Monday, September 18, 2017

I'm Keeping Both Trikes

I've come to my senses and I'm keeping both trikes. I thought that once I made my mind up on keeping the ICE Sprint 26fs to handle the rough roads on California's Central Coast I would let my Catrike 700 go. NO, can't do it. There are a few roads where I can still take out the 700 for a quick ride. Roads that are well maintained. 

It'll be short rides on smooth roads with good downhills. I won't need the extra weight that I used on longer rides. I can have some fun dedicating the 700 to one purpose, speed. No more cruising on the 700. I'll leave the cruising to the Sprint 26fs.

I striped the 700 down to it's bare minimum ride ready weight of 32.8 lbs (4.8 kg) as seen in the picture below. Any other weight I add to the under seat storage will be optional personal stuff and tools. 

The ICE Sprint 26fs will be my main ride on the Central Coast and I'll take out the 700 for a quick downhill spin when a adrenaline rush is called for.





Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why ICE Instead of Catrike


I feel Catrike makes some the best trikes on the market. You get a quality trike without having to dig too deep into your piggy bank.

BUT there's a gap in their product line that doesn't allow for riders like me. When I heard that Catrike would soon have a fully suspended model I imagined a sub 40 lb (18 kg) trike with the attributes of the Catrike Expedition. What came out instead was a hefty 43 lb (19.5 kg) trike with a cushy seat and an adjustable seat angle of only 42 to 49 degrees. A great trike for some riders but not for me.

Catrike doesn't have a suspended performance trike. Catrike has the unsuspended 700 and Expedition at the top of there performance lineup. Then their model selection jumps right to the cushy and heavy Dumont. 

A fully suspended ICE Sprint 26fs weights in at 36.9 lbs (16.7kg) with a mesh seat. The seat angle can be adjusted to as low as 37 degrees. Lower if you opt for the carbon seat. The ICE Sprint 26fs is still a performance trike with the added benefit of a minimalist full suspension system that provides enough comfort with minimal sacrifice in performance and speed. The ICE Sprint 26fs fills in the gap between ICE's high performance VTX and the Adventure model.

Catrike works hard at trying to address the needs of it's diverse customer base. I hope Catrike will follow ICE's lead and develop a sub 40 lb (18kg) suspended performance trike with a more aggressive seat angle than the Dumont. Also no over padded seat.




Catrike 700
Catrike's top of the line performance trike with a seat angle of 25 degrees. Unsuspended and fast.



Catrike Expedition
An unsuspended hybrid with a higher seat angle of 37 degrees. It can be configured for speed, or loaded up with creature comforts for cruising or touring. The Expedition was my first trike and I had a lot of fun putting miles on it. Many of those miles was with my dog in tow.

Catrike ???
A sub 40 lb Full Suspension trike with a 37 degree seat angle that can be configured for light and fast rides or configured for touring with a dedicated rack system that is hung on the suspended main frame. Folding or non-folding either option works for me. 
Another idea, re-design the Expedition with a minimalist suspension and I'd be on board to be the first in line to try it out.
Someday, maybe?

Catrike Dumont
Catrike's entry in the fully suspended folding trike market.  A comfortable 43 lb trike with a high seat angle range of 44 to 51 degrees. Weight and seat angle alone keep the Dumont out of the performance trike category. At the present it's lacking a integrated rear rack system that would allow it to be considered a touring trike. The only options I see for a rear rack are from the secondary market with the rack being attached to the rear dropouts and chain stays. The rack and whatever is on the rack will be unsuspended.


How I make the decision to choose a ICE Sprint 26fs

Friday, September 15, 2017

700 v Sprint26fs v Expedition, Part 4 Conclusion

Go to Part 1, September 9th
Go to Part 2, September 12th
Go to Part 3, September 13th

I'm keeping the ICE Sprint 26fs. It's a great machine and beautifully engineered right down to the small details. Yes it's pricey but I feel it's worth the expense.

What impresses me most about the Sprint 26fs is the simplicity and effectiveness of the suspension. I feel no pogo effect when pedaling. The elastomers smooth the road out just enough to allow for a comfortable ride without putting to big of a dent in my average speed. Usually the only time I'm aware that I'm on a suspended trike is when I ride over a rut or some other road imperfection and I brace for a jolt and all I get is a thud. 

