Making The Switch - Bike to Trike - Great Info!

How long have you been a trike owner?

  • Never owned a bike or trike but thinking of getting a trike.

    Votes: 68 3.9%
  • Currently own a bike and thinking of switching to a trike.

    Votes: 273 15.9%
  • First owned a trike 0 - 1 year ago.

    Votes: 672 39.0%
  • First owned a trike 1 - 2 years ago.

    Votes: 176 10.2%
  • First owned a trike 2 - 3 years ago.

    Votes: 123 7.1%
  • First owned a trike 3 - 4 years ago.

    Votes: 96 5.6%
  • First owned a trike 4 - 5 years ago.

    Votes: 76 4.4%
  • First owned a trike more than 5 years ago.

    Votes: 238 13.8%

  • Total voters
    1,722

Papa Zook

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Dec 14, 2007
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Papa Zook
I would like to solicit the help of you veteran trike owners who don't mind sharing your experiences and knowledge with novice trikers. Please share your stories and advice with those making the switch from bike to trike. Adjusting your riding style, handling, safety, group riding protocol, touring are a few suggested topics.

Thanks!
 
I have been triking about 15 years. 11 years on a VW based Trike Shop Runabout, the past 4 or so on a 1995 GW1500 Motor Trike. Feel free to pick my brain (such as it is)! Pics of both are posted in the garage.

For new trikers, especially those coming from a 2 wheeler, a few tips:
1-Keep that front wheel in the middle of your lane.
2-Point the front wheel in the direction you want to turn (no countersteering!)
3-Don't put your feet down at a stop.
4-If you think you will be able to reach out and touch something to the side, you're too close! Watch out for curbs, toll booth & gas pump barrier poles, etc.
5-When you hit a pothole or bump with one of your rear wheels, the bars will shake a bit. Don't worry, this is normal. The effect is a little more pronounced with solid axle rear ends.
6-Add extra time at stops on a ride for answering questions from interested folks asking questions about your ride, from both two wheel riders and nonriders. (We could retire if we got $1 from every little kid we gave a quick 5 minute ride around a parking lot, and a couple of parents, too.)
7-Don't worry about the small decrease in gas mileage. You now carry more weight, bigger wheels (and an extra one) and there are 2 air brakes right behind you, also known as "fenders"
8-The soreness around your mouth and cheeks is from the extra big smile you will have for hours at a time. It doesn't go away, but don't worry - you'll get used to it.:D
 
Excellent message! I especially liked the 'soreness around your mouth'. I love my ride also.

GL1800 Goldwing trike-Motortrike
 
One thing we don't seem to mention to new trikers is the physical size of the trike. When you ride you look ahead and in your mirrors, you hardly ever turn and look back at the rear of the trike, so you tend to forget how wide you are now.

Very good friend found his fender the FIRST time he stopped for gas. Took off half of the left fender with one of those concrete poles the put next to the pumps. He's been riding bikes for 30 yrs. and a very good rider. He just didn,t think about it..

Also, I know the aqua-shields on my Motor-Trike will catch on speed bumps, medium rocks ect. Be careful what you try to go over. Enjoy the ride and be safe...:)
image.jpg
 
Trike pulls to right?

Hope this is clear and makes sense....

Does your trike pull to the right? (Or left for our international friends that drive on the left. Please substitute right and left as appropriate.) Trikes are pretty sensitive to the crown in the road, built so water will run off to the side. On a 2 wheeler, it is almost not noticeable, (though on the flatlands that is why tires wear and cup more on the left side) but on a trike, the rig wants to turn "downhill" toward the shoulder. Some roads crown more than others, and on an interstate if I ride in the left lane Her Purpleness tends to pull slightly to the left. This can be disconcerting to new trikers, and there are a few things you can do about it.

1- Deal with it. If your trike rides without pulling either way on a flat parking lot you can steer slightly to the left when on the road. You'll get used to steering to compensate for the pull - remember different roads will have more or less crown, that equals more or less pull, that equals more or less steering to the left. After a while it wil become second nature.

2- You can drop the inside tire pressure 2 or 3 pounds. Trikes are sensitive to air pressure in the rear tires.

A few pounds won't affect the tire wear much, but the trike will pull toward the tire with the lower psi.

(Another good reson to check you rtire pressure often) As tires and suspensions are so variable, some experimentation will be needed.

