Nihola trikes are nice vehicles and quite rare in Holland but popular in Copenhagen, Denmark. For reasons beyond my comprehension the Danish prefer three-wheeled family transport bikes while the Dutch go mostly for two wheelers. I could write for hours on the subject but to make a long story short WorkCycles customers have overwhelmingly been happiest on two-wheelers so that’s what we sell unless a customer really needs a tricycle. A two-wheeler such as a Bakfiets Cargobike leans and rides like a normal bike. Trikes are always somewhat strange and unpleasant to ride, and that’s probably why we learn to ride on two wheels as young as possible and then almost never go back to three wheels. There are certainly valid reasons to need a trike, though:
In any case I put this picture up because it demonstrates a problem with some trikes: They can tip onto their noses when the center of gravity moves too far forward of the front axle. Usually this happens while kids are climbing into the trikes from the front.
On the Nihola its funny to see but really not a problem: Unlike most trikes the Nihola’s front wheels steer independently, as on a car. The frame is thus a single unit so the tail simply sticks in the air and the kids laugh.
However the Nihola is not the only child carrier trike with the front wheels well behind the front of the box. The Winther Kangaroo, TrioBike and Zigo Leader are also constructed this way.
I’ve never seen a Zigo but it appears, like the Nihola, to have independent steering via tie-rods. Reports from my colleagues that the Zigo’s turning circle is very large would tend to confirm this. The Zigo’s child carrying unit sits almost entirely forward of the front axle and the bike is very light so it will almost definitely tip forward when kids climb in the (only) front entrance, unless mom is attendant and holding the rear end down. Fortunately, like the Nihola, the Zigo’s tail will merely stick way up into the air. Annoying but probably not dangerous.
When this happens to the Winther and TrioBike its not such a humorous occurrence: These trikes have central, axle pivot steering, meaning that the trike steers by turning the front carrier parts of the trike in relation to the rear bicycle part. Thus when the nose goes down and the tail goes up… the rear part of the bicycle will rapidly fall to one side, perhaps tipping the entire bicycle, falling into a parked car or other bicycles, or even falling into the roadway. Both of these bikes have light aluminium frames so it really doesn’t take so much weight to tip them.
One can argue that a parent should always be present to hold the bike steady but that’s just not how it works in the real world: kids absolutely love playing on and in these bikes, regardless of adult supervision.
The photo of the Nihola I found in the flickr album of “andjohan”.
For more reading material about the TrioBike have a look at this earlier post where I used it as an example to complain about how ridiculous and inaccurate online “reviews” can be. The comments that follow get rather bizarrely heated and emotional.