My Trice QNT with my house in the background

Saturday, March 28, 2009

5: The Ride, it's all about the ride (aka The Review)

I've now got about 95 miles on my trike and I seriously could not be happier.

STEERING
The steering is easy yet tight. It takes very little effort to turn. At first it felt a little squirely but I quickly learned to relax my grip and things got much better. ICE employs Ackerman steering geometry in all of their trikes. Basically what this means is that when turning, the inner wheel follows a tighter radius than the outer one. Not all trikes do this and if they don't the inner wheel is dragged through the turn rather than following it naturally. My Q turns very smoothly and with great control. The turn radius sounds big, around 11', but in practice it's just fine. I can turn it around on a 2-lane road with room to spare. The only place it might be an issue would be when maneuvering around a garage where you'd probably just be lifting one end and pivoting it from a standing position.
SHIFTERS
I've never used the twist style shifters that come standard on a Q but I liked the idea of bar end shifters, especially as they include an upgraded rear derailleur (XT). They are fantastic. They give a nice place to hook a finger so I hold less tightly on the grip. They are very intuitive to use, I've only ever had quick fire shifters before. I like these much more. One thing I hadn't thought about was that with the crank set being right in line with your view of the road it is very easy to see how the front derailleur is lined up to the chain rings. After the first 10 miles or so the shifting cables stretch. The way the cables exit the grips makes adjusting a breeze. You can do it as you ride.
GEARING
The gearing that comes standard is working out well for the time being. I live in a somewhat hilly area. Recumbents use muscles a bit differently and mine are slowly adapting to the new angles. In time I imagine I'll need more chain travel as I'm currently in the higher gears most of the time. Then again, as I get more fit I'll probably be taking on steeper hills so maybe the low end is just right and I'll need a higher ratio at the top end for the downhills. All in all I guess it's just too early to tell.

CRANK SET
The crank set is a little different, and better, than shown on the website. It now comes with a built in plastic ring that is just a bit bigger than the largest chain ring. This protects the chain ring and helps keep your shoelace or pant leg out of the chain.


FRONT BOOM
I've adjusted the front boom twice now, each time to give a longer reach to the crank set. An inch really makes a difference. The thing to know is that if you need to adjust it much, the chain will need a few extra links added. Keep a couple quick links on hand to do this. You don't want a chain too long, but too short is bad as well. Also, when assembling the trike, you will need a chain breaking tool. This isn't something everyone will have in their home tool set but it is a good idea to have one on the road so if you're getting one, make it a compact model. Most good combo bike tools have one included.

REAR SUSPENSION

The rear suspension is very good. I've never ridden a hard tail trike so I can't really say how big of a difference this makes. All I know is I'm very comfortable with the ride.
I don't feel jolts or much vibration. The local roads are pretty well maintained but still there is gravel at the shoulder and the occasional crack or pot hole. I do feel these but not to an uncomfortable degree. You can adjust it in two ways. One, you can use different density pucks. Two, you can move the puck to one of three different positions, each with a harder or softer feel. I haven't done this as I like it just the way it is. Additionally, the suspension is really a work of art. If you're into technical beauty, you won't be disappointed.

BREAKS
The standard brakes are very good. They just work well. Light pressure on the level will slow you on a steep decent (but why?). More pressure, more effect. Best of all, they're drum brakes so they're sealed from elements and so won't lose grip when it's wet out. As advertised, there is virtually no brake steer. Slam on one break only and you will still stop in a relatively straight line.

HEADREST
The headrest needed a bit of extra work. it's basic position can only be adjusted up or down, not forwards or backwards. I found it way too far back to be useful. I fixed this by rotating it forward and then held it in position by driving a self-tapping screw through the mounting bracket into the cross member where it attaches. Although this works, it is a rather permanent measure and you had better get it right on the first attempt or two or your bracket will be full of holes. Once screwed in, the headrest rods can be bent forward a bit for final adjustment. I'd like to see a better solution here.

