As Seen In RTR Issue #8:
Recumbent & Tandem Rider Review 49: The Logo Recumbent Trike
By John Axen
I don’t know about you, but I get real excited when a new catalog arrives in my mailbox. It’s not like I live in outer darkness. I live in a Mecca of shopping malls, mini mall, and strip malls. Most of them don’t have the types of unique items that thrill me. I guess it all started when I was a kid. You just sensed when it was time for the next series of catalogs to start making their appearance. I would spend hours paging through the electronics, kits, gadgets, gimmicks, and bikes and wondered if they really worked and looked as promised. Today, many of those catalogs have been replaced by the multitude of websites found on the internet. You can find ANYTHING on the internet, including recumbent bikes.
Initially, I wasn’t sure what intrigued me about recumbent trikes, but I knew that few shops carried them and that their owners were extremely loyal. The test riders here at RTR magazine have been quite busy in the last year testing a variety of recumbent trikes. Each trike has had the distinctive characteristics and quality its designer/builder has instilled. Personally, I have enjoyed each recumbent trike for one reason or another but knew that there are many more that I have never seen. So, to the internet I would venture, just like the days of my youth and the much cherished catalogs of yore.
I have found so many different approaches to recumbent trike design all over the world. The problem is that most of these trikes will never hit the shores of the “Good Ole USA” because they come from small custom builders that can barely handle the orders they now have, let alone a major expansion to our hungry three-wheeled market. During one of my late-night trike internet searches, I came upon Martin Arnold’s Logo trikes. My initial viewing of on-line photos, product descriptions, and testimonials really whetted my appetite to the point that I sent an email to Martin requesting a local distributor.
To my dismay, there was no U.S. distributor of the Logo Trikes and to send one out just to review for the magazine would be cost prohibitive. You can’t pour water on my coals that way and not get steam! I kept up email with Martin and one day he surprised me with a long distance phone call from “Down Under” in Australia. Martin informed me that there was a slight chance that he might have very limited distribution here in the states by way of an engineer who had expressed interest in importing the Logo trikes. Having worked in the bicycle industry off and on for over 35 years, I knew that Martin would need someone who really had a great grasp of the industry over here. I doubted that some “flaky” engineer without many years in the bike industry could do justice to a promising recumbent trike. Martin would need every advantage possible to succeed in our fickle market. Major companies with huge financial backing have tried and failed. You know who they are too! I didn’t want to give him false hope, but I really wanted to get my hands on a Logo and see for myself if they were as good as they looked. The same day Martin called me I received another call.
“Hey John, this is Wayne” “Wayne who?” “Wayne Leggett!” I hadn’t seen Wayne for a few months but have known him for well over 22 years. He has been a total bike freak for most of his life and recently turned his devotions toward recumbent trikes specifically. He told me that over the last couple of years his focused research has taken him to the farthest reaches of the internet world. He has finally found what he believes to be THE person with the right design and construction quality. Wayne ought to know. He has been an engineer specializing in metals and structures for 30 or more years. He told me that he has been negotiating with a guy in Australia to import recumbent trikes. Whoa! Hold on! Are we talking “it’s a small world” or what? My old friend, Wayne is THE “flaky” engineer! If Wayne has found what he believes to be a well-designed and constructed recumbent trike, I definitely want to pay attention. About five weeks after our conversation I was able to borrow a Logo trike for seven days this past summer.
In our initial conversation, Martin Arnold humbly told me that the Logo is much like its predecessor, Greenspeed, but with a few subtle differences. Let me tell you this. What I gazed upon was anything but subtle and appeared to have the best features of the most popular trikes combined with a flair of its own. The frame is constructed from 4130 Cr-Mo tubing of various diameters, precisely machined, and held together with some of the finest hand welding I have ever seen. Our Logo was powder coated in a pearl white with black and white, 3 dimensional graphics, and was fitted with a red mesh seat with integral rails, lumbar and shoulder support. The seat is 15 inches wide, reclines 35 degrees from the horizontal, and is Bungee cord supported. The telescoping boom allows for X-seam adjustment while keeping the seat stationary. The wheelbase is 40 inches and the track is 26 inches, with other options available by special order.
Martin uses 1-1/8 inch steering tubes for the kingpins, which utilize standard headsets and bearings. The steering is under the seat (USS), adjustable in width, angle, and the connecting crossover tie rods are polished alloy. The rear portion of the frame is a work of beauty and function. It is completely triangulated for strength and flows as if it was molded. Attached to the frame are three bottle cage mounts and eyelets for fenders and touring racks. Martin has added a T-bar on the front derailleur tube to allow for the use of a headlight and/or computer and a sensor mount on the kingpin.
