Terratrike might not like this but...

This might not please the Terratrike people but... I bought a Rover Tandem some over a year ago. About a month. And a half ago while riding I/we noticed it was riding hard! We also noticed that the wheels were leaning in on top, and quite a bit too! We got home and parked the tandem and the next day I went out to diagnose the problem. After turning the tandem on it's side the problem was very obvious! There is a design flaw on the front cruciform. Those of you who have Blue Rovers would do well to turn them on their side and look the frame over. The "gusset" welded to the round tubes across the square tube is the point of failure, The welding procedure on this gusset is the problem, because this gusset was welded to the weakest point of the round tubes. On my tandem the one end of the gusset was cracked, and the other was not only cracked, but it broke the round tube half way around. This caused the frame to sag a half inch in the center, which caused the wheels to lean in at the top.
When you check your frame, look for rust on the ends of the gusset. This will likely indicate cracking. We are fortunate that ours didn't break completely, which would have damaged more of the trike.
Terratrike replaced the part under warranty, and out LBS didn't charge for replacing the part! This is wonderful! But, we live in Dodge City and there is no Terratrike dealer here. We took the trike to Harley's in Hutchinson, which is where we bought the tandem. They are our closest dealer, about 2 and a half hours away.
Talking to the manufacturer of Rans bikes (they are 30 minutes from us)... Jerrill confirmed my thought (that this is a design flaw). I have been a welder/ metal fabricator for 27 years and by experience know that this design will cause trouble.
Check your trike for this problem! This is the only issue we have had with the tandem beyond normal maintenance issues. We all know maintenance is required so these are really not issues!
Take care! Happy riding! keep on triking!


  • Are you talking about the cross member where the two round tubes connect to each other, near the wheels? Or are you talking about where the round tubing connects to the center square tubing? (Not entirely sure what you mean by gusset.)

    For a sense of how bad of a failure this was, how much weight is usually on that trike? The tandem uses the same parts as a Rover, so this kind of issue would be a concern to Rover owners as well (regardless of color). 

    - PaulNM

  • I will definitely check next time I put the trike on the rack!
  •   Would be helpful if there were photos to see what you are referring to. Will look mine over next time I'm out and about. Thanks for the warning.
  • This is where the round tube connect to the square tube at the center of the cruciform. As to pics... sorry. I deleted them ready, but like I said, the crack on the left side was half way around the round tube "axle" and the right side was just starting to crack.
    As to the weight it carries? I weigh 300 Lbs. and ride the captain position, so it is a fair load. My better half weighs 150. We aren't overloading the trike, but we are close to the limit. We are the only two people who ride it. I can get some pics of the location of the break (on the new part) but I don't know how to post them. This would at least show you where to look for the problem.
    Yes, this is the same as the Rover which is why I brought it up. Rovers will have the same tendency as the Rover tandem.
  • Just as a further comment. The Rambler is a completely different design. I have a rambler and there are no issues with it.
  • See my first post for why I believe it is an issue. If it had failed completely while crusing at 10 plus miles per hour... wouldn't have been pretty! I feel like Terra Trikes are well designed and I don't want to give them the proverbial "black eye" They were real good about replacing it! No issues whatsoever! I'll try for pics shortly.
  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/149045049@N02/shares/jP9154
    These, if they work, show the gusset and where the screwdriver is pointing is where you look for cracks. The end of this gusset is where our tandem started cracking and the one side cracked half way around the tube.
  • edited April 2017
    danl, I don't want to sound mean but are you sure it wasn't being over loaded, the 500# limit has to include everything the goes on it. Riders, accessories, gear, etc. or was just a bad unit? I have to ask because I weight around 230# on my regular Rover with out considering the tools and gear I carry everywhere and my crusiform was fine even after a woman in an SUV hit me from my right side flipping me on my left side and "tacoing" my left wheel when she turned into me at a crosswalk. But it sounds like a bad unit really, bound to happen every now and then sadly. Glad you found it before anyone got hurt.
  • I know what you mean on the load but... Two plastic fenders, a water bottle holder and water, a 12 volt battery from a cordless drill to make my auto alarm siren sound when I need a horn (this works great!! I's loud!) So, I might have added 10 pounds to my 300 and my wife's 150 so not overloaded but close to the limit. Yes it is possible that it was a bad unit but... I'll leave it at that for now because I don't want to keep "hammering" on the point. There is no doubt in my mind though, that the cruciform design on the Rambler is superior to the design on the Rover/Tandem Rover. What I mean is where the "axle tubes" butt to the center tube on the Rambler. The rest of the design of the Rover is very good.
  • Happened again, to the replacement unit. Not as bad because I looked sooner and found the crack.
  • I'm sorry you've had an issue with your frame. Be assured we'll take care of you. However, design flaw?

