Catrike Trail: Tiny Transportation for a Tiny House

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This past Memorial day weekend I visited a bike shop in the small MA town/village? of Turners Falls.  The nice folks at Basically Bicycles let me try out a recumbent trike.  After a few minutes doing figure 8’s in the parking lot I decided that I wanted one.  The advantage recumbent trikes have is comfort.  No more numb hands, stiff neck, or sore butt!  I picked out the Catrike Trail model.

In the short term I want to get my “bicycle legs” back and do some fairly serious riding.  Long term I will add an electric motor and build a solar powered charging station.  It will make a very nice platform for short trips to the market.

Transport

My little Chevy Spark is not what I would call an optimum vehicle for transporting bikes of any variety.  With the rear seats folded down, passenger seat folded forward, and all the hatchback stuff removed I can barely wedge my full size mountain bike in there (with front tire removed).

The trike is too wide for the hatchback because GM in their “infinite wisdom” decided that rear speaker placement is more important than hatchback width.  The plastic mounts for the rear speakers intrude about an inch on either side making it impossible to put the trike in…so I removed them.

Each speaker mount is held on with 3 phillips head screws and comes off with very little effort.  With the speakers removed the trike fits perfectly!  The rear tire goes between the seats and sits on top a strategically placed cardboard box (I’ll make something better).  When placed correctly my shoulders don’t hit the bike when I am driving and I can shift without bumping the bikes rear tire.

 

 Speakers intrude about an inch on each side

 

 Speaker removed…was pretty easy and reversible when I sell the car

 

Speakers removed.

 View with the speaker removed

 

 

 

Trike all tucked inside the car…no disassembly required!

 

Road Test

I visited the rail trail in Ayer MA for the maiden voyage of about 16 miles (dependant on my legs).  I drove about 10ft and realized something was wrong as the chain and rear deralier were all twisted up in a bad way.  Not 100% sure what happened but I think I bent the rear derailer putting the bike in the car.  When I started pedaling the misaligned chain bent things even more.  Not a good way to get started!

After a bit of cursing and some help from Tim I managed to “unbend” things enough to get a ride in.  Later that night I sat on the porch with vice grips and a straight edge to get things bent back to more or less normal.

The ride went well although it does exercise different muscles and I felt like I was riding in slow motion….especially up hills.  As I ride more it seems like i’m getting faster and my legs are getting used to the different pedaling position.

Danger!

If you get a trike you need bike shoes period!  There is a phenomenon known as “leg suck” where your foot slips off the pedal and in the best case you get bashed on your calf by the bike frame.  In the worst case your ankle gets sucked under the bike and possibly broken.  I outfitted the bike with the very grippy pedals used on my mountain bike while a new pair of bike shoes came in the mail.  One of my rides I got whacked pretty good in the calf and won’t go for a serious ride without bike shoes firmly clipped to the pedals.  Oh yes, be sure to set the tension on your pedals to “max”….no reason not to.

Conclusion

Overall I’m very happy with the trike.  At the time of this writing I have well over 100 miles and the bike has performed flawlessly.  It did take a few rides to get the legs used to the different pedaling position.  Last weekend I completed a 25 mile ride and other than my legs nothing else was sore…thats a win in my book. Overall I’m pretty happy with this purchase.

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