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Utah Trikes FAQ

Have some questions? As we find answers to trike-related questions we will post them here. Questions are sorted by the source site where we found them. Since we ride trikes frequently, we're always finding out new things about trikes and having new trike related experiences. If you have a question that you can't find the answer to on our FAQ page, feel free to email us or call us at 801-642-4332.

FAQs from Schwalbe

Fitting - What is the correct way to fit a tire?
- All spoke holes must be completely and securely covered with an appropriate rim tape.
- Observe any rolling direction markings on the tire sidewall.
- Never use sharp fitting tools.
- Pull one tire side onto the rim (fig.1)
- Slightly inflate the tube until it is round.
- Fit the valve through the valve hole in the rim.
- Place the tube into the tire. (Fig. 2)
- Starting at the opposite side to the valve fit the other tire side onto the rim.
- Ensure the tube is not pinched between the rim and the tire.
- The valve should be in an upright position.
- Center the tire before inflating it to the required pressure.
- Adjust the inflation pressure using a pressure gauge, e.g. the AIRMAX pressure gauge. The permissible pressure range is marked on the tire sidewalls. The higher the inflation pressure, the lower the rolling resistance, the tire wear and the less likelihood of a puncture.
- The inflation pressure should be checked at least once a month.

Fitting - Why is it sometimes so difficult to fit a tire?
Fitting difficulties often arise when the diameters of the rim and the tire do not match perfectly.

Rims can have a diameter tolerance of +/- 0.5 mm. In addition, each rim flange height can also have a tolerance of +/- 0.5 mm. These figures add up to a total diameter tolerance of +/- 1.5 mm, or 4.7 mm over the circumference. This corresponds to a maximum possible circumferential difference of 9.4 mm between the largest and the smallest rim.

A tire has to fit on both extremes, so because a safe fit has to be ensured even on the smallest permissible rim diameter, the proper centering of the tire on the largest permissible rim can prove quite difficult.

The circumferential tolerance of SCHWALBE tires is +/- 1mm.

Inflation - How often should tire pressures be checked?
The inflation pressure should be checked and adjusted at least once a month. Even the best tubes constantly lose pressure as, contrary to car tires, the pressure required in bicycle tires is much higher and wall thickness is much thinner. A pressure loss of 1 bar per month can be viewed as normal, but pressure loss will be much faster if high inflation pressures are used and much slower when low inflation pressures are preferred.

When using latex tubes, it is best to check and adjust inflation pressures before every ride.

Use a pressure gauge to monitor inflation pressure. The widespread thumb-test method is very inaccurate as all tires will feel identically hard from a pressure of 2 bar up.

Inflation - What is the correct inflation pressure for my tire?
It is impossible to make a general recommendation on inflation pressure for a specific bicycle or a particular tire. The “right” inflation pressure depends mainly on the load exerted on the tire. This weight is mainly influenced by the weight of the rider and any luggage. Contrary to a car, the vehicle weight is only a minor part of the total weight. In addition there is a great diversity of individual preferences with regard to low rolling resistance or suspension comfort.

The permitted inflation pressure range is marked on the tire sidewall. Remember that the higher the inflation pressure, the lower are the rolling resistance, wear and likelihood of a puncture. The lower the inflation pressure, the higher are the comfort and grip that the tires provide.

The list of inflation pressure recommendations on the right can only provide a very general guide. The recommendations are for an “average rider” weighing about 75 kg.

If you are heavier or carry luggage, you should chose a higher inflation pressure. You can also increase the inflation pressure if you prefer lower rolling resistance. It is recommendable that higher inflation pressures are used on very small diameter tires such as low profile race bikes and folding bikes.

Lighter weight riders or riders who prefer a comfortable ride can chose an accordingly lower inflation pressure, but the actual tire pressures should never be higher or lower than the maximum and minimum inflation pressures marked on the tire sidewall.

