This isn't a technical review - this is just my experiences on my trike. I don't know all the shiny bells and whistles jargon. I have people for that and I'm sure if any technical questions are asked here that I can't answer, they will. In depth. This is for the layperson who knows very little about recumbents but is thinking that they might be an option, and who doesn't want to spend too much money.
If you live in Perth, Western Australia and are interested in purchasing a recumbent your options are fairly limited. Rob and I have been interested in recumbents for decades, and when jcs pointed us towards a new supplier in Perth we were very interested.
My reason for riding a trike is for comfort reasons. I was finding that even quite short rides - 20kms or more were leaving me chafed and tailsore. Plus, the attraction of taking a hill without the risk of falling over had definite possibilities...also the reduction in wind resistance is also a great plus.
Rob and I visited Just Bents where we road tested three trikes - The owner is extremely happy to allow thorough testing and the quiet area where the business is currently is very conducive to experimentation without feeling threatened while riding an unfamiliar craft.
They are apparently moving to a much hillier area, so if you're interested I'd contact them sooner rather than later, because the current place is perfect for testing on the flat.
The Trike 2 is of "tadpole" configuration, this means that it has two wheels in front, and one at the back. The rear wheel is larger than the two front ones - 26" at the rear, 20"s at the front. I was hoping to have them all the same size but in the end this is what felt good to me.
Don't expect a slim beast, this is of robust construction and is quite happy to trundle along with one wheel three inches lower than the other two. When I misjudged a wall the other day the outer rim of the chain guide bent but there were no other ill effects.
It's got direct steering - but as I was coming directly from having ridden a mountain bike for the past 15 years or so it was like "Oh wow, my wrists and arms don't hurt" I believe that there are other trikes with different systems which make steering a bit smoother - I think the Greenspeeds have something like that but, of course, one doesn't miss what one has never experienced. I enjoy the feedback I get through the steering, it's not enough to be distracting, but just enough to get a sense of Road.
It's very manueverable - it was a suprise. It's quite a long machine but I can avoid unexpected obstacles pretty quickly, and bollards and things haven't been as big a problem as I thought they'd be.
It has three gears at the front and seven at the rear. It changes very, very smoothly, with twist grips, and they're very nice to use.
I've been in situations where there's been a really nasty set of bollards up a 45 degree slope, offset with each other...something even an agile bicycle rider would have distinct trouble with, and it has fit through and been able to be ratchetted up the steep ascent with really astounding delicacy.
I think the biggest recommendation I can say about the bike is that I have been spending a lot more time riding. It is really comfortable - you might find that the head rest is in need of some work, but apart from that it's really good. At first I think I would have preferred the FRP seat, but Rob persuaded me that the mesh one would be cooler, and I think I'm pretty glad of it really - it is very non-sweaty.
I would have been a total wreck on the Freeway Bike Ride, and almost certainly would have wanted to train back home. I was tired when we got home but after a rest I felt fine. This simply has not happened in previous years. We've never made the round trip before as I recall.
You can purchase mudguards (heartily recommended) and bike rack at the same time which will be fitted for you.
The trike is fully adjustable, and Craig is really, really dedicated to fitting the trikes exactly to your proper height. He takes a huge amount of care and I can't recommend his care and service enough, it was really good and very patient.
All up, with mudguards and the rack it was around $1700. It comes with a flag too. The one on the website is black, but my one is bright blue. Photos shall ensue.
All in all, this is a good trike to consider if you want to test the water, and it is a respectable machine in its own right. It is much less exhausting over long distances.
I've been surprised by the number of *polite* drivers. Maybe they think it's a wheelchair or something.
Things to consider:
Some bike shops will not want to service your recumbent. Check beforehand. The Bicycle Entrepeneur in Osborne Park will cheerfully do so though, so they are around.
As you are lower down, you have a lower horizon. Leave extra crossing time. With luck, you can travel with an upright, who can be a lookout.
It's very nice to trundle up to a crossing light, and casually hit the button. Most upright cycles are really happy to have you do this. Orienting the bike to cross correctly helps too - it's not difficult.
You must change gears down before you think you need to - if you're approaching a hill, for example. It's also important to keep the gears on an easy setting, or what feels like one, otherwise you can hurt your knees. What's important is how fast your pedalling, not how hard you're pushing. (Apparently)
If you have to wheel it around, picking it up by the rear makes it a lot more manageable.
You cop a lot more splash from cars going through puddles. A lot more of you is exposed to rain.
I've been caught a couple of times not changing down fast enough, this makes it, obviously, very hard to pedal, the gears start making horrible noises, and the chain might come off. Fortunately this isn't occurring much for me any more as I've adapted and got better with practice. It's a very forgiving trike, its been easy for me to put the chain back on.
It's the rear ones I have had the most trouble with, as it's quite easy to see what you're doing with the front ones. It's easy to get caught up in the downhill quite lunatic speed of the thing (a lot less wind resistance) and forget that suddenly you need to go uphill. This is something that is learned pretty quickly though.
Cleated shoes work really well for these - put the cleats on as far back as you are able though. The trike comes with toe straps and cleats.
And that's all I can think of at the moment. I've not ridden my mountain bike since I got this little gem of a human powered vehicle, and I don't think I'm going to any time soon.
I am very happy with the purchase and I am thoroughly enjoying the trike. All my life I have associated excercise with pain and aches and chafing and unpleasantness. I keep waiting for the the other shoe to drop, but no - there's just a sense of tired well being after each ride.
Thank you to jcs and steveg for their continuing and kindly advice throughout the process. Thank you to Rob and thank you to Craig at Just Bents who was really incredibly helpful.