Recumbent Trike - My Midlife Crisis Car

Riding my trike along the river trail
Riding my trike along the river trail

I Want to Ride My Tricycle

I am in my 40s, and I ride my tricycle to work a few times a week and at lunch time. You must have a funny mental picture filling your brain right now! Actually, what I ride is called a recumbent "tadpole" style trike. "Recumbent" means it is ridden sitting back in a full seat with my pedaling feet out in front rather than below me. "Tadpole" is the name given to three-wheelers with two wheels in front and one in the back. (Delta is the name given to cycles with two wheels in back and one in front.) "Trike" is the logical shortening of tricycle ... just as "bike" is the shortened version of bicycle.

Low and fast
Low and fast
The trike in its native habitat
The trike in its native habitat

My Mid-life Crisis Vehicle

My trike is red, it is fast, and it is fun to drive! I suppose that it's my mid-life crisis car. At least it is not as pricey as a sports car. I test rode one of these sporty little vehicles about a year ago and have not been able to get it off my mind. Over the past couple years, I had taken up cycling as something I enjoyed and was also good exercise. (Read about how I got addicted to riding in my hub "The Lord High Bikasaurus Rex".) I even got to the point of commuting by bike. It is thirteen and a half miles to work, twenty-seven miles round trip. My route lets me use the bike trail along a local river so that at least nine miles of my ride is on a bicycle-only path, which makes the commute more enjoyable.

Commuting on my trike

My first chilly morning out on the trail with the new trike.
My first chilly morning out on the trail with the new trike.

Why I Switched to a Recumbent

Riding my "Diamond Frame" upright bike (or "DF" as recumbent riders call them) was fun and I did not have any physical ailments that prevented me from continuing to ride the DF, but I was getting tired of my sore neck, caused by having to lift my head up to look forward as I lean forward to avoid some of the headwind. It is tiring to keep one's head at that angle to get under the wind, and it makes one tend to stare at the front tire rather than look ahead and around at what is coming up. I also noticed that my shoulders would get sore from leaning forward - not enough to cause any kind of ongoing problem, but it was not comforable. My route to and from work always corresponded with the wind patterns of the day... in the morning it blows toward the ocean as I go inland, and from the ocean as I ride down river. Wind that was constantly blowing into my face, and slowing me down. I have not even begun to explain that dang uncomfortable seat!

Many people switch to recumbent (both two- and three-wheeled) cycles because of a back injury or some other ailment that keeps them from riding a DF safely, but more and more riders just find the recumbent style more fun and more comfortable. I also enjoy being able to see so much more while riding since it is easier on one's body to look forward and around from a reclined seated position than a leaning forward position. On my recumbent trike I go under the wind. There is a LOT less wind resistance on a trike and I save a lot of the energy used balancing and fighting the wind, to pedal. I have not found my trike commute to be all that much faster than my rides on the DF, but I know I am less winded, less tired, have expended less effort and enjoy the scenery of the ride a lot more.

Fun on Weekends and at Lunchtime

But It Is Weird!

Yeah, riding a trike (or any kind of recumbent) turns some heads. Kids, dogs, and adults all can be seen spinning their heads around as I pass. Being a bit unusual is a benefit when commuting. I have consistently noticed that drivers actually see me and give me MORE room and respect on the side of the road than I ever got riding my DF! I watch in my rear view mirrors as cars change lanes or move way over to pass me. I get smiles and eye contact from drivers at intersections that I never got on my upright bike. I also ride with lights and two flag poles to draw attention. I am sure some drivers think I am handicapped, being so low to the ground on such an unconventional cycle. If sympathy or the "weird factor" brings more safety, then I am all for it. When I first got the trike I took it for a spin around our neighborhood, and a young neighbor, I think he is about 8 years old, looked at me riding in that low three wheeled chair and said, "What happened? Did you get hurt?" I had to laugh! I guess you have to be ok with being "weird" to ride a recumbent.

Even Dachshunds like trikes!
Even Dachshunds like trikes!

