11 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR TRIKE FASTER – Recumbent Trike Speed Tips From Utah Trikes

11 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR TRIKE FASTER – Recumbent Trike Speed Tips From Utah Trikes


Hey guys, I’m Kait, welcome to the shop. We’ve been selling and building custom trikes
for a long time, and one thing that our customers are constantly asking us is, “how do I make
my trike faster?” Well, in this video we are going to share
our most popular tips. If we miss something that you’ve found please
leave a comment on this video so it can help other riders. That being said, let’s get on with it. Making sure that your alignment is done correctly
is the first thing to check if you’re looking to increase your speed. Not only will proper alignment allow your
trike to handle its best, it will also minimize tire scrub. Tire scrub is exactly what it sounds like,
rubber from the tire actually scrubbing on the road. This increased friction slows you down and
will cause your tires to wear prematurely. When adjusting the alignment on your trike
you’ll want to make sure one wheel is parallel to the main frame of the trike and either
locked down by clamping the headset tight, or held in place by an assistant. Then when adjusting the tierod or tierods
between the kingpins you should line up the wheels so that they are within parallel to
2mm closer in front. This is called Toe-in and is used to reduce
any slop that might be present in the rod ends or other moving part
Before you adjust or check your alignment, we recommend that you make sure the steering
spindles don’t have any slop in them, as well as checking the tierod ends making sure they’re
tight. If you have a trike with suspension, it’s
always good to set the alignment with the rider weight loaded as the alignment may change
slightly as the suspension moves up and down. TIP #2 Tuneup
While checking the alignment should be part of your regular tuneup procedure, we feel
it’s important enough to be included in its own right. For tip number two we lump all the other things
in that should be regular maintenance. We already mentioned your steering components,
but you should check the headsets by sitting in your trike, clamping the brakes tight and
pushing the trike forward and back. If you see any movement in the headset you
should loosen the handlebar and tighten the top clamp until it goes away. If it doesn’t go away that may be an indication
that it is time to replace your headset. Not only will your trike handle better, but
again, you’ll have less tire scrub. Check your brakes to make sure they’re not
rubbing. Tip your trike to the side and spin the wheel. The wheel should spin freely and you should
not hear any rubbing. If you do, adjust the brake calipers as needed. Along with the front wheels, you should check
everything on your trike that spins. Start up front with the pedals making sure
they spin freely with no resistance, then move to the front crank. Not only should you test how it feels, but
use your ears to listen for any noises that could be signs of potential drag. Move back to the idler, the rear derailleur,
and then the rear wheel. If you find anything amiss along the way,
make sure to take the time to resolve those issues. Keeping the derailleurs adjusted and the chain
clean will make shifting and pedaling easier. We recommend using a dry teflon based lubricant. Using a wet oil-based lube or something like
wd-40 is NOT recommended as a sticky wet chain will cause dirt to stick and will add friction. TIP #3 Tires>
Assuming that you’ve got your trike aligned properly, tires can have the biggest impact
on how fast your trike will roll. Every tire is a compromise though and you
will need to decide which characteristics are most important to you. Generally, a lightweight tire made with a
racing rubber compound and run at high pressure will be the fastest choice. That’s why we see 140 psi tires like the Durano
and Ultremo on Racing trikes like the ICE VTX and Catrike 700. These tires will definitely make your trike
roll faster, but they also ride rougher and don’t wear as long as touring tires like the
Marathon Plus. The industry standard tire is the Schwalbe
Marathon Racer and tends to be the overall best compromise of speed, comfort, wear, and
puncture resistance. If speed is your main concern though, we are
going to recommend trading those Racers for a faster tire like the Durano which can gain
you 2mph. TIP #4 Tighten that seat mesh
If you want a trike that climbs hills fast and can sprint off the line, you’ll want
a recumbent with a hardshell seat. A hardshell seat lets you get more power to
the rear wheel, however we’ve noticed most riders tend to choose a mesh seat for comfort. If you’ve opted for comfort on your trike
and have the mesh seat, you can get some more speed out of it by tightening those straps
on the back. TIP #5 Proper sizing>
Making sure that your trike fits you correctly will not only help you be more comfortable,
but will also allow you to have better pedaling technique so you can pedal with more power
and speed. Since most trikes are easy to adjust we recommend
taking the time to make subtle tweaks to improve your comfort. If you notice aches and pains while riding
it’s a good idea to use that moment to make subtle adjustments. We recommend starting with the seat and finding
an angle that gives you the most back support without causing stress to your neck. Once you have the seat adjusted, move to the
handlebars and adjust them so your hands fall naturally on them without any stress on your
arms. Once your seat is positioned correctly you’ll
want to make sure that your boom length is set correctly. As a good starting position, we recommend
positioning your heel flat against the pedal with your leg fully extended. That way when you position your foot correctly
