ICE Recumbent Trike Gearing Options


Hub vs Derailleur: There are two main choices when it comes to gearing with lots of options within each section. You can choose either derailleur gearing or hub gears. In general, derailleur gears are lighter, cheaper and more efficient with hub gears being lower maintenance and more reliable. In general derailleur gears are preferred by those on a budget and, with higher end systems, by those who are looking to ride faster. Hub gears are preferred by a lot of people who are interested in touring and riders who want a simple trike which requires less maintenance.


If you choose derailleur gears there are lots of options to select from to get the perfect gear system for you.
Road vs Mountain bike chainset: There are two main types of front gears or chainsets, road bike type and mountain bike type. There is a chart below of the chainsets we carry and their chainrings. In most cases we carry two options, a low cost and a more premium unit.
Road bike chainsets have larger chainrings giving a gear range which is more suited to powerful riders or riders who live in flatter areas. They can also pair well with 20” wheels to give a higher top gear and allow more speed without spinning your legs out.
Mountain bike chainsets have smaller chainrings which allows lower gears for climbing hills so they suit riders who live in hilly areas, touring riders and weaker riders better. They are also good to choose with 26” rear wheels to give lower gears more similar to a 20” rear wheel with a road chainset.
We also carry a couple of middle range chainsets which, while technically being mountain bike chainsets, have mid-range chainrings. These are great for getting the perfect balance of gears. Think of them as Goldilocks chainsets, if the road ones are too high and the mountain ones are too low these might be just right. We also have a short crank chainset available for riders with shorter legs or with knee or hip issues which is 152mm rather than the more standard 170mm. The short cranks reduce the size of the circle that your foot tracks through the pedal rotation and by doing this they reduce the range of angles that your knees and hips go through. We chose a short crank chainset with small chainrings as the smaller levers mean you need smaller gears.

Bar end shifters vs Twist Shifters

There are two types of gear shifters which work well on the vertical handlebars on our trikes, bar end shifters and twist or “grip” shifters. We like bar end shifters and they are standard on most of our trikes. Twist shifters are available as an option on some gearing configurations. There is no better or worse option, it is just about what works better for you. Some people prefer twist shifters and some prefer bar end shifters. The twist shifters are lower in cost and the bar end shifters are simpler and more robust so they will usually last longer.
The main twist shifters we fit are the Sram X5 9 speed twist shifters, they are an affordable, high quality 9 speed twist shifter with a large section to grip and a light action making them ideal for use on the trike. We do not offer 10 speed twist shifters.
The bar end shifters we use are the Shimano Dura Ace in 9 speed and the Sram SL500 for the 10 speed trikes with the SL900 11 speed version being available on the VTX+. We fit our bar end shifters slightly differently from most people. We set ours up so that you can shift to lower gears on the rear derailleur by pushing the shifter forward. This means that as you are pulling on the brakes you can push the shifter with your thumb and get lower gears selected for when you start off again.

Capreo rear cassette vs standard cassette

We offer custom and standard cassettes on our trikes. The custom cassettes have a smaller than standard smallest sprocket which gives a better top gear. This is used on 20” trikes to allow a more useful top gear for fast riding without having to resort to hub gears or giant chain rings which keeps derailleur selection more simple and reduces the overall cost.

The standard cassettes we offer are from sram. They are also more affordable than the custom cassette options so they are great for riders who are looking to make savings on the spec of their trikes and don’t mind taking a rest on the downhills.

8 Speed vs 9 speed vs 10 speed vs 11 speed

All our Sprint and Adventure models are available with 8, 9 or 10 speed drivetrains. (the number of speeds is on the rear cassette, with a triple in front they would traditionally be called 24, 27 and 30 speed)
8 speed systems are low in cost and, although they offer a reduced gear range compared to the 9 or 10 speed options they should be enough for most casual and leisure riders.
9 speed systems are fitted to the majority of our trikes. They have lots of options for different riding styles and are a good balance of performance and price.
10 speed systems are used on the Sprint X and VTX models and available as an option on the other Sprint, Adventure and Full Fat models. They are lighter and more performance oriented than their 9 and 8 speed counterparts. They also offer a greater gear range.
11 speed is offered on the VTX taking advantage of lighter weight race orientated components.

Hub Gear Systems

Hub gear systems are low maintenance, simple to operate and ideal for touring riders. One of the greatest advantages of a hub gear system is the ability to shift gears while at a standstill so that if you have to come to a sudden stop there is no need to pull away in too high of a gear. This is a great advantage for people with knee injuries as it reduces the strain on the joints. We have three main hub gear options:


The Rohloff hub gear has 14 equally spaced gears, with enough gear range to run a single chainring in front. The Rohloff hub is the standard by which other internal gear systems are measured and not many others come close. Unfortunately, the downside to this incredible, German engineered quality, is the price. The Rohloff drivetrain is our most expensive drivetrain option.
The Rohloff is available with a twist shifter only, we modify the standard Rohloff shifter so that the whole grip is rotated to make shifting very ergonomic and simple. Just twist one way for harder gears and the other way for easier gears, nothing else to consider.


The Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub gear has around the same gear range as a standard 9 speed cassette so it works very well when combined with a triple front chainset. This gives a similar range to a standard derailleur system with the rear gearing being enclosed and lower maintenance. The Alfine 8 speed is available with a bar end shifter or a twist shifter. We tend to fit the bar end shifter.




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