...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
LittleGreyCat
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Joined: 7 Aug 2013, 8:31pm

...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby LittleGreyCat » 31 Dec 2020, 8:19pm

This thought prompted by seeing someone riding a trike around town.

I can see that there is a lot of stability and extra load carrying capacity.
However I also know that motorcycles with a side car aren't so nimble going round corners and risk tipping over.
Which reminds me of bikes with side cars.
There use to be some window cleaners who had a side car to carry the ladders.
Ummm....where was I?

Apart from offroading and narrow gaps, what are the down sides of a tricycle?
Shouldn't be any heavier than a recumbent (which is arguably a tricycle anyway).

A quick search indicates that a few are electric, a lot are aimed at riders with special requirements.
Generally sit up and beg style, not found one with drop bars yet.

Not many gears either, and the description talks of flat or gentle slopes. Hmmm....

I did find one sidecar but it seems to be aimed at carrying kids.

Just speculating.

Nigel
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby Nigel » 31 Dec 2020, 9:08pm

Downsides of tricycles:

- very different cornering behaviour (can't lean them like a two-wheeled bike), and consequent different steering geometry.
- heavier than equivalent sized bicycle
- have to worry about three wheels hitting potholes compared to one on a bike (the one behind tends to roughly follow one in-front).
- require some sort of differential on the rear axle, or they "hop" around corners (because inside wheel has less distance to travel than outside wheel). differentials add weight and expense. Differential not required on "tadpole" designs with two wheels at front, one driven at rear.
- wheel arrangement means supporting wheel on one side only, which has impact on wheel hub design and frame. More non-standard expensive engineering to do it well.
- very small demand, means that they're niche machines, which means either "fairly cheap junk" or "very expensive hand made bespoke".

So, quite a long list, which ends up with them expensive and rare machines.


- Nigel

scottg
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Location: Highland Heights Kentucky,, USA

Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby scottg » 31 Dec 2020, 10:04pm

Will it fit in your bike shed ?
Good news, if someone steals an upright trike, they'll crash it at the first corner.
So built in anti theft.

The Longstaffs are great fun to ride, and can easily be gotten up two wheels.
The tandem trikes, are ummmmm, interesting, I declined my chance to ride one.
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tatanab
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby tatanab » 1 Jan 2021, 7:48am

So many common misconceptions.
LittleGreyCat wrote:I can see that there is a lot of stability and extra load carrying capacity.
A trike is stable when it is stationary on a level surface. Dynamic stability is another thing entirely which is why you hang off the side in corners. Carrying capacity is not really any more than a bicycle with huge great rear panniers.
Apart from offroading and narrow gaps, what are the down sides of a tricycle?
Shouldn't be any heavier than a recumbent (which is arguably a tricycle anyway).
Some but not all recumbents have 3 wheels. I get frustrated when people trike means recumbent, and I know a recumbent rider who gets frustrated when people assume a recumbent has 3 wheels. Weight of upright machines - a general purpose clubman's lightweight must be about 5 pounds (2 kg ish) than an equivalent bicycle. Stress equivalents. Mine are in the range 30-32lbs versus 27 for my equivalent touring bike. Of course out and out racing machines are lighter, I think 21 pounds is the lightest I've heard of. Utility machines (usually small wheeled shopper type) typically weigh about 50 lbs (almost twice that of a clubman's machine).
A quick search indicates that a few are electric, a lot are aimed at riders with special requirements.
Generally sit up and beg style, not found one with drop bars yet.
Of course people can add electric assist to anything, and I know a few clubmen who have assisted their trikes.
Not many gears either, and the description talks of flat or gentle slopes.
None of which applies to clubman's machines. As many gears as you want. For climbing there is an advantage in that you can stop, take in the view, and move away smoothly without having to fumble around locating your feet.

