Adult big-wheel tricycle draws crowd

This year’s Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa is 83 percent road bike, 10 percent hybrid, 3 percent tandem and one adult-sized big wheel tricycle.

That’s what Matt Armbruster is counting on to transport him across Iowa this week. And it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Two wide plastic back wheels – for power slides, Armbruster said – one rubber front tire for traction and a cushy seat tilted back and low to the ground.. Don’t forget the tassels hanging from the handlebars.

Think of the big wheel a child would ride, then increase the scale.

So why forgo the road and ride a tricycle, one without any gears, on less, across the state?

“Because this one is pure joy,” he said. “It will snap you back to six years old.”

Armbruster seemed happy as he tore around pass through towns, demonstrating the trike’s quick turns. It has a surprisingly tight turning radius.

And the tricycle’s comfort level doesn’t hurt matters, or the rider.

“It’s extremely comfortable,” Armbruster said. “It doesn’t hurt when I get off. I was extremely surprised, shocked.”

Armbruster designed a prototype and took it on RAGBRAI for a few days in previous years. He planned to ride it the whole week last year but the oppressive heat made it impossible.

And he’s ridden RAGBRAIs on more traditional bicycles too. He can’t quite recall whether this year is his 18th, 19th or 20th ride.

Last year he raised $89,000 in a three-and-a-half week Kickstarter online campaign and manufactured 300 of the High Roller Adult Sized Big Wheel Trikes. He’s already sold 225, he said. They are listed at about $600 on his website.

He’s even sold a few already on this year’s RAGBRAI. At his booth at Saturday’s expo more than 200 people tried them out, he said.

And the attention hasn’t waned. He could barely pedal a few yards before someone stopped to ask about the tricycle.

“Everywhere. Every time I stop, sit or eat,” he said, laughing.

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