SEAT
The standard mesh seat is quite comfortable. There is an option to get a hard shell seat with the advantage of less give which will help transfer more of your leg power to the pedals. I've always had very strong legs and I really like the idea of an open mesh for cooling when the weather gets warm. So far I'm very happy with my choice. The mesh mounts to the seat frame using 14 adjustable straps. By making minor adjustments to these straps you can give more or less support to various areas of the seat. If you want more lumbar support, loosen the straps above and below then tighten the ones in the lumbar area and feel the difference. There are 3 seat angles with the mesh seat, 6 with the hard shell I think. Changing angle is very easy and requires no tools. I started at the middle setting and quickly moved to the lowest for even better aerodynamics. Both are comfortable and offer an excellent view of the road ahead.
RIDER POSITION
Rider position is very comfortable. I thought it might be odd sitting so close to the ground but it's actually a very nice view from there. Seeing the world from this lower angle is a fresh perspective. Your legs are a bit elevated so it's possible to get tingling toes after a long ride. A few minutes sitting still with your feet on the ground and it's all gone. The body angle has eliminated all my discomfort associated with upright biking. The handlebars are adjustable enough that you can find the right elbow bend. No pressure on my wrists is nice as that was my chief complaint. My neck is in a natural position. It's nice to relax back into the headrest on a long incline but by no means do I need it for comfort. Best of all I'm not straining to look up at the road as I did on my upright. It's odd to get to a natural stopping point for a break and find yourslef not wanting to go sit on a park bench or the grass. It's doubtful the area would provide a more comfortable place to sit than right there on your trike.


MIRROR
The trike comes with a Mirrycle rear view mirror. When you order the optional bar end shifters you cannot mount the mirror in the normal place as the shifters take up that spot. The work around is great. ICE will send you a small stub that attaches to the handle bar just below the brake lever. Properly positioned, the mirror sits in a very good spot and the stub is a great place to mount your computer. The mirror itself is great. It takes an allen wrench to adjust but once it's pointing the right way there isn't any reason to change it. I think this is the perfect choice as far as I'm concerned.



SAFETY

I'd like to make point of a few things that are different and need to be remembered on a trike.

First, you really must have clipless petals of some sort. You're feet are not on top of the pedals and you'll find yourself relaxing from time to time. Dropping a foot onto the roadway would be bad. One very nice thing is that you clip in at the beginning of the ride and really don't need to unclip until you're done.

Second, you're very close to the ground. I'm so used to stretching my arms while riding that it's a good idea to remember how easy it is to reach out and touch the ground. Keep it in mind and you'll save a scratched knuckle or two.

Third, trikes don't lean. Three wheels are a big confidence builder but it is possible to get up on two wheels and it takes a bit of time to learn how the handling works. I take corners very quickly but I'm still adjusting to the differences. It's so comfortable I could easily see myself overdoing it and taking a spill.

Fourth, air flows past your body in a different way than on an upright. While we do cut through the air more efficiently it comes from below and that can pose some problems. Your eyewear may draft the air up between the lens and your eye which is quite drying so larger lenses are better. Also, air tends to billow my windbreaker if the waist isn't cinched.

Finally, dogs and other animals don't know what you are at first. I ride in an area with dogs, horses, goats, pigs, cattle, water fowl and the occasional human being. None of these creatures, especially the humans, seem know what to make of a trike. I've found that dogs start off pretty aggressive but as soon as you call out to them and wave an arm they start to understand that you are a person and the aggression drops off. Still, a dog can probably run faster than you are riding and could be a hazard. I'm going to add an AirZound to my Q in case a dog gets to close. Horses really need a bit of respect. I've yet to encounter one on the road but when I do I'll be sure to approach very slowly and be ready to dismount if needed.

SUMMARY
I'm very pleased with my purchase. I highly recommend the Trice QNT to anyone considering a recumbent trike. The components are high quality and go together well. The experience of riding this trike is wonderful. ICE is easy to deal with and can be counted on to handle your order effiecently. For the price, you get more features than any other trike I am aware of.
I have no buyers remorse and am looking forward to years and years of recumbent triking.