Inflation - Why is inflation pressure so important in bicycle tires?
Only a tire with sufficient inflation pressure can bear the weight of a bicycle. The higher the inflation pressure, the lower the rolling resistance and higher pressure also reduces the likelihood of a puncture.

Long-term, under-inflation often leads to premature tire wear and aging, commonly resulting in sidewall cracking and increased tire wear.

On the other hand, an under-inflated tire absorbs road shocks better.

Wide tires are generally used at low pressure. The advantages are that the large air volume absorbs road bumps and holes without the drawbacks of high rolling resistance, less puncture protection and tire wear.

Rolling Resistance - What exactly is rolling resistance?
Rolling resistance is the energy that is lost when the tire is rolling and the main reason for loss of energy is the constant deformation of the tire.

In addition to rolling resistance, there are also other resistances that have to be overcome when riding a bicycle.

Air resistance rises squared with increased speed. At a straight-line speed of 20 km/h on the flat, air resistance is the main resistance force.

Energy is also required to accelerate. For instance, the weight of the wheels is of great importance when this mass has to be brought up to rotation.

When riding uphill, the main resisting force to overcome is the gradient resistance (descending force).

In addition to these, there are other friction resistances in the chain and all of the other moving parts. Yet in a well-serviced bicycle, these represent a very minor part of the total resistance.

Rolling Resistance - Which factors affect rolling resistance?
Tire pressure, tire diameter, tire construction, tire tread and other factors all have an effect on rolling resistance.

The higher the tire pressure, the less is tire deformation and thus the rolling resistance.

Small diameter tires have a higher rolling resistance at the same tire pressure, because tire deformation is proportionally more important, in other words the tire is “less round”.

Wider tires roll better than narrow ones. This assertion generally generates skepticism, nevertheless at the same tire pressure a narrow tire deflects more and so deforms more.

Obviously, tire construction also has an effect on rolling resistance. The less material is used, the less material there is to deform. And the more flexible the material is, such as the rubber compound, the less energy is lost through deformation.

Generally, smooth treads roll better than coarse treads. Tall lugs and wide gaps usually have a detrimental effect on rolling resistance.

Rolling Resistance - Which SCHWALBE tire has the lowest rolling resistance?
The rolling resistance of a tire should not be overestimated, as it is only a part of the total resistance. In addition, the correct inflation pressure has a much greater influence on rolling resistance than the tire structure.

In order to make a tire with very low rolling resistance, it is necessary to compromise on other important factors such as puncture protection or grip.

The following gives a rough overview of tires and their relative rolling resistance. A direct comparison is impossible though, as the tires have different widths and some are used with very different inflation pressures.

Rolling Resistance - Why do Pros ride narrow tires if wide tires roll better?
Wide tires only roll better at the same inflation pressure, but narrow tires can be inflated to higher pressures than wide tires. However, they then obviously give a less comfortable ride.

In addition to this, narrow tires have an advantage over wide ones at higher speeds, as they provide less air resistance.

Above all, a bicycle with narrow tires is much easier to accelerate because the rotating mass of the wheels is lower and the bicycle is much more agile.

At constant speeds of around 20 km/h, the ride is better with wider tires. In practice, the energy saving is even greater than in theory as the elasticity of the tires absorbs road shocks, which would otherwise be transferred to the rider and so saves energy.

Rolling Resistance - Why do wide tires roll better than narrow ones?
The answer to this question lies in tire deflection. Each tire is flattened a little under load. This creates a flat contact area.

At the same tire pressure, a wide and a narrow tire have the same contact area. A wide tire is flattened over its width whereas a narrow tire has a slimmer but longer contact area.

The flattened area can be considered as a counterweight to tire rotation. Because of the longer flattened area of the narrow tire, the wheel loses more of its “roundness” and produces more deformation during rotation. However, in the wide tire, the radial length of the flattened area is shorter, making the tire “rounder” and so it rolls better.

