While wearing my race official’s hat for USA Triathlon, I receive at least one question each month about using recumbent bikes at USAT-sanctioned events.
In about 50% of those inquiries, the person really uses the term “bike” to mean any wheeled and human-powered vehicle, whether a tricycle or bicycle. When someone makes such an inquiry, we must ask, “How many wheels does it have?” If the answer is “Three,” then it is not a “bike” in terms of the rules but rather a “trike” or, more specifically, a tricycle.
Recumbent bicycles are not currently legal for use in USAT-sanctioned events.
Here is the relevant competition rule:
Legal Bicycle Equipment 5.8 c.) Recumbent bicycles are not legal for use in any USAT-sanctioned event.
However, recumbent-style tricycles are allowed for use in the Adaptive Triathlon division.
Equipment AT 3. c). (ii) Recumbent style tricycles are allowed for use by ATD1 Ambulatory, ATD1 Wheelchair, ATD2, ATD3, and ATTMI categories. NOTE: Recumbent bicycles are not allowed for any participant.
Here is one example of a legal for use recumbent-style tricycle that would be legal for use in the AT Division.
To paraphrase The Bard, “A bike by any other name might just be a trike.”
Mark Turner (aka Coach MarkT) is a Houston, Texas Metro area based Coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II and Paratriathlon Certified Coach, IRONMAN University Certified Coach,VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and Mental Strengths Performance Coach. Coach MarkT absolutely loves coaching and helping the athletes achieve their dreams. MarkT is also a US Veteran having served in the United States Marine Corps. He is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. In addition to endurance sports, his interests include history, science fiction, and cooking. He can be reached at markt@teamMPI.com.