Tricycles For Adults: All You Need To Know About Adult Trikes

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Remember the thrill of first jumping on a tricycle as a child?

After discovering a whole new way of moving around, it seems like the world is our oyster.

But you may not realize that riding a tricycle isn’t an experience reserved only for kids.

Adult tricycles are growing in popularity, as more and more grown-ups realize the benefits of this form of cycling.

The idea of a fully-grown adult riding around on a 3-wheeler might seem unusual, but these aren’t the same types of tricycles you’d be used to as a kid. In fact, embracing this type of bike could transform your cycling experience in a positive way.

That’s why this article will focus on the phenomenon of adult triking, tackling these key areas of focus:

  • What Is A Tricycle For Adults?
  • How Hard Is It To Ride A Trike?
  • Types Of Tricycles
  • The 3 Best Adult Tricycles

By the end of this guide, you’ll be a master of the art of the adult trike.

Let’s get into it!

Tricycles for Adults: Title Image

What Is A Tricycle For Adults?

The extra stability and control provided by a trike can make your riding experience even more enjoyable.

You stop worrying about facing obstacles, losing balance, or falling over, which can help you focus on all the other amazing elements of cycling.

But how should we define an adult tricycle?

Put simply, a trike is a vehicle with 3 wheels, powered either by human pedaling or by an electric motor/engine.

Also called three-wheeled bikes or adaptive tricycles, adult trikes tend to feature an upright position and have three large wheels: one at the front, and two at the rear.

Tricycles for adults come with some key benefits. One plus point is the fact that even when at a standstill, these modes of transport don’t need to be balanced by the rider.

Another is that hills can be easier to climb slowly than on a two-wheeled bike, because the rider isn’t required to maintain the same forward motion to stay upright.

So if you face issues with balance, or are simply looking for a more low-impact workout, the trike could be the perfect way to cycle.

There are, however, a few quibbles that people have with the adult tricycle. Let’s address them.

A silver adult tricycle sits on the pavement.

How Hard Is It To Ride A Trike?

Some people believe that riding a tricycle is risky for young children or older people, but that’s not the case. Generally speaking, they’re incredibly safe and comfortable.

Adding a third wheel creates some extra friction, coupled with the wider space between a trike’s rear wheels, making tricycles the best eco-friendly transport for preventing accidental falls.

Alongside the safety concerns is one other key question: how hard is it to ride a trike?

Ultimately, riding a trike is a very similar experience to riding a bike, and most people with some decent cycling experience won’t have any problems with tricycles.

That being said, it’s worth briefly summarising the cycling experience and letting you know some tips for riding a tricycle.

#1. How To Sit

Tricycles tend to come with two different types of seat:

  • Upright seat
  • Recumbent seat

Upright seats are the typical type of seat that you’d find on a regular bike. They’re built to help you keep your balance while moving with speed, and they’re also designed to not interfere with leg movement while pedaling.

However, if you suffer from knee pain, upright seats may be uncomfortable. This is one of the main reasons for the existence of recumbent seats, which are much larger and provide back support while you’re pedaling.

While recumbent seats can be useful and extra comfortable, they do add a lot of weight to the tricycle, which can make pedaling uphill more difficult. They also require an entirely different riding position, which can feel strange if you’re not familiar with it.

#2. Turning

Turning a corner is harder on a tricycle than it is on a bike. In order to stop yourself from tipping your tricycle over, you need to apply the brakes on every turn.

This is a downside for some cyclists; however, it’s certainly possible to maintain stability and speed while steering. The trick is to move your center of mass into the turn, as you would on a regular bike.

#3. Adjusting To Triking

It can take a little while to get used to riding a trike. For example, the greater friction generated on the wheels means you won’t need loads of forward momentum to go up a hill at a low speed, and you’re also less likely to roll back.

Going up a hill in a single gear, however, can be hard. These are just some of the things you’ll have to get used to when riding an adult tricycle.

It’s time we moved onto the main types of tricycles on the market, but first, let’s quickly summarise a few other key points to bear in mind:

  • Ensure your seat and handlebars are adjusted properly for a comfortable ride
  • Push your brake levers before getting on the trike, to stop the wheels from moving and losing stability
  • Don’t accelerate too much when turning or going up slopes
  • Keep your center of mass in one place while riding
Black and white photo of a man sitting on a rickshaw tricycle.

Types Of Tricycles

We’ve already touched on one aspect of this — the difference between upright and recumbent seats. However, there are some other things that distinguish different types of trikes from each other. Let’s look into them.

#1. Recumbent Trikes

By providing complete back support to the rider, recumbent trikes reduce the risk of injuries to the knees, back, shoulder, and buttocks.

#2. Upright Trikes

These trikes use the upright seated position of a typical bike, allowing for better visibility and easier pedaling, but less stability through corners.

#3. Tricycle Rickshaw

A small-scale means of local transport, tricycle rickshaws have space for two or more people on board. Some are human-powered, others make use of a motor or engine, while some combine these power sources.

#4. Freight Trikes

Also called Cargo Tricycles, Carrier Tricycles, Box Bikes, or Cycle Tracks, these models are designed to carry a load and deliver things from one location to another. They’ll tend to have an open or closed box carrier, which can add weight to the trike.

#5. Drift Trikes

These trikes have low traction rear wheels that are designed for drifting and counter-steering on corners. Usually, they’re ridden on plain roads with a steep downhill grade and corners.

#6. Hand And Foot Trikes

Some people aren’t able to pedal a trike with just their legs, and hand and foot trikes are designed to deal with that issue. Hand-powered pedal systems allow power to be generated by the hands, with seating options adapted to suit this key purpose.

These are the 6 core types of tricycle you’re likely to see on the market when shopping around for a new adult trike.

As you can see, this is a highly versatile form of vehicle that can suit a number of different purposes.

A woman rides her adult trike down the pavement, with flowers in her basket.

Is Tricycling Worth A Try?

Tricycles for adults are on the rise. These are just 3 of the best models out there, suiting various different needs and purposes.

Riding an adult trike is an easy and safe way to get around, and it’s perfect for people who struggle with balance or need to carry extra weight. Why not consider grabbing one for your next biking purchase?

We’ve got loads more guides and reviews for adults who are interested in the basics of riding.

If you’re in the early stages of learning to ride, or you feel a little unsteady, you could also benefit from our article on the best adult training wheels for learning how to cycle.

Found this article helpful? Check out more from the BikeTips experts below!

  • Best Adult Training Wheels For Learning To Cycle
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Fred is a sports journalist with an extensive background as a cyclist. Fred is on a mission to explore the intersection of cycling, mental health, and mindfulness. His work dives deep into the transformative power of two-wheeled journeys, emphasizing their therapeutic effects on the mind and soul. With a unique focus on well-being, Fred's writing not only informs readers about the world of cycling but also inspires them to embark on a path of mental and emotional resilience through the sport.

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