Tire Construction - What is a tire made of?
There are three basic parts to a bicycle tire, the carcass, the bead core and the rubber tire tread. Furthermore, almost all SCHWALBE-tires have a puncture protection belt.

The carcass is a rubberized textile fabric, which is laid around the bead cores. The carcass is then coated with a rubber compound. The tire tread is applied and the whole assembly is vulcanized.

The bead core of the tire determines its diameter and ensures a secure fit on the rim. Generally the bead core of a tire is made of steel wire.

In folding tires, the steel wire is replaced with a hoop of Kevlar fiber. The advantage is that the tire can be folded and that, depending on the size, its weight can be reduced by 50 to 90 g.

All SCHWALBE carcasses are made of nylon. The density of the carcass fabric is expressed in EPI or TPI (Ends Per Inch, Threads Per Inch). The range of carcasses used for SCHWALBE tires are 24, 37, 50, 67 and 120 EPI.

Generally, tires with denser fabric are more resistant to punctures and roll better. Yet the ultra-fine 120 EPI carcass is more susceptible because the individual filaments are very fine. The best compromise for low weight and resistance is around 50 to 67 EPI.

The rubber compound of a tire is composed of several components:

Natural and synthetic rubber
Fillers, e.g. carbon black, chalk, silica
Softeners, e.g. oils and greases
Anti-ageing agents (aromatic amines)
Vulcanizing aids, e.g. sulphur
Vulcanization accelerators; e.g. zinc oxide
Pigments and dyes
Depending on the compound, the composition is roughly 40 - 60 % rubber, 15 - 30 % fillers, with the other components accounting for the rest.

Almost all SCHWALBE tires have a puncture protection belt, though we purposely decided not to include them in the special light and sports tires.

Even our standard tires are equipped with an effective puncture protection belt made of natural rubber.

MARATHON-tires, with the proven combination of natural rubber and Kevlar fibers in the Kevlar®-MB-Belt ensures remarkably high puncture protection. Furthermore, our top of the range tires have highly efficient puncture protection systems which are specifically adapted to the particular requirements, for example Double-Defense® or SmartGuard®.

Tire Construction - Which is the best puncture protection belt?
The current state of the art is our SmartGuard®, the safest puncture protection belt on the market.

Other puncture protection systems like Double-Defense® or Kevlar®-MB-Belts provide a very high degree of puncture protection. The decisive advantage of the SmartGuard® is its effectiveness against objects that become embedded in the tread, that are rolled over at each turn of the wheel and will eventually perforate virtually any protection belt. When this happens, the thickness of the SmartGuard® proves its advantage as a drawing pin will simply remain stuck in the rubber without further harming the tire.

Tire Construction - Which is the best rubber compound?
A rubber compound must satisfy various requirements that are to some extent contradictory: low rolling resistance, good slip resistance, low wear, longevity, solid lugs (MTB).

The conflicting aims of low rolling resistance and good wet grip always attract particular attention. Good grip implies that the tire must “absorb” a lot of energy while low rolling resistance requires a tire compound with low energy consumption. A good compromise can be achieved with a filling agent like Silica, but another solution is the use of several rubber compounds in one tire such as Dual Compound Technology.

We offer universal compounds that, as far as possible, combine all relevant features, as well as special compounds where one feature is particularly prominent. The MARATHON 23S compound of is one of our universal compounds, while on the other hand the Marathon XR 1A compound is used to achieve very high mileage performance. Another example is the Maximum Grip Compound of the STELVIO RAIN.

Tire Tread - What do the direction arrows mean?
Most SCHWALBE tire sidewalls are marked with a “Drive” arrow, which indicates the recommended rolling direction. When in use, the tire should run in the direction of the arrow.

Many MTB tires are marked with a “Front” and a “Rear” arrow. The “Front” arrow indicates the recommended rolling direction for the front wheel and respectively the “Rear” arrow is the direction for the rear wheel.

