If recumbent trikes are a niche market, here’s a niche within a niche: a recumbent tandem trike.
The same logic applies as for an “upright” tandem: there’s the social nature of two people cycling together.
And aficionados will readily quote you the advantages of recumbent bikes, in particular the ergonomic reasons, as your weight is distributed comfortably over a large area, supported by more of the surface area of your buttocks – rather than just the “sitting bones” as is the case on a conventional saddle – but also supported by your back. There is also far less stress on arms and wrists when riding a recumbent as it’s almost like sitting in a seat rather than “on” a bike, so you’ll find a number of people who have had repetitive stress injuries to their back, neck or wrists who have made the switch to recumbent.
There’s a considerable aerodynamic advantage to any recumbent as well, which is why all human powered speed records are held by recumbent – though the records are not recognised by the cycling organisations who are fixated on the diamond frame of the conventional road bike.
So, why not aren’t there more trikes around, which would surely step up the demand for a tandem trike? Probably the most important reasons are weight (which exacerbates the need to spin at high speeds to get a recumbent up a hill, though learning to do this will make you a better cyclist on an upright) and hill climbing. Many people are also concerned about the visibility of the lower position.
Bambuk’s recumbent trike has some interesting design features that appealed to me. Firstly the “stoker” (the rider at the rear) sits slightly higher, so they have a better view of the road ahead than would be the case if they were at the same height as the pilot; this is something you often see on motorbikes with the pillion providing a higher position. Another is that you can choose to have the gear control for the bike’s Rohloff 14 speed hub either operated by the pilot or the stoker, or so either can carry out the gear changes. The mesh seats are good for airflow to reduce the incidence of sweaty backs.
As standard, the trike deploys 26” wheels at the front and a 28” rear wheel, with twin disc brakes at the front, and a parking brake on the rear. There is a good rack available for the trike along with a (lockable?) bike box.
The standard version of the trike costs €4900. Adding 3.2kg in weight gets you the Sunstar SO3 e-bike 36V system with a 11Ah battery with 3 settings: normal for a good balance between performance and range; eco for extended range; and turbo for more power. This option adds €1300 to the price, bringing it up to €4900.
The factory is based in SW Germany in the small town of Bühl, where demo rides can be booked free of charge. Should you buy one, it’s a lovely route along the Rhine back to the Hook of Holland on your way back to the UK!
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