FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Cross Chaining and how does it affect my riding?
How durable are the chain idler wheels?
How is the stability at high speeds?
What are the load limits the trikes?
How can I transport a TerraTrike?
Is balance an issue with a TerraTrike?
Will I ride faster on the Trike?
How does the braking feel?
Is a rear brake needed?
What are 'center point steering' and 'Ackerman adjustment' and why are they important?
What is the difference between linkage steer and direct steer trikes?
How much frame flex?
Are frame sets or kits available?
Can you explain gear inches?
Why do some TerraTrikes have fewer gears than some other trikes?
Is the lowness of a Trike a problem?
What is the ordering procedure and return policy?
How do I measure my size (x-seam measurement)?
How is the shipping done?
How much assembly is required?
How are the Trikes Treated on the Road?
What about accessories for touring, hauling gear, night riding, etc.?
Is a fairing available?
Do you have any special pricing, programs or promotions that can help a disabled person or veteran obtain one of these awesome bikes?
Will my insurance pay for my trike?
Will TerraTrike sponsor me?
Will TerraTrike help me manufacture the world’s next greatest product?
How do I find my serial number??

What is Cross Chaining and how does it affect my riding?

In order to achieve the wide gear range that our customers like, we have set our externally geared trikes up with drivetrains that have a wonderfully useful band of gearing. The one element that results from this set up is the fact that the trike ( any bike actually ) does not like to be used in the large front chainring/large rear cog combination - this is called "cross chaining". We are now adding one chain link to each trike to solve this issue but keep in mind that this is bad technique and can lead to problems because there is barely enough chain to accommodate the two large circumferences of those rings. That gear that you're trying to reach is a redundant gear and can be achieved in the middle chainring.

Similar to this scenario is the small chainring/small cog combination. Trying to run the chain around these two small circumferences creates slack in the chain that overloads the rear derailleur and has the potential to do harm to your drivetrain. This is also bad technique and should be avoided. That gear can be achieved in the middle chainring as well.

While getting accustomed to your TerraTrike, we encourage you to use the middle chainring from which you can access all the cogs on the rear cassette. When you need to go faster, use that big ring up front with the smaller cogs in the rear. If hills loom on the horizon, drop down into the smallest chainring and use the larger cogs in the rear. You should spend most of your time in the middle chainring.

Cross chaining is not exclusive to the just the TerraTrike. It should be avoided on any bike or trike. Never cross chain your gears!

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How durable are the chain idler wheels?

The chain idler wheels spin on sealed bearings and are attached to the frame with an idler axle bolt. Their job is to guide the long chain through its journey from the front chainrings to the rear cogs with as little resistance and noise as possible. The chain idler wheels are a wear item like a tire. The front idlers average about 2500 - 3000 miles, some have lasted over 6000 miles (of course this is dependent on many factors). Rear idlers should last much longer than fronts. If you are not getting this type of performance from your idlers here are some tips:

  1. Double check the alignment of your front boom tube making sure it is perpendicular to the ground and aligned with the balance of the drivetrain. A slightly skewed boom can lead to a twisted chain that can cut into the idler.
  2. Keep your chain clean and free of abrasive contaminants. Regular maintenance on your chain will keep your machine running better and your idler wheels lasting much longer.
  3. Periodically check the idlers to make sure they are spinning freely and not binding on anything.
  4. Remember to downshift when approaching stop signs and intersections, making accelleration easier when you start up again. Likewise, remember to downshift when approaching a uphill climb so you don't get caught in a big gear. Nothing wears down idler wheel faster than mashing your trike in big gears on an uphill climb or upon starting from a dead stop. Big strong riders who can handle these large gears are more likely to ruin idler wheels until they learn the disciplined technique of downshifting.
  5. You can also swap the right and left split front idlers periodically, which effectively doubles the idler life because the drive side is taking much more stress than the return chain side.
  6. For stronger riders and long distance touring, we are now offering the TerraCycle high performance idler wheels. These are compatible with the Rambler, Tour II, Sportster, and the Tandem.
  7. If you follow these directions, your idlers will last a very long time. If you do need replacements, we keep them in stock and you can order them directly from us.

We are now carrying a stronger idler wheel made of delrin instead of urethane. The delrin idlers are much harder and will last a very long time yet they are surprisingly quiet. We have designed these for the drive side of the front idler wheel pair and we are using them on every trike now. We are also selling them as replacement idlers. (Note: The drive side is the idler that is closest to the frame. The return side idler does not take nearly as much abuse.)

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How is the stability at high speeds?