Tire Tread - What does the tread do?
On a normal, smooth road, the tread has only limited influence on the ride properties. The grip generated by the tire on the road is almost exclusively the result of the rubber compound.

Unlike a car, a bicycle will not aquaplane as the contact area is so much smaller and the contact pressure is much higher. The floating effect of aquaplaning could only theoretically be achieved on a bicycle ridden at speeds over 200 km/h.

Off road, the tread is very important. In this situation the tread establishes an interlocking cog-like connection with the ground and enables the transmission of all driving, braking and steering forces.

On rough roads, the tread can also contribute to better control.

Tire Tread - Why are there so many tires with direction arrows?
In road tires, a tread with a rolling direction generally provides a slight reduction in rolling resistance. In addition to this, aesthetic considerations can also be important.

Off road, rolling direction is far more important, as the tread ensures optimum connection between the tire and the ground. The rear wheel transmits the driving force and the front wheel transmits the braking and steering forces. Driving and braking forces operate in different directions so this is why certain tires are fitted in opposite rolling directions when used as front and rear tires.

There are also treads without a specified rolling direction.

Tire Tread - Why ride a slick tire?
Even in wet conditions, on a normal, smooth road, a slick tire actually provides better grip than a tire with a tread, because the contact area is larger.

The situation is much different on a rough road and even worse on a dirt trail as in these cases the degree of control provided by a slick tire is extremely limited.

A slightly serrated surface on the tire tread can have a positive effect on tire grip, as it creates micro interlocking with rough asphalt.

Tire Tube - What is a bicycle tube made of?
A bicycle tube is predominantly made of Butyl rubber. Butyl is a very elastic and airtight synthetic rubber, but as with the tire, other fillers are necessary to make up the rubber compound. The quality of a tube can vary significantly depending on the rubber compound. For instance SCHWALBE tubes have very good air retention and are very elastic. This high elasticity allows a wide range of different tire sizes to be covered.

There is a difference between heat molded and autoclave tubes. Vulcanizing in a mould improves the uniformity of wall thickness, thus reducing weight and improving air retention. This is why the inferior yet more easily produced autoclave tubes have become increasingly less popular in recent years. SCHWALBE tubes have always been made using the heat molded process.

Every tube also needs a valve, which is bonded to the tube during the vulcanizing process.

Tire Types - What is a clincher tire?
These days clincher tires are the standard for bicycle tires (see tire construction). The wire tire bead prevents the tire from expanding with the pressure and thus from rolling off the rim.

Tire Types - What is a folding tire?
A folding tire is, in a way, a special version of the clincher tire (see tire construction, bead core). In this tire, the wire is replaced with a bundle of Kevlar fibers that allows it to fold easily and also makes the tire lighter by about 50 - 90 g.

Tire Wear - How long can a tire be stored?
SCHWALBE tires can be stored for up to 5 years without problem, but to attain this they should be stored in a cool, dry, and, most importantly, dark place. When stored properly, even longer storage times may be possible.

If fitted on a rim, tires should always be inflated or the wheel hung up for storage. A bicycle left on flat tires for an extended period may damage the tires’ sidewalls.

Tire Wear - What mileage can be achieved by the various tires?
It is difficult to answer this question, as tire mileage is influenced greatly by tire pressure, load, road surface, temperature and the rider. For example, when used in hot weather with a heavy load and on rough asphalt, a tire wears much faster.

As a general guide, you should expect a tire life of 2000 to 5000 km from SCHWALBE standard tires. Marathon type tires should generally last for 6000 to 12000 km. The MARATHON XR is an exception with its high mileage of about 8000 to 15000 km. With MTB tires, it is impossible to give a useful indication, as the individual riding style is the main determining wear factor. The Stelvio Competition tire should generally last 3000 to 7000 km.

Tire Wear - When is a tire worn out?
In bicycle tires the tread is far less important than for instance in car tires. So using a tire with a worn out tread is less of a problem, that is of course with the exception of MTB tires.

