Cycling and Triking
Getting the Right Bike or Trike
Cycling, whether on two wheels or three, can be a marvellous way to travel, exercise and relax. As with walking, don’t push yourself too hard. Stay comfortable and you will be able to continue the activity indefinitely.
A bike or trike that fits you will enable you to cycle in comfort. Click here for advice on fitting a bike that is right for you from The American Physical Therapy Association. Click here for advice on choosing the right tricycle from Bicycle Riding for Boomers.
Click here for “A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Back on Your Bike in your Golden Years” by Karen Jenkins (May 2016) in Momentum Magazine.
Click here for “The Best Bicycle for Over 60” from Livestrong.com
Click here for “Benefits of Cycling for the elderly: Cycle your way to health” by Darryl (Dec. 2016)
Click here for “Cycling for Seniors: Complete Guide to Cycling and Aging” by BikeMunk (2018)
Tricycles are a great way for older adults to get around. Three wheels make for a stable ride and are just as easy to pedal. The “step through” design makes trikes easy to mount and dismount. An added benefit is the all the storage space trikes offer for groceries, books and other baggage.
For information on how to ride an adult trike, click here.
Why should I ride a Trike?
The trike’s third wheel provides greater stability than a bicycle, making it easier for you to keep your balance. This means you could crawl slowly up a hill without falling over, for example. If you hit loose gravel while riding the trike, you might just spin instead of losing control and falling over. Compared to a bicycle, a trike could be better for you, particularly if you have poor balance or a condition that prohibits you from riding an upright bike safely and comfortably.
When it comes to climbing hills, three-wheeled bikes, especially those with multiple gears, are more capable than traditional two-wheelers. On a two-wheeled bike, the rider must maintain a certain amount of forward motion to keep the bike upright. The three-wheeled bike rider, however, need not worry about balancing, so the rider can simply place the bike in a very low gear and pedal away at a comfortable pace to climb the hill without fear of falling over.
Tadpole and delta trikes utilize a seat that distributes your weight across a large area. Greater weight distribution decreases the pressure you might otherwise feel in your bottom when you sit on the smaller seat found on upright bikes. Since your butt will feel more comfortable, you will be able to ride longer without pain and fatigue. You could potentially burn more calories if you feel more comfortable and ride longer as a result.
Riding a trike is an enjoyable way to exercise. On an upright trike, your legs and arms do most of the work. However, when your legs sit out in front of you on the recumbent versions, you use more of your hamstrings and your core muscles when you pedal. Instead of propping your bike on a kickstand and standing next to it when you get tired, you can take a break while remaining in your seat.
The wide wheel base of upright three-wheeled bikes make them very capable of carrying even heavy amounts of cargo. Even recumbent trikes can be fitted with substantial cargo packs, fitted on racks behind the rider. The trikes also continue to demonstrate good stability, despite the added weight.
What could be the disadvantages of riding a trike?
Some trikes, particularly recumbent trikes, ride very low to the ground. This can present visibility problems, particularly when riding in traffic or in busy parking lots. Drivers in cars may have a more difficult time seeing recumbent trike riders on the road. To help avoid a potential accident, many recumbent riders use a tall fiberglass rod with a flag at the top attached to their trike to make them more visible.
Many three-wheeled bicycles also have a broader wheel base, making them wider and more likely to stick out in traffic when riding in bike lanes on roads or on sidewalks. This can make the trike inconvenient or even dangerous to ride in certain situations, such as in heavy traffic. The narrow body of a standard bicycle also makes it easier to store, compared to the wider body of the trike.
The wider stance of three-wheeled bicycles can make them more difficult to handle. This is particularly true with turning. While traditional two-wheelers are very narrow and have a relatively small turning radius, trikes tend to require more space to turn. Recumbent trikes are more difficult to handle at slower speeds, but typically handle faster speeds well.
What are the different types of Trikes?
Traditional Trikes- The Traditional Trike is like a traditional bike but with three wheels.
Recumbent Trikes- Riders of recumbent tricycles all agree they are much kinder to your back, butt, and hands then other bikes. It’s a different kind of trike with a sit back and grin attitude. These are the tricycles that you pedal with your feet in front of you instead of below you. Recumbent trikes have two wheels at the front.
Semi Recumbents Trikes- The semi recumbent tricycle takes a page from the semi recumbent bike design in that it uses the pedal forward concept. The net result is it makes pedalling easier and lowers the centre of gravity. Many riders find that this pedal position feels more comfortable as well. Notice the pedals are well forward of the seat post hence the “pedal forward” description. Also not only does this trike have a seat back but the seat back is higher than other trikes for added support. The handlebars are swept back and raised for a natural, upright, seating position.
Delta Recumbent Trikes - “Delta” trikes have the same principle as the recumbent Trikes except that the two wheels are at the back.
Electric Trikes- Electric tricycles are another great option that you may want to consider. They make pedalling optional so you can get some exercise when you want or let the trike do the work. The electric help can be added to any type of trike, or you can buy a trike directly with the help included.
Folding Trikes- A folding tricycle is one of the newer additions to the world of cycling. When choosing a tricycle you may want to consider a trike that folds. They address the limited storage issue and open the door to riding fun to even more people.
