I can't ride a normal bicycle because I don't have enough balance, and a recumbent would be a bad idea bearing in mind I'm asthmatic and being lower to the ground puts me closer to car exhausts. Since we moved house going to Sainsbury's has been a PITA for me, because it's slightly too far for me to be able to walk there, walk round the shop, and then walk home again. It's on a bus route, but not a convenient one - for me to get there by bus I have to go into Kingston itself and back out again, which is just a bit tedious, y'know? So I was thinking the answer (to this, and a few other transportation annoyances) would be for me to get a tricycle.
I know I can ride a bike with stabilisers, and apparently it is possible to buy stabilisers for adults. But I don't have any confidence that putting stabilisers on my bike and practising will make me miraculously gain the sense of balance I'm lacking - I've never been able to walk along a narrow beam or wall for more than a few feet without falling off (probably I'm lacking something in my inner ear). More importantly, I think if I tried riding a bike with stabilisers, I'd feel like a complete moron and people would laugh at me - whereas if I rode a trike I'd look cool in a geeky sort of way. Plus there is a whole support group for adult tricyclists, and you can even get racing and mountain trikes.
Tricycles are generally much more disabled-friendly - several suppliers sell trikes adapted with low frames (so it's easy to get a dodgy leg over the top), orthopedic seats and backrests. Having Googled extensively, there are a surprisingly large number of companies making trikes, but some of them are far too expensive for me to consider (in excess of £1500!!) or not suitable for my needs. I've narrowed it down to 3 possible choices. What I want is some advice about which one might be best for me.
The Mission trike looks like the kind of tricycle I had in mind - big and stable with a large shopping basket at the back. Also, there's a shop in London that sells it. It's comparatively cheap as trikes go - ~£400. But it doesn't fold, and because trikes are so enormous there's no way I'd be able to take it on the train without paying the bike supplement - and as the trains that go through Kingston & Norbiton don't have a guards van, it becomes totally impractical if I wanted to take it into central London. I don't know if I'd actually want to cycle in central London, but it would be nice to have the option.
Di Blasi make a folding tricycle that can also be adapted with a (folding) backrest, but two drawbacks are that it's significantly more expensive (~£800), and it doesn't have a luggage area. You can get a luggage rack, but it's mounted at saddle height rather than between the wheels. This would limit the amount of shopping I can put in it, and also make it harder to balance - as lack of ability to balance is the whole reason I'm going for a trike, I'm not so sure about this. It's difficult for me to predict at this stage just how much I'm going to find myself using the trike, so it's difficult for me to make a decision about stability vs portability.
Pashley make several trikes, including the Tri-1, which seems like the best of both worlds. It's the same low-slung shape as the Mission trike, you can get a basket, wide saddle and back support for it, and it even comes with the option of a folding frame. I don't think it folds down as small as the Di Blasi, though, and all these options add up:
£595 for the basic trike - ok, that's pretty reasonable
£645 for the trike with a folding frame
£85 for a rear basket
£25 for a wide(-arse) saddle
£85 for a back support
and £30 for getting it in a colour other than tomato red (!)
thus making a total of £870.
Also, Pashley are based oop north (Stratford-upon-Avon) and I don't know whether they have any southern resellers, which could make actually trying out the trike a pain (~£30 rail fare and several hours effort).
eBay is of course a possibility, but I don't know how sensible it is to buy a second-hand cycle from the internet. I know NOTHING about basic cycle maintenance, having never had one (funnily enough, if you can't ride something without falling off, you tend not to want one), and I would prefer not to be riding a death-trap. I discovered the other day that there exists a safe cycling for adults course in my local area, so I would of course go to that prior to riding on the road, but I'm not sure whether they also cover maintenance or indeed whether they'd know anything about trikes.
Update: Please read this comment before commenting. Either help me answer these questions, or help me find someone who can.
Advice, please?! Should I go for the cheapest option non-folding and try to sell it & buy a new one later if I find I'm using it more? Or go for the more expensive trike, with the folding option I may never use? And does anyone know anything about the reliability and customer service of the three companies mentioned? (Pointless buying something which looks good if it breaks down all the time and the company want to charge you an arm and a leg to fix it).