Don’t Compare a Trike to a Two-wheeler

Jun 14, 2012 View Comments by

You know the saying, “You can’t compare apples to oranges.” The same is true of trikes and bikes; they may, in many cases, start life the same, but it’s where they end up that counts. I started out, like most of us here, on a two-wheeler, and still ride one today. But a few issues back I was sent to Lehman Conversions to “Learn Three-Wheeling.” This step is skipped by most newbies to triking, after all; “It’s just a motorcycle with an extra wheel, what’s so tough about that? Besides, I’ve ridden bikes for 20 years now!” Do you think you would say the same thing about moving from three wheels to two? I didn’t think so.

Back at Lehman, my instructor, Kevin, told me, “It’s easier for us to teach people who have never ridden motorcycles to ride a trike than to teach people who have ridden 30 or 40 years.” True, we old guys bring a lot of baggage in the form of preconceived notions and biased opinions. Meaning that first we must be untrained from two-wheel thinking to three-wheel riding. Without that “training” and on-the-bike experience, you’re going to screw up and possibly hurt yourself, or others, and definitely mess up the trike.

There is nothing better than a “real world” training course like that through the Evergreen Safety Council or an authorized dealer, but until then here are the basics, just to start you out:

1) Never, ever put your feet down! Remember, three wheels=no tip. But you sure can trap your heels under your wheels, and it hurts!

2) Trikes have a handbrake instead of a kickstand; off to ride, on to park, or it rolls away.

3) U-R-WIDE: Sit on the trike and stretch your arms out; that’s how wide you are. Forget that and you will rip some gas pump out of the ground, or take down somebody trying to cross the road. I even wrote it on my handlebars (after that garage door thing).

4) With a trike you use “direct steering”: Point into direction of travel, lock your outside elbow into the turn, and then roll the throttle through the turn. Using this Point-Lock-Turn system, you will out-corner most two-wheelers. Really!

5) Use both the front and rear brakes. Remember, you have twice as much skin on the road in back; that’s twice the stopping power. Plus you don’t want to override your front wheel.

Much of what we don’t understand or think we know about trikes comes from our knowledge of two-wheelers and sidecars. Well, forget that stuff. You don’t have to lean on a trike any more than you do in your car. A trike wont “lift” like a sidecar in a corner; in fact it hugs the road like a Ferrari F40, and the site of gravel won’t put a pucker in your tucker. Trikes are by far the most comfortable, secure, fun, and safe touring bikes around. Don’t take my word for it. Try one. Then you can be the most rested and happy rider in your next long-distance tour group. Oh, and give up that idea that trikes are for the old and infirm. They’re not. They’re for the smart, aka the Trikester. Ride on.

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About the author

A Wisconsin farm boy, I learned how to ride a cow, before a horse and way before a motorcycle. I first started riding on my 16th birthday and I took my first real ride at my party: I pulled a wheelie and dug a trench in the lawn, which sent the bike in one direction and me in another. I was irrevocably hooked!