When the puncture protection belt or the carcass threads can be seen through the tread the tire has reached its wear limit and must be replaced. As the puncture resistance also depends on the thickness of the tread layer it may be useful to replace the tire earlier.

The sidewalls of tires often fail before the tread is worn out. In most cases, this premature failure is due to prolonged use of the tire with insufficient inflation pressure. Checking and adjusting the inflation pressure at least once a month with a pressure gauge is most important.

Valve - Which is the best valve?
There are three types that have become market standards and it is difficult to make any particular recommendation. The most important aspect is that the valve fits the rim valve hole and that an appropriate pump is available.

Contrary to popular belief, major air retention differences are now a thing of the past. In any event, SCHWALBE valves certainly provide excellent performance and are adapted to high-pressure use.

The traditional bicycle valve or Dunlop valve is still the most common worldwide and most cyclists are familiar with it.

The valve core is easily replaced and the air can be released very quickly.

Fitting a tube with a Dunlop valve is more awkward, as the valve core and locknut need to be removed in order to fit the valve through the valve hole. Inflation is only possible once the core and the nut are back in place.

With traditional Dunlop valves, it is impossible to check the inflation pressure. However, the special SCHWALBE Dunlop valve allows a return airflow, so that it is now possible to check the inflation pressure with an AIRMAX pressure gauge.

In former times it was difficult to inflate a tube with a Dunlop valves, but with today’s modern valve cores, this is no longer the case.

The Sclaverand valve at 6 mm instead of 8 mm is much smaller than other valves, requires a smaller valve hole and so is very well suited for racing bicycle rims.

It is also 4 - 5 g lighter than a car valve or Dunlop valve.

The top nut can be turned by hand and has to be opened before inflation, which surprises many first-time users. Also the thin top pin can be bent easily when attaching and removing the pump connector.

Be warned that using Sclaverand valves tubes on rims with larger valve holes often leads to valves shearing off when the sharp metal edges around the valve hole cut the valve stem off the tube.

The auto valve is becoming increasingly popular as it can easily be inflated at service stations and is very user friendly.

Older, as well as simple bicycle pumps are not compatible with auto valves.

The Regina valve looks very much like the French valve and is used almost exclusively in Italy.

FAQs from WizWheelz.com

Are frame sets or kits available?
No. Our production system is streamlined to produce complete trikes at the lowest price possible. Any deviation from this arrangement adds a great deal of cost. Under our system, pricing for a frame set would be nearly the same price as a complete TerraTrike.

Can you explain gear inches?
Gear inch is an archaic measurement that dates back to the days of the high wheel bicycle. It was designed to measure the high wheel radius needed in order to travel a given distance with one revolution of the pedals. It is an inefficient tool of measure for today's multiple gear bikes but it is a standard still used for comparison sake. It basically equates to the distance your trike will travel with one revolution of the crank. To give you a rough point of reference, you might consider a typical mountain bike to have a gear inch range of 18 - 103 and a typical road racing bike to offer 43 - 127. Of course actual specs will vary widely. A good range for all around riding is about 20 - 90. Click here to view the gear inch ranges of our products. Click here if you're interested in using a gear-inch calculator.

How can I transport a TerraTrike?
The best way to transport your TerraTrike is to ride it of course. But if you must use a gas powered vehicle it is easier than you may think. You can use a roof rack with three channels including a short middle channel for the third wheel. The TerraTrike will easily adapt to a common trunk or hitch rack if you tilt the trike sideways 90 degrees and rest the main frame in the cradles (show me). Check out our accessories page to see our own Trike Transporter hitch rack system. A fully assembled TerraTrike will also easily fit in a minivan, SUV, small station wagon, and even a Ford Escort hatchback. We even have a customer who transports his fully assembled TerraTrike in his Camaro (I don't believe it, show me). With his rear (car) seat folded down, he simply loads the trike backwards through the rear hatch and rolls the rear wheel of the trike between the front seats. Two people and a TerraTrike can comfortably ride in a Camaro!