3- Ride with the front tire just to the left of the lane centerline. Most roads, if they are well used, have 2 slight valleys or wheel ruts where 4 wheelers wear or compress the road surface. If you ride a bit to the left of the centerline of the lane your front tire is running on the side of the left wheel rut, being pulled slightly back to the left against the crown of the road, cancelling out the pull to the right. Again, as roads vary, how much off the center will depend on the original crown of the road and how much the road is worn by cars and trucks. You'll have plenty of room - you needen't ride much off center and your trike won't be close to the middle of the road.

4- On some trike kits you can play with the suspension, moving a tire front or back, on some changing the angle of the rear tire tracking. My opinion is that I would like the trike to run straight and true on a flat surface, not "dogtracking" when running on level pavement.

I use a combination of #1 and #3, staying away from #4. Option #2 works well in an area with mostly straight roads. Here in the Ozarks, it is very twisty, and reducing psi in one of the tires makes turning away from the lower preassure tire slightly harder than the opposite turns. I do the psi reducing trick on occasion, though.

It is slightly less work when riding long straight roads like in Kansas or Nebraska.
 
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Ok nobody mentioned this yet/ The first ride will be scary (scarier for some more than others) Don't be discouraged! If you are not feeling comfortable even after 100 miles it may take 200. After you get the hang of it it is second nature.
Also POWER thru corners.
I have been triking for 6 years
 
I've had my trike since July 2005. Prior to the "real deal" I had a Tow-Pac on a Silverwing and prior to that I had ridden 2-wheels.

I didn't have time to be uncomfortable on the new-to-me trike because we flew to Florida and I immediately got on it to ride it home to California.

First addition - the one inch convex mirrors so I can see the fenders.

What people say about planning on extra time at stops for questions is absolutely true. This last weekend I had someone admit to FOLLOWING me into a gas station to ask questions. That was a first.

We live in an area with lots of curves in the roads. Best advice I ever received was to SLOW DOWN BEFORE the curve and POWER IN the curve. Since there is no lean to the trike it makes life so much easier to be SET for the curve before I get into it. (I probably do this less now, but I still remember how important it was.)

My trike doesn't have an emergency brake so I put the trike in reverse.

It is a good thing I have a large windshield or my teeth would be full of bugs from smiling!
 
We live in an area with lots of curves in the roads. Best advice I ever received was to SLOW DOWN BEFORE the curve and POWER IN the curve. Since there is no lean to the trike it makes life so much easier to be SET for the curve before I get into it. (I probably do this less now, but I still remember how important it was.)

AND... If you follow a line through the apex, (Like we were all taught in MSF classes) you will barely have to move the handlebars
 
Riding

We rode hack's for over 2 years before going to a trike (TriCar). When group riding there is a reason that trikes should be at the back. They will outstop the 2 wheelers you are riding with. After you become more familiar with the trike and are riding with a group of 2 wheelers in the twisties take care that you do not run over them in the turns. Ride all you can and enjoy.:)
 
All Good Stuff

I should be picking up my trike next Saturday and riding it home with several 2 wheeled friends. Thanks for all the great shared experience.
 
Note to YELLOW TRIKE
Stop using REV to hold the trike. Not sure with the 1800 but with the 1500 you are now using a small gear attached to the starter to hold a 1200lb trike . If it snaps you loose rev and the motor has to be removed and cases split to get the gear out.
 
Oh, yeah - what John said. I've seen people park rear end down a slight hill, or back against a curb on a street with a good crown and not be able to get out of reverse. The pressure on the gearing kept the lever from moving. As John said, that would be the least of the problems. If that happens and the gearing isn't messed up a few people pushing to take off the pressure on the system usually gets you on the road again.

I've seen people use small chocks at the rear wheels, pulling in the brake lever and putting a little wedge in the gap to keep the front brake on, and other means.

I leave it in 1st gear and pull the front brake in, then wrap a velcro band to hold the brake on. No problem since we have had her Purpleness.
 
