Friday, September 21, 2007
A Grocery Run.. By Trike!
Yes, you read right! I rode to my local Krogers on a Trike! Where did this queer steed originate from? I picked up a new Schwinn Town & Country from Performance bike. The reason for taking this plunge is I need a non-motorized vehicle at work for lugging my tools between buildings and across the campus . Our Company/Department has two golf carts to share among 6 Techs; however, one is perpetually broken and our supervisor refuses to authorize the expense to get it repaired. The second, newer, and visually more appealing cart is usually attached to said supervisor's rotund bottom or his toady/pet Chihuahua who drives him around as if he were the pope himself. So, I took matters in my own hands and got something so odd that no one but me would be willing to ride. I wanted a good quality trike; however, the realities of the situation hit me. One, the trike is going to spend a lot of time out in the elements. Secondly, the university I work for is situated in a high crime area and the monetary value of any vehicle needs to be low. Consequently I didn't want to spend much money ergo I went with the Schwinn. Now there are adult trikes out there that are cheaper on E-bay in the $200 to $300 range (The Schwinn was $400); however, The Schwinn was aluminum and will probably weather the corrosive effects of the weather a little better. I would have loved a classic '60's to '80's Town and Country, but I couldn't bring myself to subjecting a rare and classic bike to possible theft and weather. The sad fact though is it's although the new production Schwinn has these good features it is still a product of Pacific Bicycle and the Red Chinese. Overall workmanship and construction leaves much to be desired. It has only one really good part and that is the Sturmey Archer 3-speed transmission. (I can't call it a hub as it isn't at the center of a wheel.) It's night and day compared to the one on the Raleigh twenty as the latter tends to be a little "fiddly" to keep working. To be honest I'm not even sure if the frame is built all that true as I find riding it rather "Twitchy" If I don't consciously make subtle corrections to the left to offset thrust from peddling it will pull right and jump the the curb (and these are the round, abrupt curbs, not the gentle "ramped" ones!) I'm thinking that my riding technique could also be at fault as I may be attempting to course correct with my balance. I have noticed I get a feel of "vertigo" just before the trike makes it's departure. If I had to make a comparison as to the ease of use between a bike and a Trike I would say the bike is easier to ride, not that the trike is not without it's own unique benefits. No need to rest a foot at stop signs or traffic lights you see; however, I found it doesn't take lightly to changes in grade. It's also BIG! It is running on 26X2.0 tires and it dwarfs all the other bikes.
Other than these issues, the trike worked wonderfully as a grocery getter. I didn't need much from the store I was mainly after a steak so I wouldn't have to wait for one that I had on hand to defrost and some sodas. I just threw a cooler in the back basket with some ice packs in it to carry the steak and off I went! One thing I did notice is that it is painfully slow. I averaged around 8 mph on the way out and for giggles on the way home I put it in high and attempted to spin briskly. The end result is I saw 12 Mph indicated and I hardly noticed the weight of the Sodas or the cooler. On my commuter I would be running around 14 mph and road bike 14.5 plus (higher depending on if I'm having a good or a bad day).
Now the problem I have is I'm now tempted to keep the Trike at home instead of taking it to the office. If I stay the course and take it to work I still have to figure out how to get it there. The thing is huge and won't fit in either the cabin or the trunk of my Honda Accord. As I metioned riding it for great distances is out of the question. I'd say it max range at one sitting is 3 miles and seeing that at certain places in my commute I need to be north of 10MPH and contend with a fair amount of traffic it would be hazrdouse to ride it there.
Incidentally the following pic is the whole stable. The bike in the background past the trike is the brown Raleigh Twenty which is the only one that is inoperable at the momment and is undergoing resto-improvement.