archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

ICE trike rear wheel not vertical

I was out in the garage today, getting my pannier setup prepped for the upcoming expeditions into the mountains, and I was rather startled to discover that my rear wheel and tire did not seem to be vertical! Hmm, I had not noticed this before (must have been asleep at the wheel). On the standard ICE street trikes with 20-inch wheels, this may not be noticeable at all, but today on this Full Fat, with its mega-huge wheel and tire, it popped out at me, as if to shout, “Hey dummy, how have you been missing this?” With a tire this large (26×4.7), a few degrees of tilt off of vertical is much more obvious than with a tiny twenty-by-one point five.

So anyway, my own lame powers of observation aside these past months, I could not let this pass without a remedy of some sort. I retrieved my handy level from the bench drawer just to satisfy my mind that I was not imagining this tilted tire and wheel. Sure enough, those mischievous trike gods had been messing with my mount, up there laughing their heads off that this sorry triker dude wasn’t even aware of a problem. Better late than never! The bubble level tool did indeed confirm that I have been riding down the road with a tilted rear wheel/tire set all this time! How come nobody else ever mentioned it to me? Maybe because they were all ahead of me ;-)

On ICE trikes, the main cruciform part of the frame has the rear part of the frame, which holds the seat and rear wheel assembly, that slides into it. The two frame parts are secured by two bolts so they do not rotate. There is no slotted tube design that holds the two frame pieces in line with one another, so it is possible to assemble them originally slightly askew, which results in the rear wheel not tracking vertical with the front two wheels. If the two bolts were not tight enough, the rear wheel could eventually just rotate into a really bizarre tilted position. Mine was off just enough that I could see it (today finally), but not enough to have any negative effect on handling and riding. Over time however, my minuscule tilt would wear the tire more on the left side than right had I not fixed this weird little alignment issue today.

The two bolts were plenty tight, so it was not a matter of the rear frame portion slowly rotating over the months as I rode the trike. It was really bugging me seeing this tilted tire, and you know how it is: Once you know something is amiss, it just drives you crazy until you do something about it. So, I got out my hex-head tool, loosened the two bolts up quite a bit, and then applied some opposing sideways pressure to the tire (to the left up on top and to the right down on bottom) until I had reached that sweet vertical position. Then, I re-tightened the two large bolts to hold it all in perfect place for all time, or at least until the day I check out of this adventure called life, because this trike is my “keeper” human-powered Jeep vehicle (love the freedom to ride nearly anywhere compared to my former pavement-only days). All this work took only a few minutes.

It was raining outside, but a really pleasant and quite balmy sixty degrees Fahrenheit.

Here are some photos to reveal that which my words only served to confuse:

Man, I’ve got a problem! And I only thought my brain was tilted.

Look at that bubble! Bubbles never lie. I can hear the trike gods laughing at me.

I even did both sides just to make sure it wasn’t my eyes playing tricks on me.

Now, THIS is what I like to see, but alas, this was the front wheel and tire. Bubble centered.

Notice the two large hex-head bolts that keep the mainframe cruciform tightly anchoring the rear portion of the ICE frame. Essentially all I did was loosen up these two bolts on the orange part of the frame, rotate the black part of the frame by applying pressure to the rear tire, and then tighten up the bolts once everything was perfectly vertically aligned according to the bubble. Ahh, now I am once again one happy trike hobo, ready for the upcoming trail riding season! Yee haa …

By the way, it has been raining here since late October, earlier than usual, and it still is doing it. I’ve heard two proclamations about this weather: 1) one reliable source said he heard it is the rainiest season in all of Oregon’s written history, and 2) the NPR newscaster said it was the second rainiest season to ever be recorded by humans.  Either way, it has been keeping riding opportunities limited, or should I say “dry” riding opportunities limited. The rains have not been slamming-down brutal this year, but just consistent moderate showers, sogging-up the unpaved backcountry.

FINAL NOTE: If you own an ICE trike, go get out your bubble level and fix it. See ya’ …


10 responses

  1. Better make sure the floor is level before you use a bubble level to true it. I would use a carpenter square instead or at least double check it with a carpenter square.

    May 4, 2017 at 7:12 am

  2. trike hobo

    Very good idea Brian! I guess my only consolation is that the front tires both showed a level bubble, so I was pretty confident that the builder of this house laid a level garage slab. The way I originally discovered this tilt was by comparing the rear tire to the front tires when viewed from behind, and since the front tires have no mis-adjustment potential, figured it had to be the rear tire. At the very least, if we assume the garage slab is not level for the sake of discussion, then all three of my tires are tilted in unison with one another, so it appears to be normal, haha.

    May 4, 2017 at 7:25 am

  3. It is just more of that “inspired” engineering ICE boasts of. I have seen this before on a couple of ICE trikes and have straightened the wheels on my friend’s ICE trikes. Sorry, but I am just not impressed with some of their engineering and design builds. There have been other issues too. One of them could have been disastrous resulting in a bad wreck if I hadn’t spotted it and fixed it and then come up with a remedy to keep it from happening again..

