To start the ball rolling on figuring out which trike works best for me here are some of initial thoughts that matter to me regarding the Catrike 700, ICE Sprint 26fs and Catrike Expedition.
Non Rack Storage - I like to have enough storage for basic items like tools, tubes and so on without having to use a rear rack. I also need enough room to stash away a vest and jacket. I would like to be able to do this without the need to have a rack to hang bags on. Both Catrikes have reasonable storage without having to use a rear rack with panniers or trunk bag. The under seat storage along with the custom frame bags for the Catrikes provide enough storage for basic day rides. The ICE Sprint 26fs lacks in this department. It has a small narrow storage compartment at the top of the mesh seat. You can add a custom storage bag that fits to the back of the seat that can hold a few extra items but not enough for my needs on cold days. The Catrike Expedition is the best for storage when not using a rear rack.
Rear Racks - Rear racks are nice to have in certain situations but I don't consider them a "must have" item. Both Catrikes can accommodate any number of secondary market rear racks that can accommodate panniers and a trunk bag. The ICE Sprint26fs requires a custom rack from ICE. Because of the 26" suspended rear wheel the rack does not have a top rack. It can only accommodate panniers, no top bag.
Folding - Having a folding trike is a real positive for me but it's not an end all if I don't have a folder. Catrikes 700 and Expedition don't fold. ICE Sprint 26fs does fold. I've gotten along by fine without a folder but it would be nice to have one.
Brakes - I prefer mechanical brakes rather then hydraulic brakes. Cables are easy to maintain on and off the road. The Catrikes come standard with BBS mechanical brakes. The ICE Sprint26fs only comes with hydraulic brakes. The front suspension setup necessitates the use of mirrored brakes. The brakes that fill this requirement happen to be hydraulic only. Aside from maintenance concerns hydraulic brakes are nice.
Simplicity - I like trikes that are simple in design, and easy to maintain. The ICE Sprint 26fs is a beautifully engineered trike but it does require a level of maintenance that may be a bit much for some to maintain at home. The Catrike 700 and Expedition are more basic and relatively easy to maintain. The indirect steering and front tires of the Sprint takes considerably more effort to align then the Catrikes with it's direct steering. The hydraulic brakes require more knowledge to maintain then the mechanical brakes. The suspension of the Sprint, although simple, still requires monitoring. The Catrike 700 and Expedition have no suspension which leads me to my next point. I personally look forward to new challenges and maintaining the Sprint should prove to be no problem.
Suspension - The condition of the roads throughout the Central Coast can vary widely. I need to soften up the ride without sacrificing to much speed or weight. Right now some form of light suspension is a must. Whether mechanical suspension like on the Sprint or suspension in form of larger lower pressure tires to be used on the 700 or Expedition, some softening of my ride is a must. What works best is the subject of future posts after a few test rides.
All the items mentioned above with the exception of suspension are not deal breakers. In my next post I'll focus on suspension.