On a personal level what really strikes me is how much less tired I am after a long ride. Managing the chip seal and rough roads on the Central Coast was wearing me down more then I realized. 

I'm not sure how much I'll be using the rear rack and panniers. As I mentioned earlier the Sprint doesn't have much storage when not using the rack. I'll be exploring some behind the seat storage options. 

The ICE mesh seat seems okay on my titanium hips. But the Catrike Expedition and 700 seats are still my favorite and most comfortable seats. Getting totally comfortable with the ICE mesh seat may take a little more time.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

700 v Sprint26fs v Expedition, Part 3

Go to Part 1, September 9th
Go to Part 2, September 12th

Suspension
Suspension is what it's all about. It's the driving force behind making a change.

From my last post, The condition of the roads throughout the Central Coast can vary widely. I need to soften up the ride without sacrificing to much speed or weight. Right now some form of light suspension is a must. Whether mechanical suspension like on the Sprint or suspension in form of larger lower pressure tires to be used on the 700 or Expedition, some softening of my ride is a must. 

The ICE Sprint 26fs elastomer rear and front suspension combined with the mesh seat does a superb job at smoothing the chip seal and it handles many road imperfections in respectable style. Using a hard shell seat negates some of the benefits of the full suspension system. It's not a pot hole eater like some of the beefier suspension systems now on the market but then it doesn't weight nearly what some of those other trikes with more substantial suspension systems weight.

Next I revisited the concept of trying to get a smoother ride on my 700 by swapping out the high pressure 28mm Duranos with lower pressure and larger 35mm Kojaks on front. I already use a 35mm Kojak on the rear. With Kojaks all around I went for a ride along HWY 1 over chip seal and all the other usual suspects that try to throw me around. The results were okay but nothing like being suspended with the ICE elastomers. With the extra rolling weight of the Kojaks and more rubber on the road the going was bit slower. In the end it's still tiring to ride on rough roads without any mechanical suspension.

ICE elastomer suspension is the winner over using larger low pressure tires. With mechanical suspension I can keep the rolling weight of the tires at a minimum. Rolling weight is the enemy.

Even with all the lesser issues discussed in Part 1 the ICE Sprint 26fs comes out on top. One last critical issue for me is comfort. I almost gave up on the Sprint when it was fitted with the Carbon seat. The bottom of the Carbon took issue with my titanium hips. That post here.

Seat
This is a make or break issue for me.

I'll start with seat angle. The 700 has a 25 degree incline. It's low and it's great for fast riding on well maintained roads. On rougher roads it can get tiring. I spend most of my time with my head not touching the neck rest. On better roads I spend most of my ride with 30% to 100% (climbing hills) of my head weight resting on the neck rest. Based on this alone it might be time for a different seat. The Catrike Expedition has a seat angle of 37 degrees while the Sprint has a range of 36 to 42 degrees. Both of these trikes have seat angles that would probably be better for longer rides.

I initially didn't want a mesh seat because it felt awkward on the Sprint. Comparing it to the mesh seat on my 700 it felt short and I felt like I was sitting at the end of the seat and would slip forward. After a few rides I feel locked in. It was just a matter of time to get accustomed to a new feel. I've been riding Catrikes for the last eight years and that's all I know. The back of the seat has padding for the low back on both sides which holds the rider firmly in place. A nice feature that works well for me.

Weight
Weight is a non-issue when comparing the Catrike 700, ICE Sprint 26fs and the Catrike Expedition. The factory specified weight range for all three trikes is between 34lbs (15.4kg) for the 700 and 36.9 lbs. (16.7 kg) for the Sprint. The Expedition comes in at 35 lbs (15.9 kg). Even though the Sprint is a minimally suspended trike with it's elastomer suspension I am impressed that it's factory weight is only 36.9 lbs (16.7 kg). With rack, pedals, mirrors and mounts, and a few tweaks my Sprint weights in at 40.1 lbs (18.2 kg).