How does the braking feel?
The front disc braking is rock solid and easy to control, without any 'skitteryness' under hard braking. Keep in mind that you control the braking on each front wheel with a separate brake handle and you will need to coordinate the braking effort with both hands. This is very easy to do, and feels quite natural. It also allows for braking around corners! Side Note: We can attach both brakes to one dual brake lever and have done so on many occasions for riders who only have use of one hand. Both shifters can be put on the same side as well.

How durable are the chain idler wheels?
The chain idler wheels spin on sealed bearings and are attached to the frame with an idler axle bolt. Their job is to guide the long chain through its journey from the front chainrings to the rear cogs with as little resistance and noise as possible. The chain idler wheels are a wear item like a tire. The front idlers average about 2500 - 3000 miles, some have lasted over 6000 miles (of course this is dependent on many factors). Rear idlers should last much longer than fronts. If you are not getting this type of performance from your idlers here are some tips:

1) Double check the alignment of your front boom tube making sure it is perpendicular to the ground and aligned with the balance of the drivetrain. A slightly skewed boom can lead to a twisted chain that can cut into the idler.

2) Keep your chain clean and free of abrasive contaminants. Regular maintenance on your chain will keep your machine running better and your idler wheels lasting much longer.

3) Periodically check the idlers to make sure they are spinning freely and not binding on anything.

4) Remember to downshift when approaching stop signs and intersections, making accelleration easier when you start up again. Likewise, remember to downshift when approaching a uphill climb so you don't get caught in a big gear. Nothing wears down idler wheel faster than mashing your trike in big gears on an uphill climb or upon starting from a dead stop. Big strong riders who can handle these large gears are more likely to ruin idler wheels until they learn the disciplined technique of downshifting.

5) You can also swap the right and left split front idlers periodically, which effectively doubles the idler life because the drive side is taking much more stress than the return chain side.

6) For stronger riders and long distance touring, we are now offering the TerraCycle high performance idler wheels. These are compatible with the Cruiser, Tour, Access, Sport, Race, and the Tandem.

7) If you follow these directions, your idlers will last a very long time. If you do need replacements, we keep them in stock and you can order them directly from us.

We are now carrying a stronger idler wheel made of delrin instead of urethane. The delrin idlers are much harder and will last a very long time yet they are surprisingly quiet. We have designed these for the drive side of the front idler wheel pair and we are using them on every trike now. We are also selling them as replacement idlers. (Note: The drive side is the idler that is closest to the frame. The return side idler does not take nearly as much abuse.)

How is the stability at high speeds?
High speed handling can be dependent on many variables; tire pressure, road surface, seat position, size of the rider, riding style, alignment of the front wheels etc.
If you want to make sure you are getting the best possible performance from your TerraTrike check these elements to make sure they are correct:

1) Make sure you are running proper and consistant tire pressure. On higher pressure tires like the Kenda Kwest, Schwalbe Marathon, and IRC Metro you can drop to 80% of recommended pressure.

2) Front end alignment - measure the distance between the front of the two front wheels and then measure the distance between the back of the two front wheels. Start at neutral and add up to 1 mm of toe-in per tire to improve stability. Important: have a friend measure while your weight is positioned on the trike. Too much toe-in or toe-out will result in tire scrub while turning.

3) The TerraTrike will handle best the closer you are to the front wheels - if your x-seam gives you the option to go to the longer sized boom do so. If you have a Race, Sport, or Access, slide the boom out and the seat forward to get the best handling results.

4) Make sure the nut at the base of the steering brace is not over tightened - tighten it until the large washer can't move but do not tighten any further.

5) On the TerraTrike Tour make sure the top king pin bolt is not over-tightened - tighten the bottom firmly, tighten the top and back off a few degrees until the wheel pivots freely.