The Logo component choices compliment the frame and seat well. The rear wheel consists of a Bitex hub, Jetset CH-E240 20 inch rim (406), stainless spokes, and a Vredstein S-Lick 20 x 1-3/8 inch tire. Both front wheels consist of Bitex hubs with 12 mm axles, Jalco rims, stainless spokes, and Schwalbe Marathon 16 x 1-3/8 (349) tires. The brakes are Bitex Hydraulic Disc with 160 mm stainless rotors and Bitex brake levers. The drivetrain consists of a Shimano Ultegra triple crankset, Octalink bottom bracket, Shimano XT cassette (11 x 30), and a Nickel-plated Taya drive chain with PowerLink. Two idler wheels and chain tubes manage the chain while Shimano Ultegra bar end shifters operate the Shimano Ultegra triple derailleurs.
The gearing range as tested is 19 – 90 inches but, can easily be changed with optional chainring choices. All of this adds up to a recumbent trike that is 29.5 inches wide, 76 inches long, (as tested) seat height of 9.5 inches, and a chain clearance of 3 inches. This sleek, low, and narrow Logo comes in at a slender weight of approximately 35 pounds (we did not have the opportunity to weigh it on the official RTR scales), depending on boom length and chain. This is a great looking package with some of the best components found anywhere, but looks can be deceiving. Some of the items I have ordered from catalogs looked great too, but their function left much to be desired. Let’s see how the Logo functions.
As I cautiously eased my not so slender body into the Logo seat I realized that something was very different. This seat feels more like it is contoured specifically to fit my body. The lumbar, thigh, and shoulder support are more than evident and as you settle into it the Bungee type cording allows it to mold around you. I thought maybe it was my imagination so I got right out of the Logo seat and sat back down on another well-known trike that I had been testing. The difference was like night and day. It wasn’t that the previous trike seat was uncomfortable, just that the Logo was much more comfortable.
Back on the Logo, the second feature I enjoyed was the easily adjustable steering. Not only the angle of the bars is adjustable, but the width as well. This is especially appreciated by someone who belongs to the Clydesdale class such as myself. My particular stocky nature also caused me a bit of concern when I measured the track of the Logo’s front wheels. At 26 inches, I didn’t think it allowed much room for me to fit and still be controllable. Most of the other trikes I had been testing ranged between 30 and 32 inches. My concerns soon proved to be of no merit. In fact, the narrower track combined with the 16 inch front wheels gives the Logo a couple advantages in addition to great maneuverability. It fits through narrow bike trail gates, doorways, and into smaller vehicles better than other trikes.
The first few pedal strokes told me more about the Logo breeding. It is efficiently propelled forward with no power lost through frame flex but still allows for absorption of minor trail roughness. The steering is quick but not twitchy. It doesn’t require constant attention to keep it in the direction you desire. The narrower track does require more attention in sharper turns as you can get the inside wheel off the ground. A little bit of body English toward the inside of the turn alleviates this tendency. I found it quite fun to lean into the turns as I gained confidence and speed. The 16-inch wheels are very stiff and react to changes in direction very well but do in fact react to trail imperfections more that larger wheels. It stands to reason, as they are smaller in diameter. The difference is minute though. Whether climbing short, steep jammers or long grinders, the Logo likes to climb.
had my good friend, Big Steve, follow me up a few hills to observe the frame flex. At the top of one hill he came along side of me and told me there was no obvious rear-end movement. And yet the ride was very resilient. The Shimano Ultegra shifters and derailleurs performed flawlessly throughout the entire testing period. I never expected anything less! Before I allowed the Logo to jam down any major hills I wanted to play around with the brakes. I had never used the Bitex hydraulic disk brakes before and was curious. These babies can stop! They are definitely some of the finest disk brakes I have used. The typical bike trail scene of dogs with no leashes and fellow riders with headphones blasting provided several opportunities to test the Bitex brakes. Wow! They react equally well if you just have to feather them to control your speed as the do under full pressure.
Having passed the preliminary tests it was time for some blasting. My favorite 32-mile test course includes just about everything you can throw into a ride. The flats become slight grades and then turn into major grinders of at least 2 miles. The reward is an 8 mile descent that throws a few roller coasters in the middle and then a gentle 5 mile downhill back home. I have accomplished a wide variety of speeds on the major descent ranging from 35 mph to a record of 57 mph on a fully faired two wheel recumbent. This is the ride I compare all test bikes on as well as my own ability.
At the top of the last climb my pulse rate goes up, my breathing deeper. I push harder on the pedals as I go through all of the gears, wanting even more. I reach the maximum cadence, coast through the first valley, start to roll up the next rise, pedal again, dropping only 3 gears to the top and then the ultimate test. At the top I am still going 29 mph, go through the rest of the gears, tuck my head slightly, and whoosh down the canyon. I look in my rear-view mirror and see a red Corvette gaining on me, so I risk a one handed signal to flag him around when it was safe. The Logo is stable even with one hand but the ‘Vette stays right on my tail and refuses to pass. The computer says 42 mph then 45 and tops out at 47 mph. Several miles later I roll up to a signal light and the Corvette pulls up along side. The electric tinted window on the passenger side rolls down and a pretty lady with blond hair exclaims: “Wow, you were going almost 50 mph on that thing.” “Weren’t you afraid?” I had to stop and think for a moment so I wouldn’t react in a negative manner. You see, I was more concerned about becoming a hood ornament on a red Corvette than I was about the handling of the Logo. It handled everything I could have given it flawlessly! I trusted my computer more that her speedo, smiled back at her and asked: “What was it like drafting behind a recumbent trike at that speed?” I don’t think she comprehended the joke. I was really stoked about how the Logo took to task.
