The classic delta tricycle, AKA ‘Grandma’s Trike’.

In an earlier article, I described having broken my left clavicle. Having a deep desire to ride, I’m on a trike with one arm in a sling.

This is the classic Schwinn single-speed delta style trike, borrowed from a friend of mine. It has a rear drum brake on the drive axle and front cantilevers. The gearing is low. 80 RPM spinning gives about 8 MPH. That is all there is to this machine, just a simple three wheeler.

It needed a good test ride, so I gave it a quick going over with lubrication and adjustments, then loaded with bike gear.

The ride. To the state trail, then through several towns on the trail and back.

The first few miles had me thinking the title of this article. I am a seasoned rider and was wondering what I had taken on. Hulk Hogan would have quite a time pedaling one of these this far.

I found the ride to be pretty jostling compared to the standard bicycle. The rear wheels would hit a bump or hole and the whole bike would launch me from side to side. I am tall so with the seat all the way up, it really amplified the effect.

Riding on the bike trails of Wisconsin (limestone), one wheel in the track and two wheels in the grass or middle. Bumpy ride. Riding the streets was better.

During the ride I did some calculations in my head which equaled to many hours of pedaling and the chant in my head of ‘what have I done?!?’.

Once I found a rhythm though, it wasn’t a bad ride and ended up being very familiar to riding any other bike, just slower.

I even found myself out racing a storm.

You may have done this. If not, keep riding and you will. You’re looking behind you at the approaching ‘wall of rain’, looking ahead saying to yourself, ‘where is this place? It must be right up here.’

Looking back and forth, wall of rain, street address, wall of rain, heart pumping, thoughts of getting absolutely drenched, wall of rain, cranking on the pedals…

Now think of doing that on Grandma’s Trike, one handed…

I did make it by about 30 seconds and it really downpoured.


I also went swimming with it (PLEASE don’t do that to a bike. I did a complete overhaul the next day, water was in everything, even the sealed bearings). The trail was flooded and being tired with no desire for the two mile detour, I swam it.

We’ve had a lot of rain and the marsh trail was under water. The water went almost to the top of the 26” tires for about 30 feet. Again, Grandma’s Trike got through, seaweed was lodged and hanging all over it. It made for a fun picture, but a lot of work during the overhaul.

The trip totaled 44 miles starting at 10:30AM. Got home at 6:30PM (4 stops for beer and a lunch).

Sitting bolt upright on a stable platform feels being a passenger along for the ride, like cargo in the basket. The handling is best at slow speeds, a bit more squirrelly when going faster. Sit, pedal, go. A tough go to go far on, not something for long trips, unless you just are not in any kind of hurry. The defining word is: slow.

Conclusion, the single-speed delta trike is a worthy machine. Not really cool or fast, but well maintained, it will keep you rolling, haul lots of stuff and get you there with a bit less stress.

No matter what you think of the Grandma Trike, it’s better than walking…

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