archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

ICE Frame Failure on 2017 Tour de Wyoming

While riding the 2017 Tour de Wyoming epic cycling event, Trike Asylum reader Steven Telck, who rides a 2011 ICE Adventure recumbent trike, experienced a catastrophic frame failure far out on the open road. This post presents known facts about Steven’s experience so that other riders of similar trikes might have the knowledge about a potential future event on their own trikes.

Steven Telck rides his 2011 ICE Adventure recumbent tricycle on a previous United States tour. He is a highly experienced and capable overland triker, and has also toured on this trike in Asia.

Following this background information will be two photographs of Steven’s frame.

BASIC BACKGROUND INFORMATION: During the week of July 16-21, 2017, Steven was a participant in the multi-day Tour de Wyoming cycling event, which consisted of four mountain passes, and more than 400 Miles in six days. He was riding his 2011 ICE Adventure trike on this fully supported tour – there was no cargo on the trike in panniers. He only carried a water bladder and water supply to remain hydrated, as the cargo normally carried on a tour that is unsupported was carried by the Tour de Wyoming support organization. Cyclists essentially pedaled the distance without being encumbered by standard gear such as tent, sleeping bag, food, and clothing. Steven is six feet five inches tall, and weighs 245 pounds. He had approximately seven pounds of water on the trike with him. The weight limit for his trike is 275 pounds. Steven says the load on the trike was about 20 pounds below the maximum recommended weight limit for the vehicle. There are about 5,000 miles on this ICE Adventure recumbent trike.

Steven, a Wyoming resident, was pedaling about 25 miles per hour along an interstate portion of the tour when he began to feel what is described as a fish-tailing sensation. Fish-tailing is when the hind end of any vehicle begins to move laterally, or perpendicular to the direction of travel. He reports that initially it was a mild sensation, felt in corners, but as the day progressed, this movement became more pronounced. When Steven first felt the mild fish-tailing, he stopped and checked things that he thought might be causing the problem, but was not successful at locating the malfunction. He checked again later as the issue reached a level that could not be ignored any longer, where the trike was too unstable to ride. Upon a carefully detailed protracted inspection, he realized that where the swing arm for the rear suspension joins a curved portion of the trike’s frame a serious tearing of the metal was actively in progress. The tear had become pronounced enough that the trike was critically unstable and unsafe to ride any farther on the tour.

Not wanting to relinquish his enjoyment of the Tour de Wyoming, and having a strong desire to complete the event, Steven loaded his trike into a motorized vehicle and took it south 160 miles to Louisville, Colorado (near Denver) on a Sunday to the dealer where he originally purchased the human powered vehicle. At the dealer, owner Chip happened to have the part necessary for Steven to continue his tour, so Chip spent the next hour repairing the trike with the used part. This was now around 7:00 PM on that Sunday. Steven then drove his trike back north to his home state, and the following day, the Adventure was back out on the road of adventure. Below are two photographs that reveal the severity of this frame failure, and how it could lead to serious injury to the rider had it broken all the way, or failed at speed on a mountain pass descent.

Steven’s ICE Adventure frame suffered a catastrophic failure while riding a supported tour.

Upon his successful completion of the 400 mile Tour de Wyoming, Steven emailed the Inspired Cycle Engineering company about the details of his experience. ICE responded, saying that they were sorry to see the failure, and that they would send a replacement curved tube, hinge, and the front section of the back end, under warranty, via FedEx. ICE informed Steven he could dispose of the broken parts, as they had no need to inspect the failure in person, but that the photos of his trike would be forwarded to the engineering division of the company for analysis. The new replacement parts were received by Steven within two days after their response to him. His 2011 ICE Adventure is now fully functional once again, but he reminds other ICE owners to remain vigilant when it comes to frame inspections, saying that he will now always inspect this area.

Additional photos of other ICE trikes:

From a Trike Asylum post dated May 21, 2015, comes this photograph of an ICE frame that failed in the same spot as Steven Telck’s recent frame failure. Click HERE to read that post.

If you have a post-2010 ICE trike with this rear setup, periodic visual checks might be a means of avoiding such a catastrophic frame failure out on the road. An ounce of prevention is worth …

From a Trike Asylum post dated April 23, 2015, comes this photograph of an ICE frame that failed in another location, where the two mainframe components are attached to one another:

Above appears to be on an ICE Q trike, which predates the 2010 conversion to the new frame styling, design, and fabrication. Below is the new frame design as it first appeared in 2010:

The 2010 ICE frame welds

A comment by the company regarding its findings and solutions would be welcomed. Also, if you have information about serious frame failures on any brand or model of recumbent tadpole tricycle, please post a comment here to assist others who ride the same trike as you. Thank you.



