Catrike announces the Eola, a new recumbent trike model for 2019.
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ICE VTX review
I literally fell into recumbent trikes when an accident on my rode bike left me with a fractured femur and the knowledge that I had osteoporosis. Yes, men get osteoporosis too. It wasn’t the bike that did me in but those damn clipless pedals. I know everyone does just fine clipping in and out, but that was not the case for me. My wife and I had taken up riding road bikes not long before my accident. It was not too long after my accident that two very nice, fairly new road bikes went up for sale. As every child and riding adult knows, riding a bike is both enjoyable and a great way to exercise. So, I spent my days recovering looking for an activity that could take the place of riding a bike.
A few searches on the Internet led me to the world of recumbent trikes. I was really excited to find a machine that my wife and I could ride without fear of falling, even with clipless pedals. A few more searches led me to what is now AlphaBENT Cycles, located in Sacramento, CA. We spent days and weeks test riding every trike they had in stock. They had and still have a very large inventory of trikes. After many test-rides my wife and I decided to purchase two HP Velotechnik Scorpions primarily because of their superior ride. The Scorpion is an outstanding trike but I will leave that review for a later date.
As much as I enjoyed my Scorpion, I couldn’t help wanting a trike that was “cool”. For a long time I tried figuring out how to convert my Scorpion from a station wagon to something more like a sports car. I thought about swapping my mesh seat for a hard-shell BodyLink seat (They are very “cool” but expensive). I could have replaced my standard wheels and Big Apple tires with narrow performance wheels and tires, but I would still have been left with a small 26” wheel in the back. For me, it is that big 700 rear wheel that makes the VTX and Catrike 700 “cool”. So, I finally bit the bullet and bought what I thought was the coolest trike in the shop, an ICE VTX.Application
ICE describes the VTX as being sleek, lean and finely tuned. They say that it delivers superior performance to the most exacting enthusiast and racer. It does indeed have the stance and components for going fast but it is much more than a race trike. Don’t rule out this trike simply because you enjoy peddling at a more leisurely pace. To my surprise, the fact that it goes fast also means that it will travel at a leisurely pace with minimal effort. I was concerned that the large rear wheel and design for speed might make going up hills more difficult. What I found was that the VTX ascends hills very well. It’s simplicity in design has created a trike that is lightweight and very efficient which makes it a pleasure to ride up hills as well as on level ground. Choose the ICE VTX if you want a trike that is both stylish and performs like a lightweight road bike while still providing all the advantages of a recumbent trike.Appearance and Styling
The VTX is the Ferrari of recumbent trikes. No other recumbent trike is as stylish as the VTX. The VTX is long and low and with its 700-rear wheel and hard-shell seat, the VTX looks fast while parked on the side of the road. The VTX is a minimalist trike much like the Catrike 700. The VTX has a hydro-formed chromoly frame that is stylish and vibration dampening. It’s white color scheme including white rims and hubs, black spokes and red anodized nipples adds to its sporty looks. Its hard-shell Airflow seat also adds to its streamlined appearance and beauty. As beautiful as this trike is, form still follows function. The beauty of this trike is that it is designed for superior efficiency and handling. It is a beautiful trike to look at and to ride.Adjustments and Comfort
The only adjustments that can be made to the VTX are the length of the boom and the incline of the seat. I am 6’5” tall and weigh 195 pounds. I am happy to say that I fit just fine with the boom fully extended and plan on staying under the stated weight limit of 230 pounds. Anyone my size or smaller should find the VTX very comfortably. The AirFlow seat comes in regular and tall sizes. The seat reclines from 32 to 25 degrees with 5 discreet settings. I find the seat to be very comfortable when set on the second to lowest setting. I tried riding with the seat on the lowest setting but found that it periodically rubbed on the rear tire. I highly recommend getting a headrest if you plan on riding with the seat reclined. I rode my VTX for a few weeks before I had a headrest and found it to be very tiring. Having a headrest makes the riding position very comfortable. The AirFlow seat design is amazing. It is extremely comfortable and holds you securely in the seat when cornering. The contours of the seat create a “butt bucket” that allows the rider to easily peddle through curves. The seat is also shaped such that the rider can press the small of his back against the seat during hard peddling even when the seat is fully reclined. The seat cushion is made of superior materials and is designed so that air can flow between the seat and rider. The cushion is attached to the base of the seat with Velcro and can be removed for cleaning.Handling
The VTX is very light and responsive. It corners extremely well even at speed. The Air-Pro seat holds the rider in position but still allows for easy leaning into a corner. There is absolutely no brake steer with the VTX or any other ICE trike. Not having brake steer takes some getting used to if you like using your brakes to get through a corner. No brake steer does make the trike more stable in panic stops and on slippery roads and trails. It also makes it possible to brake with one hand while holding on to your hat with the other hand.Braking
The VTX comes with Avid BB7 160mm disc brakes and Avid speed Dial 7 brake levers. The brakes work very well. The clearance between the disc and pads is easily adjusted while sitting on the trike. I was pleased to find that there is no friction between the pads and discs even when cornering. The parking brake is very minimalist in order to save weight – it consists of two Velcro straps that keep the brake levers engaged. As was mentioned above, there is no brake-steer on the VTX as with all ICE trikes.Efficiency
The VTX is probably the most efficient production trike on the market with the exception of the VTX+. ICE has done everything possible to reduce weight and wind resistance.Wheels and Tires
The wheels and tires on the VTX are definitely designed for riding on roads and paved trails. They are equivalent to what one would find on a quality road bike. That being said, one should not worry about pulling off the road or riding through a park.
The VTX comes with an Alex DA22 Aero White rear rim with stainless black double-butted spokes and red alloy nipples. The front rims are white Alex DA 16 Aero rims with stainless black double-butted spokes with red alloy nipples. The rear tire is a Schwalbe Durano 700c (28X622) and the front tires are Schwalbe Durano 20” (18X406). The white rims with black spokes and red nipples really add to the sporty appearance of the VTX trike.Summary
I thoroughly enjoy riding my VTX. I am not a racer and simply ride for pleasure and exercise. I find the VTX to be extremely comfortable and easy to ride. The VTX is easy to peddle on level as well as steep grades. You will be very satisfied with the VTX if you are looking for the most stylish and efficient trikes on the market.
[Jim Hybarger and his wife Gale are often to be found exploring the Sacramento, Bay Area, and wide-West on their ICE VTX and Sprint FS-26X recumbent trikes.]
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