Time: The Truest Test of All
The 2005 Catrike Road Over the Years
By Jose A. Hernandez
blame my genes for everything. Yeah, it is their fault I look the way I look. I
blame them for the way I think and also for the way I act. I blame them for my
metabolic syndrome and I blame them for my recumbent addiction. I won’t ever
say “The Devil Made Me Do It,” because I know better. I know that my
genes predisposed me to my indescribable fascination with all things recumbent
and inexplicably forced me to spread the “Bent Gospel.” Because of my genes, I
developed an overwhelming urge to freely share well-guarded recumbent secrets
through an on-line magazine, a personal web site and a few Internet groups.
Because of my genes, I found myself writing bicycle reviews and owning more
recumbent toys than I care to admit. My genes made me do it! They turned me
into a recumbent polygamist and a bent evangelist on a mission. Some would say
that this is a good thing and O.K., I guess it is. The Bent life can and has
been great! You see, my bent genes forced me to collect recumbent bikes, offer
my free service as a test pilot to some manufacturers, or simply trade my
bike(s)s for new models after a very short
test/ownership period. I would religiously ride the heck out of “my” bikes and,
at times, even tried to destroy them, all in an effort to find their elusive
“true” essence. A review article would follow my short-term test or, if there
was no article, well, that very short-term test/ownership period would often
color my perception of a particular bike/trike for a long, long time. But in
spite of all the fun, I eventually learned that living as a recumbent
polygamist had a serious down side: I simply failed to keep “my” bikes long
enough to see if my initial impressions were “on the money.” More importantly,
I risked missing the true essence of the bike I was testing/owning just because
I couldn’t benefit from truest test of all: The test of time!
Many years ago, I had a chance to ride a Catrike prototype. I can’t remember the exact year, but it may have been in the year 2000 or 2001, during one of our early South Florida Challenge/HPRA events. My first impression was less than positive. I wasn’t comfortable with the trike’s brake steer. I thought the trike’s boom seemed to flex a bit too much for my taste. Coincidentally, I watched in horror as one of the guys who asked for a test ride, managed to break the trike’s bottom bracket just as he was trying to “take off”. I then learned that the trike was made of aluminum and heck, in those days, EVERYBODY knew that trikes should NOT be made of aluminum. I fully expected the frame to fail and this pre-conception, along with my very short acquaintance with the trike, kept me from realizing that the production Catrikes would quickly evolve and turn out to be solidly built and reliable trikes. For a long time after this little “event”, I unconsciously ignored the fact that Catrike frame failures were virtually unheard off. As it came to be, the Catrike frames were actually holding up but the reality of this fact could not penetrate my thick skull. Now that I’m older and hopefully, “wiser,” I see that I shouldn’t have allowed this extremely short-lived exposure to a Catrike Prototype shape my views for so many years. In fact, at least four years would go by before I considered buying a 2005 Road. The 2005 Catrike Road was meant as a gift to my wife so it was easier for me to overcome my bias and buy one. As it turned out, I somehow managed to ride the trike more often than she did. As time went on, my logical mind became more open to the idea that aluminum framed trikes were O.K. but still, from time to time, however inexplicable or illogical this may have seemed at the time, persistent images of broken aluminum frames would unpredictably escape from the deeply hidden catacombs of my mind.
I really hate to admit I was wrong. (I’m really trying to prove to my wife that I’m always right.) However, four years and many miles later, the 2005 Catrike Road still looks like new. In fact, it looks like it just came out of the shop for the first time. The frame is intact, as if it had never been ridden before. Darn it! The trike’s manufacturer must have been right about his aluminum frames! After all these years, I finally learned that the reason our Catrike’s frame would NOT fail was that its frame was extremely triangulated with virtually no flex. “Our” Catrike Road, like all other Catrikes, has an integral seat frame. In other words, the seat is actually part of the frame, which greatly contributes to the apparently “ever-lasting” nature of this trike.
Our trike’s deep red powder coat still shines as much now as it did when it came out of the bike dealership. The mesh seat is still in perfect condition. None of the standard components have failed or needed to be replaced. O.K., I’ll admit that the trike does live indoors, which does help, but over the last four years, it has been exposed to rain, mud and sand. It has rolled over paved roads, and both paved/unpaved trails. It has gotten really dirty and, even though we failed to clean it on a regular basis, it hasn’t suffered from any kind of rust.
The trike still feels as stable and easy to handle now as it did when my wife fell in love with it. Perceived stability was the most important factor in my wife’s mind as she was painfully aware of my ability to spectacularly crash and flip my test trikes. And of course, there was this one time when one of my test trikes tried to dump her, scaring the living you-know-what out of her. The 2005 Road also seemed to have very little or no brake steer so it was easier for her to control it. You, the reader may not care about this, but I personally think that the virtues of NO brake steer are over rated. Then again, I might be wrong about that too. There must be a reason to justify the fact that newer catrike models have zero brake steer.
How stable is the 2005 Catrike Road? Can this trike be flipped? Oh yeah, it can be flipped, but you almost always have to try hard to flip it. Five years of ownership has established this fact. Did it EVER flip? Yes, a couple of times, but it survived. Unscratched. The only noticeable damage was my bruised ego. No “tell tale” signs or dents could be seen on the trike so I didn’t have to confess to my wife I rode her trike like an idiot.
Do I think the 2005 Road is perfect? Not a chance!!! Although my wife thinks the trike’s seat is very comfortable, it hurts my back when I ride it more than 30 miles. The 2005 Road seat does not have any lumbar support, an oversight that has been brilliantly corrected on newer Catrike models. Some folks do not need lumbar support but I am not one of them. Additionally, and contrary to what some folks may tell you, I never found the 2005 Road to be a good performer in the “speed” department. On a long trip, this trike tires me out! Sixty mile rides at a moderate to intermediate speed (say 13-16 MPH) results in my needing a back massage and a new body. Nevertheless, I don’t think that speed performance was a major design goal so I shouldn’t be too critical about it. The trike’s avid disc brakes are POWERFUL and haven’t needed repairs. However, from time to time they squeal a bit, something that is somewhat aggravating. Another annoying detail is the inconvenient placement of the water bottle cages, but this minor detail shouldn’t bother anyone with the power to stretch his arms as if they were made of rubber.
Overall, the one thing that really impresses me about this 2005 Catrike Road is its durability and its reliability. These are attributes that a short ownership period can’t predict with any level of certainty but something that time, the truest test of all, established without a doubt.
The moral of my story is simply this: The Catrike Road, contrary to my initial assessment is an EXCELLENT trike. It was built to last and reliably take you where you want to go. Because of this, I think we’ll keep ours until such time as my genes force me to get a Catrike Expedition… or a GreenSpeed GTR… or….possibly a new set of genes?