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Roadtest 04 – GTO

by admin | May 24th, 2002 | 0 comments

Ian Sims and family have become the foremost builders of tadpole recumbent tricycles in the world today. I first realized that this was one of those special recumbents back in 1995 when I first road-tested the GTR 20/20. The Greenspeed trikes are robust, stiff, well built, and designed for serious riding by demanding enthusiasts. Since this re- view, many trike builders have followed tadpole trends set by Greenspeed with their independent brake levers, 3 x 20-inch wheels, and exceptional handling and control  abilities.

Our test GTO looked just like the previous GTR, though it has some neat updates. The GTO has one S&S coupler, which allows the frame to be split in half. The boom comes out, and the seat frame, still an integral part of the frame (for rigidity), is now bolted to the  frame.

With this trike we opted for some neat upgrades, such as the disc brakes, fenders, and 105/XT components. All were worthwhile and made our road-test experience than much better.


Frame—The Greenspeed GTO frame is built for Greenspeed in Tai- wan. The “look” is better than ever. Ian and company carefully se- lected a frame builder and set the ball rolling for a one-size GTO that fits about 80% of buyers. The new frames have tapered rear stays and butted tubing and are also fully TIG welded (instead of the former MIG welds found on other Greenspeed models—MIG is a more indus- trial type of welding with a more pronounced bead). The frames are painted and assembled in Australia. Other Greenspeed frames are still built in the factory in Australia.

The 2002 models will have a new front-wheel axle design. Instead of shouldered cap screws and nut, there is now a special CNC-ma- chined axle that is lighter and takes a self-locking allen screw. The wheels can now be removed with just an allen key.

Steering—Greenspeed has very refined side-stick USS steering con- trols. The setup is robust and the handling and control feel is spot-on. Weight—You don’t want a trike that’s too light. Trikes need to be tough and beefy enough to withstand stresses not found on two-wheeled

bicycles. The GTO weighs about 40 pounds.

Drivetrain—Greenspeed’s drivetrain works exceptionally well. The chain is managed through a pair of chain tubes and an idler. Our test bike’s 105/XT drivetrain worked flawlessly. The stock crankset is a Sugino RD7000, and the cassette is an 11-32 SRAM. The triple-crank 8/24-speed or 9/27-speed drivetrain is mated to a SRAM Dual Drive 3- speed rear hub (formerly 3 x 7). The new Dual Drive shifts under full load and has less internal friction. The clickbox is at the rear wheel, and rear-wheel removal, though still a hassle, is easier than  before.

Braking—This is the first Greenspeed trike we’ve tested that’s equipped with disc brakes. The Hope discs adjust easily, are very strong, and were trouble-free during our test. They are expensive as discs go. They use automobile brake fluid, and the system needs to be drained and flushed at 1-year to 4-year intervals (depending on riding conditions), according to Zach Kaplan. This upgrade, though very pricey ($450 USD), is recommended, though we sure would like to see Greenspeed offer the more affordable Avid mechanical discs (as re- viewed on the Cannondale Easy Rider). Disc brakes seem to be getting more refined and less problematic.

Wheels and Tires—Our Greenspeed had the upgraded wheels. They are light and carefully laced and trued. The disc brakes attach to cus- tom Greenspeed hubs. These hubs are CNC machined from solid alu- minum billet. The hub has a taller inside flange. We love the Tioga Comp Pool fat slicks on the GTO. They roll fast and offer a ride unlike any that of other tire. Greenspeed uses the new blackwall version, which will last longer in sunnier climates.


Seat—The bolt-on GTO seat is still an integral part of the frame. This is one aspect of the Greenspeed that is especially appealing. There is virtually no movement of the seat while riding, regardless of how much body English or pressure is put into the seat. The seat itself is a basic full mesh. The mesh itself is a tough nylon fabric, but it’s not the nic- est-feeling material. The ergonomics of the seat are not the most comfortable we’ve tried either, but the design works with the ergo- nomics of the trike.

Greenspeed does not offer a reclinable seat. Customers must select a seat angle in the ordering process. I much preferred the more upright GTO seating position to the 35-degree, more laid-back seating of our previous test bike, the GTR 20/20. This is personal preference; com- muters may prefer the more upright seat, while racer types may prefer the more laid-back one. At least that’s the way the models/seat reclines seem to be set up.

Even at 45 degrees, the GTO seat is rather reclined, and the pedals are rather high. Ian Sims has made it clear to us that he is not interested in building trikes with low(er) pedals. So, if higher pedals don’t work for you, we suggest you look elsewhere. I found the GTO ergonomics worked much better for me than that of the more laid-back GTR 20/20.


The Greenspeed GTO has effortless straight-ahead tracking— perhaps the best handling, steering, and tracking of any trike we’ve tested. The ride is about as refined as you can get with a  trike.

Maneuverability—With the refined steering geometry, short(er) wheelbase, and three 20-inch wheels, this is a very maneuverable trike. The only more maneuverable trike would be the new series of trikes with 16-inch wheels (from Greenspeed and  ICE).

