FAQ: Is a two-wheel or three-wheel cargo bike best for me?
Trikes or Bikes.
Most of us are used to riding bicycles. They've typically been our main form of cycle since we were 3. As such we've become accustomed to how bikes ride. We've learned to gain speed in order to balance, put our foot down when we stop and lean the bike over when we turn. These things have become so natural for us we forget we are doing them. Sometimes when people try a cargo trike for the first time they forget it handles completely differently. This can be quite disconcerting to the unsuspecting rider.
Trikes are of course different to bikes and each has their own strengths. I usually explain the difference this way.
If you had only ever ridden a trike and you tried to ride a bicycle. would you know or remember to put your foot down when you stop and would you feel natural riding it on your first few times. Would you feel safe on that first outing or would you take a few rides to adjust?
The answer of course for most people is "probably not" Riding a trike takes a little bit of getting used to as does riding a bicycle for the first time. Once you have adjusted to it, it feels very natural. Some people adjust quicker than others. I have found that many keen cyclists have found the adjustment more difficult than novices because the novices have less frame of reference or expectation of how it should feel. Two wheelers suit some and three wheelers others. They are quite hard to compare directly as they are different beasts.
Here are some of the pros and cons of each:
Able to ride at faster speeds than a three wheeler
Not affected by road camber
Leans into corners
Carries less load by volume but same by weight
Can't ride as slowly up a hill as a three wheeler (due to the need to maintain pace to balance)
Harder to park/hillstart/cruise slowly along a walkway.
Harder to turn around (larger turn circle)
Load capacity much greater volume than two wheeler
Ease of parking/hillstarting/ cruising slowly in trafficked areas/ riding slowly up hills (no need to have speed for balancing and easy just to put the brake on and rest a moment)
Versatility and functionality
Ability to turn manually (lift seat and swing around) in tight spaces even when loaded
Cannot ride as fast as two wheeler
Cambers and turns take some getting used to
Cannot fit through gaps in traffic as well as two wheeler
Typically we recommend that if you want to ride long distances or ride fast then a two wheeler is the preferred option. Otherwise you just cannot compare the practicality and ease of a three wheeler.