Tribents do have several disadvantages that need to be mentioned.
Tribents are low machines. Also, you sit low in them. This can cause some visibility problems, particularly in road traffic. (We’re talking about your visibility to other drivers.) To draw more attention to you (on your tribent), certain safety equipment should be used at all times. This definitely includes a flag (mounted on a pole) that will be visible above car hoods. Many such flags are small triangular pieces of stiff fabric. We prefer windsocks, which provide greater visibility from directly behind (a flag has good side profile, but minimal rear profile). A windsock with fluttering streamers draws more attention than a small flag, and provides enhanced visibility from any direction.
Tribents have a wide footprint, which provides their stability. The tribents offered by Tribents.com generally have a wheel track of 27 inches. Some tribents are much wider, a few extending well above 33 inches. While the wider footprint will provide even greater stability, the 27 inch track is an optimal compromise for sidewalk or trail riding. Nevertheless, some pedestrian and bike paths are obstructed with posts to prevent motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles from entering.. These posts may be closer together than 27 inches. While a bicyclist may be able to pass between the posts without dismounting, tribent riders may have to dismount to lift their tribents over or around the posts.
Tribents are more complex machines than most bicycles. Tribents have much more frame and seat structure, as well as an extra wheel and chain length. Folding tadpoles are even more sophisticated. These features add weight, and generally make tribents heavier than bicycles. Thus, they require somewhat more energy to ride, but riding conditions are much superior in tribents and compensate for this extra effort. Furthermore, lighter tribents can be purchased, but each reduction in weight comes at an increased cost. Generally, the lighter a tribent (or bike, for that matter), the more it is going to cost. The folding tribents featured by Tribents.com, are engineered for a “sweet spot” between weight and cost. We can furnish the most machine, features and performance at the lowest cost in a weight range between 37 and 42 pounds. About four of those pounds represent structural elements to make the tribent foldable, but we believe the multiple benefits (such as portability and storability) more than compensate for this added weight. (A carbon-fiber racing tadpole can weight less than 27 pounds, but will cost $5000 or more and will not be foldable. Consult our Directory for other tribent manufacturers if you seek absolute performance or other special features -- and cost is not a consideration.)
Tribents come with either direct or indirect steering. Direct steering is more sensitive to small steering changes, which may prove dangerous at high speed. For this reason, Tribents.com, primarily offers tadpoles with indirect steering, which is much more forgiving at high speed.