I had the opportunity to test both the TW-Bents Artifice and Trident back to back at TW-Bents USA distributor Industrialbicycle in Dearborn, Michigan. When most people think of Dearborn, Michigan, they think Ford Motor Company. Ford World Headquarters is on the same road as Industrialbicycles and only about two miles east of their location. I have had the opportunity to ride the trike on the famous Edward Hines Drive which is a very busy road but not for cars but for bikes. There is a nice smooth blacktop path along the side of the road for cyclist, skaters and walkers. The hard core cyclists ride the shoulder of the road and car traffic seems to be at a minimum within the park. The Industrialbicycles staff said Edward Hines Drive it the best spot in the area for riding and that they ride it often. Starting in Dearborn you can ride all the way to Northville, a 40 miles round trip.
Visiting Industrialbicycles, you will find 37 different trikes on their showroom floor and somewhere around six hundred trikes in their warehouse.
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 Trident 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. All the cable routing was smartly ran through braze-ons attached to the frame. TW-Bents did a real nice job at finding the right placement for the braze-ons so you do not have to put those ugly plastic wire ties around the the frame. I noticed an extra set of braze-ons on the rear of the frame and was surprised to see that they ran back to where you could add a disc rear brake. The disc rear brake mount was so cleanly made, you barley notice it added to the frame. Rack fittings were also brazed onto the back of the frame and there are spots to add a rear fender as well.
Paint: The gloss mango paint job on the Trident is as good as you could ask for. No thin spots, runs or paint imperfections. 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 derailleur is a Shimano Sora and rear derailleur is a Microshift which gives the artifice it’s above average drive-train performance. Microshift is a lesser known brand compared to Shimano and SRAM, but gaining popularity very quickly in the bike business. The Microshift derailleurs are also manufactured in Taichung, Taiwan, the same place that TW-Bent manufactures their trikes and bikes.
Brakes: The mechanical disc brakes and 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 Trident. Tchey 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 Tektro brake levers with a simple push button which allows the brake to be lock in the on position. ICE trike chose a different route, by adding a brake to the rear wheel and a remote shifter to control the parking brake. This works well but added almost a pound to the ICE brand trikes. A rear disc brake can be added to the Trident as an additional parking brake or for someone who wished to upgrade the front brake to hydraulic brakes.
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 of the seat fabric are padded with a foam, to offer a bit more support and pad the aluminum seat frame. The seat can be easily removed by loosening the two quick releases under the seat. The seat angle is not adjustable but felt just right. With all the curving on the seat frame, the angle is difficult to measure but I found it to be around 47 degrees. Clamp on water bottle cages can easily be mounted to the back of the seat frame and the seat frame has two flag mounts welded on.
Ride: I really liked the ride on the Trident. 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. TW-Bents uses both direct and indirect steering on there trikes. The Trident uses direct steering like Catrike and Terratrike. The steering was spot on, no hint of brake steer or pedal steer, the steering is very predictable and precise. The Trident ran straight even when pedaling hard and not holding onto the handlebars. Personally, I felt the steering was just a tad heavy but I am sure that is why it went so well in a straight line. I am sure some of the above average ride quality came from the twenty-six inch rear wheel. The Trident seat height is twelve inches and the bottom bracket is seventeen inches. The higher than average bottom bracket height makes the Trident feel like a high performance, go fast trike but without the super low seat height.
Accessory: The neck rest is probably the best on the market, offering a very comfortable feel.
In conclusion: The TW-Bents Trident has a very nice ride. I was very impressed with the Trident’s 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 Trident is worth a good look.
Pros: Light for a Cro-Mo frame 42.5 Lbs, above average seat comfort, above average ability to absorb road shock.
Cons: Does not fold small. We would have liked to see a flat fold, like on the ICE Adventure Trikes, no pocket on rear of seat for carrying small things like a wallet, cellphone, pump and spare inter tube. At this time there is no front mudguard option.
Best place to buy: Your local Bike dealer or www.truebicycles.com or www.industrialbicycles.com
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