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Trike riding tips for beginners

Adventure 4

Let’s start with some basics. 

Get comfy on your trike. Investing some time in adjusting your trike to fit properly will make your riding experience more enjoyable and satisfying. Getting the boom length right is probably the most important. It should be set at a length that allows your knee to be slightly bent when the pedal is furthest away from you. Seat angle is much more down to personal preference and riding conditions. If the area where you ride is predominantly level you can recline the seat more. If you have steep hills a more upright seat may feel more efficient as your heart is positioned higher relative to your legs, so has to work less hard to circulate blood to your leg muscles. A more upright position is likely to be better for visibility if you ride in an urban area. 


Get kitted up. We strongly recommend that you wear a helmet. Your clothing should be comfortable and breathable, preferably without pockets or thick seams on the back (these will rub as you lie back in the seat). Choose tops with light or bright colours around the shoulders and front for visibility. It is best if front pockets have a zip or Velcro closure to prevent your belongings from dropping out when you are in the recumbent position. Velcro closures around the cuffs of trousers or shorts are good for preventing them from billowing in the wind. Remember you will be more exposed to the sun on your front than on an upright bike so apply sun cream accordingly.


Be safe. Make sure other road users can see you and you can see them. Get used to using your mirror, it is important to know what is going on around you. On recumbents it’s difficult to turn and look over your shoulder. My favourite is the ‘Take a Look’ helmet/glasses mounted mirror because it’s tiny, lightweight and by turning your head it allows you to scan around behind you to really see what is going on. Remember all the usual rules of the road apply.


Relax. Riders starting out on recumbents tend to tense their upper bodies and arms unnecessarily. Relax back against the seat and let your arms hang loosely.  When riding over holes or bumps in the road or when cornering don’t tense your stomach or try to sit forward, it doesn’t help. Stay relaxed and let the trike take the strain. In steep corners lean sideways into the corner a little.


Use your gears. It makes getting up hills easier. Sounds obvious, but cycling in too high a gear is a common mistake. It soon gets tiring and puts un-due stress on your knees. Try starting out pedalling with 1 revolution per second. As you get used to the cadence increase it to 70- 90 revolutions per minute. Racers pedal at 80- 100 RPM. Use your gears to keep your pedalling speed steady.


Ben Dickinson