6 responses

  1. The picture of the failed red frame is from my 2008 ICE Q. It failed at about 18,000 miles. You can read about it here:

    August 3, 2017 at 8:57 am

  2. armadillozack

    Gosh..! Not the first time I heard this…! I would have thought that ICE would have solved this problem already.. But I guess not…! I met a guy not so long ago while I was walking down at the beach from North Carolina, and he has said that he had to have his welded back together again, and is why I bought a catrike recumbent instead, but don’t get me wrong that is not the only reason I bought a Catrike over an ICE… The second and most out standing thing is the cost, but I am talking when it was just me footing the bill, and I had no money in my pockets to afford a recumbent trike,.. t was only able to afford my Catrike after some great help from my friends, and doing some research into recumbent trikes that I was ready to buy my trike… And not forgetting the Great Folks in Utah Trikes who built me my beautiful Catrike Custom Fat Cat Quad…! Anyway I hope that ICE takes a few steps back, and rethinks it’s options as to this problem because it is only a matter of time before we start hearing horror stories involved with structural failures.. OH I also want to say the trike this guy was riding was a used trike, so who knows what the first owner had been doing with it before hand.. .
    Armadillo Zack

    August 3, 2017 at 11:01 am

  3. Bill Sprague

    Just a couple of thoughts from and old, cranky engineer. Welds, especially in aluminum don’t work well in tension. I’ve always been skeptical of trikes that hang the weight bearing spine from the front axle. For that reason, I like Catrike, because the spine rests on the front axle. HPV designed the one on my Gekko 20 to sprout from the sides of the spine and ICE hangs the spine from the axle. Back when lugs were in vogue, ICE had the most beautiful ones there where. Those lugs really helped support their design. Catrike’s and ICE’s rear suspension trike places some weld in tension. HPV and AZUB, however do not seem to. In short, I’m sticking with rigid framed bone shakers.

    Another issue I observe and have no data to research is the position of the folding hinge. Logically, the hing pin should be on or near the bottom of the trike’s spine placing the pin in shear and the hinge in tension. My Gekko’s hinge is near the bottom as are those on the Catrike folders. Those on the HPV Scorpions and AZUBs are on the top. AZUB has endeavored to compensate with a really over-designed hinge.

    The root heaves on my local rail trail have almost convinced me that my 20″ rear wheel isn’t big enough and I’m looking hard at the Catrike 559 and Expedition as a replacement. Why? See my checklist above. The current leader for my Gekko’s replacement is the Expedition.

    End of rant….. Sounds of may soapbox scraping the floor as I slide it back under my desk….

    August 3, 2017 at 6:15 pm

  4. Alonzo Savage

    Hmm ….I suspect the full picture has not been shown or complete back story told 
    I wonder if a trailer had been towed at times since new  and if it was a two wheeler or mono wheel style
    The green shocker (HARD) looks tired and Doughnut shaped it might have been placed in the wrong setting …hard or soft
    The rear swing arm bearing bush looks like it have never been stripped serviced cleaned and lubed
    No mention of mileage yet the seat mount block looks badly worn ….just look at the bright metal exposed .
    How much payload ….plus riders weight
    Used on trails or tracks or pure tarmac …???
    ICE dealt with it rather well ………that’s clearly demonstrated …………all within 48 hours ….fantastic  
    But then  an open question is raised and doubts about the build quality …,.when folk jump in with “expert” knowledge……… it raises further concerns on the forums . 
    Other brands have all suffered issues as shown in the other images

    August 4, 2017 at 1:45 pm

  5. Bill Sprague

    My hat is off to ICE as well for dealing with the problem so quickly. I agree the pivot bushing looks pretty worn. Although the weight limit is 275# and his traveling weight was under that, it appears from the lead photo that at some point the weight limit may have been exceeded. I would not presume to suggest a design change but, it would appear that incorporating a band around the curved arm combined with a wider (longer) bushing could distribute the load imposed by the pivot on the attachment to the curved arm. Yes, it would add weight. Maybe it could be added to the HD model intended for large folks like me.

    Other brands have had failures and ICE has a long history of making top quality trikes, so, I’m glad it ended well and safely for Steve. Heck I’ve had to wait longer for a plane in Laramie!

    August 4, 2017 at 8:53 pm

  6. I just wanted to write to all about my feelings regarding the recent frame failure while on tour.

    First and foremost this issue was written up for one purpose only and that was to make folks aware that their rides need inspection from time to time and also one should pay attention to what the trike is doing as you get down the road. I don’t know if I would have seen any cracks in the frame in the location where the failure occurred, even if I had looked before starting the ride. What I did notice was the trike was not being polite in it’s handling as I was getting down the road while dodging bits and pieces on the safety margin. It was speaking to me and I am glad I had the chance to know a failure was happening. On a steeper hill at higher speeds this may have been serious if he frame had completely failed.

    Second and equally important is how ICE in England has treated me. ICE has been very generous and timely in their warranty responses to problems I have had. I had a bad bushing on a drum brake arm and they replaced the wheel. I also had a problem with a free wheel assembly and when it came to time to send parts to me under warranty they sent me an entire rear wheel, laced up, trued with a complete new rear cog assembly included and sent if over night two days ! I would have been happy to have just been sent the free wheel assembly and done all the work of lacing up the wheel and installing my used rear cog assembly myself. All I had to do was mount a tire and off I went. Now if that isn’t great service you must be very hard to please. Two minor problems and one larger one and ICE has always stepped up to the plate with solutions and warranty work most companies can only dream of extending to their customers. Yes I like ICE and how they treat their customers.

    The old girl and I are off on a 1,600 mile tour this coming November across Laos, into Vietnam and down the coast, where we will turn into the mountains and climb to Dalat and then down into Saigon where finally we will cross Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and then back into Thailand. 34 days of riding with another two weeks time thrown in for smelling the roses. ICE in Asia, not something you see everyday.


    August 7, 2017 at 9:27 pm