6) Don't oversteer. New riders have a tendancy to induce steering instability by gripping to tightly on descents. Relax your hands and let the trike's built-in caster keep you tracking a straight line. This is especially true for the direct-steer system on The Edge.

7) Learn to keep your upper body quiet. This is how you can tell a newbie from a triking veteran. It takes some practice especially on the downhills, but over time you will learn to keep your upper body from moving side-to-side and this will help your high speed stability as well as your flatlander efficiency.

8) If you are taking any turns at high speed remember to lean your body INTO the turn. The trike doesn't lean with you as a two wheeler would so you have to add some body english to get the best result. One word of caution, avoid high speed downhill sharp turns. You can flip a trike if you try just as you can flip a car if you try. Use your common sense and be safe out there.

9) Customers who have followed these instructions RAVE about the rock-solid stability of our trikes at high speeds as well as low speeds. Those who have had troubles have probably not taken the time to get to know their machine. Treat your trike right and she will love you back.

How much frame flex?
TerraTrikes has just the right amount of frame flex to make the ride compliant while maintaining lateral rigidity. We now have found the sweet spot between flex and shock absorption.

Is a rear brake needed?
There is no rear brake on the TerraTrike. The significant forward weight transfer under hard braking causes the rear end to lift enough to make the rear brake almost superfluous. So the extra cost and weight is not justified. The front discs are more than adequate for stopping power and there is no chance of forward flipping a trike.

Is balance an issue with a TerraTrike?
You may find that balance can be a problem for 2-wheeled recumbents. This is primarily due to the low center of gravity of recumbents, as well as the generally smaller diameter wheels(lower rotational inertia, to be technical). The Trike behaves differently than a regular bike or recumbent, due to its three wheels. It handles more like a car than a bike, and does not lean when cornering. You, the rider, must do the leaning! But, balancing is not really a factor, especially when climbing hills. You can also pull up to a stop sign and never unclip your feet from the pedals. In addition, otherwise hazardous obstacles such as sand and gravel, water, and uneven terrain don't upset it. You can brake while cornering, and even get a little bit sideways without worrying about a spill.

Is the lowness of a Trike a problem?
Lowness really only becomes a problem in tight traffic, where drivers can't see the TerraTrike behind other cars. Adding a flag would be helpful in these situations and we recommend it for all conditions just to be on the safe side. On the positive side, the unique look of the Trike attracts a lot of attention, whereas regular upright bicycles are so common on the roads, they tend to be ignored. A comment that we hear from many customers is that they receive much more respect from motorists when they are riding their trike as compared to their two wheeled bikes. Upon approaching a trike, drivers will slow down to look at the trike out of sheer curiosity, wait for a safe opportunity to pass, then give the trike a wide berth when they do pass. Often a "thumbs up" or a "cool" comment will be awarded as well. Many customers tell us they feel much safer on their trike than they do on their upright bikes. If you use your own common sense, choose your rides carefully, and of course wear a helmet, you will be safe on a TerraTrike. The best advice is to ride defensively and assume you are invisible.

Is the width of the Trike a problem?
TerraTrikes are not significantly wider than the shoulder width of a normal rider. So, it isn't really that much more obtrusive on the side of the road as far as the cars are concerned. But, the "track width" of the wheels is obviously wider than a 2-wheel bike. This means that any path that you might ride on needs to be as wide as the front wheels are apart. Although, it is usually not a problem if you need to ride with one tire on gravel. The wide stance means any rough terrain won't upset you. You also have to keep in mind that there are three wheels to be aware of when riding over obstacles, including the one right behind you in the center!

What are 'center point steering' and 'Ackerman adjustment' and why are they important
All TerraTrikes, whether they are linkage steer or direct steer, feature center point steering and full Ackerman adjustment.

Center point steering is in place when the axis of the kingpin (the pivot through which the wheel turns side-to-side) intersects the contact point of the tire with the ground. Center point steering limits tire scrub and bump steer.