7 comments:

  1. Steve,

    Wanted to give you a quick thanks for your review on your recumbent trike. I have been interested in getting one for a while and your blog has brought new issues/questions to light which will help make sure I select the right trike equipped correctly for me.

    I've been looking closely at the Terratrikes.. didnt know much about teh Trice until I noticed a few youtube videos where the trike looked so impressive. I hope you dont mind I might have a few quesitons for you as my research continues.

    I'll be using the trike mostly on rail trails that are made up of crushed limestone and will graduate to asphalt once I feel comfortable enough.

    Thanks again

    Charlie Matlin
    cmatlin@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Chas,

    Thanks for the comment. I'd be happy to answer any questions I can.

    Regarding trail riding on a trike, I can tell you that most trikes probably lack enough rear wheel traction for climbing in loose material like gravel, at least as configured from the factory. On my gravel driveway, which is a bit of an uphill, my rear wheel spins out.

    The Q does have an option specifically to address this problem. It's a seat bracket that moves the rider's weight back a bit. I don't have any actual experience with this as I ride only on the road right now. I'd suggest sending the guys at Ice an email to find out how much traction you can expect.

    Once again, let me know if I can help you with anything as you continue to make up your mind.

    Steve

    ReplyDelete
  3. Steve. I was pleasantly surprised to discover your road map showing Sams Valley Rd and Modoc. I led a group ride over those roads last week. I lead VeloMello rides on Saturdays.

    I go to sleep nights thinking about the Trice-T. I drive a Goldrush recumbent which I like a lot; yet I have a yen to want a trike. My fear is that if I buy a trike, I may regret no longer having my Goldrush.

    My other concern which bears further investigation is transporting a trike. The T seems to solve that problem which is one reason for my interest in it.

    I'd like to get together with you and explore some of my thinking and yours on this trike.

    Phil Gagnon star@mind.net
    Ashland

    ReplyDelete
  4. Steve,

    Thanks for this blog. Due to a spinal cord injury(from a motorcycle accident) I can't comfortably ride a 2 wheeler anymore. I'm really lucky I can ride anything for that matter. Anyway, I have been to Coventry Cycle in Portland several times and tried most of the trikes they carry. I finally decided this week on the Trice, but was not sure whether to go standard or narrow track. They only had the standard track in stock for me to test ride, but I felt and my wife thought a narrower profile is better.

    Anyway, your detailed postings were excellent and convinced me to go with the QNT which I ordered today. Pretty much identical to yours with the bar end shifters, except red. My only question for you is whether you feel cramped at all in handling/steering? I'm small( 5 ft 7 and 145 lbs.

    Again, thanks for all the info you provided.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the comment. I'm 6'2"/190 lbs. and I don't feel at all cramped. The front wheels are certainly right there next to you but this hasn't cause any difficulty at all. You'll need to adjust the handle bars carefully to give just the right amount of clearance but I think you'll be quite comfortable with your choice. Here's a couple thoughts while you are still at the ordering phase. You may want to consider the shorter crank set that they offer. I'm happy with the standard but my legs are a bit longer than yours. I've heard many recumbent owners say that a shorter crank set is a good idea for a recumbent and when we order one for my wife next month we plan on taking that option as well. Also, if you live in the Portland area, consider the front fenders. With the wheels as close to you as they are on the narrow track there is a fair amount of spray off of them when riding in wet conditions. I plan on adding a set for both of ours when we order my wife's.

    Anyway, if you think these are good choices for you, you'll save a bit of money by having them included in the initial order.

    I'm glad the blog was helpful to you and I hope you find the QNT as great to ride as I have.

    Best wishes,
    Steve

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Marty,

    That's just a hiking windbreaker. It folds into it's own little pouch/fanny pack so I used the waist band to attach it to the seat.

    ReplyDelete