Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Initial review: Sunseeker Eco tad sx recumbent trike

I recently purchased a Sunseeker eco tad sx from Utah Trikes.  Since I haven't seen a lot of reviews of this trike, I thought I'd post some of my thoughts.  I'm not a triking or biking expert, so YMMV :)

About the trike: It's about 70 inches long, weights about 46 pounds, is 31 inches wide and has 7 gears.  It is one of the cheapest recumbent trikes available, starting at $899. I chose navy blue, but in the light it can look purple (it's very pretty).  It also has a seat that adjusts back and forth with a quick release lever, so it can fit multiple riders easily.  The angle of the seat can also be changed easily.

Modifications: On reviews of this trike, I had read the brakes were insufficient, so I had the brakes upgraded to the avid disc brakes.  I had a rack added in back, and an "accessory bar" added in front, so I could mount a light later.  I was glad I had Utah Trike do these modifications because apparently to mount the rack took some fabricated parts.  I also added a flag and a water bottle holder.  I've also ordered some double sided pedals for it from Amazon so I can use SPD bike shoes to clip in or use my regular shoes if I want.  I also ordered some power grip straps and side view mirrors. (Edited 9/3/16 powergrips didn't work for me and neither did cleats.  My left foot hated them both.  I've moved to mountain biking pedals with homemade heel slings.)

I wanted to change the gearing because I think it is geared too low, but there was no cost effective way to do that.  I also wanted to upgrade the tires, but I decided to wait until this set wears out to do that.

About Utah Trikes: The staff at Utah Trikes was awesome to work with.  Since I had driven a distance, they quickly made the modifications to my trike, so I could take it home with me and not have to drive back.

Transporting the trike:  I took the eco tad home in the back of my minivan, a 2007 Toyota Sienna.  It fit in just fine with the back seats down (and the middle seats still in).  I just rolled the back wheel in between the two middle seats and it fit.

The ride:  I had fun riding this trike.  I like not worrying about falling over like I do on a bike. I've had moments of being one with the trike where I'm able to control it and not think about, just watch the scenery go by and it's amazing.  I'm assuming as I ride it more, I will just be able to ride without thinking about riding so much.

I think the seat is comfortable for the 3 mile rides I've taken it on.  I'll do a longer ride soon.

This trike can handle packed dirt and rock paths.  I took it on a dirt path around a pond near my home and it did fine on packed rock and dirt.  It did not do well in the sand.  I only had to walk it once, but forcing it through the sand hurt my knees.  However, if I had taken my bike on the sand I probably would have wiped out.  This is not an off road trike, but does fine on nice dirt paths.

This trike does have pedal steer. If I am not pedaling evenly, the trike will wiggle from side to side a little.  This should go away as my triking muscles improve.

My eleven-year-old son was riding the trike and hit the brakes hard and had the back wheel come up off the ground, so with more awesome brakes comes more awesome responsibility.  It has duel brakes, so it can have brake steer (like pedal steer, only from braking), so it's important to push both brakes evenly.

Speed: I average about 7.5 mph on the trike (including the time stuck in the sand).  On a regular bike, I average about 8.75, so I dropped in speed about 1.25 miles, which, from what I've read, is normal.  I'm optimistic I will be able to go faster as I ride more.

My husband who rides bikes a lot and averages 18mph, averaged 15mph on the trike, mostly because he had maxed out the top gear.

At higher speeds (>15mph), it can become a little twitchy and it takes very little to steer it.  It is not a trike for barreling down hills at 40 mph (or at least don't expect much control over the trike if you do).

Sunseeker eco tad sx VS Terratrike rover and rambler:  My husband and I test rode the rover, rambler, and the eco tad.  My husband (an avid biker) hated the way the terratrikes handled.  I felt like the eco tad felt a little more solid.

True confessions:  The trike I really wanted was a Catrike Villager, but I couldn't justify the price, especially since the catrike is not easily adjustable for multiple riders without adding an $150 accessory.  However, if you have $2700 laying around, go for it.  (Edited 9/3/16 - I ended up getting a used catrike road which is an awesome machine, but I'm still keeping the eco tad.)

I am happy so far with the eco tad and am looking forward to many happy rides.

Tips:  Here's some tips I gained from my reading about trikes:
  • Be gentle on the brakes
  • Lean into a turn, a trike can tip on turns.
  • Be gentle on the controls, it doesn't take much to adjust where the trike is going
  • If you are trying to miss something (debris, a small pot hole) have it pass under the pedal, that way it will miss both the side and rear tires.
  • Be visible.  Use flags and reflective gear.  Cars will often give a recumbent plenty of room, but they need to see you first.  Be careful where cars could be backing out.


papahonk said...

any new thoughts on this trike? i am considering one of these or the rover i have rode a rover a little and it was nice. but we own a ez-1 from sun that has held up. many years now. so i like the sun brand just cant find a local bike shop that has one in stock to try

Nicolas Freeland said...

I just bought an eco tad for myself and a used terratrike base used. I like the eco a lot more mainly because the steering. Some people ha the sensitive steering on the eco and this is solved in the terra. However tight turns on the terra tend to lock up and is hard to straighten compared to the smoothness of the eco. Terra handle bars are also a bit cramped compared.