Ackerman adjustment is desirable in a turn so that your inside wheel turns sharper than your outside wheel. The difference adjusts with the tightness of the turn. Picture your turning radius; the inside wheel has a smaller turning radius than the outside wheel, which means the inside wheel should make a sharper turn. This reduces the tire scrub and helps you keep control of the trike in a sharp or fast turn.

What is Cross Chaining and how does it affect the Cruiser?
In order to achieve the wide gear range that our customers like, we have set the Cruiser up with its current drivetrain which has a wonderfully useful band of gearing. The one element that results from this set up is the fact that the Cruiser ( any bike actually ) does not like to be used in the large front chainring/large rear cog combination - this is called "cross chaining". We are now adding one chain link to each Cruiser to solve this issue but keep in mind that this is bad technique and can lead to problems because there is barely enough chain to accommodate the two large circumferences of those rings. That gear that you're trying to reach is a redundant gear and can be achieved in the middle chainring.

Similar to this scenario is the small chainring/small cog combination. Trying to run the chain around these two small circumferences creates slack in the chain that overloads the rear derailleur and has the potential to do harm to your drivetrain. This is also bad technique and should be avoided. That gear can be achieved in the middle chainring as well.

While getting accustomed to your TerraTrike, we encourage you to use the middle chainring from which you can access all the cogs on the rear cassette. When you need to go faster, use that big ring up front with the smaller cogs in the rear. If hills loom on the horizon, drop down into the smallest chainring and use the larger cogs in the rear. You should spend most of your time in the middle chainring.

Cross chaining is not exclusive to the just the Cruiser. It should be avoided on any bike or trike. Never cross chain your gears!

What is the difference between linkage steer and direct steer trikes?
Some TerraTrikes have linkage steering while others are direct steer trikes. The specifications chart lists which trikes have which steering style.

On Linkage Steering trikes there is a single handlebar which is connected to a pivot point then connected to the wheels via tie rods. The amount of movement of the wheels is less than the input from the rider. This steering arrangement provides a very slow, smooth, comfortable feeling that is great for touring, going very fast in a straight line, or just cruising around in comfort.

On Direct Steer trikes there are two handlebars. Each is directly connected to a front wheel by attaching to the hubmount. The amount of movement of the wheels is equal to the input from the rider. This arrangement provides a fast sporty experience that is great for sport racing, taking sharp fast turns, and for those that just love that sportscar feeling.

All TerraTrikes, whether they are linkage steer or direct steer, feature center point steering and full Ackerman adjustment.

Why do TerraTrikes have fewer gears than some other bikes and trikes?
First remember that the number of gears is never as important as the range of gearing. The bike industry has done a great job convincing the consumer that more gears = better. This is far from true. More gears only = more complexity (and potential mechanical problems), and more weight to carry around. We believe that we could race or tour on any bike with 5 gears if we could pick our shift points. The old 10 speeds we all had actually had the same gear range as today's 27 speed mountain bikes. The new ones just have more overlapping or redundant gears.

Most recumbent companies try to dazzle the consumer with a big number of gears. This is superfluous, and a waste of your money. The number you want to compare is the Gear Inch Range.

Click here to view the gear inch ranges of our products. Click here if you're interested in using a gear-inch calculator.

Will I ride faster on the Trike?
The TerraTrike will undoubtedly have less wind resistance at speed. You will need to keep in mind that it will take some time to develop the different muscle groups that riding a Trike in a "recumbent" position requires. Most riders accustomed to the Trike see a 3 to 5 mph higher top speed over their regular upright bikes. Just to clarify, increases in average speed will depend on what speed you normally ride. Since the Trike has a lower wind resistance, and the effects of this advantage are greater at higher speeds, then you would expect greater increases in average speed if you ride relatively fast. The tests were conducted with the riders trying to achieve their fastest speeds. And thus the average increases were relatively outstanding. If you are just 'poking along' then your average obviously may not increase much.

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