Monday, December 21, 2009

Trice on Ice

I've heard a lot about trikes being fun to ride on ice and snow. I've seen blog posts from a guy in Minneapolis who commutes year round on his, with a studded rear tire for the winter. I was wishing for some snow to try mine out in. A few weeks ago we had a little snow that melted off the paved surfaces almost immediately. I felt disappointed. Last weekend we had the largest snowfall I have ever seen in 22 years of living in this area, and reportedly the third largest in this area since records have been kept. In my neighborhood, it was up to two feet deep, though the actual amount that fell was probably less, as there was a lot of wind, producing snowdrifts. This seemed to be in the category of being careful what you wish for. I only wished for a little snow. Next I'm wishing for only a little money.

Anyway, even before I started to dig my car out, I had the Trice out of the garage. There was a snow dam about 18" high and wide in front of the garage door--the snowplow passing through the parking lot having taken out the rest. I lifted the trike over that and placed it in the plowed area. As this was only about a car wide, I had to move the trike to allow cars to pass. I sat down and began to pedal. What I found was that on an icy surface or in thin snow or slush, it would get traction and move. More than a couple of inches, and the wheel would just spin. With the standard Schwalbe Marathon Racer tire on the back, this was about what I expected. I would need a treadier tire if I did this regularly. Also, Trice recommends moving the seat toward the rear to increase the weight over the back tire for riding off-road and this would be much the same. However, I was riding back and forth in the plowed section. When it slid sideways, it was easy to correct and added to the fun. The Trice Q series have only a 3.2" ground clearance, and the rear derailleur on any 20"-wheel Trice is very close to the ground, so I got stuck in the unplowed snow.

I made my way from the parking lot around to the street. Bad idea. There was only one plowed lane and it was full of moving cars. There was no way to reverse course to get out of there. It was forward or nothing. I continued around the block and found that the side street was even worse. It was covered in enough slush to bog down in, and there were enough cars trying to use it that I had to stand up and move the trike out of their way several times. I was able to ride it short distances, then it would get stuck and before I could get moving again, along would come another car. I walked along pushing it through the worst, then was able to ride the last part and into the lot again. If I had some momentum, I could blast through places where I would not have been able to start from stopped.

After a couple more passes up and down the parking lot, I considered my point proved and put the Trice away. If I were going to ride in snowy conditions regularly, I might perhaps want a Trice T 26 for its higher clearance, with some knobby or studded tires on it. However, the QNT proved that it could be ridden on moderate surfaces, and in conditions where I would be a lot less confident on a bicycle, and it was a lot of fun to ride. I plan to do this again, preferably in better locations to do it in than one full of motorized traffic.


  1. Nice write up & photos! Wish I could try that, but I'm in southern Arizona (no snow ever at my house).

  2. I'd say that sounds like fun, but then considering you were experimenting with traction in company of other objects with substantial momentum (mass x velocity just in case you had forgotten) not sure I would go that far...