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Catrike Eola: new for 2019 recumbent trike model

Catrike introduced some tempting views of the Eola, a new recumbent trike model that will hit the streets sometime in 2019.

Like the 2018 redesigned Catrike 700, the Eola will depart from the traditional standard components used on most other Catrike models. Instead of having multiple chainrings and a front derailleur and shifter, the Eola will use a single chainring and have an extra-wide 11-42 cassette on the back.

Taking many hard-learned lessons from the years that Catrike has been manufacturing recumbent trikes in the USA, the Eola is designed for streamlined production time and resources. Examples include:

  • a trimmed down 3-color palette accented with neutral hard-anodized gray.
  • single-part, fixed-camber, fixed-reach handlebars designed for most people
  • derailleur-less boom
  • fixed-angle seat-back

The Eola will also come with many standard features that might otherwise cost extra, including rear flashing taillight, rear fender, integrated carrying bag, and two-sided SPD-compatible clipless pedals.

All specifications and components for the Eola are subject to change, but the preliminary look suggests that the Eola will have:

  • all three wheels 20" (406 ETRTO), probably equipped with Schwalbe Marathon Racers
  • 1x11 drivetrain with FSA hollow-axle bottom-bracket, 42T chainring and 11-42T cassette
  • Catrike seat-pad
  • Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes

There might be a temptation to call the Eola an "entry-level" trike, but, if so, it will certainly be one of the best entry-level trikes on the market.

At first blush, the Eola might look similar to a Catrike Pocket, but will the Eola will have a higher seat, more upright seat-back angle, and wider track.

The Eola is clearly laid out to compete head-to-head with the HP Velotechnik Gekko model lineup.

More information...

Catrike Road-AR quietly introduced -- full-suspension recumbent trike

Catrike recently removed the Road rear-suspension recumbent trike from its model line-up and replaced it with a full-suspension Road-AR.

The change was made with little or no notice to dealers and potential buyers, and has taken Catrike aficionados a bit by surprise.

For Catrike, with the main development work on the new front-suspension spindles behind them, it was probably a very easy change to make.

Catrike's new front suspension spindles have different engineering constraints, so a straight-across front-suspension upgrade path does not exist for end-users. But, with the manufacturing process completely under their own control, Catrike can easily change tubing specifications to meet the needs of the new spindles, and this seems to be what has happened.

The pricing of the new model is interesting. At $3550, the new Road-AR is $400 more than the Road model it replaced, but $600 less than its nearest comparable Catrike option -- the Dumont.

And, $3550 for a full-suspension recumbent tricycle with these specifications is extremely competitive. By comparison, HP Velotechnik's full-suspension trike with 20" rear wheel, the Scorpion FS-20, starts at $900 more with a very different set of components.

Comparing such models is difficult, though. With its integrated sway-bar, and indirect steering, HP's FS-20 is undoubtedly more expensive to build and the suspension handles bumps quite differently.

It is also important to note that the Road is NOT a folding trike like the Catrike Dumont and the HP Scorpion FS-20.

Top-level recumbent dealers like AlphaBENT expect to have Road-AR recumbent trikes in stock by the end of May.

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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.

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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.

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Pinking clamps memorize ICE handlebar position

British recumbent trike maker ICE goes pink with an obscure, but very useful, innovation built into the handlebars of ICE recumbent tricycles. The new design uses a sawtoothed edge on the ends of the handlebar clamp tube that mates to a variably-placed equally-sawtoothed clamp that gets fixed to the handlebars.

The jagged sawtoothed effect is not unlike the result of using "pinking shears" to cut cloth.

With the new ICE pinking handlebar system, every time the handlebars get released and repositioned for folding or any other purpose, they can be reset to the original position with no guesswork. Given that the handlebars have quick-releases on them and moving the left handlebar is usually required for folding the trike, this innovation ensures that recovering your handlebar position will be a no-brainer.

Mechanisms to recover a set handlebar position are not a new concept. Czech recumbent trike maker Azub has long offered a very sturdy castellated quick-release as part of their folding trike system upgrade.

The ICE mechanism is lightweight and now included with all folding ICE trikes at no additional cost.

Kudos to ICE for this simple yet effective refinement!

[Note: The actual color of handlebars on ICE folding recumbent trikes is still black. "Pinking" refers to the analogous effect of cutting cloth material with "pinking shears".]

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Bionx bankruptcy

Electric-assist and retrofit electric motor company Bionx has gone bankrupt and its assets are being sold off.

After cornering the North American electric-assist retrofit market, Bionx suddenly closed its doors and laid off all workers in February 2018, just at the start of the busy Spring season in the bicycle industry.

Apparently, the financial failure of the company is related to a deal with General Motors, in which Bionx was to produce electric bicycles for the auto-maker at a cost of $1000/ea. After finding that the bicycles would actually cost $1400/ea to build, Bionx defaulted on the contract and went into receivership shortly thereafter.

This is not the first time that Bionx has had to reboot. The previous iteration of Bionx was originated by a company called Electric Propulsion Systems (EPS). EPS' Bionx was plagued by quality control issues until the brand was acquired by auto parts supplier Magna International Inc. in 2008.