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re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

Has anyone found a slight vibration in the front end at high speeds only if you have a passenger aboard with you. I notice that yesterday doing about 70 to 75mph with the wife on the bike for the first time. When I was coming up from Phoenix to Prescott at even 85mph there where no vibrations. I do have the original front tire on the trike because it only has 5000 miles on it being it is an 08. those anyone have an idea why. Thanks
 
re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

Mike, check your rear tire pressure (I run about 22 lbs. in mine) and look at that front tire REAL close to see how much "cupping" you've got. With a passenger, you've got more weight (don't tell her I said that either), so any spots on your tires will make themselves known. If you get that vibration all the time, you might want to get the balance rechecked on the tires.
I know if mine sits for a while in the garage, when I get it back on the road it will "bump" for a little while. My rear tires are steel belted radials and just like your car, the steel belts take a "set" while cold. Hope this helps you...:)
 
re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

:confused:I have been triking since Oct. of 08, and my 1500 MotorTrike has that vibration at higher speeds,too. I have noticed that ladder bar and such adjustments affect this vibration alot. I have gotten the installation manual from this site, and I am "in process" of hunting down the "sweet spot". I know the wings ride is the best as a two wheeler, but it takes some work to get your particular ride set up for how you ride.I had that left hand lean as well,I set it up to be dead level, and HATED it that way! So, back to a slight lean,as I didn't like the 2 or 3 degree lean in the road crown. If it leans to the LEFT on level ground around 2 degrees, then you are straight up and down on a crowned road (slow lane). Less strain on my back and neck.

Keep your brakes in top notch shape.I had to lock em up once due to a "cager", and if I hadn't adjusted the slack the night before, Barb and I would most likely be pushin' daisies! Pay attention to the steering head bearings, there are different stresses on the head than when it was a two wheeler, and if a little sloppy, bearings and races suffer. I also replaced my front brake pads with some higher quality pads. Alot more wear with the Ford rear end and extra wheel/tire!Best thing I ever did was join this forum, and ask questions.You may go a while with no replies, then all of a sudden someone comes along and solves your problem!

Good luck to ALL new trikers!!!! Jim:)
 
re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

I love my trike. I adjusted from two wheel to "threedom" in no time at all. The only thing I've not seen in this string is to be mindful of where you park. If you only have Polish reverse, like me, heading into slight downhill parking could test your ability to make lots of friends fast that can help to push you out.
 
re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

likintriken : Here is the trick. If you see a down hill spot pull past it up hill and roll back into it . When you park, think of yourself pulling a trailer. Pull thru multi parking spots so you face out. Back into curbs :)
 
Re: How are trikes different from bikes?

I would like to solicit the help of all of you veteran trike owners who dont mind sharing your experiences and knowledge with novice trikers. Please share your stories and advice with those making the switch from bike to trike. Safety, group riding protocol, touring are a few suggested threads.

Thanks!

Hi, Just a word to say Thanks for starting this thread. I have recntly purchased a old honda cx trike that needs a bit of work to pull together.hopefully I will get it on the road later in the year.As i have only ridden solo bikes for the last 36 years I have no idea what it is like to ride a Trike so the tips given on this thread are a great help. Thanks Maggot.
 
re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

Most noticable for me, was the tire wear.You gotta pay attention to your tire pressures,mostly the front.The tire is expected to lean up on the sidewalls,with a two wheeler, and a trike changes all that.You are now running on a bit less than 3 inches of the center of the tire every mile.When we turn, the trike doesn't lean anymore,it stays almost upright.I have about 3,000 miles on a Dunlop E3, and the little nibs are still on the side walls.The center of the tire though, has worn significantly, for only 3,000 miles. Just remember, that all those vibrations, and tracking issues can be adjusted endlessly with the setups being built today.Pretty much the same system as a Nascar suspension.

The absolute most popular comment you'll hear from Trikers is "I wish I'd have done this trike thing sooner!".

Good luck, jimsjinx
 
re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

Again for new trikers - something I never noticed that my wife brought to my attention. She was getting thrown around on a very uneven road, I didn't notice it near as much.

On a 2 wheeler you may get some pitch - a see-saw action along the direction of travel. If you watch motorcross it is very obvious. On a trike there is also a lateral axis we deal with when one wheel hits a bump different from the one on the other side. This causes the trike to roll side to side. If you ride against a backrest (as Gloria was doing) you also can be tossed side to side, and to a lesser extent, fore and aft. The trick is to let the trike move under you while your body stays upright. The trike piviots under you with the "hinge point" at the seat to sadde interface. She was keeping her back hard against the rest and that was tossing her sideways. She now (and I seem to always have - didn't think about this until she brought it up) sits lightly against the backrest on rough roads and lets the trike move around under her. Hope that makes sense.
 
