These photographs may prove useful for those just learning about human powered recumbent tadpole tricycles. Some of the more common parts of trikes are shown with basic descriptors. The trike models below herald from the stable of Inspired Cycle Engineering in England, otherwise commonly known as ICE. They are the ICE T, ICE Q, and ICE T 26. The T is indicative of its ability to traverse trails other than pavement due to the extra high ground clearance. The Q reflects a quick  and low machine with excellent road handling characteristics. The T 26 is a higher trike with a 26 inch rear wheel for faster top end speed on paved roads. Both the T and Q have suspended rear swinging arms for a smoother ride, while the T 26 has a rigid rear frame.

All three trikes were so named up through the 2009 model year, but with the dawning of 2010, quite a number of modifications were made, along with new name badges. The T continues its tradition in the ICE Adventure, while the Q lives on in the ICE Sprint.

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NOTE: To a trike newcomer, a word of explanation may be in order about the crankset. In these photographs, it appears that chainrings and crankset share the same description, which is not quite accurate. The crankset is composed of several components, including the chainrings. The three chainrings, common on most trikes, are also referred to as sprockets by some folks. The crankset is also referred to simply as the crank, or in England as the chainset.

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13 Responses to Anatomy

  1. Pingback: Tricycle Anatomy « Trike Asylum

  2. Rock Cowles says:

    On a recumbent trike, what is the difference between direct steering and indirect steering?

  3. Steve says:

    Howdy Rock,

    The folks over at Hostel Shoppe Recumbents in Stevens Point, Wisconsin provide some well worded definitions in their catalog and on the website. What you call indirect steering is commonly called linkage steering. Here is what they have to say:

    Direct Steering: Two handlebars are used. They are directly connected to each front wheel by attaching to the hub mount. The wheel movement equals the rider input. The result is quicker steering that is ideal for sport racing and taking sharp fast turns.”

    Linkage Steering: A single handlebar is connected to a pivot point and then connected to the wheels by tie rods. The wheel movement is less than the input from the rider. Linkage steering results in slow, smooth, comfortable handling that is ideal for touring and going fast in a straight line.”

    I have ridden both types, and enjoy each. My ICE Qnt has linkage, and if I want to turn left, I pull my left hand back and push my right hand forward. On the Catrike I’ve ridden, with direct, if I want to turn left, I push my left hand towards my body’s centerline, while pushing my right hand away. It doesn’t take long to get used to either type.

    Hopefully someone out there will find some unbiased assessment of the Sun trike you’re interested in and leave it as a comment here. If I come across anything this next week, I’ll let you know. Take care.

  4. Rock Cowles says:

    Thanks, Steve. Utah Trikes said Sun’s tadpole trikes are not of the same quality as much of their competition or their Deltas. Bicycleman will not sell at least one model of Sun’s tadpoles because of stability issues at speed. The mesh sling seat is giving me some reservations also. I rode a TerrraTrike Cruiser and am now leaning towards it or a TerraTrike Path 8.

    Thanks for your help!

  5. scuffster says:


    I’m a Trice [suspension] T owner. I have radical sidepods but need to be able to carry things a little more bulky. Any idea what the options are for pannier racks for me?

  6. Steve says:

    I have a suspended ICE Q, and also have the radical sidepods. Over the rear wheel, I have the ICE rack, upon which I mount two Arkel GT-54 side panniers (54 liters total capacity) and one Arkel Tailrider (11 liters total capacity). This setup provides me 90 liters of touring cargo capacity. If you don’t need that much room, you can also get larger Radcal sidepods. Try posting this question on the new Trike Asylum forum ( and see what some other trike pilots have to add! – Steve

  7. joe says:

    I have a Terratrike Tour with the same 11-34 cassette you have. I noticed in your pictures that your rear derailleur is also extremely low to the ground–actually less that the height of the tire in my case. Has this been a problem for you in any wet ground trail or off road experiences you’ve had? I’ve ridden my trike over 10,000 miles without a problem, but its all been on paved roads. Thanx.

