Trikke Magic: Start Carving

Draft: 19 June 2022


The information in this paper is true and complete to the best of my knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author. The author disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. Further, I am not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with Trikke, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates. The official Trikke website can be found at The name “Trikke” as well as related names, marks, emblems and images are registered trademarks of Trikke.

Riding a Trikke fuses all-body exercise with the most fun of any human-powered personal sport vehicle; once you master the gestalt of driving it. Indeed, a good rider learns to participate in the "Tao of Physics" a dance of mental and mechanical disciplines that have eluded too many. The Trikke community wants you to be successful and join us in our invigorating form of recreation. We designed this quick-start guide to get you going without all of the frustrations most of us enjoyed.

Your First Dance Partner - a Box! Really.

Box Dance
Figure 1: Swing body around,

If you have ever "walked" a medium-size, empty bookshelf across a room by yourself, you have demonstrated the essential motion needed to move your Trikke. Try this; I promise it will help! Find a large, empty corrugated box (I stacked two smaller ones) about 1.5 feet wide by 1 foot deep by 4-feet tall (or similar), flaps folded in. Stand at one end of a room or hallway. Plant the box vertically, spanning your feet width-wise as in Figure 1. Place the near bottom corners of the box on top of your toes for best control (but putting your toes in the box can work as well). Grab the near top corners with your hands and think "handlebars".

You're ready to practice the core Trikke dance - with a box. Coordinate slightly lifting your right foot and hand forward while pivoting around the ball of your left foot. Just barely skim the top of the floor. Keep your body upright, no leaning; only the box leans a little, not you. Balance is essential and will improve with practice. After swinging the right-side of the box a foot or so, gently plant the right side on the floor with your hands guiding the box to rest vertically. Repeat pivoting on the other side. Repeat alternating left pivot-foot, right pivot-foot. Go faster! Got it? Victory dance it back across the room. Too easy? Add some weight to the box. Your body weighs 4 to 10 times more than your Trikke. That gives you a great advantage in "walking" it.

It's all about Motion on Arcs

Nothing is going straight! Smoothly sweeping from side-to-side like a dance. Your feet do not move relative to one another - they are always about 1.5 feet apart and pointed in the same direction. Your hands do not move relative to one another - they are always about 1.5 feet apart. Your body turns starting from the pivot-foot hip with a little spine twisting action to power the hands guiding the box. Your body, feet and hands don't move very much relative to each other - a zombie can do this!

Newbie = Zombie! When starting out, it may be best to be a zombie until you master your body twist.

Dance with your Trikke. Finally!

It's the twist that drives the Trikke. Get good at it and the Trikke offers a few ways to amplify it and personalize your dance. First, the basic Trikke riding stance, how to get moving, and then applying the "box-walk" to your Trikke dance.

Basic Trikke Stance

Safety: There is no stance without a helmet and other protection - you will likely fall at some point in learning, certainly later with over-confidence like many of us did. It's best to wear a thin or flexible shoe so you can feel the edges of the decks and the feedback forces through the decks. I like to wear water shoes with waffle foam and mesh soles for grip, flexion and airflow. Bare feet, flip-flops and loose slippers offer no protection; please don't. Have water in a backpack or holder if your model has one. Use sunscreen to make my wife happy - she won't have to look at your cancerous epidermal cells in her database.

Breaks: Place your hands in the middle of the handlebar grips pressing the break levers before planting your feet on the decks. This helps keep the front guide wheel straight and the Trikke stable while you step up onto the decks.

Adjust the Handlebars: Have someone hold the handlebars in place for you. With arms at your side, raise your forearm until your hands are a couple inches above your elbows. With breaks engaged, dismount and adjust the handlebars close to that position, you want to comfortably push forward alternately on the outside bar-ends.

Feet: My 12-inch shoe plants right up to the back of the deck, my toes a few inches from the front of the deck. Back on the Trikke, yours should be somewhere similar. Experiment once you get going, but for starters, keep them centered over the front of the rear wheels.

Body: Flex your knees but don't squat. Bend elbows outward, but not excessively. Body upright at all times for now - no leaning. Importantly, keep your hands on the handlebars - no waving, no wiping your face. RESIST. Your Trikke steering column wants to turn around 180-degrees; don't let it. It won't end well.

