ICE Recumbent Trike
I’m not sure what took Trailsnet so long to review recumbent trikes. They’ve been on our radar from day one. In fact recumbents were one of the first personal transportation vehicles to catch our attention and help us decide to make PTVs a FOCUS area for Trailsnet, and we’ve always had a dedicated category for recumbent trails on Trailsnet.com. Although the following review is specifically for ICE Trikes, it can also serve as an introduction to recumbent trikes in general.
ICE Recumbent Trike Introduction
ICE stands for Inspired Cycle Engineering. ICE Recumbent Trikes is one of the leading brands for recumbent trikes. Among trike recumbent fans, ICE has a sort of cult following. ICE Trikes are not usually the first recumbent trike that recumbent followers own, but they are often the last. Recumbent riders tend to be a loyal bunch of folks, and once they find a brand they like, they often stick to that brand for life.
ICE Recumbent Trike Highlights
So what’s to love about an ICE Recumbent Trike? Let me count the features:
- Precisely engineered – ICE Trikes are built to last. They are sturdy and stable.
- Compact – Whether you need to transport your recumbent trike or store it at your house, the foldable frame of an ICE Trike comes in handy when you have space limitations.
- Selection – ICE carries three lines of recumbent trikes. They are the Adventure, the Sprint and the Vortex.
- Customizable – Within each of the three trike models listed above, there are numerous variations such as the Adventure, Adventure RS, Adventure FS, Adventure FS, Adventure HD, Adventure RS HD, etc. Then, on each of the specific models, you can add such options as a neck rest, a rack, side pods, front light mount, chainring guard and more.
ICE Recumbent Trike Dealers
ICE distributors may not be the most visible PTV (personal transportation vehicle) sales staff on the planet; but they are quite knowledgeable about their product. I was fortunate enough to interview Chip Stern, owner of Colorado’s Recumbent Trike Store. Chip definitely knows his recumbents and is one of ICE’s leading distributors. He has long been a fan of recumbent trikes and distributes them both nationally and internationally. His enthusiasm for trikes becomes evident from the start and his knowledge of the industry is voluminous. Like most ICE representatives, he is glad to accompany customers on a test drive and offers a steady stream of tips, tricks and trike tales. Even though I was mainly interested in learning about recumbent Trikes in general and ICE Recumbent Trikes particularly, I found myself wishing I had more garage space for “just one more personal transportation vehicle.” My PTV bucket list just expanded by at least one more toy. It’s not a matter of if I’m going to get a recumbent trike someday soon but whether it will be the Adventure, the Spring or the Vortex.
Why I Like Recumbent Trikes
Above all else, recumbent trikes are incredibly comfortable. It’s as if my body was telling me, “Now this is the way to ride trails.” Two particular trike qualities contribute to the aforementioned comfort:
- position – I’m not the first to notice that riding a recumbent bike is like viewing the world from the vantage point of your favorite reclining chair. My weight was evenly distributed throughout my entire back rather than just being centered over my buttocks. That weight distribution makes a huge difference over the course of a typical ride. Having ridden recumbent bikes on both the Withlacoochee Trail in Florida and the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia, I can vouch for the added comfort of the reclining position whilst navigating a long-distance trail.
- freedom – Those of you who follow Trailsnet realize that I’m all about relaxation, scenery and fitness when it comes to riding the trails. Recumbents allow all three of those qualities plus freedom. The increased stability of recumbent trikes afford the freedom to enjoy the scenery without worrying about every bump rut in the trail. The freestanding frame allows for the freedom to stop and rest or take pictures at will without worrying about balancing a bike. And the added (potential) cargo space allows for the freedom of long, comfortable trail journeys; and everyone knows that Trailsnet is all about long, comfortable trail journeys.
The recumbent community is a growing one and an increasingly diverse group of riders. If you’re under the impression that recumbents are for seniors or any other one particular group, you need to take another look at who’s riding recumbents. As both Chip Stern and I agree, if we’d have known about recumbents back when we were in our twenties, we’d have drooled over them then, too. Oh sure, recumbents offer new-found adventures and exploration to retirees and even folks with certain handicapping situations. But in reality, recumbents and recumbent trikes are for everyone.
For more information about recumbents, take a look at the BentRider blog and the Recumbent Tandem Rider Magazine. Then I’ll see you on the trail with a smile on your face, the wind at your back and a recumbent trike directly underneath you.
|Paved trails or roads
|Level to moderate trails
Commuting Recreation Exercise Touring
ICE trike electric conversion
In this article I’m going to cover details of an ICE trike electric conversion I did recently. The starting point for the conversion was an ICE Adventure 20 recumbent trike. There had been a few modifications along the way but it did not have electric drive. Due to health-related reasons the owner of the trike was finding their energy for cycling would run out quite quickly and unpredictably, which had become a problem preventing going on longer rides. They asked me to convert their trike (which was used daily in all weathers BTW) to electric drive. They didn’t really want to sell it and buy another with factory installed electric assistance.