_____________________

I think I covered everything I wanted to for now. I'll put a few more miles on the Sprint and then decide if the Sprint gets my final blessing.




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

700 v Sprint26fs v Expedition, Part 2


To start the ball rolling on figuring out which trike works best for me here are some of initial thoughts that matter to me regarding the Catrike 700, ICE Sprint 26fs and Catrike Expedition.

Non Rack Storage - I like to have enough storage for basic items like tools, tubes and so on without having to use a rear rack. I also need enough room to stash away a vest and jacket. I would like to be able to do this without the need to have a rack to hang bags on. Both Catrikes have reasonable storage without having to use a rear rack with panniers or trunk bag. The under seat storage along with the custom frame bags for the Catrikes  provide enough storage for basic day rides. The ICE Sprint 26fs lacks in this department. It has a small narrow storage compartment at the top of the mesh seat. You can add a custom storage bag that fits to the back of the seat that can hold a few extra items but not enough for my needs on cold days.  The Catrike Expedition is the best for storage when not using a rear rack.

Rear Racks - Rear racks are nice to have in certain situations but I don't consider them a "must have" item. Both Catrikes can accommodate any number of secondary market rear racks that can accommodate panniers and a trunk bag. The ICE Sprint26fs requires a custom rack from ICE. Because of the 26" suspended rear wheel the rack does not have a top rack. It can only accommodate panniers, no top bag.

Folding - Having a folding trike is a real positive for me but it's not an end all if I don't have a folder. Catrikes 700 and Expedition don't fold. ICE Sprint 26fs does fold.  I've gotten along by fine without a folder but it would be nice to have one.

Brakes - I prefer mechanical brakes rather then hydraulic brakes. Cables are easy to maintain on and off the road. The Catrikes come standard with BBS mechanical brakes. The ICE Sprint26fs only comes with hydraulic brakes. The front suspension setup necessitates the use of mirrored brakes. The brakes that fill this requirement happen to be hydraulic only. Aside from maintenance concerns  hydraulic brakes are nice.

Simplicity - I like trikes that are simple in design, and easy to maintain. The ICE Sprint 26fs is a beautifully engineered trike but it does require a level of maintenance that may be a bit much for some to maintain at home. The Catrike 700 and Expedition are more basic and relatively easy to maintain. The indirect steering and front tires of the Sprint takes considerably more effort to align then the Catrikes with it's direct steering. The hydraulic brakes require more knowledge to maintain then the mechanical brakes. The suspension of the Sprint, although simple, still requires monitoring. The Catrike 700 and Expedition have no suspension which leads me to my next point. I personally look forward to new challenges and maintaining the Sprint should prove to be no problem.

Suspension - The condition of the roads throughout the Central Coast can vary widely. I need to soften up the ride without sacrificing to much speed or weight. Right now some form of light suspension is a must. Whether mechanical suspension like on the Sprint or suspension in form of larger lower pressure tires to be used on the 700 or Expedition, some softening of my ride is a must. What works best is the subject of future posts after a few test rides.

All the items mentioned above with the exception of suspension are not deal breakers. In my next post I'll focus on suspension.






Saturday, September 9, 2017

700 v Sprint26fs v Expedition, Part 1


(As of 9/17) I'm keeping both the ICE Sprint 26fs and my Catrike 700.
I'm a one trike guy. Once I decide on a trike there is no reason to keep a second one lying around. The last time I made a decision between two trikes was when I had a Catrike Expedition and my current ride the Catrike 700. The Catrike 700 won and I sold the Expedition in 2014. Now my riding habits have changed. I currently live along California's Central Coast. My rides are slower paced as the beauty of the coast and the surrounding area doesn't lend itself to riding fast. There's so much to see when riding the Central Coast. It hypnotizes you with it's beauty and riding laid-back on three wheels makes it so easy to take it all in.

There are few things to consider when deciding what works best for me at this juncture in my triking life.

1. So much to see. The Central Coast is not like where I used to live in Agoura Hills, CA. Agoura Hills is a overgrown suburb dominated by SUV's, shit hole drivers, overbuilt houses and large shopping centers. A perfect example of suburban sprawl. Nothing to see so riding fast while listening to classic hard rock was the order of the day when taking my Catrike 700 on rides.

