riding a tricycle

Riding a tricycle or trike safely

Riding a tricycle

So you took the plunge and decided to start riding a tricycle! First off, that’s awesome. Trikes come in all shapes and sizes and are available for people of all ages. If you’ve never been on a bike and want to get out and start cycling then a good adult tricycle may be right for you. If you’re a more experienced rider, then there are a plethora of different kinds of trikes that will suit your needs.

For many people, staying on pathways and trails is more than enough. Some people want to take the next step and start riding a tricycle on the road. For some, this could be a mental barrier that needs to be crossed. For others there may be concerns with safety by sharing the road with motor vehicles. It’s a personal choice whether you’d like to stick to the pathways or hit the road. In this post I’ll try to outline some important points before getting out on the road. I hope to give you some tips and what to be aware of.

I can’t ride a tricycle!
I’ve read countless posts about people that go from biking to triking and some tend to find it difficult riding a tricycle on the road. If you’re already used to riding a bicycle, there’s a number of reasons for this. One of the main reasons is something called camber. I will go over it in the next heading in more detail. Additionally, taking turns and cornering sharp turns is a little trickier on a trike vs. a bike and is something that takes a little getting used to.

If you haven’t cycled before then this doesn’t really apply to you. You won’t be used to anything! When taking a turn, cyclists will generally lean into the direction they are turning. Because a tricycle has 3 wheels, there is no way to lean it in any direction unless you have a specially designed trike that can tilt. Before taking your tricycle out on the road, these are points that you should consider and practice on a pathway or in a space that you are comfortable.

Camber
Camber is basically the tilt of a wheel based on the slope of the road. Roads aren’t flat normally but they’re high point is right in the middle and they usually slope down to both sides slightly — mainly for water drainage to prevent pooling water on roads. Regardless, a cyclist will have a very different ride than a triker. The reason being is that the tilt of the road is completely manageable on a bike. You wouldn’t even feel it.

A biker can be riding on a 20 degree tilted road that is straight but generally speaking, their bike will still be in a straight vertical alignment with the ground. This is because bikes have 2 wheels. Now, with a trike, adding the 3rd wheel makes this impossible unless you have a tilting trike which doesn’t completely eliminate the camber effect, but does help it.

A trike will be vertical with the slope / camber of the road. So if you are on the right side of the road that tilts down and to the right, you will feel like you are always being pulled into the curb. To counter this, you will feel like you always have to nudge towards your opposite side. This is simply something that you have to get used to if you decide to ride a trike. If you haven’t ridden one before then you wouldn’t know the difference if you were a cyclist. An important point to consider when riding a tricycle on the road

Road Clearance
Before taking your trike out on the road some people may be concerned with clearance. A trike is generally wider than a bike. Trikes tend to be on average about the width of your shoulder span +/- a few inches (maybe around 24 inches). If you compare that to a bike, the overall width may be just about the same. On a bike, you’re still taking up about as much room width-wise as on a trike but it may look wider beause of the size of the rear.

Also, motorist tend to give trikes a little extra room on the road when passing because they do look bigger. If you’ve ever driven a car past a bike you’ve probably given the bike plenty of clearance with the fear that you may hit the cyclist. I’m sure if you’ve driven behind someone passing a bike you notice how much space they usually give the cyclist. I’m guilty myself of thinking “wow that guy is really giving that biker a LOT of space” when he’s almost fully in the opposite lane. My point being is that any good motorist will give you space, but ensure that you have taken as many safety measures as possible before riding a tricycle on the road.

Also, motorist tend to give trikes a little extra room on the road when passing because they do look bigger. If you’ve ever driven a car past a bike you’ve probably given the bike plenty of clearance with the fear that you may hit the cyclist. I’m sure if you’ve driven behind someone passing a bike you notice how much space they usually give the cyclist. I’m guilty myself of thinking “wow that guy is really giving that biker a LOT of space” when he’s almost fully in the opposite lane. My point being is that any good motorist will give you space, but ensure that you have taken as many safety measures as possible before riding a tricycle on the road.

Riding a tricycle also helps develop gross motor skills that are needed for almost everything, it seems. Gross motor skills refer to the large muscles groups of the body that enable running, walking, balance, coordination and more. Children develop these skills during early childhood and they improve as children get older.

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