You are here

Information

Electric recumbent trike: HP Velotechnik implements Shimano STEPS

HP Velotechnik offers electric recumbent trike options for most trikes models using Shimano STEPS motor system.

Shimano has entered the e-bike market with its STEPS motor system, and HP has adapted this system to most of its recumbent trike models.

Unlike many other electric-assist systems that use a rear-hub-based motor system, the Shimano STEPS system uses a motor incorporated with the pedaling system and a conventional rear hub drivetrain.

One implication is that conventional rear wheels can be used and that no attention needs to be paid to the torque-arms and torque-blockers that are integral with Bionx, Neodrive, and GoSwiss hub-motor systems. But, another implication is that attention does need to be paid to preventing the motor from putting excess force on the gearing system while it is shifting.

Shimano and HP solve this problem by putting the latest electronic shifting system which incorporates directly with the motor system. This shifting system is very easy to use as it involves electric buttons rather than mechanical cable pulling. It also changes the game for many shifting issues that can develop with conventional systems. Furthermore automatic shifting becomes a real option.

Electric motor is integrated with the pedaling systemOne of the key drawbacks of Shimano's approach is that it requires a redesign of the bike frame for conventional bicycles to accommodate the motor system instead of a conventional bottom bracket. However, because recumbent trikes use a boom system where the bottom bracket and cranks are at the end of what is essentially a long tube, all it takes to adapt this system to a recumbent trike is to design a Shimano-STEPS-compatible boom, and the capability becomes instantly available throughout the entire trike product line. This is what HP Velotechnik has done.

Shimano STEPS batteryThe Shimano STEPS system has a high capacity 418Wh capacity battery. This is not so high as the largest capacity 558 Wh batteries from Bionx and BMZ, but it is plenty sufficient for most daily cycling needs. The battery is rated for at least 1,000 charge cycles and weighs 2.6 kg.

For 2017, HP makes the Shimano STEPS electric recumbent trike system available on all of its trike models including the:

More information...

Catrike Dumont arrives for Thanksgiving triking

Catrike is finally shipping their first Dumon full-suspension folding recumbent trikes.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the first Dumont has arrived, and we are very Thankful!

AlphaBENT will be open Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and building up the Dumont and getting it ready for test rides is a TOP Priority.

We'll post pictures and test rides will be possible as soon as it is built up.

More information...

Chico

AlphaBENT's Chico shop used to be our main location and contact point. However, times have changed and now our Sacramento shop is the best place to test-ride a recumbent trike or bike.

Our Chico location now serves mainlhy as a warehouse, custom fabrication and assembly shop, and a point of contact for sales and service. It is open by appointment, but we are happy to meet you in Chico if that is more convenient for you.

Chico is a great place to visit with lots of great riding.

Please be in touch if you will be in the area or for any of your recumbent needs.

More information...

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.]

More information...

High-tech rim tape saves weight / fingers

Rim tape is an invisible partner to all recumbent trike and bike riders. Rim tape protects the inner tube from sharp hole edges on double-wall rims and spoke-ends on singlewall rims.

On double-wall rims, the rim tape has to withstand extremely high forces, particularly with higher-pressure tires. In addition, its adhesive must resist migration and yet be easily removable when necessary in the future, even years after it was first installed.

Traditional rim tapes dominate in the bicycle industry, and these tapes employ thick woven fabric for their protective qualities. However, the thickness of the tape actually makes the rim well larger and hence makes tire changes more difficult. On the smaller recumbent wheels, this increase in the interior rim diameter is a significant factor causing headaches (and sometimes pinched fingers) for recumbent riders who have to remove their tires and fix their tubes. In addition, the additional weight of the thick cloth is unnecessary and wastes rider energy each time the wheel accelerates.

We have been experimenting with a new high-tech rim tape that uses a super-strength polyester film with amazing rigidity characteristics to keep it from stretching or puncturing under the high-pressure conditions on the inside surface of a bicycle wheel rim. Furthermore, it uses a silicone-based adhesive that has a perfect quality of staying in place while still allowing the tape to be easily peeled off years later.

Three years ago, we installed the tape on our own bicycles and field-tested it ourselves. The results were so good that two years ago we started building all double-walled wheels at AlphaBENT with this tape.

When we had the occasion to rebuild one of these early wheels for very different reasons, we got to see how this new rim tape has been working in regular real-world application for the past two years. The results are an absolutely amazing. The tape shows no degradation, even where it has been pressed at high pressure against the sharp interior edges of the rim continuously since it was first installed. There has been no migration of the tape, and when we peeled it off, it came off readily making our job of rebuilding the wheel easier.

Here are some pictures of the tape before we removed it from the rim.

More information...