Action! Roll 'em

Have someone give you a slow push, or point your Trikke down a slight slope. Brace your body stiffly and pretend you are dancing with your box pivoting one side to the other with a couple of small differences. As you twist, your outside hand turns the handlebar automatically, leading your outside foot a bit because the outside handlebar turns away from the deck. Turn with some effort at the waist, so that your upper body and arms remain still relative to each other. Rather than skimming your foot over the floor, lift your heal slightly and push across the deck with your toes, which remain stationary on the deck.

As noted, you throw your back into the twist more than with the box. The twist adds to the angular momentum you pass on to your Trikke. It feeds on your angular momentum - don't starve it. Over time, your abs will thank you.

Keep practicing the zombie dance zigzagging a straight swath, and then zigzag wide circles. Try level ground and slightly uphill. Barring wind, uneven surfaces, loose debris and truly challenging path topology, you should be able to entice your Trikke to attain at least 6 mph, maybe better. Once you have that dance down, continue to amp it up by cambering.

Cambering, Trust and Killing the Zombie

You likely noticed by now that the handlebar can be angled to either side, even when steering straight. Your feet separate slightly when you camber the steering column. Camber it by lowering your inside hand or raising your outside hand or both, slanting the top of the steering column toward the inside of the turn. Cambering adds no acceleration of its own and does not change steering. It allows your feet to separate just enough to straighten the outside knee. The outside foot does not move on the deck, but it feels a push across the top of the deck; never into it - that is wasted vertical motion. Avoid pushing into it by lifting your heel slightly.

Carving a Left Turn
Figure 2: Swing body,
outside foot and hands around

Many newbies don't trust cambering because they are not used to skis or a skateboard slanting under their feet to bite into the path. This "carving" motion is what classifies a Trikke ride. The Trikke is a "carving" vehicle. It will work (more slowly) if you don't carve, but where's the fun in that?

In order to camber effectively, loosen up your zombie. Your arms must move relative to your body now as they adjust to your hands vertical cambering motions and keeping your body erect. Extend your outside-turn leg as much as possible while your arms fling the handlebar into the path of the front guide wheel - magnifying your body twist as in Figure 2.

I emphasize "guide" because as a newbie, I thought the front wheel was a "drive" wheel to be swept powerfully back and forth across the path like a paddle in front of a boat. It is not. Only torque (twist) into each turn powers the Trikke on the arc set by the front guide wheel. Forcing the front wheel will only make your arms feel like they're going to fall off!

Starting from a stop is more similar to the box dance, but tricky until you can generate enough twist. For the time being, find a slight down-slope to start on. When you start learning to carve, hopping on should be enough to give your Trikke the gentle push it needs to start; I still do. After a while, start from a stop by putting your weight closer to inside wheel and carefully pop the Trikke around into the front wheel path arc to impress your friends.

Adult Trikkes (T78 to T12) can carve at a flat-path, no wind speed of 12 mhp; presumably faster if you are younger than 60. Bearings must be clean with a drop of light oil and tires inflated to 100 psi. When experienced on a good trail, top speed can be maintained over 10 miles dancing with ascents of measured breathing as the Trikke distributes the effort over the whole body. As your ability to generate angular momentum grows, hills and wind become less of an antagonist, but are always challenging as they are with a bike.

Truly, the best exercise machine and dance partner ever constructed is at your command. Carve on!

Please consider joining the Trikke Universe Facebook group to share your experiences and get advice about all things Trikke. Thanks to members Bill Shakal and Glenn Miller for their contributions to this guide.


[physics] Michael Lastufka, "Body-Powered Trikke Physics" June 2020.

[calibration] Michael Lastufka, "Empirical 2nd Degree Friction Model Solution" June 2020.

[simulation] Michael Lastufka, "Dynamic Model of a Trikke T78 Air" June 2020.

[dynamics] Michael Lastufka, "Survey of Simulated Trikke Behaviors" June 2020.

[magic lever] Michael Lastufka, "Trikke Magic: Leveraging the Invisible" June 2020.