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Trike Drifting: Cycling That Hasn’t Lost Its Punk Edge Yet

By Christopher Ashley

When your back wheel shoots wide on a road bike, your heart leaps into your mouth.  On a full-suspension mountain bike, it’s an alarming, exhilarating risk.  On a trike, it’s the entire point.  Let’s meet the drifters…

Innocent beginnings

I was first introduced to drift trikes taking my 5-year-old nephew to a local park in 2012.  As he climbed the jungle gym, I noticed some older kids riding around on low riding trikes.  They weren’t going particularly fast, but then *POW* they started drifting.

There are times in your life when something immediately arrests your attention.  I turned to look for my nephew – he was now standing at the base of the jungle gym, staring at the drifting trikers.  I knew then that a phenomenon was about to happen.  But I didn’t know where, and I didn’t know when.

Growing up downhill

Baldwin Street in New Zealand lays claim to The Steepest Street in The World, so it attracts cyclists for many different reasons.  For Roadies, going up the street is worth the bragging rights – but a different type of adrenaline junkie has sought it out for the gravity-induced thrill.

Madazz bikes started making grown-up versions of the trikes I’d seen with my nephew, and the type of tribalistic kit fetishism seen with skateboards, BMX, and downhill emerged along with it – and it was all in the service of something that looks like a lot of fun…

The gangs of gravity

Suddenly, anywhere with hills or mountains is now a destination for groups of drifters to gang together for the sheer fun of drifting, and each with their own inimitable style.  Why not grab a cord with the Californian drifters?

Or maybe you’re up for some Malaysian mayhem?  I love this video from Kelete for the fist bumps – it shows that drift-triking is more about camaraderie than competition.  Also, you just have to be impressed by the long stretch of hill they’ve discovered…

The wild west of bike building

As most commercially available bikes were leisure vehicles designed for kids, a new breed of frame builders emerged.  As performance is taken care of by gravity, frames can be built that fulfil just three qualities – they stay in one piece, they keep moving, and they look cool.

Much like the music industry tamed punk, component manufacturers are embracing this new sport.  There are plenty of amazing drift videos you can find that we haven’t included – just be conscious of the adult language used.  Suffice to say drift-triking hasn’t lost its punk edge just yet…