Speed/Efficiency—Though Greenspeeds are robust trikes capable of just about any use, Ian Sims definitely has a performance ‘bent. Therefore, the Greenspeeds are fast trikes. For the most part, trikes are not as fast as comparable two- wheelers (performance two-wheeler to performance trike), though this may not be the case for every  rider.

User-friendliness—Once you’re down into the seat, the GTO is very user-friendly. Everything fits well and the trike rides easily. The riding position is rather advanced, so understand recumbent ergonomics and pedal heights before you send your deposit off for a new  trike.

Fun Factor—No recumbent has a bigger grin factor than Greenspeed. The rock-solid handling and feel of this trike and its el- egantly integrated systems work together like a fine Swiss watch. The recumbents that work this well can be counted on one hand. Greenspeed is certainly at the head of its class.


Versatility—This is a fast and tough trike. It doesn’t twist or flex, nor does the drivetrain or chain management system make unwanted noises. Nothing feels weak or under-designed., and you can seemingly push this trike as hard as you care to.

There are several Greenspeed models including a handcycle, faired model, solar electric, child’s trike, and several variations of the classic Greenspeed style. We tested a GTR several years ago, and the GTO shows many marked improvements, most notably in the packing, ship- ping, and braking departments.

There are five stocking dealers in the United States, most of whom advertise in RCN.


The trike and accessories arrive in a very small box, packed tightly and efficiently. I spent nearly as much time unwrapping this expertly packed trike as I did assembling it. In contrast, I was unable to get the trike back into the box for reshipping it (I used two boxes, each about the same size as the first).

The setup instructions leave something to be desired. I’m an amateur bicycle mechanic (though I lack the patience to work on any- thing but bicycles). I was able to figure it out, but I managed to mangle the plastic liner that goes between the boom and mainframe. Greenspeed airfreighted me another after a brief e-mail. I had to believe that this had hap- pened before. Greenspeed is working to up- date its manual and assembly instructions.

The one-coupler GTO will pack and stow much smaller than any trike without such a neat and simple system. A more expensive GTO with three S&S couplers will pack even smaller. In fact, it goes into a suitcase. How- ever, at press time, the suitcases were not avail-


The quality of our Greenspeed GTO was im- peccable. It is truly the finest-quality trike we’ve seen. Greenspeeds have a reputation for durability, and our GTO appears as tough as our previous GTR.


Greenspeeds are expensive, and the price can fluctuate with the Australian and US dollar. With this test GTO, the strong US dollar re- ally worked in our favor. With the long deliv- ery times (during peak months) of Greenspeed trikes, resale is very good, perhaps the best of any trike.

Options and Accessories

Our trike had the 105/XT drivetrain upgrade, some beautifully crafted/modified fenders (front and rear), and the Hope disc brakes. All are highly recommended. The bike comes with a new Masload tubular aluminum rack that weighs 370 grams and is rated for 55 pounds of cargo.

Market Competition

Recumbent trikes are really hot right now. In February 2002, Zach Kaplan reported an in- crease in recent business, whereas many deal- ers are reporting slowdowns. There is more demand than supply.

Greenspeed has strong competition from Wicks, ICE (Trice), and Wizwheelz. All are fine trikes, but none have the years in busi- ness, overall reputation, or design expertise of Ian Sims and Greenspeed.

Additional Notes—The GTO sells for ap- proximately $3,300 USD including shipping (ships cheaper than non-coupled versions). The hydraulic brake upgrade is $460, panniers are

$150, and front mudguards are $60. An exact price on anything is difficult as everything must be converted into Australian dollars. The Aussie dollar has varied from 40 to 55 cents US. Check the Greenspeed website for the current exchange rate.

My Analysis

Verdict—Greenspeed has been building trikes for over a decade. The small factory in Ferntree Gulley, Australia, now has 10 employ- ees working on shipping trikes throughout the world (70% come to North America and Eu- rope). Refinement is spot-on. Only Easy Rac- ers rivals Greenspeed in the highest-quality presentation of a mail order-recumbent, and their reputation of being the best is well de- served. This is the upper echelon of recum- bent manufacturers—and one we’re proud and confident to recommend.


Comfort: B+ (for laid-back riders) Design/Style: A+
Drivetrain: A+
Chain Management: A Brakes/Braking: A+ Finish Quality: A

1-month delivery (ours took longer)
Good value (Australian currency exchange) Best trike we’ve ever reviewed
Ackermann Centre-Point steering Most professional trike company Great accessories (rack, fenders, etc.) Our best experience with disc brakes Coolest tires ever (Tioga Comp Pool)
Trikes are assembled and test ridden and then carefully packed for shipment


Pricey disc brake option (how about Avid me-chanical discs?)
Laid-back seat and high pedals not for every one (Ian Sims does not like moderate or low pedal height)
I was unable to repack into that same small box it came in
Frame is built in Taiwan—this has a stigma for some


+61 3 9758 5541

GTO – Recumbent Cyclist News – This road test was published in RCN #69, May, 2002. RCN is published by Bob Bryant, P.O. Box 2048, Post Townsend, WA 98368, USA.

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This road test is currently only available in print in issue #69 from RCN.  For full publication check out this PDF

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