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Weights and measures, Comparison

Compare weight: 500W Bionx v. 500W GoSwiss 26" wheel

It's not every day that we have the opportunity to measure the weights of different systems. Usually, everything is so intertwined with everything else, that it's hard to pin down exact weight differences of comparable items and components.

Recently, though, we had the opportunity to measure two comparable 500W 26" wheels with very different motor systems by Bionx and GoSwiss, so we chucked them up on the doctor's scale.

The Bionx motor has a huge diameter. Instead of the conventional large-hub system with a conventional spoke flange, Bionx has made the motor into a large disc that sits inside the spokes of the wheel and the spokes are a newer-style straight-pull variety that travel parallel to the motor case. This motor is very thin, but shows a large profile from the side. It looks quite large.

The GoSwiss motor hub uses conventional J-bend spokes with conventional flanges. The sideways diameter of the motor is much smaller than the Bionx, but the motor is much wider.

Given that both motors consume 500W, it might be reasonable to assume that if they use the same technology, then the internal windings would probably have a very similar weight. If anything, it appears visually that the larger diameter Bionx motor would weigh more.

We were quite surprised to find that the Bionx wheel was significantly lighter than the GoSwiss.

Our shop scale is a well-calibrated doctor's scale. It has a resolution of about 1-2 ounce (or about 50g). The wheels were measured with no tire, tube, or cassette.

The Bionx wheel weighed 5lb-4oz or 2380g. The GoSwiss wheel weighed 6lb-8oz or 2950g.

This is a very simple rough comparison of a single characteristic and does not measure comparable power output, acceleration, nor efficiency of the motors. It also does not include batteries, racks, or other auxiliary equipment.

It is also true that a mere 1+ pound of difference in a single component of a system that will have an overall weight in the 60lb range is relatively minor and insignificant.

[NOTE: This just an interesting fact about a measurable characteristic. We install and use both of these systems and find both to be quite impressive technologically.]

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ICE Sprint X RS-26 with 90mm drum brakes and 700c Bionx electric-assist

This is a custom build-up of an ICE Sprint X with a rear suspension, Bionx 350W electric-assist built into a 700c rear wheel, and 90mm Sturmey-Archer drum brakes.

The Sprint X has fancy wheels but they are usually built around front disc hubs and a conventional rear hub. In this case, the owner opted for the long-wearing, low-maintenance Sturmey Archer 90mm drum brakes. Since the trike is motorized, the slight weight penalty was not a factor.

She also wanted the largest rear wheel size. We found that a 700c rear wheel would fit with a few millimeters to spare. We custom-built the rear wheel around a Bionx 350W motor supplied from a previous installation. The larger wheel-size was not compatible with the standard rear V-brake parking mechanism, so we used conventional brake levers with locking buttons.

She also specifically wanted the SRAM X5 twist shifters over the standard X bar-end shifters.

We looked at a variety of battery mounting options. A tensioned, hanging system was the lightest and most elegant solution. We used the strength of the seat rails to hold the battery. A simple water-bottle cage holder was mounted to an upper seat-rail. We stabilized it with a custom-made brace to the next rail down. The cable length was perfect and the battery slides easily in and out of position. Its location is central and out of the way. The weight of the battery support system is minimal.

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Trigger-shifters alternative for shifting with limited hand strength

An alternative to twist shifters for riders with limited hand-strength

Twist (grip) shifters are an inexpensive and reliable technology common on recumbent trikes. They have two main drawbacks:

  1. They are ergonomically mal-positioned for most vertical handlebar situations as they are intended to be gripped with the thumb and fore-finger, but, instead, are positioned at the heel of the hand.
  2. The twisting action to shift gears can affect the steering.

Due to the first drawback, people with limited hand-strength can have difficulty operating grip-shifts mounted in a vertical position.

We have been experimenting with alternatives to conventional grip-shifts on recumbent trikes and have mounted trigger / paddle shifters in several different positions with the intent of serving the needs of people with macro-movements, but limited hand-strength. Causes of limited hand-strength include stroke and other forms of full or partial paralysis, neurological conditions, and age.

