It was an interesting trip, dominated by the strangeness of cycling on a trike. However the beauty of the route was still obvious to us and we were once again surprised as to how lovely parts of the Netherlands are. The changing landscape made a perfect backdrop to our new experiences. We discovered that riding a trike did take a lot more thinking about how you cycle and use a bike, than a traditional two wheeler. Not surprising seeing as we have been riding bikes for decades but trikes for only three days.
We did miss the manouverability of a normal bike, and the ease of getting on and off, turning round and the view the extra height gives you. Plus I have been trying to imagine using trikes on something like the Rallarvegen, where you have to get off and push sometimes, or on some of the cycle paths we have encountered that are narrower than a trike. It was a little disappointing as trikes really are terribly cool but the practicalities of using them (any ideas for a map holder or handlebar bag?) mean we cannot justify the capital investment of a TriceNT or a Scorpion. The risk of finding that ultimately we should have bought good tourers for the same price is too great.
Although this was quite an extended trial we are aware this trip was not an entirely fair comparison. We should have hired just one and then gone off with one trike and one touring bike to see when each type of HPV had an advantage. Then we would have had a comparison under the same conditions.
The other issue is that cycling on the trikes makes you use your leg muscles in slightly different ways. So on the trikes we were not cycling in an optimal way. The problem is then that you need to use a recumbent for a long period of time before you can be sure if you are faster or not on them than on normal bikes. Our conclusion is that whereas there are some benefits when cycling head to wind, the trikes are actually slower in practice than a good tourer. This was confirmed when we returned the trikes: we were told that the fast recumbents are generally the two wheeled varieties and trikes are not noticeably faster than good touring bikes.
However should either of us start suffering wrist, arm or shoulder problems or lose the ability to balance then we would not have a problem buying and using a trike. Both were well engineered machines, some things were better on one than the other, but they were equally reliable and very usable as a mode of transport. So something for another life, possibly one in our future. However until then, our positive experience of touring with (modified) Bromptons make them look ever more attractive as an option, whilst trikes are off our shortlist.