Monday, November 27, 2017

Direct vs Indirect Steering

Everyone has an opinion and I'm no exception. And here's my opinion on direct steering versus indirect steering.

My take on this subject is influenced by many years of riding Catrikes with direct steering and more recently riding my ICE SprintX FS with indirect steering. With direct steering the handlebars are connected to the headset of each wheel. Steering is a simple right or left movement.  With indirect steering the handlebars are connected to a pivot point at the center of the trike. From there it connects to the wheel via some sort of linkage. Steering is accomplished my pushing and pulling the handlebars.

Direct steering

Indirect steering

Direct steering

Pros
- Good road feel. Especially welcomed at higher speeds.
- Simplicity of design makes maintenance easier. Especially when adjusting toe in.

Cons
- Wheel vibration on rough roads is more pronounced. It's important on rough roads to avoid a "death grip". Relaxed hands and arms is important, especially on rough roads.



Indirect steering

Pros
- Wheel vibration telegraphed through the handlebars is less pronounced. The steering linkage absorbs some of the rough road conditions. Combined with front suspension the rough roads are easily tamed.
- Smooth and easy to turn.

Cons
- Disconnect from feeling the road. I find the lack of road feel to be a bit disconcerting at speeds over 30mph. The steering can feel a little squirrelly at higher speeds. The Sprint has an adjustable steering damper that helps the steering from feeling too loose. I feel I need more time on the fast roads before I get truly accustomed to indirect steering at higher speeds.
- More complex design requiring more skill to maintain. Toe in adjustment is more complicated.
- For weight weenies the extra steering linkage components means a little extra weight.


All things being equal I personally prefer direct steering.  I feel more connected with the road and I prefer the simplicity of design of the direct steering. Whether you go with direct or indirect steering it all comes down to the overall quality of the trike and deciding which features are important to you when choosing a trike.







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