The shifters shown worked well for some clients and potential clients with low hand-strength. The position seemed to be the best of all the positions we tried when used with macro push movements.

It would be relatively easy to re-arrange them to work in pull-only situations.

These shifters are quite reliable and almost as inexpensive as grip-shifters so the investment cost of this conversion is low.

People with stroke, Parkinsons, Ataxia, ALS, MS, and cerebral palsy could have improved shifting by using these shifters as shown.

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Day-6 semi-recumbent bikes now available in Sacramento

AlphaBENT has added Day-6 bikes to its lineup of recumbents.

Day-6 bikes are known for their excellent handling, ease-of-use, and comfort. All Day-6 bikes have excellent lumbar support and an integrated carrying pouch.

"We're excited to have these bikes on the floor.", said AlphaBENT owner, Hugh Kern, "Not everyone who walks in here needs a trike, and recumbent bikes can be difficult for some people to ride. The Day-6 gives people an option that is well-dialed in, and won't break the bank."

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AlphaBENT open on Fridays in 2016

For a long time, we have been open 6-days per week and closed on Fridays.

This has raised many eyebrows and questions, and had absolutely nothing to do with religious beliefs, but rather with personal obligations.


As of the beginning of 2016 (other than New Year's Day which is a holiday,) we will change our day off to Monday.

Please note: we will be open on Fridays moving forward, and closed on Mondays!

Our regular hours will be 11-5, every day but MONDAY.

We look forward to seeing you

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Gearing calculator updated for Pinion P1.12 and P1.18 gearboxes and single-speed

We have updated our online gearing calculator to do calculations for the Pinion P1.12 and P1.18 gearboxes.

Rohloff Speedhub, Schlumpf Speed-drive, Highspeed-drive, and Mountain-drive, and most internally-geared hubs such as Nuvinci N360, Shimano Nexus, Inter-8, and Alfine are already supported as well as more conventional front and rear derailleur systems and the SRAM Dual-Drive and 3x7 hubs.

Find it at:

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Mounting a Minoura bottle-cage holder on an ICE seat

Minoura makes a clever, strong, and lightweight strap-on water bottle cage holder that is useful for mounting accessories including electric motor batteries as well as water bottle cages.

The BH-95X can make a strong mounting point not just for water bottle cages on the back of the rigid seat frame of an ICE recumbent trike, but also for suspending a Bionx electric motor battery.

Here is an exploded picture of the disassembled device.

The rigid ICE seat frame used on ICE recumbent trikes has 4 1" cross-bars and the bottle cage holder can be mounted on any of them. We will mount this one on the second one from the top:

  1. Put the stainless steel strap around the seat frame bar.
  2. Bend the strap so the second hole from the end nests on the outside of the embedded nut at the other end.
  3. Overlay the plastic base over the nested strap ends.
  4. Put the re-positionable cover on top of the plastic base and lay the steel bracket within the groove with the long end downwards and forwards.
  5. Insert the bolt through the steel bracket and the holes of the plastic cover and plastic base and engage the threads at the end of the bolt with the threads of the nut embedded in the strap.
  6. You will be able to feel when the threads engage and your success will be visible inside the plastic mounting base.
  7. Tighten and when you are finished, the bottle cage holder is ready to be used.
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Caution! Sharp! Schlumpf chamfering tool

What do Swiss bike gearing systems and American solar-lit bongs have in common?

In Chico, CA, it seems to all make sense, as, after a good 16 years chamfering bottom-brackets for Schlumpf installations, our old chamfering tool just wasn't cutting the metal like it used to. After searching high and low in Sacramento (unsuccesfully) to find someone with the tooling to set a new keen edge on the cutting tool, we finally found the right guy in Chico.

Clearly, searching low was not the right approach, but Tom took a break from marketing his latest (patented) invention in order to rejuvenate the Schlumpf tool.

Thanks, Tom, and good luck marketing your invention.

