2013 ICE Vortex

I thought it would interesting to build a “light” trike. Light is a relative term. No trikes are really light. My Monster weighs about 36 lbs so light to me means less than 30 lbs. The ICE Vortex + is claimed to be less than 30 lb. This iteration of the Vortex (from 2012 on) is a very different trike than the 2010 Vortex that I once owned. It is narrower, more laid back and lighter than the 2010 model. I believe that ICE trikes have the highest quality construction. Considering that and the fact that they can now make a sub-30 lb trike, I decided to put a Vortex together.

I decided to buy a Vortex frame kit and select my own components and see if I could still come up with a sub-30 lb trike. As usual, I contacted Dana at Bentup Cycles and he set me up. The kit arrived within about a week of placing the order.

The frame kit comes with all of the non-standard bike parts I’d need. This includes the frame, steering hardware, carbon fiber seat and front hubs.  One of the areas where a lot of weight can be saved is in the choice of crankset. Compact double cranksets have almost totally replaced the road triple crankset in the bike world. I felt that I needed a light triple on the trike. Dana ordered me an FSA SL-K carbon fiber road triple crankset. These are not available in the US according to the FSA web site so I was happy that Dana could get me one.

I chose to build my own wheels. In fact, I will be building 3 sets of wheels to experiment with some ideas. The first set is a pretty standard set of aluminum Velocity A23 28 spoke rims. Since the ICE front hubs only come in 36 hole, I had to use some very similar Bitex 28 spoke front hubs. These are the wheels shown below. Tires and tubes contribute to the rotating mass. I chose the Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tires since they are among the lightest tires on the market. I’ll post more info about the other 2 sets of wheels when all of the pieces have arrived and the wheels are completed.

Another prime area to reduce weight is in the chain. I went with 3 KMC X10SL-TI chains. They have pierced side plates and hollow pins. Also, I decided to go with hydraulic brakes (instead of the trusty old BB7s) for the first time. I chose Avid X0s. I was amazed how much smaller and lighter the calipers are than the BB7s on my other trikes. Another benefit is that the X0s have dual pistons so both pads are activated during braking. Other than that, most of the weight savings comes from resisting the addition of more stuff to the trike.

I’ve only ridden it enough to get the basic setup right so I haven’t formed any opinions about the ride and handling yet. Here are the pictures of the first iteration of the trike.The final weight came out to be 29 lb 3 oz. That’s with no tools and no water bottle. That weight does include the pedals.

I’ve sold the Vortex on June 6, 2016. I’m sorry to see it go, but there’ll be another toy replacing it in the garage soon enough.

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24 thoughts on “2013 ICE Vortex

      • How does this compare, dimensionally and ground clearance-wise to the new cat 700? (Posted on their wesite as of 4-2013)

      • The Vortex is a little lower and longer than the 700. The new 700 has had its seat height and ground clearance raised over the previous generation.

        Vortex
        – Track: 27.5″
        – Ground clearance: 2.75″
        – Seat height: 6.5″
        – wheelbase: 48.5″
        – length: around 88″ (mine)

        Catrike 700
        – Track: 27.5″
        – Ground clearance: 4″
        – Seat height: 8.5″
        – wheelbase: 46″
        – length: 83″

  1. Very nice. One day I hope to own a performance trike. The last couple years my favorites are the 700 and the Ice Vortex. Thanks for posting I’ll be watching for more.
    -RCT

    • I bought the rims at http://www.yoeleo.com. Look under the BMX section. The front hubs are stock ICE 36 spoke hubs. The rims are not available as 36 hole so I used 24 hole. It works out nicely. I’ll try to post a picture later of the lacing of a 36 hole hub to 24 hole rims.

  2. I’ve been salivating over the Vortex+ at my dealer but today a friend suggested I look at the Catrike 700. I am riding my first trike for about a year and a half–a Greenspeed GT5 which I enjoy a lot. But, I really aspire to go a little faster so I can join in on some longer, fun rides and do them in a decent time frame. I was offered a good price on the 2012 700–do you have an opinion of Greenspeed vs Catrike 700 and over the 2013 vs the 2012 Catrike???

    • The Catrike 700 is a great trike. I find it to be very comfortable and fast. I haven’t ridden the 2013 yet so I can’t offer much info. The 2013 has 406 front wheels so it should roll better. Also you’ll have a better selection of tires. I really like the 406 Ultremos. It has a more laid back seat than the earlier 700 so you should see which is more comfortable to you.

      The only Greenspeed that I’ve owned is the SLR. It was a lot of fun but not too practical. You can’t buy an SLR any more so it’s not a consideration. In general I’m not a big fan of Greenspeed’s fit and finish. They last a long time and ride fine, but they seem kind of funky to me.

      My favorite brand is ICE. They make beautiful trikes. I’ve owned quite a few. The Vortex is a great trike, but it’s pretty pricey. Also the hard shell seat is not for everyone. I like it a lot.

