Cyclist of the Month: Michael Sigler

Trikies Don’t Let Friends Ride the Bus with Groceries

Age: 49
Degree: Associate of Science Business Data Processing, Associate of Science Accounting
Residence: Seattle
Wheels: LightFoot Cycles Greenway Trike

Many residents of Germany grow up biking. It was the way to get around for Michael Sigler and his friends, until, like many students, he stopped cycling in his twenties.

After Sigler lost his hearing and experienced balance problems, he needed a way to exercise more and get outdoors, so he invested in a trike.

Trikes are ideal for doing your everyday errands, like picking up items at the store; with a cargo pod in the back of the trike, Sigler can carry eight bags of groceries – 80 pounds of cargo [For comparison, racks for standard rear triangles often have a 40-pound carrying capacity; the load capacity for an Xtracycle is 150 pounds].

And Michael rides more frequently because he can run daily errands with the Greenway, as well as fully enclose the trike with a “bodysock” to make it all-weather friendly. Zip Designs’ ZZipper wind fairing is Michael’s favorite accessory; it keeps him warm and dry particularly during Seattle’s rainy season. Triking is directly responsible for shrinking Sigler’s waistline from 44 to 40 inches, and generally improving his health.

As a deaf rider, Michael rides cautiously. Two handlebar side mirrors improve his field of vision. Luckily, because they are unusual vehicles, trikes receive wider clearance from auto drivers then bicycles. And their oddness also encourages conversations with strangers, who may not know that Michael lip reads.

The Greenway affords Sigler a sitting position similar to someone in a Honda Accord, so he has an all around view of what’s going on around him. Plus, the reclining sitting position in the Greenway puts less stress on his body. Less stress equals more comfort, which translates to longer rides.

Trikes are The Pony Engine of cycling. At 64 pounds, Sigler won’t win any speed records on his trike; he averages about 12 – 15 m.p.h. However, with a gear range of 10 to 120 inches, Michael has never met a hill he cannot climb. “I might be slow but I do get up them.”

Bike clubs, like Cascade, have a reputation for attracting hard-core 20- to 40-year-old bike riders interested in speed. Sigler thinks an emphasis on slower-paced rides would attract more female and older cyclists. He envisions a central gathering point for more utilitarian social rides, like the ad-hoc Seattle Cargo Bike Rides that are organized around major holidays. Meanwhile, Michael loves riding from his home on First Hill around Capital Hill then down along the waterfront to Myrtle Edwards Park.

Facts about three-wheelers:

  • Trikes usually come in three styles:
  1. Upright: a diamond frame with two wheels at the back and ‘standard handlebar directly connected to the front wheel;
  2. Delta, similar to an upright, but has a recumbent layout and an under-the-seat steering linkage.
  3. Tadpoles: the highest performance trikes. A recumbent design with two steered wheels at the front and one driven wheel at the back with steering accomplished either through a linkage and a tie rod to the plates of the spindle assemblies (USS) or with two handlebars, each connected to a steerer tube (usually through a bicycle headset, with the handlebars acting as stems) and a tie rod between the plates of the spindle assemblies (OSS).
  • Tadpole trikes hold most of the current human powered vehicle speed records. In 2002, Sam Whittingham achieved the world speed record of 81 mph on a fully-faired recumbent.
  • A faired tailbox can supposedly increase speed on a short wheelbase bike by around 5-10%.
  • Although sub $1,000 trikes have been introduced, due to the small order numbers and the high quality of hand-built construction, many quality adult trikes cost at least $2,000; the best can exceed $3,500.
  • Unlike 4-wheelers, trikes can generally fit through standard doors.
  • Recumbent trike riders can often brake one wheel with each hand to pull the trike in that direction.
  • In the UK, “trikies” ride “barrows”

Scott Marlow was marketing director for Cascade Bicycle Club from 2001 – 2005. Currently the Club record-holder for the shortest commute (under six-seconds), Marlow works from his home office in Ballard. Nominate your cyclist of the month!