with the ball of your foot on the pedal you’ll have some bend in your knee. Everyone is different though, so if you feel
like you are overextending yourself, move the boom in some. It’s best to move the boom in small increments
and test out your adjustments until you get it setup the way you like it. As we’ve shown in other videos, you’ll
want to keep an eye on that rear derailleur as you adjust the boom length to make sure
it has adequate travel for all the gear combinations. TIP #6 Attach your feet and learn to spin. If your feet aren’t attached to the pedals
then chances are you are only putting half the power you could into the cranks. We recommend using a clipless pedal combined
with cycling shoes and cleats to attach your feet securely to the pedals. Alternatively, using a pedal like the Power
Grips which has a strap to secure your shoe will work for many riders. With your feet securely attached to the pedals
you can train yourself to spin the cranks instead of mashing them. This technique will allow you to put power
into the entire motion of the crank’s rotation. It will also allow you to speed up your cadence
and build your endurance. If you want to know more about proper pedaling
technique, we’ll leave a link to an article on pedaling down in the description. TIP #7 Reduce Drag on chainline
Now that you’ve got your trike rolling faster let’s start looking at things that improve
rider efficiency. Most trikes use a combination of tubing and
idlers to guide the chain from the front chainring to the rear sprocket and back. Even though most manufacturers are using low-friction
materials to minimize drag, those chain tubes are rubbing on the chain and taking some of
your pedaling power. Flaring the ends of the tubing, reducing the
length, or even eliminating the chain tubes completely will give you a more efficient
chainline. TIP #8 Gearing
Will adding more gearing to your trike make you go faster? No, but if you tend to ride in your highest
gears a lot or find yourself running out of gears, then adding more gearing will definitely
help you go faster. If you’re only looking for a slight increase
to your existing gearing, choosing a larger chainring is likely the easiest way to go. A Chainring like this 56-tooth one from Origin8
can swap out the larger chainring on many cranksets. To go higher than that though we recommend
the Schlumpf High Speed Drive or one of the Pinion gearboxes to take you to the next level. Of course, there are also rear gearing solutions
that can give you increased gearing. TIP#9 Aerodynamics
Once you get to the point where you are consistently riding in the 20mph range, you’ll find that
your biggest obstacle is the air. Even though most recumbent trikes sit low
and have an aerodynamic advantage, you’ll still feel that air pushing against you at
high speeds. If you’re a fast rider and looking for another
advantage, adding a fairing to the front of your trike can give you a pretty good bump. In our testing, a rider that averages 18mph
and faster that adds a fairing to their trike will see a 10-20% speed increase for the same
pedaling effort. A fully faired velomobile trike has gone over
70mph over flat ground at the Battle Mountain races. Adding a fairing to the front of your trike
gives you many of those same advantages without adding all the weight of a fully enclosed
shell. Even the 75lb Rotovelo can maintain a human-powered
40mph on the flats with adequate gearing. TIP#10 Weight Reduction
Unless you live in a magical land that only goes downhill, you are going to have to climb. And, even if you have lots of gears you still
have to spend that energy to get you and your ride up the hill. That’s where weight matters. Now, there are a lot of ways you can make
your trike lighter but chances are that it is easier and less expensive for you to lose
weight than for your trike, so we recommend starting there. And the best way to stay in shape and lose
weight is to keep riding your trike. If you are determined to make your trike weigh
less, the best way to start is again, with the tires. You can shave almost 3lbs off by going with
lightweight Racing tires over your stock treads. A hollow pin chain can save you nearly a pound. Depending on the trike, swapping to a carbon
fiber boom and carbon fiber wheels could save you another two to five pounds. After the big stuff, there are other options
to save ounces and grams at a time, but you will pay for it as the lighter weight components
are typically made of exotic materials that are cutting edge and expensive, and while
all of those things might make it easier to climb hills, it may not make you faster overall,
which is why we recommend this as our final tip. Oh, wait, we have one more tip for you to
make your trike go faster. Ok, this tip is kind of cheating, but if you
want to be able to average 20mph or even faster there’s no easier way to do it than by adding
a motor to your trike. This is probably the only way to get those
speeds if you’ve got a heavier trike and like having thorn-proof tires. Fortunately, with today’s motor options you
can choose how much the motor helps you, so you choose how much of a workout you want. Depending on where you are located and what
type of riding you want to do, there may be more or less options available to you. Direct-from-the-manufacturer options typically
do not have a throttle and may be lower power to fit within the widest legal limits. Systems like the Shimano Steps and Bosch Active
Line have excellent torque sensors that add assist naturally as you pedal. Other motor systems such as our Bafang boom-mounted
motor kits and our 1000W Hub motor have multiple levels of pedal assist that are cadence based,
as well as throttles that you can use at any time even without pedaling. Hope you guys liked these tips. Again, If you have any tips we missed be sure
to leave them in the comments so others can find them. As always, Like, Subscribe, and share with your friends.