Walter and his motorcycle trike
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Motorcycle Trikes

By Walter F. Kern

Motorcycle trikes are strange and exciting 3-wheel motorcycles

Motorcycle TrikesA strange new motorcycle has recently been seen by some motorists - a motorcycle trike. They encounter the motorcycle trike at gas pumps and on the interstate highways. They see the motorcycle trike glistening way up ahead on the road and can't quite figure out what it is. They speed up to get a better look.

Kids roll down the windows and yell, "Hey, what is that thing?"

The owner of this likeable 3-wheeled vehicle just smiles back and says, "It's a trike."

For most people this is not enough information. If they happen to see you standing next to your motorcycle trike at a gas pump or in a parking lot, they come over briskly before you know they're there and barrage you with questions. If you desire the solitary life with your motorcycle, never convert it to a motorcycle trike.

I knew that motorcycle trikes were attention getters but you really find out when you own one.

When I converted my white 1998 Gold Wing SE motorcycle to a trike for my wife, I found that I was totally ignored and everyone was drawn to her trike as if it were a magnet. Then when I found that the advantages of the trike were starting to become more obvious to me, I decided to convert my own 2000 Gold Wing SE to a trike also. Double trouble! Now we had to field questions about both conversions.

The following are the stock motorcycle trike questions we get asked all the time. Please memorize these so you can help inform your own friends and family should you come upon a trike minding its own business:

    Q: "How much does that cost?"

    A: "First you have to buy a Gold Wing motorcycle for $15-20K and then get a trike conversion done. That could cost you as much as $9K more."

    Q: "Can I buy one of those?"

    A: "Yes, if you can find one for sale already put together. Otherwise, you'll have to have a trike conversion done on a Gold Wing motorcycle. The cost? See question, above."

    Q: "Who makes that?"

    A: "There are a number of trike conversion companies with dealers scattered across the USA and Canada. Honda doesn't make it. They only provide the motorcycle part. You have to add the back part from a trike conversion company. They remove the rear wheel and saddlebags and bolt-on the rear section consisting of two wide automotive wheels, a differential and new driveshaft, fenders, and rear trunk. They paint it to match the colors of the bike."

    Q: "Can you buy a trike kit for a Harley or something different from Honda?"

    A: "Yes."

    Q: "I heard that 3-wheelers were unstable and were banned."

    A: "That was the old 3-wheel ATVs that Honda made that were tipping over. These new motorcycle trikes have a low center of gravity, a 6-cylinder engine, a shaft drive, extremely wide rear tires and are very stable under all conditions encountered on the road."

Trikes have many advantages over regular motorcycles:

  • You don't have to put your feet down when you stop.

  • You can take a passenger without fear that you will tip over the bike and spill the passenger into the road. Most significant others like this feature. Some wives, in fact, have refused to ride pillion with their husbands until they converted their bike to a trike.

  • You can ride over metal grated bridges with no fear.

  • You can take the trike down a dirt or gravel road with ease.

  • You won't get fatigued in stop and go traffic.

More about the disadvantages of trikes after the ads

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Trikes do have some disadvantages over motorcycles:

  • They get poorer gas mileage.

  • You won't be able to drag your knee on the twisties.

  • You have to make sure you get it in gear when stopped or it may roll away to parts unknown.

  • You have to resist the temptation to put your foot down when you stop, otherwise, the rear wheel may run over your foot.

  • You have to remember that the rear end is wider than the front or you may run into the island at your favorite gas station or toll booth.

  • And most important, you steer a trike like a car -- countersteering doesn't work. Most newbie trike owners who forget this last point suddenly find themselves in the wrong lane headed toward oncoming traffic. Some have even tried to mow a patch of flowers on the side of the road when they pushed the left handlebar grip to go left and the trike went right. Very embarrassing.

Some riders want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to be able to ride their trike and then, just like superman, have it magically convert into a bike when they want to ride on 2-wheels. These folks are riding the Voyager conversion that looks like a trike but in a few minutes can be changed back to a bike. Very devious.

Here are a few more comments I've heard on the road about trikes:

    "I used to have a Servi-Car."

    "Now, I could ride that."

    "That is so beautiful."

    "Did you see that motorcycle? It had 3-wheels. Like a motorcycle with training wheels."

Trikes are becoming more commonplace at rallies. At the recent Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) Wing Ding Rally in Greenville, SC, we pulled into a local Steak-n-Shake for breakfast on Jane's white trike. After breakfast we walked out to the trike only to find that it was now sandwiched in by two other white trikes. Apparently, those trikes seeing another white trike at the Steak-n-Shake, just gained steering control from their owners to make the acquaintance of Jane's trike. How else can you explain it?

I hope that this information on the new kid on the motorcycling scene will benefit you in your travels. Watch for the trikes, especially the ones that are parked surrounded by the curious. If the owners are not about, please lend a helping hand by approaching the trike and answering a few questions. I guarantee that you will hear the same questions discussed in this article. You now have the answers.

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