A blog just for my writing on cycling. It means, literally, "bicycle man" in Malay.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Orang Basikal meets Orange Tricycle
Last week I seized the one fairly rainless day, Wednesday, and drove up to Mt Airy Bicycles to test ride a 2007 Trice S. It was sooner than I intended to buy one (for purely financial reasons), but used Trices rarely appear on the market and sell quickly, and I could save a little over the price of a new one. Besides, it was orange, my favorite color.
The Trice S was ICE's production sport/racing model in 2006-07. It was discontinued once the QNT model could be set up in a similar configuration. It resembles a QNT with six inches more length in the rear part of the main frame tube, which gives it a longer wheelbase and a very low seat angle--only 33 degrees at most. Its width is the same 30 inches as the other narrow track models, 4 inches (10 cm) less than the standard width.
I went there fully expecting to want to buy it and had been dealing with the question of how to do so for a few days beforehand. As it happened there was also a used 2005 Trice T there and I could test ride it also.
The countryside in which the bike shop is located is hilly with a number of quiet back roads, perfect for test riding. I took each one over a route of about 7 miles that included some steep hills, up and down.
It is difficult to get an exact comparison of the different trikes I have tested, because they were ridden on different days, in different locations with different terrain. Even I was not the same each day--I might be in better or worse form, and the more I ride trikes, the more skillful and perceptive I become as a trike rider. It might seem that there is not much skill required to ride a machine that can't fall over, but indeed it takes some getting used to. And while it generally stays upright, you can lift a wheel fairly easily.
This was the hilliest course I had ridden, and it was also windy, so I worked harder than before. My impression is that the custom Greenspeed I rode a couple of weeks ago was the easiest to push uphill of any of them, but although there were some hills on that route, they were neither as steep nor as long as the ones I rode on this day.
I found the S less comfortable than I had expected it to be. I didn't mind the 35-degree angle on the Greenspeed, but this one seemed too low. Plus I found that if I wanted to make a low-speed u-turn, the wheel hit the seat and I had to move out of the way--making me consider a standard track instead. It was certainly fast and handled well.
Next I tried out the T. This is ICE's touring model, higher off the ground and with less seat rake. The tradeoff is more ground clearance and a higher seat that may be easier to get in and out of, for some reduction in cornering and speed. ICE says it is a "sedate touring trike." Which it was. However, it was very pleasant to ride and comfortable. I preferred its bar end shifters to the grip shifters that are standard on newer Trices--mainly because it was easier to keep track of what gear I was in. On a trike, you can't easily check the rear hub visually.
My overall impression was that while the T is comfortable, I want the better handling and speed of the lower models--and perhaps looking good has something to do with that too. Many trikes are sold to riders with physical limitations due to age or health. Many people do ride them who can ride a bicycle but prefer the trike--indeed there is a lot of racing going on, and note the link on this page to the 35-year-old Frenchwoman who is crossing the Himalayas on one. As I don't consider myself to be in the geezer class yet, I want something that looks sporty and on which I intend to go fast.
At the same time, I found I prefer the short wheelbase of the current models, which offers more flexibility in how they are set up, and is more compact when they are dismantled to transport. The next consideration is wide versus narrow track--that tradeoff being between cornering ability and being able to fit on narrow tracks or through narrow gaps.
Further research continues while I sell some more houses so I can buy one.