New Rambler rider thoughts and questions

A little over 2 years ago I purchased a Bachetta Bella recumbent because I wanted to do some bike riding but riding a regular bicycle was uncomfortable enough that I was rarely motivated to actually go out and ride. The recumbent fixed that and for about 6 months after the purchase I was riding at least once a week and typically more like 3x a week and averaging about 20 miles per ride. Unfortunately this came to an end in Nov. 2014 when I started experiencing some back pain which came to a head the weekend after Thanksgiving. After an MRI it was found I had a compression fracture in one of the vertebrae in my lower back and about a week later I had a kyphoplasty to fix it. I had hoped that I would be fine after that but about 2 weeks after the surgery the pain was back and after another MRI they told me I had 2 more compression fractures. In the end, over the next 7 months I had 6 back surgeries to repair 11 vertebrae with compression fractures. It wasn't until last October that I finally got the will to try yo get back on my Bella again but after only a few miles I realized that I would probably never be able to ride it again without serious pain issues.

Cut forward to last weekend when I finally decided to go back to the store where I bought the Bella and talk to them about switching to a trike. I was hoping that, since I would not need to maintain balance (which depends a lot on your back muscles), I might be able to get back out on the bike trail. So, I worked out a trade-in deal with them and purchased a brand new Rambler n380 after giving it a test ride in their parking lot and falling in love with it. By the time I got home with my new trike on Saturday evening I felt it was too late to really put it to the test and decided to get up early on Sunday and take it out for its first spin. I figured I would just go for maybe 5 miles or so since it was my first ride in about a year and half (discounting my last attempt on the Bella last October) but ended up riding for over 3 hours and probably at least 15 miles and even today other than having somewhat muscle sore legs my back feels great and am looking forward to taking her out again after the heat goes down a little this evening!

Based on my short time with the bike I think I am going to love it for hopefully years to come. Based on the apparent quality of the workmanship I suspect this trike might outlive me.

But I do however have a question for you trike experts. I noticed that regular bicycles were passing me like crazy even when I was in my highest gear and I would like to go out on group rides with others that would be riding regular bicycles and hopefully be able to at least keep up with the slow bike riders. What would be the least expensive way to allow me to go faster on this Rambler? All the gearing on the n380 are enclosed in the back tire so I assume it would cost a lot to replace the back tire with a larger diameter. Is it possible perhaps to change the gear at the peddle to a different size (I think smaller gear at the peddles would be needed to result in higher speeds?) and if so does anyone know what the approximate cost of doing that might be?

Thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions!


  • Sorry for my misspelling of pedals, btw. lol Not sure what I was thinking when I spelled it peddles.
  • We trike riders tell the world we go slower to enjoy the scenery (because we are looking up, not down)! 

    Go to the website Trike Groups and look for people or organized rides in your area.  The website was started by Terra Trike.  I watch for rides with the South Florida Recumbent Riders on Facebook but even they go further than I can make right now.  Riding alone isn't so bad most of the time.

    Don't worry about how fast you go.  Just enjoy the ride!
  • Thank you both for the quick replies!

    I can already tell I will absolutely enjoy my new trike regardless. I will probably give it a month or two at least before I decide if I want to do any sprocket changes but it is good to know I do have options if I would like to make a change.

    The shop where I purchased my trike is about an hours drive away but in the area I live there are many regular bicycle shops of which a couple I know are the meeting place for weekly weekend group rides. I would like to participate in those types for rides but I'm not sure if any other trike riders regularly participate and, if not, I would like to not be left behind by even the slowest 2 wheelers. I'll probably join in this Saturday and see how it works out. :)

    If I had participated when I was riding a recumbent 2-wheeler a couple of years ago but I never did because I did not have a bike rack and loading that thing up in my car was a big hassle. I always started and ended my rides from home when I was riding it.
  • You could also consider a front derailleur (I'm not sure what is compatible or rated for a Nuvinci 380 - James might know more). You'll need to add a mount if you go with a double or triple ring or - depending on your budget - go with an internally geared front end. There are "top end" models that require camfering the bracket or go with a Patterson Transmission. I have one on my Rambler with a Nexus 8 in back; one chain length, 16 gears, higher top speed with a wall climbing low end and a clean install. I'm still not the fastest on the trail - but people have to work harder to pass me.
  • MadMusic, how do you compare riding a recumbent to a trike?  I've wanted to try one but didn't know if they were hard to balance.  They look really interesting to ride. 
  • edited July 2016
    The Bachetta Bella has a long wheel base so I think it was easier to balance than the short wheelbase type recumbents but it did take some getting used to it. I really did like it before I started having my back issues but I could see that it might not be for everyone. For me I was much more motivated to ride it than I had been to ride a regular bicycle before I got the recumbent. But I would say that even just a few days into my triking experience I probably would have been even happier if I had just gone with a trike when I bought the bella.
  • a terratrike is both recumbent and a trike.
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