A whole family of trikes

The Circle/Cycle Is Now Complete

There is a famous riddle from Greek mythology: "What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?"  The answer to the Sphinx's riddle was given by Oedipus: "Man -- as a child he crawls, as an adult he walks and when he is old he uses a cane."

In contemplating my personal wheeled experience, I wonder if cycling life is not a cycle in itself. We start riding a tricycle, we then might have a four wheeled transitional experience with training wheels and a bike. After we learn balance we graduate to two wheels. Then we grow up and have to drive a four-wheeled car. As the fat of mid-life comes on, some of us try returning to two wheels, and then maybe even to a three-wheeled thing like I am on. I suppose eventually we graduate to a four-wheeled wheelchair unless we stay healthy in our latter years. I want to stay on three wheels.

Go Ahead, Try it

If you enjoy cycling and have not tried a recumbent bike or trike, I would encourage you to. Don't let your friends who fancy themselves the next Lance Armstrong talk you out of it saying that recumbents are for "people who can't ride a real bike." Recumbent bikes are just different, not unworthy of "healthy" riders. Although most "professional" races do not allow recumbents (because they would be an advantage over DFs?), most people do not race for a living. Cycling on a recumbent can be more enjoyable and more comfortable. I know 'bent riders who outrace DF riders, and can compete even on uphill rides (which is generally slower on a recumbent) and on long 100- and 200-mile rides!

To lean more about recumbent bikes, try a search on the internet or check out a few of the links I have added below.

Even Leo Laporte rides a trike!

Comments 35 comments

Guy 7 years ago

I told my wife that my greenspeed trike was my mid life crisis and that she was lucky "I had not bought a car we could not afford, or run of with a dolly bird."Her comment was that those options would have been easier to explain to her friends. Mind you the crisis continues, I just bought a bacheta Giro.


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 7 years ago from Southern California Author

Oh no... you mean there is another stage to this madness? I am going to end up buying a two wheel 'bent next?


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

Oh good I'm glad you finally did this-- and I finally saw it. I went to check your profile when I saw your "one year" medal. You might want to add that youtube video that your friend took.


Marie Dwivkidz profile image

Marie Dwivkidz 7 years ago from UK

Hey, this is great - I ride a tandem quite a bit, and that turns a few heads too. I'd love to try a recumbent though, they go like the clappers - been overtaken plenty of times on big rides by you guys! Good plan to preserve the neck too - We rode Paris Brest Paris a few years ago (1200km in 90 hours non stop) and by the end there were guys who were having to hold their heads up with one hand whilst riding because their necks had collapsed but they were so hellbent on finishing (eww - crazy folks). The guys in the recumbents were nice and cosy though!

Keep riding!


mwaky profile image

mwaky 7 years ago

men nice ride


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 7 years ago from Southern California Author

Thanks for the comments Marie. Yeah you should give a trike or two wheeled recumebent a test ride. They are comfortable for long rides. From time to time I have to ride my mountain bike when my trike needs service... and I like it too... but I like the trike more and it hurts less. :-) We have had a few tandems on my local riding group too... they look like fun. I have never been on one though.


greegel 7 years ago

so coooooool


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 7 years ago

This is a great insight to your trike. A recumbent is recommended to me occasionally but the moolah factor won't allow it right now. These are very fast- except up hill- but nothing is.


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 6 years ago

LOL

Good for you. I just bought a mountain bike for my mid life crisis. We shall see how long before I switch :)


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 6 years ago from Southern California Author

Thanks for the comments Micky and Mark. Enjoy the ride, not matter what you ride!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 6 years ago from Southern California, USA

Looks fun, but I would have to be somewhere isolated to try it myself.


