Trikes FAQ

Personal answers to questions we are often asked about our trikes

Note that these are personal opinions. They come with no promises of correctness, fitness for purpose and no guarantee.


What is a recumbent?

It is a bike/trike where you sit in/on a reclined seat with your legs out in front of you instead of on a seat with your legs below you.

Why recumbent?

Comfort mainly. I had tried seats with holes etc but was increasingly unable to ride much more than 10 to 15 miles without feeling sore between my legs, having aching shoulders and tired arms. I wanted to ride more and further for exercise and pleasure but also did not want too because of the pain.

Why trikes?

Safety, Load carrying capability, Fun. To expand on that a bit.

SAFETY comes from no risk of falling off in the wet, ice or on gravel. I had a fall when cycling to the chiropractic which emphasised this for me. When you ride a recumbent trike in slippy conditions it is just a hoot as you slide around corners. Also because of the width you do get more space from cars so gain from less chance of a hit from them. Finally, as you are wider you aree not tempted so squeeze through small gaps in traffic, so you ride more like a car.  As undertaking particularly when lorries are turning left is the key cause of cycling death in London it is helpful that recumbent trikes encourage you to avoid this.

LOAD CARRYING: Trikes have a huge carrying capacity compared to a bike, partly because they are stable when being loaded. So they are great for transporting shopping, kids and bigger loads. I will get some pics up of these uses. For example my wife was never happy with any of our sons on a childseat on the back of a normal bike. With the trike she has done it loads upto age 6.

FUN: Providing you don’t mind being stared at recumbent trikes are a hoot to ride, you just go around with a big grin on your face all the time. They feel fast due to the height, they are comfy and I guess rather like driving a go kart with pedals. A collection of our trikes and another

Isn’t it dangerous being so low?

Our experience is that drivers see you and worry about hitting something so low. So they take more care. I certainly find I get more space from cars when on a recumbent trike than when on an upright bike. But we are careful to make sure we have a flag (or a reflective "roll bar") and at night have at least 2 good rear lights (one flashing and one not). Remember drivers have to be aware of and obey lines painted on the road and they are a lot lower than us.

What are recumbent trikes like in traffic?

When the traffic is moving recumbent trikes are great. You keep to the lane and cars have to be cautious getting past. I don’t let them try to force me into the gutter – this is much easier on a fast trike as you are not causing much of a slow down for urban traffic. With a family in convoy we have few problems. We tend to have the slowest child leading then adult, child, adult. The adults go alongside the children at junctions to tell them when it is safe to go. Also the adult rides a little further out from the roadside than the child to allow a good sight line, allow for the child swerving and to make sure that following cars can see the child.

The only tricky point is turning across the on-coming traffic (turning right in the UK).  You have to be clear about your instructions so the child knows when to stop and when to go – when you say go DO NOT change your mind or they will end up stopped directly in front of an on-coming vehicle.

On the other hand generally on trikes you cannot (well should not if you wish to have a long life) cut past static of slow moving traffic in the same way as you might on a bike – however, this is the main cause of cyclist fatalities in London so maybe that is a good thing.

Turning out of junctions when there are parked cars can be tricky on a very low trike as you cannot see past the cars. Equally cars coming out of junctions when there are parked cars around cannot be relied upon to see your flag so keep well out (ideally with a big vehicle just behind you).

What types of recumbent trikes are there?

Loads. The main design choice is to have:

  • 2 wheels at the front and 1 at the back (normally called a Tadpole).
  • 1 wheel at the front and 2 wheels at the back (normally called a Delta).>/li>

Once you have made that choice then there are numerous other options in price, seat type (typically mesh or bucket), wheel sizes, width, height, gearing and colour.

Where can I find out more?

There are a lot of resources on the internet. The IHPVA (International Human Powered Vehicle Association) have a trikes mailing list. Visit to subscribe. They also have a recumbent FAQ at

Trice XXL

Our latest trike. It is a fast high quality racing/touring trike from the folks at I.C.E. It is a tadpole design with 20" wheels and has a hard shell seat.


Speed, Quality, Speed, Comfort, Speed


Price (very fair but still a lot)

Some concerns have been expressed about ground clearance. I have had no problems ever on road. I have been very cautious over some speed bumps but never grounded. You don’t buy a road machine like this and use it to go up and down the kerbs at the roadside (for the USA up/down between the sidewalk and pavement). I have done some riding on the National Cycle Network – generally fine. Even some poor bridleways but that was not very good, much slower than a bike and lots of worry (groundless it transpired) about damaging your lovely trike.

You will clogg up your rech mech if you ride through grass that is not cut short, but not too bad and no damage so far

Where can I find out more?

