A Recumbent Tricycle Allows Those Who Have Trouble Balancing to Cycle

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Our inspiration came from a classmate who has spina bifida—a split spine—and can’t ride a regular bike. Our trike has extra back support and a steering system to make turning easier. On a normal bike, leaning in the direction you want to go helps you turn. It’s hard to do that on a trike because it’s rigid, but ours has hydraulic pistons that tilt the tires when you lean, allowing you to make tighter corners. You can go just as fast as you could on a regular bike, and we’re going to add an electric motor, so it is going to be really fun to ride. We’re building a prototype in our shop at school.


I took an office chair and bent it backward 45 degrees. Eventually we will make the seat in carbon fiber. The seat can slide so people of different heights can use the trike and reach the pedals. —Tack Dallas, grade 12, computer-assisted design (CAD) specialist


You know how on a Segway when you lean forward, the wheels roll forward? That’s because the wheels are trying to catch up with the momentum of your body. Our trike is based on the same idea: To steer, you lean. —Elli Shook, grade 10, designer


When you lean to one side, the hydraulic piston on that side depresses and the other hydraulic goes up. This tilts the tires, helping you turn. When you come to a stop, the hydraulics will automatically reset so the tires aren’t leaning. Then, when you get going, a sensor flips and you can lean to steer again. —Jordan Kooi, grade 12, lead designer

The students were awarded $10,000 to build the trike by the Lemelson-MIT Program’s InvenTeam Initiative.