Lightweight trikes are 10 to 15% slower than an equivalent bicycle (note equivalent) due to the increase in weight, the increase in wind resistance, and the physicality of keeping it rubber side down. So why do we ride the things? Because they are more demanding and involving than bicycles and great fun. it is also something that I can do with ease that the vast majority of bicyclists cannot because riding is very different. The bicyclist sneers, hops on, rides away and almost immediately steers to the kerb or ditch. The reason, to balance a bike if falling left you steer left. The trike is felt to be falling left since it is on UK camber, so the bicyclist's brain tells them to steer left. The brain has to be recalibrated.

https://tricycleassociation.org.uk/
Last edited by tatanab on 1 Jan 2021, 8:32am, edited 1 time in total.

tatanab
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby tatanab » 1 Jan 2021, 8:12am

Nigel wrote:Downsides of tricycles:
- very different cornering behaviour (can't lean them like a two-wheeled bike), and consequent different steering geometry.
Cornering is the fun! Low trail steering (now trendy in bicycle circles) gives light steering, but for many decades frame builders stuck with bicycle geometry which makes the steering heavier, but if that is all you have you would not realise.
- have to worry about three wheels hitting potholes compared to one on a bike (the one behind tends to roughly follow one in-front).
Avoid holes with the front wheel, and if necessary a very slight tweak on the bars will unweight a rear wheel enough to skim over a hole.
require some sort of differential on the rear axle, or they "hop" around corners (because inside wheel has less distance to travel than outside wheel). differentials add weight and expense.
Between about 1960 and 1980 the majority of clubman's machines drove only one wheel, the left to counteract the camber. Before that, differentials were offered, but racing folk would often prefer a single wheel drive. In the 1980s the two wheel drive was "reinvented". This is a pair of linked freewheels. In about 2000 supply of quality freewheels became a problem, the cassette had taken over in the rest of cycling, hence the modern cassette based two wheel drive was designed. Think of it as a freehub with two sets of pawls, one for each rear wheel. Utility trikes often have a solid rear axle with the right hand wheel spinning on that axle, drive only going to the left. A cheap way of doing it.
- wheel arrangement means supporting wheel on one side only, which has impact on wheel hub design and frame. More non-standard expensive engineering to do it well.
Hubs are supported by the through axle, except on a tadpole style where they are supported on one side only, like wheel chair hubs. A very few bicycle hubs are like this too. True, you cannot go into your local shop and expect them to stock tricycle hubs.
- very small demand, means that they're niche machines, which means either "fairly cheap junk" or "very expensive hand made bespoke".
Utility machines are certainly built down to a price and are hard to maintain because the market for them does not usually do any. Clubman's machine, a brand new one can be put on the road for about £4k. Consider how much bespoke and small scale work goes into all the axle parts. A good or reasonable second hand one can be picked up for £500 or less. I sold a well sorted one for only £350 earlier this year.

I've been riding trikes for 50 years and would dearly like to see some younger blood coming in to the club (The Tricycle Association) but modern riders don't understand the fun in riding a machine that is much more demanding and a bit slower than their carbon wonder bike.

tatanab
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby tatanab » 1 Jan 2021, 8:45am

Sidecars - Pedal cycle sidecars are quite different to motorcycle ones. Motorcycle sidecars tend to be rigidly fixed, and so require different rising skills (yes, I know some lean). Pedal cycle sidecars are sprung so that the bike will lean and can be ridden in the normal way.

Greystoke
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby Greystoke » 1 Jan 2021, 8:50am

I saw many tricycles in my youth time trialing. Never see one now.
Could've done with one myself the last 2 days....back roads were sheet ice here and unsafe to cycle a normal bike on.

resus1uk
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby resus1uk » 1 Jan 2021, 9:35am

Trikes are fun, not always a mobility aid. I have two and have ridden several other makes. I still ride two wheelers like a Brompton and a classic mixte.
Small wheelers like the Pashley are heavy but stable, difficult to overturn. Build quality was poor and lead to scrapping mine. Good shopping bike though.
A Longstaff conversion on a mountain bike was again heavy, but was good as a winter trike with studded tyres. The conversion axle is still going strong with the third owner.
My Higgins Ultralight is much lighter and has been refurbished. Both axles snapped, hardly surprising as it's 68 years old. Trykit journal bearings and new axles revitalised the machine. Easy to ride and used as a summer trike.
For winter use I acquired a bare Rogers frame. Slightly heavier than the Higgins. New MTB forks, axles, twin wheel drive and dynamo hub. Handles like the Higgins, maybe slightly less twitchy with TWD. Both have the same saddles, hub brakes, and North Road bars.
Both have downtube shifters which are easier to use on a trike without falling off. I regularly go through two fords, difficult on a two wheeler. Icy roads are safer on three wheels.