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Workshop, construction/design, ICE promotional video, In-House News, Recumbents, rider comfort, Road bikes, Videos

ICE Air-Pro carbon fiber seat

Inspired Cycle Engineering is reknowned for blending comfort and efficiency in their hardshell carbon-fiber seat for the speedster VTX model.

In this series of time-lapse videos, you get to see the workmanship, engineering, and skill that goes into the backbone of the AirPro carbon fiber seat.  In their own words,

The ICE Air-Pro Carbon seats are handmade composite hard-shell seats that provide exceptional stiffness with minimal weight, weighing in between 1.1-1.4kg with the carbon saving approx 0.38Kg (0.84lbs) over the GRP version. The Air-Pro shell is an anatomically contoured shape which is available in two sizes (medium & large). The shell supports the rider through aggressive cornering and provides a firm brace to pedal against while flexing where appropriate for comfort. The shell has incorporated wings unlike most of its competitors which reduces weight and increases efficiency. Fitted to the shell is a custom composite fabric cover made from carefully selected foams and surface materials for ultimate performance. Max rider weight 230lbs (104Kg). The technical pad system is arranged to provide maximum comfort and support while riding, incorporating natural ventilation channels to maintain a cooling airflow across the back. Recognising that the shape and riding style of every rider is undoubtedly different ICE have also designed a personal padding system that is provided separately, these pads allow the rider to place extra pads directly to the shell and under the cover for added support in areas they deem necessary....

Every ICE Air-Pro Carbon Fibre or GRP seat is designed and fabricated in the UK at ICE HQ, Falmouth. Each seat is made using the highest quality design processes, raw materials and craftsmen. Designed in house using the latest CAD technology, the moulds are CNC routed for precision quality seat after seat. The seat itself is fabricated by a small team of professional and passionate craftsman; each seat is subject to the same reliable method of production within our small controlled environment. The seats are then finished by eye to ensure the highest quality finish time and time again. Each seat takes roughly 4-5 hours to produce from start to finish over several days.

Go to their website. Read all about it. Watch the videos. And, when you feel the need for speed, call us.

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recumbent bike

Bacchetta Giro 26 modifications

The Bacchetta Giro 26 is a great all-purpose bike. At $1700, qualifies as "entry level". It is quite similar to the ATT Giro 26 Bacchetta bikes, but it has a cromoly (CrMo) steel frame and cromoly (CrMo) fork.

The stock seat for this model is called the ReCurve with the key features of a mesh backing and perforated foam seat pan. It can be swapped with the lighter EuroMesh seat at no added cost. The Giro models come with pivoting steerer so the handlebar-knees distance is adjustable.

These are several changes we made to this Bacchetta Giro 26 and the reasons why:

Short (155mm) cranks

The stock crank is an FSA Tempo. It is big, ugly, and heavy and it has a conventional 170mm length. We put on a nice 155mm crank. This one single change saved ?? ounces of weight.

Since the main physical conflicts on a bike like this have to do with heel-strike and knee-handlebar interference, the shorter cranks give you a bit more breathing room.

Finally, the shorter cranks give a 10% faster cadence and 10% higher gearing for higher speeds.

We used our stock Durabi 400 cranks. We've been using these for years because they are a well-made, inexpensive, and consistent.

Front disc brake

As a matter of personal preference, some people prefer disc brakes over rim brakes. The main downsides to disc brakes are added cost and weight.

Because most of the braking force ends up on the front wheel, we balanced the cost-weight penalty by putting a disc brake just on the front wheel and leaving the stock rim brake on the back.

The Giro 26 come disc-ready from the factory -- meaning that the fork has disc brake tabs to mount the caliper and the front wheel uses a disc hub which accepts a disc rotor with no changes.

This all means that putting on a front disc brake is almost no more work than screwing in 6 bolts and swapping out the cable and housing for longer ones.

