Have you ever looked at something, a car, a house, a person, and thought: no, that’s not for me. That’s not my style, that’s out of my league, that’s more than I want or need, and so on. And yet, when you get closer, when you drive it, when you walk in that front door, when you talk to that person, you find that you just might be wrong, at least enough to cause you to take a closer look. Sometimes that turns into a need to experience it more, as you find that perhaps you didn’t know yourself as well as you thought. That is a good description of my reaction to the 2012 Catrike 700.
I consider myself more of a tourist than a racer, someone more interested in putting on panniers instead of wheel discs. When I look at the Catrike lineup, I look at the Road more than the Speed, the Expedition more than the 700. And the Musashi? Not at all! And yet, those of you who have been following my reports know that I am now the owner of a Musashi, and love it. So, in retrospect, my reaction to the 2012 Catrike 700 shouldn’t be all that surprising.
At first glance, there are more similarities than differences between the Expedition and the 700. They both are tadpole trikes with aluminum frames and integrated seats, they have small front wheels and a larger rear one. A closer examination shows that the Expedition has 20″/406 front tires coupled with a 26″/599 rear. The 700, on the other hand, is 16″/349 and 29″/700c. You might shrug your shoulders and think – not much of a difference, really.
And then you sit on the trikes, and that’s when you notice a few more things. While the Expedition has you 10″ off the ground, and with a recline angle of 37 degrees, the 700 puts you a bit closer, at 7″, and with a more laid-back 27 degrees. Is that a big deal? And, though you woudn’t know unless you got out a tape measure, would the fact that the Expedition is a little shorter in wheelbase and wider in track, make a noticeable difference when you are riding? One way to find out …
This is the usual progression as you walk down the aisle of a well-stocked recumbent dealer. You look at the various bikes and trikes, some strike your interest more than others, and you evaluate them based more on preconceptions of not only them but yourself as well. You won’t get a definitive answer to your questions until you take that test ride – or should I make that plural, because you won’t be satisfied with just one. And that’s a good idea – don’t come to a decision too soon. You may find that you really like, for example, the Catrike Expedition – many do. But now’s your chance to see if those “minor” differences with the 700 are all that small after all. You may find that you don’t know yourself as well as you thought.
The lower seat may not seem to matter so much, and the nearly imperceptible to the naked eye wheelbase and track dimensions even less so, but when you couple those with the ten degrees of recline difference, the effect is more than noticeable: it’s dramatic, an eye-opener.
The first few moments of riding didn’t reveal much (no brake or pedal steer, but I wasn’t expecting any) to me, but the first turn did – and the sharper and faster I rode, the more I kept telling myself, I must find another phrase instead of that hackneyed “on rails”, but that is how it felt. Stable and quick, the 700 seemed to be challenging me to see just how far I could go in trying to get it up on two wheels. That’s one of the things I try to discover when riding any trike for the first time, to experience the limits, to make it almost instinctive, how fast and sharp I can ride without being surprised by a wheel lifting. With the 700, that limit is more than I’ve encountered before.
The components are of good quality: front chainrings of 30/39/52, and rear cogs of SRAM 12-36, giving a top gear of 113.9 and a granny of 21.9 gear-inches. Brakes are Avid BB7 discs. Derailleurs are Microshift in the front, and SRAM X-9 10-speed in the rear. Tires are Schwalbe Kojak and Durano. Weight of the trike is 33 pounds, and the rider weight limit is 250.
Riding my normal test route, with its various hills and turns, I found myself behaving more like the racer that I am not, pedaling more than coasting, braking later, wanting to see just how fast I could go. Instead of daydreams of quiet tours in some bucolic countryside, camping gear strapped on the back, I found myself thinking of Calvin’s Challenge, and riding 200 miles in 12 hours. That’s not me, I’m a tourist, not a racer, and yet …
Yes, the 700 and the Expedition are very simlar – and I have ridden and reviewed the Expedition before, and liked it a lot. Judging by how many I see on the roads, I am not alone in my feelings about that trike. And yes, the 700 may not be for everyone – the lower seat and increased recline angle may not be to everyone’s liking. I didn’t think I would like it – it’s just not “me”, I’m not a racer, etc. And yet … when I rode it, when I felt (a placebo effect? Maybe, maybe not) faster, I thought: I really like this trike. And I think all of you should give it a try. You may discover you don’t know yourself as well as you thought.
Pros: Fast, agile, makes you feel younger and more athletic
Cons: Recline angle and seat height may be just a bit too much for some
Cost: MSRP of $2750 with standard paint of silver or black, other shades $100-$150 more.
For More Information: http://www.catrike.com/catrike_700.html