Why 3 Wheels on a Bike?
The three-wheel bike was really a genius idea. Many people are unaware that the first trike operated very much like a recumbent trike today using gears and hand cranks. Invented in 1680, it wasn’t until over a century later that the version most of us are more familiar with was invented. The trike is mostly associated with small children, who whiz around without the worry of falling over. They were like the introduction to cycling, allowing kids to progress to training wheels on a bicycle and then finally make their way up to the two-wheeler.
Unfortunately, this adds a certain stigma to three-wheel bicycles that make some adults feel a little embarrassed on a three-wheeler. The truth of the matter is, the recumbent trike offers stability, comfort and best of all, freedom. People of all ages and ability levels are discovering the adult three-wheeler as the perfect solution to get out, enjoy exercise and find a convenient mode of transportation. Here we explain why three wheels on a bike make sense.
What is a Three Wheel Recumbent Bike?
Recumbent trikes are 3-wheel bikes that lays low to the ground, with a seat that allows the rider to cycle in a laid-back position. The semi-reclined position, combined with the low to the ground design makes the three-wheeled trike more stable, while also helping support the spine. It takes pressure off the hands, arms, neck and shoulders as the rider doesn’t have to cling to the handlebars when riding.
The recumbent bike is designed for comfort. They are low to the ground for stability, reducing tension and stress on your body. You’re riding in a lounging position, with the weight of your body evenly distributed. Unlike a traditional two-wheeler where your position adds tension to your shoulders, neck, hands and back, your reclined position takes the strain off your body. As a result, you can enjoy cycling as your body ages or you become prone to joint, back and chronic pain.
You can maintain a better state of mind when riding with confidence on a three-wheel trike. Exercise releases endorphins, a chemical produced by our bodies that interact with brain receptors to help reduce pain. The same chemicals also produce positive feelings, so as you ride you feel energized and euphoric. “If I don’t get to ride every couple of days, I’m sad. I need that endorphin fix,” says David Lawson, 63. He first tried a three-wheeled trike when his chiropractor said riding his bicycle to work everyday was hurting his back.
The Trike of the 50-Plus Crowd
According to leading trike sellers TerraTrike and Catrike, at least 75 percent of their customers are over 50. This is because people over 50 experience more conditions that can keep them from enjoying a more active lifestyle. The third wheel allows them to ride comfortably. “The reason why trikes are the fastest-growing segment of recumbents is ease of use,” says Jeff Yonker, marketing manager for TerraTrike. “Two-wheeled recumbents have a sharp learning curve for pedaling, balance, and starting and stopping.”
You enjoy the same benefits you would with a traditional upright bike because you are still using the same movement and activity to propel the trike forward. As a result, your heart is pumping, and you can improve your heart rate. Many riders who have loved bike riding throughout their lives can continue to enjoy cycling without the worry of neck and backaches, while still reaping the benefits of a solid cardio workout.
Older riders can ride their three-wheeled recumbent trike without worrying about balance. Stability and ease of the three wheels keep you more comfortable while exercising. Most people eventually face the hard reality that their bodies just can’t keep up with the demands of biking. However, the recumbent trike is the ideal solution offering the best of both worlds. You get out and about with friends to enjoy exercising, but with the added confidence and stability of the third wheel.
Less Pressure on the Joints
If you suffer from joint pain and issues such as knee osteoarthritis, cycling might seem like something you should avoid. However, low-intensity cycling is possible thanks to the third wheel. You enjoy mobility to continue to gain from the lotion of motion, decreasing chronic joint pain.
The recumbent position also avoids the hand, wrist and shoulder pain associated with upright bike handlebars. You operate the brake from a reclined position, maintaining full control of the bike, reducing risks of toppling over, while also providing easier grip for arthritic hands. This is because pressure associated with traditional handlebars is evenly distributed across the palms, relieving strain.
Hips can also be impacted by traditional cycling. The wide seat and laid-back position reduce strain and pressure on the legs and hips by providing even balance and stability. As a result, you can ride longer distances in comfort without the worry of muscle stress.
Cycling with Disabilities
Disabilities can also keep you from enjoying exercises such as cycling. For example, Parkinson’s Disease, a debilitating disease that impacts balance, makes riding a traditional upright bike difficult. According to Larry Smith, the discovery of the adult trike was a real life saver. Since purchasing his recumbent trike, he enjoys vigorous exercise allowing him to keep his Parkinson’s symptoms at bay.
He used his trike to ride 65 miles to raise awareness for Parkinson’s. “When I’m riding, I don’t have Parkinson’s because the balance issue is gone. It’s just me and my muscles,” he says.
Two Wheels Don’t Cut It
When it comes right down to it, the three wheels on a bike are the perfect solution when two wheels just don’t cut it. All the reasons outlined above circle around similar issues -- a changing level of physical ability and balance. As you age, sitting upright or leaning forward for even short periods of time leads to stiffness and pain. Whether you suffer from health conditions, or just the aging process itself balance can become more difficult.
Back and joint pain can keep you from leading an active life which in turn causes your body to become less mobile. It creates a vicious circle of pain, stiffness and immobility forcing you to live a stationary lifestyle. When biking or even walking becomes too troublesome, the three-wheel bike reduces pressure and allows you to enjoy a fun, safe activity that takes away the discomfort of a traditional upright bike.