Customers ask me all the time “When is the best time to trike my bike…” The salesman in me would reply (of course) “TODAY!!” However, the truth be known, the absolute best time of the year to buy is, in fact, the fall/winter time.
The most obvious answer is that the motorcycle industry is slower….the manufacturers are slower and trying to keep their workers busy. Couple that with the need for cashflow, the “off season” is the absolute best time to make a purchase such as this. Manufacturers are more inclined to offer discounts, this,of course, would be the most obvious benefit. When they are selling trike kits as fast as they can make them, there is absolutely no reason to discount. Basic economics….
high demand+lower supply=higher prices
low demand+higher supply=lower prices
Aside from the economic side, you should also factor in the fact that you might as well tear your bike down in the winter, when you don’t have any plans to ride for a little while. You have no idea how many times I have had this conversation:
Customer: How long does it take for a kit to be delivered
Me: About 4-6 weeks
Customer: I have a HUGE Benefit ride next weekend, is there anyway we can get it by then.
Come spring, I will have this conversation 10 times MINIMUM...and it isn't an exaggeration...people don't think about working no their bikes until they start riding!!
If you are ever considering purchasing a trike kit, start shopping now. The weather has started to get chilly and you bike will be down for little while. A typical full conversion build will take about 2 months from order date to test ride (for the average customer)….plan ahead so your bike isn’t down when your buddies are riding that first weekend its above 50!!!
"I am not old enough for a trike..." If I had a dollar for every time I heard this, my days would consist of sand in my swim trunks and steady array of fruity drinks with umbrellas.
The another one I hear is "if you can't ride a real bike...don't ride" or my ALL TIME favorite, "I got rid of my trike or training wheels when I was three...." and while it has become easier to restrain myself from throat punching someone who says something that asinine, the fact of the matter is trikes and trike kits are often times a necessary item in the powersports industry. There absolutely is a place and a need for them on the road. Father time takes his toll on our bodies; bad knees, surgeries, amputations, arthritis, equilibrium issues...and countless other ailments. At the same, I have had countless customers of the fairer sex call me, frustrated at staring at the back of hubbies big head...she wants her own ride, but simply doesn't have the strength or quite possibly the confidence to hold up a motorcycle outside of the comfortable confines of her neighborhood. At any rate, there are COUNTLESS reasons to turn that two wheeled stallion into a three wheeled beast.
I have had the opportunity to own and ride just about EVERYTHING there is to ride. Bikes of various styles, sizes, riding preferences, seating positions, color, and sound.
-Harley Sportster 883 & 1200
-Yamaha V-Star 1100
-Honda VTX 1300 & 1800
-Ducati Montster (two Different Occasions)
-Suzuki SV 1000 (two different occasions)
-Harley Road King
-Suzuki TL 1000 (simply because Will M. won't pick it up...I KEEP IT NOW!)
.......and a few various others that escape my caffeine deprived memory.
I say all of that because, at the end of the day, some of my favorite riding has come in the saddle of a trike. Of COURSE, I love craving the curves and the sheer exhilaration of scraping a foot peg while I do my best Eddie Lawson or Valentino Rossi impersonation.....but kicking back and simply CRUISING, not having to worry about it sometimes....offers a relaxation I cannot explain.
Over the years, I have owned 2 Harley Sportsters which I converted using the "Frankenstein Trike" kit. I also have owned a Honda Goldwing GL1800 I converted using the Champion Sidecar system. There is something about kicking back and never having to put your feet down. Some would see "not leaning" and not carving the corners as imprisoning...but to the people who are faced with the idea of hanging up the chaps for good....a trike conversion could be the very thing to set your soul free.
I will get plenty of customers call me who ask the very same question.....is it WORTH triking my motorcycle, or should I simply trade it and buy an already triked motorcycle. From my perspective (of wanting to sell a trike conversion) OF COURSE!! TRIKE YOUR BIKE!! However, from my perspective in actually trying to offer the BEST advice for my customers...I always ask the same questions, and "qualify" my customers prior to making any recommendations.