tatanab
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby tatanab » 1 Jan 2021, 9:41am

Greystoke wrote:I saw many tricycles in my youth time trialing. Never see one now.
The Tricycle Association has a membership over 400, most of us are aging having ridden since we were teenagers in the 1960s. Many still compete, and our younger members (less than 50 years old or thereabouts) are disgustingly quick and frighten many a wannabe fast man on only 2 wheels.
Could've done with one myself the last 2 days....back roads were sheet ice here and unsafe to cycle a normal bike on.
It is not the great panacea, the bicycle just goes flop in the road whereas the trike gives you time to consider what you are going to hit. Having said that, only once in 50 years have I had to use the emergency brake because the whole thing is sliding - grab a back wheel and lean on it (walking pace), although I've had to run it into a snow bank once or twice.

pwa
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby pwa » 1 Jan 2021, 9:59am

Having ridden alongside people on trikes (traditional sort) a few times, the main downside seems to be their unsuitability for those very narrow, little used lanes with a grass strip down the middle and two tarmac strips to put your tyres on. Instead of looking for one clear narrow line to put your tyres on, you are looking for three, and they have to be spaced right. In practice you would just not choose those lanes on that sort of machine.

But I do occasionally meet an elderly couple on a magnificent metallic red Longstaff tandem and the only reason the old lady is stiff getting out is because they have that trike with its ability to remain upright and steady on slow climbs, as she now has balance issues. They travel slowly and steadily, and it is the right machine for them.

jimlews
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby jimlews » 1 Jan 2021, 11:13am

Anyone tried one of these?

http://www.roman-road.co.uk/trikes/

tatanab
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby tatanab » 1 Jan 2021, 11:30am

jimlews wrote:Anyone tried one of these? http://www.roman-road.co.uk/trikes/
Note that the builder died about 2 years ago and the business is no longer operating.

Yes, I had a home built trike in that configuration. A bit of a pig to ride and more suitable to slower paced riding than I prefer. I found cornering at speed difficult because you need to transfer weight forwards and down instead of back and down which is easy. The question about which is the better configuration has cropped up many times in the last 120 years, and every time the vote is for the Cripper configuration - now called Delta. Just because two front wheels works best for a car or perhaps for a recumbent, it does not mean it is best for an upright trike where the weight distribution is quite different.

rjb
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby rjb » 1 Jan 2021, 11:39am

tatanab wrote:
jimlews wrote:Anyone tried one of these? http://www.roman-road.co.uk/trikes/
Note that the builder died about 2 years ago and the business is no longer operating.

Yes, I had a home built trike in that configuration. A bit of a pig to ride and more suitable to slower paced riding than I prefer. I found cornering at speed difficult because you need to transfer weight forwards and down instead of back and down which is easy. The question about which is the better configuration has cropped up many times in the last 120 years, and every time the vote is for the Cripper configuration - now called Delta. Just because two front wheels works best for a car or perhaps for a recumbent, it does not mean it is best for an upright trike where the weight distribution is quite different.


Has anyone fitted a trike conversion to a Newton so you had 4 wheels. Talk about one upmanship. :lol:
At the last count:- Peugeot 531 pro, Dawes Discovery Tandem, Dawes Kingpin, Raleigh 20, Falcon K2 MTB dropped bar tourer, Longstaff trike conversion on a Falcon corsa. :D

jimlews
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby jimlews » 1 Jan 2021, 11:56am

The Newton literature makes a big thing about Ackerman steering geometry (ie. properly designed).
I'm not sure that Kendrick trikes or their like would necessarily have been aware of that (?).

tatanab
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Re: ...pros and cons of a tricycle? Sidecar?

Postby tatanab » 1 Jan 2021, 12:12pm

I believe that Kendricks had Ackermann steering, I don't know about Harding and other more utilitarian machines. Hardings were known to be "difficult". My home built one had parallel steering, but it was unnoticeable in normal riding except perhaps turning left from stationary at a T junction for example, bends in the road were no issue.