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Tricycle Beginners Guide

When most people hear the word tricycle, they immediately think of a child's bike meant to teach them how to ride a bicycle. Today, it is just as common to see an adult on a three-wheeler as a child. 

Cycling, as a workout, helps to enhance cardiovascular health, add muscular mass, improve coordination, and stimulate weight loss. The stability and comfort of an adult tricycle allow an adult with strength, balance, or mobility difficulties to get the benefits of riding without the tipping risk associated with a traditional two-wheeled bike.

However, you don’t have to have mobility issues to enjoy a three-wheel bike. Some just prefer the stability a three-wheel bike offers and find them easier to ride. 

Whatever your reason for purchasing an adult tricycle, there is still a right and a wrong way to shop. What should you consider when buying your new adult trike?

What is an Adult Trike? 

The adult tricycle, sometimes known as an adult trike, is constructed similarly to a standard bike, with one significant difference -- it has two wheels in the rear and one in the front. Everything else is pretty much the same.

Adult trikes, like two-wheelers, feature brakes and gears. The extra wheel at the back simply allows the bike to self-balance. This is considerably different from two-wheel bikes, where you must maintain balance when riding and stopping.

Why Would Adults Ride a Tricycle?

There are many reasons someone might choose a three-wheel bike instead of the standard two-wheeler. The three-wheeled trike's stability and balance make it easier for adults with poor balance to stay upright. The rider does not need to balance the bike even when it is at a complete stop. 

Some find them easier to ride, too. For example, hills are simpler to climb on a trike because the rider does not have to maintain the same forward speed as a two-wheeled bike to stay upright.

Another distinction between a tricycle and a bicycle is that trike seats are intended to disperse the rider's weight in order to decrease pressure, making them more comfortable for older riders than regular bike seats.

What is the Same on a Tricycle as on a Traditional Bike?

They have more similarities than differences. They both use pedal power to move forward. They have similar frames in the front, although trikes tend to be lower to the ground. They use the same braking system, too. 

An easier question to answer is what is different about these two bicycle designs. Obviously, an adult trike comes with an extra wheel in the back. The seating position is upright, whereas a two-wheel bike might offer more seating and riding position options. 

Also, when you stop on a tricycle, you don’t have to jump off to balance the frame. The three wheels balance it for you. Tricycle tends to come with better storage options, too. Manufacturers love to fill that space between the two back tires with a nice-sized cargo basket. Many also come with a front basket for even more storage.

Are Their Downsides to Choosing a Trike over a Traditional Bike?

The more significant downside is speed. Two-wheel bikes are easier to handle and lighter, so they go faster. The frame on a standard bike can weigh from 17 lbs. To 25 lbs, depending on the style. Added accessories mean more weight, too. 

Tricycles will weigh in closer to 50 lbs. The added frame and tire accounts for much of the weight. 

What Are the Different Styles of Adult Tricycles?

Like bikes, adult trikes come in different styles. 


An upright trike is what most people think of when considering a three-wheeler. They resemble the trikes that people ride as children, but they are much larger.


The step-through frame allows a rider to quickly mount and disembark and sit upright while riding. These adult tricycles are commonly equipped with baskets for transporting items, making them ideal for commuting about town, but they are not intended for riding as a sport.


Because the seat is farther back, this design provides the stability of an upright tricycle while making pedaling and steering simpler. Most riders will find this design to be comfortable and user-friendly, and these adult trikes are less likely to cause back strain than upright ones and can be a practical choice for heavier or taller riders.


The recumbent trike rider sits low to the ground in a reclining position, with his or her body weight equally distributed across a greater surface. This type is ideal for persons who suffer from back discomfort.

Several handlebar types are available, but most recumbent trikes feature steering levers on either side of the seat rather than front-mounted handlebars. These trikes have a low center of gravity and are ideal for sports biking.


Electric tricycles add an electric motor to a normal tricycle's powertrain. The engine kicks in to offer an additional burst of thrust when needed. You may also ride the tricycle without pedaling at all, relying on the motor to do the work, much like an electric scooter.

Riding a tricycle with an electric engine feels quite natural. Unlike electric bicycles, which can have the motor connected to the front wheel, rear wheel, or drivetrain, most electric tricycles only have the engine connected to the drivetrain.

That difference means you won't be pulled or pushed forward by the motor, but instead that you'll move faster than you would with simply leg force.


Folding trikes resemble a regular tricycle, but they may be maneuvered to be smaller and more compact when not in use.

Such a design enables simple transporting while going on a road trip or taking a ride in a local park. Not to mention that it will be out of the way when you store it at home.


