Not Your Kid’s Tricycle


Circa 1902: Barney Oldfield aboard Ford’s 999, a mile-a-minute gas burner.

Joey as Oldfield

2013: Joey aboard Inspired Cycle Engineering’s Sprint 26, a 1/4 mile-a-minute granola burner.

We rode recumbent bikes to Iowa and Tennessee.

Why are we riding a recumbent trike to Florida?

The trike is a bit heavier than the bikes.  It lowers us to exotic sports car height on roads plied by multi-ton vehicles.  It folds.  It’s in tadpole configuration.

Is Jeffrey daft?

Maybe.  But for a long haul, the trike is a sensible choice.

It’s stable when loaded. At low speeds that make bikes wobble, it’s rock-steady, even on steep crumbly pavements with trucks whizzing by. We see with a 1000-lumen headlight. We are seen: eye-catching panniers, a flag, battery flashers, no-battery Reelights that pulse when the trike rolls. All-weather fenders, weatherproof front drum brakes, rear emergency brake, dual mirrors, a brass bell for pedestrians, an air horn for motor vehicles. The Zipper fairing reduces drag and fends off rain and road debris. We can’t repeal Murphy’s Law, but we do what we can.


By day.


By night. Note unlit red flashers within and below triangle, and on flagpole.


The trike is only 4 inches (10 cm) wider than conventional bicycle handlebars. It’s fast and nimble, and climbs roads too steep for two-wheelers.

Road trikes are rare; drivers don’t know how closely they can pass, so they give trikes a wide berth. Some drivers may assume that a trike flying the Stars and Stripes is piloted by a disabled military veteran; civilian Jeffrey is not disabled, but when one shares the road with cars and trucks, one is grateful for even misdirected respect.

On a shakedown cruise, Jeffrey triked through Manhattan, over the Macombs Dam Bridge to the Bronx, then wove among the double-parkers, car-repair joints and elevated train pillars along Jerome Avenue, through Bronxville and Yonkers to a meeting in Scarsdale, then home, a 40 mile round trip. Drivers gave him thumbs-ups and lots of room. No one honked at him. He never felt in danger. This city-suburban ride bodes well for triking on the open road.

Our Internet friend Bill Cline happily rode his Zipper-faired Lightning bike 14,000 miles in 12 months. (Jeffrey’s now-unfaired Lightning remains his big-city workhorse.)  Then Bill tried a trike. Comfort, speed, stability on slippery gravel that would upend a two-wheeler: 15,000 miles later, Bill finds the trike the right HPV for life on the road. We hope when we reach Florida, where we plan to meet Bill, that we’ll feel the same.

2 thoughts on “Not Your Kid’s Tricycle

  1. Very excited about the trip! Could you include a donation link in one of your comments? You probably did but ol’ LOW TECH moi did not notice… dying to contribute to this year’s effort!


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