I have been riding tadpole trikes now for nearly 7 years and have ridden over 26,000 miles. During that time there are some things I have learned which I want to share here as it might be helpful to others.
1) Ride smart … don’t leave home empty handed. Carry important things along such as tools, inner tubes, a minimum of a 6 to 8 inch section of chain (to use for making a roadside repair to your chain should something happen to it … hey, it can happen!), master links, air pump, first aid kit, wet wipes, and whatever else you might personally find handy and practical. I carry maps, mosquito repellent, sun block screen, plastic cable ties, electrical tape, a few feet of solid wire, plastic shopping bags, a shop towel, and more.
2) Keep your tires properly inflated. It is best to run them up to their maximum pressure rating as you will get the best wear out of the tires and the least amount of rolling resistance.
3) Use Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires as it will mean no flats and much longer wear than any other tire. It still handles great and rolls well. By far the best price I have found on purchasing Schwalbe tires is directly from Germany where they are manufactured. HERE is a link to the website. That link is for those from the United States. To order from another country just change the information for country, money, etc. There is a shipping charge of $27.20 (currently) to the United States. Other countries can be looked up. Because of this shipping charge by far the best deal is to buy 3 tires at the same time which is the maximum number which can be ordered at one time for that shipping charge amount. The current price per tire is shown at $29.37 (they have gone up quite a bit since the last time I ordered). Three tires at $29.37 is $88.11. With the shipping charges figured in it is $115.31. $115.31 divided by 3 is $38.44 each. Try finding this tire elsewhere and compare prices. At the moment I can find this tire at a pretty good price ($41.62 including shipping) here in the U.S. In the past this has not been the case. So I guess one just needs to check it all out to see what is available as the situation changes. The tire lists for about $54.
4) When crossing speedbumps and gently sloping curbs I have found that if it is safe to do so approaching at a minimal acute angle works best as it almost entirely eliminates the “bump” encountered. You might have to make sharp turns on both ends to accomplish this but it is worth it.
5) When dealing with small holes, bumps, debris, etc. in your immediate path and there is no time or safe way to steer completely over around it you can usually avoid it if you ride along and aim to have your pedal go right directly over it. Unless it is too wide you should be able to avoid it with all three wheels by doing this.
6) When riding with others be careful not to cut another rider off when going around a corner or sharp turn. And watch out for others doing this. Try to give sufficient warning to others behind you if you intend to slow down or stop. Colliding together could spell real trouble. Not only can the trikes get damaged but personal injury could result. It is unwise to “hot dog” around others or to do anything messing with their trikes while riding or even sitting still together in a group. Remember the golden rule … do unto others as you would want others to do unto you … or another way of stating it is don’t do anything to someone else (including to their trike) that you wouldn’t want them doing to you or your trike.
7) Take plenty of water with you and drink it (stay hydrated). Most of us don’t drink nearly as much water as we should. We should drink half of our body weight in ounces each day. In other words, if you weigh 150 pounds you should drink 75 ounces of water daily. Water is by far the most healthy drink there is. We should avoid most every other type of liquid drink as none are good for us and some are very bad for us (especially anything with sugar in it). If we do drink anything other than water it does not count against the quantity of water we are supposed to drink.
8) Take rest breaks as needed … especially on hot days.
9) Wearing a bicycle helmet and using some means of keeping your feet on the pedals so they can’t fall off and onto the ground and get swept back and ran over is a good idea. I personally do neither and have never had any problems with my feet hitting the ground. I understand the danger however so I would never advise against doing these things.
10) Always ride with good safety flags and flashing (in the daytime) headlight(s) and taillight(s) so that other see you. Read my article about safety flags HERE. For the money, I don’t think you can beat the Planet Bike lights …minimum of 1 watt Blaze Headlight and 1/2 watt SuperFlash Tail Light. They not only work great but have excellent battery life compared to most other manufacturers’ lights. There are other lights available which may be a little brighter but their cost is a whole lot more and their battery life is a whole lot less.
11) It is advisable to ride with at least one other person for safety reasons.
12) Don’t skimp on buying a trike just to save money. Get the best quality trike you can afford. You won’t regret it. You might regret buying a lower priced lower quality trike however. The saying holds true … you usually get what you pay for. I personally recommend Catrike over any other brand out there. They make a top quality trike and stand behind their product. Also figure on a minimum of $150 for accessories as they are important. I am talking about lights, safety flags, horn or bell, cargo hauling items (rear rack, panniers and/or rear rack trunk bag), a cable lock device to lock up your trike when parking it to shop, eat, etc. If you don’t already have bicycle tools these will be an additional investment. Again, buy quality tools … not inexpensive ones which will probably quickly fail you upon use.
13) Check the toe in … it could be off or change after initial setting. Toe in is critical to proper handling and tire wear.
14) Check for chain stretch and replace the chain if it stretches more than a 1/16th of an inch between links. Sprockets should also be checked for wear and if need be changed. Usually sprockets should last thru two chains but a badly worn chain will quickly wear out brand new sprockets and badly worn sprockets will quickly wear out a brand new chain. A tadpole trike uses about 2.5 to 3 bicycle chains to reach the length of the chain run around the front and rear sprockets.
15) Keep the chain and sprockets sufficiently oiled to prevent excessive premature wear.
16) Be a good ambassador (representative) for cyclists as a whole and tadpole trikes specifically. Obey the law and trail rules. You might even consider volunteering on a local trail maintenance organization.
17) When going over a bumpy surface you can’t avoid and you have no suspension on your trike you can eliminate much of the jarring by simply lifting your body up off of the seat. To do this use your shoulders on the top of the seat back and your feet on the pedals to lift your body. In the drawing below the black line represents the seat. The red line represents the rider’s body. The blue line represents the pedals. The green line (arrow) shows the gap between the seat and the body when the body is raised up in the air off of the seat.
I may add more onto this list if anything more comes to mind.