ICE Ages, Chapter 6: Dedicated Innovators
It was a new millennium and ICE was on the up. Chris and Neil recruited two multi-talented friends, Ben Dickinson and John Olson, to help meet the growing demand. With two extra hands in production and assembly more time could be dedicated to developing the range, resulting in some momentous years in the evolution of trike design.
Both Ben and John were enthusiastic hobby recumbent designers and builders, so it wasn’t long before they were getting stuck in with improvements and innovations. Armed with a newly developed rear suspension system and a prototype of a new speed machine called the Micro, the team set off for their first big bike show which was a great reminder of the strength and breadth of the UK cycling industry.
Then the big breakthrough came. The most stubborn problem with trike design is how to successfully balance the front brakes for high speeds. While much of the industry tried their hardest to ignore the problem, it was something ICE felt compelled to resolve. The solution came to Chris while reading about some research conducted by Mercedes to cure the worst effects of a front wheel blow out on their cars. Chris realized that the steering geometry concept used by Mercedes could be adapted to enable the front brakes of a trike to be used independently at any speed. After months of further research and development by the team, Chris’ theory was turned into a working system. And as 2001 approached handling nirvana was found and quickly introduced across the ICE range. If you ride a trike with no brake steer today, chances are the design comes from an ICE trike.
Long term testing of the tandem fell to Chris’ Mum and Dad. In 1999 Chris’ 60 something Mum had smashed her knee Mountain biking in Sherwood Forest. After extensive surgery and a long time in plaster she decided she would like to ride the ‘End to End’ from the northern to southern most points of the UK. They rode the around 50 miles per day, for 28 days, stopping to see the sights and enjoy the odd cup of tea! The tandem passed the test with flying colours. Fully laden the tandem was not fast on the up-hills but down the other side was a very different story!
The World HPV Championships coming to the UK in 2001 ICE needed a no compromises speed machine. Development of the Micro was progressing at a pace and with John focused on the finer points if the handling of the Micro and Ben developing a new light and supportive hard shell seat it was set to be a machine to be reckoned with. Long-time friend of ICE, Jaap Stolk, brought the Micro in second in the World Championships. The Micro laid down a new standard for production trikes.
Pictures: The ‘End to End’ route; Val and Frank Parker on their UK tandem test-ride; Chris shows off the ICE trikes at the 2000 York bike show; Ben Dickinson on his own-made recumbent bike; suspension on the Explorer; John Olson racing a Crystal Engineering Festina; a prototype Micro; Chris and Sharon Brown celebrating their wedding on an ICE tandem; Jaap, Chris and Ben on a test ride; Jaap riding the Micro at the 2001 World HPV Championships