  3. So I also have a Vortex, though not quite as tricked out. I’ve noticed a couple of glitches that are causing me to consider the Catrike 700. First, with my size 46.5 summer shoes and more often in my 48 winter boots, the back of my shoe will hit the ground. With the higher BB, the Catrike would solve this. Secondly on climbs with water or light ice, the rear wheel loses traction… something that doesn’t happen on any of my road bike. Again I’m wondering if the shorter wheelbase on the Catrike would solve this. I cranked the Vortex wheelbase in as short as to 46.5″… though it took a bit of effort. Do you have any thoughts on these? Also how do you think the wheels compare on these?

    • I believe that the 2013 700 has a higher bottom bracket than the Vortex – although not as high as the pre-2013 700. So that should give you a little more heel clearance. As for the wheelbase… My only 700 experience is with pre-2013 700s which have a shorter wheelbase than the 2013 700 and the Vortex. I’m not sure that just having a shorter wheelbase will give you more rear traction. I think the fore-aft weight distribution (rider position) determines that. On the 700, I always felt like I was sitting right over the front axle line so the rear wheel felt light. By comparison, ICE (Trice) trikes put the rider more in the middle – between the axles. My feeling (without any proof) is that the 700 won’t offer an improvement in rear traction over the Vortex.

  4. Hello Michael &

    as I recognize your depth of understanding, regarding this (ICE/CATRIKE) topic, I’m hoping you can advise me. I’m deliberating between an ICE VTX and a Catrike 700, both 2014’s. As I live in Canada, unfortunately, the ICE VTX (with the options I’ve chosen), because of duties, currency conversion and shipping costs, works out to twice the price of the 700. Through research, including reading your posts, it’s obvious the VTX surpasses the 700 in terms of engineering and quality of construction. Also, I have a bad neck and back and I understand the VTX rides nearly as smoothly as a trike with shocks and has this very excellent ergonomic seat. So, my question: is the ICE VTX worth the premium cost? Unfortunately, I don’t live in an area where I can test the VTX and so am operating in the dark, so to speak. Any advice is certainly appreciated.

    • I wouldn’t say that the VTX rides nearly as smoothly as a suspended trike. It has improved over the previous generation Vortex but is still a stiff ride with its hard shell seat. The 700 has a stiffer frame but that is dampened a bit by the mesh seat. So overall I’d say that both trikes have a stiff ride but for different reasons.

      For your neck problem, I think that seat angle will be critical. The 700 has no adjustment. If the angle works for you then you’re set. The VTX seat is adjustable so that is worth considering.

      Although I prefer the quality of ICE trikes over Catrikes, I still really like Catrikes. They are very well made and designed. A 700 is a great value. It is not a compromise. The only way for you to decide is to spend time on each.

  5. How have you found the Yoeleo carbon wheels? Have they made a noticeable difference? Did you have any quality issues with Yoleo?

    Regards,

    Colin

    • The Yoeleo wheels are pretty decent. It could be in my head, but the do seem to make it easier to maintain speeds above 18 or 20 mph. They also feel laterally stiffer in the turns. They are not quite as light as my set of Velocity A23 wheels. Be careful though. Dana at Bent Up Cycles had a wheel fail and Yoeleo wouldn’t accept responsibility nor replace the wheel.

  6. Hello,
    Enjoyed your site and information on the ICE Vortex. With lower back problems I have been researching the VTX to replace my Expedition I have ridden for 4 years.

    Your enjoyment and obtained what you wished is evident in building your ICE from the frame. What kind of time frame was the work involved? Can you fit a bit larger Apple tires with tread on the VTX? Do you feel the 2014 VTX is significant in its ride over others for a rider with lower back issues?
    Pardon all the questions, yet I feel it was an asset to stumble onto your site Thank you in advance for a reply.
    Look forward to watching your site in the future!
    Michael

    • – While I was waiting for the frame to arrive, I accumulated the parts and built the wheels. Once I had all the pieces, the trike went together in a few hours.
      – Not sure about the wider tires on the VTX.
      – I thought for sure that I’d upgrade the rear frame member to the VTX. However, when I tested the VTX, it didn’t feel all that different to me so I stuck with the Vortex frame member. Everyone else in the world seems to feel a big difference so it could just be me. I did upgrade the Vortex hard rubber seat pads to the VTX single-piece pad. That made a huge difference in comfort.

    • The FSA crank came in a MegaExo or BB30. The MegaExo fits without any adaptors. I now have the same FSA MegaExo carbon crank on the Monster. I also put one on the last Catrike 700 that I built. They’re hard to find. They show up on Ebay once in a while.

    • I’d like to help you out, but I don’t have much free time these days to accumulate the parts and to build the wheels. I know that Dana at Bentup Cycles will be happy to do so.

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