archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

2014 ICE VTX

At first glance, one may be forgiven for believing this VTX is simply a Vortex with the ORE letters removed, perhaps to generate excitement for a newly named trike. The VTX is clearly not a Vortex with a slick sounding new moniker however. There are significant differences worthy of anyone contemplating the acquisition of a leading ultra-light speed trike. Visit the ICE website to learn more details, and perhaps even order your own right from the company, shipped to your door. The ICE 2014 catalogue is freely available in PDF format at the bottom of this page if you have a fast connection (everything you could want to know about the 2014 ICE trike offerings, including complete specs).

See this trike compared to the Carbontrike and Catrike 700 on this TA Page.

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VTX 2014 + A_phatch VTX 2014-Backend C_phatch VTX 2014-Backend_phatch VTX 2014 + B_phatch VTX 2014 + C_phatch VTX 2014-Crank_phatch VTX 2014-Derailleur_phatch VTX 2014-Frame B_phatch VTX 2014-Frame_phatch VTX 2014-Handlebar_phatch VTX 2014-pulley front_phatch VTX 2014-pulley rear_phatch VTX 2014-Seat cover_phatch VTX 2014-Seat mount_phatch VTX 2014-SL32 Hub_phatch

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Here is a short preview of the 2014 ICE line-up:

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VTX Dartmoor-1136 VTX Dartmoor-1320 VTX Dartmoor-1345 VTX Dartmoor-1474 VTX Dartmoor-1598 VTX Dartmoor-1605 VTX Dartmoor-1618 VTX Dartmoor-1665 VTX Dartmoor-1685 VTX Dartmoor-1883 VTX Dartmoor-1900 VTX Dartmoor-1941 VTX Dartmoor-1963_3 VTX Dartmoor-1965

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The whole of the Backend is Aluminium , From where the frame separates. 5 of the 6 tubes are hydroformed the sixth is mechanically formed. The vertical brace is CNC milled and the dropouts are Forged and CNC milled (forging makes a complex shape like a dropout much stronger than CNC alone). The 3 drawn tubes in the front boom are all CNC turned to optimise weight, strength and stiffness before welding.

All the aluminium parts made from 7005 Ali and heat treated to T6 after welding. Heat treatment after welding is essential to get the best out of an aluminium frame. First the frame is put in an oven and heated to a specific temperature to allow the alloy to normalise, and slowly cooled over 12 hours or so (T4 heat treatment). Then the frame rests for 3 days. Then it is heated again to a different temperature and slowly cooled, this brings the aluminium up to its maximum strength (T6 heat treatment). The names are the same but the process is different for 6061 Ali. The main frame is Cro-Mo 4130 steel after all 15 main parts + brazeons are all Welded and brazed together it becomes one part.

Frames are manufactured in Taiwan because of the level of expertise there and the rigorous quality checks. Each welder produces a test joint weekly which is cut open, polished and examined under a microscope, if it fails he produces no more production parts until he is back up to the required level. Every part is fully quality checked and assembled in ICE’s workshops, UK.

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Thought I’d throw in my two cents, for whatever they are worth. First, there are significant differences between the ICE Vortex, which was produced for a couple of years, and the newest ICE thoroughbred, the VTX. The most notable of these from a rider’s standpoint is the comfort level, which is superior to the discontinued Vortex.

A little story to illustrate some of this (you all know I love to tell stories): Back in September of 2013, I began studying in depth the Catrike 700 and the ICE Vortex, as I was intent on acquiring one of these. Of course, at the time, I assumed, as do many others currently, that the upcoming VTX was essentially the Vortex with the ORE taken out to sound cool. Well, my assessment at that stage was way off base. I was speaking out of ignorance.

This past fall, I read everything I could find online about the two trikes, and a very common point of discussion amongst Vortex riders was the trike’s extremely harsh ride, and that even though it was fast and light, one had to be a die-hard speed fanatic to even consider the physical discomfort levels, along with always having to tighten every screw and nut due to vibration on less than ideal pavement.

So, I went into this believing, in my unenlightened mind, that the ICE trike was probably not going to suit my needs, primarily the touring aspect where long miles are spent on the road daily for a few weeks. I just kind of assumed back in September and October that the Catrike was my sole option. Then, I attended the 2013 Recumbent Cycle-Con for three days, studied and rode the newly released VTX, and my perceptions immediately did a complete turn-around.

The ride, as writer and MS victim Denise Lanier, BentRider Online’s Bryan Ball, and the other few who have actually had the privilege of riding this trike have all concurred, is beyond complaint, and quite possibly beyond anything the competition has to offer at this time. Although actually getting back into the seat is a new and challenging experience, once settled in, the obvious fact hits you that the comfort is something you’ve never felt like this before on any trike that is not suspended. Then, you take it out for a spin, and guess what! Yes, it gets even better, as the ride is on a par with the pure comfort of the seat.

How has this happened? Well, I am not the engineer of course, but I have a couple of thoughts on the matter from what I know. The new VTX has a rear frame very much unlike its predessessor, the Vortex. It is a completely new design that allows for a highly comfort-compliant ride, with enough rear-end flex to absorb a lot of what a nasty road has to offer. Then, there is the seat itself, or should I say the seat padding. Completely different than the old Vortex, this VTX seat cradles you like no other, and the thing that impressed me highly was the open area down the center, which allows the spinal column to rest on just air, so there is no vibration coming through the spine. The torso is supported by the ample side padding the runs the length of the spinal erector muscles, one of the big secrets.

During the 2013 Recumbent Cycle Convention (the North American unveiling of this speed trike), I visited the ICE boys numerous times, just having to have one more look, one more sit in the seat, and of course, a ride around the little test area. Clearly, the VTX is not in the same league as the Vortex. ICE has made a quantum leap with this one, having listened to Vortex riders for a couple of years, and realizing, as they always have, that there is always room for improvement.

Yes, the Vortex and VTX may look similar upon first cursory glance, but for one who studies the frame, seat, and other key differences, these are most definitely not the same trike! The VTX moniker appears to have evolved from removing the o-r-e letters from Vortex, but make no mistake, this is not just some fancy hype to reintroduce the same muffin simply reheated. The VTX is a gourmet offering, very much refined and worth a serious look for anyone who wants a light and very fast speed trike that compromises little, and that my friends, includes comfort. The folks at ICE have pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, and changed the landscape of speed on three wheels. They just didn’t raise the bar … they set a new one!

So, back to my little story: needless to say, after those three days at the 2013 RCC the first of November, I realized I was playing a whole new ballgame. Sure enough, the VTX and 700 decision was going to be a tough one. I could be happy with either one, both wickedly fast speed demons that weigh essentially the same (if you check manufacturer specification notes and Bryan Ball’s assessment of the 700), so this is shaping up to be one exciting time of anticipation, to say the least. Hmm, maybe I’ll just have to acquire one of each for the ultimate head-to-head showdown.

Okay, I’m outta’ here gang. See ya’ …


By the way, one quick point of information: The ICE VTX, with indirect steering, has a turning circle of 18 feet. The Catrike 700, with direct steering, has a turning circle of 20 feet. This may fly in the face of commonly accepted belief paradigms regarding steering and maneuverability. Fascinating. New stuff comin’ atcha all the time!

Two photos of Trike Asylum’s trike hobo on the first VTX to arrive on US shores:

2013 RCC (135) 2013 RCC (134)

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(click red text link to download PDF file – large, takes a while)

ICE Brochure 2014

VTX Dartmoor-1900

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