All bent, out of shape

Wait a minute! What’s going on here? I thought this site was about running, you might be saying to yourself, beer frothing on your table as you shake your fist at me.

Indeed. The Fat Panther was started primarily as a running site. And we will continue to cover all things running, especially trail ultras, shoes, sandal running and getting new runners into the sport running gently and safely.

But along the same lines as the latter point, sometimes we need other sports to fill in on fitness. As my friends know, I’ve struggled in concert with both a bad back and weight gain over the past few years. Diet, stress and other factors figure in, but the core and key facet of all of the issues has come down to the simple fact that getting in cardio with a bad back (without being bored out of your skull) is damn tough.

Regular bikes are tough on the back when you’re injured. Even when the bikes are well fitted. And truth be told, I have always had discomfort with seats. Even when younger, and getting in hundreds of miles a year, I never got comfortable. Narrow seats, flat seats, wide seats, gel seats, split seats. It didn’t really matter.

I’d therefor always considered the potential of a recumbent bike. They’re fast. They’re comfy. They’re fun. But they can also be… challenging. 2 wheeled recumbent bikes take practice to ride, and have a bit of intrinsic instability. Nature of the beast. You’re up high, your center of gravity is high. But then, there’s the trike. The recumbent trike.

So… what the heck is a recumbent TRIKE!? Well, it is basically a little 3 wheeled go kart that lets you sit way back, in a comfy position, and pedal your brains out. Since it has the 3 wheels, it is super stable, and depending on the model, they can be quite fast!

I’ve been testing out a few models at the wonderful AlphaBent store in Sacramento, and will be posting about my search for an ideal trike, and then hopefully posting some ride reports once I find “the one”. So far I’ve ridden models from Greenspeed, Catrike, ICE, HP Velotechnik and Azub.

So which one is my favorite? Honestly almost all of them are fun as hell. I’ve enjoyed the HP Scorpion FX and FS, the ICE Sprint and Adventure, the Catrike 559, 700 and Road and the Magnum from Greenspeed. I’m still trying them out, seeing which ones work. The 700 is fast as a cheetah, but rattled my fillings out with a rough ride. I love the full suspension models, but they are pushing past $4000 and sometimes inching past $5000. Until my “If you don’t like The Fat Panther, you won’t like me” t-shirts start selling a WHOLE lot more, that’s a pretty big bill.

Still, a full suspension model might not be needed. Rear suspension models are cheaper, and in at least a couple cases they can be retro-fitted later with front suspension (this is unusual, however). I’m also wondering if a “touring” trike like the Catrike Expedition might have enough frame flex where a cushy seat would provide me enough “suspension” for my commutes and gravel rides. Then again, I’m also hoping for a trike that folds, which would help with transporting it. So many options. It is a bit overwhelming. And don’t get me started on the insane options available at Utah Trikes, a crazy online Recumbent Trike store. Yipes.

More posts soon! Stay tuned 🙂

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