Rollover crash due to heavy braking

Tuesday, I was riding my TerraTrike Tour (27 speed with 26" rear wheel) on a straight road at approximately 25mph, close to the top speed I have been able to manage with pedaling alone.  I applied the brakes a little too hard and too fast in preparation to pull off of the road for a car I could see approaching from behind me in the distance.  The trike snapped sideways violently and overturned, ejecting me onto the road.  It happened instantly with no possibility of reacting or recovering.  I tumbled and slid for a few seconds in the middle of the road.  The trike landed upright in the ditch on the right side.   

I sustained several "road rash" scrapes, one that gouged a quarter-inch deep hole about the size of a half dollar just below my elbow.  It was serious enough that I went to the emergency room to have it treated.  The trike surprisingly had little damage, and I was able to ride it home (thankfully only a half mile).   Only the seat bolt was bent.  The chain is making a grinding sound and will need adjustment.  The brake discs nor the steering linkages/alignment were affected at all.  The wheels still roll freely and smoothly.

Just a word of warning that a trike can and will crash at moderate speeds under heavy braking.   I consider the accident my fault for braking too hard so abruptly, but it's possible a similar crash could happen with someone attempting an emergency stop/obstacle avoidance at speeds above 20mph.

Otherwise I love my trike.  I ride 20-40 miles every 2 days (weather permitting).


  • Ouch. Glad to hear you are ok.
  • Been there, done that!  :-t  Going maybe 10 mph on a concrete walkway on my Catrike 559.  Idiot pulled across my path from behind a hedge and stopped.  I had a split second to react.  I laid on the disc brakes, the back end hopped (even though I had a trunk bag with probably five pounds in it). I crabbed maybe 10 degrees to one side and then gently (seemed slow to me anyway) rolled to my right.  I rolled away from the trike which landed on its side with only a little scrape on a vertical shifter and a wheel hub.  It was a cold day and I had on several layers so I got only a minor scrape on my elbow.  The driver, dazed look on his face, looked at me for a moment, stomped on the gas and fled the scene.  So yes, you can roll a trike under heavy braking.  Mostly, it hurt my pride...  Lesson learned:  Be very aware of things in your path and don't make assumptions.  :-bd
  • edited April 2017
    Thanks for the replies.   After work today I had a chance to look at the trike closely, and discovered the end of the seat bolt actually sheared off completely - something I didn't see yesterday.   Also rear wheel is slightly bent and will need to be replaced.
  • We've often discussed how a back brake is needed.  This is a perfect example.

    Your post tells the perils of going very fast.  I have had to stop quickly and it's quite easy when you're only going 8-10 mph.  I'd rather enjoy the ride then just get it over.  The number of miles I go isn't really important!
  • edited April 2017
    One of the problems with high seat placement is the potential to get unstable. Having the seat forward further contributes to this condition.
  • I just rode my 20 miles this evening on the trike after replacing the seat mounting bolt.  Half of the rear wheel is very visibly bent about 1 inch out of line, but I could not feel any evidence of it while riding - no shimmies or vibrations.  I'm wondering if it even needs replacing.  The bent part of the wheel/tire doesn't come close to rubbing on the frame or derailleur.  I guess it will depend on how much the new wheel will be and if it gets progressively worse over time.   It doesn't seem in much danger of affecting anything else on the trike.

    The Tour has a pretty low-slung seat and has been fairly stable, I've done some tight cornering with it at low speeds and at most, the inside wheel lifts up a little when really provoked. I haven't had it get anywhere near flipping while turning.  I'm sure it's possible, but so far doesn't seem like too much of a risk under normal circumstances.
  • I learned that lesson too.  These trikes are very unstable braking at speed.  Got loose twice like that (wheel lifted, shoe cleat unclipped), but managed to get it settled down without flipping.  A similar situation to watch out for is when there is some ice/snow on the road.  I hit brakes hard on that once when my water bottle took voluntary leave without notice.  The brakes were applied evenly, but traction under the tires was uneven and changing.  Got sideways and rolled, a hole in rain pants at the knee and put a palm on the road, not too bad.  Learned that lesson.