Clipless pedals

At AlphaBENT, we are self-confessed Pedal Snobs. Almost no bike seems complete without our X82 pedals. These pedals are a lot like the Shimano M324 double-sided pedals with one side dedicated to clipping in and the other side using a cage for regular shoes. However, the X82 has the following features and improvements:

  • extremely light. There is no comparison with the M324 with regard to weight and the X82's are lighter than most SPD pedals of any brand or style
  • sealed bearings: The sealed bearing cartridges require no maintenance and last a long time.
  • SPD standard: like the M324, the X82 uses standard SPD-compatible cleats.

Rear rack

For any longer trip, commuting about town, or getting groceries, a rack is quite useful.

Bacchetta has solved the rear-rack problem with a general-purpose, highly configurable rack that seems to fit most of their bikes. We opted for a different rack for the sake of simplicity, lightness, and strength.

We started with an ICE Sprint 26 rack and fashioned a curved front anchor bar that bolts onto the caliper brake mounting point for the rear wheel. Given that the rear brake of this bike uses side studs, the caliper brake mounting hole is free and rated to a high strength so it makes an ideal anchor point.

All it took was to bend a sturdy piece of aluminum stock and drill three holes in it and we were done.

Light mounts

We are big advocates of bike lights. A rear flashing light seems light an indispensable safety feature. We fashioned a rear horizontal mounting bar using a piece of PEX tubing and bolted it to the inside of the back plate of the ICE rack. This allowed us to put on a Cateye Volt 50 with its massive battery for all-day flashing.

On the front, we used the tried and true Minoura Space grip, but the Bacchetta One-Armed Bandit has many advantages over it and would make a better choice for the long-term.


This bike does not like to stand up resting against a pole. Against a wall, yes -- pole, no. A kickstand is essential if you plan on standing it uphere and there.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to mount a kickstand on this bike. Bacchetta makes a kickstand mounting bracket and we have found that it works well with a Pletscher ESGE kickstand on models like the Corsa. However, it is a challenge to get it to work well with this model in conjunction with a rack and / or fenders.

Steer bar flip

The fact that Bachetta is able to make the handlebar and steering work with so little interference with rider's knees is a wonder.

However, the presence of a conventional bicycle handlebar stem is a real head-scratcher:

  • stem -- It is not clear why this bike has a stem. Given that it has a tilting steer bar with an adjustable angle and length, you can already place the handlebar position wherever you like. If the steer tube had a handlebar clamp at its end instead of a stem for a conventional bike, it would function just as well and there would be considerable savings of weight, parts, and cost.
  • safe area -- When the handlebars turn, there is a central "safe area" where your knees have the most clearance. The further out from the center that your knees exist, the more likelihood you have to hit the handlebar with them. Therefore, it makes no sense for the stem (that doesn't even belong on the bike) to exist in the central safe area where the rider's knees move about.
  • the bolt head -- There is a bolt head (on the stem which should not exist) and it is easy to hit that with your right knee.

The resolution to these problems is simple: flip the handlebar around. With the stem (which should not exist) elbow forward instead of backward, all of these problems went away other than the needless weight of the stem.

[It turns out that the ability to flip the stem around is dependent on the geometry of the bike, and this technique will not work "out of the box" with the Giro 20 since it takes the stop-bolt of the steering pivot beyond its intended / designed range.]


We found that the Busch and Muller Cyclestar mirror mounts easily on the handlebar of this model and can be looked at while keeping the road in your peripheral vision.


The Cateye Urban wireless computer is pretty easy to install and handles the distance from the wheel sensor to the handlebar when place just so.

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Long-term wear

ICE Adventure FS checks out fine -- after five years

After five years and thousands of miles, Ron's ICE Adventure FS is still looking sharp.

It got a new pair of silicone grips for its handlebars, and a shiny new chain, and it's ready for another go.

Memo: Motorcycle chain-lube on a trike chain leaves strong residue inside chain-tubes -- beware!

See you in another four or five years, Ron!

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Build-ups, Safety

ICE Sprint RS-26 build-up

We build up trikes every day.

Live vicariously...

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