ICE Adventure trike models more affordable with 24-speed drivetrain

ICE has tackled the high cost of entry into the recumbent trike market by putting together a solid entry-level components package for a sub-$3,000 price on the ICE Adventure trike model. The new gruppo uses solid 8-speed chain and cassette system, which combine with a triple front crankset for a total of 24-speeds and Schwalbe Citizen tires to achieve the price savings.

Schwalbe Citizen tires are a small step down from the standard Tryker tires, but are still a high-quality tire with Kevlar reinforcement and 50 threads per inch (TPI or EPI) carcass construction.

The biggest savings comes from using 8-speed chain, cassette, and shifters in this 24-speed drivetrain. 8-speed systems fit on the same cassette body and often have the same gear range as comparable 9-speed or 10-speed systems. 8-speed systems simply have larger jumps between gears. For top-level cyclists, this means it is harder to achieve optimal cadence, but for ordinary recreational cyclists, the difference will not be easily noticeable.

An advantage of the 8-speed drivetrain is that 8-speed chain is less expensive and more robust than 9 or 10-speed chain, and all of the consumable drivetrain parts such as chain, cassette, and chainrings will be less expensive to replace when they wear out.

People getting ICE trikes with the 24-speed gruppo get the same frame, seat, hubs, and all other fundamental parts as used on the more expensive ICE recumbent trikes.

ICE has also made some "standard" parts optional to allow purchase of ICE trikes for lower cost without all of the "bells and whistles".

This strategy of offering a lower-cost alternative with a less expensive component set is no stranger to the recumbent trike industry. HP Velotechnik has capitalized on this same strategy in the specifications for its "made-for-the-USA" Gekko and Gekko FX-26 recumbent trike lineup.

Meanwhile, Catrike sticks with its strategy of offering a very high level of components and appealing to buyers looking for the highest level of components at the highest value. Greenspeed tends to use a similar strategy by specifying Dura-ace or Ultegra bar-end shifters as the best value, though Catrike's standard 10-speed SRAM drivetrain and gearing/shifting systems outpace the somewhat dated 9-speed Dura-Ace barend shifter systems for precision and durability.

ICE and Azub bridge the strategies by offering a wide variety of drivetrains and models in a mix-and-match smorgasbord of build options that gives buyers an essentially "custom" build at a "standard" build price.

More information...

Cool riding Ventisit cushion relieves Terratrike seat hotspots

Terratrike owners sometimes find that the front corners of the seats are hotspots that chafe their legs as they ride. Additionally, the relatively dense weave of the seat covers on Terratrike Rambler and Rover models keep rider sweat from evaporating readily.

We have found a Ventisit seatpad that provides relief to Terratrike riders by resolving both issues at once. The pad extends for the full width of the seat and smooths out the front hotspots.

Made of high-tech material, the Ventisit pad provides improved air circulation behind and under the rider. The pad is available in standard and extra-thick and will raise the rider's effective seat-height by 20-30mm.

More information...

Bike Show 2016

HP Velotechnik Scorpion suspension recumbent trike redesigned for 2017

HP Velotechnik has announced a changeup to the Scorpion model line of suspension recumbent tricycles. After twelve (12) years in production, the original Scorpion model will be retired.

For 2017, the Scorpion model is getting a redesign to have a 26" drivetrain, and is targetted at the "comfort race-trike" market -- people who want to go fast, but prefer not to have the bone-jarring effects of non-suspension trikes.

HP Velotechnik has designed its No-Squat suspension to minimize pogo and energy losses due to pedalling activation of the rear suspension.

Large drivewheels give recumbent trikes good handling characteristics and efficiency. The original Scorpion model was the first recumbent trike produced by HP Velotechnik and its design principles have flowed into every HP recumbent trike produced.

However, the 20" drivewheel has held it back in an older recumbent era. The new Scorpion uses a 26" drivewheel, but toes the line of the original Scorpion's non-folding philosophy. Although foldability is useful for many situations, many recumbent trike owners refrain from folding their trikes if they don't have to, simply due to the extra steps and the possibility of added wear and tear on the trike. In addition, hinges and foldability add cost and weight, so eliminating that keeps the design simpler provided that the folding capability is not needed.

A preliminary look suggests that there might be enough room in the rear fork to accommodate a larger 700c racing wheel, but this is not yet confirmed.

The new Scorpion should be available by the end of 2016 in a metallic blue or grey color though HP offers custom color upgrades for most RAL colors.

A full range of options including a variety of electric-assists will be available for the newly redesigned Scorpion.

More information...

ICE improves 2017 Adventure recumbent trikes

ICE unveiled new improvements to the ICE Adventure at the 2016 Interbike trade-show. The improvements will work their way into the shipped ICE products over the rest of 2016 and become standard by 2017.

