3×700 wheels on a tadpole trike?

There are several threads over at the BentRider Online Forums about mounting 26″ or 700c wheels to the front of an ICE Sprint (here and here) instead of the stock 20″ wheels.
At least two guy’s did the conversion and their results are promising. Faster top speed, smother ride on tarmac and gravel sound good, a bigger turning radius of 6.5m compared to 5.8m of a stock Sprint isn’t that much of a price to pay. Defying common wisdom both riders found out these big wheeled trikes aren’t more prone to tipp over around corners than equipped with 20″ wheels either.

Perry Butler’s 3×700 ICE Sprint NT, called the ‘Vortex+ Killer’ looks quite impressive to say the least:

Images: Perry Butler

The 3×700 ICE QNT Jim Bolf build even more so with its carbon Deep Vee rims, carbon seat and red/black color combination (more images of Jims QNT project here):

Images: Jim Bolf

I’m tempted to follow their path. Unfortunately I have to lift and tilt my Sprint through a door and with the big front wheels it would be a major hustle or couldn’t go through that door at all. But 24″ front wheels would fit…

The downside would be the rather small selection of quality 24″ tires. Having changed my rear wheel from 20″ to 26″ and now 24″ in the last month and compared the different riding characteristics of my Sprint (still 20″ front wheels) I have a good feeling about a 24″ front and 26″ or better 28″ (700c, 29″) rear wheel setup. I’ve to look what kind of wide rims are available.

Update April 14. 2014
Took some time to find some sturdy 25mm wide 24″ Grossman downhill rims at Ebay. They were only made with 32 spoke holes but Gingko Spezialradteile offers custom 70mm and 90mm Sturmey Archer drum brake hubs shells with 28 and 32 spoke holes beside the stock 36 spoke hole version. The 90mm hubs arrived two days ago and now I finally got 24″ front wheels for my Sprint.


24″ look not as impressive as 26″ front wheels but give a way better ride on rough roads than 20″ wheels. The Sprint has a less nimble steering now that requires noticeably more force to steer. More like a cruiser than a race bike.

Update August 5. 2015
Well, the ‘old’ Sprint got a nose and rolls on 3×24″ wheels now. The front suspension had to go since handling with the big front wheels is much better without it.

ICE Sprint 3x24

While the new Blue ICE currently got 3×26″ wheels:

Blue ICE 3x26_right

Update August 31. 2015
After some wheel swopping, I’ve finally settled for 24″ wheels at the front and 26″ wheel at the rear. It’s currently shod with 55mm wide Schwalbe Big Ben. Without the ICE front suspension the steering is nimble, corner handling is very good and the wide tyres provide a comfortable ride.

Blue ICE 24-26_Big Ben_left

The black Sprint got its 20″ front wheels back. I really like the setup with 20″ wheels at the front and a fat 24″ wheel at the rear. This way I can choose between two very different, but both very nice handling trikes.

Update May 23. 2017
An other take on the big frontwheel craze.

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9 Responses to 3×700 wheels on a tadpole trike?

  1. Keith says:

    One reason trikes use larger wheels is they handle the side loading from cornering better, since you can’t lean a trike like a bicycle.

    • John. says:

      In what way?
      I would have thought they’d flex much more than a 20″.

    • Marc says:

      Thats unfortunately not true. Smaller 20″ wheels handle side loads better than bigger wheels since the leverage on bigger wheels is greater as well. My 26″ rear wheel flexes noticably more in corners than the 20″ and 24″ rear wheels I used.

  2. Maciej says:

    Larger wheels roll easier so it’s good investment going into big wheels. Non-tilting 20″ wheels will get broken spokes after some time of intense use (just read reports of guys riding velomobiles). I would not dramatize about “side loading” on big wheels. Small wheels also give a lot of side load for spokes.

    • Marc says:

      I haven’t had any broken spokes at my 20″ front wheels in more than 11,000km. Broken spokes are no real concern if you check for correct spoke tension from time to time.
      The guys with broken spokes are most likely riding Quests or Milans with closed wheel wells and didn’t check spoke tension for some time. 😀

      I’m still riding 20″ front wheels btw. The 24″ rear wheel grew back to 26″ for more ground clearance .
      I haven’t found proper wide 24″ rims yet and money is a bit too tight to throw €300-400 at a solution for a problem that doesn’t really exist.

  3. Pat Jones says:

    I’m giving thought to either building a 700c tadpole or building one from the ground up. I asked about this elsewhere and one response was 700c in the front had more of a tendency to “taco” and was advised not to convert to 700’s. I found out toward the end of the discussion that the other person worked at a bike shop that sold trikes. (“Come down and ride one of ours.”) not sure if the guy was being honest or steering me so I completely disregarded his conversation.

    • Marc says:

      If you choose some sturdy, double walled, 700c rims with 36 spokes, there shouldn’t be a problem with the big wheels. Have a look at the trike forum at BentRider and ask you questions there. Most likely Jimbo and Perry will answer and will give good advice.

  4. Tony Grant says:

    I know it is an older page Marc but you are the encyclopedia!

    Did you try 20 ” Big Bens on your trikes front wheels? I upgraded the stock Trykers to Big Ben Plus and it is a different trike! I wanted to jump into 24″ wheels straight away but they don’t fit in my storage space at the bottom of the stairs. I could have done some research and ordered a trike with QR kingpins… But that wasn’t in my budget (think back to your first post in 2012 🙂 )

    I will have to move to a new apartment (it is planned) before fitting 24″ front wheels or maybe 3 x 26″… Or two wheelsets…

    • Marc says:

      Yes, the black Sprint (the ‘Black ICE’) with front suspension got 20″ Big Ben at the front wheels. Its currently ‘out of order’ since I stripped it for a much needed maintanance after serving two Winters as my commuter and didn’t put it back togeter yet.

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