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re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

Good point also keep a looser arm tension on the bars or you will feel it in your arms as the front wheel tosses side to side. Pot holes in New England can really get you moving and shaking. With the 2 wheeler it was easier to miss them
 
re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

Not to argue with everyone - but........

-Keep that front wheel in the middle of your lane.
Really, right in all that oil, grease and dirt?

If I am the second bike, I ride with my front tire to the right of the center of my lane. That puts my right rear tire just about 4 to six inches from the right side line. And gives the appearance of riding in a staggered format. Most two wheelers still have enough room to get around me if they need to.

If I am the Odd number bike I ride with front tire to the left of the center of the lane.


Also, I know the aqua-shields on my Motor-Trike will catch on speed bumps, medium rocks ect.

My TriKing and Lehman had this problem, but the Roadsmith has not encountered that.

First addition - the one inch convex mirrors so I can see the fenders.

Good idea on any vehicle you drive

My trike doesn't have an emergency brake so I put the trike in reverse.

Read the article in the May 2009 issue of Wing World concerning this. On the Goldwing the reverse is not part of the tranny, it is electrical – not a problem until you go out and you battery is dead.

SLOW DOWN BEFORE the curve and POWER IN the curve.

This all depends on the curve, most 35 mph curve I hit at 37-40, come out running 45-50

This what I am trying to explain - AND... If you follow a line through the apex, (Like we were all taught in MSF classes) you will barely have to move the handlebars

Or slow down

After you become more familiar with the trike and are riding with a group of 2 wheelers in the twisties take care that you do not run over them in the turns.

On Planned Rides, I have started to have my Road Captain put the two wheelers to the rear thru the twistees. At first they were offended until they got tired of seeing us trikeys in their rear view mirrors. Now the Tailgunner likes all the trikes up front so that he can see us. For some unknown reason he thinks we block his view of the two wheelers.

________________________________________
Has anyone found a slight vibration in the front end at high speeds only if you have a passenger aboard with you. I notice that yesterday doing about 70 to 75mph with the wife on the bike for the first time.

I just thought it was a vibration – it was wifey humming.

Most noticable for me, was the tire wear.You gotta pay attention to your tire pressures,mostly the front.

I have Bridgestone BT 45 rear tire on the front, mounted so that it rolls in reverse rotation, it has approx 17,500 miles on it, and is just starting to cup. I am going to try to squeeze another 5k out of it. I run 41 lbs of air pressure in it all times.

________________________________________
I joined as a charter member Of TRI back in 2000 I think. Got the patch and everything . Dropped out when the Mag got so small and uninformative.

Me too

Again for new trikers - something I never noticed that my wife brought to my attention. She was getting thrown around on a very uneven road, I didn't notice it near as much.

On a 2 wheeler you may get some pitch - a see-saw action along the direction of travel. If you watch motorcross it is very obvious. On a trike there is also a lateral axis we deal with when one wheel hits a bump different from the one on the other side. This causes the trike to roll side to side. If you ride against a backrest (as Gloria was doing) you also can be tossed side to side, and to a lesser extent, fore and aft. The trick is to let the trike move under you while your body stays upright. The trike piviots under you with the "hinge point" at the seat to sadde interface. She was keeping her back hard against the rest and that was tossing her sideways. She now (and I seem to always have - didn't think about this until she brought it up) sits lightly against the backrest on rough roads and lets the trike move around under her. Hope that makes sense.

Good advice, we did not have to “unlearn” since we never rode a two wheeler.


If you got this far reading my longwinded and copied post, thanks. My wife and I have never ridden a two wheeler together (she owned a Honda PC for about two years, put a little over 2k miles on it). All of my experience (all 145,000 miles of it) has been on a Trike. I really can not believe it can be anymore fun on a two wheeler, but then again, I have no way of comparing.

Garland
 
re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

Great I enjoyed reading that. Newbies should get a lot out of it. THANKS
 
re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

-Keep that front wheel in the middle of your lane.
Really, right in all that oil, grease and dirt?
If I am the second bike, I ride with my front tire to the right of the center of my lane. That puts my right rear tire just about 4 to six inches from the right side line. And gives the appearance of riding in a staggered format. Most two wheelers still have enough room to get around me if they need to.
If I am the Odd number bike I ride with front tire to the left of the center of the lane.


First addition - the one inch convex mirrors so I can see the fenders.
Good idea on any vehicle you drive

After you become more familiar with the trike and are riding with a group of 2 wheelers in the twisties take care that you do not run over them in the turns.

