Holy Shite! I Bought A Trike—Part 2

Keith’s second-hand trike gets a few mods to solve a few problems and to make it his own.

IN PART ONE of Holy Shite! I Bought A Trike, I went through the reasons I bought a trike after not seeing myself riding one when I was younger. My wife and I are still enjoying it, but it’s not perfect, and our first problems started not long after we left Mackay.

Before buying the trike, I gave it as good a look-over as possible. It had low miles and looked well-looked-after, and after starting the engine and letting it warm up, I was happy with what I both saw and heard. It had a roadworthy the day before and had been serviced. Later, I realised, I should have asked to see the receipt for the service, but in getting through all the paperwork, handing over the cheque and asking general questions of the owner, it was a small thing to overlook at the time.

Deal done and loaded up for the trip back to Brisbane, the owner’s son said there had been a small problem with the ignition, that you had to turn it on and off a couple of times to get it work but it gave no troubles after that.

We hit the road and did a short run down to the first fuel stop, and once I had fuelled did another visual on the bike, I removed the tool-bag off the handlebars as this sets up an annoying wind turbulence in your face. 

After a couple of goes on the ignition, we hit the road. It was now dark, and about an hour later, at about 110 km/h, the ignition switch hiccupped. The engine died and the lights suddenly when out! Luckily, the trike stayed on the road and we stopped with the left rear wheel just over the side white line. A fiddle with the ignition gave us power, and for emergency lights, I taped one of those small servo LED torches to the left side of my handlebars. It produced enough light to see the side of the road as we were off again.

By the time we rolled into Rockhampton, I had worked out that the rear-end felt a bit loose in corners, and after bouncing the rear of the trike up and down, I found signs of oil seeping out of the shocks. I had pinpointed the handling problem. Now it was only a matter of riding with that in mind for the rest of the trip.

While at the Rocky servo, a local taxi driver came over to admire the trike so I asked him where all the local law enforcement were tonight, and he told me there had been a glassing at the local nightclub. Sweet! Local cabbies knowledge shines through again. Remember they see and know all, especially where the speed cameras are.

When I had the trike home, it was time to address the problems, and to start the changes to make it more ours and set it up for the type of riding I intended which included a lot of nights on the road.

First, a new ignition switch from Heavy Duty Cycles in Brisbane fixed that problem.

Next, I rang a local company which deals in trike parts to see if they could supply a new pair of shocks but it was all attitude and bad manners so no sale. I then rang Pedders in Moorooka, Brisbane, and Trevor Borinetti, the owner, invited me over to sort the problem. 

Once the trike was jacked up and the old shocks removed, Trevor found that the bolt that connects the left rear trailing arm to the frame was missing and all that was holding the wheel on was the axle and the bracket that comes down of the original torsion bar suspension. It is a credit to Oz Trikes as to how well they are built that kept us on the road all the way from Mackey. Anyway, Trevor had a set of custom shocks built to suit our needs and Oz Trikes had the parts up overnight to replace both bolts (the other side one had damaged thread).

I rang the old owner’s son and he covered the cost of the repairs, and when I asked him about the roadworthy, he told me that trike was not jacked up to have the independent suspension checked and the roadworthy man was more worried about how loud the exhaust was and was in a real hurry to get it done. That could have been fatal for us.

The top-box was the first to go, an easy job as there were just four bolts holding it on. I built a new mounting for the number plate and reverse light, added a couple of LED stop/tail lights. Now it lights up like a Christmas tree at night.

Driving lights on the front were the next problem to solve—after the trip from Mackay, high-beam was definitely not enough. I had an old H-D spotlight bar under my workbench that I had bought at a swap-meet years ago but it was incomplete and a bit rough. I knew Ian Splat at Dragway had some NOS aftermarket indicators in his display cabinet so I scored those. Then it was over to Robbo at Shotgun Motorcycle Co. He’s good stock of second-hand parts so I was able to get the parts I was missing plus I scored a good set of second-hand western bars and some new mirrors.

The local auto parts shop supplied two new 100 watt inserts (H-D run 50 watt), wire and a relay, so armed with a wiring diagram from my local friendly auto electrical shop, I set to work.

The handlebars, brake levers, mirrors, etc, were a straight bolt-on job made easier by the wiring running down the outside of the bars. Robbo had given me a complete dresser light-bar and said just bring back what you don’t use, so in the end, by using the best parts, I ended up with the exact result I was after. I just wielded on a bracket that let me mount the new spotlights and indictors up under the original headlight bracket, and with wiring, it took me about four hours to do.

So now the trike is more ours, and with the new lights, I can see for f@#*&^g miles, literally, and a quick flash to the on-coming high-beams soon sorts them out. The bars are comfortable, and even though my new shock springs are green, they work great.

As I said in the first article, for me, these days with a family, it’s not about show, it’s about go and about budget. I bought a second-hand trike so the second-hand parts fit in well, and we are on the road as much as we can be and loving it… well, that was until the oil light came on around the twisties up in the Gold Coast Hinterland, but more about that next article…

article by Keith Cole

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