ICE – Meet the maker of the Polar Cycle

ICE – Meet the maker of the Polar Cycle


I’m Chris Parker. I’m a director of Inspired Cycle Engineering. ICE are based in Falmouth, in Cornwall. We manufacture recumbent tricycles. We started back in the late ’90’s, I suppose. I started working for a guy who was building recumbent trikes at the time. They were then called the ‘Trice’ I wanted a job and he wanted to retire, so I bought him out using my business
partner Neil’s money and we went into business together
manufacturing the trikes. A recumbent tricycle is three-wheeled cycle, pedal cycle, that you sit in, with a backrest and a little base, basically a hammock seat. and you sit there, with your feet in front of you in a very relaxed position, very
comfortable, Basically they’re go-carts for adults but they are very serious pieces of kit that you can ride all over the world
on; they are expedition tough, and very comfortable and a lot of fun. Well, the Polar Cycle here was was a a project that we started in
the summer of last year, 2013, and we were approached to build a trike for an expedition that
were trying to cycle from the edge of the Antarctic to the pole. Many people have tried to cycle in the Antarctic, but no body had managed to cycle the whole way. People had taken bikes but basically found that they were un-ridable, the headwinds are too strong the climbs a too steep, the going is too
soft in places it’s just too much like hard work. So we were approached to design and
build a trike that could do it. Why a trike? Because of the inherent stability
of trikes, their aerodynamics, the way they
can cut through a headwind is really handy. So you’ve got the stability. Load-carrying, you can just pile them up with stuff, they don’t wobble about at slow speeds they just sit there and
grind their way forward. This was never going to be a race about speed it was
always going to be a a battle in attrition, if you like, just can you just keep going, can you build a machine that just will not stop
whatever gets put in front of it. And so that’s what we set about
designing. Obviously the fat bike tires, the biggest as you can get to sit on top of as
much snow as possible so you sink as little as possible. The biggest nobles we get on the back
wheel for the extra traction. A massive rack to carry all the gear that was going to be needed. And strong, you know, this machine must
not fail. People are putting their lives, the rider is putting their life on the line, for this, so it had to be really strong, it had to stay together, it had to do it in one go. Trying to repair a trike in not just sub-zero, but in minus 40 degrees celcius temperatures wasn’t gonna
happen – it had to be tough and it had to make it in one go. Some of the big challenges we knew we were going to face with the trike was getting it
up really steep ascents. The Leverette Glacier is a formidable
climb, it was going to take days and days to climb this glacier, so gearing, low, low gearing, was going to be essential. You’re not just battling against the snow but
against the steep climb as well. So that’s why we put, obviously, mountain bike gears but then divided that by two so they gave a half as, half what you’d expect on a normal
mountain bike, so gearing. Gear speed, if you like pedalling speed, two and a half miles an hour to a top speed of about 12. We also fitted Q-rings because they are really great when cadence drops off when you’re
pushing up a hill that oval chain ring really aids the pedals just keep you moving. Everything about this trike was about, was aimed towards, keeping it moving, no matter how slow, just keep in moving
forwards. So December 2013 came around, the machine went out to Antarctica and battle commenced, as it were. And it
was a tense, tense, few days. All we could do with
sits and watch as the GPS signals were sent out and put out on the internet, and every three hours a new
position was posted, and we just watched it like hawks as
this little dot slowly moved across the map, and there were tense moments when things went, you know, progress is very slow and then, oh wow, nearly 3, 4 miles
an hour flying along at the moment! Anyway, ten days later, ten days after the start, there the little dot was, right on the South Pole, and we were really delighted. 27th December, the machine had made it in 10 days 14 hours in a few minutes, and, yeah, we were well made up. It became the fastest human powered journey from the edge of the continent to the Pole, and it was the first pedal cycle ever to ride every single inch of the
way So, we were really made up.

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