Iceni's electrically-assisted cargo trike is capable of carrying some serious loads and it's the kind of thing you might look at instead of a van if you have a lot to carry and not far to carry it. The trike itself is a lovely thing and surprisingly easy to pilot; the pedal assist is very much a bolt on and feels like it at times; it's also a bit hampered by the e-bike regulations on maximum power and it could do with a better basic spec. Overall it's a likeable machine and one with a small niche but not that much competition; it's worth a look if your needs match up with its strengths, but really it would benefit from a better motor.
The people behind the Iceni trikes, which are based in Wiltshire, have form for three-wheelers. Adam Read and Dennis Mapp have huge experience of cargo trikes after working with Bath-based Cycles Maximus for many years. The Iceni trike feels a bit like a development of that machine, or a refinement: it's lighter, with a tubular rather than a box construction, and the overall look is more pleasing and less workaday. That's not to say they've skimped on construction: the Iceni Cargo can carry 180kg of gear in its 92x107cm rear-mounted open box. There's an optional alloy van add on with lockable doors, or a fibreglass postal add on with side doors. If you want something other than the open trailer, Iceni can build to order.
The Iceni has two 48-spoke, 24” wheels at the back and a 20” BMX wheel at the front, all with big-chamber dirt tyres for a bit of extra cushioning without affecting rolling resistance too much. The bike has a derailleur setup and a limited slip differential; if you plump for a non-powered trike then you get a triple chainset whereas the electric version uses a single front chainring. The motor is a Sunstar retrofittable crank unit which fits through a standard bottom bracket, so Iceni can use the same frame for powered and non-powered builds. There's a simple LED bar control and the 324Wh battery is housed in the cargo area on a square seat section. Overall the motor adds just over £1,000 to the cost, with a spare battery costing another £300. The total for our trike, including the spare battery, would be £5,032
The bike uses a V-brake at the front with a parking lock lever, and at the back you get twin 180mm Magura hydraulic discs actuated from a single lever. All in all the electric cargo trike weighs in at 52kg, so it's no lightweight. Nor is it particularly easy to store, although you can flip it up on its end for a smaller footprint. The riding position is nice and upright thanks to the Iceni's super-tall bars (with their trademark circular tube in the middle) and you get a rear-view mirror to see what's happening behind you. There's no front light but there's a rechargeable rear light on each of the two rear mudguards.
Dave says: after time on the nimble and very bike-like eBullitt STEPS the Iceni is a bit of a juggernaut. It's horses for courses though: this thing is designed to carry up to 200kg and the eBullitt can't match that. You'll not be doing much filtering on this trike though, it feels like a full-sized vehicle.
The ride position is upright and central and it's a very easy thing to get around on once you've clipped the kerb a couple of times and worked out just how wide it is. And you can't half get a lot of stuff in it. There's no load I can think of that I'd need to carry on a day-to-day basis that I wouldn't get in this thing. Really the target market is businesses, and you can imagine getting through a whole lot of deliveries in a day with the Iceni.
Not at any great pace, mind: riding the Iceni is a leisurely pursuit as it's geared very low: the nine speeds need to include a gear for climbing with a full load, so top gear isn't really much use for anything above 12mph. That's fine though, and it picks up speed quickly enough once you head downhill; the trike feels very stable at speed. Cornering a trike takes a bit of getting used to but after a while I was throwing it round corners without a second thought. If you lift the inside wheel then you do tend to get the motor spinning it if you stay on the power. But that's part of the fun, right?
The big twin hydraulic disc brake setup scrubs off speed with ease. The front V-brake is a useful bit of extra stopping power and the ratchet brake lever, which pulls the brake on and keeps it there, is the only parking brake the Iceni has. Really it needs a better one that locks the rear wheels: I wouldn't be comfortable leaving it loaded on any kind of slope with just the V-brake holding it. The bike could also use a fixed lock on the rear wheels to negate the need to carry a chain around. It's not like anyone's going to pick it up and wander off with it, after all.
The motor is okay, but a bit underpowered for the job. That's partly a reflection on the EU laws which limit maximum power to the same 250W for everything. If that wasn't the case you'd fit this trike with something at least twice as powerful. You don't need more speed, just more grunt.
That being said, not all 250W motors are the same. The Sunstar S03+ motor with its 40Nm of torque isn't exactly top of the pile, power-wise. Sunstar have a new motor, the Virtus, with 50% more torque that would be an easy swap for the current one as it still uses a standard bottom bracket. Fitting something like a Bosch Performance Line CX motor, or the new Shimano STEPS E8000 motor would require a different frame and would make the Iceni more expensive, but it would be a much more usable machine as a result. If I was looking at this trike as an investment for my business I'd pay the extra for a better system. This Iceni is exactly the kind of machine that the new Bosch dual battery setup is perfect for. You could have 1,000Wh of juice, enough for deliveries all day, and almost twice as much torque on tap. The 324Wh battery supplied is enough for about 15km of mixed riding, meaning that you really need to have a spare (£300) to hand. You'd be much better off just plumbing two in to start with.
The finishing kit of the Iceni is a mix. The tyres are excellent and the full mudguards work very well but it really needs an integrated lighting system. The two rechargeable blinkies at the back aren't enough for a vehicle of this size, and a front light is a necessity on a trike you'll be using year-round. The trademark bars feel solid and give a good ride position and the whole trike feels well finished.
I liked the Iceni; in the current assisted build, though, I felt like it was a bit short of the mark. If you're paying over £5,000 for a cargo trike then you'd be better off spending a bit more for a better motor and a proper lighting system; that's the sort of build I'd like to see Iceni work towards.