MOTORCYCLE TRIKES: Are Three Wheels Better Than Two?

Here's The "Skinny" On What Many Think Is

Relative Safety....No Fear Of Balancing. No Having To Support The Weight.

Great Looks....Often Great Comfort.

Sounds Like The Pinnacle Of Motorcycling???


Here is a link to pictures of the 3 wheelers I have owned. it's the blue link directly below this sentence.


A Honda 3 Wheel Motorcycle or a 3 Wheel Motorcycle Honda will bring a riding satisfaction unequaled by other motorcycle rides. A trike of any brand will do it.

If you haven't ridden a trike or been involved with motorcycle trikes, you are really missing something! I am sure you have seen these awesome machines riding down the road and you have turned your head to get a look.

I am speaking as a current owner of one, not just as a commentator. Adding a third wheel to your motorcycle creates an amazing riding experience, has certain safety benefits, and gets bunches of attention.

My first trike was a 1997 Goldwing SE Honda with a Motor Trike conversion. Since then I have had the privilege of owning several motorcycle trikes...numerous 1500 goldwing trikes...two 1800 goldwing trikes...a Valkyrie Interstate Lehman Trike, a 2000 Valkyrie Interstate California Sidecar Trike that I still currently own, a Boss Hoss V-8 Chevy Truck Trike and numerous others that I have forgotten to mention.

There are tricks to riding a motorcycle trike. When I first road tested my trike prior to purchase, it scared the "poop" out of me and I almost wrecked it. Seriously!!....LOL. So let me help the newcomers to trike riding before you scare yourself to death and decide that a trike isn't for you which was my initial impression.

Riding a trike is easy once you grasp onto the concept. However, it's totally different from riding a two-wheeled motorcycle. Leaning is not of consequence on a trike...not really...whereas that is how you turn a 2-wheeled motorcycle in normal curves...through leaning. Ok, so we now know that leaning is not how to turn.


The trike is turned by pushing your handlebar either to the left or to the right...much like a riding lawnmower or an atv. The turning is done carefully...NO SUDDEN MOVEMENTS. A small movement of the handlebar will do a lot; the trike is generally very responsive to the moves in the handlebars. So, start out your test ride very slowly and remember this...the faster you go, the less cumbersome the trike becomes. It will feel heavy and it's a handfull while riding slowly but when you're at cruising speeds, the trike lightens up and is truly a pleasure to ride

Some of the advantages of a trike in this rider's opinion are as follows. You can stop at a stoplight and not worry about your footing or retaining your balance. This can be a big deal on a wet road or if you're getting older and having trouble balancing your motorcycle at a stop or perhaps if you have a medical condition such as a bad knee, etc but love to ride. That is why you often see many riders of advanced age riding a trike. A trike can give you better control in wet weather and wet roads. A motorcycle trike can offer much in terms of luggage capacity and rider comfort and if you tow a trailer with it the luggage capacity is almost as good as a car.

You can buy a completed trike new or as a used machine (like I did) or you can convert your own motorcycle to a motorcycle trike. There are several known quality brands; Lehman, Motortrike, California Side Car, Champion, Hannigan....just to name a few and in no particular order. There is even one brand that you can switch back and forth from a trike to a motorcycle without that much effort but in my opinion this is an inferior product and I much prefer a conventional trike. There are many other brands that are high quality that I didn't mention. If you're handy mechanically, you can probably do the conversion yourself using your own motorcycle and tools. Cost of the kits vary in price depending on the options, etc. Personally, if I was going to convert my own motorcycle to a motorcycle trike, I am having the work done by a qualified technician.

Some motorcycle "purists" would contend that a motorcycle trike is not motorcycling; that it is not acceptable to a "real" biker. A REAL biker respects other bikers and their machines, even if different from theirs. Many people who have certain medical conditions that love to ride motorcycles but are physically unable to are able to stay with the sport as now they can ride without having to worry about balance or the weight of the machine being too much for them.

Folks, whatever a person rides, respect him or her for the fact that they are brethren in the hobby or passion that we call motorcycle riding. We are all motorcycle riders, regardless of the shape or size of their ride.


One of the first things I would consider when purchasing a motorcycle trike is the climate in which I will primarily ride. Is it exceptionally hot like Phoenix, Tucson, or El Paso, TX?? If so, I would stay definitely with a trike that has a water cooled engine for the sake of the motor lasting a long time before needing major engine work. If you are in a cooler climate, then you can also consider a motorcycle trike with an air cooled engine. Bet you never thought of that...and it's important.

Now..what is the primary ride that you will be doing on your motorcycletrike? Will you be riding cross-country...maybe towing a trailer? Or is your ride mostly recreational in town riding...maybe commuting...going to a bike show...maybe a short 150-200 mile jaunt?? This should help you consider the size of the trike that you really need. You may not need that fully optioned Goldwing Trike. This is a good consideration for both your pocketbook (wallet) and the enjoyment you will experience when riding your motorcycletrike. I suggest you be honest with yourselves here. Because if you're not going to be really doing the long haul very often with your motorcycletrike, it might be in your best interest to look for something smaller than the grandiose picture you perhaps had of the motorcycle trike you thought you wanted to purchase. Also, gas mileage should be a consideration here, especially considering the price of gasoline these days.

I think one of the things to look for in your purchase is an option called "Easy Steer" which is basically additional rake added to the front fork of the other words, an extension or lengthening of the overall wheelbase by having the front forks extend further out in front of you. This is a complex operation and should be completed by a professional motorcycle technician. And if possible buy your trike with it already installed. And without being too skeptical, if the person says the trike he is selling has it...see if he can come up with the paperwork to prove it. If he is not the original owner, he may not be able to and it very well could have "Easy Steer" on the trike. The original owner should be able to come up with the paperwork to prove it. Adding it yourself could easily be a $1000-$1500 cost to your purchase.

Everybody talks about "Independent Suspension" and I suppose if your motorcycletrike has's a nice thing to have. But for the average rider...he or she probably won't be able to tell the difference in my opinion. The one nice thing about the independent suspension is that the motorcycletrikes that have it usually have disc brakes in the rear whereas many of your solid axle motorcycletrikes which is the majority have drum brakes in the rear. Again, the average ride probably can't tell the difference unless of course, the drum brakes get wet and then they lose their efficiency unlike disc brakes which work ok even when wet.

A reverse gear is a very nice option to have. However, if your motorcycletrike is not one of the real big's really not that hard to push back..even for a smaller person. A reverse in mose cases can be added for additional cost even if your trike doesn't currently have one. Check with your various shops for availability and cost.

I really enjoyed writing this article. It truly was a "Labor Of Love" for me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I would sure appreciate your input and feedback and some articles on your relationship with a motorcycle trike. Just use the invitation below to submit.

Enjoy riding your trike but if you're shy, I don't recommend getting one as you'll be causing head-turning everywhere you go and they'll be looking AT YOU.

Thanks again and come back soon.

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