High speed handling can be dependent on many variables; tire pressure, road surface, seat position, size of the rider, riding style, alignment of the front wheels etc. If you want to make sure you are getting the best possible performance from your TerraTrike check these elements to make sure they are correct:

  1. Make sure you are running proper and consistant tire pressure. On higher pressure tires like the Kenda Kwest, Schwalbe Marathon, and IRC Metro you can drop to 80% of recommended pressure.
  2. Front end alignment - measure the distance between the front of the two front wheels and then measure the distance between the back of the two front wheels. Start at neutral and add up to 1 mm of toe-in per tire to improve stability. Important: have a friend measure while your weight is positioned on the trike. Too much toe-in or toe-out will result in tire scrub while turning.
  3. The TerraTrike will handle best the closer you are to the front wheels - if your x-seam gives you the option to go to the longer sized boom do so. If you have a Race, Sport, or Access, slide the boom out and the seat forward to get the best handling results.
  4. Make sure the nut at the base of the steering brace is not over tightened - tighten it until the large washer can't move but do not tighten any further.
  5. On the TerraTrike Tour make sure the top king pin bolt is not over-tightened - tighten the bottom firmly, tighten the top and back off a few degrees until the wheel pivots freely.
  6. Don't oversteer. New riders have a tendancy to induce steering instability by gripping to tightly on descents. Relax your hands and let the trike's built-in caster keep you tracking a straight line. This is especially true for the direct-steer systems.
  7. Learn to keep your upper body quiet. This is how you can tell a newbie from a triking veteran. It takes some practice especially on the downhills, but over time you will learn to keep your upper body from moving side-to-side and this will help your high speed stability as well as your flatlander efficiency.
  8. If you are taking any turns at high speed remember to lean your body INTO the turn. The trike doesn't lean with you as a two wheeler would so you have to add some body english to get the best result. One word of caution, avoid high speed downhill sharp turns. You can flip a trike if you try just as you can flip a car if you try. Use your common sense and be safe out there.
  9. Customers who have followed these instructions RAVE about the rock-solid stability of our trikes at high speeds as well as low speeds. Those who have had troubles have probably not taken the time to get to know their machine. Treat your trike right and she will love you back.

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What are the load limits of the trikes?

Please refer to our specifications chart for the load limits.

If your body weight is at the high end of the limit and you like to carry a heavy luggage load, we recommend using the Bob trailer to haul your gear. These things work great.

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How can I transport a TerraTrike?

The best way to transport your TerraTrike is to ride it of course. But if you must use a gas powered vehicle it is easier than you may think. You can use a roof rack with three channels including a short middle channel for the third wheel. The TerraTrike will easily adapt to a common trunk or hitch rack if you tilt the trike sideways 90 degrees and rest the main frame in the cradles. Check out our accessories page to see our own Trike Transporter hitch rack system. A fully assembled TerraTrike will also easily fit in a minivan, SUV, small station wagon, and even a Ford Escort hatchback. We even have a customer who transports his fully assembled TerraTrike in his Camaro (I don't believe it, show me). With his rear (car) seat folded down, he simply loads the trike backwards through the rear hatch and rolls the rear wheel of the trike between the front seats. Two people and a TerraTrike can comfortably ride in a Camaro!

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Is balance an issue with a TerraTrike?

You may find that balance can be a problem for 2-wheeled recumbents. This is primarily due to the low center of gravity of recumbents, as well as the generally smaller diameter wheels(lower rotational inertia, to be technical). The Trike behaves differently than a regular bike or recumbent, due to its three wheels. It handles more like a car than a bike, and does not lean when cornering. You, the rider, must do the leaning! But, balancing is not really a factor, especially when climbing hills. You can also pull up to a stop sign and never unclip your feet from the pedals. In addition, otherwise hazardous obstacles such as sand and gravel, water, and uneven terrain don't upset it. You can brake while cornering, and even get a little bit sideways without worrying about a spill.

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Will I ride faster on the Trike?

The TerraTrike will undoubtedly have less wind resistance at speed. Many TerraTrikers, once accustomed to their trike, report faster speeds on their trike as compared to their upright bicycle. You will need to keep in mind that, like any new exercise, it will take time to develop the different muscle groups that riding a trike in a "recumbent" position requires. Your speed will also depend on which trike and which accessories you order (ex. high pressure tires and a fairing on a lightweight trike will make you remarkably fast).

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How does the braking feel?

The front disc braking is rock solid and easy to control, without any 'skitteryness' under hard braking. Keep in mind that you control the braking on each front wheel with a separate brake handle and you will need to coordinate the braking effort with both hands. This is very easy to do, and feels quite natural. It also allows for braking around corners! Side Note: We can attach both brakes to one dual brake lever and have done so on many occasions for riders who only have use of one hand. Both shifters can be put on the same side as well.

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Is a rear brake needed?

