Monday, November 3, 2008

Preparations: Bikes or Trikes?

October 8, 2008: Today, I took half a day off from work and rode my bike 6.4 mi from the office in Oakland to Baytrail Trikes in Albany, owned and operated out of his residence by Steve Schwartz. He dealt mostly with English made ICE brand recumbents. I had seen many different brands in my research, and the Trice line seemed to me to be one of the nicer ones. Steve had also researched many brands, a lot more intimately than I had, and settled on the brand he thought was the best engineered. This saved me a lot of wasted time and effort; I'm no expert in trikes, and wouldn't know what to look for. The ability to adjust and configure the ICE designs to the needs of individual riders was a big selling point for him (and me). He had several trikes available for demoing, and a recumbent bicycle, too. I told Steve of my concern regarding the head-on profile (wider/narrower) and was leaning toward getting the bicycle. After talking a bit, and seeing the profile of the Trice 'Q' nt (narrow track) tricycle he had (it wasn't much wider than my shoulders), I decided to go with a trike, and to skip even looking at the bike.

We took two trikes out to an empty parking lot behind the Golden Gate Fields horseracing arena for a demo ride (the Trice T, and a Trice QNT). Both of them fit in his medium-sized van, which surprised me. The 'T' has a 7" ground clearance, while the 'Q' has 3.2" ground clearance. The experience was remarkable, fun, and damn near fatal for Steve! We had climbed a short but steep hill from the lower-lot to the upper one, and had turned around to go back down. I wanted to see how it would handle going fast, and we were side-by-side going down that hill, heading out onto the wide flat area, below, when this BIG freakin' Parks Department truck came barrelling out toward us. The driver saw me, and swerved left while I turned away to the right, which I was concentrating on, but he didn't see Steve(!), and he was heading straight at him, *accelerating* (I could hear the engine rev-up like the driver stomped on the gas)! I looked back and saw the last part of Steve's roll-over as he must have turned very sharply to the left to avoid a head-on with the truck - the truck was past Steve's position, and stopped. Steve immediately got up from the ground, but had to wait several moments for his pains to ease off - he received small patches of road rash on his arm, shoulder, and chest, and he whacked but didn't quite break his right-pinky finger. A couple other bikers rode up to offer assistance, and the truck driver was appropriately contrite for his part in the incident. No names or driver licenses were exchanged - the fault was mutual - we should have all been more alert, and, thank the stars, no one was seriously injured. After a few more minutes, we both got back in our respective vehicles, and continued on with our respective tasks.

Amazingly, Steve's trike sustained very little damage; a bit of abraison to the plastic flange at the base of one handlebar gear-shift grip, and an abraided quick release lever. Everything else seemed still true, aligned, and working perfectly. Even the rear-view mirror had only folded in, and just needed to be folded back out, again. I rode around a bit more in the 'Q,' going fast, testing to see how stable a trike was at high speed turns (not too bad, but did bring a wheel up a bit). The one bad thing I noticed about trikes was the bumps; you feel them more than you do on a bike, because you can't stand up and let your legs act as shock absorbers. Maybe there's a way to do that in a trike, too. Despite all that, I was satisfied with the demo, and definitely wanted to get one of these puppies. I was torn between getting a 'T' or a 'Q' Trice, but Steve convinced me that after watching how I rode and handled the Q, that it was the one for me. Being lower, it was faster and more stable, and that's what I should get.

Back at the shop, we went over the specifics of configuration and accessories, and he said he'd email me the price and downpayment amount by tomorrow. Poor guy: he had a migraine headache when I first arrived, was nearly run down by a truck, had to check into the hospital to make sure his pinky wasn't broken, but, at least he made a sale! He emailed me the initial price quote later that day, and I said I'd send him the downpayment the next day.

1 comment:

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