TW-Bents is new to the USA but not new to the trike manufacturing business. TW Bents has been manufacturing trikes since 1999. TW-Bents builds trikes for a number of different brands in the USA, Japan and Europe.
Frame: The frame on the TW-Bents Artifice is made out of 100% Cro-moly steel, TIG welded together in Taiwan. The tubing is shaped and manipulated to optimized the frame for strength but not sacrifice the ride in any way. The welds are beautiful and equal to the best trikes in the industry. TW-Bents hinges show no flex and was easy to operate.
Paint: TW-Bents paint jobs are as good as you could ask for, no thin spots, runs or paint imperfections. The gloss blue paint on our sample trike reminded me of those 1980’s bass boat paint jobs. The metallic TW-Bents added to the paint really made the metallic pop and sparkle. The decals are then applied and the final step is a nice clear coat over everything to keep everything looking nice for a long time.
Drive Train: The shifting is superb on the TW-Bents Artifice. The Artifice comes with a premium SRAM Centera twenty four speed shifter set. The front and rear derailleur are Shimano Sora which gives the artifice it’s above average drive-train performance.
Brakes: The mechanical disc brakes with the Tektro brake levers, stops the trike consistently and had no brake rub. I have no issue with the mechanical brakes that TW-Bents chose for the Artifice, they are simple, reliable and easy to adjust. A super convenient feature on the brakes are that each brake pad can be adjusted independently so you can really dial in your brake adjustment. TW-Bents chose a simple push button to lock the brake on. ICE trike chose a different route by adding a brake to the rear wheel and a remote shifter to control the brake. This works well but added almost a pound to the ICE trikes.
Seat: Both of our trike testers found the seat to be comfortable. The seat is extra tall so taller riders should find it more enjoyable. The seat is contoured nicely for lower back support and has a nice breathable fabric down the center. The sides are padded with a foam, to offer a bit more support and pad the aluminum seat frame. The seat back can be adjusted from 38-54 degrees. Behind the seat there is a removable pocket that is large enough for a cell phone, tube, CO2, and mini tool kit.
Ride: I really liked the ride on the Artifice, the Cro-Moly frame did a fantastic job at soaking up the bumps. Not only did I think the ride was comfortable for my 170 Lbs. body but Nathan our other trike tester who is 300 Lbs. was very surprised by the ride and handling. TW-Bents uses Ackermann steering principals on the Artifice with it indirect steering. Greenspeed, Trident, HP and ICE all use the Ackermann design. The steering was spot on, no hint of brake steer or pedal steer, the steering is very predictable and precise. I am sure some of the above average ride quality came from the twenty six inch rear wheel. The Artifice seat height is eleven inches and the bottom bracket is eighteen inches. The higher than average bottom bracket height makes the Artifice feel like a high performance go fast trike but without the super low seat height.
Accessory: The quick release fenders may be just the ticket for some people. The fenders are probably the lightest on the market. The fenders offer a little less protection than the fenders from HP, ICE and Catrike but the quick release was unique and worked fine. The neck rest is probably the best on the market offering a very comfortable feel.
In conclusion: The TW-Bents Artifice has a very nice ride. I was very impressed with the Artifice ability to absorb bumps. The handling was spot on and better than many other trikes on the market. All the frame braze-ons were nicely positioned and there was no need for any plastic wire ties to hold any cabling. For someone looking for a trike that they can stuff inside a small area, keep looking, but for someone that folding feature is not so important, the Artifice is worth a good look.
Pros: Light for a Cro-Mo frame, above average seat comfort, above average ability to absorb road shock and a very adjustable angle seat.
Cons: Does not fold small. We would have liked to see a flat fold, like on the HP Gekko 26.
Best place to buy: Your local Bike dealer or www.industrialbicycles.com