What are trikes?

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Trikes, also known as tricycles, are three-wheeled vehicles built to rely on human or gravity powering. These tricycles can be used for personal or more commercial purposes, as there are different divisions and sub-divisions in each category. 

Personal utilization of trikes may include its use for recreation, sport, or shopping, as seen in Africa and some parts of Asia. 

Children and older adults prefer to commute in trikes because of the ease of driving associated with it. The three wheels in trikes make it appear more comfortable than a bicycle or motorcycle, although this is not always the case.

There are different manufacturers and models of tricycles in the market. ZeCycles has a rich catalog of trikes on display that are available in new, and pre-owned forms. You can always hover to the platform. It also boasts user-friendliness and has a team of experts to guide you through the buying process. 

History of Trikes (Tricycles)

The history of trikes dates back to the mid-15th century when Stephen Farffler decided to build a three-wheeled tire to bring more stability to wheelchairs. He incorporated a hand crank into the design, and the wheelchair was powered by mechanical means 

The name three-wheeled would go on to be named as tricycles in 1789 by two French inventors a century after Stephen’s breakthrough.

The first introduction of the tricycle to Britain is traceable to a young British inventor at that time, going by Denis Johnson. In 1818, Denis decided to patent the idea of constructing tricycles in Britain. The trikes idea was not so embraced until the later part of that century, with the idea coming from James Starley.

James Starley started the tricycle movement with the design of the Coventry Lever Tricycle in 1876. This tricycle had two left small wheels and one right large wheel. The hand lever was still used to supply power to the engine, hence driving movement. This prompted some recognition in England, but the real boom came when James went a step further by creating the Coventry Rotary. 

The Coventry Rotary opened the eyes of several Englishmen to the possibility of being able to design a ride with multiple wheels. Within two years from that time, there were already over 20 tricycle designs in England, not just that multi-wheel cycles also started getting introduced into the automobile market. Over 120 different trikes models by various manufacturers were already in the market by the end of that decade.

From this innovative approach to its creation, trikes took a new turn in 1881, when the Leicester safety tricycle company decided to create the first front steering tricycle in Leicester, England. With a foldable tricycle, this was introduced into the market in 1882, and it sold out well.

Models of Trikes

The grouping of trikes is dependent on many factors. By classifying trikes based on wheel configurations, we may have:

  • Delta Wheel: This is the most basic and most common, with one front wheel and two rear wheels.
  • Tadpole Wheel: This is quite rare, compared with the delta wheel. It has two front wheels and one rear wheel. Its movement is more complicated because of difficulty associated with the turning cycle when handling. The handling is sometimes on the rear wheel, which causes the rider to turn the wheel longer than usual. 
  • In-line three-wheeled vehicle: As the name implies, it has three wheels, but these wheels are all on the same line: the front, middle, and rear wheels.
  • Pedal tricycles: This design has one side with two wheels and the other with a single wheel.

The tricycle can also be classified based on the overall design of the trikes. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Upright trikes: The trike resembles the bicycle, only that it has three wheels, which can be the delta or tadpole design. The rider straddles the diamond or open-frame while steering the handle, connected to the front or rear wheel, depending on the model. The handle is connected via a fork in the delta design or the Ackermann steering geometry if the design is a tadpole. The rider can get to enjoy a better view while riding these trikes; however, because it is non-tilting, it can tip over quite quickly. Hence, great care should be taken while riding upright trikes.
  • Recumbent trikes: The design of recumbent trikes is different from that of upright trikes. Recumbent trikes have a lower center of gravity, and you can comfortably ride them without the fear of tipping over. 

This means that it is a more stable option. The downside to its usage is that it can be challenging to enter or sit on the ride because it has a lower chair-like seat owing to its recumbent design. Recumbent trikes can also come in delta or tadpole wheels. The handle and riding of these wheels are different because of their different locations and connectors.

  • Recumbent Tandem Trikes: These trikes are designed for couple riding. It bears this name because while someone is steering the handle, another person is doing the pedaling. The person steering is usually called a captain, while the person paddling is called the stoker.

There are some other trikes in the market which are customized to perform a range of purposes. While some trikes are designed for load carrying, other ones are designed for sports. Many trikes have unique coverings to protect passengers from extremes of weather.  

The various categories and designs of trikes described above are available as new and used versions on zeCycles. 

Author: Brandon Park