How to Choose a Recumbent Trike

Every human is unique, and our needs vary from person to person. Your individual needs will be much different than my needs, so it’s difficult to tell you what the best recumbent trike for you will be.

You need to know how to properly choose a trike for your needs.

And there’s a lot to consider with over 200 models available.

Road Type Where You’ll Ride

A Recumbent Trike

If you plan to ride your recumbent trike on paved, flat roads, you’ll find that there won’t be much concern over which trike to choose. But the moment you encounter decent inclines, you’ll find that:

  • Single speed models don’t work well.
  • You need a lot of leg strength to go up the incline.

I recommend watching this video to see exactly what I’m talking about, The author goes up a hill that’s not too steep and is very tired at the end of the video. Notice how he rode the bike in the lowest possible gear, too.

If you plan to ride on hills, do yourself a favor and spend more for a high-end model.

Wheelbase Length

The wheelbase is very important when choosing a recumbent trike. Short wheelbase bikes are lighter and more responsive. These bikes have higher seats, too, which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your height.

Riding on gravel roads is difficult with a short wheelbase.

Long wheelbase bikes are going to position the rider between the two wheels and require you to sit lower as a result. The steering is also forgiving on these types of trikes, and when going over bumps, the long wheelbase provides a much smoother ride.

Sheldon Brown does a great job of explaining the different types of wheelbases.

Seating Position and Comfort

The seat comfort and position matter a lot if you plan to ride long distances. The short wheelbase models are often ideal for users with disabilities or problems standing from low positions because of the seat’s orientation.

Long wheelbase models are seated lower, so it may be harder for some users to get out of their seats.

You’ll want to consider your size when choosing a trike. Seats come in different shapes and sizes, so if you choose a seat that doesn’t match your body style, you’ll be in for an uncomfortable ride.

Look for a trike that offers:

  • Padded seating
  • Ample size for your anatomy

Recumbent trike reviews will help tremendously and allow you to judge how comfortable a specific trike’s seating is before making your purchase.

According to Livestrong, the ergonomic design of recumbent seats allows for less back and neck pain when riding.

Unit Weight

I normally wouldn’t mention weight as a major factor when choosing a bike, but recumbents are bulky and will need to be transported somehow. If you have a smaller vehicle or have issues lifting heavy objects above your head, consider a smaller, lightweight model that is easier to load.

Size and Wheel Size

Wheel size matters a lot because of the terrain you’ll be traversing. If your wheels are too small, you’ll have a much harder time in dirt and gravel. Larger wheels are more efficient and have a much easier time rolling on all sorts of terrain.

But the larger wheels will also make it more difficult to transport your trike and load it on your car or truck.

Front wheels are always smaller, and the optimal size for the front wheel is somewhere around 20 inches. Rear wheels can be bigger – around 26″ is ideal if you plan on traversing varying terrain.

City riding is just fine with smaller wheels.

Size does matter, too. You won’t fit a larger model comfortably on a small sedan, and smaller models may not be able to accommodate heavier users.

Suspension System and Design

A Greenspeed GTX Recumbent Trike

The recumbent trike’s suspension matters a lot, but not on all surface types. In fact, many manufacturers ignore suspension systems because the seats reduce much of the pressure when riding.

But this pressure is increased when riding on rough terrain and over bumps.

You’ll find that suspensions add to the weight of the trike, and they may be overkill if all you plan on doing is riding in the city or on paved roads. The biggest issue occurs on rough terrain, so keep this in mind when riding.

Suspensions also add to the things that can go wrong factor of owning a recumbent. If the suspension goes bad, you’ll have to spend a lot more money to fix your bike than someone without a suspension system.

The prices for a recumbent with a suspension are also much higher.

Recumbent trikes are growing in popularity, and the positioning of the seat accompanied by the three wheel design make these bikes comfortable, safe and much easier on the neck and back. If you plan on purchasing one of these trikes, make sure that you follow the advice above.

I’m confident that with a little research, you’ll be able to find a recumbent trike that’s perfect for you.