Ellen and I came up with the DateTrike concept after our experience with our Burning Man quadricycle demonstrated the pleasure of side-by-side tandem traveling. What was missing from the quad, cobbled together from a pair of mountain bikes, was performance. The quad was a lot of fun, but it was hokey even before we put the Hokey Spoke lights on the wheels. We had a nice bench seat which provided comfort, as long as you weren’t pedaling. However, despite the performance shortcomings, the quad provided for relaxed conversation with your traveling companion, and gave you a comfortable place to sit when you arrived at your destination.
For pedaling comfort, we have found nothing much nicer than Ellen’s Sun EZ3-USX dog-running trike. Several years ago when Sammy, our friendly and energetic dog, joined our family, Ellen got the trike so that she could give Sammy a good workout. The added stability of the trike reduces the risk of running a dog with a bicycle in the event that an errant squirrel sends dog and cyclist into the ditch.
So after several arduous trips on the bike paths around here on the quad, it became clear that a better sociable vehicle was needed. The DateTrike concept gradually developed, and over the last couple of years the idea acquired tangible form.
Some projects proceed at their own pace, and you wonder if they will ever see the light of day. Such was the DateTrike. However, we have now taken the trike on its maiden voyage, so the project has reached the point it’s no longer an embarrassing incompleteness.
My goal was not to make another Burning Man festival machine, but rather to create the absolute preferred transportation vehicle for an evening out with my sweetheart and for sociable trips in comfort along the bike paths around Eugene. With any project, you have to go with what you know, so the frame for the DateTrike is made of wood. I wanted a comfortable recumbent riding position for two with side-by-side seating, and to the extent possible, either person should be able to take control of piloting the craft. I’ll discuss more details of the design and construction in future posts.
With construction basically complete, the question that needed answering was “does this thing really work?” The only way to find out was to take a few test excursions. I made several short test runs up and down the street in front of the house for rudimentary tests of steering and brakes, and to discover what rubs where it shouldn’t. However, our first real run was down to Saturday market last weekend. It goes, it stops, it steers and it’s stable! The six speed gearing seems about right, with the low gear low enough to climb hills and move the loaded trike off-road, while the high gear is high enough that you have to work pretty hard to keep your pedal pace on the flat. The dual rear disk brakes can stop the loaded trike quite quickly. The cable under-seat steering system has proven to be responsive and easily controlled by either passenger with one hand. Despite the long wheel base, the trike can turn quite sharply.
We have used the DateTrike to give Sammy his exercise runs. Sammy gives us plenty of opportunity to test the gears and the brakes. He insists on stopping frequently to leave his mark on trees and poles, requiring a quick stop. Sometimes he wants to go at a gallop, and we both have to pedal hard in high gear to keep up. By the end of his 6 to 10 mile run he is dog-tired, and we poke along in lower gears.
On Friday we hauled a picnic on the back of the DateTrike and rode with Sammy to a Shakespeare play in the park. On Saturday it carried our musical instruments and potluck contributions with us to a neighbor friend’s party and music night. Today we rode the DateTrike to the neighborhood park, where it provided seating for the band concert that was going on. All and all, it is a total success as the ultimate in sociable vehicles!
There are still a few improvements and additions that need to be finished, but like the rest of the project, they will happen in due course. In the meantime, we are looking forward to a lot of together biking pleasure this summer.
The wood finish is very pretty, looking forward to construction details, Becky
I saw you on the River Bike Path last Sunday. I told my wife about this vehicle but it was hard to explain. I will learn more about you / this vehicle for sure. I got the link via GEARs.
What a beautiful, creative achievement, Gary. Congratulations on bringing together the Plan into a total success. We love it. And you look to have found the Grail. Bless your uprighteous motation. Lucky Sammy now has you both in tow!
I love the DateTrike! You should start a business selling them.
Wow, I love this thing. Beautiful.
I’ve proved too incompetent to ride a recumbent bicycle, and too humiliated to keep practicing on a single person recumbent trike. This looks like a great solution – but my husband would probably get lazy and let me be most of the driving force.
The aesthetics are great. How wide is it?
Reblogged this on The Crazy Randonneur and commented:
This is one beautiful machine! very unique, to say the least. I want one!
Thank you everyone for the nice comments. I hope some of you decide to tackle a similar project. If you do, I’m happy to offer my 2 cents.
Construction details will be coming, Becky.
Tim, if you are a wood worker and want a go at it, we should talk.
Charles, Yes, Sammy knows a good thing. He is all smiles when we are out and about.
Emily, I’m sure I could sell them, but by the third one I’d be bored! The freshness is what is fun about projects like this.
Marsha, There is one company that makes a side-by-side trike, but it’s not as nice as mine! The DateTrike is about 45 inches wide across the wheels, and weighs in at about 84 lbs.
Wow, Gary. What a fantastic, beautiful machine. You are amazing.
Would it make it up our hill?
If not, could you make one that would.. and had really good brakes. :)
Looks great Gary!
Thanks, Laveda. You will have to try it out when you come to town for the Fair.
Steve, It’s going to make it up your hill even if I have to push it!
I think there is a market for this, it is totally cool!!!
Absolutely stunning! I found your blog on the DateTrike as I was searching for ideas on a side-by-side trike for burning man… I happen to live in Eugene too (so, I promise not to make a replica – besides, I don’t have your mad artisan skills). I love what you did and hope that I run into you two in town this spring so I can check it out. Best, Casandra
I am very impressed with your design. I’ve been looking for something like this for my new wife and I. I also love working in wood and with mechanics of this type but would like more info on steering system. Is it a cable like you would find on an outboard motor boat? Or more like tie rods? I have been studying recumbents. See even though I am a newlywed I will be retiring very soon. I live in a very small town in Nevada and thought this bike style would be nice for the misses and me. If you would be so kind though to give further details on the steering that would be great and are the rear wheels tied together or does the peddles go each individual? Thank you so much you are and inspiration 😆
Hi Al, Glad I inspired you! Dig a little deeper on the website and find this post under “FUN”: DateTrike Construction If that doesn’t answer your questions, write me another note. You can find my e-mail on QRZ.com. I’ve had a few people say they wanted to make one of these, but so far I don’t think anything has actually materialized. Maybe you will be the first!