2. Varied road conditions including chip seal. The chip seal that was laid down on HWY 1 north of Cambria has been mitigated (thanks to the outrage of the cycling community) but the constant vibration can wear you out. In addition roads can go from smooth pavement to chewed up asphalt and everything in between.

3. Keep it light as possible even if suspended. No need for my titanium hips to push unnecessary weight.

4. Comfort for longer rides that I would like to do. There is so much I haven't seen yet. All of the Central Coast wine country awaits me.

That all being said I now have my Catrike 700 and my ICE Sprint 26fs in my possession. A Catrike Expedition is also in the running for the ultimate trike to meet my current needs. Although I don't currently have an Expedition with me, I know it very well. It was my first trike and I feel it is still one of the best all around trikes on the market.

For the record I'm not interested in any of the other Catrike models such as the 559 and the Dumont. They are heavy, the seat is too "cushy" and the seat recline is to high for my tastes.

Over the next few weeks I'll figure it all out. During that time I'll be posting comments to help me sort through all my thoughts and opinions as I ride both the 700 and the Sprint and compare all three trikes, Catrike 700, ICE Sprint 26fs and the Catrike Expedition.


Catrike 700
My ride for the last few years.

ICE Sprint 26fs.
Less then 50 miles so far. The jury is still out on this one.


Catrike Expedition
My Expedition back in 2010 with ma doggie in tow. I had a lot of good times on this trike.





Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Good Customer Service from ICE



First ride with mesh seat. So far it's good.
I had a couple questions about the Sprint 26fs since I brought it back home. Both questions were answered by ICE within 24hours. That's what I call Good Customer Service.

I'm passing on what I learned from ICE. See below.



My Question September 4th.
On my new Sprint 26fs the dealer ordered a ergo mesh seat to replace the carbon fiber seat. Is the Ergo mesh Sprite RED56 the right seat? It can be adjusted to only one position. The forward two slots on the seat will not reach the quick release skewer. The third slot from the front barely reaches the quick release and is visually horizontal. I can only use the fourth slot and it is close to horizontal. The quick release skewer is in forward hole. No add on seat brackets are being used. Dealer is Bent Up Cycles. Your document # is 16199. Seat was shipped to Mark Rackow.


ICE'S Response September 5th.
Hi Mark,

Firstly it is the right seat if you are wanting to permanently change from your medium carbon seat to a mesh seat. 

  When we fit a hardshell seat to the sprint X like yours we extend the trike out to make it longer I.e. we pull out the back end. This is so the trike has a more reclined more streamline seating position and look. When we fit a mesh seat these are not as long in the frame as the hardshell so the back end does not come out as far which makes the trike a little shorter and the seating position a little more upright ( still quite reclined just not as laid back as the hardshell seat )

  In fitting the new mesh seat there are a few things that you will have to change on the trike to make it fit.
·         Bring the backend in further toward the cruciform( It will currently be set at a length of 495mm from the front quick release hole to the  back of the seat cup on the cruciform. You will need to shorten that down to 455mm measuring the same way for the mesh seat to fit correctly and work in all its positions)
·         Move the quick release forward to the front hole of the two
·         If the trike was mine I would shorten my outer parking brake cable and reset the parking brake
·         Again I would also shorten the rear gear cable outer and reset the rear gears

I know that that is quite a list of things that need to be done but this is how we set up the Sprint X for the two types of seat.

If you need any more helps with this or have any more questions please feel free to get back to me.

I hope all this helps

Thanks, 

Andy


___________________________________________________

My Question August 27th.
I have a new Sprint X 26 fs. Are the top of the front wheels suppose to lean in slightly on both sides when the wheels are facing straight? The toe in is adjusted properly.


ICE's Response August 28th.
Hi Mark,

There is supposed to be a tiny bit, maybe one-three degrees, of inward lean on the front wheels. They are designed to be close to vertical but if we make them exactly vertical there ends up being a bit of an optical illusion where they look like they lean outwards which looks wrong. 


Thanks, 

Patrick