Under Magna ownership, Bionx resolved many of the quality-control issues and redesigned many aspects of the product. An innovative and extremely lightweight 500W motor hub was introduced and an unobtrusive controller ring was devised with full controls, but without a conventional screen.

Bionx systems are characterized by a proprietary battery, controller, and motor and require company support for even such essential aspects as activating a system. Without the company in existence and supporting the product, Bionx end-consumers and dealers are left with unsupported or non-useable products.

When the company announced going into receivership in February 2018, many people familiar with the company saw it as a blip and expected a new Bionx to rise from the ashes. However, as time has gone on and the phones continued to be unanswered, hopes for a revival have dimmed. Now, Grant Thornton, the accounting and business advisorial company handling the receivership, has announced that most of the assets have been sold and buyers for the remaining assets and patents are being sought.

Bionx had made a significant preseason sale throughout the bicycle industry and many dealers have received Bionx products that they have been unwilling to sell to unwitting consumers, given the lack of warranty, company support, and even essential configuration and activation functionality.

It will make for a lively show as Grant Thornton attempts to collect payment for bricked merchandise or sends those bills to debt-collectors for a more heavy-handed approach. Grant Thornton has refused to take back any of the merchandise that was sold with a promise of company support and basic functionality.

Most Bionx customers were small-businesses. These were bike shops with few employees, which were sold proprietary Bionx product with a promise of functionality and support. Lack of support and basic functionality makes the remaining product close to worthless.

On the human side of the equation, Bionx also employed many good, honest people who worked hard and very competently. These people were all laid off in an instant due to a seemingly negligent miscalculation at a high level of the company. 

And, last, but not least, end-user bicycle-riding customers who bought into a premium product based on the manufacturer's promise to support them into the future are left with systems that can not be supported even by third-party suppliers due to the proprietary nature of the design.



More information...

Time ticking against Azub price increases

In an unconventional move, Azub is raising prices in mid-season.

On Monday 15 May 2017, Azub prices will increase by 2-5%. 

Full-service shops like AlphaBENT are taking last-minute orders through the weekend of 5/13-14 of 2017. Some Azub trikes like a full-suspension Ti-FLY with Pinion 18-speed transmission can be quite expensive, so a 5% discount is a significant difference.

Of all the recumbent trike manufacturers, Azub is the only one offering Pinion transmissions.

Azub has also announced a new configurator to help buyers customize configurations and place orders through top dealers like AlphaBENT with a minimum of hassle.

More information...

TARTAR Spring 2017 - Recumbent trike ride on Sacramento's American River Trail

An informal ride called Tour of the American River for Trikes and Recumbents TARTAR will be happening in Sacramento and riders from all points will be converging on the Sacramento area to enjoy the American River trail and to meet other recumbent trike riders.

This ride has been happening semi-yearly for quite a while and has gained a strong following.

Rides are scheduled for

  • Friday 28 April 2017 at 5pm
  • Saturday 29 April 2017 at 9:30am
  • Sunay 30 April 2017 at 9:30am

All rides start and end at the Double Tree Suites by Hilton - Rancho Cordova - 11260 Point East Drive Rancho Cordova, CA 95742

The main information page for the rides is at http://www.bentrideronline.com/messageboard/showthread.php?t=132689

There are announcements on two separate Meetup pages at:

More information...

Eon green back in Catrike color lineup

Catrike has resolved its production issues for the eon-green color and is now producing recumbent trikes in this color again.

One of the few manufactures doing its own in-house frame production and powder-coating, Catrike has extraordinary flexibilty in producing different colors and in shaking up its color lineup. However, the dark side of this is that when some sort of production or supply glitch hits, a popular color like eon-green can simply disappear overnight.

This is what happened to eon green in October 2016, and it took some months for the issues to get resolved.

For now, eon green is available again on all Catrike recumbent trikes.

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...

Bike Show 2016

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...

accessories

Pannier rack top-bag adapter for ICE 26" suspension recumbent trikes

Recumbent trikes with 26" wheels have a difficult time supporting top-bags -- bags that are intended to be mounted on top of a rear rack.

ICE has just announced the availability of a rack adapter for its 26" models to allow the use of top-mount packs such as the Arkel Tailrider and many more.

The inherent difficulties are these:

  • any rear suspension worth its salt will have a lot of travel and the ICE 26" rear suspension is one of these
  • the rear rack is a suspension rack (not directly connected to the rear axle)
  • the rear rack adapter must therefore be far enough away from the top of the wheel to accommodate all that travel
  • a 26" wheel is already quite high

Therefore, an adapter for this purpose will necessarily be high off the ground with a corresponding contribution to a higher center of gravity. It will probably have more flex.

ICE has clearly stated that this adapter is not intended for loads higher than of 5kg (11 pounds).

An adapter like this might impact the foldability or packability of the trike, but ICE has designed it to fit all Adventure, Sprint, and Full Fat models with 26" rear suspension.

One benefit to using this adapter is that it should stabilize side panniers with heavy loads better than without it.

More information...

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