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 6 years ago from Southern California Author

I ride a lot of the great cycling trails (no cars allowed) in southern california for fun... but when the weather is nice and the days long enough for daylight during my commute times I feel safer on the trike than I would on an upright bike on most of the streets I travel.


tsongkapa 6 years ago

I am college student and i like trike so much that i end up buying terratrike which i rode for two months. It was very nice comfortable. But then i sold it and now i bought new trike called Artifice made by action bent from Taiwan. I am still waiting for the delivery and hoping so much to flaunt my new trike on Independence day. I live at Huntington beach. But trike cost a lot and i have spent almost 2000 bucks on trike. ( selling old + buying new one)


Bob 6 years ago

I just ordered the new Terratrike Rover. Under $1000 and a really fun and safe Trike to ride.


Frank 6 years ago

Where did you get the dachshund flag..........I have four dachshunds and a TT Zoomer Trike...Frank


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 6 years ago from Southern California Author

I created the dachshund graphic myself... and sent it to this place http://home.comcast.net/~catroad40/catrike/catflag... who made the flag for me. But I am not sure if they are doing orders right now.


Doug Foote 6 years ago

It's always fun to find like minded people, although, when I ourchased my Micro in 2002 I wasn't experiencing a "mid-life" crisis - I just wanted to ride very long distances without too many problems.

You might be interested in what I have posted at my blog http://www.crazytrike.com. It has postings from most of my rides over the years and specs on the trikes I ride.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Either version of the recumbent looks like loads of fun. However, there are no bike paths on the routes I would use one, so it'd have to be a regular adult trike like the ones I used when I worked in Inventory Control in a huge warehouse. We used them not only for covering distances quickly but to haul misplaced stock in the basket between the back wheels. They even had handlebar bells like on kids' trikes...ding ding! They looked "clunky" but were amazingly fast. So fast, in fact, we were regularly warned to *slow down*. Right. Weeeeeeeeeee!

Anyway, thanks for a great hub on leg-powered "mid-life crisis cars". ;D


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago

I was these advertised and thought I would like them because at the gym I like the bikes where my feet are in front. Great videos. I feel like I was on a test ride with you - without the aerobic benefit, of course. I might hold out until they raise them off the ground a bit. Thanks for the very good info about recumbent trikes, Glenn Frank:)


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 4 years ago from Southern California Author

There are some higher riding trikes out there. Terratrike now has a trike called a ROVER which is lower priced and higher sitting. But as much as people think at first that the height is an issue when riding on the road. It is true that you need to be more vigilant and careful around parking lots and driveways... but if you drive your trike where it is visible... away from parked cars, in the lane if the lane is not legally wide enough for passing, you will be plenty safe. I in fact now prefer streets without bike lanes to one with!


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon

This is so completely cool! Thank you for the useful information. I've just changed my life to semi-retired, and I want one of these so badly. However, read "semi-retired" as now without cash. So it'll have to wait,but I hope not too long. It would be great to have a source for used trikes, just so more people could get one. Do you know of any sites like that?

Also, I was interested in the neck position on the recumbent. I noticed in your videos that a neck rest is available. With your neck at that angle, do you have to use the rest very much?


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 4 years ago from Southern California Author

Healthy Pursuits - I bought my trike used as well and it had the headrest on it when I got it. I find that many times I don't use the headrest, I guess because I am up looking around (great view forward on a trike as apposed to the head down or bent up on a standard bike!) but if I consciously think about it I relax and put my head back. It is comfortable as long as the road/trail is smooth. Sometimes a bit bumpy if the road is not smooth. As far as discounted trikes... keep an eye on ebay, or craigs list... or go to and watch the "for sale" forum on the message board at bentrideronline.com ... often there are trikes for sale there, but you have to move fast cause they get bought up fast!


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon

Thank you!


David McCarty 4 years ago

I signed up for a 480mi ride next September. I have been training since Nov. ( cross training in the gym & riding my mnt bike ) I am considering building the warrior tadpole. Do you have any advice?


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 4 years ago from Southern California Author

WOW! that sounds like fun... nice long tour. Don't know much about the warrior tadpole. I have seen it online. Looks like a fun project. How much would it weigh compared to a commercially built trike?


