Does Recumbent Seat Height Matter?
Recumbent trikes offer a whole new world of comfort, safety and accessibility for cyclists looking for the best ride possible. When purchasing your recumbent trike, you want a design that is comfortable yet accommodates the type of experience you desire. Therefore, your level of comfort depends on where you ride, how you ride and your fitness/mobility level.
A major consideration for your comfort is your seat height, as it impacts how easy it is to get in and out of your trike as well as how easy it is to handle. So, seat height does matter when it comes to choosing the right recumbent trike. Here we explain why recumbent seat height matters and how to choose the right height for your needs.
The Three Most Important Factors of Your Ride
Where you ride your trike helps determine the trike features you need. We always ask a lot of questions about your ideal trail to get a feel for your needs, including:
- How difficult are the trails? Trails that are hilly, have lots of tight turns or are longer all present more challenges than a leisurely ride to the local coffee shop or your average, flat short trail at your favorite park.
- What are typical terrains and conditions? Trails with lots of bumps, gravel, mud, and potholes are more difficult to navigate than a well-maintained road or paved trail. If you only ride in pleasant weather, your conditions aren’t as tricky as riding in rain where slick surfaces present an issue.
- What are the surroundings and environment? Riding on roads with traffic or trails with a lot of wildlife present more dangers than a public park with visible pedestrians. Although both do require things that keep you visible and noticeable, being able to swerve more easily is more important in traffic or areas with a risk of animals jumping in front of you.
While the features you need might include everything from a horn to reflective tape on accessories and from flags to fenders, the type of trails you ride on also impacts the best seat height. If you’re all about speed and adventure, then a lower seat is required, while leisurely community or rehabilitative rides call for a higher seat.
Delta vs Tadpole Recumbent Trikes
Seat heights are also based on whether the trike is a “tadpole” or “delta” style recumbent trike. Here are the differences between the two:
Tadpole Recumbent Trike
The tadpole is all about speed and stability, and therefore these trikes are lower to the ground. The low seat height provides a lower center of gravity, making it safer to go fast. The front wheels also contribute to stability, especially when taking turns at high speeds. Because they are lower to the ground, the tadpole trike isn’t the right choice if it’s difficult for you to get down low.
The delta trike is more about accessibility of getting in and out of your ride than performance. Although they are just as safe as the tadpole, they do increase the risk of tipping if you take turns at higher speeds. If you want a trike that’s easier to get in and out of and are more about the journey and enjoying the trails than getting there faster, this is the type of trike for you. These trikes have medium to high seats. A bonus of the delta trike is that it allows you to link two trikes together to create a tandem trike. You can carry the pedaling power for a friend with lesser ability than you.
Low, Medium or High Recumbent Trike Seats
That brings us to the pros and cons between low, medium and high recumbent trike seats:
It’s not surprising that the lower the seat, the harder it is to get in and out of the trike. If you have mobility issues or back or knee pain, the low seat can make it very difficult to enjoy your recumbent trike. Make sure you find it easy to get into and out of the seat, keeping in mind that although you might feel okay today, your ability to get in and out of your trike in the future is likely to change.
If you plan to enjoy simpler trails for years to come, you might want to avoid the lower seat. For those that have the need for speed and are quite fit, the lower seat provides a better center of gravity. Examples of low-seat recumbent trikes include Catrike 700, ICE Sprint, and TerraTrike Spyder. These trikes are designed for speed and efficiency. You are low to the ground to generate more power and don’t have to worry too much about tipping, even when taking a tight corner.
There’s always something to be said for that good old sweet spot that sits between high and low. The medium-height seat is good for most people, especially if you tend to enjoy touring. Good choices for medium-height seat trikes are the Catrike 5.5.9 and the TerraTrike GTS. These trikes take you farther, allowing you to travel for miles and miles in comfort. You can also feel safe at higher speeds if the spirit moves you.
For obvious reasons, the high seat is easier to get in and out of, making it the best choice if you have back or knee issues or just find it harder to get down low. That said, the higher the seat, the more difficult it becomes to take on corners at higher speeds. So, if you love to pedal faster and get that rush from pushing yourself to the limit, the high seat isn’t the best choice for you.
Good high seat recumbent trikes include the TerraTrike Rambler, Catrike Villager, Greenspeed Magnum, ICE Adventure. With these trikes, your high seat still offers a stable platform so you can feel both comfortable and confident when taking to local roads, as well as your favorite trails.
So, there you have it. The height of your recumbent seat does matter for many reasons. Our team can help you find the sweet spot for your trike for a safer, more enjoyable ride.