Thursday, May 5, 2011

Two-In Front Trike

Four bucks a gallon gas does concentrate the mind—the more so when the trend line points straight up. Brigitte and I have reached the age when we remember being sixty with nostalgia. The conversation yesterday thus turned to trikes. Brigitte has long contemplated an adult version of the tricycle as something she might like to try, but her preference is for the kind with two wheels up in the front. Wheeled cycles suggests the other kind, cycles of time. When she had reached this stage in her life, my mother acquired a trike for herself, but she didn’t like it much. Such vehicles have a counter-intuitive kind of feel; you tend to lean the wrong way as you turn and suddenly stop! alarmed! because it seems like something’s wrong. I have memories of that same phenomenon myself from times when, working for Polaris, we were testing three-wheelers, the motorized kind; we later went for a four-wheeler instead. Two wheels in the front, even if you have only three all told, produce a different feel. The question then arose, as we were musing. Is there product out there for those who want the future now?

A quick and entirely unscientific survey produced three contenders: Worksman, Zigo, and Feetz. Not household names? Perhaps not. But Worksman has been around since 1898—once more suggesting that what goes around comes around. Zigo is the new kid on the block. And Feetz (whose product most appeals to us) is a Dutch company with a website available only in Dutch (here) and, so far as I can see, no visible representation in the United States.

The Zigo appears to be designed specifically to let you transport a child. The company’s spiffy website is a little bit too mobile, as it were. The images keep disappearing before you’ve had a good look at them, and the kind of technical presentations the prospective buyer longs for—seeing how the front-end carrier might be adjusted or enhanced or replaced with a different kind of accessory—can’t be found. This is a problem when, for us, the nearest dealer happens to be on Mackinac Island, thus a day’s driving away (at $4/gallon, a bit daunting).

The Zigo is priced at $1,399. Feetz is the price leader. The trike runs €1,498, but boy! does that product have features. When you turn left or right, the front wheels actually incline in the turn direction, thus this (/ /) way and (\ \) that. The mouth waters. But let’s now look at the oldest domestic product, Worksman. This company has been making industrial tricycles since the nineteenth century. Still around. It offers the right kind of bike for about $818 or thereabouts—or a four-wheeler for $1,199. Worksman, like Feetz, shows various carrier options, but the technology does not look quite as up-to-date.

Well, we have our work cut out for us. But that a trike is in our future seems pretty obvious. The curves point that way, don’t they? And most of our day-to-day shopping mileage is to drug- and grocery stories anyway. The economics? Tough decision. How long do we have ride a tricycle for shopping to save enough on gas to justfy the expenditures of $1,400 or thereabouts. If we want to save $20 per fill-up, and filling up every week, 70 weeks will do it, thus roughly a year-and-a-half.  If we only fill up once a month because we no longer use the car as often, the pay-out comes about six years out. Ah, numbers, numbers, numbers...

Pictures, top to bottom: Feetz product, ridden and pushed. The Worksman corporate logo. The Zigo machine with baby hood. The Worksman trike. The Feetz machines with two kinds of alternative carriers. Do not be confused by "Sandd"; that is a Feetz trike. And last, not least, the Worksman trike with its simplest platform carrier.


  1. BY hook or by crook I will have something of this nature to transport my two little granddaughters around when they come for their holidays this summer, from England to Santa Cruz, California!!

  2. You will need both, TimeToShine. At least around here (Detroit suburbs) I found that bicyle shops take little interest in carrying such products. I hope they're more innovative in Santa Cruz!