I made the trek down to Madison (275 miles each way) on Saturday to pick up my trike. This brings a journey to an end. For my 30th birthday (last June), my parents gave me a large sum of money to buy a new bike. I put it in savings, contemplating my options.
I thought about getting an upgraded upright road bike, ‘cept it appeared that with my weight most of the “upgraded” bikes weren’t suitable. Next, I entertained going to a 2-wheel recumbent. No matter what equipment I used, riding my upright was a big pain in the butt, both literally and figuratively. 300 pounds pressing down onto a tiny little seat…you don’t need an engineering degree to figure out how poorly that works out. Recumbents provide a full, comfortable seat, complete with back support and a big padded seat. The 2-wheel models vary in size and shape, but they all provide a much more aerodynamic riding position with a much more comfortable seat. More than likely, I’ll still end up getting a 2-wheel recumbent here in the near future, but I took a test ride on a trike a few weeks ago and immediately fell in love. The only way I can describe the ride…it doesn’t feel like a bike at all. Instead, the ride is much more similar to a go-kart, albeit human-powered. You corner like you’re on rails, no leaning over, simply steer and you turn. Add to a go-kart independent braking for each side as well, adding another method of controlling a turn.
My choice was a 2006 Sun EZ Tadpole SX. It is a relatively inexpensive model, yet the body is well-engineered to support the heaviest of riders. I was going to buy new, but during my research of the model I came across an online ad for one being sold by a guy down in Chicago. The previous owner performed a number of upgrades I would have done anyway, due to my size, such as new high pressure tires and reinforced/heavy-duty wheels. He also upgraded the rear derailleur, which is something most people seem to think is one of the most important upgrades on this bike. Finally, he installed fenders all around, a rack, headrest, safety flag and quick-releases on the seatback adjusters. About 800 miles on it, 100 miles on the new tires. All this for less than buying it new. Not too shabby for a one-year old.
I took a quick spin around the block on Sunday, just around the neighborhood so I could say I rode it once. The one thing I knew I needed were new pedals. After clipping in on my upright for almost two years, I’ve really gotten used to having my feet locked in for maximum pedaling efficiency. Also, I’ve heard horror stories of feet slipping off of the pedals and getting caught underneath a trike, causing much pain and suffering.
Pedals are a very personal thing. The original owner had put some “regular” pedals on the bike, since you can never tell what clip system another rider uses on their bike. On Sunday, I picked up a set of Crank Brothers Candy C Pedals from REI. Using the same cleat that my Eggbeater sl pedals use on my upright bike, it also gives me a platform so that I can pedal with sneakers or other “normal” shoes when necessary. I can’t say enough good things about the Crank Brother’s pedals…nearly maintenance-free, always clip and unclip when I want them to during a ride.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I’ll ride my new tadpole to work, with the new pedals. That will be the real test. I’m trying to figure out just how much more work a trike recumbent is over an upright or a 26-inch 2-wheel recumbent. Everyone says the 20-inch wheels translate into a bunch more work, but does the comfort make up for it over the upright, and the stability make up for it over the 2-wheel recumbent ? Can I use the tadpole on the Ironman Bike Ride coming up at the end of April? I was planning on also purchasing a 2-wheel recumbent, but if I can push this at the same speeds I’m used to on my upright I don’t see why I need to rush into another purchase.