1) How much do you LIKE your bike?
Many times people LOVE their motorcylce...and parting with it seems like parting with a loved one....they just realize that they are now in a place where two wheels aren't cutting it anymore! If this is the case...TRIKE YOUR BIKE
2) What is the situation?
I hear variations of this story SEVERAL times a month.....
Take this scenario...Jimbo is newly retired, he has always wanted a Harley, and now he can afford it now...him and Ethel are going to hit the road to Sturgis, maybe ACTUALLY see Rock City.... He purchases the all NEW 2016 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic Screaming Eagle Super Duper Ducks Unlimited Extra Chrome Policeman Batman Fireman Farmerman Superman Fisherman Gingerbreadman Candlestick Maker CVO EVOO CNN ESPN Special Edition....needless to say, he spent a pretty penny on this bike....he gets it home and after 4 Miles...he realizes it is simply to difficult to hold up...add "Momma" on the back and it is no longer feasible...plus "you tip the bike over ONE TIME AT A REDLIGHT and Ethel refuses to get on until Jimbo DOES SOMETHING!!!" Your options are to trade it for the Harley Tri-Glide....or Trike it out. Now, you spent $38,472.63 on this bike!! Now you will trade it in and get about $29,000 in trade...PLUS pay near retail for the all New Harley Tri-Glide...but since you are a GOOD CUSTOMER, the charitable folks at the local motor Cult...I mean your Harley stealerlership, I mean DEALERSHIP (sorry, its just too easy)...they will give you goodwill discount on the Tri-Glide and a new t-shirt and MAYBE a keychain. You just lost $9000 on your BRAND NEW BIKE with less than maybe 10 Miles on it (thats nearly $1000 a mile for you folks counting at home....plus, you paid NEAR retail on the new TRI GLIDE......there are of course other things to consider with the Tri-Glide specifically:
-solid axle(Tri Glide) vs. Independent suspension(Most Conversions) (THIS IS HUGE)
-electrical reverse(Tri-Glide) vs. echanical reverse(Champion) vs ---ugh, electrical gremlins are the worst
among other things, in this case, taking a hard long look at converting your bike, your DREAM BIKE into a trike...on average this will cost you $10,000-$15,000...and you will now have a one of a kind 2016 Harley Davidson "FLHTCUI-LMNOP" TRIKE.
Of course if financing is an issue...trading could be your best bet...if you don't have access to the said $10k-$15k, then trading it and letting "Ma Harley" finance it, may be your best bet.....we all know if you buy from them, they will finance a new Sportster to your dog...granted, its 34.57% interest for 120 Months...but they will write the note!
Switching gears to my Wingers out there (you know who you are...by the way, I love the his and hers, matching balloon pants at the annual Wing Ding by the way...and don't forget the matching yellow and purple wigs)....I love you guys!! Its always fun!
3) You have a 1995 Honda Goldwing GL1500....you have owned this bike since it was brand new and IT WAS the Cock of The Walk....and now you NEED a trike because the "ol' GL" is simply too much to handle. Of course you can trade it or sell it ($4000-$8000 depending on trade/retail/geography/time of year)...and then plop down $30k+ plus on the a Goldwing trike or even Harley Tri-Glide. Keep in mind that GL1800 trike didn't come from Honda that way. If it is NEW..that Dealership bought a kit and did the work themselves. HONDA DOESN'T BUILD TRIKES....PERIOD!!!!! They will use any of the major manufactures and build it just like you can do. If you are handy you can even do the work YOURSELF (depending on trike kit manufacturer). Motor Trike for instance requires the dealer to do the work...Champion will ship a kit to you and you can do the work yourself or have your local Mechanic do the work.
