Trikke Test Drive – Part 3 – T78 Air vs. T78 Deluxe

For Part 3 of my “Trikke Test Drive” series, I am going to review two popular mid-range Trikkes: the T78 Air and the T78 Deluxe.

T78 Air (left) versus T78 Deluxe (right)

Both versions of the T78 share the same folding steel frame, air tires, and scrub brakes.  The T78 Air is a discontinued model, but many are still found for sale on Craigslist and Ebay.  You can also build one yourself by upgrading the current T78cs to all air tires.  It will cost you $249 for the T78cs and an additional $56 for the two rear air tires and rims, bringing the total cost to $305.

The T78 Deluxe comes out of the box with all air tires, and will set you back $369.  So what does the extra $64 dollars get you for the Deluxe model?  It gets you a strengthened set of handlebars, complete with faux-leather handgrips and metal brake levers.  You also get your choice of metallic green, blue or pink paint, versus the black that comes standard on the new T78cs.
So are these cosmetic and tactile upgrades of the T78 Deluxe worth the extra $64?  I recently took an older, blue T78 Air to the trail to find out.
My 7-mile ride on the Struble Trail in Downingtown, PA convinced me that the T78 Air’s ride quality is identical to that of “Lean Green”, the trusty T78 Deluxe I learned to Trikke on.  Both Trikkes are smooth, responsive, and a pleasure to ride, even on some rougher pavement.  The handlebars on the T78 Air were easier to adjust to my preferred angle, since they only have two bolts, and the handlebar itself doesn’t get in the way of the Allen wrench as it does on the T78 Deluxe.  I did not like the feel of the T78 Air’s handlebars as much though, as they simply felt cheap.  I just never liked the feel of the foam hand-grips it has, which are identical to what you’d find on a Razor Scooter.  I also disliked the plastic brake levers, and I wondered how they would hold up to the strains of heavy and frequent use.
If cost is an issue to you though, you would likely be plenty happy with the T78 Air.  The hand-grips and brake levers can always be changed when your budget allows.  If you change them, I would recommend the parking brake levers that are found on the T8 and T12 (http://lehighvalleytrikke.blogspot.com/2012/09/how-do-you-make-it-stop.html), and I prefer the bicycle-like ergonomic hand grips on the T8 over the T78’s Deluxe’s faux-leather grips.
If you are on a tight budget and just discovering the world of Trikkes, you might consider starting with a T78cs.  Although I have never ridden one any distance outdoors, I know that its polyurethane rear wheels are easier for a beginner to learn on.  I have ridden one indoors, and it glides almost effortlessly on these wheels.  You can easily upgrade them to air tires when you become more confident in your riding ability, and when you feel committed enough to the sport to spend the additional money.
Whichever Trikke T78 model you decide on, know that it is a fun and well-crafted vehicle that performs well on varying trail conditions.  I have racked up over 140 miles on my T78 Deluxe this year, and I have lost over 40 pounds riding it (combined with a sensible diet of course).  It is a reliable vehicle, and the only minor problems I have had are one flat tire (thanks to a thumbtack on the trail) and a plastic cap that fell off of the handlebar post and into the steering column.  I will detail both repairs in future posts.  I can’t complain though, and I have been thrilled to discover that the T78 has stood up well to going long distances by a (still) overweight rider.
Although I have recently upgraded to a T8 Sport, I can easily recommend one of the T78’s for riders of all skill levels.
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