First 100 miles on a TerraTrike Rambler All Terrain (long)

edited July 2017 in Rambler All Terrain
Now that I have ridden my first 113 miles on my Rambler All Terrain (RAT), it is time to let you know about my likes and dislikes. First let me list the comparison recumbents to be mentioned in this review.
CaR - Catrike Road purchased in 2005? Obviously one of the early models, it had the slightly wider seat. Sold earlier this year with 4000 miles on it.
SXP - RANS Stratus XP purchased in 2006. Bought a newer model with disk brakes in 2015. Sold the first one with 25,000 miles on it.
RAT - TerraTrike Rambler All Terrain purchased in early June. I added a bottle cage, rear rack, speedometer, mirror, and bell. Since there are good pictures on line, I am not including any of my trike.
Riding conditions - streets and rural roads near Madison, WI. The terrain is moderately hilly with medium to large hills in the 8 to 13 percent grade range. Very few flat spots of any length.
The engine - 65 years old and in reasonably good health, 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) and 165 pounds (75 kg). Currently, I ride about 2000 miles (3000 km) per year. My high was over 4000 miles in one year. Riding is my preferred form of aerobic exercise. I usually ride every other day.

I was drawn to TerraTrikes because of their higher seat and lower pedals (bottom bracket). The geometry is close to that of my SXP. My hope was that it would be easier to switch back and forth between 2 and 3 wheels. When I first purchased my CaR, I was excited by the trike and rode it quite a bit. After switching from a RANS Velocity squared to a Stratus XP, I quickly decided that I preferred having the bottom bracket several inches below the seat. For me, it is much more comfortable. Gradually, I stopped riding the Catrike.
At my local bent shop I test rode a Rambler All Road. It was very nice and was almost good enough, but the seat was uncomfortable. A review of the newer All Terrain said that the seat was improved. So, as soon as the All Terrain arrived at my dealer, I test rode it and bought it. After one month and 113 miles here are my current opinions.
The number one thing that I like about the RAT is the relative heights of the pedals and seat. On this style of trike with the pedals below the seat, you have a great view of the world in front of you. Under seat steering on a long wheel base recumbent gives the same view, but I have never owned one of them.
Number two reason I like this trike is the wide 24-inch tires (24x2.10). They are less than 1/2 inch shorter than the 26-inch (x28mm) tires on my SXP. On the imperfect roads around here they soak up the bumps quite well. Initially, I inflated them to 50 pounds, near the high end of the 30-55 recommendation on the side of the tires. Recently, I put them at 40-45 psi. With these tires I don’t feel the need for suspension.
I like the looks of this trike. I like the fact that all three wheels are the same size. That means carrying just one spare tube. Also, I am one of the people who think that having a bigger tire on the back looks weird. I like the symmetry of three identical tires.
The number one thing that I dislike about the RAT is its seat. Most of my miles in the last few years have been on standard RANS seats that I find to be very comfortable. The RAT seat digs into the sides of my legs even though I am not a large person. As purchased, all the seat straps were quite loose. After three rides I tightened all the straps. That helped, but adding a 3/4 inch foam stadium seat cushion helped even more. Switching to a 1.25 inch foam seat cushion sold to deer hunters was even better.
Many people are concerned about relative speeds on trikes as compared to bikes. On my standard 14 mile moderately hilly route, I consistently average around 10 mph. On the SXP, I am just one mph faster. On the steepest hill, I go up at 4 and 5 mph on 3 and 2 wheels, respectively. According to my bathroom scale, set up as I ride them, the RAT is 49 pounds and the SXP is 38 pounds.
Because of the low gearing on the RAT, I spin out around 20 mph. Coasting down a long hill I get over 25 mph, but not up to 30 mph. The trike feels safe and stable at all those speeds. At times I wish that I had a triple chain ring up front instead of the supplied 2x10 gears.
Corners on the RAT are smooth and predictable. Before the dealer test ride I was concerned that the large tires would feel stiff and sluggish in turns. That has not been a problem. The steering is light and fun, just what I wanted. At very low speeds, sharp turns can cause the tires to rub against my shoes. It’s not a problem and easily controlled.
I did not buy the RAT for off road use, but I have tried it on a gravel path. Naturally, the big tires did very well. I also went on a grass path in a local park. Operates fine, just gear down and take your time. I have no intention in going on a serious off-road mountain bike trail. When a local road was given a fresh coat of chip seal gravel, the RAT felt much more stable than the SXP.
Am I glad that I bought the RAT? Yes. I plan to alternate rides with the RAT and SXP. I ride trikes because I think they are fun. I also like variety, so switching back and forth appeals to me. I’m not on a tight budget and I keep my rides for several years, so this works for me.
For a more technical/professional review I recommend:


  • @Gordon_O

    professional thoughts on manufacturer supported sites leave me a little cold, much rather hear from someone who has chosen to live with the trike under review. nice work.

    looked at the off the floor gearing specs - how do they compare on the amount of effort required to get up the hill?
  • 'Excellent personal review of your "RAT" (I like that abbreviation). I got mine on May 30 and have a similar setup as yours. I currently have 221 miles on mine and we are planning on a trip this Sunday to The New River Trail (a rail to trail gravel path). I'm still working on leg strength. My wife and I have been riding our DF bikes for years and this year I decided that the Trike route was for me. The jury is still out for my wife, but there is still hope. We don't ride roads and stick to the rail to trails and greenways. We just would rather not be in traffic. Happy riding!
  • edited July 2017
    I'm not sure what you are asking or how I can answer. Everyone goes up hills differently. Most of the time I stay with the bigger front chain ring for the whole ride. I would rather push hard (but not mashing, if you know that term) and go up a hill at 4 mph rather than gear down and have easier pedaling at 2 or 3 mph. My long time habits from previous recumbents carry over to this new ride. My natural cadence is 60-70. What is your personal style for going up hills?
  • Gordon_O,

    bad knees, i climb hills at 60-70 rpm with lowest gear at 15 g.i., reach the top doing 3 mph.

    was interested in opinion of climbing effort between the 2 recumbent styles since the all-terrain has abnormally low gearing [if used] compared to the rest of the industry.

    have to envy your knees able to do big ring climbs.
  • I'm glad others agree that the 24" wheels and wider tires are worth it. I probably would not have continued riding my trike if I had not made this change. They ran really smooth on paved streets that had sealed, do well on concrete but I hate the change in height of slabs, and even do well on the streets I now ride. They are paved but have a lot of gravel in them. They are not smooth but are level and easy to ride. I've even had to go on the grass and managed getting through it at a low gear. Also,I haven't had a flat in 18 months.

    Best of all, the 24" wheels are great for getting on and off the trike. Wouldn't have any other wheels!
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