Types of Recumbent Trikes - Delta and Tadpole
Recumbent trikes are the perfect solution to keep you active and provide hours of fun out on the open bike trail. If you have issues with balance, joint pain, or just want a more luxurious way to get out and cycle, the adult trike is the perfect solution. However, there are so many choices out there, it can be overwhelming trying to find a recumbent trike right for you. Here we look at the tadpole vs. delta style recumbent trike to help you find the best one for your needs.
What is a Recumbent Trike?
A recumbent trike is a three-wheeled bicycle ridden in a laid-back position. Instead of sitting upright with your feet on the pedals below, you are lying back comfortably with the peddles in front of you. The adult tricycle is becoming more popular, especially for people in the over 40 age group. They are very comfortable and reduce the stress and strain put on muscles and joints when riding a traditional bicycle.
They offer far more support to the back and shoulders, and even the wrists remain more comfortable. You don’t have to cling to the handlebars to steer. Instead, the gears and brakes are at the side, making them quite easy to maneuver. They also have a full “chair” for the seat as opposed to the saddle of a traditional bike. This makes long-distance travel much more comfortable. Recumbent adult trikes come in two main designs:
- Tadpole Trikes: Tadpole trikes have two wheels in the front and one in the back.
- Delta Trikes: Delta trikes have one wheel in front and two in the back.
Both have pros and cons depending on where you plan to trike and your mobility level.
Pros and Cons of the Tadpole Trike
When considering the tadpole recumbent trike, they tend to be the trike favored by riders who like speed and stability. Because they have a lower center of gravity with the rider sitting in the trike as opposed to higher up and on the trike, they feel more stable when going fast, especially when taking corners. The wheels at the front make them manage the forces felt on turns more easily.
On the con side, what some people don’t like about the tadpole is how low they are to the ground. If you have trouble getting down low, then you may not be as comfortable getting in and out of the tadpole. However, there are many tadpole trike options that have higher seats such as the TerraTrike Rambler, Catrike Villager, Greenspeed Magnum, or ICE Adventure.
Pros and Cons of the Delta Trikes
The delta trike is good for people less concerned with speed and more interested in a trike they may be able to get in and out of more easily. They also have a tighter turning radius in some cases, but have more risk of tipping. Although they are still low to the ground, when it comes to getting in and out of them, you may have an easier time than you would with the tadpole. You will need to throw your leg over a large center frame which may cause tripping.
An interesting feature of many delta trikes is that they can be linked to each other. This creates a tandem trike, perfect for traveling with people of lesser ability than you. On the con side, they aren’t as great for speed.
Delta trikes are kind of like higher, top-heavy SUVs that are more likely to take a roll when you make a sharp turn at high speeds. You potentially gain comfort and height with the downside of mobility.
How to Choose the Right Recumbent Trike
Some key considerations when choosing a recumbent trike include:
Where Will You Ride?
As mentioned above, the tadpole is great for taking tight turns. If you find you will travel trails with more tight turns, then the tadpole trike is probably best for you. If you travel on more challenging trails but without the tight turns, you’ll still appreciate the stability of the tadpole. Also, if you travel on busy roadways, you want to be able to maintain a reasonable speed which means the tadpole is best. Don’t forget about suspension, as it keeps you comfortable when you hit uneven ground. If you’ll travel paved, smooth surfaces, suspension isn’t as important as it is for technical trails with lots of bumps and obstacles.
How is Your Mobility?
Even if you are pretty mobile right now, where will your health take you in the next five years? If you already suffer from balance or chronic pain issues, you might want to consider the delta because it’s more accessible than the tadpole. It’s not just about how you feel today, but how you might feel when you retire. So, consider your mobility, the types of trails you’re likely to travel, and how a delta might become more troublesome in a few years.
How Does the Trike Feel?
Make sure you test ride several models to choose the trike that feels right for you. Do you feel too high or low to the ground? Do you find you aren’t able to keep up with local traffic? Does turning feel impossible? If possible, test drive your trike in an area you are likely to travel so you have a good feel for the trike in the right conditions. And, of course, make sure you can get in and out of it easily. Otherwise, you’re likely going to be less enthused about using it if it feels more like work than fun.
Will You Have to Transport Your Trike?
If you only ride local trails, transportation isn’t an issue. However, if you plan to explore trails outside your area, you’ll need to load your trike into your vehicle. Make sure it is easy to lift and load and fits in your trunk. Delta trikes are much more difficult to transport since they have a longer wheelbase.
My Preference Revealed
I prefer tadpole trikes because they are light, compact, and sporty. The recumbent trike industry has made active strides over the last decade to replace delta trikes with tadpoles. Since the dominant manufacturers of today produce mainly, if not only, tadpole trikes, the technology and design heavily outweighs that of delta trikes. Laid Back Cycles doesn't even carry delta trikes in stock because we've found that a tadpole trike can meet any of our customers needs just as well if not better.
Remember, delta vs tadpole isn’t the only question to worry about when choosing the right recumbent trike for you. The team at Laid Back Cycle can help you find the ideal trike for happy trails for years to come.