You are here


Long-term wear

Field-fix for broken ICE chain tube flex connectors

Foldability of recumbent trikes is an important feature. It helps many people with transporting and storing their trikes.

ICE pioneered the compact flat-twist (CFT) design which angles the hinge at 45 degrees so the rear section of the trike twists sideways during the fold and lands flatly in the plane of the cruciform of the trike.

This allows big-wheeled trikes to fold even tighter than some of the smaller-wheeled varieties.

The Achilles heel in the CFT design is at the flex-point in the chaintubes where the chain doubles back and twists all at the same time. There is a lot of force on those flex points, and, eventually, we see some of these trikes in the shop for replacement of the flexible connector.

Replacing the flexible connector requires labor, a special part, and some effort removing the chain from the chaintubes and then putting it back. An air compressor comes in quite handy, as well. All of these factors may not be present when you are sitting on the side of the road with a broken chain-tube.

We found that with some creative use of four zip-ties, we were able to recouple the chaintubes with a flexible mechanism and no need for special tubes, nor a lot of time.

We simply put an anchor on the chain-tube on each side of the break, then connected the anchor with two opposing zipties criss-crossing in a helical pattern across the flex-joint.

The zipties we used are white and will not weather as well as black ones. We used them because they show the technique readily.

More information...


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.
More information...

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.

More information...

Build-ups, Safety

ICE Sprint RS-26 build-up

We build up trikes every day.

Live vicariously...

More information...

Gearing Calculator

Handy gearing calculator makes optimal gearing easy.

This calculator tells gear-inches calculations for:

  • conventional derailleur-based systems
  • SRAM 3x7 and Dual-Drive systems
  • Rohloff Speedhub
  • Schlumpf Speed-Drive, Mountain-Drive, and Highspeed-Drive
  • Shimano Nexus
  • Sturmey-Archer

and combinations thereof -- as well as normalizing the numbers relative to cranklength.

Click here to check it out.

More information...

Rivendell Rohloff (now, for something completely different)

It's quite an honor when someone is so happy with they work you did on their recumbent trike, that they want you to do a really special thing on a different cycle they own.

Recently, a gentleman with a Rivendell touring bike came to me for a Rohloff customization request. The challenge is to put some kind of do-hickey on the bike that will accept a conventional Rohloff torque arm system without actually requiring the hassle of using a torque arm (they make tire fixing more of a challenge than it needs to be.)

In this case, I fashioned a small piece of aluminum into a Rohloff OEM2 bolt holder and the rest went smoothly from there. We used the external gearbox to keep the entire system enclosed and prevent any sort of regular maintenance replacing frayed inner shift cables.

Here's how to do it...

More information...

Recumbent gearing calculator

Wheel diameterWheel size:
Front chainring(s): Crank length:
Front transmissionNone:
Schlumpf DriveMountain-Drive:     Speed-Drive:     HighSpeed-Drive:
Pinion gearboxP1.12:     P1.18:
Efneo GTRO (3-speed):
Rear cassetteCassette:
Raw gear: -
~=170mm: -

SRAM 3x7 / Dual-Drive: -
~=170mm: -
14-sp Rohloff Speedhub 500/14Cog: -
~=170mm: -
7-8sp InternalCog: SRAM S7: -
Shimano Nexus-7: -
Shimano Nexus Inter-8: -
Shimano Alfine-11: -
Nuvinci N360: -
Sturmey: -
Single-speed: -
© 2003-2019 Hugh Kern, All rights reserved.
More information...