Motorcycle info about licenses, trikes, sidecars, scooters and more!
Trike motorcycles are gaining popularity, especially as the baby-boomer population ages. Regardless of a rider’s age, three-wheeled street bikes have a cool factor that is hard to resist!
There are a few ways to go about becoming a three-wheeler owner. We discuss those here as we show several examples and explore the variety of manufacturers of conversion kits.
Three-wheeled motorcycles keep getting better as manufacturers are making better engineered conversion kits, more attractive body panels and more dealers networks to build, support and service these machines.
Of course, becoming a trike owner does not come cheap. A brand new three-wheeled motorcycle, based on a Shadow 750 will be a little over $15,000, but most larger displacement new three-wheelers can easily cost $25,000. A fully equipped touring model can be near $40,000, and you may want to tow a matching trailer with it too.
A Harley-Davidson or a Honda GoldWing trike are always among the top choices for riders, and probably always will be because of the heavy-duty nature of these full size touring motorcycles. Harley-Davidson now sells a Street Glide three-wheeler ($27,499 for 2011 model).
Most of the manufacturers listed below have conversion kits for Honda GoldWing and Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles. However; many of these trike conversion companies are doing some really cool conversions based other motorcycles too. We should also point out that we did not include the Can-Am Spyder in this guide, but it is a fantastic machine too.
Conversion kits currently offered by California Sidecar are the Harley Daytona, Volusia, and Custom trike kit; Honda Cobra, Sport, Valkyrie, and Valkyrie Interstate kit; and the Yamaha Vantage kit. The Vantage kit is for 2006 and up Stratoliner and Roadliner conversions and starts at $7895. Warranty for the kits is 3 years/50k miles. californiasidecar.com
Now Champion Trikes offers kits for Sportster trike (cost about $5k), Harley FL trike with independent rear suspension, GoldWing GL 1500 and GL1800 trike with independent rear suspension (cost about $8k), Harley Softail, Honda VTX 1300, VTX 1800 and VTX 1800 with independent rear suspension, and a Yamaha Road Star trike kit too. championsidecars.com
Conversion kits for Harley-Davidson motorcycles are available for FL, Softail, Dyna, Road Glide, Sportster and custom jobs too.
Honda kits are available for GL1500, GL1800 and Valkyrie. dfttrikes.com
Hannigan Trikes – Hannigan Motorsports is located in Murray, Kentucky USA. Hannigan has recently added a Harley-Davidson VRod trike kit (about $8k base price), and an Indian Chief kit (also about $8k base price).
Hannigan conversions are also available for BMW trike K1200LT, (a beautiful blue BMW trike by Hannigan is pictured above). Other popular conversion kits from Hannigan are for Kawasaki 1500 and 1600 Vulcan or Nomad, Yamaha Royal Star Venture or Tour Deluxe kits, Honda GoldWing conversion and a cool GL1800 roadster kit, and of course, Harley FLH trike conversion kits too (about$8300 base price). Hannigan’s Yamaha Royal Star Venture Trike conversion is featured in the March 2011 issue of Rider Magazine. hannigantrikes.com
Harley-Davidson says their trike is “not created from a bolt-on aftermarket kit”, and is “engineered and road tested as a whole”. The trunk holds 4.4 cubic feet of cargo weighing up to 50 pounds. harley-davidson.com
Lehman Trikes – located in Spearfish, South Dakota USA and founded by John Lehman and is a publicly traded company. Lehman designs and manufacturers conversion kits for Harleys (kits start at $8745) , Honda GoldWing GL1800 (kits start at $8545), Suzuki Boulevard kits for C50, C90 ( kits start at $8180, $8545) and Victory motorcycles.
Lehman Victory trikes, model names “Pit Boss” and “Cross Bow” come factory-assembled ready to ride, starting at around $27k. Very impressive looking and award-winning designs.
Lehman dealers often have three-wheeled motorcycles for sale ready to ride, in addition to the conversion kits. “Lehman Pride” is the official Lehman owners group that was started in 2000. lehmantrikes.com
Liberator motorcycles have a special seat that can swivel to make it a little easier to move on to and from a wheelchair. They also include space behind the seat to store a wheelchair when riding.
Several different custom designs are posted on their site, including the one shown here. Their tag line is “delivering the freedom of the open road” and is quite appropriate. The standard V8 engine should certainly provide an added thrill-factor in owning a Liberty trike. liberatortrikes.com
Motor Trike – Troup, Texas. Conversions for Hondas, Kawasaki Vulcan, Triumph Rocket Victory, Harley. Fully assembled trikes ($15k-$19k) including Motor Trike 750 Scooter (Honda Shadow 750), Honda VTX 1300 trike. Motortrike.com
The Voyager is actually a bolt-on rear frame section that has two independently suspended wheels that act as outriggers. Because the rear wheel of the motorcycle stays in tact and continues to be the drive wheel when the additional wheels are added, the result is 3 wheels at the rear.
The Voyager Standard starts at $4095, and the Voyager Classic sells for $5470. The Classic comes standard with fiberglass fenders and rear section, and tail lights too. The outrigger-like assembly can be removed for whenever you want to ride the bike as a standard motorcycle. The company claims this can be done in 5 minutes. mtcvoyager.com
Roadsmith Trikes – located in White Bear Lake, Minnesota USA, also known as The Trike Shop. Roadsmith offers conversion kits for 2004 and up Harley Sportster, 1996 and up Harley Touring motorcycles (has “Classic” and “Vintage” kits for these), and a “Retro” and an “American Cruiser” trike kit for 1985 and newer Harley Softail.
For Honda GoldWing trike conversions, there are the “Ultimate Touring Machine” for GL1800 with 6 cubic feet of trunk space, and a “Classic Touring Machine” kit for 1988-2000 GL1500. Other Honda trike kits offered are for VTX 1300 or VTX 1800 (R or S models), and for a Valkyrie.
Another Roadsmith trike that caught our eye is the Ridley RT. Ridleys are American-made v-twin automatic motorcycles. This conversion kit features independent rear suspension and dual rear disc brakes. Roadsmith’s optional electric reverse gear would be a very convenient feature to select for this trike, but especially if someone had selected an automatic machine because of a disability or could not easily back up a trike by using their feet (not exactly an easy task for anyone). trikeshop.com
SS Trike – located in Rudolph, Wisconsin USA with dealers in Elkridge, Maryland and Clearwater, Florida. Manufacturing custom automatic trikes using 117 cubic inch S&S X-Wedge engine and a 2 speed automatic transmission.
Wild, Big Wheel style with a very low 13 inch seat height (option of 2 inch higher), super tall 24 inch front wheel, and pair of small 14 inch rears make the SS Trike really unique. sstrikes.com
Things we learned while putting this Trike Motorcycles Guide together were: (1) there are way more options available than the traditional GoldWing trikes. (2) GoldWing trikes keep getting nicer and nicer as competition gets fiercer. (3) Independent rear suspension and dual rear discs are just about mainstream. (4) We would like to see more trike innovations when it comes to the needs of older folks and those with disabilities for ease of shifting and riding three-wheeled motorcycles.