What a recumbent trike is not
While there are some people who are fit and agile and can push their trikes to limits I can't think to keep up with, a trike is not a next generation road bike designed to beat two wheeled bikes, especially up-hill. My (me: Eric) wife (Susan) has been riding a trike for several years now and often prompts me to get out on the road, though after failed cervical surgery late 2016 to reduce some pain, it is getting harder for her to have a win. More the problem now may be that she has a favourite place to go which is a secluded section of road generally cut off to cars except for "Hill Climb Events". I have an electric assist motor and she does not, but unless I use the e-assist she beats the pants off me up that hill and that is so depressing :o) but yet impressive.
The thing is, it doesn't seem all that long ago she didn't seem to have a secret supply of stamina and I didn't need so much e-assist to get there first. She regularly goes out riding and it would seem that each time she has gone out, she has been rewarded with a little gift tucked away somewhere on her trike. For a lot of people that is what three wheels are about, that little gift that attaches itself each time, building to the point where you can look back and say Wow ...look how far I've come!
To others the wow doesn't take so long, 10 or 15 minutes and they can turn around and say something like "I never thought I'd get in this thing and now I'm riding". That is what recumbent trikes are about for most. Someone who hasn't ridden a bike for 10 years can't expect to get on a trike and beat all the competition but you can very well get on a trike and beat your recent best and improve tomorrows best. The story for most three wheelers is simply starting to live again.
Eric's Simple Choice
Speaking only for myself, there are not a lot of options because of back and neck problems (Forestier's Disease, entrenched Cervical, Thoracic and Lumbar vertebrae spondylosis and calcification of the tissue around the spine becoming more stiff and painful with time), I am simply not able to use a standard bicycle. Sitting on a narrow seat and hunching forward on a standard upright bicycle is enough to cause major problems - and that is without getting into pedalling the bike along (waddling about). In short, it's a simple choice when there is only one option. There are two places in the 'outside world' that I feel comfortable: one is weightless in the deep blue sea and the other is on my recumbent tadpole trike.
If you have any sort of balance issue, or really just don't like gravel rash - with a low centre of gravity, three wheels and a comfortable seat... there are not many bicycles that are as easy to keep upright especially when you come to a stop. Cleated shoes are great until you can't un cleat them when you pull up to the traffic lights or a gate which is when you find out how just unstable a bicycle is. A person sprawled on the road intermingled with a bike is even stressful for the onlooker.
If you have ever ridden a bicycle into a corner on the road that has a bit of gravel on it, and found that you back wheel, or worst front wheel, decides to go in a direction other than of your choosing, three wheels and a low centre of gravity again come into play. You have a greater chance on a tadpole recumbent (two wheels up front) of doing a 180/360 degree turn than falling off - and you're still in your seat with no gravel rash.
Now, it's easy enough for me to ride out a distance, but then what about getting back home if all doesn't stay well? Power or electric assist (e-assist).
Below is not me... but some days it feels a bit that way.
Recumbent trikes are not just for the older or less mobile. More and more younger riders are choosing recumbents to avoid developing problems associated with torturing your body on a rack (bicycle);
More common pain areas (apart from where you are seated) such as the wrists and back are almost unaffected when riding a recumbent trike. The neck area are far less affected and, again from my own condition of having severe cervical spondylosis, this means the difference between riding or not. This ability for greater mobility and involvement in life doesn't just affect me, my family also feels a release in my greater freedom as life for them is less restricted also in many ways. Yes, non-mass produced trikes are expensive, but in some instances you may be able to get assistance from local support groups or government funding:
In the recline position you are cradled in the chair which is well designed for most body sizes and with a greater recline you can cut wind drag by as much as 35%. This allows the rider to go further without fatigue making it ideal for touring and commuting - or just going faster.
There are some special gearing sets available that can be fitted to your recumbent to make changing gears a piece of cake. This can assist greatly for taking off on hills and coming to a stop at traffic lights - no need to be actually moving to change a gear and no chains clunking over sprockets. Of course, speaking of cake - you can carry 30 or 40 kilograms on the optional racks and you already have a comfortable spot to sit and eat.
Recumbent Trike Comfort and Safety
Grab handles or Stand-up Aids can be fitted over the front wheels of some trikes, that can support your full weight as you get settled into or get out of the seat.
A good breathable ergo-flow mesh seat makes for and airy and comfortable mobile lounge (yes, compared to a bicycle seat - a lounge).
You should at least try one even if you don't go anywhere!
Recumbent Trikes and Kids
Yes, trikes are also great for younger riders. Most trikes on this site are adult size trikes but can be quite suitable for younger riders. Modifications can also be made for smaller riders or those with other disabilities. . More and more trikes are becoming available for young riders.
Choosing a trike
Decide what style of riding you want to do, take yourself to somewhere that you can sit on some trikes and pedal. Go home and think about the experience and if need be, go back and try again. You can take all sorts of measurements but at the end of the day, your tail on a well adjusted seat with a well adjusted pedal length is the best way to make a decision. If you like, we can give you a link to just such a place: Just such a place
Thank you for spending some time here reading. We trust you will find something that will make you happy.