    I've thought a few times about a rear brake.  There would be complexity, and not sure how much braking you would get from that.  No way I'm putting both fronts on 1 squeezer.  I'm now in the habit of appling brakes very gingerly at first, and training a habit of putting extra muscle tension on steering whenever braking.
  • It may be possible to true the wheel but with that kind of tweak it should be done by an experienced technician.
  • Braking a trike with individual levers for each front wheel can be challenging when riding fast or in a situation requiring a quick reaction. I found it's best to try to brake and steer with as light of a grip as you can possible apply vs. sudden grabbing which leads to unbalanced braking and/or steering. When I'm going fast downhill or into curves I try to lightly feather the brake levers to slightly close the gap between totally disengaged and engaged. 
    The whole braking/steering action is almost more mental then physical. As you brain says brake you're already lightly on the levers and same for steering, you're already shifting weight slightly and lightly turning.

    Either of these actions worsen with late or jerky reaction and control input. And yes there are scenarios where everything I just said goes out the window, especially if it's a sudden requirement to avoid a hard accident, then it may be better to hard turn or brake and roll vs. direct contact with another object.
  • I think feathering the brakes is a wise especially while going downhill at a good clip.  I do it all the time because I'm mentally preparing myself for just about any contingency.  And anytime I'm moving along at 8 or more mph I keep both hands on the grips.  I've learned a lot through the experience of 4K miles over the last year and a half.   :-?
  • TrikesterHal,
    Another good reason to grip things lightly is it is way more relaxing ride and less tiring.
  • edited May 2017
      Went down a small grade, Snake River Bridge. The road surface was uneven on the bicycle lane that the front wheels were feeling different. Let up on the grip some and lightly applied the brakes to maintain 12 MPH - more so on the left brake cause the way the road surface was. On the Rockhopper I could easily hit 28 MPH.

      Roger, a local here that owns a TT Path, claims to go 30 down this bridge! Am guessing that since Rover's sit up higher is whey feel more different at higher speeds?

      Lot of areas around Ontario, Oregon I was using the brakes to
    fast-corner/steer around abrupt sidewalk changes at low speeds, & to flip around
    light poles that the sidewalks closely patched around. Yesterday's ride was an obstacle course!

    ¬ ITL
  • Idaho,
    The high seat and your weight will contribute to a high C.G.and tipping, go easy on those side slopes and downhills. As an example my Zoomer seat bottom is 8 inch above ground, weighs under 30 lbs and I weigh 180 lbs., tipping and fast turning isn't much of a concern. But getting up from that seat can be a chore after a long ride !
  •   Thanks again, Ed! image

    ¬ ITL
  • Ed, you are s-o-o-o-o wise.  Relaxing the grip does make for a more comfortable and fun ride.
  • I couldn't wait til August so we went out and dodged the 85mph drivers on Michigans highways and picked up a 2 owner Rover with the silver paint. They said it had less than 20 hours on it. It seems lighter than my wife's 2016 Rover. Very responsive. I did figure 8's, very tight ones and could feel the outside start to lift. Then I backed off on the speed. Gotta ride it today though many projects are calling my name. Priorities first!!!
  • My daughter rolled my Rambler with a hard left brake (at about 5mph). No problems, except for a slight scrape. All I can say is... Damn good brakes!
  • Good reason to buy the dual brake controls. You'll get braking on both sides and that rollover won't happen again. Now if we could get a brake for the back tire, all would be well!
  • My only rollover was when going backwards, downhill, to turn around. As soon as the front wheel came off the pavement, flying I went!
  • Ouch, been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
    Disk brakes are design to stop quickly. I always adjust the barrel adjusters so that the brakes don't entirely lock up. It means I can't 'stop on a dime' but does provide a bit more easy braking. Glad you're OK
    Jeff "Chonk" Yonker
    Marketing Dude @TerraTrike

    You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretsky
  • edited July 2017
    My brakes are set that way too Chonk. I suspect my lbs now sets them up this way to prevent the types of spills mentioned above. Years ago Harry , RIP , the recumbent salesman at Wheel and Sprocket , always steered me away from trikes,citing braking accidents. Did you know Harry or was he before your time?
  • Again the higher the seat the higher the total center of gravity is and the higher potential for roll over.
  • Emergency chute deployment out the back in case of hard breaking?

    ¬ ITL
  • Anchors dropped might work also.
  • edited July 2017
    Batarang! Web, go!

    Waiting for someone to develop and after-market strut that attached to the front. In case of a stoppy, when the trike goes too far forward the strut's skids kick in for more braking action.

    ¬ ITL
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