Motorcycle Trikes 101

by Jeff Glasser

When we were growing up the normal progression towards riding a two-wheel bicycle began with a tricycle. These three wheels helped us to grow accustom to pedaling and steering while providing the balance of three wheels and minimizing falls. Then we moved up to a two-wheel bicycle with training wheels. The same concept and advantages applied until we were ready to go it alone with only two wheels. Eventually, if we were bold and daring enough, our pedaling was replaced with a high performance motor and our two-wheeled bicycles became a motorcycle.

With the advent of a three-wheeled motorcycle known as a motorcycle trike, today the trend is being kicked backwards. Discovering how a motorcycle trike is created, along with its advantages and disadvantages, is important to know when considering this mode of transportation.

How a Motorcycle Trike Is Created

Prior to actually purchasing a ready-made motorcycle trike, the early day motorcycle trike was created through a conversion process. A conversion kit is needed in converting a two-wheeled motorcycle to trike. It could cost upwards of $9,000 for this conversion kit. It was, and still is, recommended that a professionally qualified conversion mechanic perform the switch.

By removing the rear wheel the conversion is accomplished. This rear wheel is replaced with the bolting on of two wider wheels that sit on the motorcycle’s differential and driveshaft. Other added on features include a rear wheel fender and other accessories selected by the owner. The conversion kit is then painted so that it matches the original motorcycle’s colors.

Advantages

A motorcycle trike features certain advantages over a traditional motorcycle. Stability is the obvious advantage. For example, when stopping for a red light, the driver does not need to straddle their motorcycle while waiting for the light to change. Additionally, when transporting a passenger there is a safety feature. The risk of tipping the bike over and compromising the safety of the passenger is minimized. Some disadvantages of owning a motorcycle trike include compromising your reasons for being a motorcycle enthusiast. You stand out because of the motorcycle’s uniqueness as well as the number of passengers clamoring for a ride, when you’re the owner of a motorcycle trike.

Less efficient gas mileage is another disadvantage. Also, your motorcycle trike will be similar to driving a car, specifically in how you steer.

Finally, if accustomed to riding a two-wheeled motorcycle there will be certain habits that will need to be overcome. Some of these habits include straddling your motorcycle when idling. With the added third wheel this is not necessary. Also, when parked, the transmission will need to be put into gear to prevent the vehicle from moving on its own. In addition, the added third wheel makes the motorcycle trike wider.

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