Particularly, the new Adventure seat features a longer seat. ICE purposefully made the seat short-ish to prevent chafing and rider discomfort, but many customers felt it need to give more support. The new ICE Adventure seat is 2 inches (2") longer and this will help with riders feeling more comfortable and securely placed on the trikes.

The new Adventure recumbent trikes have a lighter blue color scheme and fancy new graphics baked onto the frames. Unlike the older sticker technology, the new ICE decals are integrated into the powdercoating of the frames for better durability.

ICE has also improved the ergonomics of their suspension elastomers. The new elastomers feature a color scheme that allows quick and easy color-coding for softness. In the new color scheme, white is the softest elastomer for the lightest riders, black is heavy-duty for the heaviest riders, and standard elastomers are grey for most use. Previously, owners had to remember the coding of yellow, red, and green. The new progressive white-to-black color scheme will be quick and easy to remember.

Accessories from ICE are improved with new racks available for 20" and 20" suspension models.

The Adventure now has an optional seat riser for people who need an even higher seat.

Improvements will be progressively introduced through the end of 2016 and fully incorporated into the ICE Adventure lineup for 2017.

More information...

Announcements

Azub Open-House at AlphaBENT on October 18, 2016

Azub adventurers, Honza, Milan, and Jakub will be demonstrating Azub trikes and bikes at AlphaBENT on the morning of October 18, 2016.

Coffee and morning treats will be on-hand for this open-to-the-public extremely rare opportunity to talk to the people of Azub personally and find out more about this well-built Czech recumbent technology.

Azub has recently introduces some revolutionary front-suspension titanium-based technology in the new Ti-FLY full-suspension trike. This trike, as well as the award-winning Tri-Con rear-suspension trike will be on-hand for test-rides. Other Azub products such as the full-suspension Six recumbent bike and an electric-assist equipped T-Tris-26 will be available for test-rides.

Azub representatives will be happy to answer any questions about Azub products.

Samples of the revolutionary new Pinion P1.18 18-speed transmission drivetrain will be on-hand for testing, as well.

Be sure to come early. The AlphaBENT shop will be open bright and early at 8am for this very special event, and the Azub Adventurers will be rolling down the road at noon.

More information...

First Catrike Dumont full-suspension recumbent trikes to ship on 1 October 2016

Catrike has announced that production of the full-suspension Dumont recumbent tricycle will begin on October 1, 2016.

The Dumont incorporates new technologies in its design and manufacture. It is not uncommon for next-generation manufacturing technologies to have inconvenient delay. In this case, the production preparation and testing is taking longer than Catrike expected when they announced the Dumont at last year's Interbike trade show.

Causes for the delay

A re-design of the rear-suspension is requiring the manufacture of new custom parts, and new production jigs.

As previously reported here, the front end of the Dumont is getting redesigned for the new front suspension system.

Catrike is also playing it safe with testing and allowing itself plenty of time to conduct a thorough battery of tests of the new materials and structures.

Manufacturing precision at Catrike will also be increased thanks to a new jig and fixture testing and adjustment system developed expressly for the fixtures used for the Dumont.

Short-term pain for long-term gain

As one of the few recumbent manufacturers in the world (Azub being another) actually doing its own frame production, Catrike invests more in its manufacturing infrastructure and less in inventory and shipping logistics. This delay is not entirely unexpected and similar to delays associated with Catrike's (now years ago) investment in its in-house powdercoating system, it is a bitter pill in the short term that will bear long-term fruit for the entire Catrike lineup.

More information...

Disability

RideAtaxia NorCal 2016 raises more funds for Friedrich's Ataxia research

Kyle Bryant rallied the Ataxians and their supporters at the 7th Annual Ride Ataxia NorCal. Riders, families, and friends gathered in picturesque Winters, California for the 4 June 2016 event. Kyle led the 25-mile ride on a stock-issue hyper yellow Catrike 700 recumbent trike with Iron-Woman Rachael on a modified HP Velotechnik Gekko recumbent.

Teams Kiela, Megan, Sean, Barney, ZOWIE, Riley, Lia, Tayggli, Lyndsay, MMCA, Horizon, Ash, Blue Skies, MAIN 40, Rupeloton, Buford& Co., Roadies for Kyle, Luke's League, Brown & Caldwell, It's Not Supposed to be Easy, Sophia's Flying Pandas, were there and a stunning $80,700 was raised in a few short hours.

After the 3-course Riders' Feast, Kyle announced promising clinical studies which are the fruits of the labors and fund-raising of the Friedrich's Ataxia Research Foundation.

More information...

Pages