arcadiagt5 (arcadiagt5) wrote,

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WizWheels TerraTrike Cruiser

The WizWheels TerraTrike Cruiser is an entry level trike priced from $1990. For the obvious reason that it is all I've got I'll be comparing the Cruiser to my own Greenspeed GT5 and this may not be entirely fair to the Cruiser (given that the base price of a GT5 is, ah, rather more than that).

Whilst the Cruiser has its problems, it also has some very nice features that I'm rather impressed by. Sometimes the good and the bad are mixed into the one feature.

The Fit

The seat is higher, and wider which makes for good views while riding. On the down side it shorter, lacks a lumbar curve, comes in a rather less visible black, and felt less comfortable. I'm not sure exactly why but I may have been feeling the buckles used to maintain the tension. Comfort on long rides of 50K+ may become an issue.

The big news with the seat is that it is adjustable. Both in terms of position and angle. This picture shows the simple approach to adjusting the seat angle - remove the pins, slide up and down, reinsert. The elastic bands are not functional (unless you want to stop them rattling).

This next image shows the four holes in the seat base, and the two in the frame, that allow you to adjust the position of the seat. 

Since the Cruiser doesn't have an adjustable boom like the GT5, adjusting the seat is how you adjust a given frame size to a rider. Technically speaking, this is less flexible than the GT5 and this is reflected by the fact that there are 4 boom sizes for the Cruiser as opposed to two frame sizes for the GT5.

Practically speaking, I think the Cruiser is more flexible than the GT5. In theory I can adjust the GT5 boom by about 20cm but I never will because its just too much work to also adjust the length of the chain. The Cruiser has a more limited scope of adjustment (ordering the right boom size is critical), but the adjustments are easier to make and reverse. This would be ideal for a "loaner" or a trike shared between two riders of similar height.

The Track

The Cruiser is about 10cm than the GT5. In the picture below the tape measure was set to the full width of the GT5, and there it is just sitting on the tyre.

This makes for a roomy cockpit and avoids the need to lift the inside leg when turning sharply (on the GT5 at full lock the wheel comes under my knee). In terms of stability, this also compensates for the higher seat. It isn't mine so I didn't ride Cruiser as aggressively as I ride the GT5 but it seemed stable enough.

I was initially concerned that the width would make it harder to navigate through some tight spots such as narrowly spaced bollards. However it isn't as big a problem as I thought as shown by the image below. These bollards block a road under the Canberra Centre that I cut through on my daily commute; I didn't expect to get the Cruiser through here but it wasn't a problem.

I also expected the width to adversely affect parking but a brief test disproved that as well. As shown below it was fairly easy to park at a bike rack and get a D-lock across the cruciform (although the lock hitting the chain is minor concern). 

The Layout

The layout of the Cruiser is very neat - the use of 4 idler wheels (two power, two return) makes for a very clean chain line that is kept well clear of the frame. Of this I approve, although it does contribute to a noisier drive train. The idlers themselves are fairly basic and candidates for upgrades. For comparison the next set of images compare the drive train layouts on the Cruiser and the GT5

Starting at the back here's a look at the old inner tube I use to keep the chain from rubbing on the GT5's frame

And here's the equivalent, and much neater, view of the Cruiser

This front view of the GT5 shows the single drive train idler used by Greenspeed, and the tubes used to guide the front chain runs.

And here's the equivalent, and again neater, view of the cruiser

The Ride

The Cruiser handles reasonably well with a few nasty surprises. I appreciated the higher seat more than I expected to - the view was excellent and the roomy cockpit easy to deal with. The steering was twitchier than I'm used to, but that may have been nervousness on my part.

Gear changes were something of a problem thanks to the grip shifters that I couldn't really adapt to. I'm sure that these shifters work reasonably well on an upright when the handlebars are horizontal. For starters on an upright the twisting to shift gears would be forward/back and entirely orthogonal to the left/right steering motion. And the rider could read the numbers on the grips easily. The grip shifter were, for me at least, considerably more problematic as part of an underseat steering arrangement which results in vertical handlebars. To say that I missed the bar end shifters of the GT5 would be an understatement.

The second nasty surprise was how much brake steer I had to deal with. Compared to the GT5 the brake steer is significant and something that a rider needs to watch for. Especially considering that it will usually happen when you're signalling a turn...

Finally be aware that the brakes are cable actuated disc brakes (Avids I think) that are only manufactured in one orientation. This results in a mirrored installation for the left and right brakes. Left mounts above the axle, right below the axle. See below for illustrations (photos taken from the front):

Left:  and Right:

What this means in practice is that the cable runs for the left brake can get caught up in the steering and/or left wheel when sharply turning to the right. It isn't a major problem once you're aware of it (and reach down to pull the cable out of the way) but it can be mildly annoying. In my case it may have been partly due to the forward seat placement.

The Bits

Given its entry level pricing, the austerity of the Cruiser's kit out isn't really a surprise. A GT5 comes with a flag, a mirror, and rear mudguard, which is about 3 more accessories than the Cruiser comes with. Even the toe cages that Fuse Recumbents supplied me with aren't standard features (and neither is the pannier rack shown in the photos). Having said that I believe that the available accessories are individually cheaper than the Greenspeed equivalents. Mirrors and mudguards would be the 1st on the agenda (I really missed the mirrors when I was on the road).

The Shimano Altus derailleur is an 8-speed that seems to be fairly low end, although the gearing range (18"-90") isn't too bad and shifting seemed fine to me.

The tyres are road tyres but partly knobbly of no recognisable brand. This is definitely a minor issue as there is a multitude of choices available for 20" 406 wheels. The stock tyres/tubes are Presta valves but I assume that a swap to Schraders (car valves) would be feasible.

The Look

As I've alluded to with the discussion of the chain runs the Cruiser has a clean look to it that I rather like. Quite handsome actually. The Cruiser only comes in the blue shown in the photos, but the powdercoating is very well done. The black seat may not be as visible as the bright yellow of the GT5 but matches well to the frame. And to be fair the limited colour choice isn't really surprising given that the GT5 only comes in two colours (Red and Blue).


Given the low price, this is a surprisingly good trike. I liked it a lot more than I was expecting to. Yes, it has some problems. No, I won't be giving up the GT5 any time soon. :)

However the design is fundamentally sound and rides well enough with some very impressive design features (especially that adjustable seat) that I liked a lot. I haven't even touched on the upgrade possibilities - something that didn't escape the notice of the editors of 'BentRider Online when they named it one of their "Trikes of the Year" for 2006:

"Trike of the Year, Editor's Choice - Wizwheelz TT Cruiser

No, you're not seeing double. The 700 blew us away mid-year but the economically priced Cruiser has been bringing new riders to the sport in droves all year long. It is by far the best trike ever offered at this price and has a great foundation that should grow right along with the rider's capabilities." 

And I think I'll leave it at that. 

Tags: reviews, test rides, trikes

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