archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

ICE VTX with Direct Steering!

ICE VTX Direct Steering 03Okay, here is something that will tweak your mind if you are an ICE fanatic! ICE trikes use a steering model called indirect, as all ICE enthusiasts readily know. Having owned and ridden an ICE trike for over five years myself, this was understood and accepted, so imagine my surprise a while back when I spied this beautiful VTX with a fascinating twist. Notice the clean look of the steering mechanism? Here is what an ICE VTX looks like using the direct steering model of the popular Catrike brand. This trike was modified by Utah Trikes for a customer named Tom. Wow! Click HERE for the rest of the photos.

ICE VTX Direct Steering 01 ICE VTX Direct Steering 02Gone is all the linkage from ICE, replaced with the clean simplified lines of direct steering.


2 responses

  1. Apart from a loss in weight – what do you see as the advantage of direct steering? I liked the idea of indirect steering on my trike for touring as I thought it would make the steering less twitchy and for touring I want to go mostly in a straight line rather than needing to make frequent significant maneuvers. Do please enlighten me Obe one.

    September 4, 2014 at 2:19 am

  2. May the Force be with you Luke as the enlightenment continues!

    Well, I enjoy both types of steering, having ridden indirect on my ICE for more than five years. Either one is intuitive, and mastered almost instantly even by a neophyte triker. As long as direct steering is engineered well, it is fine and fun to ride, simplifying the steering components needed, and commonly making obsolete the turning circle limitations that indirect steering models usually encounter when the handlebars hit the seat frame. Direct steering with engineering issues is not fun to ride however, as I experienced in my sister’s 2011 TerraTrike Rover, where if turned the full range either left or right, fell into the angle (as if going “over center” and getting locked into position there) and then requires quite some muscling to get the wheels straight again (my sis is not fond of this design glitch, but she has adapted, not attempting any sharp turns unless just creeping along very slowly).

    Of course, I have not ridden this particular ICE VTX of Tom’s shown in this post, so I cannot speak to its mechanics, but I suspect that if the VTX works well with indirect, that this modification will also be flawless. Few trikers race around on tight curvy race courses, most of us doing just as you do, and going mostly straight. Both indirect and direct turn equally responsively for quick and sharp turns, at least in comparing ICE and Catrike, the two brands I have personally owned – this despite what is commonly thought that indirect is slow to respond compared to direct. I personally see no notable advantage to either steering model, nor do I see any notable disadvantage of either. I am a happy triker regardless of which I ride (assuming it is one that is well engineered, like ICE and Catrike).

    Here is what I like about direct steering on my 700: less linkage – more compact – lighter – simpler – cleaner design – racier looking – no turning circle limitation of handlebar against seat frame – allows for seat to be placed farther forward, making it possible to sit and get up (on Catrike 700) without using hands stablizing body (as is necessary on ICE trikes). The ease of sitting and arising on a trike is determined by the distance from the crossframe member to the front of the seat – the greater that distance, the more challenging it is to sit and stand up (thus accessories like “helping handles” that are available for ICE trike riders). It was not anatomically possible, regardless of muscle strength, for me to do a controlled sit in my former ICE Qnt without placing a hand against the seat frame to balance me on the descent, but it is very easy on in my current Catrike 700.

    Direct steering could be seen as twitchy (as some describe) if one was to purposely actuate the steering somewhat radically while crusing along, say if one just wanted to see what it would feel like, but that is not how we ride. Sure, I tried this on the 700 once just to get the feel for exaggerated extreme movements of the handlebars, to see if I did something rather unwise and not recommended if the trike would remain stable and safe (it did because of excellent engineering) but that is not our daily reality. I would not at all consider this direct steering on my new trike to be twitchy or overly sensitive, and I have full confidence when rocketing down hills and mountains at high speeds. This trike is rock solid in these circumstances, and I have no sense that I am reeling on the edge of disaster.

    My advice is that if a triker is looking at top quality trikes to buy, do not use the steering model as the sole determing factor. It is but one small piece of a much larger pie. Either type of steering, if well engineered, will serve the triker equally well, whether a high speed fanatic, a long distance tourer, or an around town rambler. The transition from my ICE Q to my Catrike 700 has been flawless, and I have absolutely no sense that I have lost a valuable type of steering – I can go back and forth from one to the other, and feel equally at home, equally safe, and equally equpped to do whatever type of riding that suits my fancy.

    Your Master Teacher,
    Obi-Wan Kenobi

    September 4, 2014 at 9:23 am