Try the manufacturers website:


Laden for a weekend away

Rest at a view

Towing the trets

Trice X2

Our tandem. We bought it for taking a son with us on day trips as we felt unsafe with him on an upright tandem and anyway could not ride up very steep hills with a child stoker on the upright tandem. It is a high quality touring tandem again from the folks at I.C.E. It is a tadpole design with 20" wheels and has two mesh seats which are supremely comfortable.


Fun, Carrying capacity, great for child stokers, awesome stability, speed (down and flat), Quality, Comfort


Price (very fair but still a lot), Size, Weight, Slow uphill

Where can I find out more?

Try the manufacturers website:


Yes it is quite long when towing the trets

This road is ours! ;-)

Stein Road Shark

Our first recumbent trike and one of the first built by Robert Stein. It is now used by Jane for around town utility riding (often towing a trailer or the Trets – see below) as well as on family days out. Before that I used it for approx 1,000 miles a year for over 2 years. It is a tadpole with 20" front wheels and a 26" rear wheel.


Price, great tow vehicle, high utility value, excellent first trike, great around town and on trails


Weight, brakes (since improved), steering flop (since improved), hard seat (since improved)

Where can I find out more?

Try the manufacturers website:


Laden with the beach kit on the Hayling Billy Trail

Another on the same ride


Still quite new, one of the first production models. Used by our 9 year old son and all his friends most days. Has been ridden on family days out for upto 20 miles. It is a tadpole design with 12" front wheels and 20" rear wheel and almost no ground clearance.


Price, huge fun


Price, Kids wear out tyres very quickly

Where can I find out more?

Try the manufacturers website:

On the Hayling Billy Trail


Purchased for our oldest son as a safer and more comfortable ride than a MTB with a much longer life due to it’s very adjustable length. It is a delta design with 20" wheels all round.


Price, very comfortable, very adjustable, easy to ride, quite fast


gear range, offset rear drive not good uphill with poor grip, some brake steer, little load carrying capacity

Where can I find out more?

Try the manufacturers website:

On the Hayling Billy Trail


Purchased for our youngest son (age 5) who had outgrown the childseat on the X2 tandem. Very popular with him and towed by the X2, Roadshark or XXL depending on need. Used for day rides upto 20 miles and around town. It is a delta trailer trike which does not have a front wheel but instead attaches to the left side of the rear axle of another bike or trike. Both wheels are 20" with disc covers to prevent the child getting their fingers caught in the spokes


very comfortable, very adjustable, very safe, kids love it, easy to tow


need to change pedals to hold childs feet on, no where to fix a rear light, low carrying capacity

Where can I find out more?

Try the manufacturers website:


Behind the Road Shark at home

Behind the Road Shark at home

In the Cotswolds on the Bike Culture holiday

The secret power source

Behind the Trice X2 tandem


The following is the content of comments from the original post (before this became a typepad page).

Comment 1.


What type of tires have you found to be practical for the X2?

I should be getting my X2 road ready for the first time this coming weekend.


Posted by:
Richard Weigle |
Thursday, September 25, 2003 at 11:13 PM

Comment 2.


We are still using the original tyres – although I did buy some new
recently as they are getting a bit worn. What I bought for the next set
is what ICE currently fit which is (from the horses mouth)

"We now fit the Maxxis Ringworm 110psi heavy duty tyre on the rear of the Tandems and the Marathon Slick in the front of the X2"

That is the same rear tyre as we currently put on the KMX (it should last a lot longer on the X2 though ;-)

It is the same front as before. But the rear was different. I’ll
have a look when I next go outside (bit cold and dark at the minute).

Dear Dave,
It took me quit a long time to decide which trike would be the best for
me. Because of the amount of money involved I first opted for a
Steinberg. But thee were also the Trices. After consulting several
people and searching the internet I decided to buy a Trice Explorer and
talking to Neil from I.C.E.
I did not visit your site during he buyingproces. But your information
definitely strengthens me. Seems to me you are ‘bicycle-people’
So am I. I own a racer (diamond) built by a friend of mine. I cannot ride it any more because of pain in my back and shoulders.
I also own a foldable (Birdy) which I use when I am traveling by train.
I also own a recumbent Challenge Hurricane and a Pedersen.
And now I am waiting for my Trice.
I use to own an car. But I sold it. The best decision in years I think
(I do not hate cars or their owners) Cars are not good for ME any more.

Fred Daane from Holland

Posted by:
Fred Daane |
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 at 02:50 PM

Comment 4.


The Stein Road Shark and Trice Explorer have simularities in seat
height etc. I am sure you will enjoy the explorer, it has amazing
carrying capacity and the height like the Road Shark is good around
town and off road. It has the same seat as our tandem X2 which we find
the most comfortable of all the trike seats we have.

I also have a Birdy for taking on trains etc.

