Tricycles aren't just for kids. Maybe you want to carry larger loads than are safe on a bicycle or the casual feet-forward style of recumbent cruising appeals to you. Maybe you don't have quite the balance you once did. An adult tricycle is the solution and a great way to get around.
If you're looking for an adult tricycle, check out our buying guide, which includes reviews of some of our favorites at the end. Our top pick, the Schwinn Meridian Adult Tricycle, offers the all-around quality, safety, and convenience that has made the brand famous.
Considerations when choosing adult tricycles
You basically have two types of tricycles: the classic sit-up model or the recumbent, where you're lower down with your feet out in front of you. The latter with its chair-like seat can be more comfortable but getting down onto it and up again is not for those with restricted mobility. The other consideration with recumbents is that because your weight is low and very much at the back, rear-tire wear rates are higher.
Steel is frequently used for frames. It's strong and relatively inexpensive but rusts if the finish gets damaged. Aluminum is lighter, doesn't rust, and is typically used on better quality trikes. It isn't quite as tough as steel, which may reduce maximum carrying capacity (though it can still be 250 pounds). Titanium is occasionally used. It's as light as aluminum and as strong as steel but extremely expensive.
Note that riders who are used to two-wheeled cycling can take a while to adapt to a tricycle, as there's a difference in technique. It's a good idea to get comfortable in a low traffic area before heading for city streets.
Tricycles are often single-speed. They're made for relaxed riding rather than great physical effort. Three-speed and seven-speed models are the alternatives and worth looking at if you have a few hills in your area. Brakes are usually the caliper/horseshoe type -- basic but efficient.
Comfort is a big issue and most seats are wide with good padding. Additional springing may also be used. Some have a backrest for lumbar support. Seat and handlebar height adjustment also have an impact, though the latter may be minimal.
If load carrying is important, check the size of the basket and if it can lie flat, allowing more load flexibility.
Inexpensive adult tricycles cost from $180 to $200. They tend to be built tough, but quite heavy. Lighter and generally better quality models from well-known brands are $280 to $400. There are several in the $600 range, but it can be difficult to see what extra they offer.
A. No. As with two-wheeled bikes, it's a question of occasional adjustment and lubrication. Manufacturers should provide instructions, but they aren't always as good as they can be.
Q. Can I store my tricycle outdoors?
A. It's nice to keep it in a shed if you can, but we know that's not always practical. If storing it outside, treat yourself to a weatherproof tricycle cover. Most are only $15 to $20 and do a lot to keep your tricycle looking good and working properly.
Our take: Superb quality and finish from perhaps the industry's best-known manufacturer.
What we like: Low swept aluminum frame makes it easy to get on and off. Quick-adjusting sprung seat and wide, swept-back handlebars offer good comfort. Extra-large rear basket folds flat for convenience.
What we dislike: Single speed only. A little heavy.
Our take: All the stability and safety you want from a trike at a bargain price.
What we like: Features 24-inch wheels and Shimano gears for easy pedaling. Easily adjusted padded seat. Strong steel frame has 300-pound weight capacity. Available in four colors. Has a basket and a lock.
What we dislike: Poor instructions make assembly more difficult than it should be.
Our take: Very comfortable, low-stress model, great for casual cruising.
What we like: Strong framework is adjustable for riders 4'2" to 6'3" and rated for up to 250 pounds. Seat offers great support. Direct drive pedals reduce maintenance. Tiller rear-wheel steering is surprisingly easy.
What we dislike: Rear tire wear can be high. Some tall riders find it too short.
Bob Beacham is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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