There is no rear brake on the TerraTrike. The significant forward weight transfer under hard braking causes the rear end to lift enough to make the rear brake almost superfluous. So the extra cost and weight is not justified. The front discs are more than adequate for stopping power and there is no chance of forward flipping a trike.

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What are 'center point steering' and 'Ackerman adjustment' and why are they important?

All TerraTrikes, whether they are linkage steer or direct steer, feature center point steering and full Ackerman adjustment.

Center point steering is in place when the axis of the kingpin (the pivot through which the wheel turns side-to-side) intersects the contact point of the tire with the ground. Center point steering limits tire scrub and bump steer.

Ackerman adjustment is desirable in a turn so that your inside wheel turns sharper than your outside wheel. The difference adjusts with the tightness of the turn. Picture your turning radius; the inside wheel has a smaller turning radius than the outside wheel, which means the inside wheel should make a sharper turn. This reduces the tire scrub and helps you keep control of the trike in a sharp or fast turn.

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What is the difference between linkage steer and direct steer trikes?

Some TerraTrikes have linkage steering while others are direct steer trikes. The specifications chart lists which trikes have which steering style.

On Linkage Steering trikes there is a single handlebar which is connected to a pivot point then connected to the wheels via tie rods. The amount of movement of the wheels is less than the input from the rider. This steering arrangement provides a very slow, smooth, comfortable feeling that is great for touring, going very fast in a straight line, or just cruising around in comfort.

On Direct Steer trikes there are two handlebars linked together with a tie rod. Each handlebar is directly connected to a front wheel by attaching to the hubmount. The amount of movement of the wheels is equal to the input from the rider. This arrangement provides a fast sporty experience that is great for sport racing, taking sharp fast turns, and for those that just love that sportscar feeling.

All TerraTrikes, whether they are linkage steer or direct steer, feature center point steering and full Ackerman adjustment.

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How much frame flex?

TerraTrikes has just the right amount of frame flex to make the ride compliant while maintaining lateral rigidity. We now have found the sweet spot between flex and shock absorption.

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Are frame sets or kits available?

No. Our production system is streamlined to produce complete trikes at the lowest price possible. Any deviation from this arrangement adds a great deal of cost. Under our system, pricing for a frame set would be nearly the same price as a complete TerraTrike.

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Can you explain gear inches?

“Gear-inch” is an archaic measurement that dates back to the days of when geared bikes were introduced. It was used as a way to compare a geared bicycle to a high wheeler or pennyfarthing bicycle of the time. Based on the front chainring and rear cog tooth counts as well as the rear wheel diameter, it was a calculation that yielded a number that would be the equivalent of the diameter of the front wheel on a high wheeler bicycle. It is an inefficient tool of measure for today's multiple gear bikes because it falls short of giving you a useful number, but it is a standard that is still used for comparison’s sake. To give you a rough point of reference, a typical mountain bike might have a gear-inch range of 18 – 103 while a typical road bike offers a 43 – 127 gear-inch range. Of course, actual specs can vary widely depending upon chainring and cassette tooth counts as well as rear wheel size. A good range for all around riding is 22-62 (some people want a wider range and some people need less) depending upon the terrain in which you ride, your level of fitness and your end goal. For example: you will need a wider gear range if you are riding across the country than you will if you are riding rail trails. That is why we offer so many different models of trikes. Keep in mind that gear-inches do not give you the distance traveled per full pedal revolution of a bike or trike. In order to determine distance traveled per pedal revolution you simply multiply gear-inches times Pi (3.141592654…I could go on all day…).

Click here to view the gear inch ranges of our products.

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Why do some TerraTrikes have fewer gears than some other trikes?

First remember that the number of gears is never as important as the range of gearing. The bike industry has done a great job convincing the consumer that more gears = better. This is far from true. More gears only = more complexity (and potential mechanical problems), and more weight to carry around. We believe that we could race or tour on any bike with 5 gears if we could pick our shift points. The old 10 speeds we all had actually had the same gear range as today's 27 speed mountain bikes. The new ones just have more overlapping or redundant gears.

Most recumbent companies try to dazzle the consumer with a big number of gears. This is superfluous, and a waste of your money. The number you want to compare is the Gear Inch Range.

Click here to view the gear inch ranges of our products.

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Is the lowness of a Trike a problem?

Lowness really only becomes a problem in tight traffic, where drivers can't see the TerraTrike behind other cars. Adding a flag would be helpful in these situations and we recommend it for all conditions just to be on the safe side. On the positive side, the unique look of the Trike attracts a lot of attention, whereas regular upright bicycles are so common on the roads, they tend to be ignored. A comment that we hear from many customers is that they receive much more respect from motorists when they are riding their trike as compared to their two wheeled bikes. Upon approaching a trike, drivers will slow down to look at the trike out of sheer curiosity, wait for a safe opportunity to pass, then give the trike a wide berth when they do pass. Often a "thumbs up" or a "cool" comment will be awarded as well. Many customers tell us they feel much safer on their trike than they do on their upright bikes. If you use your own common sense, choose your rides carefully, and of course wear a helmet, you will be safe on a TerraTrike. The best advice is to ride defensively and assume you are invisible.