The chopper adult tricycle sits low to the ground with the front tire extended further forward. The chopper tricycle's pedals are located ahead of the seat post, allowing the user to rest both feet flat on the ground while seated.

Things to Consider When Buying an Adult Tricycle

Just like purchasing a more conventional bike, there are plenty of things you need to consider when buying a trike.

Storage Space

You can expect an adult tricycle to take up more space than a two-wheel bike which you can lean pretty much anywhere. Consider where you'll store the bike while you're not riding it and if you'll have easy access to that space.

Keep in mind the trike will be heavier than a two-wheel bike. Ideally, you will have access to storage space that you can ride into, such as a shed or garage. It may be tricky to try to take a tricycle up or downstairs. 


The terrain is an important consideration when you buy any bike. Typically, an adult trike will do well on paved surfaces. Because upright bikes are top-heavy, they struggle in tight corners, but trike models have a lower center of gravity and quickly turn. 

Every design has all-terrain variants with heavy-duty frames and fat tires for traveling off-road. Trikes are already heavy, though, so the added benefits mean even more weight. 

Wheel Size

Another common concern with any bike purchase. As with other bikes, the size of an adult tricycle is typically determined by the size of the wheels. 

The diameters of the wheels range from 16 inches in smaller folding variants to 20, 24, and 26 inches in standard and bariatric models made for larger people. Tricycles with 24-inch wheels are excellent for riders 4 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 5 inches tall, while tricycles with 26-inch wheels are best for riders 5 feet 4 inches to 6 feet 2 inches tall. 

Larger wheels roll over uneven ground more quickly than smaller wheels, giving a more cushioned ride.


A comfortable ride is greatly influenced by the seat. Look for one that is sturdy and supportive, but not overly so. A trike frame is broader than a standard bike frame and may accommodate a larger seat.

Adult tricycle seats are often well-padded since they are designed for rider comfort. Design options for upright bikes include broader and more comfortable versions of the saddle seats typically found on a standard bike.

Tractor seats on semi-recumbent bikes are generally more like cushioned chairs than standard bike seats. Recumbent bikes usually have bucket seats that cradle the rider and keep the spine in a neutral posture.

Support for Your Back

Lower back pain is one of the main reasons people go on disability. It also is why some look into buying a three-wheel bike. Backrests can be included with saddle seats or added as an option to provide better lumbar support. 

Higher-backed seats on semi-recumbent bikes and full-height seats on recumbent cycles make trike riding more comfortable and lessen the risk of back pain while riding.

Frame Design

The step-through frame is a benefit of adult tricycles. It means you don’t have to lift your leg over the frame when climbing on the bike. You simply step through and then climb onto the seat. 


Most upright trikes have traditional curved handlebars, which are appropriate for riders with a typical range of motion and adequate upper body strength. Because a cyclist may steer using any area of the rectangle-shaped loop, loop handlebars offer additional grip possibilities. They are ideal for users with shaky arms or weak hands and may be found on all tricycle designs. 

Chopper handlebars are comparable to standard handlebars in that they need upper body strength and adequate control of the shoulders, arms, and hands. They are available in both upright and recumbent variants. Some recumbent trikes feature handlebars near the seat, while others have hand pedals instead of handlebars.

Baskets and Other Accessories

Part of the fun comes in customizing your new ride. Typically, adult trikes come with at least one basket, either in the front or rear. Some will have one in each location. If you want, you can add additional storage to your new trike. 

Accessories worth considering include:

  • Canopies to keep the sun out
  • Safety flags - especially if on a recumbent trike that is low to the ground
  • Horns
  • Light
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Cell phone holders

And, don’t forget your helmet, of course. Trikes may be a little safer to ride than a two-wheel bike, but there are still hazards. A helmet will protect your head if you tip the tricycle over or hit something. 

Who Are Adult Tricycles for?

Anyone can have fun riding an adult trike. They tend to be used most by seniors, though. Due to balance issues, many older people find it difficult to ride a normal bike. Bicycles with three wheels are an excellent alternative; add an electric motor, and they become even more practical.

The balance offered by an adult trike's three wheels significantly minimizes the chance of tipping and falling that can occur when riding a standard two-wheeled bike. The sitting options are far more comfortable, and trikes can alleviate, rather than aggravate, the lower back discomfort that frequently accompanies bike riding.

Adult tricycles provide low-impact workouts that are gentler on the bones and joints, allowing riders to reap the advantages of aerobic workouts without the fear of falling or causing bone and joint strain. Adult trikes will enable you to improve your strength, flexibility, mobility, posture, and coordination.

Ready to Shop? Check out the adult tricycles at sixthreezero today!


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