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Saturday, October 13th 2007

13:26

Worksman PAV-3 Riding Impressions

By Gordon Koppang

Photos by Scott Bennett

Worksman PAV-3


List Price:

$799.00

Manufacturer:

Worksman Trading Corporation

94-15 100th Street

Ozone Park

New York 11416

Customer

Service

Toll Free 888-3Wheeler

Tel 718 322 2000 

Fax 718 529 4803

e-mail cycles@worksman.com

or  vending@worksman.com 

Canadian

Dealer:

Freedom Trike n' Bike

http://www.freedomtrikenbike.ca/

e-mail: info@freedomtrikenbike.ca

Phone: 416-642-2453

Weight:

heavy

Seat Height:

24.25"

Width:

33.25"

Wheels & Tires:

Front 20 x 2.125

Rear 24 x 2.125

Brakes:

Front Wheel: Motorcycle style drum brake

Right rear wheel: Coaster brake


My friend Ken Goodman finally got his new three-wheeled “Personal Activity Vehicle” or PAV-3 for short. To celebrate, we headed down into Indian Battle Park where we could ride on paved trails without having to mix too much with cars. The rich red paint and chrome fenders shone in the bright autumn sun and Ken looked good behind the long black tiller bars.

Having read so much about Worksman's “Clincher” rims, I was itching to compare them with the rims and spokes used on the Rhoades Car. I wished for calipers, but it seemed to me that the spokes fitted in the 20" PAV-3 front wheel were about the same thickness as the spokes on the RC. The PAV-3 uses a wide hub in the rear wheels (about 4"). The Rhoades Car uses a 29/16" hub on all four wheels. The 36 spoke Worksman rims are beautifully made and seem to be of a higher quality than the utilitarian 36 spoke rims on the RC. It would be nice to hire an impartial lab to determine which wheel is stronger.

The PAV-3 seat looks like it belongs on a tractor, but it moves through 10" inches of adjustment, and the tightening handle is very robust. To get on the bike, I flipped up the armrest, sat side-saddle and then swung my leg over the frame. Ken and I both have balance and range of motion problems. Stepping over the frame of the Rhoades Car is tricky for us because it involves standing on one foot with only the bike to lean on for balance. Unless you ride with the seat all the way back, it is impossible to sit first on the Rhoades Car and then swing your leg over. The steering support is in the way.

When I was shopping for a trike or quad, I looked hard at the PAV-3, but now that I've tried it, I'm really glad I bought the Rhoades Car. The relationship of seat to pedals on the PAV-3 feels midway between an upright and a recumbent (the company calls it “semi-recumbent”). If Worksman was aiming at a “best of both worlds” compromise, they missed the mark. (Is there even a mark to hit?) I couldn't stand up on the pedals (upright style) and I couldn't put my back into it (recumbent style). Having to pedal with my legs part way down and part way out, felt like trying to pedal an upright bike while seated on a bench.

If I lived with the PAV-3 a while, I might find an ideal adjustment of seat and bars, but no amount of adjustment can compensate for a seat that does not belong on any pedal powered vehicle. The seat is too deep and has a raised lip at the front. It is mounted too high to be a recumbent, and not high enough to be an upright. Worksman recently introduced a low rider (LR) version of the PAV-3. A different frame and 20" wheels all-around drop the seat height from 24.25" to 18.5". The riding position on the PAV-3 LR looks a lot more recumbent and may correct the failed compromise in the original PAV-3 layout.

The three-speed hub and trigger shifters fitted to the Worksman three-wheeler are much easier to use than the levers and dérailleurs on the Rhoades Car. On the other hand, the gearing on the PAV-3 is not low enough to compensate for the ergonomically incorrect riding position. I couldn't even make it up a moderate hill in first gear.

The tiller steering on the PAV-3 worked better than I expected. Because the tiller handle is quite wide, it is possible to turn the front wheel lock-to-lock without swinging the bars out of reach. The PAV-3 definitely has a shorter turning radius than the Rhoades Car.

I tried some aggressive turns at slow speeds and easily rocked the trike back and forth on its rear wheels. I have done all kinds of aggressive riding with my Rhoades Car and have only managed to lift a rear wheel once. The PAV-3 may be less tippy than an upright granny trike, but with 24" rear wheels, it is still easily tipped. Speed and the PAV-3 do not mix. I have ridden my RC down the West Side hill without touching the brakes. Trying that with the PAV-3 would certainly result in a crash.The substantial drum brake fitted to the front of the PAV-3 worked well once we got it adjusted. The Shimano Nexus 3-speed hub includes a coaster brake, but driving and braking are done through one rear wheel only. (The positraction and dual brake options on the Rhoades Car take power and braking to both rear wheels.)

Coaster brakes are known for their lock-up power, but pedaling on the PAV-3 (legs part way out and part way down), I could not apply the rear brake with much force. Then again, I never got up enough speed to need the rear brake.

The PAV-3 is not for me. As I've written before, “If you're going to ride a bike in Lethbridge, you gotta climb hills.” Maybe Lance Armstrong could pedal the PAV-3 up a hill, but Lance Armstrong doesn't need a three-wheeler. The Rhoades Car turns without tipping, brakes, climbs and carries cargo better than the PAV-3. If you really want a three-wheeler, consider the EZ-3 from Sun Bicycles or, take out a bank loan and buy a Lightfoot trike.

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