Trikes are modified motorcycles that have a single wheel in the front similar to a two wheeled motorcycle and an axle in the rear that is similar to that of an automobile. And bikers are going ape for them. If you want in on the fun, you can buy one that’s ready to ride, buy one of the good used trikes for sale but you can also build your own trike so long as you have the necessary tools and a moderate amount of mechanical skill .
Before you start tearing down your motorcycle to convert it , you should know that many before you have learned the hard way that building a trike can be more than they could handle and ended up pulling the plug on the project or taking the less difficult route of converting an old Volkswagon car into a trike. This method has certain advantages as far as performance is concerned as well as being a way of recycling an old automobile that would have otherwise wound up in a salvage yard . You get a custom Volkswagon trike and do a little something to save the environment at the same time!
TRIKE BUILDING PARTS, TOOLS and EQUIPMENT
To get started on your project , you have to have a motorcycle, tools, a welder and metal working machines and there are times a mechanical minded buddy will come in handy. Equipment common to a welding and/or machine shop is essential to the building process and once you have the trike put together , it’s going to need a paint job for it to look its best if you added fenders.
Here is the short list of tools, parts and equipment that you will need to build a trike in addition to the usual sets of wrenches and screwdrivers found in most toolboxes.
A welder , welding supplies and welding equipment
Two Floor Jacks
A metal lathe
Sheet metal and Sheet metal stock
A set of trailer wheels and tires
If you want your trike to have fenders you will need a paint booth, paint and painting supplies.
Secure your the motorcycle on the floor jacks , loosen the nuts on the sides of the rear axle. Slide the rear tire forward while sliding the chain off the sprocket letting you to pull the wheel off the swing arm.
Now’s the time to make a decision on how wide you want your trike . You can make your axle as fat or as skinny as you want it but standard width is approximately 38 ½ from drum to drum. Although I’ve heard of widths up to 45 ½ and as narrow as 35 inches let’s assume that you want to build a trike that is half as wide as its total length.
Figure how long the rear axle should be according to these measurements and then subtract the length of the axle that is in place from that number. Divide this number by two and you’ll have the measurement of the axle that you will be welding to each side of the original rear axle .
Use the metal lathe to turn some of your metal to make it the same thickness as the existing rear axle. Weld your turned pieces to each end of the existing axle being absolutely sure they are square .
You are now ready to start welding the wheel hubs onto the ends of your modified axle and to put the new axle in place on the swing arm. Snug up the nuts and replace the chain back on the sprocket. Mount your trailer wheels and tires onto the ends of the extended axle and snug up the lug nuts.
At this point in the conversion process , you have the option of adding fenders (which will have to be painted to match the rest of the motorcycle ) or just taking your new baby out for a ride and proving to your biker friends that you know a thing or two about how to build a trike motorcycle.
Motorcycle mechanic wanna be’s might misread the title of this article as “How to Build a Trike in Three Easy Steps” because well…I condensed the instructions into three steps that may actually be easy to experienced motorcycle mechanics. But the facts are that building a trike takes more than a little welding and metal working skill. For instance, if the axle is not welded together properly your trike is going to shake like crazy on the road creating a very dangerous situation that could cause a horrible accident with possible casualties and that’s just one of number of other things that can happen if you don’t do something right .
If you have any doubts that you possess the necessary skills, do yourself (and everybody on the road ) a favor and take a look in the motorcycle classifieds section of your local paper for a good used trike for sale or ask an experienced friend to help you learn how to build a trike before you get in too deep .