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The Trike Fits the Rider - Not the other way around !

Imagine buying a $200 suit from the "One Size Fits All" rack. Think it will fit? You might get lucky, but not a likely outcome. OK so what if you were buying a $1000 suit; you would expect it to tailored right? Chances are the trike that's right for you is at least that expensive. Tailor it to fit YOU!

If you find that after an hour or two of riding leaves any pain or unexpected fatigue chances are you don't have the Trike optimally fitted.

Fitting the Trike to the Rider's Dimensions

Nearly all trike OEM's will designate a range guidelines of rider sizes that fit their models as equipped. That doesn't translate into everyone within those guidelines will properly fit the trike as equipped, nor does it necessarily exclude some who may be outside the range of the guidelines.

Tailoring a trike to fit a rider may require components that aren't necessarily among the "as equipped" condition. While trikes are far more comfortable then any other pedaling machine, any exercise regiman can lead to physical annoyances and discomforts. The objective of this chapter is to address proper fitment for maximum riding enjoyment.


Symptoms of Discomfort or Unexpected Fatigue & Probable Solutions

Starting at the working end of the body....

Numb Feet - This can be caused by many things beyond the fitting of the Trike (and shoes) so we'll list most potential causes.

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency (especially for those over 50 - try B12 & D supplements)
  • Hydration (even if you aren't thirsty when it comes on)
  • Potassium deficiency
  • Pre-Ride Stretching legs and feet may help
  • Support Socks aid circulation
  • Gel insert for Ball of Foot will aid circulation
  • Adjusting the Shoe Clevis to center over Ball of Foot
  • Straighter knee position when pedals are at full leg extension lengths
  • Shorter Crankset Arms

Sore Ankles or Calves - Other then pains from previous injuries usually a sign of misaligned pedals and often accompanied with knee pain.

  • Adjusting the Shoe Clevis to center over Ball of Foot (left to right) and move the Clevis slightly (1/8" or less) toward the heel
  • Reduce the motion of the foot during pedaling
  • Avoid stomping the pedal at lower speeds by downshifting

Calves Going to Sleep - Usually a muscle or nerve problem that's aggravated by a deficiency of lack of physical preparation.

  • Hydration (even if you aren't thirsty when it comes on)
  • Potassium deficiency
  • Pre-Ride Stretching legs and feet may help
  • Avoid stomping the pedal at lower speeds by downshifting

Knee Pain - Lots of potential causes especially for those over 40. Be sure your knees are pumping in a straight line with no wobble to the side as you pedal. Boom alignment and show clevis position will affect the bending of the knees.

  • Check and make sure Boom is rotated so the pedals are parallel to the ground; if Boom is off by 1-2° it can lead to knee pain
  • Avoid stomping the pedal at lower speeds by downshifting
  • Boom Length could be too short or too long
  • Adjust the Shoe Clevis to align such that when pedaling the knee remains in the same plane - no motion left-right (backpedal to watch)
  • Shorter Crankset Arms

Thigh Fatigue - Sometimes your leg muscles are burning or feel limp after strong exertion. That's normal for beginner or infrequent riders. However there are few things that will help.

  • Hydration (even if you aren't thirsty when it comes on)
  • Potassium deficiency
  • Pre and Post Ride Stretching legs
  • Check that seat pan edge or support rails aren't pressing on your thighs a few inches below the buttocks, adjust seat or add rump padding

Recumbutt - Feels like you've been sitting on a stone throne for a week due to a lack of circulation.

  • Before riding get on your back and push one leg at a time in the air to stretch for a few minutes
  • Leaning the seat back a few degrees shifts some of the rider's weight from the buttocks to the back
  • Mesh Seats may need to be tighter in the pan region to allow the buttocks to flow better side-to-side (better circulation)
  • Add some seat pan padding that will crush about 1/4" when sitting on it on a hard surface, yet has another 1/4" left to compress
  • Move Hand Grips back about 1/2" at a time so you can push back a little harder with your arms with maybe 5 lbs force each arm
  • Softer Riding Tires

Lower Back/Lumbar Support - Sometimes the lack of lumbar support will also contribute to Recumbutt. People have different arch profiles in their Lumbar region. While a Mesh Seat is a little more forgiving then a hardshell with lumbar support its not as easy to correct any Lumbar discomfort. Shorter riders tend to have Lumbar problems with Mesh Seats as the Lumbar Support bulge is one or two vertebrae above where they need it.

  • One of the best Lumbar supporters for a Mesh Seat is a self-inflating Air Pillow
  • On a Hardshell Seat foam padding can be added
  • Shorter riders may need to add 1-2" of dense foam padding on the seat pan to elevate them in the seat

Upper Back and/or Shoulder Pain - This usually comes from either an improperly sized seat or shoulder blades riding on the support structure of a Mesh Seat.

  • Remove Seat Mesh and install round foam to pad rails - Pool Noodles work but wear out, dense pipe insulation works well too
  • Hardshell seat may need to be replaced with proper size for rider
  • Hand Grips may be too far apart for shorter riders, adjust them closer together if possible

Elbow Pain - Most common when the arms are too straight and worse for shorter riders; if the rider feels as though they are reaching, they probably are.

  • Move Hand Grips back and if possible up for shorter riders

Wrist Pain - Most often a result of Hand Grips angled back too far. Hold a pencil in with your fist and it should be angled forward about 3-5°. That's about angle you want the Hand Grip positioned as you sit in the trike with hands on the Grips. Grips, shifters and brake levers may be sized for larger hands then the rider has which can contribute to wrist pain.

  • Adjust Hand Grips
  • Raise Hand Grips for shorter riders to correct the elbow and wrist angles
  • Shorter fingers may need smaller diameter Grips
  • Shorter fingers may not be able to use Twisties without strain; try inverting the Twisties to the top of the Grips or switching to Bar Ends

Neck Pain - Usually from either seat that's too reclined or from a lack of neck support in a reclined seat.

  • Properly fitted Neck Rest
  • Move Seat Back up

Eye Strain - If you have transitional lenses you may be looking through a region of your glasses that were contoured for close up vision depending on your seat angle. Don't feel dumb, its happened to more then a few folks. Another cause is rough surfaces like chip seal.

  • Adjust Seat Angle up or use non-bifocal lenses
  • Balloon Tires

General Body Fatigue - This is common among riders with hardshell seats, rigid frames, and high pressure tires, particularly on chipseal roads.

  • Balloon Tires
  • Improved Seat Padding