I did put the disk brakes to a good test on one of the fast descents just to see how they would act. They felt very positive without showing any sign of fading. On the way home I usually take it pretty easy having just climbed some good grades and rewarded myself with breath-taking descents. Some of the local road riders caught up with me on the return from their “killer” Tuesday night ride. They were going at a good pace and I couldn’t resist sitting in. Well, they would have none of that and threw down the gauntlet. The Logo and I held up the reputation of the RTR test crew with a flare, not to mention 3 wheels and all!
For 7 days I was able to put the Logo trike through every kind of test I could think of. I even loaded up some of my panniers with about 25 pounds of gear and took a 20-mile ride. With a good rack and the mounts that Martin has so thoughtfully included, the Logo would make a great touring trike as well. I have learned to love the narrow stance and the handling that is engineered into it. Here are the things I love about the Logo. The extra attention that went into the design of the seat is evident, as it is the most supportive and comfortable seat I have ever ridden on a trike. I like the narrow stance and compact nature of the Logo. It performs well in every situation I could give it. The components are the best and worked flawlessly. The frame is beautifully welded as if it were molded. Three water bottle cage mounts are a real plus! The paint and seat color are distinct, and to put the icing on the cake, the Logo logo is even embroidered on a patch on the seat. This is a classy Trike!
Here is what I did not like about the Logo. The narrow track of the front wheels throws water right into my armpits! Ugh! Fenders are the cure for saturated armpits and are cheap. Another minor annoyance comes with the Bitex hydraulic disk brakes. Although great stoppers, they are not easily adjustable in terms of centering the rotors between the calipers. The rotors can rub just slightly on the brake pads to cause some noise. It doesn’t cause enough friction to cause any unwanted slowing but the sound can be annoying. The cure is to use paper-thin shims when installing the calipers on the kingpin assembly to center the rotor. You may still get a slight noise when severe cornering. This is a very minor gripe that can be fixed to satisfaction. My last complaint is the gearing. THERE ISN”T ENOUGH! I could have hit 50 plus mph!!!! In talking to Wayne Leggett of Logo US there will be other chainring options available in the future. The use of the 20-inch rear wheel requires larger chainrings to accomplish bigger gearing. I am sure you can see that my complaints are very minor and have easy solutions. None of them change my overall opinion of the Logo.
I think you are going to enjoy the Logo recumbent trike as I have. Martin Arnold is rather humble about his creation. He is a soft-spoken man who has taken fine metal, good design, unique features, and fine craftsmanship to produce a beautiful trike that performs very well. One of the things I like about Martin and his approach is that he is flexible. He will build trikes with different options such as wider or narrower tracks. He makes nice touring racks and computer mounts as well. He is willing to add custom features as long as it doesn’t compromise the quality. I appreciate Wayne Leggett’s knowledge of good engineering and his search for a good recumbent design. Now here is the icing on the cake. These two gentlemen are going to be able to provide the Logo trikes to us in the U.S. through Logo US for a price range of $2,300 and $2,500, depending on the component package. Our Logo test trike would come in at $2,500! No matter what choice you make on components, you can be sure that it will perform very well and you just won’t believe the quality. Even the lesser-priced Logo is stunning! I have a funny feeling that you’re going to be seeing Logo trikes showing up at all sorts of recumbent events. I think these two guys are going to be very busy. I am trying to figure out what I didn’t get to test on our Logo. I really want to get it back for more riding. How low can I go to get back my Logo? Check them out at www.logo-us.com .
NOTE: You can still buy a copy of Recumbent & Tandem Rider Issue
#8 featuring this review fully illustrated with detailed photos. Our other
fully illustrated reviews in RTR Issue #8 include: RTR Review #44, the Bilenky Viewpoint Tandem: RTR Review #45, the Trek T2000 Tandem; RTR Review #46, the Bacchetta Giro Recumbent: RTR Review #47, the vision R40 Recumbent: RTR Review #48, the Haluzak Triumf Recumbent Delta Trike; RTR Review #50, the Sidewinder Pro-Cruiser Recumbent Tadpole Trike, and an update of RTR's Project P-38 Lightning Recumbent, along with
other interesting features and columns. To order your back issue, forward
a $5.00 check or money order to: Coyne Publishing, P.O. Box 337,San Dimas,
CA 91773. (Price includes postage & handling)