I say all that to say...if you love your GL1500 and would rather NOT part with it...triking it is a TERRIFIC idea...ONLY if you plan on keeping it. If you are gonna trike it and sell it next year DON'T DO IT...but if you are ok with driving it until the wheels fall off...then by all means...TRIKE IT. That GL is an EXCELLENT conversion....a well maintained GL will do 250,000 miles ALL DAY.
They have a wonderful power plant, plenty of torque and horsepower and Looks fantastic when you are done with it. It is definitely worth the investment, if resale value is not a consideration. IF resale value is a consideration, you MAY break even at the end of the day...depending on geography and time of year.
and last but not least...
4) You really think the Can-Am Spyder is cool......if that's the case, I got nothing...to each their own.
At any rate, do your homework, weigh out your options. Heck, even call me...I can walk you through it. Like I said, as much as my light bill is dependent on me selling trike kits...I will always try to help make the best, informed decisions possible.
P.S. in regards to the "Special Edition" Harley (Policeman Fireman etc)...no disrepsect was intended...I just think its Laughable that Harley will slap a label on a bike and call it special edition JUST so they can charge you $1000 more for being a fireman. But what do I know...at any rate...of course, I truly appreciate all first responders, veterans and anyone willing to stick their neck out for my butt. Thank you.
***No Ethels were hurt during the writing of this Blog Post
There are PLENTY of people who treat the "trikers" like they are subhuman for needing (or wanting) a third wheel, then there are the step-children of the trike community...you have seen them, you know what I am talking about....the bolt-on trike kits....or less affectionately referred to as "training wheels". While many people refer to them as "training wheels" in a negative connotation, these kits help fill a very necessary void in the powersport industry. A lot of people who want to keep riding NEED something...the problem with that is, our budgets don't always cooperate.....let me give you a little background before I go any further....
These kits entered the market place about 20 years ago. Invented by a couple of guys in Illinois, they have spawned two companies that do very well for themselves. Voyager Trike kits have been around longer than any of the bolt-on kits, then the close second would be the Tow Pac Insta trike.....after that, things sort of trail downhill from their. After those two kits, all of them are basically garage built knock offs. Trigg, Richland Roadster, Danson....they are all copied kits...and many of them have even been dealt blows through various litigation of patent infringement.
I won't go as far as to disparage any of the kits....they have their select places in the market........ Well, ok, I take that back...if you plan on buying a kit from "Safer Wholesale", because it is half the price of the other kits...do me a favor, send me your money and I can collect a box of scrap metal and a picture and say "build this"....that is basically what you are doing......Buying a box of metal. I hope you have some diamond tipped drill bits, a welder and a lot of patience and know-how. A nearby machine shop would also be helpful. Check out the reviews...it isn't pretty. How someone hasn't paid an angry visit to that place, I will never know. If the price is "TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE"...it is....and please believe me, buy any kit you want...JUST DON'T BUY THIS KIT....ok...enough of that tangent.
There are people who would say they want a "real trike". If they start the conversation saying that...I will ask them about their budget. If they say $10k-$15k, then I will gladly sell them on the merits of a Champion or Lehman Trike kit. If they say "less than $5K"....a Voyager it is!
The nice thing is, the Voyager trike kit can fit SO MANY bikes that cannot be retrofitted with a conventional trike. When you are spending 40% vs a conventional trike...I think its reasonable to say the PROS far exceed any CONS. The fact of the matter is that with a Voyager trike, you will get SIMILAR riding characteristics WITHOUT permanently modifying your motorcycle. AT HALF the cost. If you are looking to "get into" the trike market and are not completely convinced, spending $4000 to test it out is a great way to do it. If it turns out, its just not your cup of tea, take the kit off and SELL IT...recoup the majority of your money. No harm no foul.
In some cases, I have had people who want to ride two wheels, but when they want to ride with their spouse, the added weight makes them nervous....enter the Voyager trike kit. The convertible nature of the kit makes is an excellent option....the simply flexibility.