    We have 3 engineers that design our product, with additional ones in Taiwan. We stress test all our frames both physically and with software simulation. The Rover has been out for over 7 years, is THE largest selling recumbent trike in the world and we've had only a handful of warranty returns over the years, which is why we offer a lifetime warranty - Do any other manufacturers do that?

    We even have a gentleman who has built a mobile coffee cart using the Rover tandem that well exceeds the 500# weight limit even though we've told him it voids the frame warranty. It's been in business for 5 years now.

    So believe me I understand your frustration and concern. If this is your 2nd incident, I suspect there might be something else contributing to the failure - or you have really bad luck :( Either way as I said, we'll get you back riding - thats always our #1 goal.
    Jeff "Chonk" Yonker
    Marketing Dude @TerraTrike

    You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretsky
  • Chonk. I know you question what I say about a design flaw, but no other bike company uses a stress gusset like the one on the old Rover cruciform. Neither will you see a gusset welded (across the end of the gusset) on a round tube on any other major manufacturer's bike. Like I said, I have been a metal fabricator for over 30 years, much of that time included welding frames on large trucks (semi tractors) so I know some about stress and loading on frames.
    I also showed the picture of the first fracture to a designer/engineer (who is a friend of mine) from a bicycle company and he said "that is an obvious trouble spot."
    I just know that with my past metal working experience the Rambler design is better.
    Yes I know Terra Trike will take care of us and I really appreciate that. I have no issues with that part of the company and I appreciate the warranty!!
  • edited June 2017
    We'll just have to agree to disagree.
    Except, again, we've been doing this for 21 years now with a <.01% fail rate.
    Let's get you back to riding now.
    Jeff "Chonk" Yonker
    Marketing Dude @TerraTrike

    You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretsky
  • Maybe the load distribution matters even though total load is under the maximum.
  • I just saw this thread. I'm fairly certain this issue has been mentioned before, but I own two Rovers (purchased in 2011 and 2014) which have a similar design absent the gusset. I think it is plain to see how the new design is flawed, but the old design suffered from these issues as well.

    For the older models at least, the square tube of the cruciform is thinner than it ought to be and combined with a weld to the round tube creates a lot of stress on the weakest section of the frame. The first time this happened the wheels basically bent inward as the crack progressed. Steering issues were the first thing I noticed, and thankfully being steel it failed slowly. It is soft hi-ten steel, fwiw.

    I sold my gas car and went with the trike for exclusive transportation 6 years ago and have logged well over 20K miles, probably closer to 30K. I also ride aggressively, off curbs, etc. and faster, probably averaging 15-18mph. I weigh less than 200lbs. This failure has happened 3 times to me and it looks like a fourth is about to happen. It always presents itself as a crack along the weld, sometimes on top, sometimes on bottom (the first was on bottom and failed without me realizing what had happened). If you see a rusty hairline crack where the round tube connects to the square tube at the front of your trike, it is time to swap it out.

    The lifetime warranty is one of the main reasons I chose this trike and I'm grateful for it.
    This talk of agreeing to disagree does no good-- this user has two failures under his belt already and I've had several myself-- my dealer even sent an email out to all purchasers which shared that they had repeatedly seen that failure on in various models from different years. Perhaps your average user rides complacently or leisurely but if we're honest about the design and would like to improve it, please consider substantial real-world testing as valid proof of the flaw and not an attack on your company or its designers.
    In this case, "strain-relief" should take the form of a gusset over the entire assembly, doubling the stiffness of this crucial point for a few dollars of steel like you've done on the Rambler: http://www.bentrideronline.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/TTRamblerAT2.jpg

    My Rover is the best purchase decision I've made. It always leaves me singing and dancing in my comfy chair as I pass by the poor souls stuck in gridlocked traffic or more dangerous and uncomfortable bikes.
  • The new Rover frame has gotten rid of the round tubing for the legs and gone with square tubing. Plus added more gusset pieces. Look at pictures of new model Rover.
    Production change appears to have addressed the design issues you raise with round tube to square tube and gusset failings.
    When I built my trike years ago I used square mild steel tubing for the main tube and round 4130 tubing for the legs. However the square tubing was large enough that I could drill holes and slide the round tube thru and braze it in place. No gussets needed. Heavy, yes, but strong,
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