Industrial or Heavy Duty Trikes- An industrial tricycle is simply an adult tricycle that has been seriously beefed up to handle larger carrying capacities. The tricycles shown here are significantly larger than any standard adult trike and, in fact, use 24” or 26” wheels more typical of a bicycle.
Adaptive Trikes- Adaptive trikes to accommodate a vast array of needs. For example, Hand-pedaled recumbent tricycles are available for those without the use of their legs. Or children, teens and adults with cerebral palsy and similar disorders can select tricycles specially designed to increase strength and coordination.
Fat Trikes -make easy work of challenging terrain. This expedition-tough trike rolls over mud, sand, snow and rough trail, giving you greater freedom to cycle wherever, whenever. Fat trikes have a wide range of options, including suspension, wheel type, and components.
How much do trikes cost?
Cost is dependent on a) the type of bike or trike; b) if you want to go electric; and the carrying capacity of the trike. Prices range from $700 - $950 (CA); $1000 - $2500 (electric); to $5,000+
Where to buy one in Vancouver?
JV Bike (929 & 955 Expo Boulevard, Vancouver BC). Click here for more information about JV Bike. They can ship your trike all across Canada, and if you are not satisfied you have 30 days to get 100% refund
Phone: Sales - 604.630.3798; Service/Rentals - 604.694.2453 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cambie Cycles (3317 Cambie Street, Vancouver) . Click here for more information about Cambie Cycles or call Toll Free: 1.877.414.8999 or 604.874.3616 (Lower Mainland) or Email: email@example.com
Where to buy one on Vancouver Island?
Mid-Island Adventures in Parksville, on Vancouver Island sells new & used recumbent trikes, folding bikes, Installs Electric Assist Kits & arranges Group Rides with various clubs on the Island. They also have a checklist to help you choose a Bike or Trike that best meets your needs or living conditions. Click here for more information about Mid Island Adventures or click here to access their buying guide.
Online shopping for trikes:
Varna Bicycles and Tricycles, based on Gabriola Island, BC, can provide you with trikes, electric trikes and electric assists shipped to your home. Click here for more information.
Belize Bike- If you don’t live near a retailer, they will ship the bike to your house. Click here for more information.
Freedom Trike n’ Bike takes orders in Canada by phone and email. Click here for more information.
Electric Bicycle Retailer: offers a large selection of electric bikes, tricycles, scooters, and kits. Shipping in all of Canada, the shipping price can vary and you can pay for the assembly of the product. Click here for more information.
Also, you can also sometimes find used trikes for sale on Craigslist or Amazon.
Step-thru bikes, are easier to get on and off of and easier on the hips. What people know as Comfort bikes, Cruiser bikes, light weight bikes, City bikes, Upright bikes, Urban bikes, and Electric bikes (ebikes) can all be step-thru bikes that can come in single speed, 3, 7, and 21 speed. Some step thru bikes have disc brakes, hub gears, and front or back rack and/or basket. These bikes are known for their designer looks and easy step in and out capability. For a complete guide on Step-thru bikes for seniors click here.
Consider modifying your bike, trike, or ride-on experience to make it more enjoyable and accessible with your changing needs and abilities.
Click here for more information from FlagHouse (Canadian) or phone: 1.800.265.6900
Click here for information from HME Mobility & Accessibility or phone (Victoria: 250.386.0075), (Vancouver: 604.821.0075), (South Surrey: 604.535.5768)
Cycling Route Maps
HUB Cycling has a list of bike maps for all municipalities which produce them. Click here to access them.
Click here for an online regional cycling map (West section) from TransLink.
Click here for an online regional cycling map (East section) from TransLink
Cycling in Vancouver has a digital map with bike routes, Mobi bike share stations, washrooms, water fountains and bike racks for the City of Vancouver. Click here to access the map.
Let’s go Biking has a collection of easy rides for cyclists for all ages and abilities in Metro Vancouver. Click here to access the site.
Want a paper copy of a municipal bike map? We usually have them for a few municipalities at events which The Bicycle Valet is present. Click here for a calendar of these events
Other Cycling Resources:
Want to try cycling or cycle more but afraid of riding on the road? Our friends at HUB Cycling offer Streetwise cycling courses. Click here for more information.
HUB also has great route planning tips including a description of what different bike routes mean. Click here to access them.
Want to try riding a bike but don’t want to buy one? Bikeshare is a service that makes public bicycles available for share use to individuals on a short term basis. Bikeshare is ideal for short, one-way trips and to connect with public transit.
Mobi is a public bikeshare system in the city of Vancouver. Click here for more information. The bikes can be unlocked from one station and returned to any station in the system. Using Mobi does not require a smartphone, although a smartphone can help you find stations. Mobi is currently limited to about 16th ave, Arbutus Street, and Commercial Drive. Click here for a map of bikes and stations.
Day passes, 90 day passes and annual passes available. If you have a BC Bus Pass (red Compass card), you can sign up for a Mobi community pass for $20 per year. Click here for more information about the Mobi Community Pass.
U Bicycle is a dockless bikeshare system currently operating in Richmond, Port Moody and Port Coquitlam. It is a system that uses GPS in all bikes, rather than stations, so you need a smartphone to use it. Pay as you go, day pass and annual passes available. Click here for more information on U Bicycle.