Thou Shalt Customise Thy Harley-Davidson Trike

Shaun reckons the Eleventh Commandment should be ‘Thou Shalt Customise’.

I USED TO race sidecars when I was a bit younger and I always had the idea of building up a trike at one stage, so when I got the opportunity to pick one up at a reasonable price, I proceeded to hack away. It was already a trike when I got it, from Adelaide. I wasn’t happy with the handling so we replaced the whole front-end and put an aftermarket four-inch-over, twin-disc brake front-end on it, with braided lines, 12 inch apies and internal wiring. Andy at Hyperformance did all the work; he spent a lot of time working on it.

The rear section is a Ding Bob aftermarket trike frame that just needed freshening up so we reconditioned the whole back-end: the universal joints, the wheel bearings, the diff bearings.

We needed to make up a new set of exhaust pipes, the wiring all needed to be replaced, and we replaced the back tray section. It had a timber frame which I wasn’t overly keen on; it wasn’t waterproof so we made up this one that is. Jason from Skinner’s did the lining for it, put a tarp over it and made the seat. I had the trike out in the rain first day I got it back so I know that it’s waterproof now, which wasn’t quite the plan but it seemed like every time I went out on it, it rained.

We had to make up a mudguard and the seat fitted to that. It’s a bit like the old King/Queen seats and it’s really comfortable to ride around in. I’ve had the missus on the back, and with a passenger it’s quite good; unfortunately, my missus isn’t a fan of trikes so she doesn’t share my enthusiasm. One of the other guys in the club has one, and him and his missus love it.

The front wheel was one that Andy had lying around and it seemed to suit the trike; big and chunky. The back wheels were already on so we just left them as they were.

The engine is a standard ’96 model Evo. It’s just been freshened up with a Mikuni and S&S air-cleaner, ignition, and that’s probably about it, really. The gearbox has an electric reverse. The rear-end’s out of a Morris 850 Mini, so the running gear is out of an 850 Mini: the disc brakes on the rear and the starter motor which alternates as a reverse gear.

Trikes are a lot of fun but they’re not an everyday ride unless you’re in that need area. Because I’m able-bodied and I’ve got a normal bike, I find that I probably don’t use it as much as somebody who was disabled would. Having said that, a lot of people just like the idea of a trike. They’re comfortable on long distances and they’re good out on the open road.

The paint was done by Troy from Nightmare Designs. I just wanted an old Eureka flag fluttering in the breeze so I think he’s captured that concept quite well.

That’s a six gallon Fat Bob tank, aftermarket one, as opposed to the normal three and a half gallon one, so it’s a huge tank. Andy’s managed to make it look normal which sort of catches people by surprise. Everything’s so big and chunky but it all looks in proportion; nothing really stands out as being big, although when you start looking at it, you suddenly find big wheels, big tank…

The trike handles really well through the corners. It goes really well but it takes as much room as a small car so you haven’t got that motorcycle manoeuvrability of ducking in-between traffic. You’ve got to pick your spots.

The only dramas I’ve had have been with the universal joints on the tail shaft. I think they could have made them a bit stronger. I put new universal joints in and made sure I put them in properly. They’ve got needle bearings and when they fall down you’ve got to be careful how you put them back together again. When I replaced them before I didn’t do it properly, and of course, I paid the price for it.

Since the photos we’ve needed to rebuild the diff which has now been replaced by a Cooper S diff and Hardy Splicer universal joints. This should make the whole rear-end a lot more stable and reliable so I can continue doing donuts.

I’d like to thank Andy for all his help and perseverance in doing the bike, all the many different changes I went through in the build, with the rake and the length of the forks and so forth. And thanks to Troy for the paintwork and Jason for the seat.

Photos by Chris Randells; words by Shaun, Longriders CMC, Adelaide

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