Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tricky Trikke

I’ve found a lot of cool stuff at Goodwill, not least of which are my bikes. There was the Chicago Schwinn Collegiate I bought years ago and used as a going-shopping bike. Then there was the Raleigh Grand Prix, the one from the 1980s built with Reynolds 531 and all classic components for $25. After I bought it, I looked in a local bike shop to see what an equivalent new bike would cost—about $900 (now about $1,500). Not bad value. Plus it’s lighter than most new bikes, and the old-style components last longer. Nothing like friction shifters for durability. The light weight is a real gas. I can pick this baby up with one hand and carry it on my shoulder—not bad for an overweight 54-year-old. Out on the bike trail, I ride in proper bike shorts and a loose T-shirt (my favorite says “Plumbing Express” on it). Then the screaming Lycra-clad racing team blows past me, usually as rudely as possible. Sometimes I am passing something slower, such as a mom pushing a stroller, when they pass me. I drop a gear and pace them for the rest of their ride. Fun when you don’t look like you can do that.

Most of what shows up at Goodwill are plumber’s specials, bikes that weigh as much as if they were made of plumbing pipe. The few good ones are usually picked off by entrepreneurs who flip them on Craig’s List (there is one such guy in my neighborhood). But I check regularly anyway. My latest find was something unexpected.

I stopped by looking for a bike for a friend, and spotted what looked for all the world like a three-wheeled push-scooter. It was a Trikke, pronounced “trike” but looks like “tricky” which is what it is. Dressed as I was in a business suit, I still had to try it. As soon as I stood on it, I saw that it works by turning alternately right and left (or left and right if you prefer). Even in the Goodwill foyer, it started to roll. Basically, it works by creating the effect of going downhill. It was $45, more even than my Raleigh (and thus less of a bargain, as a new one costs about $330). I bought it on the spot, took it home and began trying it out.

Riding the thing is habit-forming. It’s fun like a scooter was fun. Then I wanted to get the hang of making it go properly. The technique is to make slight turns and lean into them. My habit was to lean away from the turn to keep the thing upright, but it’s the lean that drives it. It’s made such that as you lean, you are also pushing the rear wheels up and down, creating forward motion. The makers say you can go uphill with it, and I can get some movement on slight grades. Compared to a bicycle, you can’t ride it up a steep hill, and you can’t carry much with you. But it’s a lot of fun and a great workout. I’m looking forward to my next ride.

1 comment:

  1. Feel free to drop by our offices at 450-C South Pickett Street in Alexandria anytime and we will set you up with a free fresh Plumbing Express T-shirt!!


    John Griffith
    Plumbing Express