Garland
Some VERY useful info there--thanks GWT!
I had been thinking about some of these things myself, like not wanting to ride with my front wheel right in that greasy patch at mid-lane and thinking about a way to keep an eye on rear fenders. I'll check into the little convex mirrors.

Also, now that the Chief and I are riding together--he on his 2-wheeler, me on my trike--I HAVE noticed that I have to watch that I don't come around and out of the curves faster than he does. Of course, I'm still learning, and it's fortunate during this learning period that we live in Florida. As they say, Tail of the Dragon: 11 miles, 318 curves; Florida: 318 miles, 11 turns. :D

Thanks to all for all the helpful info posted on this thread!
 
Re: How are trikes different from bikes?

I would like to solicit the help of you veteran trike owners who don't mind sharing your experiences and knowledge with novice trikers. Please share your stories and advice with those making the switch from bike to trike. Safety, group riding protocol, touring are a few suggested threads.

Thanks!
for an old man like me (68) it is the only way to go.
grey-ghost
 
Re: How are trikes different from bikes?

For all you experienced Trike Riders....I have a hard time with the left curve in the road. Mainly because I am still a little intimidated with getting too close to the outside (shoulder) side of the road upon entering the curve. And that is because the crown in the road makes me feel like I am going into the ditch. Hubby fusses at me all the time about this! Any suggestions? Thanks!
 
re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

quote from Ironhorsepilot:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For all you experienced Trike Riders....I have a hard time with the left curve in the road. Mainly because I am still a little intimidated with getting too close to the outside (shoulder) side of the road upon entering the curve. And that is because the crown in the road makes me feel like I am going into the ditch. Hubby fusses at me all the time about this! Any suggestions? Thanks!

Just let him fuss. Like I have posted before, I had never ever even been on a motorcycle let alone ride one. When I first started riding I rode in a group of two wheelers, there weren't many trikes around. Any way I was soon ready to get rid of that shoulder killer!!!! The first trike a Tri-King DID NOT have a rake on it at all!!!!!!! Well, I got to thinking (wifey says that's a dangerous thing) if I was driving a car how would I handle the curves??? After watching a Formula One race one Sunday afternoon I had my answer - the only problem.... and you figured out real quick what that is - it feels and looks like you are going to run straight off the road before you hit the apex of the curve. But guess what my fair lady, you won't. For the first few hundred or so curves, take them slow and easy, but take them as if you were running a 100 mph - get the feel of the trike as she bites into the curve, you will feel her rear end kinda squat as the force pushes her to the outside, then you take over and master or in your case mistress it through the apex. In no time you will be honking her horn at Hubby and his slow poke highway peg dragging two wheeler to either pullover or get out of a real bikes way!!!! :D

Garland
 
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re: Experienced Trike Riders - Please post here.

Goldwingtrike comments:
Not to argue with everyone - but........

-Keep that front wheel in the middle of your lane.
Really, right in all that oil, grease and dirt?


Seeing as I wrote it, I'll stand by it. As long as the statement immediatly before is included:
For new trikers, especially those coming from a 2 wheeler, a few tips:

For someone used to straightening out the corners on a 2 wheeler, and to a slightly lesser extent to a brand new triker, it is better to keep the front wheel in the middle of the lane. The finesse will come quickly, a few hundred miles or so, but while the learning curve is still steep, keep it simple, front wheel down the middle. Truth be told, a raw newbie will most likely wander around enough that the wheel isn't right in the center of the lane much at all.

Garland also says:

On Planned Rides, I have started to have my Road Captain put the two wheelers to the rear thru the twistees. (Snip some out)

This is common practice everywhere I have been on group rides. The most heard reason is the one about not being able to see oncoming traffic around a trike, of traffic not seeing bikes behind trikes.(Doesn't hold water - can't see around a car or truck either) The reason that made the most sense to me is that trikes can stop quicker because they have more braking surface and more rubber on the road, so it's safer the have them in the rear.

Ironhorsepilot writes:
For all you experienced Trike Riders....I have a hard time with the left curve in the road. Mainly because I am still a little intimidated with getting too close to the outside (shoulder) side of the road upon entering the curve. (Snip) Any suggestions? Thanks!

Pretty natural at first - it's called "Edge Fear". The cure is experience. Here is the prescription: Get out and ride as much as possible. :yes: That may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it must be done. I'm sure you can handle it.;)
 

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