-Cost--less than half the cost of most conventional trike conversions ($4000 vs $10,000)
-Fitment...can fit MOST major motorcycle models
-User installation can be done in about 4 hours
-Flexible, can go back and forth between "trike" and 2 wheels in less than 10 minutes
-With the purchase of mounting hardware, you can transfer these kits to another bike, if so inclined
-Rear wheel remains the drive wheel
-Not a "TRUE" trike, will have three wheels across the back
It might now be a true trike...but it is definitely a solid solution.
Often times the first question people ask when they call in to us is..."how does riding a trike differ from riding a "regular" motorcycle?" Lets start with the similarities.... with both, you wear a helmet (typically), maybe some chaps, by the end of a good sunset ride, you are scraping bugs from your teeth..and that is where the similarities usually end.
Triking is a whole new experience.
The obvious one is you no longer have to balance the bike. No more worrying about stepping in a pothole or maybe that off camber rut you might stand in at the red light. When pulling out of a gravel driveway you don't have to worry about that patch of loose gravel. A lot of these things are the VERY reason people call us. I can't count how many times people have called me with a fresh bruise or sore body from an "incident".
NOW, when you ride a trike, instead of leaning into the curve and counter steering the handle bar...you are steering into the curve. I have been known to lean into a curve, does it help? I'd like to think so, but in most cases...not very much.
When you steer, I always recommend that you "push and pull" the handlebar. In a right hand turn you will simply pull the handlebar toward you with your right hand and push on the opposite handle...I am sure you get the picture. If you have ever ridden an ATV....it is VERY similar.
Now I have a couple of hints or tips. Do not...I REPEAT....DO NOT put your feet down. I know you will do it for a while, but it will only take one time to catch your Achilles tendon on the rear fender. Even MORE fun is when you run yourself over by the rear tire. Don't believe me...put your feet down. It will only take once and you will never forget again.
It's time to remember, your baby got BACK now.....Sit on your trike. Now, spread your arms out like you are flying. This is now how wide you are. I know what you are thinking..."well duh"....but when you see a BRAND NEW trike just rolled out of your shop and the guy doesn't even get out of the parking lot before he catches the fender on the trailer hitch of a pickup truck....you would remind people too. $2000 in damage with 120 FEET on the bike...not miles...FEET. And don't even get me started on gas pumps....
TRIKE vs FUEL pump....which do you think usually wins the battle?
Those are the big hints I have. If you are riding a trike for your very first time...I recommend a LARGE parking lot to get a feel for it. THEN maybe a quiet subdivision....make left turns and right turns. Get a feel for it before venturing out into rush hour traffic. You don't want your first sharp left hand curve to be at 50mph in traffic...trust me.
And one last tidbit; on a LOT of roads, if the trike pulls to the right...it is very VERY normal. This is caused by the road crown, the roads are sloped outward to allow for water to drain quicker. In a lot of cases, this is a non issue..but in states with higher rainfall averages, the crown is steeper....and the pull may be a little bit greater. You can combat this by simply riding a LITTLE closer to the center line.
If you have any other questions on HOW to ride a trike...feel free to email me anytime!!
Tony Molina has been in motorcycle industry for more than 15 years, from selling motorcycles in a large multi-line dealer, to owing and operating his very own independent repair shop. During this time, he has carved out a niche in the trike industry helping literally thousands of riders continue their passion for the open road.
For well over a decade, I have answered thousands upon thousands of phone calls concerning trikes and trike kits. Often times, I find myself answering many of the same questions over and over.
Finally, at the prodding of a wise and dear friend, I have decided to put these questions/answers in one place, hopefully, to provide a resource for the many people interested in building their trike and keeping that dream alive.
I hope you enjoy reading it, nearly as much as I enjoy writing it.
With Thoughtful Contributions from:
Ian, Isaiah and Micah
(AKA: The Molina Boys)