AFTER A NUMBER of years without a motorcycle while my wife and I did the ‘buy a house and raise a family thing’, it was time to get the older and wiser head back into the wind. Cost of this much-waited-for-purchase was not going to be a problem as we now have as they say in the TV adds ‘equity, mate’ so the options were wide open — a Harley Road King, a custom chopper either imported or built here, another Genny Shovel — but in the end we opted for an Oztrike powered by a quite healthy 1800 VW engine.
I’m first to admit this is not the bike I’d have bought a few years ago, but life has a way of sending you off in directions you don’t expect, and if you’re lucky, you’ll learn from the experiences. I was given the use of an Oztrike for a couple of months about a year ago, and I enjoyed it immensely so it got me thinking about buying my own.
I first got my licence in the mid ’70s. I had a few Jap bikes and then bought my one and only Harley in 1986, a ’68 Genny Shovel that I rode all the time and rebuilt more than once.
Johnno, one of the boys, had a Harley Servicar which he’d take on runs with us. It was geared up as far as possible for the highway but we’d always leave him way behind. Johnno would shrug off the good natured shit we’d put on him by saying, “You wait until I pick up two or three stunners at a country pub and you watch me ride off with them all sitting on the top of the box.” Well he did leave the pub with a girl from a country pub one night but she took up the same room as three stunners would have. Didn’t see him for a week. When he finally did show up, he told us he was getting married and went to live with his new girl in the bush. I was happy for him but it was not a good recommendation for owning a trike.
A short time later, I was talking to Adam, a crack mechanic who worked at Frasers Harley-Davidson in Sydney, and he told me about his next project: a 96-inch Evo powered trike with a fully independent rear-end. “It’s low, it’s fast, it’s got show-winning lines,” he said.
I arranged to photograph it for Ozbike but when I rang to confirm the time, he told me he’d sold it. “It was impractical around the city,” he said. “Didn’t matter how fast or good looking it was, it had three wheels which meant being stuck in the traffic like driving a car. A guy in a wheelchair bought it.”
I‘m not sure when I saw my first Oztrike but I know I was impressed with the lines and the engineering. The articles I read told how well they handled, the ease of maintenance, and what a good touring vehicle they were. As I said, I had been given the use of an Oztrike for a short time while it was stored at my place and the owner had it up for sale. He lived in the country and I went there to pick it up. I did a few laps up and down the road outside his property to get the feel of it, and then I hit the road. It was going to be a three-hour-ride home.
To my surprise, I soon realised Oztrikes are built for comfort plus ease of operation. They corner well and stop as quick as. At the end of the trip, I got off the trike as fresh as a daisy, no aches or pains whatsoever, and the ride had been great.
During the next couple of weeks, my wife and I rode around on the trike and decided this was the type of ride we were going to buy.
About a month before Christmas, we invested in our equity and located the trike we wanted in Mackay, Queensland, through the Oztrikes’ used trikes section on their website www.oztrikes.com.au. It was a Chopper 2 model set up for the highway and long haul. It had recently been given an engine upgrade from 1600 cc to 1850 cc and fell right into our price range. It was exactly what we were looking for. Phone calls were made, bank cheques drawn and a flight booked while the trike was being serviced and a roadworthy done.
The next Saturday we flew to Mackay, and at 8.30 pm we pulled onto the highway and headed south to Brisbane on our first ride on our new trike.
It would be 12 hours before we pulled into the front gate of home but we enjoyed ever minute of it. We saw deer, koalas and kangaroos, rolled-over trucks and canefields burning under the brightest stars far from city lights. There was the smell of smoke, the smells of the bush, the wind in our faces and then some rain. The air was warm on the hills and cold in the valleys, and the people checked out the trike at every stop. We enjoyed being on the road and going where we wanted in our own good time.
It also gave me time to think about why we now owned a trike. I must admit, I have crossed the line of 50 years of age, and even thought I am still young in my head, the body has had a hard life. Rugby, driving trucks, bobcats and kicking over stroker Shovels has left my back and legs a bit worse for wear. I have become an older rider, but I’m also a husband and a father, and the trike is a safer option when it comes to looking out for my loved ones. In the end, I said, “It’s not about what you ride, it’s just the fact that you get out, ride and enjoy life with the wind in your face on either two wheels or three.”
After that first ride I knew we had made the right decision, and even though we had bought a good trike, all second-hand vehicles come with some problems. We found a few with ours but that’s another story that I may get around to writing if I find time between rides…
Words & pics by Keith Cole