"Three wheels on my wagon,
And I’m still rolling along
The Cherokees are chasing me
Arrows fly, right on by
But I’m singing a happy song"
I've been looking for 'budget' cargo-carrying options for a while now, so when Spanish company 'Noomad' asked us if I'd like to test their intriguing trike system I was quick to take the opportunity. Why 'intriguing'? Well a quick look at their website, and the slick videos on there, revealed a system that simply attached to the front of your 'normal' bike, turning it into a sort of upright tadpole trike, with a big load area on a panel in between the two small front wheels. It's designed for 26" wheeled bikes, and there 'is' a 26" front wheel version, but I got my hands on the 20" version.
The videos showed Noomaded bikes serenely whirring through a continental city, the wheels tilting with the rider so that all three maintained contact with the ground at all times. The matter to ponder was how such a system would compete with a potholed and rutted British cityscape, even more so when the geography includes large swathes of uneven cobbles. Visions of stability on three wheels flooded my mind. But first I had to fit the contraption.
This was surprisingly straightforward. Basically you remove your front wheel, and front brake. There's a bar on the back of the Noomad which effectively simulates a hub and your forks drop into that, all held in place by a quick release, just like your normal front wheel. The front panel is then secured with bolts screwing into the vacated vee/canti bosses (if you don't have those then there is a clamp option). All that's left to do is attach the brake lever for the cable discs on the Noomad (there's a splitter behind the panel that connects to a disc brake on both front wheels so you get equal braking). That's it. Ready to go. First time round it took me 30 minutes. Okay, so that's obviously a bit longer than it would take to simply hitch on a trailer, but as a fundamental change to the look and feel of your bike, it's a short space of time. The comparison with a trailer is probably valid however. Probably. That's one of the problems with the Noomad, finding a 'category' to slot into. Is it for load carrying? Well that front plate allows for a pretty hefty pannier bag to be mounted; or you can even add a metal base on which anything could rest, including a child seat (though we're not sure about little hands so close to spinning wheels). However given the pannier bag up front, why not just use a pannier rack on the back of your 'normal' bike? Fair question, and one which proves difficult to answer until you've ridden a Noomad bike both unladen and laden.