  8. Steve says:

    Hello Joe,

    If I ride in tall wet grass, the blades of the grass will contact my derailleur, or if I ride on a soft sandy or dirt road for a ways to pitch a primitive stealth camp, the derailleur can pick up some dirt, but I have found these to be non-issues. I have never struck my derailleur on the ground or any rock or other hard object. I have never damaged it in any way. The trick is, as you likely well know based on the mileage you’ve ridden, is to be aware of how to straddle road obstacles such as rocks or shoulder debris. By being aware of the location of your wheels, derailleur, and chain, it is easy to just pass over the tops of protruding objects by allowing them to pass beneath your feet. I would not consider a trike with a 26 inch or 700C wheel just to get the derailleur up higher in the air, in fact, I recommend 20 inch wheels all around. Keep in mind though that I run 20×1.75 inch tires (Schwalbe Marathon Plus), which makes a difference in derailleur height. My trike originally came with 20×1.25 Kenda Kwest tires, and it sat lower to the ground yet. For those riders who run Schwalbe Big Apples (20×2.0 inch), there is even more room to spare. Regarding straddling road debris, I have become so ingrained with the tricycle these past three years that on the rare occasion I drive an automobile for family, I find myself now thinking about that third rear wheel in the center, but then remember that I am in a car with the two trailing wheels in line with the front. It’s a weird feeling, but I like it because it shows that my brain has made great strides in ditching the car paradigm of existence … trikes rule! See ya’ …

  9. Nigel says:

    Excellent post Steve :)

    When I got my trike, just a few months ago, I was very unfit and would spend a lot of time on the smallest chainring. Now I’m finding that I hardly use it at all – I don’t have many uphill gradients that last for miles tho. I’m also finding that I would like more top-speed. At what point should I upgrade? I’m on the standard chainset that came with my KMX Cobra: 42-32-22T Any tips?

  10. Steve says:

    Hi Nigel,

    The gearing you describe up front is more suited for mountain and trail riding on non-paved roadbeds than it is for street riding. Such a crankset as 22-32-42 is typically referred to as a mountain bike setup. With only 10 teeth differences between adjacent chainrings, the shifting will be very smooth. The 22 ring will get you up even the worst hills and mountains, even if you were loaded with supplies and pulling a trailer (assuming a reasonable fitness level). A 22 would be far lower than necessary for normal street riding, even if a rider is somewhat out of shape. I would recommend a low ring size of 24-30, depending on usage: a 24 if you plan on doing road trips with loaded cargo bags, on up to a 30 for general all-around day rides near home.

    Many trikes come standard with a 30-42-52 crankset, which has been found satisfactory by many riders. The 52 is necessary for any triker wishing to have decent top-end speed capability. With a 52 large ring, you can maintain anywhere between 10-15 miles per hour on flat pavement. With the 42 you have, your top speed would be considerably slower. You will at some point experience a phenomenon I call “spinning out”, where you are spinning the crankarms as fast as you are able, and could go faster, but you don’t have enough teeth on the large ring to allow greater speed.

    A midring of 36-39 is a good choice. A 39 is low enough to get up most short steep hills, or longer more gradual hills, and a 36 is even better. Of course, when you change one ring, it often results in the necessity of changing the others, as having jumps between adjacent rings that are too large make for poor shifting, or a frontend that won’t even shift under certain conditions. The front derailleur has to be able to cover the range of motion necessary to make larger jumps.

    I run, and highly recommend a 26-39-52 setup once your fitness improves where a 26 will get you up any hill that you would normally encounter. Your 42 is way too low if you plan on being a paved street rider, and will lead to you becoming disgruntled that you can’t go faster because of gearing when you clearly have more physical energy to devote to the speed. Going fast from time to time is just plain fun, and every triker wants to do it, but your 42 will disappoint. If you are already feeling this, I would say the time to upgrade has already come! If you have a capable expert at a local bike shop, tell him to set your front-end up with a crankset of 26-39-52. That makes for 13 tooth jumps between rings, which makes for good shifting assuming you have mastered the shifting phase of triking.

    If you anticipate more hills, and are yet unsure of your physical fitness abilities, you could instead run a 24-38-52, which still provides the same top end speed, but allows for very slow speeds for making very steep hills easy. That choice would have 14 tooth jumps between adjacent rings, which should still be acceptable.

    Gearing is an individual assessment, but I think that those numbers would work for you. Perhaps other readers will toss in their two cents here also. Keep us all posted on any changes you make.


  11. poravrav says:

    we have a event called “efficycle” and m preparing for that
    i need ur help in suspension part , if u could tell me how to calculate stiffness of tyre.
    also i wud like to know the general camber, caster and toe
    if u help me out i wud much thankful to u

  12. Robert herbert says:

    My son only has use of his right hand, would this work for him?

  13. Trike Hobo says:

    Hello Robert,

    If he has no use of his left hand, then the shifting mechanism for the front would need to somehow be transferred to the right side handlebar, either that or a single non-shifting ring up front, which would limit the gear range. My suggestion is to talk to the folks at TerraTrike and Catrike (assuming you live in the USA) and see if they have options for such a situation. Also, call the folks at Hostel Shoppe, as they offer a full range of adaptive cycling solutions for tricycles: See this linked page for a little background:
    Talk to Jessie at Hostel Shoppe to get started: 1-800-233-4340

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