Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lehman Monarch Trike: Day 5

I knew there’d be things I’d have to unlearn when I first settled into the saddle of the Lehman Monarch, and for the most part I’ve made all the necessary mental adjustments, such as steering instead of countersteering, and being mindful enough of the width of the Monarch’s hindquarters to avoid shearing off a wheel on a curb or a parked car. But there’s another thing I need to unlearn that has more to do with me than the trike.

Despite being based on a Honda Gold Wing, the Monarch’s cornering characteristics are anchored in the car world. Because it steers like a car instead of leaning like a motorcycle, it needs to be held more deliberately on your chosen line. The faster you go in a corner, the more it resists being turned, and the more force is required on the handlebars. What I learned yesterday was to slow down on twisty roads to avoid turning an afternoon coffee run into an aerobics session at the gym from hell.

This bit of wisdom came in hindsight, as the twisties ended and I turned onto the highway for the last 10 miles of the ride home. Once I had a chance to relax, I realized my shoulders were knotted with tension, and my back was screaming at me. The Monarch simply cannot be ridden as quickly as a motorcycle, and I had paid the price for trying.

To be fair, I’d already been told all of this by several veteran trike riders. From now on I’ll listen more closely to the voices of experience.

Update: And to the voice of my Gold Wing-riding chiropractor, as well. The day after I wrote this my back started spasming so hard that taking a full breath was difficult. Between two crashes, one on a bike and the other in a car, I've broken all of the ribs on my right side at least once, and some twice; those screwed-up ribs pull at my spine, with predictable if dismal results. This afternoon Dr. Ed put things more or less back where they belong, and told me to take it easy for a few days until everything calmed down. "And when you get back on that trike," he added, "slow down."

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