Parts used for the ICE trike electric conversion
Here is the parts list for the conversion:
- Bafang BBSHD 1000 w mid-drive motor. Known as mid-drive as it usually goes in the middle of the bike and is mounted through the bottom bracket. It goes at the front in this conversion! This came with a Bafang 44 tooth chain ring, although I think they are now offering 42T or 46T options. It also came with a set of 170 mm cranks, which were nothing special but fine for the conversion.
- Bafang C965 display / controller with thumb throttle.
- Motor spacer.
- Sensors (included as part of the motor kit): gear shift sensor, brake levers with built in sensors, wheel speed sensor.
- Sensor extension cables – I bought a 40 cm and a 60 cm and used both.
- 48 v 17 Ah battery with LG cells.
- T-Cycle battery mount.
- T-Cycle accessory mount.
- New chain and rear cassette. Not strictly necessary for the conversion, but the drivetrain on this bike was definitely past its best! I thought a new chain and rear cassette were in order, especially in view of the extra power from the motor.
Reasons for choosing these parts
Even though a trike is heavier than a bike, the 1000 w motor is quite a heavy and hefty choice. Arguably it provides more power than most people would need, most of the time.
The owner of the trike needed to be able to set off, potentially on a hill, from stationary, so I wanted something with plenty of power for that reason. I’d also read that the motor controllers could burn out and the nylon reduction gears could break if pushed to their capacity on a regular basis. I felt the 1000 w motor would be working well within its capabilities, therefore would be less stressed and hopefully last longer.
Considering the T-Cycle battery mount, I’ve bought and used some other T-cycle parts before and they were great: really well made and very effective. So it was an easy decision to use their battery mount for this conversion.
I must confess I didn’t clean the entire trike before starting: it takes ages to clean one of these trikes properly and my job was to convert the trike, not clean it. I’m mentioning this because I’ve been told off in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев of some of my videos about not cleaning things before working on them!
I did clean any part of the frame where a clamp or cable tie was going to be installed. Most importantly of all, I cleaned and inspected the chain, cassette, derailleur, bearings (wheel and pedal) and brakes very carefully.
It soon became apparent that the chain and rear cassette were quite worn. The chain in particular gets quite a hammering on trikes like this, because the bottom of the rear derailleur is very close to the ground. As a result it picks up lots of dust, dirt and water from roads and paths.
Time for a new chain!
I advised the owner that a new chain and rear cassette would be required, then went ahead and fitted them. It was much easier and cheaper to buy 3 standard chains and join them with quick release links than it was to buy a long enough single piece of chain. I’ve done this quite a few times before with various recumbents and it works fine as long as the links are installed correctly.
One final bit of cleaning before installing the chain – the chain tubes! These were really caked up with old chain lube so obviously I couldn’t feed some lovely new chain into that mess.
Cleaning recumbent trike chain tubes
My method for chain tube cleaning is a length of thin twine (whipping twine if you want to know!) with a small weight on one end (I use a spark plug electrode top) and a flattened loop of copper wire at the other end. I put a small piece of rag through the loop and soak it in solvent, e.g. brake cleaner. Next I drop the weight into the tube, which is held so that the weight will fall down and pull the string with it. The string needs to be long enough that the weight comes out before the loop with the rag is pulled in. Grab the end of the string with the weight attached and pull the rag through the chain tube. Repeat until clean!
I waited until the motor and new chainring were fitted before cutting the chain to the correct length.
Before the motor could be fitted, quite a few things needed to be removed.
I removed these first. They were SPD pedals and were to be refitted to the replacement cranks in due course.
The trike had a square taper BB / crank setup so I used a crank puller to remove the cranks from the existing bottom bracket. The motor is also a square taper, so you could certainly use your own cranks if you didn’t want to use those supplied in the motor kit.
This trike had a Truvativ bottom bracket with 20 internal splines, so I used the appropriate tool to unscrew and remove it.
Grips and brake levers
I decided to replace the existing levers with those supplied in the Bafang kit, which came with built in brake sensors. This meant the bar end shifters, handlebar grips and brake levers had to be removed. I left the brake cables in place but took the opportunity to lubricate them. Important to optimise braking performance when adding a motor!
Installing the new parts
I started by inserting the motor into the bottom bracket tube. Once in place I turned so it was resting against the (now defunct) front derailleur mounting arm. This is so that if the motor mounts happen to work loose, it can’t turn because the torque would just push it into the derailleur arm.
As I started to tighten the mounting clamp, 2 things became clear. Firstly, the precision of the engineering of the clamp (or motor housing, or both) wasn’t perfect, so I did a small amount of modification (with a file). Secondly, I found the clamp was bottoming out against the motor housing before it could grip the bottom bracket shell tightly. I fixed this by adding a 2 mm aluminium spacer to the drive side of the motor, then reinstalling.
Fixing the motor in place is a 3 stage process:
- Tighten the 2 hex head bolts to compress the clamp onto the bottom bracket housing.
- Install and tighten the steel lock ring. This needs to be tight! Depending on your collection of bike tools you may need a special tool for this. I ordered one at the same time at the motor and everything else.
- Install and tighten the alloy lock ring over the top of the steel one. This doesn’t need to be so tight.
I installed the T-cycle accessory mount on the left handlebar. There was lots of adjusting the position of this later on so I just fitted it roughly at this stage.