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What is the ordering procedure and return policy?

To place an order, you can phone us, email us, fax us, write us a letter or use our secure online ordering system (just follow the links from the products page). All we need is your credit card # and expiration date, your contact information and shipping address, your x-seam measurement (frame size), and the accessories desired. We bill your credit card just prior to shipping your trike. Cashiers checks are welcomed. Personal checks are OK too, but can take 14 days to clear before shipment. We do have a 30 day return policy. If you order a trike, and are unsatisfied for any reason, we will buy it back from you at your original purchase price less damage and custom work/color. The returned trike must reach us within 30 days of our ship date. Please see our return page for more details.

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How do I measure my size (x-seam measurement)?

Please see our x-seam measurement page for details.

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How is the shipping done?

We can ship single trikes fully assembled within the continental US. You will only need to pump up the tires and adjust the seat and handlebars to your liking. If you are recieving a Tandem, you will also need to attach the two halves of the frame with the coupler wrench(supplied), attach the chain at the masterlink(no chain tool required), and connect the cable at the quick-attach joint(no tool required). The Tandem is pre-assembled but ships in two separate boxes. For overseas shipments we can ship the trike in kit form with an assembly manual included. This will reduce the shipping cost. Call us for a quote if you are outside the continental US. Check the shiping page for shipping and handling pricing.

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How much assembly is required?

Trikes are now shipped fully assembled and only require the tires to be pumped up and the seat and handlebars to be adjusted to your liking. If you are recieving a Tandem, you will also need to attach the two halves of the frame with the coupler wrench(supplied), attach the chain at the masterlink(no chain tool required), and connect the cable at the quick-attach joint(no tool required). This takes only about 10-15 minutes. The Tandem is pre-assembled but ships in two separate boxes.

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How are the Trikes Treated on the Road?

It has been our personal experience that our trikes get a lot more attention and respect while riding on the road than traditional upright bikes. The trike is such a unique looking vehicle that people tend to pay a lot more attention to it and respect it a lot more. We get asked about the width a lot too. “Is the width a problem?” No, if you think about it, the width isn’t a lot more than your shoulders. So, it isn't really that much more obtrusive on the side of the road.

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What about accessories for touring, hauling gear, night riding, etc.?

We offer plenty of trike specific accessories on our accessory page. The TerraTrike has braze-on mounts for a water bottle. For pulling a trailer, again we recommend the Bob trailer system.

As for night riding, we highly recommend the use of a helmet mounted light. The additional height from a helmet mount is VERY advantageous.

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Is a fairing available?

YES. We now offer a front fairing. Please check out our accessories page for details.

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Do you have any special pricing, programs or promotions that can help a disabled person or veteran obtain one of these awesome bikes?

We are still a small and growing company. At this point in our growth, we can’t afford to give away any trikes for free. We don’t really offer any type of special deals or disability plans because of this. With a prescription from a Doctor, Medicare or your health insurance MAY cover the cost of the trike. We have done this many times in the past, and we’re happy to work with them.

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Will my insurance pay for my trike?

It is a very good possibility depending on how good your policy is. The first step will be to get a prescription from your doctor’s office. Next, call us to place a “pending” order (that means your order is in our system, but you’re not officially committed to anything). You will then call your insurance company to submit your prescription and a copy of the invoice you previously created with us. Your insurance company will then get you the approval or denial. Call us when your insurance approves or denies your claim, so we can officially enter your order or cancel it (calling us regardless of the outcome is very important; otherwise, we have “pending” invoices in our computer). We are not responsible and will not contact medicare or your insurance company to initiate the order. Legally, we have no control or influence over the process.

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Will TerraTrike help me manufacture the world’s next greatest product?

We might. You’d be surprised how often we are approached by small inventors and garage mechanics that believe they have the world’s next greatest product. Most of these proposals don’t fit with our business model, but every once in a while one does. If you have a concept that you believe is worth manufacturing, here is what you need to do; Submit a proposal IN WRITING (no phone calls or email please). Include all information such as concept, demographic studies, predicted sales numbers, drawings, renderings, photos of prototypes, contact information, etc. Our committee will review your proposal, and you will be notified of our decision. If you are worried about your intellectual property remaining confidential, simply have your lawyer send us a non-discloser agreement prior to submitting your proposal.

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How do I find my serial number??

Serial numbers are located in different areas for each model. Click here to view descriptions as well as photos showing you where to look.

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