4 Adult Tricycles for People Who Never Got Over Big Wheels

Ever since Big Wheels, the tricycle has faded away, back to its spot as the second least cool way to get around (behind perennial favorite, rollerblades.) But does it have to be that way? These four inventors don’t think so ...
4 Adult Tricycles for People Who Never Got Over Big Wheels

As a rule, tricycles are not very cool. Even when we're kids, a tricycle is obviously just a stepping stone to a proper bike, which is clearly way cooler than a trike, at least until we get older, at which point we realize that smoking's cooler than anything else. (And so on; this trend continues right up until you reach the current pinnacle of cool, "reading websites." That's right. You've arrived.)

The last tricycle that ever even had a possible claim to being cool was the Big Wheel. These caught on in the 1970s when someone decided that they were safer for children than regular tricycles (a decision obviously not made by someone who'd ever met a child, to judge by what me and my friends got up to on ours). There have been a number of different versions produced, but perhaps the most beloved were those made by Hasbro in the 1980s. Constructed out of the cheapest plastic sourced from the darkest parts of Asia, they followed the standard Big Wheel layout (1 x big wheel), but were also tricked out with molding and decals to emulate famous vehicles from a variety of popular franchises of the day, including Knight Rider, The Dukes of Hazzard, G.I. Joe and The Transformers.

4 Adult Tricycles for People Who Never Got Over Big Wheels

I had the Cabbage Patch Kids one, and am a tougher man for it.

Ever since Big Wheels, the tricycle has faded away, back to its spot as the second least cool way to get around (behind the perennial favorite, Rollerblades). But why does it have to be that way? Have we let the wheel industry upsell our society so completely? There was simple, honest beauty in wailing a Big Wheel into a ditch while your friends cheered. That was cool. And it's something the world needs more of.

And after a bit of research, I've found some startling news. There are other cool tricycles out there, some almost as cool as the Big Wheels themselves, tricycles the quad-wheeled industrial complex has been suppressing. Below I've selected four of the most genuinely cool three-wheeled experiences that exist (or have existed). These vehicles were designed to carry humanity to a better place, a simpler place, a metaphorical place, which is also an actual place, which is a ditch that we've just wailed into as hard as possible.

Drifting Trikes

These look a lot like Big Wheels, just upsized a bit to accommodate a larger, if not necessarily smarter, pilot. The other notable difference is their oversized rear wheels covered in smooth plastic, designed to provide essentially no traction, forcing the trike to travel everywhere sideways. Here's a video that shows these things in action:

If you don't like clicking on videos, I'll summarize as best I can: Holy shit. It's basically a mashup of Big Wheels, Mario Kart and natural selection. This clip was filmed in New Zealand, where the sport of drift-triking apparently originated, presumably as a government initiative to thin out their population of young men. That said, I'm pretty sure this is what we all imagined our Big Wheels should have been capable of, back when we were kids, tear-assing around, hauling on the shitty handbrake for all it was worth.

If you're interested in getting into the sport yourself, first, please buy some goddamned shoes. After that, the only other equipment required is a helmet, fully paid foot insurance, and a drifting trike. There are a few guys out there who'll sell you those, but it seems that most drift-trike enthusiasts make the things themselves.

But Can It Wail into a Ditch?

Oh, I'm pretty sure it can. I imagine it takes several weeks of practice just to get good enough to choose which ditch you wail into. Though it looks like the learning process is probably quite a bit of fun, so long as you have the right safety equipment.

4 Adult Tricycles for People Who Never Got Over Big Wheels

Holy shit, New Zealand.


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The Greenbird is a land yacht, essentially a sailboat with three little wheels. People with lots of sails and little sense have been making these since the 1600s, starting with the Dutch, world leaders at the time in the twin fields of having sails and not much sense. The reason the lack of sense is relevant is because these things can haul ass; it turns out that the ocean is a terribly sticky place for vehicles to tromp around in. Once you get up out of the water, you can get moving pretty quick.

4 Adult Tricycles for People Who Never Got Over Big Wheels
This is why fish are so dumb.

And the Greenbird is the fastest of the land yachts, having clocked in at over 126 miles per hour. Which is pretty quick for a freaking car, much less for something that looks like a plane sucking itself off.

But Can It Wail into a Ditch?

Although it could only do it one time, I imagine this thing can do a spectacular job of wailing into a ditch. Shoes would very definitely be necessary to survive such an impact.

Tsar Tank

4 Adult Tricycles for People Who Never Got Over Big Wheels

We've discussed the Tsar Tank before, but here's a brief recap if you haven't read every Cracked article that ever was: This was an experimental tank built by Russia in 1914-1915, and when I say experimental, I mean that it was a byproduct of a pharmaceutical study designed to test the effects of administering LSD to mechanical engineers. The damned thing was about 30 feet high, weighed 60 tons, and made no amount of sense. Aside from having wheels considerably larger than "the side of a barn" benchmark that people always use as a guide for how easy something is to hit, the thing also didn't get around very well. See that single shopping cart wheel at the back there, holding up half of this thing's 60-ton ass? During its initial trial, Physics took one look at this machine, spat out what it was drinking, then buried it so deep in the mud that it stayed there for the better part of a decade.


It did, however, dominate that muddy field utterly for that decade.

But Can It Wail into a Ditch?

Oh, most definitely. You'd just better pick a good ditch, because you're going to be there for a while.

Bond Bug

Imagine a wedge of cheese, only one a bit larger and much, much faster than most wedges of cheese. You got it? Because you've got a pretty good idea of what the Bond Bug is.


I exaggerate, of course; it's not that much larger than a block of cheese.

The Bond Bug was a three-wheeled sports car from the swinging, oil-leaking glory years of the British automotive industry. It was available in any color you wanted, so long as you wanted Tangerine, and came loaded with features, such as fabric window coverings, useful for keeping upward of 40 percent of the weather outside. The thing can also get up to about 78 mph, which might not sound that fast in our inflated 2012 miles, but when you consider that this three-wheeled doorstop handles exactly as well as a three-wheeled doorstop ought to, 78 mph must feel testicle-shriveling fast to the driver.

Mikel Ortega

Also note how the main door of the car conveniently hinges upward. Like a coffin.

If that's not enough to convince you how cool this thing was, there's one other thing about the Bond Bug that gives it a certain amount of cachet. It's Luke Skywalker's frikin' Landspeeder.

4 Adult Tricycles for People Who Never Got Over Big Wheels
Star Wars Locations

This one looks like it's being driven by Luke's stand-in, Brett Skywalker.

To be fair, there were a few models of the Landspeeder used for different shots; this one was used for the long-range wide shots of the Landspeeder in motion. If you look carefully, you can see the wheels concealed by an angled mirror, later tided up in postproduction with some simple shadow and dust effects. Although George Lucas probably changed that in later editions to have the wheels concealed by a group of goofy CGI dancing aliens.

But Can It Wail into a Ditch?

The Bond Bug has three wheels and can move at 78 mph. Its natural environment is wailing into ditches. Any kind of aggressive maneuver (cornering, operating the windshield wipers) would certainly send this thing careening uncontrollably into the nearest ditch. That's awesome, and the fact that you can pretend you're about to bull's-eye a womp rat when you're doing so is just gravy.


For more from Bucholz, check out There's a Bird in the House! How Not to Proceed and The Cheater's Guide to Winning Online Arguments.

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