KoolKat 4 years ago

Looks great! The Warrior normally weighs in less than 50lbs. AtomicZombie.com


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 4 years ago from Southern California Author

my trike without accessories is about 37 lbs... with my rack, bag and other junk on it ... it might be about 45 or so.


Frank 4 years ago

About 4 years ago I became really angry about gas prices. About the same time I wanted to go a little green. I also wasn't sleeping right and felt the beginings of high blood pressure. First I looked at high end scooters 650cc things and also recumbent bikes. I ended up buy a Honda Elite 80, got a motorcycle endorsement and did a Forest Gump, I just started walking and kept walking, turned it into a daily 6 miles rain or shine. I sold the scooter because cars would ignore or intententionally intimidate me. They did the same on my walks. There are not too many sidewalks around here. Not giving up I transferred exercise indoors, continued to get in better shape, and noticed people on the stationary recumbents. A spark seemed to go off, reminding me about my original study of recumbents. Last Friday, I got on my sons DF drove it around the block twice and said to hell with it, so what if I look like a goofball, I'm getting something I can sit on and peddle. I went on to Craigslist and bought an EZ-1 AX, their higher quality alluminium recumbent. It took a little tweaking as the prior owner only drove it a few miles. Anyway, the first day, I drove it around the neighborhood for a little over 1/2 an hour. The next day about 15 miles, no pain, just pure pleasure. Today, just a few miles (6), but already I 'm wondering "Why did I wait so long? Why do people ignore the basic nature of their bodies? Why not accept that for the vast majority of our lives we only range a few miles for little things which is most suited for a bike or trike? I'm 50, take no meds, have ok readings on everything. Is it better to spend a few hundred bucks on a bike or better to spend 100,000 on open heart surgery? What are people thinking?" Well I guess we are all just a bunch of goofballs. Sure it is true, eat right, exercise, and we die anyway, but I think death may just be walking, he ain't gona catch me on my bike!


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 4 years ago from Southern California Author

Thanks for the great comments Frank! glad you are enjoying the comfort and fun of your recumbent bike!


sue 4 years ago

What is the major diff. between the Terra trykes and the MOBO-HUGE price differences.


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 4 years ago from Southern California Author

Terratrike has several lower priced trikes (TRIKE not TRYKE... TRYKE usually refers to those three wheel scooters without pedals that you rock right and left to move) Terratrike gets their frames made in Taiwan... personally I think their design and quality is a little lower than other brands. I am currently riding a Catrike "ROAD". The more expensive trikes are usually because of quality of components and frame design, as well as where they are made. (US, Europe, Vs taiwan) and what they are made of, Aluminum / carbon fiber vs Chromoly Steel. and their weight.


DiTriker 4 years ago

Hi Glenn,

Hubby just finished watching your latest YouTube video. He says you are his favorite trike ride poster. :-) Hubby has a Catrike Trail and I have a Catrike Villager. We LOVE them! Take them out for 40+ mile rides from spring until fall (live in the Pacific Northwest), and then have them on trainers the rest of the year and ride daily.


madeinla profile image

madeinla 3 years ago from West Coast

Great hub! I love cycling so much, but two herniated discs mean that I can't ride a regular bike anymore. I'm looking forward to trying out my first recumbent bike now. I just wish they came in more colors! Not unlike a sports car :)


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 3 years ago from Southern California Author

I didn't get into the recumbent trike craze because of any physical need, but I know a number of people who have found the trike gave them back the ability to ride in spite of back injuries, MS, congenital conditions and amputations just to name a few! They are great fun and give a lot of people the ability to be active in spite of other things that would keep them off a standard bike. Thanks for your comments!


Barbara 2 years ago

Congratulations on your beautiful work!

Would you be interested in joining a group of people from all over the world in the organisation of a competition and race for recumbent bike-cars? Meeting, exhbition and race to be held in Sparta, Greece. (goal:300 participants in different categories).

Best Regards, Barbara (barbara.argyropoulou@gmail.com)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working