saw a celebrity riding a three-wheeler in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard; if you must know, it was Henry Louis “Skip: Gates, Harvard scholar and host of PBS’ Finding Your Roots, definitely counts as a celebrity in my book.

I told M I’d do a little research and get back to her. Looking online, I found that, as in two-wheelers, you can get them with manual power or electric-assist, and they come in a wide range of prices. Really what I needed to do was try one out on the road and experience it myself.

My friend Pata, herself an experienced cyclist and certified cycling instructor, came with me to a local bike shop to try out the one model of e-trike available there. We both rode it in a bank parking lot, checking out the feel of the bike, handling, cornering, shifting, etc. First, I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Here’s me.

Now, to Pata:

Why were we so unhappy? Because the handling of the bike was extraordinarily poor. The cornering made us both feel like one of the back wheels would leave the pavement at any moment. The geometry and setup were grossly uncomfortable. Yes, the shifting worked and the pedal-assist seemed fine, but none of this would matter if you were lying on the pavement with a heavy trike on top of you.

And for this experience, one would have to pay about $2700 USD. No, thank you.

Here are a couple of shots of the trike in the shop.

What are the takeaways from this outing? One, that there is no substitute for trying a bike or trike yourself in order to get a feel for fit, handling, etc. Two, that if I want to recommend a trike (pedal-assist or not) to my dear cousin M, I’ve got a lot more research to do.

I’ll start here: readers, do any of you own or know much about adult trikes? Any recommendations to make? Let me know!

2 thoughts on “Catherine and Pata test ride an adult e-trike and aren’t pleased

  1. Interesting. Especially since so many people are attracted to trikes for their stability. I have a hard time turning and breaking on cruiser bikes. But I think it’s because I’m not used to having to actually turn the handlebars rather than shift weight.

  2. Bought an e-trike a few months ago. Tried riding it a few times now and it takes time to learn that you shouldn’t lean your body when turning, You should just steer. Once you learn it, it’s fun to ride it. Going on longer rides now but first I need to get a bike helmet and a visible vest.

Let us know what you think....