terratrike rambler riding bike path

Winter Warrior: Tackling Icy Streets On Recumbent TerraTrike

Filed under: Biking  Winter 

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It’s slow, oversized, and ill-suited to road travel – but boy is a winter trike fun!

Terratrike Rambler All-Terrain trike review

I roll up to the intersection unseen. Other cyclists fly past me, crossing lanes as headlights approach from both directions. Meanwhile, I wait as cars zoom over the crosswalk – apparently unaware of me, despite my blaze-orange reflective vest and blinking lights.

Maybe they’re not familiar with traffic laws. More likely it’s because I’m sitting eye level with their tires – in an adult tricycle. And when drivers eventually do yield, they look at me with a mix of bewilderment and a smile that says, “Aww, isn’t that darling!”

terra trike rambler all terrain

It’s all just part of the fun and frustration that comes with adult triking. I’ve been testing an off-road cargo model from TerraTrike for the last few months. To my surprise, it’s offered the chance to try three-wheeled winter riding – a niche where this machine performs best.

From road to trail, dirt to snow and ice, I’ve put the Rambler All-Terrain through rigorous paces to see how it stacks up against rugged, all-season bicycles. Check out our thorough video review below:


In short: With the first pedal stroke, the TerraTrike brings on a smile. It brings back memories of riding for pure fun, not speed or exercise. Despite its steep price tag at $2,400 and impracticality for on-road commuting, the Rambler A/T provides a great riding experience for people seeking extra comfort and cargo space – just be sure you have a place to park it.

TerraTrike Rambler A/T: Off-Road Trike

To be clear, this is a tricycle in name only. It’s a far cry from the squeaky children’s toy we all remember. The Rambler is 44 pounds of ChroMoly steel with 20 speeds and dual front disc brakes.

Further proving it’s not for kids, TerraTrikes can hold riders up to 300 pounds (some models up to 400). Its recumbent position and large mesh seat – with back – puts riders in a more comfortable, relaxed position compared to bicycles. This makes it a better fit (literally) for individuals who avoid cycling because of comfort and safety issues.

Terratrike Rambler All-Terrain trike review

Like bicycles, TerraTrikes are rear-wheel drive. The Rambler sports a double chainring in front and an 11–40 cassette on back. The All-Terrain model I tested has knobby 24-inch Schwalbe tires and is compatible with the brand’s custom packs, sold separately.

When I initially set up the Rambler I added extras to make it “trike-packing” ready. That included a cargo rack to support the trunk packtwo panniers, and a seat pack. I installed 24-inch fenders for the front tires. In total, the extra-storage setup added about $400 to the $2,400 trike by itself.

TerraTrike Rambler Trike Packing Review

My maiden voyage on the Rambler was a 40-mile trek along paved paths, muddy trails, and some road shoulders. I stuffed the panniers and packs with a tent, clothes, sleeping bag, water, tools, and some snacks – about 30–40 pounds of gear.

trike packing setup

I first noticed how responsive the trike is. While its three wheels provide balance, they also make the ride twitchy. A bicycle offers a smooth ride because it leans. A trike does not. One turn of the handlebars jerks the frame in that direction.

Once you get the hang of easing into curves with subtle steering, the ride smoothes out. But you still need to lean into turns, because if you don’t shift your weight, this trike tips. I also had to acclimate to heel straps.

Unlike a bike where legs work by pushing forward and down – assuming you’re not clipped in – the recumbent position encourages you to pull back. Of course, clipless pedals would work great.

The three-wheeled ride is simultaneously empowering and humbling. You can steer the machine onto any terrain – rocky, slick, muddy, or icy – without worrying about losing handle. And while the low-to-the-ground profile gives you a greater feeling of speed, it also puts you eye-to-tire with other vehicles and bikes.

terratrike rambler riding car

For my ride, I made my own flag with a red bandana, popped on some bike lights, and wore a high-viz construction jersey – and I still felt invisible. I rode about 10 miles on road. Aside from feeling vulnerable to oncoming cars, I took up more room on the shoulder and in the lane, making me feel exposed. For that reason, I recommend keeping this trike on paths and wide trails only.

TerraTrike Rambler: Winter Riding Review

As noted above, cars generally treated me more friendly on this trike than when I ride a bike. Perhaps that’s because, with a 44-pound frame, the trike isn’t nimble enough to dart across traffic. Or it could be that people won’t punch a guy with glasses nor run over a guy on a tricycle.

Terratrike Rambler All-Terrain trike review

Still, when not engaging traffic, the trike proved ideal for navigating Minneapolis bike paths in winter. I tackled iced-over pavement and frozen tire tracks without worry. Best of all, with the added cargo there’s abundant room for a change of dry clothes.

One very important note for anyone considering this or any trike: You will need fenders. The design places your hand directly above the wheels. This means much of what you ride over kicks up onto your arms and hands. It took 10 minutes of riding the first time for me to realize this; after a few puddles, my gloves were soaked.

TerraTrike without fenders during autumn commute

But once you add fenders, your ride is virtually carefree. The dual disc brakes provide impressive stopping power – important to remember for quick stops. Slamming the brakes can cause the back end to lift off the ground, so ease on the brakes like you would on a bicycle.

And finally, the elephant in the room: This thing is about as big as an elephant. It’s not as easy to lock as a bicycle. I had to use a heavy-duty chain lock that was long and flexible enough to wrap around the undercarriage. Also, it helps to have a garage or secure shed to keep this thing at home. Apartment dwellers will not have space enough to park this at night – and leaving it locked outside could draw thieves’ attention.

Adult Trike: Final Thoughts

Terratrike Rambler All-Terrain trike review

Let’s recap: It’s twitchy, tippy, dirty, oversized, and hard to see. So why would you want one? Because it’s an exhilarating ride that tackles nasty terrain with aplomb. Oh, and it is as fun at 35 years old as it was at 5.

Will it replace the bicycle? Absolutely not. Bikes are cost-efficient, space-friendly, and established. But bikes don’t cater to everyone. For those who want to experience the joy of riding with the comfort of a Barcalounger, recumbent trikes are the answer.

And for anybody who wants to tackle unwieldy winter riding, these are a surprisingly good option. Just remember to make yourself visible – and buy a garage.

By
Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.
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