The first thing I put on the mount was the thumb throttle, making sure it was in about the right place to be within easy reach with the rest of the hand still on the handlebar.
Finally I mounted the controller on the ‘top bar’ of the accessory mount.
T-cycle make a lovely battery mounting bracket specifically for ICE recumbents. I fitted this loosely at first.
The battery came with a removable mounting plate so I separated this from the main body of the battery to enable it to be fitted to the T-cycle mount.
I wanted to get the battery as high and as close to the centre of the trike as possible without it getting in the way, so as with a lot of this conversion work, there was plenty of trial fitting and adjustment to get it right.
With the battery mounted securely it was time to extend the wiring from the battery so it would reach the motor. Most of these components are designed for use on a ‘standard’ bicycle and in this case the motor and battery are much closer together, so the wiring for both is fairly short.
I used some 4 mm 2 thinwall cable to extend the battery wiring and joined it to the existing wiring using solder sleeves. If you’re buying some cable, make sure the voltage rating is high enough for the battery you’re using. This cable is good for 39 amps and that should be plenty for the battery and motor combination used in this ICE trike electric conversion.
As the battery cables were running fairly low on the trike, I added some expandable braided sleeving to protect them from chafing, then refitted the battery connectors at the end of the extension section. I used a piece of heat shrink as basic waterproofing for the connection between battery and motor. I just heat shrunk it at one end so the plugs could still be disconnected if needed.
Brake cut off sensors
The brake levers on the trike pre-conversion weren’t anything fancy, so I decided to swap them for the Bafang levers with integrated brake sensors. If you’re quite attached to your levers and don’t want to change them, you could use the stick on brake sensor instead. These consist of a sensor that sticks on to the lever housing and a small magnet that is stuck to the lever itself. With the lever in its usual position, the magnet needs to be very close to the sensor. As the lever is squeezed, this moves the magnet away from the sensor and the controller cuts power to the motor.
The trike had a 3 speed internal geared hub and a 9 speed rear derailleur / cassette. I decided it would be acceptable just to have one gear sensor for the derailleur, since the owner was already used to stopping pedalling to shift the 3 speed hub.
Wheel speed sensor
This reminded me of the old style bike speedometers, with a magnet attached to the wheel and a sensor on the forks (or in the case of the trike, seat stay).
The magnet is attached to one of the spokes on the rear wheel by a grub screw. It was quite a weighty item so I mounted it on the opposite side to the valve in the hope of keeping the wheel somewhat balanced.
After fixing the magnet, I attached the sensor to the left hand seat stay with cable ties. I attached it loosely at first so I could adjust the distance between the sensor and the magnet. Next I connected the sensor to the controller. This required an extension piece as the distance between the controller and the sensor was much longer on the recumbent trike than it would be on a ‘standard’ bicycle.
The sensor has a small red LED so with the power switched on I lifted the back wheel off the ground and spun it to check that the LED was flashing consistently with each revolution. Once I’d been able to confirm the position of the sensor I pulled the cable ties tight.
With everything fitted and tested, there was A LOT of tidying up of the wiring. It’s hard to write a guide for you on how to do this as everyone’s trike, installation and preferences will be different. I wanted to make sure it looked neat, there was no chafing and the trike could still be folded if needed. This last point meant there needed to be enough slack in the wires at the flex points.
Programming the controller
The first thing I did was to go into the password protected menu on the controller and switch it from 3 power levels to 9.
I wanted to program the controller to prolong the life of the motor and controller. The trike needed to be able to get going under only electric power from a standing start. In view of this I pegged back the starting torque to minimise the risk of overloading the motor controller and also the nylon cog in the motor. Doing this required the optional USB programming lead, which I ordered at the same time as the motor and everything else.
This was by far the best guide I could find on tweaking the programming of the controller. I followed the instructions in this guide so rather than repeat them here, I’ll just refer you to that guide!
First ride on the ICE trike electric conversion
I’m so happy with the results! Everything worked first time and the trike is really enjoyable to ride.
The 9 levels of assistance range from only just detectable assistance through to almost effortless pedalling.
Of course if you want zero effort there’s always the thumb throttle.
Charging the battery
The first time I plugged the charger into the battery I was alarmed to see a spark from the connector. After doing some research I found this is a common issue and did not represent a problem with the components.
It can be avoided by switching the charger on and waiting a little while before connecting it to the battery.
The ICE trike electric conversion is complete!
That’s it then, the ICE trike electric conversion is complete. I hope you’ve found something interesting in this article.
I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Looking at potential downsides to the conversion I’d say the main one is the weight of the converted trike. I can still lift it but wouldn’t want to carry it far. The electric conversion does have a ‘walk’ function so I guess this could be used to propel the trike up some ramps into a car or van, perhaps reducing the need to carry it at all.
Another downside I suppose is that it isn’t quite as pleasing to look at with all the extra wiring.
Overall, the positives hugely outweigh the negatives in my view and the owner of the trike was really pleased with the results. You’re welcome to fill in the form below if you’d like a quote for converting yours! Or if you’d prefer to watch the first in the series of videos of me doing the conversion, here it is: