I haven’t done a roundup on these product updates for a while. Sorry if this is old news to some. Let me know if you have any questions or need clarifications. I’ll try to get some images added to this, but having sat on this info long enough I think I’ll just get it posted!
Catrike product updates:
- All of Catrike’s “big rear wheel” models, the DuMont, 700, 559 and Expedition, now use 12mm thru-axles to hold the rear wheel, making the rear end stiffer than the older 10mm quick release axles. This is good for people who want to corner hard. It is not so good for people looking for alternative transmission options like internally-geared hubs or e-motor wheels. These will no longer fit the frame unless designed for 12mm thru-axles. However, I can fit a Rohloff $peedhub to 12mm dropouts, if your tastes run that direction.
- Catrike announced a Bosch electric-motor option and it should be available this spring. I expect it will initially be only available on newly-ordered models, but we should have conversion parts available soon after. Since the motor mounts at the crankset, not the rear wheel, the 12mm thru-axle from above isn’t a limitation.
- Catrike has discontinued the fully-suspended Road model. The DuMont is now their only suspended model.
- The lower-priced Eola arrived earlier this year. To be honest, I’m yet to find the ideal pitch for this trike. We sell a lot of Catrikes, but have only sold one Eola in both shops (which was then returned for an upgrade). Ironically, it isn’t that this is a weak model. Catrikes are such a good value that you can get a lot more Cat by spending not much more money.
TerraTrike product updates:
- These people just can’t sit still. Besides a lot of changes in their main lineup, they are constantly coming out with new accessories. If you’ve been hankering after the Ergo-Luxe seat available on new ICE trikes, you should check out TT’s new padded seat cover.
- TT has replaced the paradigm-shifting Rover with the new Maverick. This trike resembles a Rambler in construction, cutting some weight. Prices are in line with what we saw on the Rover. The Rover will still be available in its tandem version, which can still be converted into a single trike. Sadly, there will not be a NuVinci N330 shifting system option on the Maverick. We sold lots of N330 Rovers and plan to bring in our own N380 kits to keep this system available. As an easy to use shifting system it had great synergy with the Rover, as it will with the Maverick.
- The Rambler will change considerably. It will take the Rover’s place as the 400-pound capacity trike. The trike will come standard with 24 inch wheels all around, and the track width will widen out to make the high-sitting trike safer and allow tighter turning with those big front wheels.
- The Gran Tourismo will evolve into the GTS (I do regret when real names get replaced by abbreviations), shedding some weight and refining the design. TT has always done a good job of making trikes that are affordable but not cheap, and they are challenging themselves by pushing into the faster realm of “sport-touring” trikes. Will they succeed? I’m yet to see a TT that really sells and performs like the Catrike Expedition or ICE Sprint. But then Jeff Wiswell’s crew should never be underestimated.
- Faster? Indeed, TT will be releasing the Spyder, an attempt at a really fast trike on par with the 700 or VTX. There will be an aluminum and carbon version. Expect to see all this new stuff at the ‘Bent Event. This wouldn’t be the first carbon fiber frame TT has made, but few remember the Edge built back around 2007 with its through-the-frame chain routing.
- The Boost Kit, which is a Bosch e-motor retrofit, is still available, and now a Boost Kit for the Rover/Rover tandem frame will be available this spring.
- Easy Street has been named TerraTrike’s “Dealer of the Year” for 2019. Thanks guys! I’ve been selling this product for 20 years now, and they’ve already planted a tree in my honor at the company headquarters. I’m looking forward to taking the plaque down to my local bar and enjoying some free drinks.
Bacchetta product updates:
- The bike company that has aligned itself with ultra-marathon performance and speed has started making a trike. The CT2.0 (abbreviations… don’t get me started) debuted this year. Production had a gradual rollout and a few hiccups, but is now rolling. If you know someone who likes to ride fast but is starting to encounter balance problems, this is the trike to see. Our experiments have not shown it to be significantly faster than the ICE VTX, but it takes the prize in looks.
- 10-speed? Nah, who needs it? Bacchetta’s bike models are switching from 3×9 shifting systems to 2×11 systems, keeping up with the fashion. I’m sad to see those 3-speed cranksets fade from use, with their huge gearing range. You could mainly leave the chain on the middle ring and not have to think about the 1st and 3rd gears. Now I have to cook up some other kind of gear-simplification advice for my more techno-newbie customers.
Inspired Cycle Engineering product updates:
- No new models, but some rearrangement of names. We quit stocking the FullFat, which was a striking trike to look at but didn’t sell that well. It’s been replaced in our showroom with an Adventure HD dripping with techno-gizmos to beat the band. Come sit in the generous HD seat, with the posh Ergo-Luxe cushion, zip off with the Shimano STEPS electric assist automatic shifting Alfine 8-speed hub, yada yada. As usual for ICE the package comes together elegantly and we’ve sold a few of these.
- The VTX remains the best established racing trike. The Sprint-X is the fastest folding trike you can buy. The Adventure is still the ultimate luxury casual trike.
- I’m still annoyed that the electric-motor option is not available as a retrofit, but only available on new purchases. Hmmph.
AZUB product updates:
- The Czechs continue to make this line of durable touring bikes and trikes. They probably miss out on some share of the market by not trying to make stuff meant to be “fast.” They build for the honorable tradition of piling it with luggage and setting off across the steppes of Asia, which is great. But most people who spend money on premium ‘bents are looking to be fast, or at least pretend they are. AZUB did offer a dual 700C wheel (road bike size wheel) version of their MAX bike at Recumbent Cycle Con this year. It is now in Keller being set up for a buyer.
Lightning product updates:
- My favorite olde-timey steel framed racing recumbent is the venerable P-38, made by this little craftsman operation in California. The latest from Tim and crew is a full embrace of the disk brakes on the lower-end Phantom and flagship P-38 bikes. Of course you can still get a P-38 set up however you want, but the frames all come with disk brake mounting tabs.
We’ve had more opportunity to play with Shimano and SRAM electronic shifting systems, which are lightweight, simple, and mostly reliable. Like any electronic gizmo they sometimes don’t do quite what they are supposed to and the fix is generally a part replacement more than tuning. So, like hydraulic brakes, they work great, better than mechanical stuff, but if there is a problem then it becomes a matter for experts with special tools. This has been our experience with tubeless tires as well – lots of benefits, but more complication in setting it up and getting it going.
In electric assist motors, we remain impressed with both Shimano, who supply kits for ICE and AZUB, and with Bosch, who supply TerraTrike and Catrike. Both systems require special frame parts and don’t allow for a front derailer. But they allow for internally-geared hubs and aren’t hindered by 12mm thru-axles or any other inventiveness on the rear wheel. They are also both more expensive, but well engineered and full supported, which I value highly.
We were warming up to The Copenhagen Wheel e-motor system, despite some limitations on what models it could fit on, with its simple set up and lightweight, integrated parts. But then the company suddenly went kaput, leaving one customer momentarily in the lurch. We’ve installed a few other brands, some Bafang, UT Custom, and E-bike Outfitters. These all worked once we finished with them, but all had some part needing replacement. I’m not yet sold on any of them.
Lastly, my technical wizard Austin sales manager Ron has created an LED flagpole system. After some struggles with parts choices, trike frame variety, and just financing the parts orders, we’ve now released the system. It costs $214.95, but comes with a rugged mount, a rechargeable battery, and powerful set of modern COB LED lights. If you recall the LED “whip” system we had before I can tell you that this is much more powerful for about the same price. We checked out some cheaper systems, down to about $60, but they were just not up to the job.