Unfortunately with work, kids and distant family we cannot manage
without a car. But using bikes/trikes means we can manage fine with
only 1 car.

I too have found talking to Neil and Chris at ICE very helpful and just plain enjoyable, I could waste all their days ;-)



I wondered if you could comment on the ground clearance of the XXL?
In particular, I’d be interested to know if you think that the way that
backbone slopes up from just behind the wheel provides meaningful extra
clearance. Also, in the pictures on the ICE site, the chain and rear
mech look awfully close to the ground. Do you get much chain slap, and
does the rear mech get tagged by debris.

Thanks for you time




If you are going to use the XXL on the road the ground clearance is
fine. I have been cautious over speed bumps but only really vicious
ones like at the entrance to some camp sites have ever been a problem.
Off road I have not had a problem on some poor farm tracks and on the
national cycle network – but I don’t like the bumpy bits as that feels
like abusing a friend.

The chain is well controlled by the tubes so never had a problem with that at all.

The rear mech does collect grass if you ride over grass ;-) I try
not to very much, fine on lawns and well groomed campsites, otherwise
not ideal.

The 26" wheel versions would be somewhat better for this but I like
the lower back rack, only one size of tube and tyre and the shorter


Posted by:
DaveW |
Tuesday, September 21, 2004 at 02:13 PM

Comment 7.

Nice site:)
I got my first trike, a KMX (which I have heavily customized) in jan 05
and already have over 1200 miles on it including a century ride. So
much more enjoyable than my old upright and excellent value at £600
(and about £200 for upgrades, new tyres, mirrors and hard-shell seat).
I am already thinking about an upgrade, maybe a ICE S, ICE QNT, Catrike Speed or Greenspeed GT3 or X5.
On the subject of ground clearence, my trike is very low, seat height
is about 6" and ground clearence is less than 2 inches (stock is about
3 inches but my mods have lowered it). I cannot go over most types of
speed humps or down very rougth trails but other than that I have few
problems dispite ground clearence being about 1.5" (40cm).

Posted by:
Lee |
Saturday, June 11, 2005 at 11:25 PM

Comment 8.

co-incidence – I was just setting up our KMX (K class) for our
youngest, who is just about long enough to start riding it, today.

I am still a great fan of the Trice machines. The kids are now at
sizes that mean I can now adjust our X2 so it is the right length for
Jane on the back. So hopefully we will be able to ride it together
(although towing the trets) quite a bit this summer.

Tonight I did a quick blast around Crawley, about 17 miles on my XXL, still a fantastic trike.

The Kettwiesel was also out today, our middle son will be using that
as his main bike this summer (grown out of his MTB and the KMX).

Glad you like your KMX (X), they have been a great extra choice to have available in the market.

Posted by:
DaveW |
Sunday, June 12, 2005 at 01:53 AM

wondering, what kind of speeds can you do on your XXL? I am thinking
about getting the cheaper version of the XXL (ICE S) to replace my KMX.

I did an 80 mile ride a few days ago which was mostly flat with a few
hills (one 150m climb in each direction) and my comp said my avarage
speed was 14.4mph. Could I expect more from the ICE S?
My fastest avarage speed on the KMX on a 10-mile flat D/C road is about 18mph (22mph on my upright for same circuit).

Posted by:
Lee |
Tuesday, August 30, 2005 at 12:11 PM

Comment 10.


Obviously it depends on fitness but see I did it! where I did 14.4mph average going and
then 13.6mph average coming back on 51 mile rides (including crossing North Downs and
some hilly bits south of Sevenoaks. That was with 2 big panniers full.

From what you say I think you are faster and fitter than me (my
longest is about 65 miles) so I would expect you to be faster than me
on an xxl and therefore faster than your kmx.

IMHO the only -ve’s of the ICE S instead of the XXL are drum brakes
and the seat being the euro standard rather than the ICE own (which I
marginally prefer), but the price diff is huge.

On our recent Company of Cyclists there was an adult KMX to try,
several tried that and also my XXL, all preferred the XXL and said it
felt much faster.

Hope this helps.

One thought on “Trikes FAQ

  1. Roy

    I’m interested in rencmbeut trikes. Can anyone satisfy my curiosities first?Since I first saw the curious design of tadpole-layout rencmbeut tricycles, my interest has been piqued. I would like to know a few things about these interesting machines:1. How much is the most affordable adult-sized tadpole rencmbeut trike?2. How does one steer a rencmbeut trike, with two wheels up front?3. Can rencmbeut tadpole trikes be steered and/or stopped with one hand safely?4. How difficult are they to use?5. On multigear models, how is shifting achieved?6. How do I maximize their safety on the road?7. Can they be parked like regular bikes at a rack?If you have one of these and use it regularly, or have used one once, please elaborate on the riding experience. I want to know if it’s something I’d want to commit to.


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