    May 4, 2017 at 7:51 am

  4. Ed Wade

    Thanks Steve, well done… Owners of all suspension trikes it would be wise to check alignments. I had some alignment issues at both ends of my Azub Ti-Fly…

    May 4, 2017 at 8:07 am

  5. trike hobo

    Catrike avoids this tilt issue by having an alignment design where the boom slides into the mainframe. On a Catrike, is is not possible to have an alignment problem. Of course, this type of design is more costly to produce compared to plain tubing.

    May 4, 2017 at 8:10 am

  6. Alonzo Savage

    There is an alternative to level floors and spirit level bubbles that I used when fitting the new rear suspension to my ICE T. I painted a small patch of white paint onto the rear tyre and as I rode along any out of kilter became evident as the paint disappeared off centre due to road abrasion.
    Crude but effective and should work on big mean knobblies. Any slight mis-alignment at the point of assembly in the USA cannot be blamed on ICE, their engineering has stood the test of time.

    May 4, 2017 at 12:44 pm

  7. trike hobo

    I believe what Steve Newbauer was suggesting is that since there is no alignment slot and ridge system on the ICE trikes, as there is with the Catrikes, the potential for mis-alignment exists, which is accurate. On my 700, the boom insertion could not be skewed or tilted by anyone because it only slid in the proper way. With the ICE design, the piece can easily be mis-aligned if proper precautions are not observed, as I found out personally. It also occurs to me that dealers of any manufacturer, essentially resellers of a product, are in fact agents for the parent company, and as such, are obliged to uphold the parent company’s visions and procedures. For the end-user, or the customer of a company, this is an invisible partnership.

    In other words, if a person buys a Catrike from a dealer, the customer really doesn’t care whether an oversight in the product assembly was a result of the dealer or the parent company. The customer expects, and rightfully so, that the product be and perform as intended and advertised. The relationship between the parent company and its affiliate dealer is between them to figure out, and if the dealer releases a product that does not meet company expectations, then it is the same as if the company itself released it as delivered. Agents are accountable to the company, a business association, and that is not the concern of the customer. Essentially what the customer knows is that the product has a problem, and that customer wants is resolved.

    Case in point: When I took delivery of my most recent trike, I experienced some issues almost immediately (within the first five miles of use the shifter cable came out of its fitting, leaving me with only one gear, and the disc brake unit fell off onto the ground while riding). These were two issues that I had to solve, as I am four hours from the dealer. I did not know the background as to why these two things happened, and at first thought that both were factory issues. From the best I can determine after the fact and study, one occurred as an oversight of the manufacturer and the other the dealer. But still, that is only speculation. In reality, why does this distinction even matter to me as a customer? It doesn’t, pure and simple. I had a product with two problems, and both required extra time and money to solve, having to acquire two shifter cables from the USA representative (original one was damaged), and a bolt from the local hardware store. I had no desire to track down who or what may have been the causal factor – I just wanted my vehicle to perform as expected so I could ride it and have fun!

    When a manufacturer produces a design that has clear potential for mis-assembly, then the company accepts that as part of their business model. If that is not acceptable to a company, then they design something so that there is no chance of error or oversight in the first place, as Catrike has done with their tube alignment paradigm. I can see where Steve and Alonzo are both coming from, but when viewed from the customer’s perspective, the “who” or “what” is responsible is a moot point. Customers just want to ride and have fun. They didn’t spend all that money to end up with having to solve problems that should never have occurred in the first place.

    Regarding the test of time, this tubing mis-alignment issue is a known dynamic in the ICE community – time has underscored this time after time, even since my recent entry into the recumbent triking world in 2009. Bottom line: it’s worth every ICE owner confirming proper alignment personally for best tire and chain wear. Oh, and don’t forget to make sure all nuts and bolts on the entire rig are tight, regardless of which trike brand you ride!

    This post was not meant to shine a poor light on any company, because everyone falls short in life now and then, but rather to highlight known experiences so that others might avoid them personally. Sharing in the trike community should be a positive dynamic so we all have lots of fun, and company “loyalties” should have nothing to do with it. I’ve owned both Catrike and ICE brand trikes, and really like them both, so objective observations should not be viewed in a condemning or offensive light.

    May 5, 2017 at 7:40 am

  8. armadillozack

    If I were looking for a better or more distinguished coach work automobile, I would look to the Brit’s as when I look for a better or more refined piece of furniture, or cabinetry.. But when I look for that better design of a cycle or bicycle I look only to my American brotheren for the ingenuity in which we are noted for when devising that greater American leisure time velocipede…! So why not the same for the better tadpole trike…? Sorry I had to stir the pot a little…! Lmao…!
    Armadillo Zack

    May 5, 2017 at 6:07 pm

  9. Bob Clark

    Thanks for the heads-up on this, Steve! I’ll get out the appropriate tools and use them correctly to check the alignment of my ICE Adventure FS. Oh, and I am certainly not going to sell my ICE trike–I love it!

    May 8, 2017 at 7:40 am

  10. trike hobo

    Yep Bob, I love mine too! Any trike will have idiosyncrasies, but this one is nothing to worry about once the wheel is vertical. If the wheel is off, the chain will wear slightly faster, as will the tire tread wear unevenly. Fortunately, this is a quick and very easy fix.

    May 11, 2017 at 8:32 am