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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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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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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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